St Edward Eagles Visit Portugal, Compete in Rugby Youth Festival 2015
St Edward Rugby just returned from an amazing week of rugby and touring in Lisbon, Portugal. The team was invited, at the end of last summer, to participate in the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival, an invitational international tournament that takes place each spring on the campus of the City University in Lisbon. In the past, generally there has been one American team in a field of 12 in the U-19 bracket. This year’s grouping included select teams from six different countries, including England, France, and South Africa, as well as the top tier local Portuguese clubs.
As was expected, the tournament competition was very tough, aggravated by a difficult bracket seeding that included the eventual winner and third place teams of the entire tournament. On day one, the boys played extremely good defense, but were unable to crack the stout lines of the French Biarritz team and the Henley team from England, losing both in very close contests, 6-0 and 7-3 respectively. They followed these matches by routing a local Portuguese club, which was good enough to get them into the winner’s bracket on point differential, despite the two close losses. The team suffered similar close losses on the second day, finishing 8th overall. While the Eagles prefer to win, the goal of participating in the tournament was well achieved. The level of competition was superb, and the team grew a lot throughout the weekend, learning particularly good lessons about playing aggressively and with pace on offense.
Other highlights of the trip included friendly matches at St. Julian’s School, and with local Lisbon area clubs Cascais and Belenenses. In each case, the Eagles’ Portuguese counterparts were gracious hosts, with players and coaches exchanging gifts and sitting down to dinner together after the match.
In addition to the rugby, the team managed to find some time to explore their host country as well. They visited many of the remarkable sites in and around Lisbon, as well as taking a day trip north to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima. In all, 26 players made the trip, along with 5 coaches and 11 parents.
The Eagles are eager to bring what they’ve learned back to the pitch here in Ohio, and are looking forward to a competitive season. They open league play this Friday at Hudson.