Brazil's women eager to impress in Dubai
Beatriz Muhlbauer would love to be running out for Brazil at 7he Sevens in Dubai for this week’s opening round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, but injury means she has to cheer on her teammates from afar.
Muhlbauer, though, knows how important it is for Brazil to perform well in Dubai so that fans will come out to support them when the country hosts a round of the Series for the first time in February at the Arena Barueri in São Paulo.
“We are going to Dubai with some new girls but the expectations are still the same,” insisted Muhlbauer, who attended the IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in Dublin last week and spoke about the excitement building in Brazil ahead of Sevens’ debut at the Olympic Games in 2016.
“We need to show we are continuing to improve and increasing our level of rugby because we want to stay on the Women’s Sevens World Series. We’re hosting a leg for the first time in February so we need to do well in Dubai as that will encourage people to come and watch and cheer for us.
“We need to improve our position in the rankings too because we have slipped from 10th to 13th in the period between the two Rugby World Cup Sevens. We need to fight against teams in and around us in the rankings, sides like China and France.”
Brazil have been the dominant force in South America for nearly a decade, winning all nine of the regional women’s Sevens titles, but have found it difficult to translate that success to the world stage - something Muhlbauer hopes will change as a result of the Olympic effect.
The Olympic effect
“The idea is to keep working hard,” insisted Muhlbauer, who has been playing for Brazil since 2004.
“Since the last World Cup we have become semi-professional, which can only help our players prepare better and enable them to go to tournaments and be competitive rather than just participate.
“We are already seeing positive results in Brazil. Rugby is the fastest growing sport in Brazil and since entering the Olympics many things have changed in relation to the support we receive as a sport. Once the Games are over we will need to double our efforts to maintain and keep the Game growing.
“As soon as I saw rugby, I wanted to play the game, I identified with its vibrancy. The problem for rugby in Brazil is not that people don’t like it, they just don’t know enough about it, people think it is a strange form of American Football.
“We need to prepare for a surge in interest, because after the Olympics we will have a lot more people playing. The increase in playing numbers can only increase the competitiveness of our teams in the future. There is a lot of hard work to do, but we are on the right track.
“The legacy factor is very important to me. I have the best job in the world and it is good for young girls coming into the Game to have role models and people to inspire them. Rugby is about leaving a legacy for future players.”
In the immediate future, though, Brazil’s focus is on facing Australia, Canada and France in the pool stages of the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens on Thursday as they attempt to finish better than their 12th place finish in the inaugural event in 2012.