After a disappointing season last year, culminating in relegation from Conference South 1 to Conference South 2, this season saw a restructuring of the Moufflons with some new blood replacing some of the older, more experienced players.
The dropping of a league allowed Cyprus to regroup and certainly the first two matches got the season off to a flyer last November.
Wins away in Slovakia (38-6) and at home versus Austria (42-5) certainly set up the second half of the international season with the chance of a swift promotion back to Europe League Conference 1. March saw a solid home win against Slovenia (17-5) before losing a final away match last weekend, with Cyprus struggling against a more astute Serbia team (17-35).
These end of season internationals often pose problems for players with several of the Moufflons’ more senior players either not being released by their clubs or deciding to stay to play important club games to secure promotion, avoid relegation, or to win cup matches; but with promotion already guaranteed for Cyprus it did give the coaching staff the opportunity to bring some new players into the squad and to give most a feel of international rugby.
During the four match season, three TRNC players were included in the Cyprus squad, with Seyhan Fell adding another four caps, making a total of nine, and brothers Sam and Jake Goodwin gaining their first in the matches versus Austria and Serbia respectively. Seyhan saw himself being used at full back more this season as well as taking over the kicking responsibilities in three of the four matches. Altogether Seyhan scored two tries and kicked six conversions.
During the presentations at the dinner following the home match versus Slovenia, Cyprus Rugby Chairman picked out what could well have been an international first, two sets of brothers playing for both teams, not only that but both sets of brothers had the same christian names; Max and Jack – Bilton for Cyprus and Skofic for Slovenia. Another family double occurred in the Serbia match last weekend, with Seyhan Fell playing at full back for Cyprus whilst his father, Ian, was appointed by Cyprus RF to run touch. As Ian stated, “you get almost the best seat in the house to watch your son play whilst also doing what you enjoy.”
With promotion back to European Conference South 1 next season it sees a return to playing Malta, Croatia and Israel, with either Andorra or Bosnia Herzegovina making up the league depending on promotion and relegation. Another exciting season of international rugby awaits in the autumn.