Kuswag Skool rugby players made Toti proud after they finished seventh in their age group at the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival.
They were invited to represent Toti and South Africa by competing in the tournament, where 34 countries were represented. Never before has a South African team had the privilege to be a part of this, the largest tournament in the world.
The team won their first two games 12-0 and 5-0 to win their group and advance to the top eight.
Unfortunately they lost their next two matches 34-0 to defending champions, Biarritz, who went on to win the 2015 tournament, and 5-0, but still finished seventh overall.
“We are satisfied with their performance,” said deputy principal, Chris Hofmeyr. “It is more than we thought.
Winning on tour is not the only objective, but also the friendships you make and playing overseas. So there are a lot of positives.”
A bonus highlight for the team was watching the Portuguese national soccer team in action in the magnificent Benefica Stadium.
“On Thursday we were taken for a guided tour through Lisbon and the stadium, where we were given a three-course meal in the VIP section,” said coach, Jaco Lubbe.
“When we enquired if there happened to be a match on while we were there, we were told Portugal was playing Serbia in an international, but tickets were 40 Euros each.
Each team was assigned a team liaison and incidentally ours was a fantastic guy named Luiz Suarez. He scouted around and found us pitch-side seats for only 10 Euros.. The boys were super-excited.
What struck me during our tour was we were never referred to as from Kuswag, but rather as the team from South Africa, which made the boys realise they were representing their country, which made them want to play even better.
Also, when we got there, everyone was friendly, but kept their distance. Once we had won our pool, people’s reaction to us completely changed. Coaches from other teams would come up and wish us luck and after the match, players wanted to swap kit with us. I don’t think we came home with any of our original kit. This tells me we made a name for ourselves.
It was amazing. I’m happy with the tour and I think it was successful.”
The team has a break to heal their bodies that took a battering after playing five matches in two days, but then are back in training for their start of the local season of rugby.