Expanding Player Pool Propels Cyprus Rugby to Success: A Story of Passion and Inclusion
Updated: Jun 22
Cyprus Rugby has witnessed a remarkable transformation in recent years, with the sport gaining popularity and attracting a diverse range of talented players. This surge in interest can be attributed to an active initiative by the Cyprus Rugby Federation to attract new players globally, and cultivate a sense of camaraderie within the team. The success of this initiative was exemplified by the recent victory against Bulgaria, when Cyprus convincingly won with a score line of 35-17. From the latest new player pool, Alex Georgiou and Mitchell Fielder were invited to join the squad to face Bulgaria in Nicosia on 13 May 2023. In this game, one of the new prospects, Alex Georgiou, made his debut and remarkable jump to international rugby more memorable by scoring the opening try of the game.
Alex Georgiou discovered Cyprus Rugby through a chance meeting with a few Limassol Crusaders players on the beach in Limassol last summer. This encounter ignited his passion for the sport and led him to play his first international test match against Bulgaria. After a season with the Nottingham University Medics, Alex attended a Cyprus Squad pre-game training session in Altrincham, Manchester where he was warmly welcomed by the coaches and other squad members.
Despite initial nerves, Alex found himself quickly adapting to the team's style of play, thanks in large part to the support of captain Bill Cosma. Thrilled by the opportunity to be part of the squad, Alex eagerly accepted an invitation from Cyprus Rugby Team Manager, Dave Lee, to travel to Cyprus for the game against Bulgaria, even though it coincided with his university exams. Alex’s journey was filled with intense training sessions, beach recovery sessions and a strong bond with his roommates and experienced teammates. The pinnacle of his experience came when he was informed that he would be in the starting 15 playing at Number 8. This proud moment not only fulfilled Alex's personal aspirations but also brought joy to his family. Read what Alex said about his debut experience with Cyprus Rugby.
On the other hand, Mitchell Fielder's journey to Cyprus Rugby began when he heard about it from a teammate who plays for Malta. Intrigued by the prospect, Mitchell reached out to Dave Lee, expressing his interest in joining the team. Mitchell's dedication and enthusiasm were evident as he travelled up to Altrincham, Manchester for the same pre-game training session as Alex.
Little did he know that this was just the beginning of an incredible adventure. A week later, he received a message from Dave Lee inviting him to join the squad in Cyprus to prepare for the game against Bulgaria. Mitchell eagerly accepted the opportunity, realising that even if he didn't play, being part of the squad was an experience he couldn't pass up. Reflecting on his time with Cyprus Rugby, Mitchell expressed his admiration for the team's goals and aspirations, emphasising the unique bond shared by players representing their country. See what Mitchell had to say about his first match as part of Cyprus Rugby.
The game against Bulgaria was a testament to the dedication and hard work of the entire Cyprus Rugby team. Facing a formidable opponent, Cyprus showcased their skills and resilience, ultimately securing a convincing victory. For Alex Georgiou, the game held a particularly unforgettable moment as he scored his debut try for Cyprus in the 19th minute, a dream come true for any player. The celebration that followed the match encapsulated the spirit of Cyprus Rugby, as players and supporters joined together in communal joy and pride.
The success of Cyprus Rugby's initiative to attract new players and expand its player pool is evident in the team's recent triumph against Bulgaria. With individuals like Mitchell Fielder and Alex Georgiou joining the ranks, the team has experienced a surge of talent and enthusiasm. Their stories serve as a testament to the power of inclusivity and the transformative impact of representing one's country. As Cyprus Rugby looks towards the future, there is no doubt that the sport will continue to thrive, fueled by the passion and dedication of its players and the unwavering support of its growing fanbase.
If you play rugby, qualify to play for Cyprus and would like to become part of the journey, please get in touch with Cyprus Rugby Federation via the website or email the Team Manager, Dave Lee, at email@example.com.
Alex Georgiou on his debut with Cyprus Rugby
It was a chance meeting with some of the Limassol Crusaders on a beach last summer that led me to the honour of playing for Cyprus vs Bulgaria in my first rugby international test match in May 2023.
We kept in touch and after my first season playing for the Nottingham University Medics I saw a post online about a training session in Altringham with some of the Cyprus team. There I met the coaches and squad who welcomed me with open arms.
It was nerve wracking to come into such an established group of players and I didn't know what to expect. The session was high intensity and fast paced with lots of game realistic drills. At first it was a challenge to adapt to the Mouflon's style of play, however, captain Bill Cosma took me under his wing and within minutes I felt at home.
I really enjoyed it and dinner after the session was a great opportunity to get to know some of the players who had travelled from all over the UK to prepare for their forthcoming match vs Bulgaria.
Just being invited along and training with some of the team was an incredible opportunity, so I was blown away when a few days later manager Dave Lee messaged to ask if it might be possible for me to travel with the squad and watch the game in Cyprus?
It was a no-brainer...of course I wanted to go - even though my first year uni exams were looming! I had a week to get organised and get over the line.
The next day Dave messaged again to say that due to injury there was space for me to travel as part of the squad and potentially play in the game. Bill and coach Andy Barnett along with some other players sent me great messages of support and the excitement was unparalleled! Now the focus was staying away from injury!
I flew out to Paphos from East Midlands Airport. Dave and Andy met me and introduced me to my housemates, Yiannis, Chris and Pantelis. They welcomed me to the squad with open arms and a few laughs. It was great to get to learn from these experienced players who have played at such a high level, notably Chris who was playing in his final test cap after dedicating years to the team. Aside from being awesome rugby players they know some good card games too, so we bonded over a few cards.
The first day of training was a real learning curve for me. I had been playing all winter in a cold and rainy UK so the scorching Cyprus heat was a bit of a shock. The training was high intensity and demanding but I soon adapted along with recovery sessions in the pool and sea. Every day was filled with laughs for us and the locals. The holiday makers on the beach were treated to several bonus activities including Farhad's swimming lessons and treating some excruciating burn lines caused by Kinesiology tape.
Mitchell Fielder on his debut with Cyprus Rugby
I first heard about Cyprus Rugby through a teammate that plays for Malta. From the back of this conversation with him I emailed Dave Lee asking how all the processes work and some background about myself and rugby history. A few emails were exchanged between myself and Dave when he invited me for a training camp in Manchester, the training itself was very well structured with fitness, handling and defensive drills included. I was told after the session that another camp was happening in August and wasn’t expecting anything until then. About a week later I received a message from Dave asking if I was available to fly out to Cyprus to be part of the squad in preparation for the Bulgaria game. I accepted straight away because even knowing I wouldn’t be playing the whole experience would be amazing and even if I’m never selected again, I can still say I was part of the squad that beat Bulgaria.
Leading up to the game I was super nervous even though I wouldn’t be playing, I loved watching every second of the game banging on the dugouts every time a big tackle was made trying to give all the support I could from the side-line. I have never walked into a new team and found myself instantly connected with the goals and aspirations of a team, but I found that with Cyprus Rugby knowing that we are all connected through the same tiny country it's something special to have and not many people can claim they have represented their country, I'm looking to what the future holds for Cyprus Rugby and hopefully I can be a part of it.
All photos taken by Stephen Nicolaou Photography