Written by Nathan Bragg 14 April 2015
After the second day of competition, the pools and the contenders have become clearer. All eight teams played a match today, with three blowouts and one fairly close affair.
In the first match of the day, the Irish team dominated the Italians, gaining some revenge for their loss at the European qualifiers in 2013. Thomas Moylan lit up the scoreboard and drew plenty of Italian attention, but they could not find a way to slow him down. Veteran class 1.0 Alan Lynch made some great plays on both sides of the ball and really complimented the young duo Dineen and Moylan. Ireland makes a statement winning 63-27.
The second game was the closest of the day with Switzerland getting the best of Poland by four 37-33, thanks to some strong team defence and effective offensive play from Toni Schilling. The win establishes the Swiss as the favourite in Pool B, and a contender for one of the two bids to the A division championships.
France solidified their place as the gold medal favourite with a dominating 19 point win over Austria. Ryadh Sallem was an absolute force on both sides of the ball and he received strong support from Sebastien Lhussier and the defensive skill of Cedric Nankin. Austria kept it close in the 1st quarter as they trailed by five, 18-13. In the second, France gave new 3.5 Christophe Salegui some playing time and he had a strong performance on a hi-lo line-up with Hivernat, Neuman and Chalmain. The French had a 14 point lead at halftime, but the Austrians never stopped fighting and tried multiple lines in an attempt to pull closer in the second half, but ultimately lost 57-38 to an experienced and highly ranked French side.
After losing the tournament opener Monday night, the Czechs were hungry for a win to please their home fans. Playing against European Championship debutant Russia. The Russians had a good first half for such a young team and only trailed by six at halftime, however the Czechs increased their pressure in the third eventually running away from the Russians and winning 47-31.
Russian 3.0 Illa Mysliaev showed tremendous speed and maneverability, expect to see more of him as the tournament progresses.
At the end of Day 2, the pools are starting to take shape. In addition to France, the Irish and Swiss look like real contenders to take home the inaugural B division title.
Win/Loss Goal Difference
Ireland (1-0) +36
France (1-0) +19
Austria (0-1) -19
Italy (0-1) -36
Switzerland (1-0) +4
Poland (1-1) -3 with tiebreaker over Czech Republic
Czech Republic (1-1) +15
Russia (0-1) -16
Written by Nathan Bragg 13 April 2015
With the 2016 Rio Paralympics less than 18 months away, qualification has begun for the wheelchair rugby competition in Prague with the IWRF European Division B Championship. This is the first division B championship as the IWRF announced a new divisional format for the European zone. The top six teams from the 2013 championships in Belgium automatically qualify for the European championships to be held in Finland this September. They are Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and Finland. The two remaining spots will go to the finalists from this week’s event. Then the top two teams from the A division will qualify for the Paralympics.
Despite being the second tier of European rugby, there are some great teams in Prague going for gold.France is the favourite after finishing above Finland, Belgium and Germany at last year’s IWRF World Championship in Denmark. Also joining them is Switzerland who put together a competitive showing at the 2014 Canada Cup. The Irish team comes into the tournament with a lot of momentum from some impressive results in the BT Super Series in Great Britain, and a dominating performance in a friendly against Italy last month. Their two young hi-pointers, Alan Dineen and Thomas Moylan could take over a few games in Prague. Russia will be making their European Championships debut. Austria, Italy and host Czech Republic round out the field.
After 3 round robin games, the top 2 teams from each pool move onto the semi-finals and the bottom two teams enter the consolation bracket. The semi-finals will serve as a qualification match for the IWRF European Division A Championship.
The pools and the teams’ corresponding world ranking are as follows:
- #9 France (0-0)
- #15 Austria (0-0)
- #16 Italy (0-0)
- #23 Ireland (0-0)
- #14 Poland (1-0)
- #13 Switzerland (0-0)
- Unranked Russia (0-0)
- #18 Czech Republic (0-1)
The tournament’s first game was an exciting affair that went to overtime. Despite leading by as many as five goals in the second quarter, the Czechs couldn’t capitalize on their lead or the home crowd and lost 49-48 in overtime to the resilient Polish team that proved they won’t go down easy to anyone.
Tomorrow there are 4 games with Italy taking on Ireland, Switzerland battling Poland, France playing Austria, and the host Czech Republic welcoming Russia to their first European Championship.