A squad of 30 has been announced for the two internationals to be played in October 2021. Of some relevance is when the three year residence is extended to five years. This was originally from January 2021 but has because of Covid been delayed one year until 31.12.2021. This means that any new caps thereafter will have to satisfy the five year residency requirement.

This year was the most competitive in recent Swedish history with four teams in the running until the last couple of weeks of the season. It is worth giving a list of the players from these clubs who are eligible to play for Sweden by virtue of nationality or residency. (There may be the odd error, but not many). Those marked with an asterisk * are included in the 30.

Exiles (15):

Forsberg, Beveridge, Lindblom, Sandberg, Iuta Frixell*, T. Karlsson*, Mitchell, Hill*, J. van Niekerk, Davis, Gowland (retired), Rafael, Jelec Dozo, E. Rådquist, D. Melander, Khizanishvili (injured), Håkansson (injured)

Troján (20):

Ek*, Nilserius*, Zengler*, Mård, Quoi*, Nockmar*, Paulsson*, Axelsson*, Axel S-C*, Mattieu S-C*, J Andersson, A Melander*, Wilhelmsson, J. Rådquist, Lindvall, Derk, Austa, Almgren, Schlater, Hall

Pingvin (16):

A Eriksson, Edelsten, Månsson, Sjöbeck*, S. Johansson, Cickovski, Ahlgren, E. Johnsson, Arvidsson, Meitman*, A Persson, Näslund, Fäldt, S Petersson, Lagertz, Strandquist, Campbell (Injured)

Enköping (19)

Wartell, Tomberg, Granath*, Mårtensson, Ryderfelt, Vannerberg, Hector, Nylén, T Johansson, Löfgren, Fransson, Wicksell, G. Rådquist, Frost, Rudling*, Proos, Abusagr, Alzerai, Wikström

We´re talking about 70 players from these four clubs, 35 from the two finalists and 35 from the two others.

Of the 30 in the Swedish troup 3 were from Exiles, 10 from Troján, 2 from Pingvin and 2 from Enköping.

Four came from the other 11 Swedish clubs and 9 from abroad.

Of the 9 playing abroad, two have just left Sweden to play, one other in fact plays for Exiles B team. Of the remaining 6 I cannot find any trace of one playing for his designated club while four play at the 5th or 6th level in France, England or Ireland. That leaves Kalling-Smith whose club is the Trailfinders from 2nd level, professional teams. Kalling-Smith is not one of the 49 professionals playing for Trailfinders but has recently played for their academy team in a 7s tournament.

Of the two leaving Sweden Christopher Sidgwick from Hammarby is down to play for the St Gallen university team in Switzerland but he doesn´t appear to have played any games as their season is just beginning. Assar Pontusson recently Pingvin, aged 34, a leading chef plays for one of Richmond´s five teams, unclear which. Certainly not their first professional team playing at the second level.

Of the nine I would give Kalling-Smith a game in the centre, he has shown up well in the past. Tom Millner, a winger from Wimbledon, is perhaps worth a seat on the bench. Possibly the bench as well for Arthur Marini, playing regularly in the second row for Paris université.

The 30 selected present a number of problems. I would apply the principle that players from abroad should only be selected if they are manifestly better than those playing in Sweden. This for financial reasons and also for being able to train together. I have seen almost all of the nine from abroad and I think only Kalling-Smith meets the criterion. Some may be good enough to make the current squad of 23, otherwise we could not put a team together.

The other is that there are only three props in the 30 and one hooker. Only Henrik Ek in my estimation is good enough to make the team. There are also an army of flankers, including some of the best players in the country.

The best team and squad we can get together as the XV and 23 from the 30 would look something like as below. This includes 2-3 players who should not be in the XV and another 2 – 3 who should not make the bench

1 Henrik Ek – Troján

2 Christopher Nilserius – Trojan

3 Gustav Lindberg – Malmö

4 Jonas Zengler – Troján

5 Erik Sjöbeck – Pingvin

6 Va Luta Frixell – Exiles

7 Sami Paulsson – Troján

8 Theo Karlsson – Exiles

9 Philip Axelsson – Troján

10 Axel Spens-Cossin – Troján

11 Alex Melander – Troján

12 Mattieu Spens-Cossin – Troján

13 Axel Kalling-Smith – Ealing Trailfinders Academy

14 Mike Davis – Exiles

15 Alfred Meitman – Pingvin

16 Adam Christersson – flanker – Kalmar Södra

17 Ale Loman – Nr 8 – Lugi

18 Elias Granath – lock – Enköping

19 Tom Milner -winger Wimbledon (5th level England)

20 Jack Duffy – standoff – Monkstown (5th level Ireland)

21 Pontus Assarsson – prop – Richmond (level ?)

22 Arthur Marini – lock, Paris Université (5th French level)

23 Samuel Ahlbäck- centre– Malmö

24 Gwion Williams – winger – Chester 2nd team (7th English level)

25 Christopher Sidgwick- lock – St Gallen 3rd level Switzerland

26 Alfred Nordgren  back– Harrowgate (?) (6th English level)

27 James Dewar – flanker (Richmond ?) Exiles B

28 Mitchell Quoi – flanker –  Troján

29 Sebastian Nockmar – flanker – Trojan

30 Tom Rudling – back – Enköping

Exiles won the Championship and were I think regarded as the best team. Not by much, but certainly the most powerful team. They had two forwards in the squad, while Troján had six. Take a look at the final and it´s pretty clear that Exiles forwards had the upper hand. They won more lineouts, had the edge in the scrums especially towards the end and in every ruck and maul they made 6 – 7 metres while Troján rarely got over the gain-line.

