Brazilian rugby. The other day I was astounded to see that the sports channel ESPN was showing coverage of a Rugby World Cup qualifying game between Brazil and Uruguay. It was in Montevideo, Uruguay, the attendance seemed to be in hundreds (if that!) and not the thousands and, of course, I knew none of the names of these Brazilian "stars" of the national team. The Brazilian coach was French too which perhaps points to the dearth of experienced Brazilian mangers (is this the case with the English football team and Capello?). The commentators reported that Brazilians had lost 79-3 to Chile in their opening match. So, I sat back and waited for the action to begin. Within 3 minutes the Brazilian backs were knocked over like bowling pins and they were a try down. Uruguay went onto win 71-3, which if you look at it positively, is an improvement on the score against Chile. Argentina have the finest team of course, followed by Chile, then Uruguay with Brazil quite a way down the pecking order.
I'm afraid we won't be seeing the men in yellow at the Rugby World Cup in 2011 but on one level they are already the winners of another competition. Before the match against Chile both teams sang their national anthems. The Uruguayans mumbled the words to their anthem under their breaths. The chaps from Brazil bellowed their rendition with such gusto that I felt generally heartened to their cause and for a split second wondered how they couldn't possibly win.
Things I love about Brazil #28: The national anthem. My first exposure to the Brazilian national anthem came when I was dating Rach and visited Brazil in 2002. The national soccer team had just won the World Cup and although we were about to watch a different sport - live Volleyball - the national fervour was clearly spilling over as everyone in the arena, clad from head to toe in yellow, stood up and with arms outstretched boomed out the anthem. As a gringo wearing blue who didn't know the words, I stood out like proverbial sore thumb.
I once heard a BBC radio presenter comment that it's no wonder Brazilians feel so good about themselves and their country and it's no wonder they excel at football - just take a look at the words from their anthem. If this doesn't get you up in the morning, nothing will!
Here is a translation of the complete thing (and they even manage to get the phrase "star-spangled banner" in there) which I picked up from this website:
The placid banks of the Ipiranga (river) heard
the resounding cry of a heroic people
and brilliant beams from the sun of liberty
shone in our homeland's skies at that very moment.
If we have fulfilled the promise
of equality by our mighty arms,
in thy bosom, O freedom,
our brave breast shall defy death itself!
O beloved,idolized homeland, Hail, hail!
Brazil, an intense dream, a vivid ray
of love and hope descends to earth
if in thy lovely, smiling and clear skies
the image of the (Southern) Cross shines resplendently.
A giant by thine own nature,
thou art a beautiful,
strong and intrepid colossus,
and thy future mirrors thy greatness.
Beloved Land amongst a thousand others
art thou, Brazil, O beloved homeland!
To the sons of this landthou art a gentle mother,
Eternally lying in a splendid cradle,
by the sound of the sea and the light of the deep sky,
thou shinest, O Brazil, garland of America,
illuminated by the sun of the New World!
Thy smiling, lovely fields have more flowers
than the most elegant land abroad,
"Our woods have more life",
"our life" in thy bosom "more love".
O beloved, idolized homeland, Hail, hail!
Brazil, let the star-spangled banner thou showest forth
be the symbol of eternal love,
and let the laurel-green of thy pennant proclaim'
Peace in the future and glory in the past.'
But if thou raisest the strong gavel of Justice,
thou wilt see that a son of thine flees not from battle,
nor does he who loves thee fear death itself.
Beloved Land,amongst a thousand others
art thou, Brazil,O beloved homeland!
To the sons of this land thou art a gentle mother,
Things I miss about England #32: Singing hymns in English. I can't say I really miss our own national anthem, but I do miss singing belting songs and hymns in English when I'm in church.
Brazilian rugby: a footnote. The ESPN coverage of the Brazilian game I mentioned didn't last long. Within about 15 minutes they switched the transmission back to football!