Rugby in Sweden and Europe

Thoughts on rugby from Hunter Mabon Senior

Category: Hunter on rugby Page 2 of 11

Några sista funderingar kring svenska herrlandslags- ställningen internationellt

Europeiska rugbymästerskapen är i stort sett avslutade och Sverige fortsätter i Conference N 1. Vi är rankade 48 och motståndare fr o m hösten blir Tjeckien 38, Lettland 58, Luxemburg 59 och Ungern 68. Inte särskilt spännande, vi har slagit dessa lågt rankade länder rätt ofta på sistone. Enda undantaget är nedflyttade Tjeckien som verkar dock vara på klar tillbakagång, i likhet med nästan alla östeuropeiska länder. 93 – 0 mot Portugal i den senaste Trophyomgången svider nog fortfarande. Matchen mot Tjeckien blir nog avgörande för uppflyttning till Trophy 2020 och vi får hoppas att vi får hemmaplan, gärna i oktober i år.

Det blir som bekant Ukraina (37) som nu flyttas upp till Trophy där de kommer att möta Tyskland 28/Portugal 22, Nederländerna 26, Schweiz 31, Polen 34 och Litauen 35 som flyttades upp förra året. För att nå Trophy slog de Sverige lätt och Ukraina med 22 – 12. Det gick dock betydligt sämre för Litauen på Trophynivån, de vann endast en match, mot nu nedflyttade Tjeckien. Frågan är nu hur det kommer att gå för Ukraina på den nivån. Det har hävdats att de kanske inte är så glada att bli befordrade; halva laget har varit med i tio års tid och det finns inga tecken på att det kommer fram lovande nykomlingar i dagens Ukraina. Det kan mycket väl hända att de åker tillbaka till Conference N 1 på en gång.

Hade Sverige haft bättre förutsättningar att hävda sig på Trophynivån? Kom ihåg att Sverige låg ettan i gruppen i 68” förra veckan och hade inte någon idiot på slutet plockat upp bollen och sprungit mot mållinjen i stället för att ta en lätt straffspark hade vi spelat i Trophy i höst.

Förbundets sekreterare Pasi Niemelä har antytt att vi kanske inte bör aspirera på en sådan nivå tills vi har en bättre fungerande Allsvenska, gärna med 8 lag. Just nu har vi två bra lag och 3 – 4 andra som ligger en bra bit efter. Det kan ligga något i det han säger, men tesen är inte riktigt bevisad när landslagstränaren för närvarande knappt tar ut några av de bästa spelarna ur de två dominerande lagen.

Jag har tittat på Ukraina – Sverige en gång till och frapperas av vår brist på uppslagsrikedom och vår oförmåga att klara rugbyns grundläggande färdigheter. Våra anfall består för det mesta av att springa rakt in i en bastant försvarsmur, vi visar ingen förmåga att ”off-load” utan dyker rakt ned på marken efter några meter och börjar om på nytt. Vi har inga förberedelser för att ta emot utsparkar och när vi själva har utspark joggar våra forwards mot bollen utan minsta ambition att fånga den. Vår fasta klunga är instabil och går för det mesta bakåt. Sämst var våra inkast, jag tror att vi förlorade sex i rad under den avgörande perioden i andra halvlek. Vi har några duktiga spelare även om många av de bästa saknas, men om vi inte spelar ihop mycket oftare och har bra tekniska tränare kommer dessa elementära brister att kvarstå.

Tror läsaren att jag överdriver? Ta en titt på andra halvlek i Ukraina-matchen (finns på Rugbyeuropa) och Exiles andra halvlek mot Enköping i lördags (finns på Enköpings hemsida). Enköping är förvisso inte Ukraina men de kämpade tappert genomgående. Ni kommer att märka en enda ”off-load” hos Sverige och kanske 50 hos Exiles. Vidare att Exiles springer mot luckor medan Sverige springer oftast rakt in i försvarsmuren.  Att de dessutom är rätt så säkra vid de egna inkasten och att de har en sammanhållen fast klunga som driver framåt vid varje insättning. Elementära färdigheter som det svenska landslaget inte tycks besitta.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Gap is getting bigger!

