Hong Kong Sevens

Your move Spanish Rugby Federation as €50 conquistadors regain World Series spot at Hong Kong Sevens

Spanish edge out Germany 12-7 to win the qualifying competition despite minimal funding and short build-up

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 April, 2017, 8:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 April, 2017, 9:42pm

Spain has placed the ball firmly in the Spanish Rugby Federation’s court by regaining their spot on the World Sevens Series, according to coach Pablo Feijoo.

Spain edged Germany 12-7 in the final of the qualifying competition, capping a big 12 months that included an appearance in last year’s Rio Olympics.

Making the effort even more impressive was the fact Feijoo’s side did it despite having their funding pulled after Rio and training for only 15 days as a group before Hong Kong.

“Before the Olympics, we received all the money from the government because our union doesn’t have a lot of money and after the Olympics the money from the government finished,” Feijoo said.

“The union put all their money into 15s this year for World Cup qualification and these guys are completely amateur.

“The players get about 50 per day and no more. They are students and workers and they play because they love this game.

“If we want to compete next year, we need to put money into the young players to make the environment more professional and more sophisticated.”

Feijoo was quick to find a silver lining in the lack of funding, however, saying it lifted a weight from his players’ shoulders.

“Last year we were pro and we had many pressures here [in Hong Kong],” Feijoo said. “This year being amateur we played to enjoy and when you enjoy playing, this happens.”

Spain were last on the World Series in 2013-14 and captain Angel Lopez credits the confidence gained from their Olympic appearance with helping them overcome a tough run in Hong Kong.

“We lost in the semi-finals in 2015 and last year in the quarter-finals and we didn’t have the experience we gained in [the Olympic repechage in] Monaco,” he said.

“We know how to play these games, we have played them many times. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but of course as the years go past you get more experience and you stay calm when you have to stay calm.”

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Lopez says rugby is going from strength to strength in Spain on the back of its Olympic exposure.

“Rugby is not very big in Spain but it has become big because of us,” he said. “Both our women and men qualified for Rio and that was a good show for the Spanish country.”

Spain had to work for their victory over a German side who impressed throughout the tournament.

The Germans scored first through Fabian Heimpel to take a 7-0 lead, before Spain’s Javier Carrion crossed before the break to cut the margin to two points.

A Francisco Hernandez try early in the second half proved the winner for Spain and Lopez is confident his side will hold their own among the elite again next season.

“I think we deserve to be back in the series, we played very well in Monaco and I think we have the experience and the team to play well,” he said.

“I think the team will have many young people coming up now and if we train properly and we have a good structure I think we can compete and stay in the series for many years.”

As for Feijoo, he has been picking the brains of elite coaches, such as Ben Ryan, throughout the weekend in Hong Kong as he strives to become the best he can.

“I try to learn from the best coaches in the world and I’m going to create a schedule for next year with a big pre-season,” he said.