Monday, 6 November 2023, 18:29
For Club de Rugby Málaga, the short to medium term objective is simple: they want to reach the top tier of Spanish rugby.
And the plan is going well. The club's first team, composed of amateur players, are currently competing in the División de Honor B (the equivalent of the Second Division) and are poised to compete in the promotion play-offs for the Liga Heineken (the top flight) having just added four standout signings. But how have they managed that?
Through a set of unique agreements, the club is benefitting from players' educational aspirations, using them as a tool to entice talent, particularly from abroad, in an effort to elevate the squad's level as they strive for promotion this season.
The standout new recruit is Valentín Cruz, an Argentinian player who has been top scorer in the first division on three occasions. He joined the Malaga club through an agreement with the MEDAC vocational training institute that sees him receive a scholarship to study, plus affordable housing, in return for completing the season with the team.
The other three high-profile signings for the first team, all hailing from New Zealand, have recently joined Rugby Málaga through a partnership with the Teatinos University Residence (RUT). One of them, Angus Hammett, arrived from the Crusaders, while the other two, Sean Rutherford and Jaden Houghton, joined from Canterbury.
The club's president, José María Maestro, says that they are the only sports club in Spain, except for Real Betis, to secure such an agreement.
The collaboration has not only enabled the recruitment of Valentin Cruz, but also provides a 20 per cent discount on education for all team members and financial support for the club.
This partnership is officially set for one year but may be extended for the following season. In the event of an extension, Rugby Málaga will offer its facilities for students pursuing sports-related degrees from the vocational training institute.
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