World Rugby and the Brazilian Rugby Confederation (CBRu) have inaugurated Brazil’s first ever semi-permanent beach rugby pitch on the iconic Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
As part of World Rugby’s Olympic Day celebrations, children and young people from local social projects, schools and clubs were invited to the opening of the pitch, which will become a feature on the white sands of the Brazilian city’s most iconic beach until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
World Rugby also used the occasion to launch its Impact Beyond programme, that will use Rio 2016 as a catalyst for the growth of the game in Brazil. Impact Beyond programmes run alongside all major World Rugby events, focusing on development, participation, coaching, volunteering and business programmes to further support and sustain the expansion of the game in the host country and region.
The Brazil Impact Beyond programme is one of the largest pre-Rio 2016 social sports outreach programmes. It aims to train and develop physical education teachers and members of sports clubs, so World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby programme can be included in 1,000 schools in Rio as well as community and social projects, reaching 200,000 children throughout the country.
Rugby is one of the fastest-growing team sports in Brazil, and with more than 46,000 children introduced to rugby in the past two years, the Brazilian Rugby Union and World Rugby are committed to ensuring that Rio 2016 provides a platform to inspire and engage even more new participants and fans.
The sport’s winning blend of high-octane entertainment and close competition is proving popular in Brazil with the country successfully hosting a round of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in 2014 and 2015 and the Brazil men’s and women’s national teams competing in the Rio 2016 Rugby Sevens events.
World Rugby President Bernard Lapasset said: “Rugby in Brazil is taking off – with more than 60,000 registered rugby players and 300 clubs in the country the sport is capturing the imagination of players and fans alike.
“Impact Beyond will harness that interest and the attention created by next year’s Olympic Games to showcase Rugby’s character-building values, competitive action and festival atmosphere and engage with new participants and audiences. Rugby at Rio 2016 promises to be an event not to be missed.
“Along with the Brazilian Rugby Union we are determined to make the most of the opportunities presented by Rio 2016 and use it to drive the sustainable growth of Rugby in Brazil now and in the future.”
Brazilian Rugby Confederation (CBRu) President Sami Arap Sobrinho added: “On behalf of the Brazilian Rugby Union, it gives me great pleasure to welcome our World Rugby friends to Rio de Janeiro again.
“The launch of the first beach rugby pitch at Copacabana represents a significant and exciting milestone for rugby’s continued growth in Brazil – it is a strong symbol of a sport that is going places, growing and reach out and inspiring more children in this country that loves sport.
“With the support of World Rugby and CONSUR, we are aiming to introduce rugby to children in 1000 schools across Rio through our Impact Beyond programme. It is ambitious, but we are excited about the increasing popularity of rugby ahead of Rio 2016.”
Agberto Guimaraes, Rio 2016 Executive Director of Sport & Paralympic Integration added: “It is great to see the first set of Rugby posts being erected in the Olympic host city. Rugby sevens promises to be a thrilling spectacle and the sport will play a full part in the dynamic, youth focused atmosphere we will create in Deodoro.
“With the first nations already qualified and the venue construction progressing well, the Olympic rugby sevens competition is now becoming an exciting reality. We look forward to welcoming rugby fans from around the world to Rio in just over one years’ time to enjoy an excellent competition with memorable celebrations.”
With just over a year to go to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Rugby Sevens (August 6-11), planning and preparations are progressing well and ticket sales are strong ahead of what promises to be a spectacular festival of Rugby. Rugby Sevens continues to go from strength to strength on the back of exciting and hugely successful 2015/16 World Rugby Sevens Series, which again showcased the high calibre of both the men’s and women’s game. The sport is proving to be a hit with fans, sponsors and broadcasters around the world setting the stage for Rugby’s Olympic return.
Photo above: from l-r: Mark Egan (World Rugby Head of Competitions and Performance), Brett Gosper (World Rugby CEO), Baby Futuro (Brazil player), Bernard Lapasset (World Rugby Chairman), Agberto Guimaraes (Rio 2016 Executive Director of Sport & Paralympic Integration) Sami Arap Sobrinho (Brazil Rugby Union President) and Fernando Portugal (Brazil player).