Search

Saracens coach introduces rugby to Brazil ahead of Rio 2016 Olympics

10:54 31 July 2014

Nick Gourlay (right) introduces Brazilian youngsters to tag rugby on the beach

Nick Gourlay (right) introduces Brazilian youngsters to tag rugby on the beach

Archant

The FIFA World Cup has only just finished, but Brazil will be hosting another global sporting event in two years’ time – the 2016 Olympics.

Nick Gourlay (second from left) in BrazilNick Gourlay (second from left) in Brazil

Rugby has been absent from the schedule since the 1924 Games in Paris, but it will return in Rio in the popular seven-a-side format – the first time that version of the sport will appear at the Olympics.

A Try Rugby project has consequently been established in Brazil, in a partnership between Premiership Rugby, The British Council and Brazil’s Social Services of Industry (SESI).

It has been running in the state of Sao Paolo since 2012, in Santa Catarina since 2013, and has recently expanded into the state of Minas Gerais.

There are over 14,000 participants playing every week in Sao Paulo state, which has doubled the playing base in Brazil, and more than 54,000 young people and adults are now taking part in coaching sessions, workshops and competitions in Brazil.

Gourlay organises a training sessionGourlay organises a training session

Saracens community coach Nick Gourlay has been involved with the extension into Minas Gerais, and has now spent five weeks in Brazil, based in the city of Uberlandia.

A former pupil at University College School in Hampstead, and a former UCS Old Boys player, he has been discovering the difficulties and rewards of introducing a new sport to a football-mad nation right after the World Cup.

“I thought that was going to be the biggest challenge before I arrived here, but actually it hasn’t been so bad - and in some cases it has been helpful,” Gourlay told Ham&High Sport.

“The World Cup here was one of the best ever and was a great success in Brazil, even if the national team crashed out in spectacular fashion at the end.

A group of Brazilians convert a football goal into rugby postsA group of Brazilians convert a football goal into rugby posts

“Brazil enjoyed being the centre of global attention and are already looking forward to the Olympics. With a lot of focus set to be on the re-introduction of rugby to the Games, people here in Brazil want to be a part of that story.

“In England I’ve often found a ‘rugby against football’ mentality but here everybody of all ages are fascinated by the new sport and the funny ball.

“There’s definitely interest in the sport. Although the 15-a-side code is very difficult to understand, we have been introducing people to the sport through tag rugby and sevens, which are far less difficult to pick up.

“Brazilians are very good natural athletes so the idea of running and beating defenders comes very easily to them and they thrive on it. Brazil is such a sporty nation that they are absolutely loving the new challenges and new experiences that rugby brings.”

Having studied Sport Science & Geography at Loughborough University, Gourlay is well suited to his role.

“One half of my family comes from the Philippines and I have always been interested in how basketball brings communities together in the face of great poverty and hardship,” he said. “I have always wanted to help use rugby to bring the same benefits elsewhere.

“To me the project was everything I have looked to be involved in - developing rugby in an incredibly exciting country and using it to help better the lives of young people and communities.

“I’ve found it much easier getting girls involved in sport here in Brazil than I did back in England as there is a real culture of girls’ participation.

“It has also been very different to England in the fact that we start our sessions with little or no knowledge of what rugby is meant to look like in the first place.

“In England, before every session, everybody has a go at kicking and drop-goals, but out here everybody just tries to get their head around making the ball bounce back up into their hands.”

Gourlay’s biggest difficulty has been the language barrier – he did not speak any Portuguese when he got the job in May and has encountered very few English-speaking Brazilians.

However, there are longer-term issues ahead: “Development of rugby out here poses completely different challenges,” he said.

“One of the most important goals of the project is that everything we do is sustainable. We don’t want to leave and for everything to fall apart and stop, so educating people to coach, teach and referee is incredibly important in making sure that what we do and set up is not just temporary.

“Whereas the interest is definitely there, the size of the country and the lack of facilities makes setting up systems that are long-lasting incredibly hard.

“Equipment is not easy to come by, and every weekend the local team strap poles to the sides of a football goal to make the rugby posts. Sorting out equipment so that we have a good number of schools competing with each other and regularly participating in rugby will be a real challenge in the future.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Peter Crouch celebrates his decisive goal for Tottenham at Manchester City in May 2010

Sunday promises to be a big day in the title fight as the Premier League’s top four teams go head to head – Leicester City visit Arsenal while Tottenham travel to face Manchester City.

Kevin Wimmer:

Tottenham defender Kevin Wimmer is yet to concede a goal in the Premier League since replacing Jan Vertonghen – and he is aiming to keep it that way as he prepares to face Sergio Aguero in Sunday’s title showdown at Manchester City.

Yesterday, 09:00
Left to right: Gareth Davies, Max Hanson, Joe Northover, head coach Paul Doyle, Renat Samur, Alex Vonckx, Max Green

Haringey Aquatics teenager Renat Samur recorded a double as the club collected a total of five gold medals at the ASA Middlesex Age Group Championships.

Yesterday, 08:30
Back row (left to right): John Beckett, Joe Bruce, Wyn Bliss, George Everitt, Nick Corbett, Joe Beckett. Front row: Joel Robb, Ben Miller, Alfie Buxton

Haringey’s Under-13 indoor cricket side narrowly missed out on qualifying for the finals of the London Youth Games at Harrow Leisure Centre on Saturday.

Yesterday, 08:00
Charlie Hodgson kicked three penalties in Saracens' victory over Exeter on Sunday. Pic: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall is confident his current squad can maintain the club’s momentum at the top of the table, despite the absence of key international stars due to the Six Nations.

Yesterday, 05:28
Junior Gunners

Arsenal head up to Manchester United later this month for what is always one of the most eagerly awaited clashes of any season.

Wed, 15:49
Matt Botha scored Hampstead & Westminster's goal. Pic: Mark Clews

Hampstead & Westminster’s men returned from the winter break with a 3-1 home defeat against basement boys Canterbury, leaving them one point outside the bottom two in the Premier Division.

Wed, 15:41
Left to right: Amir Castronovo, Gabriele Giovannoni, Alexis Lambropoulos, Ella McEver, Marlie Rittenhouse, Julia Murphy and Ally Dill

Eleven-year-old rising star Brandon Biss led the way as Camden Swiss Cottage picked up 68 medals over three weekends of racing in the County Championships.

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe