Brazil tours New Zealand on Olympic rugby mission

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The Brazilian men's and women's rugby teams are undergoing an intensive training program in New Zealand as part of the efforts to fast-track their development ahead of the 2016 Olympic sevens tournament.

Former All-Blacks and Fiji international Tabai Matson, who earlier this year was hired as a consultant by Brazil's rugby confederation, said the football-crazed South American nation could soon achieve international success with the oval ball.

"Brazil has the big advantage of having a big resource pool. Human capital is something that we don't have a lot of in New Zealand," said Matson, who was capped five times by New Zealand and twice by Fiji.

Matson believes one of the keys to rugby's success in Brazil is to encourage youngsters to take up the sport earlier.

"In Brazil people decide to play rugby at 16 years of age or later. In New Zealand we start as soon as we can walk," Matson said.

"If we try to transform a kid of seven years of age into an Olympic champion, he will stop playing before he turns 10. Kids need to enjoy being on the field and that way they will want to continue playing."

The Brazil squads are in New Zealand under the guidance of their new men's head coach Scott Robertson, a former All Blacks backrower, and his assistant Brent Frew.

Matson said the influence of the pair would be crucial to Brazil's development ahead of the Rio Games.

"Brent is a well-respected coach in New Zealand and Robertson is just fantastic," Matson said. "He has experience in the All Blacks back row and is also an excellent attacking coach."

Matson revealed Brazil's aim was to show marked improvement in 2016 before striving for a medal at the 2020 Olympics.

"There are still four years until the Rio Games and it will be a period of structural change, promoting youngsters and developing a team with its own identity, not just copying other models," Matson said.

Brazil is currently ranked 33rd in the world and fourth in South America, behind Argentina (seventh), Uruguay (22nd) and Chile (25th).

The Rio Games will mark the return of rugby to the Olympic program forthe first time since the 1924 Paris Games. Endi

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