Penalva played for Nice, in the French Fédérale 1, for the 2010-11 season.
He had 35 caps for Portugal, from 2002 to 2012, scoring 1 try, 5 points on aggregate. Penalva made his debut for the national side on 3 March 2002, in a 13-10 win over Spain, in Caldas da Rainha for the Six Nations B. He was called for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, playing in all the four games and scoring a try in the third game against Italy in a 31-5 loss. That would be the single points of his international career. Penalva most recent game was at 10 March 2012, in a 23-17 win over Spain, in Coimbra, for the Six Nations B. He has been absent from the National Team since then.