Concretely, what does a rugby match looks like in Malta?
Games are generally played smoothly, as the rugby Community is small enough and we all know each other. A few clashes, but seriously nothing big compared to what we know in France. We only have one pitch, on which we play all of our games, and the difference Home/Away is only on the club which must provide the balls, or to host the opposing team in its own club house (usually a bar or a club somewhere on the island). On a training level, we are obliged to train on synthetic soccer fields, and games warm up as well as training are entirely different than in France, where the mental dimension and preparation are much more important. Here, apart from a few exceptions, rugby is not a way of living or a religion as it can be in France, but rather a hobby (especially for the Maltese, as expats would usually keep their own country mentality).
The third half is usually done in the bar or the nightclub which sponsors the rugby club, and with the Maltese established reputation in terms of night life, they often ends in the same way as in France, crawling! Even if proper stupid games are less frequent, we’re trying to bring our third half culture as much as we can, with games usually involved (breaking ice cubes with your head, drinking games, etc….). Once again, the beers, rum, ricard and other whiskies at €2 help strongly.
What about the international level… Has it ever tempted you? You are eligible!
The Maltese international level is equivalent to a good federal 2 level maybe federal 1 even, with 75% of the players coming from English, Welsh or even French clubs (one of the players was still Espoir in Mont de Marsan last year) of very good standards. For my part, I was supposed to integrate the selected local squad to begin, but following all my injuries, I never really had my chance. And frankly, I am a clown much better in third halves than in the first 2. My English prop good friend, with whom we “insult” each other on a daily basis (great French-English friendship) and who arrived at the club at the same time as me, has managed to break through, and is now part of the starting 15 of the Maltese selection. Extremely happy for him, and a small personal disappointment for me as the story would have been beautiful…
Is there a 7s Rugby culture, as in some “small” countries?
Rugby sevens for the men only happens once a year during a tournament held in Gozo, but women’s rugby in Malta is actually only Rugby seven’s so far (no 15s). Every Saturday, the three women’s teams play against each other on a small tournament, which lasts throughout the year, paired with a rugby tournament of 5 a side for new players, or for the ones coming back from injury, or basically similar that a reserve in France, with also a few international tournaments organised during the year including Italian, Czech or Swiss teams.
Lots of things could be made in Malta to further develop this sport. A greater presence in the media and schools seems to me to be necessary, but I have to admit that it is happening for the past few months. A greater partnership with the neighbouring countries (Sicily, Italy, France) could be very beneficial. Real training grounds as well, as we cannot really do any contact (except during our games obviously), due to the fact we practice on synthetic football pitches. Thanks to the many languages schools, and to a huge touristic sector in this country, it is an ideal destination for any young person who would like to learn English, have an experience abroad, while playing rugby and taking advantage of the benefits of Maltese life (sun, landscapes, quality of life, night-life etc..).
It should however be confessed that all our games are broadcasted on TV, with also a weekly program similar to “Canal Rugby Club” without Isabelle (Sob!) broadcasted on public channels, and with the local newspapers having a whole page every Sunday dedicated to our League. For “small level” players as we are, nothing better than meeting up with a few team-mates in the middle of the week, in a pub, with a few pints of Cisk (the local beer), while watching our game from the previous week end!
Finally, I want to conclude by saying that for any French, young or not so young, Malta is an ideal destination in Europe as the professional opportunities are numerous, the quality of life is seriously class, and rugby truly exists!
Support on social networks is also extremely important, so here are the different addresses to contact us or simply follow us, knowing that the Facebook group is the most reactive of the three options.
The club has just won the Cup!
Article Translated From: www.lerugbynistere.fr