With 4 trophies won and some cup final heartbreak, the 2016/2017 season was an extremely positive one for Overseas Rugby. All sections of the club – Men, Women and Juniors – have won silverware as the club continues to grow and develop into a true family club.
As defending League Champions, the Men’s team featured in the traditional season opener between the cup and league champions, The Ray Elliot cup. Overseas had won this for the last 3 years and were keen to keep hold of the trophy. They started well racing out to a big early lead but some indiscipline and 2 disallowed tries, saw them lose to fierce rivals Stompers 28-40 in a open and flowing match, the sort of contest between the sides which would define the season.
The Cisk League was spread over 7 months and always presents a challenge of waving goodbye to players and integrating new recruits as the year progresses. We had a very successful first period, going unbeaten until February, beating all the sides on the Island. While last year’s league title was built on defense, this season was more about attack as we scored freely even in the (sometime) wet weather. A couple of chances to secure the league were missed and the Men had to settle for a place in a playoff final in May.
The Mediterranean Bank Cup breaks up the League season and Overseas qualified for the semi finals in comfortable fashion, giving game time to all players and trying out new combinations in the process. A win over Kavallieri ensured another final appearance and set up two back to back matches with Stompers.
The Mediterranean Bank Cup final was played first on a hot May afternoon and in a thrilling match that saw comebacks from both sides, Overseas ran out 30-29 winners to lift the trophy for the first time in a couple of seasons and ensure the club had won at least one trophy for the past 4 seasons.
One week later, the two teams played out an even better game of rugby in the Cisk League play-off. Despite leading 17-0 at one point, Overseas and Stompers were tied on 24-24 at full time and the game was in the balance right up until the last play, with Overseas coming out just short losing 38-43.
Both finals were excellent games which showed Maltese, and Overseas, rugby at it’s finest.
Three of our players – Clayton Cassar, Chris Dudman and Anthony Harvey – gained international honours and represented the Maltese international side. They all performed with distinction, and got on the score sheet, as Malta won the European Division 2 South championship. Two players, Chris Dudman and Rodrick Borg, represented Malta at 7s during the summer season.
We were proud to welcome a diverse group of players this year to join our strong Maltese core. Among the nationalities represented were the UK, Ireland, France, Portugal, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, the USA and the Netherlands. Our foreign players add to the unique makeup of the club on Malta and we look forward to more joining us in years to come.
We finished the season with a long awaited tour to Marseille in France, where we were hosted magnificently by Gardanne rugby club and took in a thrilling Top 14 semi final in the iconic Stade Velodrome, while enjoying all that the south of France has to offer.
Overseas ladies continue to go from strength to strength with increased number of players and initiatives this season. Our pre-season fitness kicked off in style with our counterpart – Swieqi Women’s Football, wearing our new tight and bright yellow Overseas stash (thanks to Claire Casha and Charlotte Evans). This was followed by a tour to Hortaleza R.C. in Madrid in September (thanks Noemi Perez Corral).
It was an amazing 7s weekend in which the club achieved second place, followed by a Top gun themed fancy dress party till the break of dawn.
This season as part of the continued development in the women’s game the managers of each club worked with the director of rugby and created a 5s league, this was played on half pitch with some amended laws. Overseas dominated in both the 1st and 2nd division and finished before Christmas as winners of both leagues.
The 7s league commenced in January, and the ladies went into it with increased confidence, which was reflected by the score lines in comparison to previous years. The ladies maintained their 2nd position.
Once the season was over, most of our ladies joined forces with other teams on the island and embarked on a journey to the Amsterdam 7s tournament as part of a national training and development scheme. A total of 20 players went to Amsterdam of which 10 players were overseas ladies.
The success then continued with 5 Ladies being selected for the Maltese national team namely Sairita Cassar (Vice Captain), Claire Casha, Wendy Pace, Vanessa Attard and Tessabelle Sultana Evans.
It has been a successful year for women’s rugby in Malta and a very positive move forward for the Overseas ladies. It was a year full activities ranging from impromptu scrumptious meals prepared by our own Sairita Cassar to team building activities organized by Christina Zammit La Rosa and Claire Casha and international holiday rugby (including gozo!) fun.
No player stands out in this squad, everyone contributes to the positive outcomes to meet the vision and principles of the team – Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship. We are constantly developing and looking for new players, no matter the experience – making our rugby family bigger and more prosperous. So come on .. what’s stopping you?
The U14s won their league for the first time playing some fantastic rugby along the way, while they also went on the first youth tour for the club to the British School of Brussels was the club in Tervuren, Belgium.
All sections of the club are growing and we hope this can continue on and off the field in the upcoming 2017/2018 season, and anyone who wants to join the Overseas family will be guaranteed to have a warm welcome.