The Wolves RFC, the University of Malta’s own rugby team, on Saturday took to the field to play the first set of rugby development fixtures in the club’s history. The club was established in October of 2017, but until now had not yet partaken in any official fixtures. That changed on Saturday when a 24-strong team of men took to the field to first face a development team from Falcons RFC and then a more experienced mixed team made up of players from Kavallieri RFC and Overseas RFC.
Comments given to this organisation prior to the onset of the first game belied a good approach, wherein players were ready to simply have fun playing rugby irrespective of the result.
It soon became apparent that the Wolves were not going to be pushovers and the Falcons found themselves well matched by the youthful side, with proceedings for the first half of the shortened game – 20 minutes per half as opposed to the regulation 40 – ending try-less on either side. As the teams rotated their players, the structured nature of the game remained, with each team defending stoutly and solidly. The first real breakthrough of the game by either side came when Wolves captain Mark Muscat broke free of the Falcons line, running half the length of the pitch before he was tackled out in the nick of time by a Falcons player.
It was a sign of things to come however, and just after the mid-way point of the second half it was David Micallef who was bundled over the try line to score the Wolves’ first ever try, leading to delirious scenes amongst players and coaching staff. Adam Cutajar converted the try to make the score 7-0. The Falcons responded well and retained their structure, however as legs began to tire, it was Cutajar who took advantage of a momentarily lapse of concentration in Falcons’ defensive line to tap and snipe straight through to score a late second try. Narrowly missing the resulting conversion, the score remained 12-0 till the final whistle soon after, which came to utter delight and delirium from the Wolves and their supporters.
The second game of the day proved a sterner test for the youthful side, facing a more experienced side made up of Kavallieri and Overseas players. In fact it was two early tries and one successful conversion which left the Wolves 12-0 down. A stout response with some brave defending on display however meant that the score was retained till half time. Kavallieri extended the advantage to 17-0 early in the second half, but were pegged back after a spectacular solo try from Wolves captain Muscat, who ran the length of the field around the Kavallieri line to score a scintillating try. Cutajar was once again on hand to put home the try, making the score 17-7. A late Kavallieri surge resulted in a try, hence making the score 24-7 at full time.
Comments given to this organisation from players however belied a sense of pride at the first outing of the men’s team, and whilst it was acknowledged that there was still a long way to go to reach the standard for playing a full game, the mood was still overwhelmingly positive.
The Wolves’ female team meanwhile was also in action for the third Saturday in succession, with a four-strong representation being fielded as part of a number of 5s development fixtures. The women’s team mixed with compatriots from other clubs had managed a very credible 7-7 draw to Kavallieri two weeks ago, whilst last week saw a mud-fest and a 6-2 loss to the same Kavallieri.
The team’s executive is led by President and founding member Mike Borg, whilst the Men’s team are coached by Stefan De Marco. The women’s team meanwhile is led by the experienced Carmelo Longo, who is also the coach for the Malta women’s national team.
Saturday’s full squad list for the Wolves was as follows:
Men: Mark Muscat (C), Daryl Piscopo, David Micallef, Adam Cutajar, Jamie Brincat Brockdorff, Daniel Ghirlando, Edward Degabriele, Mohammed Hassan, Matthias Vassallo, Francesco Pace Parascandalo, Kurt Aquilina, Matthew Gauci, Marco Gauci, Karl Borg, Michael Sant Fournier, Marcus Ciantar, Matthew Ahmed Ben Hamed, Nicholas Martinelli, Mike Borg, Jurgen Xerri, Alan Casha, Eric Micallef, Kurt Ciangura, Nicholas Chetcuti, Gabriel Seychell
Women: Nicole Cannataci (C), Yanica Camilleri, Sarah Marie Bugeja, Raquel Pace
Photo: Wolves RFC Malta