This was the Clubs third XV’s tour to Portugal in our 51 years of touring the world and included two matches and 3 academy sessions. The previous XVs tours to Portugal were in 1966 and 1975.
The first match was against a Lisbon Regional XV. This team was based on emerging international young players based around Lisbon with a couple of old hands included. In an entertaining game with plenty of action the Penguins ran out winners 34-17.
The second match was played against Agronomia as the highlight of the 75th anniversary celebrations, and was played in warm weather in front of a good crowd. The Penguins had 11 nationalities in the team that day (Scottish, English, Irish, French, Italian, South African, Albanian, Portuguese, Tonga, Australian and New Zealand)!! Another open flowing game unravelled with the hosts taking an early lead through two tries from forward exchanges. The Penguins eventually found their rhythm and stared to put together multi-phased attacks which eventually brought tries. The result was not certain until 10 minutes from time when the Penguins pulled away and won 30 – 17.
A strong touring team was selected including tour captain Marcus di Rollo (former Scottish International). The team was coached by Steve Hill (Director of Rugby at Richmond), John McKittrick (North Harbour) and Riccardo Franconi (Rugby Roma). The side was managed by Ben Dormer with assistance from Craig Brown.
The team enjoyed some social time off the field, with first class hospitality throughout their stay. The team, amongst other activities, enjoyed a wine tour, a beach trip, many entertaining meals, not to mention the great night life, on nights off, throughout the trip! Many lifelong friends were made both within the side and with the Portuguese hosts.
The tour coaches, often assisted by players, carried out several coaching clinics throughout the tour at a number of the local clubs for children from the ages of 8-15. These sessions where for the youngsters from the Agronomia and Belenesses clubs and the Escolinha de Rugby da Galiza children’s project.
Squad: Anthony Penn (New Zealand Maori, Tukapa, Wellington Hurricanes, Taranaki), Tama Tuirirangi (Tukapa, Wellington Hurricanes, Taranaki), Sam MacDonald (Leicester A, Nottingham), Matt Price (Rugby), Ed Rosa (Richmond), Alessanro Boscolo (Roma, Italy A), Neilus Keogh (Lansdowne), John West (Kent and Sidcup RFC), Tom George (Richmond), Steve Ketchin (Ross High), Joris Matherson (Nîmes), Ben Penga (London Wasps, Harlequins Rugby League, London Scottish), Hugh Hogan (St Marys, Irish Amateurs), Chad Shepherd (Otago Highlanders, Hawkes Bay), Kenny Sewell (Oxford Harlequins), Mark Sexton (St Mary's and Irish Universities), Martin Dufficy (Clontarf), Tom Gregory (Richmond, England Students), Marcus di Rollo (Watsonians, Edinburgh, Toulouse, Scotland - Captain), Martin Nutt (Oxford Harlequins), Henry Strethfield (), Andrew Skinstad (Stellenbosch University), Edoardo Rotella (Roma, Italy U20), Jeff Stewart (Oxford Harlequins)
Tour Manager: Ben Dormer
Tour Coaches: Steve Hill, John McKittrick, Riccardo Franconi
Club Officials: A number of club officials will be in Portugal and these include: Alan Wright - Life President and Co-founder, Craig Brown - CEO, Bill Calcraft - Committee Member for Australia, Vincent Bramhall - Charity Secretary
Thanks to Antonio Lamas from Lisboa for many of these photos.