Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fernando Portugal - Brazilian Player with professional experience in Italy

Perhaps the greatest ever Brazilian player and certainly the man considered in Brazilian rugby circles as the country´s best player is centre Fernando Portugal. He has been playing rugby since 1996 and played his first nine years of rugby for Brazil´s current champion, São José Rugby. Like many players who come through and succeed with São José rugby, Portugal went on to play age group and senior level international rugby for Brazil. However, unlike virtually all Brazilians, he had the unique opportunity of leaving his country to play rugby in Italy as a professional rugby player for two years. His story is an interesting one as he went to Italy to look for a club and did so after his friends helped raise money.

In Italy, Portugal played for Segni Football Rugby Club in the country´s second division  - the Série A and had a very successful time at the club. At the time the second division was made up of 24 teams with Italy´s top 10 teams competing in the former Super 10 until changes occured this season with two Italian sides entering the Magners League. In his first year with the club, Portugal was a semi professional rugby player. He had organized work, a house and his living hosts all free of charge. In his second year, however, he was a full time professional player earning a salary to pay for Segni as well as having a car, house and living costs all paid for. After two years in Italy it was time to return to South America and link up again with São José Rugby with whom he won a total of four national championship titles in his two spells at the club before leaving the city for Brazil´s largest city, São Paulo to play for one of São José´s rivals - Bandeirantes Rugby Club for whom he has played at for the past three years and was again a national champion.

Fernando Portugal played for Brazil´s junior selection at the 1999 Junior Rugby World Cup in Wales as well as in the Sul Americano junior tournament that year which was staged in Rio de Janeiro. In 1999 he was also selected in Brazil´s Sevens team and played in two stages of the IRB World Sevens Series in Mar del Plata, Argentina and Punta del Este, Uruguay.

In 2000 he got the big call and was selected in his first Sul Americano at men´s senior level. Beginning at this time, Portugal was simultaneously in Brazil´s sevens and senior men´s teams permanently and remains so to this day. The only time he has not been a part of Brazil´s test team was during his time in Italy when club duties meant he was unavaliable for international duty.

In total, Fernando Portugal has played close to 50 matches for Brazil and has participated in close to 20 international sevens tournaments. He truely has had a very successful career and in his time has seen rugby boom in his country. The only thing missing from his career is to represent his country at a Rugby World Cup. Fernando Portugal is a testiment to the future of Brazilian rugby and rugby in the Americas.

Stay tuned for an interview with Fernando Portugal.

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