Napoli NATO Lions Maul The Opposition

Sunday 11 March, a squad of 9 players from the Napoli NATO Lions Rugby Club travelled to Fondi to compete in a 7-a-side rugby tournament. Upon arrival at the ground there was not a blade of grass or any rugby posts to be seen, there was however, a 6-a-side Astroturf soccer field and that was used to host all the games (ouch!). The Lions produced a workmanlike performance in game 1, grinding out a 7:4 win over Partenope Napoli. An awesome display of hard hitting defensive play combined with creative ball handling in games 2 and 3 saw the Lions cruise to comprehensive 7:0 victories against both Ceccano and Amatori Formia. The Lions faced a Maori Fondi team in the last game of the pool stage and this was a different proposition altogether. So far Fondi had been the weakest team in the competition, but that was about to change for this game as they fielded a combination of most of the other teams star players! The Lions failed to reproduce the same high level performance as during their previous 3 wins, but just did enough to secure a narrow 2:1 victory. Having progressed through the group stage of the competition with a perfect playing record, the Lions played Partenope Napoli in the 1st v 2nd place Grand Final. Having beaten Partenope earlier in the day, the Lions assumed the role of favourites. However, Partenope in fact turned out to be yet another “all stars” team and were keen to gain revenge for their earlier defeat. With the lead changing hands numerous time, Partenope held a slender 1 score advantage going into the final phase of a pulsating game. The Lions were not intent on going home empty handed though and following some impressive power-play and creative running, managed to breach the Partenope defence with the final play of the game, salvaging a 4:4 draw. The draw was good enough for the Lions to take the silverware. Following a long hard day, the squad returned home having left a few layers of skin from their knees on the Astroturf and spilling the odd drop of blood along the way, but this was a small price to pay in exchange for the trophy. The Lions will return to Fondi next year to defend their hard fought title. For more information about the NATO Lions Rugby Club contact Ed Grey on ext 2971 or Craig Farrington on ext 2515, both at JFC Naples. Photo: NATO Lions squad – photo taken by Jen Ross. Back row (left to right): Cederick Victor, Billy Scott, Tom Hope, Dan Kemp, Steve Felice Front row: Derek Jump, Bryan Blake, Peter Woodson, Craig Farrington