The gap between the two top teams and the others in Allsvenskan seems to be getting bigger. Pingvin have already made two trips to the Stockholm region to Hammarby and Enköping and come away with over 40 points each time and zero points conceded. Exiles have played the same two teams at the same grounds and have scored 85 and 106 points respectively, with only one late try conceded.

Today Exiles gave a fine display of attacking rugby against a young Enköping team which never lay down but which was simply overwhelmed. Exiles scored 16 tries, one ever five minutes and 8 in each half with Jack Anderson putting over 12 of them, many from far out. With one penalty try he only missed three conversions all afternoon

The forwards started up with some tremendous drives which shook the opposition to the core.  They were unable to stop the scrum driving and many scores derived from the scrum going forward. At the same time the scrum-halves Jason and Kyle were providing an excellent service and Dustin was directing traffic when making a welcome return at stand-off. The wings were also getting their hands on the ball with Jeandré dragged off after 60” with four tries and Antoine strolling over for a couple on the opposite wing. Tries from the forwards in the first half came from Terry, Absolom and Nick and when yet another drive was illegally halted, the referee ran under the posts for a penalty try. That made it 54 – 0 at halftime. It was back to business directly after the break with tries coming at regular intervals. Terry got another along with the wingers and Alex a young prop from Erikslund also rounded off a move after a glorious attack from 80 m. out with half the team involved. That made it 80 – 0 after 62” and for ten minutes it looked as if the scoring had dried up. But no, in the last ten minutes Ian, Sean, Loxvi and Kyle all added to their accounts. 106 – 0 the final score, with Enköping backs still trying find an opening in the final minutes. It sounds a bit paradoxical, but the young Enköping side were not that bad, although this may have been the worst defeat in the history of the club, at least at home  in Enköping. Exiles, including their bench which was all on by 60”, were one of the better sides of recent years, probably 30-40 points better than the Sweden which played Ukraina. Theo was injured today and Giga was rested and only played for about ten minutes at the end. There were probably about 4 – 5 other Sweden-qualified Exiles players who should also have been playing and winning against Ukraina but our keen-eyed selector doesn´t see it that way.

Södertälje did not let Sweden down in the Club 7s European Championship in St Petersburg, but the standard was a little too high for them. They may find their level tomorrow. Of the current Swedish 7s squad, Austa and Enstad play for Södertälje and they had roped in a further two, Aloander and Nunstedt. But even half the Swedish team was not quite sharp enough at that level. Apologies to Södertälje and Enköping for getting Swedish Champions confused. Enköping won of course dramatically in 2017 but Södertälje won last year, thus qualifying for this tournament. Scores on Day 1: S – VVA (Russia) 0 – 39; S – Dukla (Czechia) 5 – 21; S – Hernani (Spain) 0 – 21.

Finally, the girls are now progressing to the 7s finals. Exiles Ladies won all their games in Enköping today including beating the joint-favourites Vänersborg by 25 – 12. It looks as if they could retain their title this year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

League matches this weekend

A rather halting start to the season with 14 matches played so far and a fair number postponed for various reasons. Allsvenskan has played five matches so far and there still appears to be some doubt as to whether Södertälje are now excluded after giving a w.o. to Pingvin last week. They would not have been playing this week anyway as they are travelling to St Petersburg to play in the European Club 7s tournament. Enköping, Swedish champions in 2018, must have said no to the invitation. Difficult to decide what to do here: we don´t want to kill off a club which has done quite well in recent years, but we don´t want clubs chopping and changing fixtures at the last minute, especially when their opponents lose considerable income. Personally, I would give Södertälje a second chance, but including some form of sanction. This weekend sees Hammarby receiving Pingvin and Exiles travelling to Enköping.

Hammarby received something of a beating last week against Exiles (7 – 85) with several players carted off the field. Their lock who played for Sweden last week will I expect  be returning, but so will three players from Pingvin. Pingvin won comfortably first time out against Enköping but they only started scoring freely in the second half when their opponents were down to 14 men for 20 minutes. Much has been made of Pingvin´s foreign signings but only one Georgian and one Kiwi made the starting lineup. I don´t think the opposition has much to fear from the new Kiwi stand-off. He skipped over for a try early on but thereafter scrupulously avoided any form of contact whatsoever.

