17-year-old Alberto Carmona is the youngest player in the national side. / FRANCIS SILVA

Two Malaga locals at the World Rugby Sevens Series

17-year-old player Alberto Carmona and physical trainer Jacob Jones are part of the Spanish national side

PEDRO LUIS ALONSO

Malaga won't just be the host of the upcoming World Rugby Sevens Series to be played on the Costa del Sol capital. The Spanish national team has among its ranks two locals, one on the pitch and the other on the sidelines.

The youngest player in the squad is 17-year-old Alberto Carmona, selected by head coach Pablo Feijoo; Jacob Jones is the team's physical trainer and is currently replacing Berni Domínguez Lezcano. For them, it's twice as satisfying to be able to play at home.

Carmona's progression as a player has surprised many national rugby coaches. The youngster, who is still in school, is one for the future of Spanish sevens. His physical quailites suit this rugby type well, where he is used as a winger; while he is ususally an outside centre or full back when playing traditional rugby with CR Malaga.

Despite not coming of age until May, Carmona already shows surprising maturity and has very clear ideas. His father also played rugby, and next season could see him make the jump to CR Malaga's senior team, though he also has a change of scenery in mind, which would coincide with him going to university.

The youngster is also very passionate about this exciting rugby type. "There isn't a single position where you just do one thing. Everyone attacks, everyone defends, everyone passes the ball... It's very complete, and you need to have a lot of qualities to do well," Carmona said.

Despite his age, the 17-year-old is aiming high. "I'm trying to concentrate on becoming a professional, even though I know that there aren't that many Spaniards around the globe who make a living off rugby," he admits.

Athlete turned physical trainer

Like Carmona, rugby runs in the Jones family. "My British father and grandfather, from Cheltenham, had contact with rugby," he said. Jones, who is 26, works as a physical trainer for the Spanish national side. Before that, he ran as a sprinter for Cueva de Nerja athletics club, before spending five years training in Madrid.

Jones explained that a lot of the time, sprinting and sevens go hand in hand. "A lot of rugby sevens players, especially wingers, used to train with us. In fact, a lot of teams sign retired sprinters," he explained.

Jones then studied sports science and now he's preparing to become a firefighter. "I'd say to keep an eye out for [Spain's] Pol Pla, an extremely fast player who has had impressive numbers in the World Series, in both tries and in speed," he said.

As for Carmona, Jones has nothing but praise. "If not now, then in a few months he'll be playing. He needs a period of transition, to learn the ropes of how the team works from the inside," he said.