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Gracias mi amigos . . . Sam Sturgess acknowledges the crowd after a club rugby game in Spain. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Former North Otago hooker Sam Sturgess is enjoying his rugby OE – but he is not in one of the usual places. Sturgess is experiencing a new style of rugby and a new culture in Spain. He replied to some emails from Hayden Meikle

Q: Where exactly are you, Sam?
I’m living in a town called Sant Boi de Llobregat. It’s only a 20-minute train ride into the heart of Barcelona.

Q: How long have you been there?
I arrived here in mid-September, so about six months.

Q: Which club do you play for? In what competition?
UE Santboiana in the Division de Honor which is the Spanish national competition.

Q: How is your team performing?
We are currently sitting in fourth place of 12 teams. We have also qualified for the final of the Kings Cup, which is a competition played between the top six teams at Christmas. That final is on April 30, and the main competition playoffs start the week after that.

Q: Are there any other New Zealanders or interesting nationalities in the team?
We have five other Kiwi players and a Kiwi coach, all from the Manawatu. Also two Italians, two Argentinians and three Frenchies.  A lot of the other teams have a few Kiwis in their team. Former North Otago player Joe Mamea is playing and coaching in the same competition.

Q: What do Spanish people know about rugby?
They love to scrum and maul. They are very passionate players and supporters. After games, we always do the northern hemisphere walk through a guard of honour from the other team and acknowledge our supporters.

Q: Is the standard of rugby very high?
The top six teams are good and the level is high. It’s physical and a faster tempo style of rugby. The bottom six are a fair way behind.

Q: How are you enjoying the food?
I’ve learned to eat olives. I do enjoy a beer and to chew on some tapas. They have a very wide range of food here. Most of it is pretty good. Pork feet is a good dish.

Q: When do you come back? And where will you be playing club rugby this year?
I’m due back at the end of May. But I’m undecided about club rugby. It’s still early days. I will only be back for the second half of the club season and I’d better make sure my body is in one piece first.