There is no denying that rugby is fast becoming a truly global game. For years the sport has been dominated by traditional powerhouses such as England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Now however, less traditional rugby nations are inspired to grow.
There have been two victories in rugby since 2015 that will encourage all countries. First there was Japan’s incredible upset over the Springboks at Rugby World Cup 2015. Then, at the Rio 2016 rugby 7s event, Fiji won their country’s first ever Olympic medal, dominating the competition to claim gold.
These successes should put the onus on to emerging nations, showing that there are opportunities to make their mark in rugby.
One of these emerging nations is Colombia. Despite being a relatively small country in rugby terms, it now boasts nearly 16,000 registered players – significant growth in the last eight years. Of these, over 9,000 are 20 years of age or younger, which suggests that the long-term future of rugby in Colombia is secure.
Rugby is played in 16 of the 24 major cities in Colombia, with the help of programs such as Get Into Rugby
. The Colombian Government also uses Rugby as a key sport in their ‘Sports Diplomacy
’ programme, which aims to get Colombia better coverage around the world through sport.
Colombia has also improved not just in terms of numbers but competitiveness. They have won the South American Championship three times in a row at both senior and under 18 level. The women’s side also competed in the Olympic Rugby 7s in 2016, and despite not scoring a point in their three matches, the experience is sure to have helped them with their future development.
Gilbert is delighted to have a presence in Colombia – we have two Colombian members of Team Gilbert! One is Colombia women’s 7s player Catalina Ramirez who played at Rio 2016. The other is the captain of the men’s national team, Sebastian Mejia.
Our involvement in Colombia continues our efforts to take rugby around the world. Recently we have been involved in two rugby programmes taking the sport to new territories.
in Cambodia enables disadvantaged and disabled children the chance to grow and thrive through sport. UMRio
works with the disadvantaged children in Rio’s Favelas and helps them escape the negative stereotypes and mind-sets that they have been born into.
Gilbert will continue to do its bit to grow the game around. With the next Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan, the opportunities for emerging rugby nations are there for everyone to see. It will be great to see if Colombia – and others – can replicate Japan’s success.
For more information about Gilbert Colombia, please email Lucas Marroquin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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