We have finally found some consistent sun and, as I type, happy sunburnt faces are filing in for breakfast on a blue sky day in Lisbon! The albufeira was a fantastic rest stop and our current hotel is outstanding with all the services a touring rugby group would need.
The Rugby Festival has proven to be quite an event with music constantly playing throughout the grounds that have 6 fields in operation. There are hundreds of players from all over the world wandering the fields, looking for a competitive game to take in. Thanksfully, they are not in short supply!
Our senior squad is primarily U18 and is registered in the U19 division so they were always going to have to punch above their weight against the 12 teams in their category. They featured in the tournaments opening match and acquitted themselves bravely against a powerful and talented Portugese side but came out on the losing end of their first pool match. Next up was Cascais and after a nervous start, the boys settled and brought home a 14-5 win. A fantastic way to finish off a challenging day 1!
Unfortunately, the rigors of a 17 day have taken their toll on this group and a battle with a formidable injury bug has sidelined many key players. Although willing to soldier on through todays matches, the coaches have made the difficult but wise decision to remove the team from the tournament.
The U17 group opened with a disappointing loss. In a tight game, some poor decision making and weak ball support made it tough to win. However, as has been the case all trip, this group improves with each outing and a win in the second pool match was most satisfying. Lady Manners from England was our round 1 opposition in the playoffs. A brilliant start saw Tyler Strandberg and Felix Butterfield put us up 10-0 at the half and feeling comfortable. However, a strong second half from Manners put SMUS on the back foot for the entire second half stanza and only stalwart defence from numerous players saw the blue to a 10-7 win!
Three games and the title of Caixa Geral Cup Champions are on the line today.
Look out for an update from sport reporter IHL later this evening!