Brazil is known for its Football, Pele, Coppacabana beach, the fans, the yellow and green kit etc….Rugby 15’s or 7’s is a different story. WithRio 2016 fast approaching and Rugby 7’s a new sport for this Olympics, Brazil has taken the challenge on completely. Only joining the International Rugby
Board (IRB) in 1995 and the first women’s game only being played in 1997 between the male Brazil rugby 7’s players’ girlfriends, wives and friends….this
has been a huge learning curve for the Federation and for those involved.
I have had the privilege of spending the last two years getting to know the Brazilian women’s Rugby 7’s team and staff, spending time at different events and working with them. To have stood on the sidelines and seen them get to a Bowl final, knowing where they have come from is amazing - and it has been great to be a small part of that journey!
Despite the fact that this is THE footballing nation of the world, this is a rugby team withhuge vision and a passion for the game and pride in representing
their country. Julia Sardá the team captain explains that “there are 100 million people in Brazil and we are twelve girls that play for Brazil. We are
It is not just their pride at representing their country or the passion they have for the game of Rugby that makes them stand out but it’s knowing where
they have come from and the task they face ahead of them. This is a team that, like so many, isn’t professional. “We wake at 5.30am to train,” says Paula
Ishibashi of their schedules. But on top of what all other non-professional teams have to contend with, there is this need to getthe rugby story out there,
to recruit players and to get regular matches around Brazil going. They are pushing the proverbial water uphill in this football nation.
However, this doesn’t phase them and they are the most amazing ambassadors for the sport, passionate to a fault and this has paid dividends, with TV coverage
and a growing following for the game. They acknowledge the football heritage but they aren’t overshadowed by it, choosing to focus on the positives of
the Brazilian people instead.
“Brazilian people like excitement and so 7’s is good for them to watch,” says Julia of how they are engaging with the fans and why they believe 7’s will
work in Brazil. It is obviously working. More and more people are attending trials, more and more clubs are starting up - and as Julia points out, “...now
we play rugby and people don’t look and ask what are we doing with this strange ball?” This is a testament to the IRB support, the players’ passion, to
the Federation and to the support staff.
The passion is felt by each team member. There is an obvious enjoyment in their playing, as well as a huge commitment to each tackle, no matter the score
or the time left on the clock, that really impresses. No matter how many losses in a tournament (and a lot of near misses), they have an ability to see
it all as part of the bigger picture, picking themselves up and hitting the next game better than the last one. They are connected as a team with a common
goal and support each other with a remarkable almost family ‘feel’. This is about a team and not a group of individuals on a journey to becoming something
amazing and ground breaking. As a team they play with a huge amount of heart and as time has gone on an increasingly exciting amount of skill that has
seen them stay as part of the core group of countries playing in the Women’s World Sevens Series for the second year in a row. This in itself demonstrates
how far they have come.
No one has cut them slack for where they come from (rugby players in a footballing nation) and they shouldn’t either. Instead, there is an appreciation
of what they have achieved. I look forward to the next couple of years and seeing how they further develop. This is a friendly, passionate team, not only
playing Rugby but converting their country to the game they love. They are great to be around and a real model of all that is good about sport, determination
Photos: Papaya Photography