Ahead of the first ever Algarve 7s tournament, we talk to the Portuguese 7s legend, and Samurai Rugby family member, about the tournament and 7s in Portugal.
KD: Pedro, it’s only a week to go until the kick-off of the Algarve 7s. How is the organisation going?
PL: I think it’s going really well. I’m just helping Sports Ventures so all the credits are to them for the organisation. I think we will have a very good first year of the Algarve 7s.
KD: You have some very experienced elite international players and teams arriving from around the world, was it easy to secure their attendance? I guess the proximity of the beach helped?!
PL: It wasn’t easy because there are lots of tournaments happening in the same weekend! But we did a nice job bringing very good teams and very good players to the Algarve! Of course, being close to the beach helps and having Samurai Rugby involved also made it much easier! We are going to have many international players playing and some big names in rugby sevens...I think there will be some real surprises!!
KD: For me part of the joy of a premiere sevens tournament like the Algarve 7s is the presence of men’s, women’s, elite & open competitions all in the same tournament, running alongside each other. A real celebration of rugby 7s. How complex is the logistics to make that happen?
PL: It’s not easy but Sports Ventures have a very good team dealing with that and I’m really confident that it will be a successful first year. It’s important, and very nice, to have women’s and veteran’s competitions in the same tournament and I’m confident those competitions will be a success too.
KD: How would you describe the rugby 7s landscape in Portugal at the moment? Is it growing as in most other countries?
PL: To be honest it’s not been so easy since we got out of the World Series! We have a very young team and the national priority this year was the XVs but we hope to do well on the European Grand Prix circuit.
KD: In the UK, for young players, both boy and girls, access to 7s can be difficult unless you are lucky enough to go to the right school or club. Is it the same in Portugal?
PL: Sevens in Portugal is very famous (we were many times European Champions and we were many years on the World Circuit) so the youngsters love the game of 7s. In my opinion every player should play 7s because it’s really good to develop all the skills that a rugby player must have.
KD: We couldn’t help noticing your love-in with your brother from another mother, Humphrey Kayange (Kenya) in the media. Good friends?
PL: Very good friends! We played many times against each other. Portugal vs Kenya were always close games. We first played together for Samurai in the Middlesex 7s at Twickenham back in 2014 and then we played together in Amsterdam, Bath and in Nigeria...always champions with Samurai family! So I can say he is a brother from another mother for sure :)
KD: Portugal 7s have been in the World Series, or just on the edge of qualifying, for several years. What are your hopes for becoming a core team again in the next cycle?
PL: We have a very talented young players and a good coach in Antonio Aguilar and I hope will be back very soon. We will try to qualify this year for HK.
KD: You have played frequently for Samurai, in squads with sometimes seven or eight nationalities on board. Does that change the way you play?
PL: Always with a lot of passion and it’s a real pleasure to play for Samurai. It’s always special to play with the many nationalities involved and so many good players!! Add the chance to play with many legends of 7s Like Ben Gollings, Humprey, Injera, Zar Lawrence, Paul Delport, Marius Schoeman, Rhino Benjamin, Frankie Horne...and being coached by the best coaches in the world Like Mike Friday, Phil Greening,Tim Wash etc. It’s really an honour every time I put on the Samurai kit.
KD: Can you give our followers any clues on the Samurai team selection for next weekend, or is it still secret?
PL: It will be a very good team, that I can promise...so stay tuned!!
KD: What’s your perception of Samurai Rugby and your experience of playing for them?
PL: Like I said early on...it’s always special and an honour to play for the best invitational team in the World!! Playing for Samurai Family is one of the highlights of my career and I hope to continue playing for them. Thanks to Sandsy for that, and a big thanks to Deano as well. SEE YOU SOON #SAMURAIFAMILY