|Photo Alexandre Castello Branco/COB|
Argentina and Brazil came out on top in the ODESUR Games played in Santiago, Chile over the weekend. The competition served as qualification for the 2015 Pan American Games which will take place in Toronto. Involved in the competition were eight South American countries - Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay all had teams involved in both the mens and womens sections of the tournament while Peru was involved in the mens division and Venezuela in the womens. The wide range of teams from South American nations will continue to grow with Ecuador likely to be involved in the coming years.
All eyes are to be on Rio de Janeiro in two years time as the second largest Brazilian city hosts the first edition of the Olympic Games to feature Rugby Sevens. Qualifying tournaments around the world are to determine which teams from which continents participate in the competition. As the host nation Brazil is to be pre-qualified and in the case of the national womens team there is a strong case to say the team would be there regardless.
Fresh off hosting a first ever IRB Sevens event in São Paulo Brazil came out on top in Santiago to win the gold medal, defeating Argentina by an impressive 40-0 in the final. Uruguay finished third and did one better in the mens section as Argentina won the final 29-5. Brazil´s triumph showcased why the country is the leader in womens rugby in South America. On Sunday Brazil defeated Uruguay 32-0, and Chile 34-0 prior to the final.
Brazil´s level in the womens division is in stark contrast to that of mens rugby were high investment into the national game has failed to produce improvements. Rather than progression the Brazilian mens team is currently on a downward spiral and with many of the leading players either approaching their 30s or already being 30 or older the signs are far from ideal for the future.
On day one Argentina proved to be the team to beat as it won all four matches - defeating Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Argentina´s superiority continued on Sunday as the day started with a 26-0 win over Brazil and following a 47-0 win over Peru Argentina completed a perfect tournament by defeating Uruguay 29-5 in the final. Argentina´s women had a good final day with a 29-5 win over Venezuela and a 10-7 victory over Uruguay preceding the loss against Brazil.
The most consistent team across both divisions was arguably Uruguay. Los Teros won the Silver Medal in the mens competition after downing Chile and Brazil while Las Teras completed a Bronze Medal campaign by defeating Colombia 5-0 in a hard fought Bronze Final. In finishing second the mens team achieved the goal of securing a place at the 2015 Pan American Games, the next phase in the qualification process for the Rio Olympics. Uruguay is also chasing a play at the Hong Kong Sevens and a permanent place on the World Sevens Circuit. Qualification will occur in two weeks time. Argentina is pre-qualified for Toronto 2015.
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