Brasil Rugby League has formally announced that former professional Super League player Matt Gardner will coach the nation in an unprecedented Rugby League World Cup campaign.
Gardner, whose mother Tereza Dos Santos was born in Brasil, played for 13 seasons in elite English competitions.
He will take charge of a Brazilian women’s team which has become the first Latin American side in history to qualify for a Rugby League World Cup.
The Brasileiras are one of eight teams set to contest the 2021 tournament in England, where Manchester United’s Old Trafford, Liverpool’s Anfield and Headingley Stadium, Leeds will be among the venues.
Gardner was last year named in the ‘Team of the Tournament’ at the Emerging Nations Rugby League World Championship, but has since retired from playing after suffering a midseason injury.
He will be assisted at the 2021 Women’s World Cup by Andrew Charles, a former assistant coach with Australia’s national female team, the Jillaroos.
Charles has a history of assisting emerging nations and has also coached at junior representative level in New South Wales.
Minas Gerais brothers Hugo Froes and Dr Gilberto Froes will provide leadership to the organisation as Chief Operating Officer and President respectively.
The Froes brothers have been pivotal in rugby league’s emergence in Brasil, from being a sport played in disconnected pockets of the country, to being united and highly ambitious.
Paul Grundy, a coach accreditor from Australia, where he played significant roles with the Nambour Crushers and Coolum Colts, will be the Coaching and Development Officer for Brasil.
He is the father of Brasil’s men’s five-eighth Zach Grundy, who moved to Minas Gerais in high school and is now Chief Financial Officer of Brasil Rugby League.
Latin American Rugby league co-founder Robert Burgin, who previously worked for the Queensland Rugby League, will be manager of Brasil’s 2021 World Cup program.
Next Friday, December 6, the World Cup trophy will pay a visit to Sao Paulo as delegates from the Rugby League World Cup host workshops and observe operations in Brasil.
The visit will include school visits, promotional clinics at sports stores, media opportunities, meetings with ambassadors and VIPs and a full day of matches at Clube Recreativo CERET on the Saturday.