Sky High Sports has launched Rugby Tours to Seville, Spain. Alongside the already excellent option available in Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga, the quartet offer great contrast, cultural experiences and wonderful Rugby for your tour in 2018.
It is no secret that Seville is a magnificent city to visit. For the seasoned traveller to the weekend breaker, the capital of Andalucia must feature in Top 10's and to-do lists for all. I made a visit in January to see what the city could offer for Rugby. What I'd read in advance was encouraging, but what I saw and learnt during the visit was magnificent.
In short, Rugby in Seville is big. The city is home to five clubs plus three Women's teams and a lively university rugby set-up. I'm told, the city boasts 5000 active Rugby Players - from U6's to Veterans. A staggering statistic.
The city's premier club, Rugby Ciencias, has its home at the Cartuja sports complex, a superb facility in the backdrop of Seville's Olympic Stadium. Cartuja is a lively place. Rugby takes centre stage on the main pitch within the excellent 400m running track. Also at Cartuja, there is football, padel & a golf course & driving range as well as a serious strength and conditioning unit which would make this a great base for a bit of warm-weather training.
Rugby Ciencias is a great club. They have a proud history and have the largest youth section in the whole of Spain. When I visited the city in January 2015, David Serrano, the clubs director, proudly pointed out the U6 team, who I'm told are the national champions at their age group. A refreshing nod to competitiveness in a time where kids winning in Britain is becoming a frowned upon activity.
The club has a strong touring tradition. The club was littered with posters promoting their U16 Tour to Edinburgh for the Calcutta Cup match, the week following my visit. They have also hosted a list of teams from across the world in their 25 year history. The will to learn and host was evident. Billeting would be a serious option, as would triangular fixtures with teams from Portugal & the coast.
The club has big plans for the future. Seville is the training base of the Andalusian representative teams. Often down the rankings behind the Madrid, Catalonia and Castilla & Leon provinces, the Andalusians don't often dine at Spanish Rugby's top table but that is a trend which is changing. David told me of plans to host a match in the nearby Olympic Stadium between the Andalucia and Madrid provinces, he was also bullish about the Ciencias plans for promotion back to the Division de Honour, the top level of Rugby in Spain.
That weekend, the clubs 1st XV comfortably bead the Ingenieros Industriales club from Madrid 62-0. The visitors are rock bottom, and Ciencias top of the local section of the second tier of Spanish Rugby. Having won the Division de Honor twice in their history, Las Rozas are aiming at promotion back to the top level at the end of this season. To do this, they'll need to win their regional league, which stretches from Madrid to the south coast, then win a play-off against the club winning the northern section. Last season, they narrowly missed out on promotion to Rugby Sant Cugat from Barcelona.
The standard of the home side was good, without being excellent. The visitors were forlorn looking, and maybe expected a heavy defeat before their 2-hour journey on the AVE Fast-Train from the capital.
There is some great rugby in Spain, maybe strong enough to compete with the most ambitious of touring sides, but the game was evident that the level soon drops as you get to the lower echelons of even the second tier of the game. There is certainly a competitive level for a range of touring teams.
What was hugely encouraging was the number of kids enthusiastically training both on the Friday evening & watching their idols on the Saturday. Even in late January, shirt-sleeve order was adhered to - I gave a thought to the kids back in the North-East of England who would be training in knee deep mud, snow and wind on the same weekend. I also questioned my motivation for returning home two days later for similar reasons!
There was some big boys flinging the ball around with aplomb & given the facilities, the weather and good people like David in charge, the Ciencias will be worthy opponents for the next team willing to make the trip to the ancient city.
Read more about our tours to Seville by clicking here.