The Scots of Sao Paulo

How Scottish Highland dancing, a rugby match and the pipes celebrate Scotland and 'the beautiful game' in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

By Vincent Gibson

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St Andrew and Sao Paulo

The St Andrew Society, Sao Paulo, pipe band and dancers entertain the crowd and welcome the Edinburgh University rugby team as they prepare to take on Brazil. BBC World Affairs Correspondent Allan Little describes some of the key moments from his career and answer questions about what it is like to report the world in an age of conflict. Bill Boyd reads his poem Hogmanay, written in the style of Robert Burns.

Still photograph courtesy of Brasil Rugby.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the world’s seventh largest city by population, the historical impact and modern relevance of the Scots and Scotland continues to be celebrated at every opportunity.

This is, after all, the city to which Charles William Miller, the Brazilian born son of a Scottish engineer, returned with two balls and the rules of soccer, an event from which it's safe to say the Brazilians have never looked back.

Not to mention the obvious similarity in Sao Paulo’s reputation for its unreliable weather and its nickname of "Cidade da Garoa" (City of Drizzle).

The St Andrew Society of St. Paulo keeps the legacy of Scots in the city alive. This community of first and second generation Scots and local citizens focuses its energies on events that allow both the promotion of Scottish culture and the raising of funds for local charities.

Brazil vs Edinburgh Rugby Club
An occasion such as the June 2011 visit of Edinburgh University Rugby Club allows the Society to make a very visible and audible impact. Marking the 25th anniversary of the Club’s last tour of Brazil, they are here to play the Brazilian national team in a series of games. Despite being more than 6,000 miles from Scotland, the Edinburgh team were welcomed by a full pipe band, along with traditional Scottish Highland dancers.

This isn't Murrayfield and this pipe band are not quite what they seem. The majority of bandsmen and all dancers are Brazilian. The band plays a Brazilian set as well as the well-known Scottish tunes and have been known to stop the traffic moving in the centre of Sao Paulo!

The St Andrew Society Drum Major, Colin Pritchard, explains the surprising numbers of Brazilians in his band and why the two cultures mix well. However, it's the Brazilian Highland dancers who most clearly explain exactly what it is about Scotland that is so appealing, why they were "super-nervous" before the show and why Scotland has a place in Brazilian hearts.

UPDATE: The Edinburgh side won two games against select sides and drew one and lost one against the Brazil national side. Read Edinburgh University's full report of the tour.

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