Thursday, November 24, 2011

São José retain Brazilian title

The Brazilian championship had its final this past Saturday with the dominant force in Brazilian rugby, São José Rugby defeating Bandeirantes of São Paulo 20-15 in the final to be crowned champion. The final was played at the Embu das Artes stadium and was broadcast live on Brazil on Sportv. All parties involved in Brazilian rugby agree that the final was a tremendous success with the two teams putting on a good match and the organziers taking care of all the little details. It was a breakthrough in many ways. In addition to the Final and Semi Finals being live, the Final had a video referee - something unheard of previously in Brazil. The match receieved plenty of press with Brazil´s largest television station, Globo, running a piece about rugby on prime time television on Sunday evening as it showed the difference between how soccer and rugby are refereed and the respect shown in rugby.

The game lived up to expectations with both teams having realistic chances of victory until the full time whistle. After a fierce start from both sides, São José were the first to score with scrumhalf, Lucas Duque Rodrigues, known in Brazil as Tanque, kicking a penalty to put São José ahead 3-0. The scores were almost immediately leveled following a penalty from halfway from Bandeirantes but the kick hit the crossbar. Bandeirantes continutes to pressure São José, however, and after several minutes inside the enemy´s 22, the scores were tied at 3-3. São José wanted to takwe control of the match and hit back straight away with a dropgoal to go ahead 6-3. Bandeirantes again regathered to force São José back into its own 22 and the Saõ Paulo side cam close to scoring the first try of the match following a push over try from a maul on the tryline. It was a history making moment as the referee was uncertain as to whether a try had been scored or not so he went to the video referee. The video evidence was inconclusive and, as such, it was determined that the ball had been held up. Bandeirantes had a chance from the subsequent scrum. The team managed to push back São José allowing for a try to be scored from the back of the scrum by scrumhalf Jacob. Following a successful conversion Bandeirantes had taken a 10-6 half time lead.

São José looked to play differently in the secondhalf as they were more expansive and turned more to the backline. It didn´t take too long for the lead to change hands as centre Moisés Duque Rodrigues completed a great move to go decieve the opposition and go over for a try. His brother, Tanque, converted the try as São José went three points clear. Tanque had opportunities to put São José further ahead but his boot was off target. The result was that latter on he turned down a kickable penalty to instead kick for the touchline. From there São José utilized its backline once again withTanque combining with flyhalf Putim until the ball went across to right winger, Rafa for a brilliant try. With Tanque´s conversion, São José had gone ten points clear. From here Bandeirantes threw in the kitchen sink with inside centre, Fernando Portugal looking to break the defensive line and create opportunities. Bandeirantes had the better of play in the latter stages and was rewarded with a try to South African born backrower, Keith, as the lead was cut to 20-15. The conversion attempt was wide but Bandeirates witll had one final opportunity from the resulting kickoff which was the final play of the match. São José kicked long but conceeded a penalty and Bandeirantes were able to clear its lines and have a lineout attacking opportunity. Success was not to be, however, as São José were able to steal the lineout and claim victory.

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