Brazil has best fans in the world - Manuel
Rugby Sevens’ eagerly-awaited Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro may still be two years away, but New Zealand captain Huriana Manuel has labelled Brazil's fans “the best in the world” after the most recent IRB Women’s Sevens World Series round last month in Sao Paulo.
New Zealand had to settle for the 'silver medal' runners-up spot after a second Cup final defeat this season to neighbours Australia – a result which leaves the two locked together on 56 points at the top of the Series standings – but the passion of the Brazilian fans helped Manuel get over that disappointment.
“It was the first time we had played in Brazil and the crowd really impressed us,” said Manuel, who joined coach Sean Horan and teammates Sarah Goss and Tyla Nathan-Wong on a visit to Rio de Janeiro before heading home.
“They were pretty close to the pitch and were very excited, singing all the time. We’ve never played in front of such a noisy crowd.
“We were a little frustrated because we were defeated in the final, but the fans’ affection helped us get through this moment quickly.
“Brazil has the best fans in the world. We’re eager to return in 2016 and meet them again.”
The New Zealanders held a session with local school children on Copacabana Beach and visited the Rio 2016 Organising Committee's headquarters, where they received a presentation about the Games.
“We are in love with Rio, the city is really beautiful,” enthused Nathan-Wong. “In our visit to the Committee we got to know the projects from the Olympic Village and the rugby and modern pentathlon arena, which we liked very much. We’re feeling closer to the Games.”
Goss added: “The Olympic comeback will be very positive for rugby. Any sport that receives the Olympic seal gets more visibility and attracts more people.
“It will be a unique opportunity to show our sport to the world and, more directly, to Brazil. We played rugby at the beach with children and it was amazing.”
The New Zealanders weren't alone in being excited by their Brazilian experience - we asked a few other players through @irbwomens, and got a similar response.
Bianca Farella (Canada)
Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
@irbwomens Brazil 7s was a great addition 2 our series this year! Its so exciting to see how far rugby has come! Ecstatic to see it in 2016!
— Bianca Farella (@BFarella) February 28, 2014
Tessa Veldhuis (Netherlands)
— Portia Woodman (@PortiaWoodman) February 27, 2014
Kayla McAlister (New Zealand)
— Tessa Veldhuis (@tessaveldhuis) February 27, 2014
Ghislaine Landry (Canada)
— Kayla McAlister (@kayla_mcalister) February 28, 2014
Shannon Parry (Cup winners Australia)
@irbwomens Brazil hosted great tournament all around. Beautiful country. looking to going back, hopefully in 2016!
— Ghislaine Landry (@ghis_landry) March 1, 2014
Michaela Staniford (England)
— Shannon Parry (@Shan_Parry) March 1, 2014
— michaela staniford (@mic_staniford) March 2, 2014