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Women's Rugby Europe Championship 2023 - Ones to Watch

The women’s Rugby Europe Championship gets underway this weekend as Spain, Netherlands, and Sweden put themselves to the test, the competition starts on the 11 February.

In 2022, Spain reached their 8th title in a tournament that dates back to 1988. Alongside Las Leones and Netherlands, Sweden will be in the mix after securing promotion to the Championship, going unbeaten against Finland, Czechia, and Switzerland, and scoring 103 points (the highest of the competition) in the process last season.

The Championship will be played across three weeks, as we explained in our last piece (see here for full details), with the first match set for the 11th of February. But enough of the epilogue or data talk… What about the players? Who are the main stars and those that can steal the spotlight? Let us pick three from each nation, and tell you why they deserve to be mentioned!

Spain – Leonas roaring through “Iron” Delgado
Let’s start with a prop! Laura “Bimba” Delgado is a masterful captain, a superb, dedicated scrum worker, and a gifted, powerful player that has been conquering goals all her life.
The loosehead prop plays for Gloucester-Hartpury in the English Premiership and has also earned some caps for the Hawkes Bay Tui of New Zealand in the past, which is proof of her talents and experience. She will play an important part for Spain in 2023 and will be looking to push her teammates to continue to push for higher standards, as her dream is to play in the Rugby World Cup.

The other two names who deserve a shout are Léa Ducher, the young fullback that some fans might remember as she scored the try that sealed a scintillating win against Ireland in 2022 and lock Anna Puig.

Ducher is a cunning back who really loves to plunge the game into a frenzy and find ways to open the opposition's try-area. As for Anna Puig, the forward likes to have the ball in hand, embellishing the game with some special handling skills that combine well with her set-piece talents.
Las Leonas are the top contenders to win the title, and rightfully so, as their magic skills, well-worked physicality will be felt throughout the competition.

Netherlands – Liza de Wild to raise the stakes
Netherlands are determined to throw down a challenge against Spain and Sweden this year, and they will need their best players to be in top form, especially Liza de Wild, the clinical flanker, who is a force to be reckoned with at the breakdown.

The open-side loose forward has made a name for herself in the past two years, mostly due to her jackling technique, tackling prowess, and speed, which have been noticed by Dutch sports media. Netherlands is a slick team, that looks for quick recoveries to launch swift attacking exits, and for that to go well, they will need De Wild and the pack to do well.

Alongside the flanker, prop Nicky Dix and first-five eight Esmee Ligtvoet and Sylke Haverkorn will have a say during set-pieces and bring the attacking flair.

Sweden – Amanda Swartz leads the Swedish

The newly promoted Swedish side will pump good energy and will be keen to deliver to their fans. They showed last year that they are a quick team that can create good attacking plays.

In the squad that helped them gain the promotion in 2022, Sara Lennvall played a part in that successful campaign, as the hooker played throughout the whole 2021/2022 Trophy campaign.

The hooker has grown to become one of the most well-respected players in the Swedish squad, working hard in the set-piece to achieve perfection or, at least, help her side to quickly get out of them and mount a stable platform out of it.

Mathilda Mahlberg is another exciting player that will energize the pack, as the Cheltenham Tigers player, throws her physical power against the opposition, which can mean one of two things: an impactful carry or a dominant tackle.

The Swedish squad might be a bit less inexperienced compared to Netherlands or Spain, but their passion, flair, and energy will be something to look forward to.

The action kicks off this Saturday as Netherlands host Sweden in Amsterdam – 4pm kick off CET and will be live on and FloRugby (North America).

By Francisco Isaac
Photos: Lasse Jansson, Dennis van de Sande, Walter Degirolmo

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