Rio Sevens sets scene for 2016 Olympic Games
With Rio de Janeiro set to be the focus of the Rugby Sevens world in 2016 when it stages the Olympic Games, local sports enthusiasts are being given an opportunity to experience a flavour of what awaits them in four years’ time as the CONSUR regional Sevens tournament takes place in the iconic Brazilian city.
The IRB-funded tournament, which features 10 men’s teams and eight women’s teams, takes place in Gavea Stadium on March 10-11 and will be broadcast live across Brazil by SPORTV 2. Hosted by the Brazil Rugby Union (CBRU), the men’s competition will be made up of the eight IRB Member Unions in South America, namely Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela as well as Guatemala and Ecuador, who will make their debut in official tournaments, having received the support of their respective local National Olympic Committees (NOC).
Present at the event will be Sami Arap Sobrinho, President of the CBRU, along with other invited guests from Brazil´s NOC and Rio 2016 Organization Committee as well as representatives from the Ministry of Sports, local and state governments, and sponsors.
The venue is owned by soccer club Flamengo, whose former players include some Brazil international legends such as Junior and Zico. Former Paris St Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan forward Ronaldinho is currently the club captain.
The road to Rio
“Anticipation amongst the Rugby family is building as we prepare to re-enter the Olympic Game programme at Rio 2016. That is going to be a wonderful opportunity for Rugby to use the world’s greatest sporting stage to reach out to more men, women and children in new countries and communities while also further strengthening the appeal of the Game in its traditional heartlands,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“As a strong Olympic nation with a proud passion for sport I know Brazil will be an excellent host of the Games. The IRB-funded CONSUR Sevens is the perfect opportunity for the local organisers and wider sport-loving public to get to know Rugby Sevens, embrace the excitement and the festival and get a flavour of what to expect in four years’ time. The IRB is pleased to be supporting this tournament.”
IRB funding for South America will amount to US$3.2million for 2012 with a total US$500,000 having been invested in Brazil Rugby over the past two years, mostly through the IRB Major Markets Fund. This investment concentrates largely on High Performance and enabling the CBRU to employ a full-time professional administration that is leading the impressive development of the Game there.
In addition, the IRB is providing an opportunity for some of Brazil’s elite teams to perform at the highest levels. The men’s team recently took part in the HSBC Sevens World Series event in Las Vegas while the 15s side travelled to Dubai to take part in the Emirates Cup of Nations tournament, competing against Kenya, Hong Kong and host UAE.
Rugby making huge strides in Brazil
The women’s Sevens team has taken part in the invitational IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup event in Dubai and will also play in the Hong Kong and London tournaments that run alongside the HSBC Sevens World Series men’s event in those cities.
“The CONSUR Sevens is an important event and we are delighted to be hosting it in Rio, the home of the Olympic Games 2016,” said Arap Sobrinho.
“Rugby in Brazil has already made huge strides forward in recent years and we are grateful for the support of the IRB, our National Olympic Committee, the Brazilian government and our excellent sponsors in helping with that process.”
“The advice and playing opportunities as well as funding we receive from the IRB enable us to provide a professional administrative structure while also allowing us to develop our High Performance programme that is paying dividends on the pitch. The growth of Rugby around the world is a key element of the IRB’s global strategy and we in Brazil are determined to play our part to make sure it is successful.”
The event itself is likely to produce some stiff competition and thrilling action with the home team having gained significant ground on South America’s traditional pace-setter, Argentina, and another perennial favourite, Uruguay. In the 2011 edition, organised in southern Brazil (Bento Gonçalves), Brazil’s men finished third, submitted Argentina to its first defeat in 76 years in South America, and won a place in the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Brazil’s women have won the last seven editions of this event but Argentina, Uruguay and Chile have all made substantial progress in recent years, which will make life difficult for the home team.
CONSUR Sevens 2012, Rio de Janeiro, March 10-11
Group A: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Guatamala
Group B: Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, Ecuador
Group A: Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Venezuela
Group B: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay