Colombia’s U18 girls have followed in the footsteps of their senior counterparts and created history by qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 in October.
Just as Las Tucanes’ qualification for Rio 2016 took most people by surprise, the success of the U18s side at the five-team Sudamerica Rugby qualifying tournament in Brazil also came against the odds.
The team, coached by national men’s coach David Jaramillo, was a clear winner in the final played at the Estadio Martins Pereira of Sao José dos Campos, beating their hosts and pre-tournament favourites Brazil 10-0.
A try in each half – first through Marta Jiménez and then Marcelo Osorio, as the rain started to fall – spoiled any ambitions the Yarinhas might have had of playing at the Youth Olympic Games.
Colombia had beaten Brazil 17-5 earlier on the second day of the competition, the only time in five games that their try-line was broken. In their four games leading to the final, they scored 101 points.
“This win is very positive because it is the success of a well-planned structure that is already bearing fruit,” explained Jaramillo. “It started with a big investment towards the growth of the game for young boys and girls some years ago.
“This shows that the system works and for Colombian rugby, this confirms that we are doing the right thing.”
Colombian rugby works hand in hand with state and government offices and becoming the first team sport from the South American country to qualify for a Youth Olympic Games is huge.
“All the hard work paid off and we are extremely happy," concluded Jaramillo.
Canada at the double
In the Rugby Americas North qualifiers, Canada’s boys and girls teams were crowned champions after defeating USA in both finals at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
Fantastic results as our U18 men and women win against USA Well done players and staff. Olympic qualification this morning for the girls. The boys rely on other sports. Congrats @SandroFiorino13 @yakbutt @MacDowellRugby Fred Asselin @debsmcgrath @RugbyCanada— Damian McGrath (@mcgrath_damian) March 3, 2018
The Canadian boys' team was greeted by a partisan American crowd as they ran out for the first final of the day, but this did not deter them as they claimed a nerve-racking 14-10 victory over the host nation.
Shortly after, Canada’s girls completed the double with a convincing 36-5 victory over the USA to book their spot at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires later this year.
As per IOC rulings, only one male and one female team can attend the Youth Olympic Games from each nation. Canada chose to put forward rugby sevens in the female event and field hockey in the boys.
So, while the girls’ presence in Buenos Aires is guaranteed, Damian McGrath’s champion team must wait to see if the Canadian field hockey team come through their qualifiers.
Both Canadian teams went through their respective competitions unbeaten, the boys racking up big wins without conceding a point against Jamaica and Barbados before going on to beat the USA twice in much closer encounters.
The girls’ path through to the final was very similar in that they enjoyed big wins over Barbados (57-0) and Mexico (67-0), followed by a 14-5 win over the USA at the end of day two.
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