|Confirmed: Portugal to face Brazil for the first time ever in November|
The ongoing efforts to transform Brazil into a potential Tier Two rugby nation in the future have been well documented. So much so that the IRB´s official weekly rugby round-up series, Total Rugby has regularly pointed out the growth of the sport in the country. Indeed Brazil is experiencing a boom of many more clubs and players and the sport is expanding into new states every year. Brazil is approaching Chile in terms of playing numbers and already has more than double that of Uruguay. But the quality found in both Chile and Uruguay is not matched in Brazil due to the overwhelming majority of clubs playing at a very low standard.
Brazil´s international matches have long been limited. Until recently Brazil was in CONSUR B which meant it was up against the likes of Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. It also faced Paraguay and after having notched up a series of four consecutive wins over Paraguay from 2008-2011 Brazil became an official part of CONSUR A, thus entering the South American Championship. It marked a tremendous accomplishment for the Portuguese speaking nation and meant it would face Argentina, Chile and Uruguay annually.
In preperation for the 2013 edition of CONSUR A Brazil hosted Mexico in a two match series winning 50-14 and 76-5. In the South American Championship Brazil finished last after losing 38-22 against Chile, 58-7 against Uruguay and 83-0 against Argentina. The ahort turn-arounds in the tournament did not help Brazil at all but the results nonetheless serve to underline the extent of the gap that needs to be narrowed. One way of doing so is for Brazil to host more matches. The lack of international rugby in the country has been so extreme that from 2006-2010 Brazil hosted just two international matches.
There is hope that change is on its way and with the confirmation that Portugal will play a test match in Brazil on November 15 there is reason to feel confident about the future of Brazilian rugby. The CBRu´s ability to secure the home international firmly suggests that Brazil is being taken much more seriously today than previously. What is now required is for the CBRu to confirm additional tests. Spain has, afterall, confirmed a two match tour of South America also in November. Spain will play on September 9 and 16 and there are also plans to have Spain face a Buenos Aires club. The CBRu ought to intervene to have Brazil v Spain take place on November 23.
Portugal, for its part, is not going to play any other tests while in South America. To the contrary it is to be a one-off test with Portugal instead hosting both Fiji and Canada for test matches in November. The match against Fiji will be played on November 9 while Canada wll play in Portugal on November 23. Canada´s remaining fixtures are yet to be confirmed. For the time being only a non-international against the New Zealand Maori has been announced. It will take place in Toronto on November 3. Further tests in Europe could be added depending on whether it is Canada or the USA that wins the North American final of Rugby World Cup Qualification next month. The wrunner-up will face Uruguay for two tests in November.
Portugal´s November Internationals
November 9 Portugal v Fiji
November 15 Brazil v Portugal
November 23 Portugal v Canada