By Alexander McCowan
The dust has settled, the warriors departed, the dreams of what might have been still hover around the bar in the Keg and Barrel in Paphos after one of the most-hard fought rugby matches ever witnessed on this island.
The Cyprus Moufflons were beaten 26-20 by Division 2B leaders Lithuania in the European Rugby Nations Cup in a match where they were denied a potential winning try in extra time and where there was a disputed score by the opposition.
This is just part of what is the essence of the great game of rugby: play hard, play fair and never challenge the referee’s decision.
It must have surprised some of the spectators, new to the game, that while there was an abundance of penalties, far too many some might say, there was no challenge or dispute from the players.
Following the game, Mr. Gelevatis, the Croation referee said: “It was a very, very strong game, physical, but not dirty.”
Laurence Vassiliades, president of the Cyprus Rugby Federation, stated: “It was clearly a game of two halves and once again we left it until the final minute to engineer what could have been the winning try, but it was not to be.
“You might say it was a game of missed chances. I think we now know the strength of this division and can cement our position in its ranks for next year.
“There were a number of matters that reflected well on us, not least was the pre-match performance of our juniors (U 16s). They are the future of Cyprus rugby, and witnessing their game, before such a large crowd, must give comfort to our coaching staff. I know Rick Wadmore (team manager) will have something to say about it.
“These lads have grown through the ranks of the Tigers and the Crusaders, just like some of our current players, which is an aspect of the game in Cyprus not generally appreciated by some of our commentators that think we draw our resources from the Diaspora.
“We learn so much from games like these, and remember we have only been a Federation for seven years – the opposition has been playing for over six decades, which gives an indication of our growth. “Now that the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (RIK) have allied with us we can bring the game to a far wider audience which I hope will deliver the young players that can become the Moufflons of the future.”
One aspect of Cyprus’ home games, which always take place at the Paphiacos stadium in Paphos, is the Federation’s dependence on volunteers.
Aiding the fully-occupied committee is an army of wives, mothers, girlfriends, fathers and grandfathers that sell the tickets, programs, clothing and raffle tickets, all united by a sense of loyalty and affection for the Moufflons.
The television audience was treated to an excellent display of sports camera work by the very experienced RIK 2 team. Let us hope this will continue in the future, because it is this very exposure that will bring in the support that the national team desperately needs.
Perhaps some of the viewers may be seduced away from football – who knows.
Anyone wishing to follow the fortunes of the Moufflons should visit www.cyprus-rugby.com