Next Friday is the kick off of the Rugby World Cup that will be held in France. The first match will be France versus Argentina. On top of Argentina, France is in the same group than Ireland, Georgia and Namibia, so we have a good chance to be in quarter final (there are twenty countries in four groups, and the first two nations in each group after the first round will be in quarter finals). As you know I’m a big rugby fan, so the excitement is growing every day a bit more. I have tickets to attend to twelve different matches, including both semi finals and the final. This will make be very busy in the coming weeks !
The good surprise of this world cup is the participation of Portugal. For the first time since the first rugby world cup (held in 1987), the Portuguese national team has been qualified. I must admit that I did not even know that there was a Rugby team in Portugal : for me Portugal was much more focused on football. So this was a nice surprise to see that, after beating twice Uruguay during the qualification phase, Portugal could reach the Rugby World cup, where they will be in the group of New Zealand, Scotland, Italy and Romania. Portugal has almost no chance to be in quarter finals, with such a group, but I think this is already a very great achievement for the Portuguese team to be there. In tribute to the team, the Portuguese post has issued on the 22nd of August a souvenir sheet. Here is a picture of the sheet (taken from Portuguese post website), together with the cover of the presentation pack.
As you see, the souvenir sheet pictures a photography from a rugby game. On the left bottom side you case see the emblem of CTT (the Portuguese post), and on the right side the emblem of the 2007 Rugby world cup.
The nickname of the Portuguese team is Os Lobos (the wolves), and they wear a red jersey with a green collar (we can see a part of it on the souvenir sheet and on the presentation pack). As I said this is their first participation to a rugby world cup. Most of the players are amateur, which contrasts with the other big teams where all players are now professional. Portugal rugby federation counts only 4300 members !
Several other countries have issued (or will issue) stamps for this rugby world cup, and I’ll try to add them all to my rugby stamps collection. But the number of stamps and souvenir sheets issued for such even is far less than for a Soccer World cup ! A proof that rugby is not so well spread over the world compared to football !