Written by Robert Burgin
A huge week for Brasil Rugby League has received another boost, with news Sāo Paulo-born Ramon Silva has signed with leading English club Wigan.
News of Silva’s signing comes days before two eagerly-awaited matches in the Brazilian men’s domestic competition, where at least one team – possibly two – will book themselves a place in the grand final.
This Saturday will see reigning men’s champions Urutau host Maringá in a winner-take-all clash to be champions of Paraná State – effectively a semi-final to the national crown.
The last clash between the two clubs, on September 4, was considered the most exciting men’s contest in the history of Brasil Rugby League, with Maringá’s Hawks coming from behind to win 30-26.
Since then however, Urutau’s Screaming Owls have posted a sequence of big scores against opponents to signal they won’t vacate the throne easily.
Just as Urutau v Maringá commences in São José dos Pinhais, two of the heavyweight teams in the South East Conference – São Paulo Raiders and Rio de Janeiro Sharks will face off in Santa Bárbara d’Oeste.
Should São Paulo repeat their last-up win against Rio, they will virtually assure themselves top spot in the conference, although there are more games still to play.
Victory against Rio cannot be taken for granted however, after Rio trumped Taubaté 38-18 in an unexpected scoreline last week.
An encouraging trend has developed in the South East Conference over recent games with hookers Liam Piacente (Sāo Paulo), Mauricio Pereira (Taubaté) and Otavio Guimarães (Rio) playing an up-tempo game and swinging momentum by reading play and creating opportunities against bigger opponents.
Teenager Guimarães also made close to 40 tackles in Rio’s last match, with his scything technique on Taubaté’s big men identified as a key reason for the Sharks’ reversal in form.
Brasil’s national men’s grand final will be held on December 11, followed a week later by the national wheelchair championships.
Last weekend, Taubaté took out the women’s 9-a-side championship on a milestone weekend for the sport, where a simultaneous tournament was held in Colombia.