By Andreas Vou
AS part of its attempt to further develop the sport on the island, the Cyprus Rugby Federation (CRF) will be entering a team in the Under-20’s European Championship taking place in Prague this coming August.
This is the first time the CRF have entered a youth team into any European tournament and is a huge step towards further raising the standard of Cypriot rugby, hoping to follow in the path of the senior side’s unprecedented success over the years.
The Moufflons, as they are commonly known, are currently on a world record 21-match winning streak and are on the verge of achieving a third consecutive promotion in the European divisions. Many of the senior players have been with the side since Cyprus’ first international match in 2007 and, therefore, the aim behind a youth side is to breed the next generation of Cypriot rugby.
The CRF’s development officer and head coach of the U20 team, Rick Wadmore, stated the importance of having had a number of youth players represent the full team in the past: “We are hoping to take a very strong side to the European Championship, the under 20’s squad is very lucky to have a few players that have already played for the Cyprus national side as well as the national Sevens team”.
Indeed, a core of the U20 team will consist of a handful of players who have featured in the senior team, including Derby RFC’s Luke Frixou, Yannis Loizia who scored two tries in the Moufflons’ last international and the ever-improving Jack Antoniou.
Nevertheless, due to the limited pool of talent on the island, the development staff are constantly on the lookout for promising players across the globe who are eligible to represent Cyprus.
Wadmore stated: “We are always looking for new talent, both on the island and around the world. At this particular moment we have 21 names for the Under 20s and they are mainly UK-based. We are looking to do another big push for players in March and April.”
Training camps are scheduled to take place in Cyprus but also in the UK during the months of May and June as well as a three-day training camp between the 18th and 21st of August just before heading off to Prague to participate in the competition.
Such is the lack of funding for sports other than football in Cyprus, the rugby team still looks for external sponsors to help them out with the most basic of needs: “We are constantly looking for sponsors for this tournament to help out in accommodation, the players for the training camps and for the players’ kit. If anyone would like to help out the under 20s team with any sponsorships the team would be very grateful,” Wadmore added.
The U20 European Championship will take place in the Czech capital between the 22nd and 31st of August this year. Cyprus have been drawn to play the first game against the host nation who are the number one seed for this tournament.
If you know of any young rugby player born between 01/01/94 – 21/08/96 who was either born in Cyprus, has lived there for 36 months or has a parent or grandparent with residency please contact Rick Wadmore: [email protected] or Paul Shanks: [email protected]
A video charting the history of Cyprus Rugby can be seen here