Portugal's major concern over the next 12 months may be to reach a second Rugby World Cup in 2011, but for many of the same players - and national coach Tomaz Morais - the focus over the next two days centres solely on the Sevens game.

Year after year, Morais defies the odds by leading Portugal to success in both Sevens and 15-a-side rugby, with largely the same group of players competing in both.

This weekend, on 11-12 July in Hannover, Germany, the Portguese are vying to win their fourth successive FIRA European title.

They also start as firm favourites after naming a strong group of players, all of whom performed well this year on the IRB Sevens World Series.

Diogo Mateus captains a side containing key playmaker Pedro Leal and dangerous backs Aderito Esteves and Antonio Aguilar, as well as versatile forward Goncalo Foro.

"It's not easy for the players playing fifteens and Sevens, which all of those players do," admitted Morais. "Sometimes they have problems with fatigue, but they are very good players so they cope."

"Next season we hope to have two separate teams competing in the different disciplines because it's impossible to do really well in both."

For now, though, the coach will ask the same core of top players to retain the Euro Sevens title once more, and build confidence ahead of their 15-a-side European Nations Cup campaign, which starts again in February and doubles as qualifying for the 2011 World Cup.

In reaching the Hannover Sevens finale, Portugal won both of the qualifying heats they competed in, as did France, while Italy and Russia each won a tournament.

The other sides set to compete at the city's ADW-Arena are Moldova, Spain, Georgia, Romania, the hosts Germany and Poland.

European women's championship

Hannover also provides another showpiece for the women's game, which has gained in momentum since the inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens for women in March 2009.

Hosts Germany will compete for the European title alongside nine others in Italy, Spain, Russia, Portugal, Moldova, Netherlands, France, Sweden and England.


Tickets can be ordered for the event at www.hannover-sevens.de (website in German, English and French)

For squads and results also, go to the tournament website.

FIRA European Sevens circuit - qualifying heats
Event 1: 16-17 May – Sopot (Poland) – winners Portugal
Event 2: 23-24 May – Athens (Greece) – winners France
Event 3: 30-31 May – Split (Croatia) - winners France
Event 4: 6-7 June – Odessa (Ukraine) - winners Russia
Event 5: 6-7 June – Ostrava (Czech Republic) - winners Portugal
Event 6: 20-21 June – Moscow (Russia) - winners Italy
Final: 11-12 July – Hanover (Germany)