As Yaras have once again won the Sudamericano Femenino, played in Lima, Peru, which also doubled as the region’s qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In doing so, the Brazilians have secured their ticket to a second consecutive Olympic Games after being the hosts in 2016.
Unbeaten in the region since 2004, Brazil have now qualified for the world’s biggest sporting event and the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2020, as a core team, over the course of the last two months.
As Yaras topped Pool A after big wins over Venezuela, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru, averaging exactly 50 points per game and only conceding 17 across their first four matches. After being held to a 24-24 draw by Argentina, Colombia reeled off three straight wins, against Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica, to make the semi-finals.
Colombia needed to beat Costa Rica by 69 or more points to avoid meeting As Yaras in the last four and they got there with two points to spare, running in try after try to win 71-0 and top their pool. In the process, they also secured a place in the Pan American Games to be played in Lima in 2019.
Argentina took on Brazil in the first semi-final and put pressure on As Yaras but the defending champions came through to win 36-14. Home side Peru, backed by a large contingent of fans, on a rare sunny day, also pushed the Colombians hard in the other semi-final, but the experience of the Tucanes women allowed them to take the match, 19-5.
In the third-place play-off, Peru again fought hard, keeping Argentina to 5-5 in the second half, but the fitness of Las Pumas allowed them to pull away for a 22-12 win.
With the Peruvian public supporting the Colombians, the final was an enjoyable affair in which Brazil were always in command, even though they allowed the Colombians in for three tries. In the end, Brazil ran out comfortable 28-15 winners, with Thalia Costa, captain Raquel Kochhann and Bianca Silva playing starring roles.
Brazil can now look forward to appearing at a second Olympic Games and the chance to improve on their ninth-place finish in 2016.