Brazil could be a quality side - Gollings
This week's 'IRB Sevens World' shines a light on rugby's continued development in Brazil, which the country's women again showcased at the weekend by winning gold at the ODESUR Games and qualifying for next year's Pan-Am Games in Toronto.
Brazil's women continue to carry the country's rugby torch after winning a 10th straight South American Sevens title at the weekend to also book their place at next year's Pan-American Games.
"We accomplished all our goals in the tournament and we're really happy to win the regional title for a 10th time," Carla Berbosa told the IRB's Total Rugby Radio show.
"We are here in a hotel with the whole 'Team Brazil'. There are about 700 people here and it's a fantastic experience. Most of the girls here have never been to a multi-sports competition before and there's a lot of energy.
"Today we're going to watch other sports we never get the chance to see, and cheer for our other fantastic, top-level athletes who we often see on the television. Being with them here in the same team hotel is really inspiring."
IRB: Significant growth
The IRB announced recently that the country's men and women will both qualify automatically for their home Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 as long as they achieve certain performance criteria, and the governing body's Head of Competitions and Performance, Mark Egan, is in regular contact with both the Brazilian Rugby Union and the Rio 2016 organisers.
"We're already seeing significant growth in rugby here in Brazil. We've seen about 10,000 new children take up the game here in the last five years," he told 'IRB Sevens World' at a recent grass roots initiative undertaken by HSBC in partnership with Serevi Rugby.
"The IRB is investing about half a million (US) dollars a year now in the union, and we'll invest more going forward to 2016.
"We obviously have the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and Rugby Sevens is such a fast, dynamic sport that will suit the Brazilian mentality and love of team sports. So we're very confident that the growth we've seen in the last five years will continue, and who knows what the legacy will be after the 2016 Olympic Games."
Gollings: Talent to burn
One man in Brazil with Egan was former England Sevens captain Ben Gollings.
"It's been really surprising in terms of the level of play, not just among the older players but among the youngsters too," said the all-time leading scorer in IRB Sevens rugby.
"They're very talented and I think foot-hand-eye co-ordination comes natually to them, so it's just getting a ball in their hands, getting them used to this game. I think in years to come Brazil could be a quality side."
The continued investment into Brazilian rugby is having a direct impact on the national teams. The country's top women's players have been living and training together for a year in an effort to turn their South American dominance into increased competitiveness on the world stage.
"We've been based in Sao Paulo for about one year now, training every day," said Berbosa. "We're getting to know each other better, we're getting to know how each other plays. We go to the gym together, we live in the same house so it's helping us evolve on and off the pitch.
"We're so proud that rugby will be played in the Olympic Games in our country in 2016. Rugby is evolving so fast in Brazil at the moment - a lot of children playing, a lot of clubs being built - and I think that will carry on."
Watch the latest 'IRB Sevens World' out on broadcasters this week (check local listings for times):
- Highlights of the Women's Sevens World Series, including in Sao Paulo
- Catch up on the first five rounds of the men's HSBC Sevens World Series
- Waisale Serevi and Ben Gollings spread the Sevens gospel in Brazil
- Get a sneak preview of what the players have been cooking up behind the scenes
- Sevens kicking masterclass from the best