South American women’s sevens teams closed 2020 out in style this weekend in Uruguay, with Brazil winning the Sudamericano Femenino de Sevens for an unprecedented 18th time.
Led by the evergreen Beatriz ‘Baby’ Futuro, who retired from first-class rugby after seventeen seasons of international competition, Brazil retained control of a region that overcame the odds to take the field in a season upset by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the circumstances, Sudamérica Rugby was able to provide its sevens teams a platform in which to perform, and eight squads ventured to Montevideo.
Chile, one of three sides in the tournament led by female coaches, showed their growth in the opening game against Colombia, which they drew 17-17, while Colombia finished in third, after losing to Paraguay in the semifinals and beating home side Uruguay in the bronze final.
A remarkable conclusion for 2020
The Uruguayans, after a hard look at their women’s plan, worked hard over the last year and their prize was a four-place jump from the year before, finishing fourth this year.
Argentina meanwhile, voted the Unstoppable team of the tournament, above all showed their love for the game. Their fifth-place finish does not, on paper, show the dedication put in by their young team, having spent 26-days away from home. Whilst in Uruguay, three players tested positive for COVID-19 positive, but the team never ceased to fight.
Paraguay also enjoyed a huge tournament, taking silver, beating Colombia in semifinals and being the only team to score a converted try against champions Brazil.
The champions, who scored 246 points in six games, conceded only two tries throughout the tournament – the first was from Peruvian Michelle Flores Cordero, whose team also made a big impact, with her teammate Michella Ríos later chosen Player of the Tournament.
Brazil back on top
Ultimately the Yaras were too strong for their opposition, however. On the back of a month-long preparation for the Olympics in Portugal, they proved to be truly unstoppable, with the Acosta twins Thalia and Talita constantly showing their speed and scoring tries at ease.
Thalia Acosta scored three braces and two hat-tricks – including one in the final – for 12 tournament tries, whilst Talita celebrated two hat-tricks for a total of seven tries.
Futuro, a true hero of the game in her country and the wider region, scored the tournament’s first try against Uruguay, completing the opening day with a try-per-game performance.
Her scoring spree dried up for her last day of international rugby, yet she once again gave her all. As she left the field after the final whistle, players from the rest of the teams were there to celebrate her career.
“I am very happy and can only be thankful for all that rugby has given me,” she said after the final. “Being unbeaten champions makes me very happy.”
Acknowledging the way her opponents and teammates celebrated her achievement, she concluded: “It was very nice, very symbolic knowing that I have so many friends here.”
Her last action as a player was to raise the trophy, handed to her by team captain Luiza Campos.
A “glimmer of hope”
Barbara Pichot, SAR’s Women’s Rugby Manager, was delighted with the commitment of players, management and unions to make it to Montevideo to compete.
Thanking the efforts of the Unión de Rugby del Uruguay and the different government agencies, she said: “We have given girls and women in the region and the world a glimmer of hope that the game is very much alive.
“To be able to witness first-hand the joy of more than 110 athletes representing not only their countries but the game was incredible. The positive energy that was felt around the Carrasco Polo Club was incredible. There were many tears of happiness.
“We all felt unstoppable!”