Fans from big and small rugby nations were in full voice as some of the sport's biggest stars played on the first day of the men's tournament
With native English-speaking volunteers dotted around the stadium, international travellers were made to feel at home. And there were a lot of them.
The Harris family came to Rio from California in the hopes of seeing the fruits of North America’s growing interest in rugby. "We definitely stand a chance," said dad Eric. "We've got some big, quick guys and rugby is the fastest growing sport in the US. Give us one more World Cup, and the one after that we're going to be in contention."
The USA will, in one sense, be defending their Olympic title: they won gold the last time the sport was in the Games, in 1924, in the 15-player format.
USA names NFL player Nate Ebner in rugby team for Rio 2016
Inside the stadium, the first kick had yet to be taken before Australian fans were confidently parading the stands with chants of ‘Aussie, Aussie Aussie…’. But the few French present were swift to respond with their own ‘Allez les bleus…’
As Brazil’s match with world champions Fiji crept closer, the famous festival spirit that follows rugby around the world spread throughout the stands.
Watch out football
Brazilians' growing interest in the sport was on full show before they had even entered the stadium. Lining up to try to convert kicks over giant inflatable rugby posts, many proved that their silky footwork is not just limited to the football pitch.
Felipe Brito, 24, seen above successfully converting his second attempt, said: “I don’t play the game. And rugby doesn't get much attention in Brazilm but it's growing slowly. So hopefully I'll be able to find a club near me soon."
Tuesday was Brito's second day of Olympic action, having watched Australia’s women triumph yesterday. "Today, I'm excited to see Brazil, but everybody's saying New Zealand are the best, so I guess I'm excited to see them too!"
Few could have guessed how New Zealand's game against Japan was about to unfold...
Southern hemisphere fans quickly warmed to the home fans when Brazil’s spirit for supporting the underdog was matched by their mutual disdain for Great Britain – making the Brits' Kenyan opponents almost the most avidly cheered team of the day.
Follow the Rio 2016 rugby tournament
The late arrival of many of the Argentinian fans meant spirits were not too much dampened by the injury incurred by Sonny Bill Williams, who saw his Olympic dreams come to an end after he ruptured his achilles.
Was Japan’s win over New Zealand really a surprise?
Not according to Lomano Lava Lemeki. Before his team’s match-up against the All Blacks, Lemeki was in the stands with team-mates to catch Australia and France in the opener.
The pacey back seemed more preoccupied with the hospitality of the hosts than facing the All Blacks. He said, “Fiji, South Africa and Australia are the ones to watch. But other than that, the samba’s good, food is good, weather’s good.”
Though, he changed his tune after the game.
"I am still shocked, to be honest,” he told journalists. “We thought, if we keep on moving the ball around, the big guys will tire somewhere and eventually they did.”
All levels of fan welcome
Big names of the sport were seen mixing in with the crowds and grabbing drinks in the fan zones after the second round of games. Veteran of the 15s Liam Messam, who was omitted from the original sevens squad, was brought in on standby for Rio 2016.
Messam may now be called into action in place of Williams.
Olympic rugby sevens seems to have provided local fans with the perfect environment to boost their knowledge of the game, while providing travelling fans with a relaxed setting in which to meet their idols up close.
Etu Baravilala didn’t need to meet any players. He already has one at home. The big Fijian was in the stands with friends and family after having watched his daughter, Akalaini Baravilala, play for the USA yesterday.
Today, he was cheering for both Fiji and the USA, though the former rugby player went most wild when watching Japan claw back Great Britain in a close encounter. And he is loving the Brazilian atmosphere. “The media put a lot of bad stuff out there before we came, but it’s been great. Really, great. I’m loving Brazil and I’m glad we made the decision to come.”