First Algarve tournament showcases shining sevens
It was billed as sevens in the sun. So it was a fine surprise for the fans at the Algarve 7s that so much shone about the play at this first-time tournament.
The Portuguese national team faced invitational side Susies in the cup final – with Olympic gold medalist Samisoni Viriviri making a telling, scoring appearance. Ably guided by former England sevens cap Warwick Lahmert and with NZ sevens-capped Luke Masirewa barrelling into contact all weekend, the invitational side bested the youthful Portuguese side, but only by a single point.
The makings of a go-to on the sevens calendar, now year one is out of the way? Many of the competitors from Algarve will now head to established destination, Amsterdam. Some hope this will become a regular combo, swinging by the Portuguese coast before heading for Holland.
So how was it? “I think everything went well and we have very good teams; very competitive games,” says Portugal veteran Pedro Leal, who played for the Samurai invitational team. “We’ve watched Portugal and Russia – two national teams – and yesterday I played Hong Kong who are going to the World Cup.
“I’m sure it will grow. There were lovely teams this year, but I’m sure there will be more and more next year. And even better players. This year we had Todd Clever the former USA captain and Viriviri who was World Rugby sevens player of the year in 2014.”
Adding to what Leal said, NZ Metro’s Clever points to the talent around him: “There’s definitely some stars with the Fijians and Kiwis carving up, so it’s incredible to watch.”
For all the excitement on the field, the task is now to get more fans. “Behind the scenes it’s a well oiled machine running smooth – now it’s about the community getting behind it, getting that fan base, getting more excitement,” Clever agrees. “The hotels and food are great, and the level of rugby is really good too. If they had more live music during the games or a kids camp, whatever they decide in the future they can draw more people. But the spectacle is good.”
The weather definitely helps too…
Meanwhile, the men’s open was won by Lisbon-based Agronomia and Hong Kong won the women’s event.