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7 July 2014

Six Nations Cup 2014 a Big Success

Fontanafredda in Friuli, Italy hosted the first edition of the wheelchair rugby "FriulAdria Six Nations Cup", which was held on 27-29 June within the Rugby Festival 2014.


The event was organized by Claudio Da Ponte, and connects the world of traditional (able-bodied) rugby and wheelchair rugby under the common belief that there are different ways of playing rugby, but there's no difference between sports for able-bodied people and for people with disabilities.


"It's all just sport, just as much as I hope one day there will be just Olympic Games" says Claudio Da Ponte.

The Rugby Festival hosted the final match of the Italian Touch Rugby Championship and a demonstration of introduction to rugby for children. Though the main event was a wheelchair rugby tournament between six European National teams: Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Russia and Switzerland. Three well experienced teams (Austria, Czech and Switzerland) and three fairly new ones (Hungary, Italy and Russia).


Host country Italy ended up fourth, after losing a very tight match against Russia (50:51). Fifth and sixth places were taken by Switzerland and Hungary, though Switzerland had its strongest players still flying back from the Canada Cup, where they played just one week earlier.


Russia was the true revelation of this tournament, being such a young team and ending up third. They were well determined to win and displayed mainly its high pointers. Austria and Italy know each other very well since Italy started training. Austrian clubs provided the Italians with rugby chairs and taught them playing skills during the many occasions in which they met, thanks also to the Italian coach, Renè Schwarz. But Austria is currently on top of Italy in the IWRF world ranking and they showed their experience playing very entertaining matches made of big hits and fast, powerful players. Austrian player Renè Hernesz was nominated best player of the tournament, and Austria ended up in second place, after losing only one match against Czech Republic (41:45).


The tournament was won by Czech Republic, which was unbeaten in all five matches. The Czechs managed to win not by displaying a very fast and offensive game, but by playing with experience, minimizing faults and catching all opportunities to take advantage of the opponent's mistakes, therefore not allowing many turnovers. The prize was collected by David Luke's, team captain of the Prague Robots and main organizer of the famous Czech tournament Rugbymania.

The event also hosted a referee clinic for Italian referees with IWRF officials Anke Opiela, Kathi Adler and Gabe Caligiuri, as a result of the increasing drive which Claudio Da Ponte and FISPES (the Italian wheelchair rugby federation) are managing to give to the wheelchair rugby movement in Italy. Two new clubs, Rome and Milan, recently joined the Italian wheelchair rugby panorama and hopefully the next edition of the Rugby Festival will be possibly even more entertaining.


For full tournament results click here

Article written by Rufo Iannelli