Sports Round Up – December ’23



The region’s top rugby club RC Loulé have had a difficult start to their new season in National Division One. The men’s senior side lost 15-29 at home to RC Montemor before losing 20-10 away in Setúbal. However, the under-19 and under-16 sides both enjoyed convincing wins against Sporting Belas.

Photos © Rugby Club de Loulé

The RC Loulé women’s team are looking a far stronger outfit this season. In mid-November, they travelled to Lisbon to play in the São Miguel tournament against some formidable opposition. With two draws, one win and just one loss, they can hold their heads high, especially against sides with far higher budgets. They next play at home on 2 December. 


Fresh from their successful World Cup exploits, the Portugal men’s side have announced two international matches against England ‘A’ and an Ireland development side. The matches fall within the Six Nations and Rugby Europe calendar, so it is likely that all three teams will field youthful lineups. Even so, both matches will provide vital experience against tier-one rugby-playing nations.

After their World Cup win against Fiji, the Portugal men’s team have risen to 13th in the world rankings, their highest-ever position. The international women’s team will look to continue their meteoric rise and currently sit in 25th position. Considering they only started playing regular international matches in December 2021, seven wins in eight matches have seen them shoot up the ranking table.

World Rugby has announced a new tournament as part of a ‘significant overhaul’ of men’s international rugby. The competition will consist of a first and second division (with promotion and relegation) and will feature the top 24 teams in Europe. This will act as a gateway for fast-improving Portugal to break through to tier-one rugby. The annual tournament will begin in 2026.


Portuguese youngster Henrique Rocha has lost in the final of the M25 ITF tennis tournament in Tavira. The Porto-based nineteen-year-old lost out to experienced campaigner Sebastian Fanselow 6-2 6-3, a player he had comfortably beaten in a tournament last month. Rocha, who is coached by Algarvian tennis great Rui Machado, has risen to an all-time ranking high of 273 and is certainly one to keep an eye on in the future.


FIFA World Cup

Following the announcement that the 2030 men’s World Cup would be a joint venture between Portugal, Spain and Morocco, the Portuguese football association has announced that the three participating stadiums will be Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. Although the Algarve will not feature any matches, the Estádio Algarve near Faro has been proposed as a training pitch for one of the international sides.


Young Benfica star Lara Martins has signed her first professional contract. The seventeen-year-old, who was the Tomorrow Algarve ‘Rising Star’ in November, recently scored two goals in the UEFA Champions League for the Lisbon-based side. Lara grew up in the Algarve and played for Farense (Faro) before signing for Benfica in 2020.

Algarve football

Heading into the international break, the Algarve has two sides in the top ten of the Portuguese Primeira Liga. A run of three consecutive victories has propelled newly-promoted Farense into eighth position, their last defeat coming as far back as 2 September. The pick of the bunch this season was a fabulous 3-1 over Sporting Braga. Two points below them lie Portimonense, whose form is a little more erratic, but they can also take confidence from a good start to the season, with their finest performance coming in a 2-1 last-minute victory over Vitória Guimarães.

Rising Star

Marta Gago

Marta Gago is a professional football player who hails from Olhão. Having played for her local side Olhanense from the age of five, she signed for Benfica in 2020. Following two years playing for the Benfica youth team, Marta has broken through to the senior squad for the 2023/2024 season. The seventeen-year-old midfielder is currently plying her trade for the Benfica ‘B’ team but has started every game this season. 

2023 has very much been a breakthrough year for Marta, who has played five times for the Portugal under-19 team. She has been working her way up the international youth ladder, having previously played for the under-17 and under-15 teams.

If you wish to publicise a sporting event or a ‘rising star’ contact our sports editor David Lugg:


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