Brazil may have hosted the Football World Cup and will be hosting the Olympics in 2016, but as a developing Rugby nation they are one of the most exciting
to observe. With no history or heritage of Rugby they are able to think out of the box without constraints, and have very supportive governing
bodies working together across the country.
Rugby as a whole for women may have started with a group of girls paying their own way in 2008 to travel and play in the Amsterdam 7’s International
Tournament, but six years later they have a multi-level program in the country. I am very privileged to have known and worked with the team for
three years and to have watched the development and growth of Rugby within Brazil.
The senior team is well developed having in the main played together for ten years but they are now a transition phase, bringingin new players to bolster
and improve the team. It’s very interesting to listen to the management talk about the transition and inclusion of young new players to the senior
squad as well as the introduction of an allowance system. As of August twenty players are now getting an allowance to help them with their Rugby,
whether this be gym, physio etc. They talk about the cost and price paid by the senior team that started things and that they work with the new
girls to ensure they understand and “don’t take for granted” the support and infrastructure that is in now place. This is both important but also
shows the holistic approach the management are taking to ensure that they build on their roots and also look to improve and grow on the world stage.
Brasil Rugby Union (BRU) recognised that key to the ongoing successof Rugby in Brazil is that they needed to create a development program like most
other countries do. However this is where similarities end. They set up a two strand approach: first, a ‘heritage program’ was set up to encourage
non-resident players with biological links to Brazil to apply for trails. With so many Brazilians living abroad the potential for people being
exposed to Rugby in other nations is high and has already gained a major talent from the USA who has been playing regular 15’s Rugby for some time.
The second part of their strategy in the programme that feeds into the senior team and one that is particularly interesting, is that the BRU are working
with various social projects in Brazil to find gifted people who can be trained to play Rugby. “We aren’t looking for the complete player, we are
looking for people with an X factor, size,speed etc.” says Majorie Enya Brasil, the development manager, of this new strategy they are employing.
At the Amsterdam International tournament 60% of the development team were from the Favelas and social projects, with most of the them being only 16
years old. The players and their families see it as an opportunity for a future and to better themselves. These are young people who have never
travelled and who are suddenly travelling abroad representing their great country. “It’s not aboutthe sport, it’s about the opportunity,” they
say. This is a win win situation where BRU work with the social projects to give hope and introduce a new sport - but especially to girls. The
flipside is that they are finding some truly exciting people with potential who have never seen an egg shaped ball let alone travelled or played
sport at an international level: 70% of this team had not played an international game until Amsterdam.
For the management team they have taken on a lot more than the usual challenges involved in running an international team, but they do it with such
enthusiasm and they don’t see it as a challenge - they see it as part of building something bigger and more exciting.
Something that will become a legacy and part of what makes Brazilians a great people and fan base. They are working withwhat is around them and thinking
completely out of the box. It’s so exciting to see and a model for developing countries - blending sport, the social and heritage to create a team
that represents the whole nation.