Women's Rugby set for JWC 2010 showcase

(IRB.COM) Sunday 20 June 2010
 Women's Rugby set for JWC 2010 showcase
Argentina coach Miguel Seró with captain Viviana Garat

The profile of Women's Rugby in South America looks set to surge following a decision to hold and televise a Sevens match between Brazil and Argentina during finals day of the IRB Junior World Championship 2010 on Monday in Rosario.

The game, which takes place at the same Estadio El Coloso del Parque as the JWC final between Australia and New Zealand, brings together the two leading Women's Rugby nations in the region.

Brazil, who reached the Bowl final in the inaugural Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai last year, will be the focal point in six years time when Rio de Janeiro hosts the first Rugby Sevens competition in the Olympics Games.

This exciting development has already proven to be a turning point in developing the Women's Game, which has initially found it hard to attract big crowds in the region.

"Having the match televised is really important for Women's Rugby," explained Argentina Women's Sevens coach Miguel Seró. "It will give way to a new audience now that many more people who will be at the stadium have never seen the national squad playing.

"It will be a great chance to measure up to the most powerful team in South America."

Long-term plan

Seró, who also works in the Women's Development Office of the Unión Argentina de Rugby, revealed that nine tournaments were organised last year when playing numbers in Argentina reached around 300. This year there are plans to double the number of tournaments with the hope the increase will have a knock on effect with player numbers.

"Not only are we trying to increase the number of players and our level, but we also provide clinics with the development officials of the UAR. We also want to improve and expand the number of women who take part in coaching sessions.

"We are starting a new process now. There will be provincial pre-match preparation in the same way that is done for the junior teams. There we will detect talent and evaluate the physical and technical level of the girls to keep improving the number of players.

"In the long run we are working on a great plan trying to fufil our dream of qualifying for the Olympic Games. In regional tournaments we have already implemented a junior competition, thinking about it and trying to improve our development in the game, both mentally and physically. These days the girls under 20 years old are the ones who are going to be in good shape when the Games comes around."

It is a similar story in Brazil, the top women's side in the region who are unbeaten on South American soil in five years, where 600 players meet regularly to compete.

Brazil captain Julia Sarda expressed her delight at the growing popularity of the sport and admitted that their participation in the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai had shown the players what they needed to do to compete with the world's leading players.

Brazilian growth

"We always made a big effort, almost without support or funds. Now, thanks to the Olympic Games we are working very well and with a lot of assistance. All of us share the pride of playing for our country, of representing the 100 million Brazilians."

The match before the third place play-off between England and South Africa on Monday is a great warm-up opportunity for Brazil, who head to Portugal next month for the FISU World University Women's Rugby Sevens Championship.

Sarda, who travels 12 hours to national team training by bus, knows that both this showcase of Women's Rugby in South America and the trip to Portugal are equally important for the future development of the Game in Brazil.

"Now that we are going to Portugal our squad has no players over 28 years of age. This is important because it is the second generation of players who are starting to travel for tournaments," she explained.

"Growth is the key. We're exposed in the media and that causes there to be even more interest in rugby. We notice it in the amount of people who approach us as well as the country's need for information on rugby."

The two sides will kick off at 15:50 local time and will then also play an short exhibition of Women's Sevens during half time in the IRB Junior World Championship 2010 final.