For the past three years, Reuben Samuel has led the Brazilian women's sevens team in numerous tournaments around the world, but this weekend will be a special occasion for him as the Waikato-born coach returns home.

Born in Tokoroa, 38-year-old Samuel grew up in Hamilton and coached the Waikato provincial women's team from 2012 to 2015, and was also the assistant coach of the Black Ferns in 2015/16.

Early in 2016, Samuel received an email asking if he would take on the role of head coach of the Brazilian women's sevens team, an offer he debated over much of the year before finally accepting.

"There was a lot of talking with my family — they still live in Hamilton — and I fly over from Brazil twice a year to spend time with them," Samuel said.


During the first three months, he considered leaving his post in Brazil and coming back to New Zealand, saying it was difficult to adapt early on.

"The language difference was one obstacle I had to overcome, and then there are a lot more people in Brazil, along with different circumstances, which includes how there are either very wealthy people in Brazil or very poor people, and nothing in between."

He said that after discussions with friends, he gave the role some more time and eventually the cultural aspects of Brazil grew on him.

"It isn't New Zealand, but then again there aren't many places in the world that are — we are very spoilt here.

"It has broadened my horizon fully and I'm very thankful for what we have here. At the same time, being over there has helped me grow as a person and my family has got to travel as well."

As part of preparation for the Sevens, Samuel brought his squad over to New Zealand early in December, and the squad has spent the time getting to know the country.

he Brazilian Women Sevens team will face Australia in their first game at the HSBC Sevens in Hamilton. Photo / Tom Rowland
he Brazilian Women Sevens team will face Australia in their first game at the HSBC Sevens in Hamilton. Photo / Tom Rowland

Speaking to Hamilton News after a training session at Hamilton Girls' High School, Samuel said: "Everybody has come out to help, from my family to the Waikato Rugby union — everybody has been welcoming."

He said the team was prepared before coming to New Zealand, and learnt Maori songs.


"There have been five occasions where we have been to a marae where we have spoken and the girls have sung a Maori song, which has been very well received.

"Culture is something that is very difficult for them in Brazil; they are not really attached to the indigenous culture there. It is more what we see it as beaches and dancing."

He said some of the girls have now shown interest in going back to Brazil and learning more about their own culture.

The team is a mixture of both city and country players, with rugby continuing to grow as a sport in the country.

He said the sport is still somewhat unstructured but is developing over time.

The team will be faced with some tough opposition, facing both Australia and the USA in the opening pool play.

This year's HSBC Sevens will be historic in that it is the first time the women's circuit has came to New Zealand, with over 60 games of rugby to be played over Saturday and Sunday.

"I was a big part of women's rugby when I was here and I guess New Zealand as a whole has grown hugely in the last three to four years in getting behind the women's game, not just at a community level but at a political level as well," Samuel said.

"Everyone is finally embracing that women have a place in rugby and our Black Ferns XV and Sevens have both shown that they deserve to be there as well."