Brazil women out to impress on road to Rio(IRB.COM) Tuesday 25 June 2013
As captain of the Brazilian national side Julia Albino Sardá is keenly aware of how important the next few years will be for women’s rugby in her country.
Brazil will host the next Olympic Games in 2016 when Rugby Sevens will make its long-awaited debut, all of which gives the country's rugby folk a golden opportunity to promote and grow a sport which will probably forever stand in soccer's shadow.
“The game of rugby in Brazil is growing really well. Now young girls often see rugby on TV and two years ago that would never have been the case. A few years ago we had 10 women’s teams playing regularly and now we have more than 50. These are mostly Sevens (teams) but we are starting to see some 15s teams too and all of that will help us heading towards 2016.”
Brazil qualified for this World Cup as the undisputed champions of South America, a region they have dominated for many years. And while their Moscow experience is important, they have their eyes fixed more firmly on the longer term future.
“For us our focus is to grow and grow for 2016. A lot of our players will be able to get better funding after the World Cup to build towards that and that is important to us because we need to be together more and train more like the teams we are up against in this World Cup," added Sardá.
"We need to have the players based in one place and the Brazilian Olympic Committee is helping us which is great and I think we will make good progress.”
For the love of the game
Brazil are up against USA, Spain and Fiji in their pool this weekend and there’s no doubt that they go into the competition as firm underdogs.
“We know that because we haven’t had the best results recently, especially in Amsterdam where we had a lot of injuries, that expectations from the other teams are going to be low of Brazil. But we are a very positive team and we always hope for the best at every competition we enter. All of the pools are very tough and that is because women’s rugby has improved so much. Our aim in Moscow is to be very competitive, to play well and to show that Brazil is improving as a women’s rugby nation."
A slight team with plenty of pace, Brazil sometimes struggle against more physical sides - one key area for improvement.
“When we come outside of South America, the speed and the fitness of the teams is very different to what we experience in our region," she admitted. "We are working really hard to improve that to try and compete at a higher level because that is what we must to do get better and improve our results.
“In the past six weeks a number of players moved to Sao Paolo so we could train together more often and that has been good. We have done two full weeks of training together just before we came here, which was very intense.
"Some of the players have made big sacrifices for their training. I am a PE teacher and I have given up my work to make sure I could be here but we do it because we love it and the funding is getting better all of the time. It is worth it.”