By Alexander McCowan
THE pain and strain of watching the Cyprus national rugby team recover in the last minute of their game against Hungary over the weekend to snatch victory left coach Rick Wadmore drained.
“One minute to full-time and we were losing by three points but the lads never gave up and I knew that if a break came our way we would take it,” he said.
“Watching Matt King cross in the corner for the final touchdown to give us the win was a moment I shall cherish for some time. The last time we visited Hungary we won by one point in the closing minutes, so it seems to be a habit with us, but one I’d like to change. These games certainly provide excitement for the spectators, but do nothing for the health of the coaching staff,” he added following the Moufflons’ 17-15 victory in the European Nations Cup, a game attended by the Cyprus Ambassador to Hungary Antonis Theocharous, who greeted the players before the match.
Laurence Vasilliades, president of the Cyprus Rugby Federation, making a rare appearance at an away game said: “It was a damned close run thing. I can’t remember a finish like this, not even the last Hungary game, which again was very close, but we didn’t wait until the last minute.
“Admittedly our discipline was poor but I put this down to our enthusiasm, the backs were brilliant and Borhan outstanding. His two tries should have sealed it, but we conceded penalties to a team that carried an accurate kicker, and with each penalty worth three points, you can’t afford to do it at international level.
“We know that our fantastic six-year passage of winning games and promotion in Europe has ended but we still hold the world record of 24 consecutive victories which will take some beating – even the mighty All Blacks couldn’t do it.
“However, we are now in a much stronger division and meeting seasoned opposition. Interestingly the division leaders, Lithuania, at one time claimed our world record streak – I think they managed a run of 17 international wins.
“My priority for the rest of my presidency is to build on the academies and youth programs to secure a pool of young international players for Cyprus who can follow in the footprints of this magnificent bunch of guys, and for this I shall need the backing of our business community to sponsor us, which should be forthcoming if we continue like this.”
Cyprus now find themselves in an interesting position. They have their next home game against Lithuania in May and will be going all out for a victory but know they are up against one of the strongest and most experienced countries in the lower divisions and will need to be in peak condition.
“We have five weeks to ensure we present the opposition with the fittest and most committed team in the division,” said George Agathocleous, one of the fittest specimens to ever wear the Moufflons shirt, and now part of the on-island coaching staff.
Moufflons captain Marco Mladenovic reminded his players that following the Lithuania game they will be participating in the European Sevens Cup the following month, and if they achieve their divisional position (3rd) by again beating Germany, they will go into the 2016 Olympic play-offs: Rugby Sevens is now an official Olympic team sport.