A BRAZILIAN teenager who was introduced to rugby through Premiership Rugby’s award-winning Try Rugby programme has been selected for the national team.
Franco Anzanello Meira from Blumenau hadn’t played rugby before Try Rugby coaches Adrian Silvester and Catherine Davidson turned up at his school in Bom Jesus Blumenau.
And after making extraordinary progress he has now been called into the Brazil Under-19 training squad.
“I started to play rugby – thanks to the Try Rugby project,” Meira explained. “I had seen it on TV but my first taste of playing was when Adrian and Cat ran the workshop in which he talked about the laws and positions.
“After some months training I was invited to a state team’s training in Florianópolis which led to a call-up to the Brazilian junior squad camp in São Paulo.
“I have now moved to Florianópolis so that I can improve my rugby and where I can train regularly in the Academy and get to have the chance to play at a higher level rugby with Desterro rugby club that plays First Division rugby in Brazil.”
Franco Anzanello Meira from Blumenau hadn’t played rugby before starting Premiership Rugby’s Try Rugby Brazil programme
Try Rugby was launched in Brazil by Premiership Rugby – in partnership with the British Council and SESI-SP in 2012 to:
- Help to grow the sport of rugby in Brazil in the lead up to Rio 2016.
- Use rugby as a tool for social change and to support the inclusion of 'at risk' or disadvantaged young people in Brazil and the development of rugby’s core values to build valuable life skills.
- Build links between the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs in the UK and SESI centres in Brazil to co-create resources and share best practice in the use of rugby for social inclusion and the development of young people.
- Share knowledge and best practice in rugby with teachers, coaches and young volunteers creating a sustainable workforce.
Ahead of the introduction of Rugby 7s at the 2016 Rio Olympics Try Rugby has been universally acclaimed as a huge success in South America since starting in 2012, winning the prestigious Community Programme of the Year Award at the Rugby Expo Awards 2013.
After just three years of Try Rugby Brazil, more than 15,000 participants are now playing every week in Brazil and more than 80,000 young people and adults taking coaching sessions – which has more than doubled the rugby playing base in Brazil.
The programme moved into Rio de Janeiro in March 2015 through sponsorship from Jaguar Land Rover, becoming the fifth Brazilian state programme alongside São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul.
Premiership Rugby’s International Development Manager Dom Caton explains: “We have helped introduced the new sport of rugby into five states and with the Olympics in Rio round the corner, it is a great time for us to be there and further support the development of the game and its values.
“The biggest challenge we've faced everywhere is their love of football. Teaching them any new sport is tough, let alone one that has totally different rules and skill sets like passing the ball with your hands rather than your feet, as well as passing the ball backwards in order to go forwards.
“Obviously our objective is to increase the growth and awareness of rugby, but as important is the objective to effect social change in hard to reach areas.
"We want to find people who are at risk and try to help them, and we are so lucky that rugby has these core values.
“They are fantastic values not just for the sport, but for life, and we always get the kids to think about how the ideas of discipline, respect, solidarity, integrity, passion, and teamwork can affect them on and off the pitch.
“It shows them the importance of respect for their family, respect for their team and respect for themselves as well. They are skills for life and rugby is one of the best vehicle to educate them.”