Cyprus Moufflons win their first international match 39-3, versus Greece.

I allowed myself to reproduce the nice match report that can be found on the Cyprus Rugby Federation website.

In their first international rugby match, only 3 months after being officially accepted as the 43rd member of F.I.R.A. A.E.R., the fledgling Cyprus National side emphatically beat their more experienced opponents Greece by 39-3. The game, was held in Paphos Cyprus , on March 24th 2007, in front of an ecstatic crowd of over 3000 spectators.

The Cyprus national side, or the ”Mouflons” as they have become known, named after the national animal of Cyprus , were more determined and right from the start set about the powerful Greek side. At no time within the first 10 minutes of the game did Greece threaten the Cypriot line, in fact it was Cyprus which looked most likely to score with 2 very menacing breaks down the Greek left wing.

However, it was in the 15th minute of the game that the vice captain of the Cyprus team, Tony Thoma, printed his name in the history books, by converting a penalty, and so scored the first ever points for Cyprus. From then on Cyprus continued to press, and a few minutes later, scrum half Demetris Maratheftis, collected the ball and ran in to score Cyprus’s first ever try, which was then converted by Tony Thoma for a further 2 points.

Within a few minutes Cyprus went further ahead, albeit somewhat fortuitously, when a penalty attempt from Tony Thoma hit the upright, bounced back into the path of fly half Andrew Binikos, who accepted this open invitation by collecting the ball and crossing the line to score his try with alacrity. Unfortunately the conversion failed, and this seemed to spur the Greek side on, who over the next 5 minutes continued to press in the Cypriot half of the field. 3 moments of indiscipline by our players on our 22, led to penalties.

However, on all 3 occasions the Greek team elected to run with the ball instead of kicking for sure points, still believing that their forwards could power their way through the Cypriot side, and score tries under the posts. Well that was the theory, but nobody had informed them of the resolve and spirit of the Cypriot players, who for them this first international match was the equivalent of the Rugby World Cup Final. The Cypriot forwards posted the No Entry sign, and the Greek efforts were thwarted by some resounding resistance.

Half time came with Cyprus leading 15-0.

The second half saw the Cypriot team, not only race out the blocks literally, but also race up to the Greek line with deft handling moves spearheaded by captain Jonathan Pettemerides, which saw our fly half Andrew Benikos run in unopposed between the posts for Tony Thoma to convert. Could life be better, well yes it could, and was, with Tony Thoma, deftly converting a penalty to make the score 25-0.

With the crowd in raptures, the Greeks, who are 2 divisions above Cyprus, encamped themselves in our 22 but the only reward they got was from a penalty. The infringement that led to this was not entirely clear to me as I was unsighted, though it did lead to temporary heightened tension amongst the players. In the melee that followed the Cypriots were further punished by retreating another 10 metres, a fact that allowed the kick to be in range of the Greek stand off half’s boot, and so reduced the deficit to 25-3.

Captain Pettemerides was not to be dismayed, and led from the front like a good captain should. On 2 occasions within the next 5 minutes, he picked up the ball in our own half, broke through 3 Greek players, expertly invited the opposing full back’s tackle micro seconds after releasing the ball to first Benikos then Maratheftis, who unfortunately for Cyprus , both managed to knock on. It must be noted that with the momentum and strength of the two Pettemerides breaks he could easily have broken through the Greek last line of defense and run in to score himself, but he unselfishly brought into play his team mates, who to their credit, saw the breaks and followed up the attacks.

The Cypriot forwards kept a tight control in the loose, and our very fast three quarter line was for ever searching for the weaknesses in the opposing back line. Similarly, any counter attacks by the Greeks were quickly and efficiently stopped by some excellent tackling by the whole team. The pressure finally paid off when Tony Thoma burst down the blind side to score near the corner, which saw him convert his own try. The game needed to end on a high, and it was Tony’s brother Chris who made it a family affair by scoring in the last minutes under the posts, a try which was converted by his brother.

When, referee Johny Stavrinou blew the final whistle the score that would remain in the hearts and minds of all the management, trainers, players and supporters of Cyprus Rugby, was Cyprus 39 Greece 3. A well earned result, which reflected the efforts of all the players, who gelled and worked well together as a disciplined team.

John Pettemerides, on accepting both the Independence Cup and Man of the Match award, paid lavish praise on all his team mates for their fantastic performance and commitment, a sentiment shared by all. A special thanks must also go to coach Niall Doherty and his staff including Tony Calvert, Carlton ”Dougie” Douglas and Paul Shanks

1 Response to “Cyprus Moufflons win their first international match 39-3, versus Greece.”

  1. 1 chris 13 Mar 31st, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    i think that the score is not representing the Greek team.
    We just need a full squat to play international rugby….No more politics in sports….Every single player in the national team has to sweat and bleed before they will were the Greek flag above their hearts….its a big deal to represent a hole nation….
    i hope some people will start to realize that and make a new start for may 12th..

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