Portugal may have snuck into this Rugby World Cup through the back door but the future looks bright for a country where the game is steadily building its numbers among the younger generation.

Established in 1952 by a group of university students from Lisbon law school, Direito is one of the leading clubs in the country, supplying eight players to Portugal's squad for the World Cup.

With an eye to the future, however, the club holds an academy for boys and girls each summer with the aim of introducing rugby to younger age groups and developing rugby skills and game understanding.

The club believes that the academy helps the kids with their personal and social development.

The first recorded game in Portugal was in 1903 but Los Oblos - The Wolves - only qualified for their first World Cup in 2007. They were hammered by the All Blacks, well beaten by Scotland and Italy but only lost 14-10 to Romania.

They are back in France this time in spite of originally finishing out of the European qualification places.

Georgia, Romania and Spain all finished above them but their fellow-Iberians were docked 10 points for fielding an ineligible player in two matches against the Netherlands.

That moved Portugal into third spot and handed them a place in the final qualifying tournament in Dubai where they saw off Hong Kong and Kenya before drawing 16-16 with the United States which took them through on points difference.

At this year's World Cup they are in Pool C alongside Australia, Wales, Fiji and Georgia. Their first match is against the Welsh in Nice on September 16.


++ Ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France, Agence France-Presse asked 20 aspiring photographers from each country qualified for the competition to show one aspect of the rugby union culture in their homeland, with the help of Canon cameras who are sponsoring the tournament. From Namibia to Fiji via Georgia and Scotland this photo essay gives us a glimpse of the core values of rugby on five continents.