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By Jack Whibley, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In an effort to boost the host’s chances in rugby at the Olympics, the Brazilian rugby federation has launched a worldwide campaign called “Brazilian Rugby Players Wanted” by which it hopes to attract new players who may be entitled to Brazilian citizenship.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The Brazilian Rugby Union is hunting for new talent worldwide, photo courtesy of Brasil Rugby.

The Confederação Brasileira de Rugby (CBRu) has sent letters to clubs around the world, aiming to entice players to Brazil and gain eligibility to play at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They hope that the worldwide campaign may yield around six new players for both the men’s and women’s teams.

“We want to make sure that everybody knows that we are seeking these players,” said Sami Arap, the president of the Brazilian rugby federation. “And I have no doubt that soon we will start receiving emails of players and of agents offering players wanting to come to Brazil. I’m sure that the allure of playing in the Olympics will help us attract a lot of players.”

Rugby is returning to the Olympics at Rio 2016 for the first time since 1924, in the form of Rugby Sevens, the shorter and faster version of the game. Brazil is one of the newest members of the International Rugby Board (IRB) and Os Tupis (as the national side is known) have yet to qualify for a Rugby World Cup.

Since 2009 though, the men’s team has competed in Division A of the South American Rugby Championship and its results against its local rivals have improved every year. Their win over Uruguay for the first time ever and a third place medal in the South American Rugby Sevens Tournament in Rio being among recent highlights.

Brazil Searches for Global Rugby Talents, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Rio Rugby Club in the 1970s, photo courtesy of Rio Rugby.

Despite modest success, rugby is Brazil’s second fastest growing sport. It is played by over 10,000 people spread across 21 of Brazil’s 26 states and is increasingly popular at universities and clubs, particularly in the south and south-east of the country.

One such club is Rio’s principal rugby club – Rio Rugby FC. Originally formed in the 1940s by English dock workers in Rio, throughout the 1970s and 1980s Brazilians, French, Argentinians and Chileans began to join the club.

Now with a majority of Brazilian members, but still a thriving international community, the club fields male and female senior teams, a youth team, and runs a junior ‘tag’ rugby school in Rocinha favela.

Justin Thornycroft of Rio Rugby told The Rio Times, “The ‘Rugby é Nossa Paixão’ tag rugby project has been running in Rocinha for five months and has seen impressive improvements in attendance and skill level among the children (from 8 to 18 years old).”

Thornycroft also sees this as just the beginning for rugby in Rocinha. He continues, “With the opening of the new unit this week within the Rocinha Complexo Esportivo (Estadual) at the bottom of the community we have an excellent presence from which to expand the practice and visibility of rugby in Latin America’s largest favela and bring rugby’s values to the children’s everyday lives.”  

Growing the sport after the Olympics is the major goal for rugby in Brazil. Thornycroft says, “This is something that is being taken very seriously by the local FFRU (Federation Fluminense de Rugby Union) and the CBRU (Confederação Brasileira de Rugby Union) in partnership with local government and rugby clubs around the country such as Rio Rugby.”

Local success will no doubt help achieve that goal. Having beaten Volta Redonda 29-26 last weekend, Rio Rugby will be appearing in the final of the Copa Rio this coming Saturday, September 7th. The match takes place at 3PM at the Campo da Prefeitura on the Ilha do Fundão against Guanabara Rugby.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. That is a pretty cool campaign I hope Brasil’s newly formed Rugby team can claim Olympic Gold and Glory in 2016 best of luck.

  2. Mythically thought to have originated in 1823, rugby is the game upon which is based the U.S.A.’s “gridiron,” football – what the Super Bowl features every February. Played outdoors, in all weather conditions, the same rules or “law” apply for both men and women “ruggers.”

    International in nature, rugby has been dominated by tiny countries as diverse as Fiji, New Zealand and Ireland. But the Argentines are not bad from time to time, as is the 15 man side from Italy.

    In the U.S.A., nearly as many women as men, from youth and high school levels through university-organized and post-collegiate “club” play, participate in rugby football. Some say the energy, athleticism and enthusiasm for the sport that American women brought to rugby in the 1980s were instrumental in scheduling its return to the Olympics in 2016.

    The defending gold medalists are the U.S.A., which won at the Paris in 1924.

    Rugby is more than boys or girls in brightly colored uniforms scattered among various locales or countries. Rugby is a way of life. And we love Brazil already. . . yes:

    Rúgbi ama o Brasil!

  3. I am interested in playing Brazil,
    I am an south african pro-amature ruvby player and currently in germany plwying 1st division

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