IWRF European Division C Championship Preview
By Nathan Bragg
The IWRF European Division C Championship take place from November 2nd-4th in Grosswallstadt, Germany. The Czech Republic, Russia, Israel and the Netherlands will battle for promotion to Division B. The four teams will play a round robin on Thursday and Friday before the semifinals and medal matches on Saturday with the two finalists earning promotion.
Here’s a look at each of the four teams ahead of the competition.
#21 Czech Republic
One to Watch: 2.0 Jaroslav Filsak
The Czech Republic is the most experienced of the four sides with appearances at 7 European Championships, (5 in the original 12 team event and two in Division B) After a disappointing performance at the 2016 B Division Championships in Notwill, they’re looking to defend their ranking and move up a division.
The Czech often play with a very balanced line and will likely be led by talented and experience 2.0 Jaroslav Filsak who can challenge higher classified players with phenomenal speed and passing range. 1.5 Petr Oppenhaur is among Europe’s top 1.5s and should give the Czechs strong play in the 3/4 spots of their line-ups.
One to Watch: 3.5 Illa Mysliaev
The defending Division C Champions enter the competition hoping that this will be their last appearance in the division. Only active in wheelchair rugby since 2014, the Russians have made rapid improvements, and although they lost all their matches at the 2016 Division B event, they had several close matches and even took eventual champion Finland to overtime.
3.5 Illa Mysaliev may be the quickest player in the tournament and will draw plenty of attention from opposing defenders as coaches try and figure out ways to slow him down and force the ball to other players.
One to Watch: 2.0 Mordechai Zidkyhau
Israel made their international at last year’s C division championship where they defeated Norway to finish 3rd and are looking to improve at this year’s event. Similar to the Czechs they play a very balanced style and like to move the ball around.
2.0 Mordechai Zidkiyhau gives them strong production in the 2.0 class and is an imposing player to his height and hitting ability.
One to Watch: 1.0 Reda Haouam
The Netherlands return to the international play for the first time since 2013 with a revamped squad full of young talent hoping to climb back up the world rankings. While absent from IWRF competition, the Flying Dutchmen have been busy over the past few years at many of Europe’s top wheelchair events including Rugbymania and the Bernd Best Tournament.
The Netherlands’ many hi-point trunk players could cause several mismatches for opposing teams, but they will also rely on their well-traveled captain Reda Haouam for leadership and steady defensive play.
Competition gets underway on Thursday at 17:00 CET with Russia taking on the Netherlands.
All matches will be webcast live at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbZuu1QD6RM
Updates will be posted on the tournament’s website and official Facebook page.