Leaders of top and emerging rugby nations agree: the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival is a fantastic tournament

Leaders of top and emerging rugby nations agree: the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival is a fantastic tournament

George Tavner, Assistant Manager of the Bath Rugby Club Academy, sums up the value of the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival: "I've been travelling the world for more than 15 years and Portugal Rugby Youth Festival is the best in Europe in terms of size, organization and competition".

The testimonials from English, Irish, Scottish and Australian club leaders, accustomed to participating in top leagues and tournaments, coincide in three aspects: the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival, which takes place every year in Lisbon, is played at a highly competitive level, provides players with an unforgettable experience and is extremely well organised.

Coaches and managers from Namibian, Swedish and Qatari teams stress that the tournament gives their players an opportunity to play with top teams and experience camaraderie they will never forget.

Read the testimonials:


I’ve been travelling to tournaments across the world for more than 15 years and Portugal Rugby Youth Festival is the best in Europe in terms of size, organisation and competition. 

George Tavner, Assistant Manager & Coach Development Lead, Bath Rugby Club


It’s a reward after a hard season and a tournament that is competitive and demands focus and motivation. We want to win and prepare accordingly but this is a holistic experience where we balance the competitive rugby with a thoroughly enjoyable cultural experience.

Steve Gough, Coach, Myerscough College Rugby Academy


Our boys are loving the tournament, it’s a great experience to have this level of competition. We’ve also been impressed by the standard of refereeing. It’s well organised with plenty of nice touches. It’s great to be part of an international event where both the accommodation and food is good. We’ve also been fortunate enough to find a Portuguese sponsor for our shirts who has kindly provided enough for the boys and the parents.

Team Manager, London Welsh


I have participated in the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival for many years and have seen it go from strength to strength. It’s well organised and provides a high level of competition.

I like to bring teams to the tournament to test them. An international tournament provides so much more than a traditional tour. As well as being a great experience for every player, it is also a test of physical and mental ability. The competitiveness and the number of matches means that it can be a war of attrition. I like to bring an U15 and U13 team: our U15’s has an opportunity to win the tournament and for our U13’s it sets them up nicely for the NatWest Schools Cup. Lisbon is a brilliant city to tour, the boys have already been taken by the organisers on a guided tour and we had a memorable full training session on the beach the day before the Festival.

Thomas Brown, Head Coach, Ivybridge College


As exiles we are used to travelling and it was a good decision to come to this Festival. It’s very well organised and we are enjoying the experience. We are emerging from ice and snow so we are not as match ready as others, but it is a good test and I would come back again at the U13 level. I’d like to bring an U17 team but having seen the quality, my boys are going to have to start eating their porridge!

Allan Mabon, Chairman, Stockholm Exiles


It’s such a well organised and enjoyable event that this year we’ve brought U19 male and female teams, allowing even more of our players to experience rugby on an international stage. We are committed to provide our scholars, all of whom have had a difficult start in life, with the opportunity to follow a different path and the values of rugby and the Portugal Rugby Youth Festival fit perfectly. 

James Ngatoko, Coach, Melbourne Kangaroos


We see this tournament as an opportunity and a platform. For our rugby teams, it enables us to participate in a strongly contested tournament at the start of the season to prepare us for the season. And in life it provides camaraderie and memorable experiences shared with other cultures. It also offers us a path to develop our young people and a platform to promote our school on an international stage. It’s another strong selling point to parents that Windhoek High School in sport, arts and culture provides top quality overseas experiences to help our young people prepare for their futures.

Hendrik Grove, Head Coach, Windhoek HS


Our boys all come from difficult backgrounds and this Academy is a mentoring programme to help them to re-focus and find a better path in life. Rugby is one of the sports that we offer the 400 young people on our Academy programme. It’s a sport that has the discipline and team ethics and demands to shape an individual for the future. We are building a strong reputation for the high-quality individuals that graduate with some now playing professional rugby across the world. This tournament provides a strong international test and acts as a sharpener for the season ahead. We come with a winning mentality but also to play our part in this festival of rugby!

Marcell Putaura, Head Coach, Iron Armour Academy Australia


We’ve not participated before but I’ll be recommending this Festival to anyone I speak with when I get back. It’s a first-class tournament, strong competition, great organisation and a fulfilling experience for every member of the Club.

Russell Ticehurst, Blackheath Rugby Club


I’m a great believer in tours for the experiences they provide. We heard about this Festival when we went to Italy last year and it has lived up to expectations. It’s a much bigger festival, very well organised and competitive with a great international flavour and broader range of teams. There is a fantastic set up and we’ve really enjoyed the different styles, which has meant restructuring our play for each game. Off the pitch I’ve really been impressed by the Corinthian spirit. It’s something that I would like to see a lot more of at home and it’s a breath of fresh air watching our boys interact with, for example, their Portuguese opponents, win or lose. We are sure to return: being part of an international tournament, training on the beach, competitive rugby, great camaraderie, it’s all part of a memorable life experience.

Larry Craig, Head Coach, Glasgow HK Rugby Club


Our club comprises many different nationalities and this tournament is an excellent way for our young players to develop as individuals and rugby players. It’s a great way to test our abilities, gain experience and share in a festival that puts friendship, cultural experience and fun at its heart. We believe that overseas tournaments are important in the development of young people and this tournament is now firmly on our radar.

David Harcombe, Team Manager, Doha RFC, Qatar


The interest in Rugby continues to grow in Gibraltar and this tournament plays a very important role. It enables our young players to develop, playing in a highly competitive tournament. It fits with our ambition to grow the game in Gibraltar and ensure that our club can become the leading feeder team to the four top teams on the island. We do not have the pool of players that many of the participants enjoy but our boys can learn so much from playing in an international festival, both on and off the pitch.

Jason Brown, Coach, Gibraltar Rugby Club


This tournament is an end of season reward for our boys and we have been involved for the past 5 years. There is no other international tournament in Europe with the same level of elite competition. We come here to win but we also come for the enjoyment and the cultural experience. We bring our 1st and 2nd year students. For the 2nd year it’s a great way to finish their season and for the 1st year it’s part of a learning experience and a chance to strengthen the team spirit.

Danny Wright, Coach, Coventry College


Each season we take the boys away for an end of season tournament. We wanted a stronger test and chose the Portugal Rugby Festival because we knew of its reputation. It has been a good experience; we are probably one of the youngest groups in the U19’s but we’ve competed and given the lads belief in their abilities and what it takes to step to the next level. It’s the top tournament in Europe and we will be back.

Owain Lloyd, Coach, Pencoed Youth RC


Fantastic event, beautifully organised and where better to be experiencing an international rugby festival than here in Portugal?

Kim Watson, Head Coach, Old Albanians RC


Great set-up and a top shelf tournament that we will be recommending to others when we return home. We cannot speak highly enough about our team liaison. When one of our boys was injured, he took it personally, took us to the clinic, waited and then scoured Lisbon to secure crutches for the player. That says so much about the Portuguese commitment to our wellbeing and enjoyment of the weekend.

Keith Higgins, Coach, Shannon RFC


Of course we wanted to win but I've told our boys that they can be very proud of themselves. They played good rugby throughout and came very close. When you consider that most are only 17, that's a pretty good achievement. This trip has been a great experience for them, on and off the field and we look forward to returning.

Steve Larkins, Rugby Academy Leader, Truro College