Rugby Union coming to Huercal-Overa

rugby ball With the Six Nations firmly under way it is difficult for us Brits to see the Spanish flourishing in the Rugby world, but the sport on a whole is growing rapidly in our new home. Granted the league structure and quality will fall behind the English, French and Southern Hemisphere big hitters but none the less the infrastructure is there.

Huercal-Overa Flag TUWith leagues in Murcia and Almeria provinces the border town of Huercal-Overa is looking to form a new Rugby Union Club in the area and the organisers are currently looking to meet with potential players, coaches and lovers of the game to help the project get on its feet, with both British and Spanish involved it is a fantastic chance to potentially put your name into the history books of sport in Huercal-Overa.

If you are interested in playing, helping with coaching of just a lover of the game you can find out more by contacting us at sportcentralspain@gmail.com or lee@r-gconsultants.com alternatively find them on facebook here: Rugby Huercal-Overa.

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 Rugby union in Spain is a growing team sport. As of 2014, there were 51,123 registered rugby union players in Spain, playing for 221 clubs in various divisions. The governing body for rugby union in Spain, the Spanish Rugby Federation (Spanish: Federación Española de Rugby), founded in 1923, joined the International Rugby Board in 1988. It is also a member of FIRA.

The Spanish national team plays in the European Nations Cup, a competition for second tier European rugby nations such as Portugal and Russia. Spain is ranked 21st in the world, and played at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. The national sevens team is now one of the 15 “core teams” that participate in each event of the annual IRB Sevens World Series, having earned that status at the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens.

Rugby was first introduced into Spain before World War I. However, subsequent events such as the Spanish Civil War, which was particularly violent in the sport’s Basque and Catalan heartlands hindered its development. There are traditionally four main rugby playing regions in Spain: Madrid, the city of Valladolid in the Old Castile region, the Basque Country, and the region of Catalonia particularly around Barcelona.

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Rugby MurciaThe earliest recorded game in Spain was in 1901, when an Englishman, Stuart Nicholson, resident in Bilbao, “turned to Racing Club, when he wanted eye catching opposition for a three team tournament, also involving British and French exiles in Barcelona.”

However, rugby lay largely dormant in the country until after the end of WWI, when rugby was reintroduced into Spain from the south of France, particularly Provence and the French Basque Country. In 1921, Baudilio Aleu Torres, a Catalan, who had been studying veterinary medicine in Toulouse, returned to his native Barcelona, and founded the Santboiana Club there. Santboiana’s pitch was cleared by the players themselves, and according to Huw Richards, “a tree was tolerated and used as a coat hanger, until it was uprooted after a few games.”

The Spanish Rugby Federation, the governing body for rugby union in Spain, was founded in 1923.

The first game in Madrid was in the 1920s as well, when Biarritz and Tarbes played an exhibition match in front of 12,000 spectators. The score upset some of the fans, who protested by throwing cushions onto the pitch.

A Spanish XV played France, including Yves du Manoir, in 1927, but it was organised by a rebel governing body, and so is not usually recognised as a proper international game.

Spain’s first recognised international was in 1929, against Italy, in Barcelona, at Montjuïc Stadium, as part of the 1929 Expo. The Spanish Royal Family attended and all of the players were Catalan. Spain won 9-0.

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