Rugby in Malta
One of the Maltese’ favourite sports, rugby has helped draw attention to Malta due to its many victories.
Typically playing second fiddle to football, rugby has had a hard time in Malta. But while its popularity waxed and waned over the years, the sport is now seeing a revival like never before, thanks mainly to a national team that’s bringing home more victories than its football counterpart.
Rugby was first played locally by servicemen of the British armed forces and was later expanded to include expats and even some locals. The sport’s presence was somewhat solidified when a few local schools set up their own teams, but it experienced a setback when British troops left the Island after its exit from NATO.
In recent years, the sport has regained prominence with the opening of a number of clubs, and the setting up of leagues including the Cisk Lager Rugby Union Championships. The sport also includes a women’s league which has recently received local press coverage.
As a sign of the growing popularity of this sport, 2005 saw the establishment of the Malta Rugby League which practices the other code of the sport known as rugby league.
Currently ranked 41 in the International Rugby Board world rankings, the national team draws a sizeable and noisy crowd whenever they play locally. If you’re a lover of the sport, and the opportunity presents itself, catching an international match while waving the Maltese team on (preferably from the South End Core) is an experience not to be missed.