Wednesday, October 13, 2010

São Paulo gets it first ever public rugby field

Brazil has an estimated 30,000 people who play rugby but far less as registered players. Like the country´s economy, São Paulo state is the driving force of rugby. Presently there are 1,200 registered players which according to the Brazilian Rugby Union (CBRu) is constantly increasing to the extent that playing numbers are rising 30% per year. After such a long wait the news that São Paulo will get its own public rugby field can be shared by everybody involved in rugby in Brazil. It is the start of a new era - government support for rugby at long last. The field and complex will be constructed at Tatuapé in eastern São Paulo city.

The CBRu estimates that Brazil has 250 rugby clubs today but before Rugby World Cup 2007 the number was 120. The phenominal increase is down to one factor - ESPN. The sports channel has truely doubled rugby playing numbers in Brazil simply by broadcasting matches from France 2007 and other matches since this time. Interestingly, ESPN is only avaliable to Pay tv users. The potential, in other words, for rugby to really take off in Brazil has not even been addressed yet. When rugby is broadcast to more homes via free to air television it is safe to say that the massive increases of 30% per year will seem small.

Without question neighbours and arch rivals in soccer, Argentina, had a lot to do with Brazilians taking up the sport as Argentina´s tremendous campaign at France 2007 gave Brazilians a familiar team to follow - be it to support them or want them to lose. Argentina has genuinely done wonders for rugby in South America and with a team now established as one of the best in the world and entrance into the Tri Nations confirmed for 2012 and Rio de Janeiro hosting the 2016 Olympic Games, this is only going to continue.

With thanks: O Estado de São Paulo

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