Why the Algarve will feel decidedly Scottish this weekend


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Perhaps nowhere outside of the British Isles is the tension ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash as tangible as in the Algarve.

Known best for a sporting connection with golf rather than rugby, residents in the Algarve will be watching closely as Max and Thom Evans appear in Scotland’s starting line up against England at Twickenham in the RBS 2009 Six Nations Rugby Championship.

Max and Thom’s father, Brian Evans, is director of Golf at Pinheiros Altos Golf Club near Quinta do Lago.

He remembers taking the boys to Vale do Lobo beach when they were young, to play touch rugby with James Aitken of Quintasales and his sons who are around the same age.

“It was supposed to be touch rugby but James and I were still competitive in those days and fit enough to do something about it, so things got a little ugly, at least for the first 10 minutes until we ran out of steam and stood back to watch the boys,” he said.

“No doubt those early days whetted their appetite for the game and gave them a head start when attending prep school and eventually Wellington College in the UK.”

The boys are both excellent golfers and Max is pro like his father. Their mother was a diving, sprint and swimming champion in South Africa so it’s no surprise that sport has always been second nature.

The Evans’ rise to fame this season has caused a whirlwind of patriotic rivalry among the expat community; lifelong England supporters who watched the boys grow up, who have played with their pro golfer dad, or who know the brothers from old school days in Almancil, are wondering at which end of the rugby pitch they want to see a try.

James Aitken will be at Twickenham but reserves judgement ahead of the game.

“I’m English”, he defends, “But like many others who know the Evans family, I’ll search for some Scottish ancestry!”