Rugby Team Travels to Portugal

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Matt Magargee

Matt Magargee offers his account of the rugby team’s spring break travels

Rugby team with new international friends / MP Rugby Facebook

Seven days in Portugal is not enough.  Can we go back?

I’ll admit that I did not want to waste my spring break playing rugby in an international tournament in Portugal. However, the minute I set foot on the shores of Europe for the first time in my life I knew this was going to be an amazing experience. And that’s exactly what it was.

The MP rugby team raised money to travel across the cold Atlantic Ocean to represent our school and our country. We participated in an international tournament that featured all-star teams from countries such as Wales, England, France, Spain, among others. You can imagine how large/thick and experienced some of these boys were as they play rugby like Americans play basketball.

We entered the tournament in the U19 division as the most inexperienced team. With the Uncle Bill’s logo on our chests we played four hard fought games, winning our last. Man, the rush we got after beating a Portuguese team in their home country! 

The Malvern players were given the opportunity to stay with the guys from the Portuguese team for two nights. We were all nervous at first until we realized that every single person in Portugal is the kindest person you’ve ever met. The locals that took us in lived in a wealthy suburb of Lisbon called Cascais.

I stayed with fellow rugger Tutti Galantino ‘14 in the home of Jose (acc.) Gincho and his uncle. The house was nothing like I expected. It had a movie theater, a sauna, and the most refreshing shower in the world. The Gincho family fed us close to a hundred different dishes of food during our time there and I loved every bite. I ate duck for the first time and had a pastry with every meal. I couldn’t get enough of these little pastries called “Pastel de Nata.” Add a dab of powdered sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and MMM! Bon Appétit!

[learn_more caption=”Loved the architecture and the food – but how were the games?”] On the first day of the tournament the Friars squared off against Colston and Cascais, an English and Portuguese team. The match against Colston was a well fought and learning experience as the Friars fell 17-0 in a physical dog fight. The second match against Cascais was a barn burner as the Friars battled back from being down 22-0 at half and falling short 24-22 in the last few minutes of play. Saturday proved to be a day of redemption as the Friars rinsed the bad taste from their mouths the day before. The day started off with a tough match against the English Bolton School team, as the Friars lost 10-0 in a well heated match. The final game of the tournament was what the ruggers had been yearning for the whole time. After a great motivational speech by Coach Keith Cassidy, the boys in blue were ready to end the experience off on a high note and take a victory back home to the US and to that little plot of land on Warren Avenue. In a well fought and physical battle to the very end the posted in a game-winning field goal by Matt Magargee to seal the deal and claim W over Victoria Setubal. -Colin Sullivan[/learn_more]

The architecture and nature of the Lisbon region is surreal. Classical styles were prevalent throughout the city’s boundaries. Tiles and cobblestone, colorful graffiti, it seemed each road we passed held five hundred years of rich history in it. There was even a massive Romanesque aqueduct in the middle of the city.

Both of our teams bonded very closely through our time spent together and the games that we played against each other. When we returned home, our phones were flooded with friend requests on Facebook from all the Portuguese guys.

It was amazing to me how two groups of guys from extremely different cultures and backgrounds came together as brothers on and off the pitch. We formed lifelong bonds and friendships with our Portuguese boys. (There’s just something about rugby.) 

I would never have planned to go to Lisbon, Portugal if not for this trip. I will definitely return to the shores of Portugal for a taste of Pastel de Nata and to see the scenic views of Lisbon and Cascais.