Big Day for Big Three in Denmark
With 9 of 12 preliminary round games now complete, only Australia, Canada and the United States remain undefeated at the Denmark Wheelchair Rugby Challenge. And in a matter of hours each of these powerhouses will have finished their final pool games knowing that their next match will determine if they will play for a medal, or not come Sunday.
While in simple thought one might think they know how this day will unfold, but based on the closeness and play displayed in several of the previous day’s games, things could get complicated real fast. So let’s try to break things down and see if we can get some insight into what’s ahead for the teams today.
In Pool B - Canada is currently number one with a record of 2 and 0. Great Britain and Japan each have a win and a loss (1 and 1), while Belgium has lost both of their games (0 and 2). While the above looks clear, lets point out that Canada beat GB in the closing minutes by 3 points, GB beat Japan by 2, and Belgium lost to Japan by just a point.
The Saturday morning opener between GB and Belgium is a “must win” situation for the Britts, but even then it won’t guarantee them a second place finish in their pool. You see, the next match is between Canada and Japan - and if Japan were to upset the #2 team in the world, which could happen, this could create a three-way tie between CAN, GBR, and JPN. And if Canada and Belgium both win their games, the Canuks will remain #1, but now there is potential for a three-way tie for second and third in the pool.
Now might be a good time to get out your calculators and study up on the IWRF tie breaker rules... and we aren’t even into the semi-final games yet!
Over in Pool A things are much clearer as #1 Australia, and # 3 USA are all tied up with two wins each. Who will come out on top of this pool will be resolved on the court, starting at 12:20 (CEST). While many predicted these two teams would play for Gold at the London 2012 Paralympics, fate had other plans. They last met in the final at the 2010 IWRF World Championship in Vancouver, with USA winning, but both programs have gone through significant changes since. The smart bet is to set your alarm and log in for this webcast because this should be a fast and furious game.
Third and fourth place in Pool A has already been determined, with host team Denmark upsetting Sweden in overtime of the tournaments opening game. In the crossover round, Denmark will play #4 in Pool B, and Sweden will play #3 in Pool B. Win or lose, the best these teams can do is to finish in the bottom four on Sunday. In Pool B, we won’t know which teams will play for what until they finish up their pool games.
As you can see, it will be a busy and important morning for six teams. And once the crossovers begin the final pieces will finally fall into place for all eigth as to what Sunday will bring them. For wheelchair rugby fans around the world there is only one guarantee, and that is that anything can happen in sport! The final 11 games of the Denmark Challenge should be exciting as hell, and well worth your effort to log in and watch.
For instant access to the schedule, scores, team rosters and live webcasts click here.