Nilserius at 30 seems to have seen better days, he´s often off on the hour and seldom makes any ground. He seems to be the only hooker in the squad, however. Henrik Ek is a powerful man but spends too much time in the backs going to ground and making little progress. I´d like to see him grafting more in the forwards. He is also one of only three props in the squad. One of the othesr is Pontus Assarsson a 34 year old chef in London. Unclear at where of five levels he plays for Richmond, a top club. Zengler had an excellent game in the final and is worth a place in the final XV. As did Sami Paulsson who should also find a place. Quoi and Nockmar were not in the same class as the Exiles back row. Luta Frixell and Theo Karlsson from Exiles are definitely worth places in the back row.

Of the other two clubs Enköpings Elias Granath, now studying in England, is worth a place in the 23 as a lock while Erik Sjöberg is probably just ahead of him as a lock in the XV.

The question is now how many of the 70 eligible from these four clubs should have been in the squad of 30? Either they have not accepted an invitation or been injured or are not considered good enough. I could count up half a dozen players who are easily good enough and are not injured. The conclusion must be that they have said no or that the selectors have not realized how good they are. Most people would give their right arm to play for their (adopted) country and the question is why this is not always the case in Sweden. It has to be said that the management, practicalities and selection of those previously responsible for the national team were so bad that a number of players refused to turn out for Sweden. They lost about 20 games in a row and our ranking fell to a new low. Now serious attempts are being made to climb back up the rankings, but to do so we need our very best team. And the group of 30 does not contain all of the best players, although there are very few no-hopers, a regular feature of previous selections.

To give a couple of examples: Philip Axelsson has without doubt been the best Swedish scrumhalf for most of the season. But Matt Mitchell was back after injury for the semi and final and it was immediately clear that there are levels and levels. Philip is not at present in the same class as Matt. I don´t know if Matt at 36 could be persuaded to turn out for the two games this Autumn but it could be worth a try. Remember we lost to Luxemburg last time around.

Sean Burke, arguably the best Swedish player of the last decade, was also back for the semis. As an attacking runner, crushing defender and dominating lineout jumper he also made a vital contribution to Exiles taking their 10th title. In his early thirties with a young family it may be difficult to persuade him to return but it is well worth making the effort.

To take another name, Hannes Nylén from Enköping has been the best standoff in Sweden this year. He is also an outstanding place-kicker. I would say he should be in the starting XV being a much-better all-round player than Axel Spens-Cossin who at 20 has time to develop. Duffy is a decent player but not really of international standard. There are 48 teams in Ireland playing in higher leagues than he belongs to.

At hooker we only seem to have Nilserius in the 30. Armir Khozani from Kalmar Södra who said no to the 30 is a much better alternative for the future. I would give him a starting position. But Exiles also have two excellent young hookers, Casper Forsberg and Anthony Rafael. Forsberg got a cap at 18 but is back now much stronger as a runner and is a serious alternative. Anthony Rafael from Wexiö, now working as an accountant in Stockholm, is a top-class all-round player who is equally good at hooker and flanker.

One player who would miss out from his preferred position as flanker if Sean were to play is Sami Paulsson. But he is too good to leave out. I would move him up to the second row and put Erik Sjöbeck on the bench. There is still a space at prop and I hesitate to propose 43 year old Bevo Beveridge as first choice, although he has been a very steady prop all season. Are any of the many front row Georgians fit and eligible to improve that position?

1 Henrik Ek – Troján

2 Armir Kohzani – Kalmar Södra

3 Gustav Lindberg – Malmö (???)

4 Jonas Zengler – Troján

5 Sami Paulsson – Troján

6 Va Luta Frixell – Exiles

7 Sean Burke – Exiles

8 Theo Karlsson – Exiles

9  Matt Mitchell – Exiles

10 Hannes Nylén – Enköping

11 Alex Melander – Troján

12 Mattieu Spens-Cossin – Troján

13 Axel Kalling-Smith – Ealing Trailfinders Academy

14 Mike Davis – Exiles

15 Alfred Meitman – Pingvin

16 Adam Christersson – flanker – Kalmar Södra

17 Ale Loman – Nr 8 – Lugi

18 Elias Granath – lock – Enköping

19 Erik Sjöbeck – lock – Pingvin

20 Bevo Beveridge – prop – Exiles (?)

21 Philip Axelsson scrum-half – Troján

22 Axel Spens-Cossin stand-off – Troján

23 Casper Forsberg – hooker – Exiles

So that´s my personal choice for the team. Mainly consisting of the two best teams, Exiles and Troján. Probably nowhere near those who actually play. But no-one else seems particularly interested in establishing who in fact should be turning out for Sweden.