Brazil have arrived in Langford full of confidence and determined to use their appearance at the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens to help them on their path to qualification for Tokyo 2020.
As Yaras enjoyed a fruitful April, which began with victory over Scotland in the final of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series qualifier in Hong Kong to earn their place as a core team on the 200 series.
Reuben Samuel’s side followed that up a fortnight ago with success at a Sudamérica Rugby Women’s Sevens tournament in Paraguay to maintain their unbeaten record in continental competition.
It was a considerable marker ahead of the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will be held in Lima, Peru, on 1-2 June, and Samuel is keen for his team to show the same consistency in Langford.
“Before Hong Kong, we were in South Africa for a week and a half, and then we had the South American tournament two weeks ago, and now we’re here in Canada,” he said. “So we’ve been able to test our player depth which we didn’t have in 2017.
“We’re blooding some more players again for this tournament and, of course, we are trying to make sure that we have some good consistency with our games.
“In saying that, we also have qualifiers in the next two weeks, and we are mindful of that.
“So, we do have some players that are resting to try and make sure we achieve our goal. For us, this is about preparing for that [Olympic qualification]. It is different but we are looking forward to it.”
Brazil will return to the Women’s Sevens Series as a core team for the first time since 2016-17 when they finished 11th, missing out on retaining their status by six points.
In the past two years contact with elite teams has been restricted to a first-round defeat to Canada at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco and pool stage losses to England, Fiji and New Zealand in Langford 12 months ago.
Australia, Canada and Ireland provide the opposition in Pool A this weekend, and the number of shocks in Kitakyushu last time out has given Samuel some hope.
“It is going to be tough because we haven’t played some of these teams in over two years and I believe that the level has risen in terms of teams on the circuit,” he added.
“We saw some great upsets in Kitakyushu. The pool that we’re in, it’s going to be tough, but we are just excited to be here and testing ourselves.”
Samuel described Brazil’s qualifier win in Hong Kong as “historic for us as a union” and it has clearly given his players belief as they prepare for their return to the series.
Captain Raquel Kochhann says the squad has an opportunity to prove just how much they have improved in the last year.
Rugby not soccer
“For us it’s important to show to the world that we won the qualifier for next year [and] here we can show to the other teams we are coming,” she said.
“We train a lot and now we are doing our best to have good games here.
“It (the qualifier win) was really important for the whole rugby programme in Brazil. Now we need to keep going to improve.
“Rugby is getting bigger in Brazil and the circuit can help us to show to more people that Brazilian rugby is nice and it is not just soccer in Brazil, we have another sport!”
On what success in Langford would look like for Brazil, Kochhann added: “[That] we play our best rugby, we try to put all that we trained for in Brazil, put it on the field here and just show our rugby.”