Fri 30th May 14 :

Try Rugby making a big impact in Brazil


The round ball may have a monopoly in Brazil
but Premiership Rugby has infiltrated its borders and with the season finale
just around the corner, passions are reaching fever pitch.

Through an innovative partnership between Premiership Rugby and the British
Council, TRY Rugby Brazil is supporting the growth of rugby across Brazil – and
Twickenham's Aviva Premiership Final is the culmination of so much hard work
this season.

Working with local partners SESI-FIEMG, FIESC and FIESP across the states of
Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina and São Paulo, Premiership Rugby coaches are
increasing participation and utilising rugby's culture and core values to
initiate health, education and social change.

Now with 24 school sites across three different states in Brazil – home of the
Rio 2016 Olympics and Rugby 7s' first involvement in the Games since the 1920s
– the scheme has seen more than 54,000 people taking coaching sessions,
workshops and events.

Adrian Silvester is one of the coaches based full time in one of SESI's
schools. He's charged with reaching out to the youngsters – and getting them
excited about the Final.

As well as encouraging them to pick a team to support, Adrian has arranged a
handful of matches before the big kick-off to get everyone in the mood.

"We have had a few ideas of trying to get the kids into it," he said.
"We are really pushing them to come down and they are looking forward to
playing some games beforehand. On the day we are going to get some of the
youngsters making some posters.

"We don't have a lot of media access for them to sit down and watch a
final – it is going to help out so much. It is going to be fantastic."

For Adrian, whose coaching background involves a number of years with the
international setup in Malta, the experience of TRY Rugby Brazil has been

"It has been pretty exciting if I'm honest," he added. "We have got
so many kids from different backgrounds and different situations – we have got
quite a few of them playing rugby now and I must admit it has been really good

"It is a different experience and a different challenge."

The programme's growth since a pilot scheme in São Paulo alone back in
September 2012 has surprised even its most avid supporters and Amanda Lima,
British Council projects manager for sports, is excited by the next step.

"For those kids to be able to sit down and enjoy a final of Aviva
Premiership rugby, it is huge for them," she said.

"They are just learning now but they love to take part and when they watch
big players playing contact rugby it is a completely different world. They are
very keen and they want to play like those guys. Premiership Rugby is giving
them this opportunity that they never had before.

"It is a sport that girls and boys play together and I think that was a
differential. There are also the values that rugby teaches – respect,
discipline and sportsmanship. They do understand that really well, which is

"They are extremely excited. All the coaches are trying to put something
really cool together for the kids to watch the game.

"A lot of the kids don't have TVs a home and it is not necessarily being
shown over here so we are going to put up big screens and get some popcorn."

Sophie Hartley, Premiership Rugby's programme delivery manager, is enjoying the
fruits of her labours – and those of all the coaches and organisers.

"It has gone a lot better than we had expected and the people have really
taken it on," she said.

"One of the key things was how we use rugby as a tool for the core values
of teamwork and discipline. Another key aspect is to teach the English language
– it is not just about rugby.

"The pilot started in September 2012 – it was very much a pilot and where
we have gone now is brilliant. Hopefully we will go to some new areas.

"We have now got 24 sites in Brazil and it is having a great impact in
such a big country."