The 2023 Rugby Europe Super Cup is ready to start, but before you sit down and follow the whole five-week competition action, we pick eight players who deserve to be under the spotlight.
Luka Matkava (Black Lion)
In his first-ever Rugby World Cup, Luka Matkava impressed the critics and might’ve raised some eyebrows in France. The fly-half is not only a quick unit capable of unleashing a myriad of attacking moves but also a balanced player that controls well the flow of the game.
Matkava helped the Black Lion secure the cup twice and had an MVP game in the 2022 final, scoring 12 points and pulling some tricks out of the hat. The 22-year-old looks ready to jump into the action again and add more points to his tally (he is just 28 points away from reaching the hundred-point mark).
Other players to watch for in the Black Lion side: Luka Ivanishvili (loose forward), Akaki Tabutsadze (wing), Shalva Mamukashvili (hooker), and Demur Tapladze (centre).
Martim Roquette Bello (Lusitanos)
The young lock/loose forward impressed in the 2023 Rugby World, jumping high in the lineout or clinching a heavy dose of tackles, and will certainly be one of the main standouts for the Lusitanos. It was thanks to the Portuguese franchise that Martim Bello was able to get into the “Lobos” setup after a one-year break from rugby, mounting an incredible comeback.
His top mobility and agility combined make him a threat if the opposition doesn’t bring him immediately down, and the Lusitanos are hoping he will be the perfect battering ram to open the way into the try-line.
Other players to watch for in the Lusitanos side: Jerónimo Portela (fly half), Pedro Lucas (scrum-half), David Costa (prop), and Rafael Simões (loose forward).
Álvar Gimeno (Castilla y León Iberians)
Álvar Gimeno is back! The exciting Spanish international is back in Spain, and he will play for the Iberians side, gifting Miguel Velasco a powerful unit to battle for the cup. Gimeno is a centre capable of breaking the defensive line, mauling through, and launching a dangerous run that ends with a positive outcome.
As for his defence and tackling skills, if a ball carrier chooses to run directly to him, it suffice to say he will be properly taken down and brought to the ground. Álvar Gimeno is an outstanding signing and one that will be vital for the Iberians' hopes and dreams!
Other players to watch for in the Iberians side: Matt Foulds (loose forward), Gonzalo Vinuesa (scrum-half), John Wessel Bell (wing), and Mario Pichardie (lock and loose forward).
Jordan Chait (Tel-Aviv Heat)
Do you like pin-point kicking, slick handling moves, and deep in-game knowledge? Then, Jordan Chait is the player you are looking for, and the Tel Aviv Heat fly half deserves the shout. He has been one of the most solid units in the Super Cup, scoring an average of 10 points per game, impacting massively how the Israeli side has done so far in the competition.
In 2022 he was vital in the semi-final, slotting 20 points to push the Heat towards their first Super Cup final, and finished as the top-point scorer of the competition thanks to that polished right foot.
Other players to watch for in the Tel Aviv Heat: Semi Kunatani (loose forward), Jone Taufaga (centre), Prince Gaoseb (loose forward), and Dameon Venter (hooker).
Robert Irimescu (Romania Wolves)
Robert Irimescu will make his debut for the Romania Wolves and he might be one of the finest hookers in the competition. The Romanian international played in the 2023 Rugby World Cup and his carries to win over the gain line made an impact, aside from his set-piece and off-the-ball work. A special detail about Robert Irimescu is that he can also feature as a loose forward if Eugen Apjok sees fit, as his tackling and chasing ability makes him an effective prowler.
Other players to watch for in the Romanian Wolves: Sione Fakasoliea (centre), Taliauli Sikuea (outside back), Florian Rosu (loose forward), and Mihai Lamboiu (wing/fullback)
Adam Koblic (Bohemia Rugby Warriors)
The Bohemia Rugby Warriors are the new Super Cup contestants, and we are ready to watch them surprise everyone, especially Adam Koblic, one of the fastest units in the Rugby Europe competitions. The winger has been collecting tries in the Men’s Rugby Europe Trophy division, punching holes every time he is requested to sprint with the oval ball.
The Czech has proven his worth in the 7s Championship and XV, and the Super Cup is just another stage to shine.
Other players to watch for in the Bohemia Rugby Warriors: Samuel Dupuy (centre), Dan Hošek (number-eight), and Matyáš Hopp (fly half).
Robin Vermeesch (Brussels Devils)
Are Robin Vermeesch's adversaries ready to be chased and brought to the ground? The loose forward – who can play also as a lock – was one of the best players in the Devils setup, ranking high in the top tacklers and jacklers, putting to good use his physicality and wits.
The utility forward is a recognized threat, and if the Brussels Devils can go the extra mile in the Super Cup, it will be due to his work-rate and defensive prowess.
Other players to watch for in the Brussels Devils: Romain Pinte (prop), Hugo de Francq (centre/wing), and Ryan Godsmark (scrum-half).
Daily Limmen (Delta)
Delta and Netherlands have been in growing and improving to become a force to be reckoned with, and Daily Limmen’s input will be vital, as the 21-year-old centre is one of the new shining diamonds in European Rugby. His handling and tackling skills have made noise in 2021, earning the respect of the Super Cup fans, and picking up some good displays since his debut.
Limmen is on the road to become not only a top standout for the Delta but also for the Super Cup and Rugby Europe’s competitions.
Every game of the Rugby Europe Super Cup will be broadcast on rugbyeurope.tv and Flo Rugby in North America.
By Francisco Isaac