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Rugby Europe Championship 2023

Bruce_ma gooshvili

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Jun 22, 2016
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Pretty much full confirmation of next years expansion coming from the German union. Two groups, semis and finals. Relegation opportunity for the worst performing nation over a two year cycle.

Group 1: Georgia, Spain, Netherlands, Germany
Group 2: Romania, Portugal, Belgium, Poland

The tournament will now mix fully pro sides, semi pro and a couple of fully amateur nations.

I really liked the 6 team format with annual relegation and felt it led to competitive and enjoyable REC and the lower tier trophy with almost every game being meaningful and competitive. So personally I very much dislike this change with Poland and Germany having no RESC side it has come too early in my opinion. Germany travel to Georgia for their first match, which should get messy.

Hopefully my pessimism is misplaced and Germany and Poland have firm plans for an RESC side so will perhaps find a way to introduce a semi-pro setup prior to their admission to that tournament. Rugby Europe do seem to have become more polished in the past couple of years so perhaps I should be more trusting of their judgment.
Judging by Trophy results there does seem to be a clear cut-off after those 8. But I agree, I don't see any benefit from this which would be better than keeping up the regular games between the top 4.

With the perennial 6th wheel and now Russia being isolated, there is an opportunity to put the Netherlands out of their misery. But I would have split it vertically, with 2 cross-division fixtures instead of KOs.
Netherlands are to receive WR funding as they move into the High Performance category of 24 nations. Less positively, journeyman coach Lyn Jones is appointed for them (and their RESC side Delta) but honestly I think he might do an okayish job at their level despite a lack of success with Russia.

Hopefully the WR funding helps retain young Dutch players for Delta and the National side which could see the Dutch close the gap on the REC big boys and potentially 'do a Portugal' with a younger group of players.
The Dutch narrowly lost 13-6 to Spain in the Rugby Europe u20s final. Very impressive for the Dutch. These youths will be eligible for selection for the 2027 RWCQs. Combine this with them adopting a High Performance programme and Delta in the RESC and the pieces are in place for a meteoric rise such as Chile or Portugal. I can seem them pushing for RWC qualification in 2027 and they should be aiming for the repechage as a possible target (albeit the REC is rock hard to progress from to the RWC).
I would love to see SC 1880 Frankfurt as Germany's representatives in the RESC. The club has such a rich history with the link to the country's silver medal in the 1900 Olympic rugby competition as well as being the Bundesliga's reigning champions.
A really tough round of fixtures in this opening weekend, the four strongest sides hosting the four weakest, with potential for three figure blowouts in my opinion.

Plus it's been confirmed the semi and final will be played in Spain, regardless of what teams feature in those matches.

It's fair to say there is a lot of negativity around this modified tournament, and not just from me.
If it has to be an eight-team tournament then it would have better for every team to play each other once, four matches each in February/March and then the remainder in July/August. In that way the season and interest in the Championship is sustained over a longer period, particularly with there being no November internationals this year. I would even have gone so far as to arrange the fixtures so that the four heavyweight teams (Georgia, Romania, Portugal and Spain) played each other in the second set of matches, both to make the final outcome of the competition more exciting and to give the first three countries tougher warm-up games going into the World Cup. It would also mean that the other nations, who are unlikely to be selected as opposition by those sides preparing for France, would have meanigful, competitive fixtures against each other right up until the end of the year.
The big boys all scored a point a minute in the first half, but humiliation was avoided with all the 'minnows' scoring 12 to 27 points away from home and the favourites possibly showing some mercy. Germany even managed to get two tries in Georgia.

Netherlands looking extremely likely to 'do a Chile' in the next RWC cycle with a narrow loss in Spain confirming their instant improvment from moving to high performance.

My pessimism not yet fully realised in week 1. The most disappointing thing was no TV broadcast in Romania and a bun fight between Rugby Europe and one of the main Romanian broadcasters (who indicate theyd have been happy to show it).
Yeah the Dutch apparently put in a spirited showing against a strong Georgian selection, before losing 8-40.

All matches were a bit worse this week in terms of uneven scorelines (when you factor in home advantage). Matches for the remaining 3 weeks should at least now be more competitive / meaningful. Next week will decide home advantage for semi-finals.
Modest stadia for Belgium and Germany compared to when they were last in the REC. Germany at least put up a reasonable showing at home to Spain, closer than I'd expect even though Spain are apparently experimenting with youth.

Next week the competition starts proper. Portugal hosting Romania and Spain hosting Georgia will decide which sides will host the semifinals.
Another credible performance from the Germans. A points difference of -85 after playing three sides with a Super Cup team is much better than I expected from them.

Spain are incredibly poor at the moment but Georgia are really becoming assured in open play.

With the Wallabies, Fiji and Wales all in a bit of a mess with new coaches less than a year from the RWC I am daring to dream of Georgia finishing 2nd in their group and reaching knockouts. I think there is about a 10% chance of that happening. Which is 10% more than I would have thought just 5 years ago.
A surprisingly and impressively muscular Portuguese performance saw them defeat Romania. On this sort of showing they might have potential for a respectable performance against everyone in the Wales/Wallabies.

Semifinals will be Portugal vs Spain and Georgia vs Romania, with the home sides huge favourites.

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