Nunes switches to American bull rope

Renato Nunes enters the PBR Passport Invitational 27th in the world standings. Photo by Matt Breneman /


  • Renato Nunes is now riding with an American bull rope after his previous Brazilian rope was deemed illegal in Anaheim, Calif.
  • It was ruled that the space over the handle on his old rope was less than four inches.
  • Nunes hasn't minded the switch, and he is coming off a 92.5-point ride on Air Time last week.

In This Article

TACOMA, Wash. ― Renato Nunes is at it again.

In an effort to prove a point, the 2010 World Champion has switched from using a Brazilian style bull rope to an American rope.

“We have to show them that it’s not what they think,” said Nunes, regarding the longstanding notion the Brazilian rope, which pulls from the opposite side as the American ropes, creates an unfair advantage for Brazilian riders in that it can be pulled tighter than its counterpart.

“That’s not true.”

Nunes said that after using his old rope for seven months before it was deemed illegal during a random rope-check at a Built Ford Tough Series event in Anaheim, Calif.

Handles on bull ropes – regardless of style – need to have no more than a 3-and-a-half inch space over the top of the rope. Nunes’ handle, which was measured with a 2-by-4 block, was said to have a larger gap.

He is no longer able to use that particular rope.

J.W. Hart explains the difference between the American bull rope and the Brazilian.

Nunes also explained that in Anaheim he had to borrow ropes based on where he was in the draw for each round. He finished 1-for-3 and missed out on the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

“I had to get on three bulls with three different ropes,” Nunes said.

He added, “I had two good bulls,” in reference to the two bulls – Old Soul and Kung Fu Panda – that he bucked off using an unfamiliar rope.

The following two weeks he was 1-for-3 in St. Louis and 0-for-2 in Kansas City, Mo.

Instead of having a new Brazilian style rope braided, Nunes had his brother Marcel braid him an American rope, which he debuted last week in Phoenix.

Nunes said he felt as though he rode just as good with his new rope.

He was 2-for-3, including a 92.5-point ride on Air Time in the final round.

Renato Nunes puts up 92.50 points on Jared Allen’s H4WW Air Time in the championship round of the Bass Pro Chute Out in Phoenix. 

Asked if he would continue using the American style rope, Nunes replied, “I think so. Yes, I’m going to keep with the American.”

In talking about his first experience with an American rope, Nunes said “it’s a little weird” in the bucking chute going through his routine on the opposite side—though he still rides with his left hand in the rope.

“Once my rope is pulled I feel good,” he said. “It’s OK.”

This is not the first time Nunes has stood up to make a statement against what he feels has been unfair treatment.

In 2010, he was involved in a controversial challenge after arguing with former judge Jim Bob Custer.

Custer, who was a back judge at an event in Greenville, S.C., missed a slap plainly seen by everyone in that corner of the arena and Nunes pushed the challenge button asking for the replay judge to take another look at what would have otherwise been a qualified ride for Ryan McConnel.

VIDEO: Renato Nunes challenges Ryan McConnel

The call was overturned and McConnel was given a no-score.

Nunes said he had no problems or issues with McConnel, who was one of his closer friends on the tour. However, it was first time those closely involved in the PBR could ever recall a rider challenging the score of a fellow competitor.

At the time, nine-time World Champion and PBR co-founder Ty Murray said with the money available to riders he didn’t know why challenges like that one didn’t happen more often.

It’s not uncommon for riders to “get away” with infractions like slapping a bull with a free hand or catching the knots in the rope with their spurs.

With regard to the growing debate involving ropes, Murray also doesn’t believe the Brazilian rope pulls any tighter than any other rope nor does he think it creates any additional leverage based which side the rope is pulled from.

“A guy can only pull a rope just so tight,” he said.

Last week’s fourth-place finish was Nunes’ first Top-5 performance of 2014 and only his second Top-10 finish since the second BFTS event of the season in Chicago.

Four times in the previous nine seasons Nunes has been ranked in the Top 10. This year, he had been struggling outside the Top 30. It’s a surprising turn of events for a guy who holds the all-time PBR record of five consecutive 90-plus point bull rides, which he set four years ago this month.

His riding average is down nearly 12 points from his career average of 47.8 percent.

But his strong showing in Phoenix moved him to 27th in the world standings and he hopes to continue his recent good fortunes.

“If I draw good bulls like I did last weekend I can win a lot of money,” said Nunes, who later added. “I’m so happy to ride like that.”

Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.

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