There are two particularly important rugby clubs in Malaga province, and over time players from their junior sections have gone on to compete in the Division of Honour (first category) team and the Spanish national team.
The C.R. Malaga rugby club was founded in 1994, but its roots go back to the Club de Rugby Derecho in the 1980s; the other club is Trocadero Marbella, which has produced some exceptional work with young players throughout its 30-year history. Both clubs have become benchmarks in Andalucía.
One of the best-known players was trained by the youth section of Malaga Rugby Club: Jesús Moreno, from Rincón de la Victoria. He now plays with Aix-en-Provence in the French Second Division and is a regular with the ‘XV del León’ (the nickname given to the Spanish national team).
The tighthead prop decided eight years ago, after playing with the historic Cisneros, to move to France to try his luck in a country where rugby is the second most-followed sport. This player from Malaga says the quality of young players in the province is outstanding, but warns that there is still a great deal of work to do: “The problem is that when they reach the age of 16 or 18, many players leave this sport. It’s true that rugby here is amateur, but the clubs should do something to give the lads an incentive to stay. That could be through agreements with the university, looking for part-time work for them, or work experience in companies. That’s the way the amateur clubs do it in France, where players know very well that they won’t be able to make a living from rugby, but at least it helps them to have work.”
Martín Heredia, who became one of the bulwarks of the combined seven-a-side Spanish team, was another player who trained at the Malaga club. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and began playing there before moving to Spain, where he played for several years in the lower categories of the club which trains at Malaga University.
The De la Maza brothers, Noe Díaz, Marcos Fernández and Jorge Rodríguez, among others, are also names who have competed in the top category of national rugby or important foreign leagues. This is despite the fact that for approximately ten years, the C.R. Malaga has not had an elite team.
Trocadero Marbella, however, with its senior team in Division of Honour B, and with the aim of reaching the top of this sport in just over two years, has some very promising junior players and has trained men such as scrum half Facunda Munilla, with 12 senior international caps, and Ignacio Molina, who after eight years with the R.A.C. de Valladolid has now returned home with a great reputation.
The young players on the Costa del Sol have had some impressive successes in the past ten years: five Spanish championships, nine national second-place finishes, 26 gold medals in the Regionals and nine silvers.
These triumphs have enabled some of the players to compete in major foreign leagues or make their debut in the senior teams of their countries of origin. One example is Jack Davies, who has already played for Wales, and another is Joshua Peters, who currently competes in the English Premiership with the Northampton Saints.
From this talent factory which the Trocadero Marbella has become, some players are currently playing with important teams in the Division of Honour, such as Jacobo Martín (Alcobendas), Daniel Sthor, Pablo Miejimolle and Pedro de la Lastra of Valladolid R.A.C; Cisneros players Juan Boccardo and Koi Hogg, and Tomy Munilla (Ciencias R.C.).
Nevertheless, and as the vice-president of the Marbella club Rubén Pérez Cano explained recently, there are hopes that this will change in the not-too-distant future: “For more than 25 years we have been training players who have then moved elsewhere. Now we want to be able to use our young players ourselves,” he said.