The Women’s Rugby Europe Championship is back, and for 2024 it has expanded to four teams. Portugal will join the Netherlands, Sweden, and the reigning champions, Spain, in what promises to be a spectacular season.
We’ve picked two players from each country worth looking out for in the 2024 competition.
Amanda Swartz (Leicester Tigers)
If you are looking for slick handling skills, pin-point tackling, and tactical expertise, then Amanda Swartz is the right player for you. Since her debut for the Swedish national team, the fullback has paved her career with tries, assists, line-breaks, and highly impressive with the boot, too.
Swartz's influence can impact any game – for example, her impact in the Leicester Tigers first-ever win in the Allianz Premiership – she will be a trump card for her country when the Women’s Rugby Europe Championship Starts.
Isabell Wijkström (Kalmar Södra IFR)
Electric on the wing. That’s the best way to define Isabell Wijkström, one of Sweden’s rising stars and one that you can expect to shine brightly in 2024. She has been making a name for herself in on the 7s scene, catching tacklers off-guard and speeding her way to the try line.
The outside back will catch everyone’s attention and deserves to be reckoned as one of the most exciting talents in the Swedish ranks.
Inês Spínola (CRAT)
The conversation surrounding wingers is always focused on how quick and eccentric one must be, but there’re another two components as vital: being resourceful and clever. Both of these characteristics can be found in Inês Spínola, one of Portugal’s main stars, who will certainly triumph in the 2024 REC.
Her tactical knowledge combined with her ability to adapt to the opposition’s defence, allows her to find the tinniest of gaps pushing Portugal closer to the try line.
Adelina Costa (Pink Rockets Stade Français)
Off-the-ball-work, a skill sometimes forgotten about but decisive for any team that has the desire to go big, and Portugal thankfully has a top specialist for it: loose forward Adelina Costa.
Her relentless physicality and unwavering intensity have more than once pushed Portugal over the finish line, pushing her teammates towards a greater tomorrow. The loose forward doesn’t know when to give up, and she will be ready to steal the spotlight from anyone.
Claudia Peña (Barça Rugbi)
One of the most exciting centers in Europe and one we anticipate is destined for greatness! We have made use of the word threat here and there, but Claudia Peña might be the biggest or the most lethal of all. The 22-year-old has carved open defenses like a hot knife through soft butter, not only by crashing through the gain line, but also by stepping and controlling incoming tacklers with ease.
Her game knowledge goes beyond the normal limits, and Peña sits as one of the greatest powerhouses of the Women’s Rugby Europe Championship.
Laura Delgado (Gloucester-Hartpury)
She can bend any opponent, she can take down any ball-carrier, and she can be the inspiration that has kept Spain on top of the Rugby Europe women’s pyramid for several years. Delgado, is one of Spain’s greatest props of all time, and a ferocious competitor who loves to scrum and carry the oval-shaped ball.
Delgado’s influence in the Spanish pack is palpable, working non-stop, focused on delivering her best to the Leonas.
Julia Verhoeven (AAC RC)
Julia Verhoeven has become an instantly recognisable name in Dutch rugby circles, as she is a living legend in her country. A resourceful hard-hitting tackler, the brash and spirited loose forward can crack any stable attacking platform, pilfering for the ball with ease.
Verhoeven has inspired waves of new players to get involved and work towards a common goal: to take the Netherlands to the top.
Isis Touw (Blue Babes)
We love a fly-half that loves to climb up to the center of the spotlight and deliver a proper show, and Isis Touw is that type of unit, as shown in the 2023 Rugby Europe Championship and WXV qualifying. The nº10 can create critical attacking opportunities for her side and be a real handful for incoming defenders.
Her crafty gameplay will be one of Netherland’s backbones for the upcoming Championship.
By Francisco Isaac
Photos: Rugby-Shots.NL, Dennis van de Sande, Walter Degirolmo