Last weekend the U18 and the U20 Championship concluded in Prague, here was what happened in the final round of action.
Czechia retain U18 Championship spot
Czechia finished the U18 championship in the best possible manner, as they defeated Switzerland and qualified for the 2024 U18 Men’s Rugby Europe Championship.
The Czechs asserted their dominance with an early try, and what a try it was as Pavel Kruse beat six tacklers to break out and reach the goal area.
In the following thirty minutes, the home side doted two more converted tries and three extra penalties, casting a safety net of a thirty-point margin, enough to secure a victory.
Czechia would add twenty-four more points to their tally in the last half of the game, while Switzerland was only able to get over the try-line once.
A great last day for the hosts, who remain in Rugby Europe’s main U18 competition.
Romanian smiles after a fascinating duel
What a finish to an intense match as Belgium and Romania fought until the last whistle for a win. The U18 “Oaks” made a match-winning turnover in the dying embers of the game to finish in 5th place.
Both teams played their best, and it started with the Romanian pack driving a successful maul to the try area. Belgium replied immediately and got ahead thanks to a converted try and a penalty kick.
Before half-time, Romania and Belgium traded one more penalty kick each, and an 08-13 score favored the Belgians.
In the second half, Romania found their way to the try-line thanks to a brilliant offload from Mario Perici to help captain Antonio Mitrea score.
Belgium were able to get ahead once again five minutes later, also from their captain, as Guillem Fernandez crashed the opposition's defense to dive in and help his side secure seven more points.
In the 26th minute, Romania pushed for a final comeback following another great maul drive. The young Belgium charges wasn’t able to score any more points, and the final score of 22-20 meant 5th place for Romania.
Spain take home the bronze
The U18 “Leones” finished in third after outclassing the Netherlands in the bronze final, clutching a 26-12 win.
In a very physical match, Spain tried to play with the width, but it was after a succession of heavy phases that they went into the Dutch try-area, as hooker Ivan Farace bulldozed over.
Ten minutes before the break, they pounced again, finding space out in the wing for Pedro Arraiza to score Spain’s second try. Netherlands was already playing with fourteen units as Mart Gerritse was sent off.
Even so, the Dutch scored first after the break, as fullback Steven Fuchs successfully converted a penalty kick. Unfortunately for them, the Spanish sought to expand their lead and succeed at it thanks to a great sidestep from Javier Guillermo, finishing another try. Gonzalo Otamendi added the extras.
Spain would still score for a fourth and final time, but not before Netherlands dotted down their first of two tries, narrowing the victors winning margin by fourteen points.
Georgia secures another Championship
For a 5th consecutive time, Georgia lifts the Men’s U18 Rugby Europe Championship, defeating Portugal in a tense but enjoyable match.
The Georgian side struck first by Giorgi Bolkvadze, as the winger dived to the try-line and pulled his side ahead. In the 18th minute, the 18 “Lelos” pressured the Portuguese and quickly pounced a turnover to score another try, this time by number-eight and captain Andro Dvali.
The U18 “Lobos” found their way out of their half and managed to balance the match but were unable to find their way inside the Georgian try area, finishing pointless in the first half.
In the second half of the tournament, Portugal again remained in control of the ball possession and finally scored their first and only points of the match. Tomás Marques slotted three points out of the boot with a well-placed penalty kick.
The fly-half would miss a second chance to dot down another three-pointer, and the Georgians took the opportunity to build phases and score a final try.
The celebrations could finally get going as Georgia wrapped a 19-03 win to remain U18 champions for a fifth straight season.
Czechia finish on a high
Czechia spectacularly wrapped their U20 Championship, defeating Switzerland by 34-0, staying in Rugby Europe’s U20 top-flight next season.
In a heated contest, the Czechs applied the right amount of pressure to break the Swiss defense and would score first following a penalty kick conversion by Adam Mrtynek. In the 13th minute, lock Marek Svikovsky successfully drove from a ruck, with Adam Mrtynek adding a two-point conversion.
Before the end of the first forty minutes, Czechia would go on to dot down two more five-pointers raising their lead by 22-00.
The following half saw Czechia in complete control and even reduced to fourteen players due to a red card, they've managed to score two more tries and a conversion to wrap up the game.
Romania secure fifth
Poland and Romania pulled no stops to supply fans with a great match, but only one could finish as the victor. The Polish side started in the lead, as fullback Jakub Romanowicz slotted in a penalty kick. Romania replied a couple of minutes later, first with a three-point conversion, followed by a try from Iulian Manole.
The Polish equalized before the 20th minute from a set-piece move finished by captain Mateusz Kolas. Before the match official signaled for the break, Poland scored from another penalty kick, while the Romanian dotted down ten more points.
What followed next was complete dominance by the U20 “Oaks”, as they scored twenty-four more points (three tries), making sure to pounce at every new attacking opportunity.
They finished 5th in the U20 Championship for a third consecutive season.
“Lobos” masterclass wins them the bronze
With Santiago Lopes leading the charge, Portugal bounced back after a semi-final loss, winning the bronze medal in the end.
The Portuguese converted six points after twenty minutes of play and crossed the whitewash for the first time after a great break from Gonçalo Costa, assisting Manuel Salgado to his try.
Manuel Vareiro added another penalty conversion before Gonçalo Costa broke the line and finished in style.
The twenty-three-point lead at half-time was enough to keep the Ligue Aura team at a distance, and the Portuguese would land three more tries in the second half, to cap their campaign with a 42-0 victory and a third place.
Netherlands are crowned U20 champions
Netherlands and Belgium pulled down the U20 Championship curtain in a tense and competitive affair that was only decided in the last two minutes of play.
The Dutch were the first to get the scoreboard moving, as winger Jules Swier ran unopposed to the try-line. Vikas Meijer added the extra points.
Belgium made a swift comeback in ten minutes: first from a penalty conversion out of Mattheo Van Holsbeke’s foot; and a try after a succession of heavy phases, finished by lock Tom Calomme.
Before exiting to half-time, fly-half Vikas Meijer delivered again with his kicking and converted six more points to give the lead back to his team.
As both packs clashed time and time again in the last 40 minutes of the Championship, no tries were scored for most of it. Meijer added three more points, while Mattheo Van Holsbeke bagged two penalty kicks, leveling the score to 16 all.
It was only in the last two minutes of game time that a victor emerged, as an excellent deep kick from Kit Temperley took an unfortunate bounce for Belgium and Kaj Verhoorn ran in to score what would be the definitive score.
There was still time for Vikas Meijer to slot one last penalty kick, giving the Netherlands the win 26-16 to win the Men’s U20 Rugby Europe Championship for the very first time and progress to the World Rugby U20 Trophy.