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Team of the Tournament | Men's Rugby Europe Championship

Another blockbuster season of the Men's Rugby Europe Championship has come to an end, and yet again Georgia reigns supreme.

Before we close another REC chapter, it is time to select our Team of the Tournament! Before we reveal our 23, here is the rationale behind it:

  • The final standings had a say in how many selected players each side had. The champions, Georgia, finished with seven units, while Portugal and Spain finished with four. Romania and Netherlands contributed each with a trio of players, and Poland, Belgium, and Germany each had one player each selected for the best team of the tournament; 
  • The Player of the Match award also played a part in the selection. 
  • Stats, minutes played, and the impact they had on their teams were key for the selection of these 23 names.


How couldn't we pick Irakli Aptsiauri? The Lelos tighthead prop was just unstoppable, pulverizing most of his direct opposition, and reassuring Georgian fans that a new era of scrum dominance was at their doorstep. 

And if we are talking about scrum dominance, then Iulian Hartig has to be included in the conversation! The sensational loosehead prop squeezed six scrum penalties, feeding Romania with more than a couple of good shots to get the points.

Karkadze has finally established himself as a starting unit for Georgia and his work in the set-piece paid off against the likes of Portugal, Romania, and Spain. 


It wasn't on purpose, but the lock pairing of the Team of the Tournament were both captains and scored tries in the Finals Day. Mario Pichardie was just sensational for Spain, picking up five turnovers and clinching more than forty-two tackles, in addition to two tries for his country. If we could narrow it down to one moment to explain his impact, Spain's first try against Romania started with a turnover from the lock/Flanker, quickly tapping and running, mounting a play that would end up in Martiniano Cian’s 4th try of the season. 

Koen Bloemen, with a similar frame to the Eiffel Tower, was Netherlands lineout unit, commanding his team with brilliance and inspiring them to record another successful season.


If a team combined the efforts and skills of Ilia Spanderasvhili, Wolf van Dijk, and Nicolás Martins, it would be ready to take on the world. The loose forward trio displayed their very best in all the games they took part in for different reasons. Spanderasvhili was the perfect Georgian enforcer, muscling the Lelos pack and making a couple of brutal tackles that shook the ground in Paris. 

Wolf van Dijk collected three Player of the Match awards, and that should tell you his significance for the Oranje. A flanker that offloads as easily as its jackals is certain to reach the stars. 

And, finally, Nicolás Martins the tackler emperor. With more than fifty tackles (only one missed), two turnovers, four lineout steals and one try, the utility forward is an inspiration for future generations for all the heavy work he does for Portugal. 




Hugo Camacho shocked fans by coming in and taking the scrum half role by storm, showing some glimpses that reminded us of a young Samuel Marques.

Portugal's Hugo Aubry finished as the top point scorer of the season, in his first run in the Men's Rugby Europe Championship. 55 points from the boot, two try-assists, and a handful of classy moments reflect how impactful the fly-half was for the Lobos. 




On the long list of the greatest captains to have played the game, Merab Sharikadze should rank high, and it is not only for another successful trophy conquest. The ridiculous amount of power he puts into every carry, and the way he crashes and bounces off tacklers has inspired Georgia to go big in another Men's REC. 

Giorgi Kveseladze starts next to his Georgian skipper, and deservedly so. Three tries, four clean breaks, twenty tackles, twelve defenders beaten, twenty-five gain line crossings, and two turnovers were stats that convinced us. 


It was by far the hardest choice to make, as we had more than a handful of outside backs excelling in 2024. But we ended up choosing Martiniano Cian, Akaki Tabutsadze, and Manuel Cardoso Pinto. 

Let's start with the player that gave a new meaning to the word “lethality”, Akaki Tabutsadze. With seven tries in five games, the Georgian winger spreads fear amongst his rivals, thanks to his unreal pace, speed, and versatility. 

Martiniano Cian’s tricks helped Spain to finish 3rd, scoring a total of four tries, massively impacting how the Leones attack operated. A true wonder to watch and someone destined for greatness.

And we couldn't close the best XV without a Portuguese outside back. Manuel Cardoso Pinto lands the fullback spot, thanks to his mischievous and joyful way of playing the game. He was always shining bright for Portugal and his final stats are astonishing: seventeen defenders beaten, seven line breaks, three tries, and 342 metres made!


Front Row: Vano Karkadze, Giorgi Akhaladze and Gabor Besuijen

For hooker, Los Leones Álvaro García deserves the spot. The 20-year-old jumped in and brought stability to the set-piece, finishing with close to a 100% perfect record in the lineout throws. 

Dutch tighthead Gabor Besuijen and Georgian loosehead Giorgi Akhaladze are our replacement props, as both added a much-needed ferocity to their teams' scrum.

Utility forwards: Adrian Mitu, Justin Renc and Siokivaha Halaifonua

Mitu came in like a bombshell, as the young talented utility forward made a dent with his eighteen carries. Loosies Justin Renc and Siokivaha Halaifonua are the perfect ball-hunting duo. Combined with a mouthwatering ball-carrying skill both loose forwards were stunning in the competition.

Backline: Julien Berger, Bautista Güemes and Tevita Manumua 

The Belgian scrum-half Julien Berger electrified the Diables Noirs, injecting pure adrenaline into his team, finding gaps and cracks to create something grand for his country. 

Master tactician Bautista Güemes is a trustworthy goal kicker to have on your side and someone who will also try his luck to elude the opposition's defense.

32-year-old Tevita Manumua played his heart out for Romania, clinching a couple of tries, dragging tacklers behind him and even punting some astonishing kicks.

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