I doubt, however, whether Pingvin will have any problems against a slightly demoralized and injured Hammarby.

Exiles with perhaps their strongest team for some time have got off to a good start scoring 20 tries and conceding a couple late on in the two games. Enköping put up a decent show against Pingvin and lost by a single point away to Göteborg. They have also recorded quite a few injuries and are unlikely to last the full 80” against Exiles who, hopefully will have Giga and Theo back from Swedish duty.

Div. 1 North have managed four games so far with Erikslund losing twice to Uppsala but winning a tight game against Karlstad. After their first two wins Uppsala then received Exiles B. They were a different kettle of fish, however; with their backs especially playing well it was 54 – 0 to the visitors at halvtime. To their credit, Uppsala got their act together in the second half with both teams creating lots of chances. Exiles brought their subs on and suddenly scoring passes seemed to go astray. Uppsala persevered and on 77” went over for the second half “winner“. 7 – 54 to Exiles B, however, in a classic “game of two halves”.

This weekend (Sunday) Uppsala face Troján, who make a very late start to the season. They should have their strongest team, including internationals, and I would expect them to be a little bit too strong for Uppsala.

The other game this weekend should have been Karlstad – Exiles B, but it has been rearranged as no referee was available.

Only two games so far in Div. 1 South with Malmö due to play Spartacus on Sunday . Both teams well beaten in their first, away  games.

Finally, Div. 2 with three games played. Attila, probably a bit stronger than the others,  has won their only game easily, Berserkers and Griffins have one won – lost one, while the Hammers have lost both. This week it´s Attila versus the Berserkers and the Griffins versus the Hammers.  Two home wins expected.

Another round of the Ladies´ 7s, hopefully with all of the best players present. This will probably be the first chance to see how the two best teams, Exiles and Vänersborg, fare against each other.

Kommentar erfordras!

Pasi gör ett modigt försök hos ”rugbyvänner” att antyda att vissa föreningar importerar 6 – 8 utlänningar varje år och sedan hävdar att det finns många bra spelare som inte tas ut till landslaget. Han drar sig för att peka ut föreningarna i fråga, men naturligtvis tänker han på Exiles och Pingvin. Här är några fakta i målet: i andra SM-finalen i höstas var 26 av de 30 startande spelarna Sverigebehöriga. Inklusive bänkarna var 37 av 46 spelare behöriga. Alla 13 behöriga som startade för Exiles hade spelat för Sverige, plus tre till från bänken.

I serien gjorde Exiles i snitt över 50 poäng per match och Pingvin över 40 poäng. De vann även sina semifinaler med ännu högre siffror. Av alla dessa 46 spelare startade TVÅ mot Ungern och Ukraina.

Jag förstår att du har en svår sits Pasi, men du pratar för en sjuk sak. Det kan inte finnas en enda tränare i hela idrottsvärlden som kan få förnyat förtroende efter en sådan monumental inkompetens.  

Sverige räcker inte till

Min prognos var att Sverige hade en 50% chans att vinna, men det räckte inte till. Skall man vara ärlig var Ukraina det något bättre laget och alla de brister som påpekats under hela Konferens N 1 hösten 2018 – våren 2019 kom upp i öppen dager även i dag.

Finns någon i svensk rugby förutom Kanogo som anser att detta är vårt bästa lag?

Finns någon i svensk rugby förutom Kanogo som anser att förberedelserna för detta och övriga matcher är tillfyllest?

Finns någon i svensk rugby förutom Kanogo som anser att det finns en enda inhemsk spelare som platsar bland landslagets backar.

Finns någon i svensk rugby förutom Kanogo som anser att svenskättade som spelar för det mesta långt nere i seriesystemet i olika europeiska länder är bättre än våra inhemska produkter?

Jag tror att svaret är nej på samtliga dessa frågor. Men berätta gärna på ”rugbyfans ” om du tycker att Kanogo är inne på rätt spår.

