Over the weekend leading players from eight teams, including 15 Olympians from Brazil and Colombia, will showcase their talent at the Sudamerica Rugby Women's Sevens in the Argentinean resort of Villa Carlos Paz in Cordoba.
The prize at stake for the best-placed team other than reigning champions Brazil is an invitation to take part in the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, on 3-4 March. Two teams will also go into the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2017-18 qualifier in Hong Kong to represent Sudamerica Rugby.
While Brazil have long been the dominant force in the compeition, fellow Olympic participants Colombia and hosts Argentina traditionally battle it out for second place and are favourites to land the tickets to Las Vegas and Hong Kong.
“We have huge expectations,” said Colombian captain Alejandra Betancur (pictured). “We have some new players and we are focusing on the future. Playing against Argentina has become a big game for us and we know that a lot will be hanging on our game with them.”
Both nations are in Pool B with Peru and Chile, while defending champions Brazil spearhead Pool A with Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Brazil have won every tournament they have competed in since 2004. The Samba girls did not feature at the 2015 event, which doubled as an Olympic qualifier, because their place in the rugby sevens competition in Rio de Janeiro was already guaranteed as the host nation. In their absence, Colombia took the title and consequently qualified for the Olympics.
With stars such as Baby Futuro, veteran Paula Ishibashi (main picture) – still going strong in her 13th season of international sevens, speedster Edna Santini and Raquel Kochhann, Brazil are taking no chances in the defence of their title.
Indeed, nine of the squad that beat England in the Challenge Trophy final in Sydney a fortnight ago are named in the squad by coach Reuben Samuel.
The tournament will be streamed on Canal CPTV Carlos Paz’s YouTube channel, with games starting at 1pm (local time) on Saturday and Sunday.
With the eight teams in town, there has been a big push on legacy activities through Córdoba con Ellas, a provincial programme to support women’s activities.
Photos: Frankie Deges