Black and gold confetti filled the air, as the Black Lion became the first-ever Rugby Europe Super Cup champions, lifting the coveted trophy after 80 minutes, toppling the Lusitanos who came three points away from equalizing what was a close contest from start to finish.
From the 46 players who gave their all, we pick three that deserve final praise, in our last piece of this season's Rugby Europe Super Cup.
Shalva Mamukashvili (Black Lion)
Besides scoring the 9th try in the competition, finishing at the top, the hooker was just a massive mobilizing wall putting to work some of the most destructive tackles, blocking each time and every time the Lusitanos players crossed in his way.
As fierce looking as they come, Shalva Mamukashvili didn't stop until subbed, going from one ruck to the next, getting up quickly after sustaining or producing a crushing tackle, never backing down from the fight.
With thirteen tackles and one turnover, the Georgian international was also pivotal for the dominance in the scrum, pushing and steering the Black Lion pack to force the opposition to concede five penalties, which would ultimately give them the edge. Monster game from the MVP of the Super Cup final!
Rafael Simões (Lusitanos)
After missing out on the semi final due to a last-minute injury, the utility forward produced ferocious carries, powering over, breaking seven tackles, with one of them starting what would end up being the Lusitanos’ only try in the final.
A towering presence at the line-out, Simões hindered some of the Black Lion set pieces, jumping higher and giving some hope to the Portuguese fans who waited for a match-winning try, that, unfortunately, for them never came. Adding to three lineout intercepts, the number-eight forced one line break, three offloads, two tacklers beaten, and one turnover, coming very close to the Finals MVP.
Merab Sharikadze (Black Lion)
Players come and go, but for those select few, the title of legend is awarded through life achievements and/or for their bravado and leadership, as is the case with Merab Sharikadze. Captain of the Black Lion squad and the Georgia National team, he was pivotal to stop Rodrigo Marta or Nuno Sousa Guedes in their tracks, as both players were the biggest menaces for the visitors.
Three dominant tackles out of twelve, his voice and presence were one of the features that made it possible for the Black Lion to raise the cup after the final whistle, gifting Georgian fans a second Rugby Europe silverware in 2022. A small detail that most will not remember, Merab Sharikadze understood that the last twenty minutes were going to assume a clutch-form game and started up roaring his colleagues to be relentless.
And with that, the Rugby Europe Super Cup ends, after what has been a breakout season of this franchise tournament. Players across Europe produced some memorable moments during the competition from the first game, played all the way back in September, until the final whistle.