Efter att ha tittat på Exiles´ seger i går mot Hammarby (85 – 7) och Sveriges insats mot Ukraina i dag skulle jag tippa att Exiles vinner med minst 30 poäng.

Varför?: E. är vältränade, de har ett mycket starkt försvar, det är konkurrens för att komma in i laget, de har spelat ihop rätt länge, backarna har övat in olika anfallsspel, och de har en bra tränare. De har en stark klunga som trycker tillbaka nästan alla motståndare. De vinner nästa alla sina inkast och är för det mesta bra i ruck och maul. Laget blir bättre och bättre på ”off-loading” i stället för att falla till marken inför första bästa motståndare. Jag skryter om allt detta för att jag anser att landslaget har nästan inga av dessa positiva egenskaper.

Några är uppenbarligen dåligt tränade, försvaret är ihåligt, vissa spelare tycks vara givna oberoende av hur de spelat tidigare, backarna skeppar ut bollen och enstaka spelare försöker hitta en lucka (oftast förgäves). Jag har svårt att se vari Kanogos tränarinsatser består. Den svenska klungan går bakåt vid nästan varje insättning och vid inkasten tar man inte mer än drygt hälften av alla egna inkast. Vid ruck och maul har Sverige varit hyfsade. Nyckeln till modern rugby är snabb off-löading (interpassing) och det klarar det svenska landslaget inte.

Nåväl, ”Shto dyelatje? (Vad skall vi göra?) som Lenin frågade en gång i tiden. Den nya styrelsen fick ärva en ledningsgrupp för Herr XV. Nu lyckades man bara få tre med sig till Odessa; ingen fysio, ingen läkare; manager och tränare dubblerade som water-boys (se spellistan). Enligt min uppfattning vore det här rätt tillfälle att göra rent hus med hela administrationen. Tacka dem för sina insatser, skaffa ett helt nytt gäng, ge dem mera pengar (externt eller internt finansierat) och låt oss se om vi kan bygga upp ett bättre lag inför Trophy 2021.

Hammarby blown away

Hammarby received Exiles at Skarpnäck this afternoon with both teams having won their opening league games a couple of weeks ago. Playing into a strong wind Exiles started once again at 100 m p h and within a couple of minutes Kyle was over from far out with Jack newly returning from Italy converting. Hammarby attempted a penalty from far out and kicked once to the corner but failed to get on the board. Exiles continued to dominate and were obviously much stronger in the scrum. The pressure continued after a five-metre scrum and Ian came into the line from fullback to cruise over for another score. On 21” combinations among the backs and forwards gave prop Loxvi a chance to score against his old club from 25 m. out. Jack put the kick over and it was 0 – 19. Then for almost quarter of an hour Hammarby defended bravely but a gap finally appeared on the left wing and Ash sprinted over. Jack put this kick over as well and just on halftime Sean who was full of running sprinted away and ran round to give Jack a final easy conversion. It was 0 – 33 at the break and looking ominous for Hammarby who just didn´t have the strength to withstand the Exiles powerhouse. Tim, who at centre was giving the defence a lot of problems, had a burst which almost took him to the line. From the ensuing lineout Jack chipped neatly over the defence and Darbs in the centre sprinted over to retrieve and score. Another conversion and Exiles were beginning to cut loose with some lovely interpassing among backs and forwards. Finally Joandré who had looked dangerous all afternoon was sent in on the blindside right wing to score. Then it was Jack who seized the chance to sprint away for a try. The kicks kept going over and on 52” it was 0 – 54. Exiles brought on more or less all their bench but the tries kept coming. Ian burst through once again in the centre to sprint half the length of the field for his second try. Not bad for someone only 13 months away from his 40th birthday.

After four penalties in quick succession Hammarby had a slight respite on 65” when they got over for a consolation try against the run of play. But then it was back to one-way traffic again with Exiles going over for four more tries in the final 15”. First Gianandrea showed his power in the centre, then Sean from far out, Glendon the powerful No 8 with a strong run, and finally Sean got his hattrick with another dazzling burst. Ushangi put over a couple of conversions at the end to make it 7 – 85.

