France wins IWRF European Division B Championship
The first IWRF European Division B Championship, held in Prague, Czech Republic, finished with ninth-ranked France playing twenty-third-ranked Ireland for the gold medal.
Both teams had met earlier in the week during pool play, with Ireland leading until the third quarter before resting their starters for the next day’s semi-final and succumbing to France 48-52. The tactic paid off for the young Irish squad, whose convincing 50-42 semifinal victory over Switzerland guaranteed them a spot at the European Division A Championship, and Rio 2016 Paralympic Qualifier, in Finland this September.
The Championship game was about bragging rights and rankings, as both teams had already earned their spot to Finland. The fast-paced match began with 16-year-old Irish rookie sensation Thomas Moylan scoring first, followed by France’s Rodolphe Jarlan returning fire. Forced turnovers gave the Irish an early four-point lead, and with 3:09 left in the quarter, French coach Olivier Cusin made his first subs putting in veteran Ryadh Sallem and Nicolas Rioux. A combination of big plays and controversial calls allowed Ireland to hold onto their lead and end the quarter ahead, 16-12.
In the second quarter, fans were treated to a barrage of big hits and fantastic plays that make this sport so exciting. The strength and speed of Sallem is impressive to watch, yet rookie Moylan did not seem intimidated and played the game like a veteran. With 3:22 to go, France went ahead by a point and held on to a 27-26 lead at the halftime break. While many thought France would build up a lead in the third, the Irish continued to play tough and ended the quarter even, 39-39. The last quarter began with France striking first, which slowly led Ireland to make mistakes and turnovers costing them the game. The final score was 56-48 with France crowned champions; however, the Irish celebrated their 10 spot climb on the IWRF ranking list, going from #23 to #13 in the world as a result of their impressive week .
In the bronze medal match Switzerland defeated Poland, 42-35. While pleased with the win, the Swiss team are disappointed that their efforts were not enough to qualify them for the Division A Championship in September. This will be the first time that Switzerland won’t be competing at the top level of the European Championship.
Results and standings from the other matches are as follows:
7/8th Place – Russia (1-4) vs. Italy (0-5)
New-comer Russia played Italy in the morning opener for seventh place bragging rights. The Italians lead throughout most of the game, but were running out of gas as the clock ticked down in the fourth. The Russian squad was able to capitalize on this and came from behind for their only win, 47-44. This was Russia’s first appearance at an IWRF sanctioned event, and they will be a fun team to watch as they gain more experience.
5/6th Place - Czech Republic (3-2) vs. Austria (2-3)
Host nation Czech Republic suffered a heartbreaking 1 point overtime loss to Poland in the tournaments opening game. Today they battled Austria for fifth place in what looked like would be a win in regulation play, but instead ended up going into overtime. The home crowd fans got loud and propelled the Czechs on to a 51-53 victory.
This was the first time the Czech Republic has hosted an IWRF championship, and they did a fantastic job! The organizing committed worked hard to ensure that everything was in place long before the event had started, and a dedicated team of friendly volunteers assured that everyone had a good time while visiting Prague. The IWRF appreciates the tremendous contributions of everyone involved, and looks forward to attending more tournaments in your beautiful county.
IWRF 2015 European Division B Championship Results
All Tournament Team
0.5 - John McCarthy - Ireland
Fan Favorite - Roman Zechmeister - Austria
France (5-0) - Gold
Ireland (3-2) - Silver
Switzerland (4-1) - Bronze
Poland (2-3) - Fourth place
Czech Republic (3-2) - Fifth place
Austria (2-3) - Sixth place
Russia (1-4) - Seventh place
Italy (0-5) - Eighth place
|To watch replays of any of the tournaments games, follow the links found HERE|