Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reality Check for Brazil as Portugal Romp to 68-0 Victory

©Luiz Pires/FOTOJUMP Brazil was outclassed by a rampant Portugal on Friday

The first ever match between Brazil and Portugal was well organized by the host union as a modern facility was used and a reasonable sized crowd gathered to attend the match in what was a public holiday. But the people at the Arena Barueri in the Greater Metropolitan area of São Paulo were given little to cheer about as the visiting Europeans were far too strong as a match unfolded which resembled Wales v Nambia or Australia v Russia from Rugby World Cup 2011.

The gulf between the sides was highly visible and underlined that Brazil has a lot of work to do before it can expect to compete against teams which are contenders for qualifying for a Rugby World Cup. The difference in the players was vast. While Portugal had a Heineken Cup finalist in the form of Julien Bardy Brazil had a debuting fly half who does not have a command of the Portuguese language. Upon confirmation that Sandy Browne from England would be playing at pivot questions were asked by Brazilian rugby followers on social media and they did not stop after the game as many a supporter could not comprehend the selection.

Blame for the outcome cannot be pointed towards one player though, collectively Portugal were simply a class above. Brazil always had more players than Portugal at rucks and with the home team not able to slow the ball down effectively the Europeans constantly had unmarked players and was able to break the line with ease. Fullback Pedro Leal was particularly impressive and was awarded man of the match by the Brazilian broadcaster Sportv. In addition to scoring tries Leal also kicked goals while Brazil´s only shot at goal was well wide as Pedro Lopez was off target.

Future incoming tours of this kind are required for Brazil to develop as is a much improved CONSUR A tournament. The current arrangement has Brazil face Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in just over one week which means there is no recovery time and the team fails to compete seriously. In its place there must be a home and away tournament similar to the European Nations Cup which each side hosting and facing the other. Argentina has been talked about as only playing against the winner while there have been calls for Paraguay to be the fourth team.

Like Spain, Portugal is another European side in competition with Russia to finish third in the 2013-2014 European Nations Cup. The third placed side will have a chance of qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 as the Play-Off Winner. Midway through the European qualifying series it appears highly likely that Georgia will qualify as Europe 1 and Romania will do so as Europe 2. The third placed side could be Russia, Spain or Portugal and the winner will fancy its chances of qualifying for England and Wales 2015. 

To do so the third placed European side will face a lower division side from Europe before then advancing to take on regional qualifiers from other IRB identified zones. The team from the Americas is likely to be Uruguay while Africa and Asia will also have one side each. Uruguay has a strong and ever growing rivalry with both Spain and Portugal and in addition to having won and lost against both Iberian nations in recent years Los Teros have also achieved wins and losses against Russia.


  1. Paul, I've decided to take a very pragmatic and philosophical view on this game, so here goes. It was always going to be hard for Brazil to be competitive in this game when quite a number of their better players were selected to the 7s squad instead to go and train in NZ. But I'm still happy that this game went ahead despite Brazil deciding not to enter their strongest lineup. Rio 2016 is the bigger mission for the CBRu and that's understandable. It might be a few difficult years for the XVs programme but a lot of new players will get the opportunity to become high level players and if the coaches can turn those players into a decent team then this hiding will not have been in vain. That's what I'm hoping anyway!

    BTW, what was the estimated crowd for the game?

    1. I have been trying to find the exact figure but have been unable. I don´t believe it has been mae public yet and maybe it won´t. Admission was free for the match so there are no tickets to count.

      To use baseball as a comparison the CBRu has been accused of trying to skip second and third base and just go from first to home. The match did have to go ahead but there are clear lessons that need to be taken into account.

  2. Regarding several rugby sites here in Brazil, the crowd was about 5.000, what is a huge crowd for the average one.