By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 2015 Rugby World Cup is already off to a roaring start in stadiums across the UK. In order to celebrate Britain’s role as host nation of the tournament, the British Consulate in Rio is holding an event on Saturday October 3rd on the beach in Copacabana.
The rugby festival will give guests the chance to watch both Scotland v South Africa (12:45 PM) and England v Australia (4PM) as well as take part in clinics on the beach with professional English Premiership coach, Dominic Caton (at 2:15 PM and 3PM). There will also be a mini-tournament with children involved in the British Council’s Try Rugby project.
Try Rugby, which aims to introduce kids in communities in Brazil to rugby and to raise the profile of the game in the country, arrived in Rio only earlier this year. Already over two hundred children from Complexo de Lins, Vidigal, Borel and Chapéu Mangueira are now playing the game, and more widely fifteen thousand youngsters between the ages of six and seventeen and three hundred sports teachers have been involved in the programme.
“Rugby is an inclusive sport that allows the participation of people of all different shapes and sizes,” explains Consul General Jonathan Dunn, who will host the event on Saturday. “It encourages team-work, enhances self-esteem and self-confidence. So the programme is a great example of using the power of sport to engage with young people in the same way that the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics were used to inspire a whole generation.”
Rugby Sevens, a contracted version of the usual fifteen-player game, will return to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio after an almost hundred-year hiatus. It is hoped that the World Cup and programmes like Try Rugby will teach people about the game here and encourage them to take part.
“Although the sport is relatively unknown in Brazil it is not new,” says Dunn. “Rugby has been played here for over hundred years. It is part of our shared history with Brazil.”
Rugby was first played at a boarding school in England of the same name in 1871. Nowadays it is played the world over and this year’s World Cup sees twenty teams battling it out on the pitch. After group stages the tournament will turn into a knock-out competition and the final will be played on October 31st at Twickenham Stadium, which is known as the “Headquarters” of rugby, in London.
“Whoever lifts the William Webb Ellis trophy will have earned it. Rugby is a tough sport,” says Dunn. “I’m sure that the tournament will continue to be a huge success, with packed stadiums and great support. I hope very much that Wales, Scotland, but most of all England will be there and will win. If they do, I think we’ll have a very good night celebrating and maybe I can get permission to fly the English, Welsh or Scottish flag (instead of the Union Flag) at the Consulate the following week.”
Taking place at Kiosk Lido on Avenida Atlântica (in front of Avenida Prado Júnior) in Copacabana, the event on Saturday will kick off at 12:30 PM with a welcome from Consul General Jonathan Dunn. There is no parking available, consumption is not included but the kiosk is covered if there is rain.