Portugal become Rugby Sevens European champions in Moscow
The best Rugby Sevens teams from across Europe gathered in Moscow over the weekend to decide who'd be European champions, with Portugal putting their hands on the trophy.
The inaugural Rugby Sevens European Championship was held in 2002 and, since then, only two teams have been crowned as the best in the continent – Portugal and Russia.
Russia has won the trophy twice, and was the defending champion. And the pundits thought the team from the Iberian Peninsula, and Russia, would face each other in the final.
However, France had other ideas, and knocked out the home team in the semi-final. So Russia had to be content with the third place play-off, where they faced Spain – and comfortably won 22-10.
“We thought we'd take the gold, and the team is very disappointed that we finished third. I suppose that's because we had very tough opponents in the group, so it was hard to get to the play-offs. Our rugby players have a very busy schedule as they play both rugby-15s and rugby-7s, so I think they were tired physically and mentally,” Pavel Baranovsky, Russia’s coach, commented.
And the players echoed the words of their manager.
“I'm definitely not satisfied with the result, especially after our success in Hanover last year when we became European champions. We were out to retain our title here in Moscow. But I think our loss is a good thing. Now we understand the price of a mistake can be high and we have to make the right decisions and not repeat these mistakes,” Russia’s Yury Gostyuzhev said.
In the final, France tried hard, but couldn't cause a second big upset at the tournament as Portugal confidently beat their opponents 12-5, proving they are the best team in Europe and fully deserving their seventh title.
Meanwhile, in the Women's Championship, favorites England surprisingly didn't get to the final – and Spain went on to beat the Netherlands to claim the title, repeating their success of 2003, when they won the first Women's Rugby Sevens European Championship.
“Frankly, we had prepared to win the title, it was our goal. We knew it was very difficult to win the tournament. We tried our best to do it – step by step – producing a good performance. And finally – we did it. We won the championship, achieving our aim,” Spain’s Raquel Socias said.
Rugby Sevens is growing in popularity worldwide and Russia is no exception.
Sevens has been included in the Olympic Games and will make its debut in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. And, in 2013, Moscow will host the Rugby World Cup Sevens.