We did it! Amidst a pandemic, we managed to put on a great and safe rugby day. Portugal Rugby Youth Festival 2020 Special Edition was a great win for the sport.
All the enthusiasm, joy and high-level competition we witnessed on Saturday, October 17 is proof that rugby doesn't stop: it adapts! We'll live out our passion for the sport while complying with all the necessary safety measures.
No hugs or celebrations. Lot's of rugby still
Having complied with all health and security measures previously approved by the Portuguese Health Authorities, Portugal Rugby Youth Festival 2020 took place under a special format. Even without the hugs and celebrations typical of rugby, the Lisbon University Stadium came to life and got dressed up with the PRYF colours. On the pitch, we got a chance to watch a Tag Rugby demo match, a webinar filled with rugby experts which are part of the event's 12-year history, and an exciting Challenge designed to put the abilities and skills of the young rugby athletes to the test.
Take a look:
Among the safety measures put in place were: separate entry and exit areas with hand washing/disinfection stations, along with body temperature measurement by infrared at the entrance; the presence of disinfectants dispersed throughout the facilities and of adequate stock of personal protective equipment; the display of appropriate signs with public health information, with emphasis on maintaining social distance and respiratory etiquette; mandatory use of a mask in all spaces; the creation of an isolation area for people presumed to be sick; the repeated disinfection of the ball and other game equipment.
Taking into account the current global situation, caused by the COVID-19 virus, and to abide by all the rules imposed by @direcao_geral_saude (the Portuguese Health Authority), this year's Portugal Rugby Youth Festival 2020 Special Edition took place without an audience. Thousands of rugby fans turned to the Internet to follow the event live on Facebook and Instagram.
Also on social media, we ran the Social Media International Rugby Challenge: Portuguese and international teams received a Portugal Rugby Youth Festival Kit including the official tournament ball. The challenge consisted of producing a video showcasing each team's best skills. All submitted videos were subject to the online appreciation of all PRYF fans.
With 809 likes, 421 comments and 1253 shares on Instagram, and 16 likes, 2 comments and 5 shares on Facebook, the Agronomia Rugby team from Lisbon won! Congratulations! The players and staff were awarded 30 official Portugal Rugby Youth Festival t-shirts.
We would like to extend a warm thanks to all teams who sent us their amazing videos. Your dedication to the sport and to this Challenge brought us all together, even at a distance. We hope to see you all in the PRYF 2021 edition!
Rugby with social distancing
The public health situation we're all living requires that one maintains social distancing. How do you play rugby in this scenario? Turns out that rugby has the answer: Tag Rugby is a rugby variant where there is no physical contact between players.
PRYF 2020 Special Edtion featured a Tag Rugby demo match between Belenenses Rugby teammates in the U16 age category. Divided into teams of ten field players and five substitutes, the "Reds" battled the "Blues" for two 20-minute halves and, in the end, came out victorious.
International Digital Talks: Portugal Rugby Youth Festival Stories
The morning would end with our very special webinar, which managed to bring closer six previous PRYF participants. Stories were told first hand by these players, coaches and referees who participated in previous editions of the tournament.
First was Mike Whitson, Trustee, Youth Team Secretary and Committee member of Crawshay's Rugby Club, Wales. PRYF aside, he has played rugby all over the world, having toured most European countries, Hong Kong, Georgia, Russia, the USA, Canada, and New Zealand. Also present were twin brother Harry & Daniel Robinson, who played for Stockport RFC on the 2018 edition of PRYF.
We also had Caetano C. Branco, a rugby player for Grupo Desportivo de Direito, team for which he played at Portugal Rugby Youth Festival, shared how the tournament changed his life and led him to play for Myerscough College Rugby Academy. Luana Romão, a rugby player for the girls SL Benfica team, always liked sports and had been practising judo and horseback riding for several years when she found her passion for rugby. The Benfica Rugby rugby player participated previously in Portugal Rugby Youth Festival and shared her memories of the tournament.
We were honoured to also have Talent Gandiwa with us: once a player, coach, Gandiwa is now a rugby referee for the Zimbabwe Rugby Union. Among his enormous collection of awards, the Fair Play Prize received at Portugal Rugby Youth Festival 2019 stands out.
Last but not the least, António Cunha, founder of the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival and Managing Partner for Move Sports, the event organiser, was present at the webinar and had a chance to tell us all about the event’s history, now spanning 12 fabulous years.
Did you miss the webinar? Catch the recording here.
Rugby skills showcase: the Portugal Rugby Challenge
On the afternoon, the PRYF 2020 Special Edition featured a COVID-19 safe skills challenge. Here's a video with some of the best moments, showcasing the very best of our young athletes. Let yourself be inspired and start preparing for 2021!
Portugal Rugby Challenge had several Lisbon-based teams delight us all with a showcase of all their best technical and physical skills in a challenge-filled circuit. Agility, speed, passing and kicking accuracy, and touchdown ability were among the rigorous tests the teams were subject to at the iconic Lisbon University Stadium, PRYF's historic home.
Lisbon's Sporting Rugby team won the boys competition. With an amazing time, they took the trophy home! Will this promising time be enough to reach the finals on next year's edition of the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival? Individually, the best time was achieved by Guilherme Vasconcelos, a player for the S. João Talha team. Congratulations on your perfect physical preparation!
On the girls' competition, the Lisbon-based arch-rivals won: SL Benfica got the coveted trophy. The SL Benfica girls sure look to be in good shape for the 2021 edition! Beatriz Oliveira, a young player for the team, managed to get the best time among all female competitors, thus winning a trophy of her own.
The spirit of rugby will prevail
As the curtain falls over Portugal Rugby Youth Festival 2020 Special Edition, we're filled with emotions. We're filled with pride, having succeeded at organising a rugby event amidst a pandemic. We experience happiness with having enjoyed a full day of activities all related to the sport we love, rugby. We feel the love from all of you that participated in this 12th edition of our beloved Festival, both at the Lisbon University Stadium and also all around the world, via the Internet. We feel confident that the indomitable human spirit will prevail over the virus and that soon we'll be able to enjoy rugby, together again.
We would like to extend a warm thanks to our partners and sponsors, which have been with the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival for years now and that came along for this 2020 Special Edition as well. We are very happy and honoured to once again have had the support of the Municipality of Lisbon (co-organiser); Dove Men+Care, Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, Joaquim Chaves Saúde, Luso Fruta, and Gilbert (sponsors); the Portuguese Institute for Sports, the Sports Foundation, and Portugal Rugby (event partners); SportTV, RTP, and A Bola (media partners). We thank all of these companies and institutions for their continued support of our great tournament!
You can't see it but behind the masks, we have big smiles on our faces!
Thank you all for coming with us in this tremendous adventure. We hope to see you again - and to give you a heartfelt hug - next year, at Portugal Rugby Youth Festival, 2021 edition!
That's right, we've already started work on the PRYF 2021 edition! The human spirit, in all its resourcefulness, is unbeatable. We firmly believe that soon we'll have collectively beaten the virus and we'll be able once more to live out our passion for rugby together. Are you a believer? Head on over to the registration page and sign up your team for PRYF 2021!