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The men’s Rugby Europe Championship for 2024 is here!

The men’s Rugby Europe Championship for 2024 gets underway this weekend with four matches.

On Saturday it all begins with Netherlands and Spain meeting in Pool A at the National Rugby Center in Amsterdam at 1.15pm local time (12.15pm UTC).

When they met in Madrid last year Spain were pushed hard, but won 28-20. They finished fourth overall in the competition in 2023 with the Netherlands fifth.

Netherlands are currently 27th in the world rankings with Spain 20th.

Netherlands head coach Lyn Jones said:  “We are very excited to be hosting Spain to start the competition for 2024.

“They have stepped up another gear from last year, so I'm intrigued to see how we can compete and perform against them. We have to put our own performance first and see how we can increase standards from 2023.”

Spain captain Mario Pichardie said:  “We are very excited as a group to face Netherlands in Amsterdam this weekend.

“This is going to be massive for us because it is the first game under our new coach and the first game as the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2027 begins. We want to build up some confidence that we can take into the rest of the competition.”

Next up on Saturday evening in Pool B Belgium take on Portugal in the Stade Charles Tondreau in Mons at 8pm local time (7pm UTC).

Portugal won the meeting between the sides 54-17 in Lisbon in the Championship last year and they went on to finish as runners-up with Belgium seventh.

Belgium are 29th in the world rankings with 2023 Rugby World Cup dazzlers Portugal 13th.

João Mirra, part of the Portugal coaching team, said:  “We are not letting go of the recent past, it was very good and it is important not to always start from scratch.

“However, we need new faces, new players and a new process going forward and that's what we're going to stick to.”

The first match on Sunday sees Germany and Georgia meet in Pool A action at the Paul Greifzu Stadion in Dessau at 3pm local time (2pm UTC).

In Tbilisi when the sides met in 2023, Georgia were on top from the off to win 75-12. They went on to win the title with Germany sixth.

Rugby World Cuppers from 2023 Georgia are 14th in the world rankings with Germany 32nd.

Germany head coach Mark Kuhlmann said:  “The roles in this game are clearly defined, but we are really looking forward to this game.

“We're not going into it hoping not to lose by too much and that nobody gets injured. We want to play attractively and do what we set out to do - keep our sights open.

“A win would be more than a sensation, but if we want to continue to improve we have to compete with such strong opponents. We're hoping for a rugby festival in Dessau and not just for us, because an opponent like Georgia deserves a great atmosphere.”

Home captain Jörn Schröder added:  “Georgia are world class and clear favourites, we're under no illusions, but we've worked hard, want to take the fight to them, focus on our game and then see what we can do. It's important for us to start the tournament with a good performance in order to lay a good foundation for the next games.”

Georgia’s new head coach Richard Cockerill said: “The training week started well and four days went quickly. We’ve worked hard and we are ready to play on Sunday.

“New debutants have joined the team and after a World Cup there is always got to be some changes. We’ve got few players who are staying in France to play this weekend because we think that this is the right thing.

“We are happy with the team and we’ve prepared pretty well for the weekend.

“I need to see new players in the game. Some are very young guys who are coming in and we’ve got some more experienced guys, a little bit older. We will see on Sunday who will be good enough to play Test rugby - playing games is always the decider.”

Pool B’s meeting between Poland and Romania at 6.15pm local time (5.15pm UTC) in Gdynia on Sunday evening finishes off the weekend’s fixtures.

It was 67-27 to Romania in Bucharest last year and they finished third overall with Poland eighth.

Since then, Romania have been to Rugby World Cup 2023 and they are 19th in the world rankings with Poland 33rd.

Chris Hitt, the Poland head coach, said:  “It's been great to see the guys development and it's something I spoke about since we first came in as a coaching unit, we want to make sure the squad can develop and move forward.

“We’re in a position now where we've experienced the Championship last year, guys have been able to to feel and see how it looks like as well as the staff and we're better prepared for it coming into this year.

“The big focus for me and for the guys is that we close the gap between us and those teams have got more experiences at this level.

“The experience the players have got over the past 12 months has been good - we're looking forward to the Sunday and the rest of the games to see how far we've progressed and developed since last year.”

Dawid Plichta from the Poland squad said:  “We feel definitely better and more motivated before the first game. With the experience from our first year in the Championship we know what to expect from the tournament itself and opposition teams.

“I am convinced that we are ready to take on this challenge and I can reassure you that we will play with all our hearts.”

David Gérard, the Romania head coach, said;  "This first match is important because it will be the start of a new adventure for the players and the staff.

“Nothing will be easy, it will be a year of rebuilding for us. It will take time, but we are ready to put in the hard work.

“This trip to Poland promises to be tough and this is why we have trained hard and are ready for the match.”

Player Ovidiu Cojocaru said:  “The first game in the Championship is always a bit more difficult for us because we haven’t had any Test matches together in a while.

“It's a first challenge, Poland is a team that plays until the last minute, as happened last year in Bucharest, but we have to look at our game, respect the game plan and put a solid performance on the field.”

More information on where to watch the matches in your region can be found HERE


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