‘Converting’ Portugal to Rugby

Meet Dave Alger – lead trainer of CRUAI Kids Rugby Club in Lagoa

Clube de Rugby Universatário do Algarve (CRUAI) was established in Faro in 1992 by Ricardo Rafael and Miguel Eufrasio. The aim was to promote rugby through the university but also on a wider scale within the Algarve. CRUAI has gone from strength to strength and has set up a sister club in Lagoa. Now, with a strong emphasis on youth development, the club offers regular training sessions for children up to 18, a women’s under-18 side and touch rugby for adults. Dave Alger is the lead trainer in Lagoa and explains how the long-term plan is to establish a rugby club with its own pitch and facilities. 

“Six years ago, I saw an advert in the paper and I thought I might be a bit old, but I’ll give it a try. Eighteen months later, I went and did a training course for kids and I’ve been involved with the kids ever since. I was 64 when I started doing it and now I’m seventy.” Not that you would know, as Dave’s athleticism and infectious enthusiasm mean he could pass for someone half his age. 

“We’ve got about 16 kids here tonight, but we’ve had up to 27. We used to train the kids with just touch-rugby to get them used to ball-handling skills and being in the right place at the right time, but we’re now trying to build a little bit more proper rugby into it with crashes and tackles.” 

Dave and his team (including fellow coach Wayne Aldred) are attempting to ride the recent wave of success of the Portugal national side at the World Cup. “Portugal qualified for the World Cup in 2007 and there was a massive interest in rugby and that enthusiasm is what provided the core of the team for last year’s Rugby World Cup success. What we’re trying to do is develop the players and build them into a bigger and better team.”

Despite the current passion for rugby in Portugal, Dave is acutely aware that running a successful team takes more than enthusiasm. “The president in Lagoa has indicated that he is looking favourably upon providing a rugby facility with two new pitches, posts and everything else that goes with it. But I’m a pragmatist, so I’ll believe it when I see the white lines and posts, but at least we have a pitch to train on and we can work with what we have.”

CRUAl children’s rugby training is open for girls and boys of all ages and there are many nationalities who join in the fun. Dave is rightly proud of its inclusivity. “We don’t care where they are from or if they are big or small. We will teach them to catch the ball, kick the ball and run. And we teach them respect. If the referee has a whistle, there are two rules. Rule one, the referee is always right and rule two, if the referee is wrong, please see rule one.”

Every club, regardless of the sport, needs a Dave Alger behind the scenes to keep pushing development to the next level. In Dave’s case, he is the driving force of an excellent sporting project that not only teaches kids a sporting skill set but also instils important life skills – communication, teamwork and respect. 

Training takes place in Lagoa each Tuesday and Thursday from 17:30 to 19:30.



Lagoa (PT) +351 914 447 799 / (EN) +351 962 315 256

Faro (PT/EN) +351 965 519 309

RISING STAR – Aaron Thorpe

How long have you played rugby for CRUAl? Over three years. I turned 11 in October.

Why do you love playing rugby? There is a lot of energy in playing rugby. It’s exciting and it’s physical. And I’ve made a lot of friends here.

There are lots of kids from different countries playing rugby here. Yes, we have players from France and Ireland, and New Zealand. Training is done in English, but I can translate if the Portuguese players don’t really understand.

What is your favourite thing about playing for CRUAI? I like everything, especially trying to help others out when we play games.

Is there anything you don’t like about training? I don’t think there is anything. Everything here is really good. It would be good if we could play more games in the Algarve.

What’s the next step for you in your rugby life? I would 100% like to keep playing here. And then, one day, I’d like to get Irish citizenship and probably play for Ireland. Half of my family is Irish, actually.

So, do you support Ireland or Portugal? It depends. If Portugal plays against England, I would obviously support Portugal, but, overall, I would support Ireland. If Ireland played Portugal, I would still be happy if Portugal scored.


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