Exiles played well against Göteborg a couple of weeks ago but were better this week as the team approaches full strength. I´m not sure the other teams in Allsvenskan will be able to cope with them, but we´ll see as the season progresses.

The Exiles pack made mincemeat of Hammarby, helped by further waves of menacing Georgians, while Sean jumped beautifully in the lineout. Man of the match for me was Sean who looked back to his outstanding form of a few years ago. The backs as a whole looked pretty good to me and we still have 4 – 5 internationals on the sideline. Rami handed out 11 – 12 penalties to each side, a bit too many, but otherwise allowed the game to flow.

The other Allsvenska match saw Göteborg for the second year in a row beat Enköping by a single point, this time 25 – 24.  Enköping stronger this week than in their first game, but so were perhaps Göteborg as well. With Södertälje giving a walkover, the first in Allsvenskan for many years, it looks like the top league is back to five teams again.

Ukraina – Sverige

Svenska spelare baserade utomlands:

Oliver Callaghan: Amstelveense, högsta serien i Nederländerna, 8:e plats av 12. Assisterande tränare samt spelare

Alex Kalling-Smith: Sussex University, spelar I den lägsta universitets-serien i Storbritannien. 4:e plats av 6.

Arthur Marini: Paris Université Club, spelar i Féderale 2, den fjärde nivån i fransk rugby, kom 10:e av 12 lag. Hittar inga spelarlistor.

Tom Milner, Wimbledon RC. 6:e/7:e nivån i engelsk rugby. Nämns men har inte spelat några matcher i år (verkar ha flyttat tämligen nyligen till klubben).

Jack Duffy, Monkstown FC. Andra nivån i Leinsterserien (7:e nivån på Irland), kom 3:e av 8 lag. Hittar inga spelarlistor.

Björn Aloander: De la Salle Palmerston RC. Andra nivån i Leinsterserien (7:e nivån på Irland), kom 5:e av 8 lag. Hittar inga spelarlistor.

Richard Nunstedt: De la Salle Palmerston RC. Andra nivån i Leinsterserien (7:e nivån på Irland), kom 5:e av 8 lag. Hittar inga spelarlistor.

Philip Murphy: Dublin University FC. Högsta serien på Irland. Bland de bättre lagen. Spelar regelbundet i 1st XV.

Conor Murphy: Lansdowne RC. Högsta serien på Irland. Bland de bättre lagen. Verkar inte finnas med i 1st XV-truppen.

Nils Murphy: Lansdowne RC. Högsta serien på Irland. Bland de bättre lagen. Verkar inte finnas med i 1st XV-truppen.

Aloander och Nunstedt är de enda som spelat i Sverige. Togs till Irland av svenska VII-manna lagets tränare, Massey H.

Uppgifterna om spelarna har kontrollerats så långt det går. Skriv gärna en rad till hm@mabon.se om något är fel. Som framgår av tablån är det endast Callaghan och Philip Murphy som bevisligen spelar på den högsta nivån i landet i fråga. De flesta spelar på mycket lägre nivå.

Svenska laget mot Ukraina har 10 utlandsbaserade som ovan, 8 från allsvenskan (Pingvin 3, Exiles 2, Södertälje 2, Hammarby 1) och 5 från Div. 1 (Trojan 3, Spartacus 1, Kalmar Södra 1). Inga av dessa 13 ”inhemska” spelare har spelat en seriematch i år.

Förberedelser:

  1. Ett träningsläger för en dryg månad sedan
  2. En träningsmatch mot Gibraltar rankad c:a 90:e för två veckor sedan, förlust 31 – 26.
  3. Europamatch mot Ungern rankad 67 för en vecka sedan, seger 36 – 27.

Nu på söndag: Ukraina rankad 40 mot Sverige rankad 47. Sverige stabilt kring 45, Ukraina har en klart nedåtgående trend.

Vid seger eller oavgjort går Sverige till playoff mot Malta (rankad 39, högsta någonsin). Vid seger flyttas Sverige upp till Trophynivån, dvs andra nivån i Europa (exklusive Sex Nationer). