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Brazilian rugby fans light up Rio

2016-08-11 10:25
Mariana Pauluti and her mates watching the Olympic Sevens in Rio (Lloyd Burnard).

Rio de Janeiro - The Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro can only host about 15 000 people and it was nowhere near full on the second day of men's Sevens on Wednesday. 

That combined with the persistent wet weather could have made for a glum day, yet the fans that turned out were in the highest of spirits. 

As with everything in Rio right now, there was an overwhelming international flavour.

There were numerous South Africans in the stands, plenty of Australians, rowdy Argentinians and concerned New Zealanders ... but the most vocal of all the spectators were the Brazilians. 

The hosts have lost all four of their matches at the tournament so far - against Fiji, Argentina and twice against the USA - but that has not subdued their supporters at all. 

World Rugby has spoken about using the Olympics as a vehicle to grow the game on the global stage, and that could be seen clearly in a region that is not associated with rugby at all.

"We have much love for rugby in Brazil but we do not have much support," 23-year-old Mariana Pauluti from Sao Paulo told Sport24. 

"We can only see it on ESPN and we can watch live rugby, but only regionals. Only in Sao Paulo can I sit and watch the matches."

One of the little gems from Wednesday's action was Brazil's final pool A match - a South American derby against Argentina. 

Brazil were hammered 31-0, but not for one second did Pauluti and the rest of the yellow army stop cheering. 

"We have always had a strong rivalry with Argentina; we don't like them very much," she said only half-jokingly, pointing over her shoulder towards her Argentinean mate. 

"It does not only happen on the football field ... it is in everything and rugby too.

"It has not being go so well, but we did score two tries against Fiji so we are very happy about that."

Brazil will take on Kenya on Thursday in the playoff for last place.

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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