Myerscough College and home side CDUL produced a perfect finale to another successful event in Lisbon. Reporter Francisco Isaac was among the spectators
Two thousand players dazzled on the eight fields of the Estádio Universitário de Lisboa, one of the many ‘homes’ for Portuguese rugby, in a special weekend for the sport in Portugal – the Rugby Youth Festival.
The festival, promoted by Move Sports, once again delivered two days of exciting rugby competition encompassing 300 games for players aged 12 to 19.
A record 800 foreign players were also involved in this ninth edition of the Rugby Youth Festival, evidence of the event’s growing reputation outside Portugal. The competition was divided into U13, U15, U17 and U19 categories.
It was a special tournament not only because of the participation of UK teams, such as Myerscough, Bristol Rugby, Bromsgrove and Henley, but also the presence of an Australian team, the Melbourne Kangaroos, and the Spanish outfit VRAC.
In the U13 section, Colston’s School demonstrated remarkable skills for players of such youth, playing a quick and attractive game to defeat AIS Agronomia 40-5.
In the U15s, Ivybridge Community College combined rigorous defence with three tries against former champions Bristol to deservedly take the title 17-0.
Before the grand finale, there was the U17 final between Old Crescent RFC from Limerick and CF Os Belenenses. It proved one of the best games of the weekend, with the Irish side winning in overtime with a penalty kick to emerge 13-10 victors.
Myerscough College, from near Preston, won every game on their way to the U19 final and were favourites to capture the trophy. But CDUL delivered a tremendous performance, with defensive resilience frustrating their English opponents, and victory by three tries to two (17-14) gave the Portuguese team the crown.
It was a case of déjà vu for Myerscough, who had lost last year’s final to Crawshays Youth, and Rugby World caught up their head coach Dan Orwin. Was he happy with the tournament?
“Yeah, absolutely. We like the facilities and we’ve had some really competitive, tough games. It’s a good level. The first game on Saturday was a tight one, we won 26-14. They’re really physical, really competitive teams.
“It’s become even better since last year as we were playing the same teams twice, while this year we’re playing everybody.”
Portugal has been struck by rugby youth tournament fever these past two years, as events of this nature have multiplied and are now part of the schedule of many Portuguese rugby clubs. They create a dynamic platform for youngsters, as well as attracting new players and showing parents a strong and positive image of the sport.
After an intense competition, the teams left Portugal with the desire to return next year for the tenth edition of the Rugby Youth Festival.