Cyprus secured a fifth place finish at last weekend’s Rugby 7s European Championship Qualifying Round in Paphos but it still wasn’t enough to take them through.
The Moufflons needed to at least reach the final to have any chance of securing a place at the July finals in Moscow but a first game defeat to Germany followed by a disappointing draw against Israel ended all hope early on.
“We shouldn’t have lost the games to Germany and Israel”, commented Cyprus Rugby Federation (CRF) Chairman Loukis Pattihis who stepped down from his role after the tournament. “We got off to a slow start once again and that cost us in the first game against the Germans (17-26). We then had an easy win over Greece (45-0) but were held to a draw against Israel (12-12) after that. We needed to beat France (5-12) in our final group game which we almost did. We were leading with just a few minutes remaining.”
He added,”We were rampant in the next round securing big wins over Germany (19-7) and Croatia (29-5) to secure fifth place. We are currently ranked 15th out of 43 European nations.”
Portugal ended up winners ahead of France, Georgia and Israel.
Despite the disappointment not to qualify, rugby officials were left impressed with the tournament organisers in Cyprus.
“Francisco Martins, who is the manager of Portugal, came up to us and said it was the best organised sevens tournament he had been to in the last five years. We also got words of congratulations from other rugby officials include the coach of France and the FIRA Commissioner.”
Charalambos Lottas, who is Secretary General of the Cyprus Olympic Committee, was present at the tournament and was also in high praise of the rugby federation.
”I was very impressed with what I saw”, he told the Cyprus Weekly. “I knew of rugby obviously from the television and as far as the tournament went in Paphos, I was delighted to see the tournament run so smoothly. Everyone involved did an excellent job.”
Rugby is set to be introduced as an Olympic sport in the near future and Lottas pledged to do all that he can to promote rugby in Cyprus.
”As far as the sport is concerned, I will do everything that I can in my capacity as Secretary General of the Cyprus Olympic Committee to help promote the sport even more. I truly believe that Cypriots will take to the sport. A good amount of skill, strength and pace is needed and rugby is growing here especially at club level. Already efforts are underway to reach out to Cypriots.”
Meanwhile, Pattihis has announced his resignation as chairman of the federation adding, “I have served the sport, my federation and my country – all of which I love dearly – to the best of my ability. Rugby is in my blood.”