It was Friday night in Dubai. The Portuguese qualified at the end of the suspense, losing the tie 16 all-around to match favorites USA with a penalty kick after the siren gave way to a jubilant scene as we love them. I imagine the images that go along with these screams, part of the team rolling on the floor, and the other players crying with joy. Supporters have also made the trip to the United Arab Emirates hoping to experience the moment. An important moment in the history of Portuguese rugby: it is only the second time that the selection has qualified for the World Cup. The first dates back to 2007 for a World Cup that was already staged in France, such as the 2023 World Cup.
Portugal is an outstanding team in the world of professional rugby
The Lobos, the Wolves, nickname for Select, are more like the lambs in the world of rugby. The team is still semi-professional with half of the players coming in for training after work. Also last week in L’Equipe, the physical trainer said that some, still in shorts at the end of the session, quickly put on a T-shirt and took out their computers to participate in a videoconference of their work.
A separate team too, with this successful merging by the coach, the French Patrice Lajesquet who arrived in 2019, between these non-professionals and the other half of the selection made up of players born in France who often play in ProD2, with a parent of Portuguese origin as Pau winger Vincent Pinto, joined by F.B. Byrne.
Will Portugal have a chance to shine in the World Cup in France next year?
It will be very complicated. Portugal finds itself in a very difficult confrontation with Australia, Fiji, Wales and Georgia. But whatever happens, the spotlight has already revived rugby in Portugal, which today has just 7,000 members.