Coach Damian Neill optimistic about future of rugby in Malta
Malta coach Damian Neill is convinced that Malta has a bright future as more local players are doing their best to earn selection in the national squad.
Speaking during a news conference yesterday, three days ahead of next Saturday’s clash against Cyprus at the Hibernians Stadium, Neill said that it was very positive to see a number of youngsters making themselves available to train with the national squad to make a pool of 32 to choose from.
Neill added that the record score against Andorra last week was another big positive for Maltese rugby and this was very encouraging.
“That was a very good experience for the local youngsters who took part in that match,” said Neill.
He added: “Against Cyprus on Saturday we should be the stronger team, but we will need all the support we can get from the fans to be able to obtain another victory.”
Saturday’s game forms part of the European Championship Conference South 1 in the new format starting from this competition. The group winners will then face the winners of the North Group to earn promotion.
New Malta Rugby Football Union president Steve Busuttil said he was pleased to have started the season on such a top note, referring, of course, to the 6315 record win against Andorra.
Busuttil is a former player, former referees and former national team manager.
“We are all very proud of this achievement and we look forward with optimism, knowing that we already have a solid squad with several others pushing for inclu- sion,” he said.
This was the first occasion he was speaking about the national team as president of the MRFU. He also appealed to the fans to attend Saturday’s match. He said: “It should be fun for all the family. Their presence – they are our 16th man - will also be a sort of much needed financial backing for the association.”
He went on to thank the sponsors without whose help, such results would not be possible.
Busuttil said that among his priorities as new president are the upgrading of the Marsa facilities, including the club house, improvement of the youth programme.
“Other things include the consolidation of what we have today and hopefully that we will have two divisions with possibly relegation and promotion to see even more motivation from the local players,” he said.
MRFU vice president Joe Borda is expecting a good crowd on Saturday to help the locals with their usual strong support.
He went on to say that the MRFU is also working hard on the five nurseries which have produced 120 youths.
“Now we are in the process of preparing the Under 18 side (every Saturday) for participation in the European Championship in that age group.”
The match on Saturday kicks off at 2pm. The Hibs Stadium Gates will open at 12.30pm.
The Marsa and Qawra Scout groups will be entertaining the crowd.
Malta rugby national team coach Damien Neill speaks at the press conference.