With two spots available for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022, the Sudamérica Rugby Sevens kicks off on Friday, 12 November at the Carrasco Polo Club, in Montevideo, Uruguay. The tournament will be live and available on Sudamérica Rugby’s App.
The two-day tournament will feature 10 South American women’s teams competing to, in the first instance, reach the final and secure their tickets to Rugby World Cup Sevens, playing next year from 9-11 September in Cape Town, South Africa.
Brazil, 19-time Sudamérica Rugby Sevens winners (they were absent in 2015 as it doubled as Olympic Qualifier for Rio 2016, for which the team had already qualified) are the team to beat. Having represented the region in every Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens to date, and a core team in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, they will want to continue that trend.
As Yaras lead Pool A, competing against home team Uruguay, the newly renamed Las Yaguaretés from Argentina, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
Last year’s finalists Paraguay will lead Pool B, which also features the Colombian Tucanes, Chile, Perú and Panamá.
Each team will play four games in their pool, which will be completed on Saturday, 13 November. The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals. Winners of each of these two games will have secured their ticket to South Africa.
William Broderick has selected a very experienced Brazilian side, including double Olympians Raquel Kochhann, Isadora Cerullo and captain Luiza Campos, with six other players who were in Tokyo earlier this year. Amongst them is speedster Bianca Silva, who scored three of the five tries in the Games and is a member of the first group of Unstoppables in World Rugby's 'Try and Stop Us' campaign.
There will be a new cap in 20-year old Silvana Santos, the 81st player to represent Brazil in Sevens. A former U18 captain, she learnt the game through the social project 'Rugby Para Todos', and comes from Paraisópolis, a favela and the largest squatted informal settlement in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city.
“We’ve tried to balance experience and youth in this squad,” said Broderick. “We hope players can build their game based on a series of adjustments and adaptations we made since the Olympic Games".
Experienced captain Luiza Campos is confident the team can win another title. “We want to win with the same drive we’ve always had. We’ll take advantage of having younger players and even a newcomer. The more high-level games we play, the better results we can achieve as a team,” she said.
On the other side of the draw, Colombia will want to avoid Brazil in the semifinals. Beaten in the semifinals last year by surprise finalists Paraguay, they are ready for the challenge. Colombia played in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and will have the experience of María Camila Lopera Valle and Nicole Acevedo. They are joined by Unstoppable Leidy Soto, Valentina Tapias, Valeria Cuartas and Laura Mejía Soto, who shone in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.
Maribel Mestra is happy with the team’s preparation ahead of the trip to Montevideo. “We're aiming for a spot at the Rugby World Cup Sevens. We are very tight as a team, having worked very hard to get better individually. If we all get better, the team will be better. We are getting ready for Brazil or Argentina and I have faith in the team and the work done”.
Coach Sebastián Mejía, a former national captain and regular in Sudamérica Rugby Sevens tournaments, added: "We know the importance of this tournament. Our goal is to qualify for Rugby World Cup Sevens and continue to grow women’s rugby in Colombia".
The importance of this Sudamérica Rugby Sevens is huge given the current COVID-19 scenario.
“Having 10 teams in this challenging time speaks of the will they have to compete internationally,” said Bárbara Pichot, who leads Women’s Rugby in Sudamérica Rugby.
“The two places in Rugby World Cup Sevens are important, but to be able to see the girls playing, knowing the efforts done by each country and each team to be here is something to be proud of”.
“The players in Montevideo will be an inspiration for young girls and aspiring players to come and discover rugby. Being able to have the complete tournament available on Sudamérica Rugby’s App is a positive way to continue pushing the growth of women’s game in the region”.