Pool C - Portugal
Portugal is the first all-amateur team to qualify for the RWC since the dawn of the professional era in 1995 and the Wolves' trip to France will mark their RWC debut. Following a tempestuous qualification series, Portugal snatched the final entry berth with wins over the Czech Republic, Georgia, Ukraine and Uruguay. However, recent form will not suffice.This weak rugby nation's qualification to the RWC is a staggering accomplishment. It is testament to Portugal's recent successes in the European Nations Cup and IRB Nations Cup.
But the Wolves will struggle. Portugal is a third-tier rugby nation – which is understandable as soccer is the Portuguese sport of choice. The Wolves have little experience against larger, established nations. They lack refinement and the requisite interest and talent-base needed to build a strong team. Portugal's Pool C opposition is daunting. Italy, Romania and Scotland will cruise comfortably past them. Portugal's second test against the All Blacks, however, will be a bruising encounter – expect the Wolves to lose by at least 80 points.
Coach: Tomaz Morais (Portugal)
Captain: Vasco Uva
IRB Ranking: 21
Appearances: First Appearance
Odds to win: 5000/1
Number of clubs: 57
Number of Registered players: 4,286
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Lock forward Gonçalo Uva is the power in Portugal's engine room. One of Portugal's more experienced internationals, Gonçalo has won 26 caps for the Wolves, making his test debut against Ukraine in 2004. Gonçalo is Vasco Uva's twin brother, an almost carbon copy at 6'1” and 99 kg. Gonçalo is currently signed with French Top 14 side Montpelier.
Pedro Leal is the Wolves' starting full-back and secret weapon. Leal is underrated, a more skilful player than expected. Leal honed his attacking skill on the World 7's circuit - he is considered to be Portugal's best 7's and full XV player. At 5'6”, Leal's diminutive stature is compensated by his speed and vision. Leal currently plays with Portuguese amateur side Grupo Desportivo Direito in Lisbon.
Vasco Uva is the Wolves' captain. He is a utility back-row forward, but calls the Number 8 position home. Uva is an average sized Number 8 at 6'1” and 99 kg, but his strength is his leadership qualities – he displayed poise and composure during Portugal's RWC qualifying, scoring important tries. With 36 test caps for Portugal, Uva has scored a total of six international tries.
Rugby in Portugal
Nicknamed ‘The Wolves' (Os Lobos), the Portuguese first played an international rugby match in 1935 against Spain. Portugal is classified as a Tier 3 rugby nation, but recently have been receiving a grant from the IRB to develop their rugby to a Tier 2 standard. Having qualified for their first World Cup after playing Uruguay, several players were arrested in the ensuing celebrations as a result of an altercation with local police. No charges were laid and the players involved were allowed to leave Montevideo.