The Spanish rugby sevens team booked their spot in next season’s World Series in an emphatic 12-7 win over Germany at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens on Sunday.
The win puts Spain firmly on the rugby sevens radar as their efforts often went undetected until recent performances. It’s also a massive step in their campaign towards the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Coaches and teammates rushed on to congratulate their players, who showed courage and passion throughout unbeaten rampage over the weekend.
Team captain Angel Lopez was delighted with his team’s progression throughout the competition. “We’re a tight group and you can see it on the field. We played calm and knew what to do,” he said.
Los leones had comfortably dispatched Guyana, Uruguay and Papua New Guinea in the group stages, before defeating Namibia in the quarters, Papua New Guinea (again) in the semis, and finally Germany in the final.
Spain returns home with Hong Kong surely etched in their memory. “Hong Kong is the Mecca of rugby sevens. It’s my sixth tournament [in the city] – it’s always amazing to play here,” smiled Lopez.
There were plenty of trademark red and yellow flags on show in Hong Kong Stadium. “We always get good support from the crowd. We feel welcome here,” said the Alcobendas player.
The Germans were by no means pushovers, either. Their reputation in sevens rugby was arguably growing faster than Spain’s, so the win cements their place at the top of the so-called ‘second tier’. Lopez remains cautious but optimistic: “We don’t like to look forward too much. But, of course, we want to maintain our position there for two, three, four, twenty five years.”
Spain, like all other teams, walked side-by-side with minis and colts rugby players around the pitch during the mid-competition parade. Youth rugby in Hong Kong is evident, and Lopez is right behind this. “Rugby is a great sport – it brings you together as a group and helps you build discipline, which you can use in daily life, work and family. I encourage all young people to give it an opportunity,” he said.
The exhausted Spanish talisman gave one final piece of advice for young people. “If you stay calm, you play your game and things go fine,” explaining that this doesn’t necessarily only apply to rugby, but everything you do in the future.