Māori All Blacks vs Brazil: 10 things you need to know about Brazil rugby

brazil rugby
Brazil rugby team line up for Summer Cup in Georgia. Photo credit: Getty

Anytime New Zealand faces perennial football powerhouse Brazil in the roundball code qualifies as a dream come true for the Kiwi players.

Flip that scenario on its head and that's what the Brazilian rugby team face on Sunday, when they take on the Māori All Blacks with an oval ball in Sao Paolo.

OK, it's not the actual All Blacks, but this will probably be the closest the plucky 'Tupis' have ever come to rugby royalty over a rugby history that stretches back more than a century.

Certainly, the Māori have a tradition and track record that will make them arguably the strongest team Brazil have faced at international level - apart from near neighbours Argentina.

Here are 10 things you need to know about Brazilian rugby:

-          British immigrants brought the game to the South American nation during the late 19th century, establishing clubs that doubled as soccer clubs.

-          The first recorded game in Brazil was 1891, played by the Sao Paul Athletic Club. The first domestic competition was established in 1926.

-          The Brazil national team played its first fixture against a South African XV in 1932, losing by an unknown margin.

-          Brazilian rugby struggled for official recognition, because it was limited to those of British descent, but set up the modern-day Brazilian Rugby Confederation in 1963. The following year, they finished runners-up in the South American Rugby Championship.

-          Through 2015-17, the national rugby federation was recognised as providing the best governance of all local sports groups in Brazil.

-          Probably their biggest international victory came against USA Eagles 24-23 in the 2016 Americans Rugby Championship. Since then, they have also beaten Belgium, Portugal and an Argentina XV. 

-          Their 'Tupis' nickname, adopted in 2012, is a reference to the main indigenous ethnic group of Brazil. It was chosen via internet poll, with 47 percent of voters opting for Tupis ahead of Anacondas or Macaws.  

-          Brazil have never qualified for the Rugby World Cup - they are currently ranked 26th in the world, between Belgium and Netherlands.

-          But Brazil have participated on the IRB Sevens circuit, contesting that form of the game as host nation at the Rio Olympics. The Brazilian women beat Japan 26-10 in pool play, then accounted for Colombia 24-0, before beating Japan again (33-5) for ninth place.

-          In their last international outing, the Brazil 15-a-side men contested the Summer Cup in Georgia in July, beating Georgia XV 20-18, but losing 45-7 to French club Racing 92.