It's a Family Affair
Brothers playing rugby for the same team is not that strange. The Llewellyn’s for Wales, the Underwood’s for England and more recently the Bergamasco's for Italy and the Evans' for Scotland. However, there is one thing that has become very apparent within the Cyprus Squad recently; the close-knit brotherly attitude adopted by all squad members is in fact reality for no less than five pairs of real-life brothers who are part of the playing squad; we are not sure there are too many national teams that can boast that number of brothers playing in the same side.
The first pair of brothers are Tony and Chris Thoma, Captain Tony and younger brother Chris have featured heavily over the years since Cyprus started playing in 2007. Having started in all international fixtures, Tony has been capped no less than 18 times; more than any other player. This probably would have been equalled by Chris if he had not picked up injuries that have ruled him out of certain games, Chris has also led Cyprus on the Sevens circuit. The brothers were instrumental in supporting club rugby on island, both playing for the Pafos Tigers; together with their elder brother Mike, who has since retired from the game.
Next up are Dimitri and Michael Maratheftis, who played a big part in the early days of club rugby on Cyprus, playing for the Pafos Tigers. Both have gone on to represent the Moufflons; Dimitri is a regular starter at scrum half and has featured heavily over the last five years. Michael or Speedy has regularly donned the Cyprus shirt and is one of the few players who has actually represented another country in the process. As a “pool” player in the Pafos Sevens in 2009, Speedy was seconded to the Maltese Team and actually scored a winning try for them in the closing stages of the Competition. Interestingly, Dimitri is married to Janine, who until recently was the team Physio, another close family tie!
Moving on, the Thrasivoulou brothers, Dan and Marc. Both products of the Derby Rugby Club youth system, Dan is a regular in both the XVs and Sevens Squad, he is a real stalwart and one of the most versatile backs that we have, having been capped 14 times. He captained the Sevens team during the FIRA European Championship in 2011. Although Marc has not featured recently whilst he concentrates on his university studies, it is hoped that he will return shortly.
In our last fixture against Bulgaria, the Antoniades' brothers took to the field, whilst George had made earlier appearances; Kyri has only just joined the squad having completed his university studies. On his debut, Kyri was awarded man of the match, while his brother George scored one of the 14 tries in the game.
Our final pair are the latest additions, Adam and Ashley Halsey. Yet to feature in selection, Ashley has been included in the squad for Greece whilst elder brother Adam is recovering from surgery and hopes to feature in next season's team, they both play at either end of the front row for East Grinstead, who managed to secure both promotion and a National Cup victory at Twickenham.
If the brotherly link wasn't enough, second row, Luke Frixou followed in his father's footsteps recently by coming on as a replacement against Bulgaria. His father Felix had featured in the early days, in our first game against Greece and the FIRA ENC 3D tournament hosted by Cyprus in 2007, it is also worth noting that his cousin Chris also featured in that squad.
The family ties don't stop there; 17 year old twins Didi and Nino Anastasiou have just played in the wining Liverpool Collegiate side in the U18 Lancashire Cup, the future looks bright. Even brighter, is when Harry Macrides, 13 year old son of current second row Lawrence Macrides can be considered for selection. Lawrence's age is a well kept secret and when he takes on the responsibility of coaching his son for the Chingford U13s, he is simply known as Coach but it will be a very proud moment if Harry does follow in his father's footsteps and wear the Moufflon's jersey. Lawrence tells us that there are currently 4 other players in Harry's team who are also eligible to play for Cyprus.
As Cyprus Rugby goes from strength to strength, this is proof indeed that it is truly a family affair.