We had a very enjoyable trip down to Paphos yesterday to watch Cyprus play Latvia. But the performance of the Cyprus team was absolutely dire. Two years' ago I watched my first international rugby match here and was impressed with the performance of the team, their hunger to succeed and their enthusiasm.
Yesterday we watched a team desperately short of match fitness and enthusiasm, with two of the most overweight props I have ever seen at any level of rugby. The end result of picking such players meant that Cyprus was down to thirteen men (effectively) within the first ten minutes of the match, as these men walked from breakdown to breakdown. By the second half they were almost invisible.
Having played rugby at a good level in the UK for many years I know the importance of being prepared for a match, and when your legs and lungs refuse to cooperate, you may as well not be there. By the last twenty minutes of the game, it was embarrassing and tackling was fast becoming an optional extra. The crowd was disenchanted and quite a few were leaving early.
I know the national team is desperately short of money but fitness can be achieved by the players' determination and dedication to improve. Training on Keo and Souvla will never be the answer. Lovely weather but, and here is a tip if you have not been to the Paphos stadium, those seats were very, very hard. Those in the know had their own cushions. If there is to be a next time for us, cushions will be top of the list of things to take.