Despite the arid, stony ground that prevails in southern Europe, which isn’t conducive to games like rugby or bog snorkeling, it seems that the former is taking hold as a popular sport in Ibiza & Spain.
Indeed, Spanish rugby is on a roll: the women’s national rugby team are taking strides year on year in the 6 Nations, the men’s side are showing impressive progress in the 6 Nations B tournament and, in the wake of the Spanish Sevens national team’s historic achievements last season in qualifying for the Sevens World Series, there is a good chance that rugby could take a firm hold in Spain and Ibiza rather than being considered a fringe sport.
As you would expect, Ibiza, with its large ex-pat community, is playing its own part in the sport’s thrust for the limelight, but such seismic changes don’t happen overnight. In fact Ibiza’s contribution to the cause dates back over 40 years. It was in 1970 that Augustine and a handful of Argentinians introduced the noble game to Ibiza on a stony patch of land in Salinas.
However, in the late 80’s the club in its original form lost momentum and dissolved only to re-form at around the time of the Millennium. This time four visionary individuals from the UK and Ibiza pooled their resources and energy together and legitimised the club such that it could qualify for financial assistance from local government. A structured programme of rugby tag was introduced into the schools and training sessions held at Can Misses every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The players included local Ibicencos and a handful of expats from Argentina, Uruguay and Great Britain. Nowadays 14 different nationalities are represented at the club.
Clearly the club has developed and found success too winning three successive Balearic League titles (losing only two games in those three seasons) and thus gaining promotion to National League 1. In addition their junior teams have also won three successive league titles, provided half of the players in the Balearic Regional team and one player for the Spanish National Under-18 team. Not bad when you consider the resident population of our tiny island.
Next year will also see a landmark for the Club with Ibiza being the home team at the first ever commercial Ibiza Tens Tournament being held on June 8th 2013. This tournament will be operated by a London-based company, RugbySpy who were quick to see the potential of working with the Committee and players from the island to bring an international competition feel, whilst boosting the profile of rugby to the local (and in many cases uninitiated !) community.
With the backing and support of the Councel and Ayuntamiento of Ibiza town and of course, Ibiza Rugby Club, RugbySpy intend to bring a touch of something special to the island and the game of rugby. Around 5,000 spectators are expected at the event which promises to showcase teams from around the rugby world, including a military team and one comprised of ex-professional, national and international players. For those looking for coaching tips or autographs, there will also be a group of current UK Premiership players keen to mingle with the crowds and teams. More details are available at www.rugbyspy.com.
This small island in the Mediterranean has a growing club forged from some passionate earthy rugby players with a dream of bringing better and more rugby to its shores. It thrives on diversity and welcomes everyone of all nationalities and offers a great deal for those who choose to stay and play through its mild winter from October to May, or those who want to play in one of its up and coming annual tournaments or even those who just love to watch with a keen eye and a cold cerveza.
If you want to get involved Ibiza Club de Rugby provides the ideal out of or in season tour, beach or full 15’s. Alternatively if you are interested as a player a sponsor or a spectator contact Jason Harvey (President), Mike Blackburn (Vice President) or Peter Hankinson (Club Secretary) via www.ibizarugby.com.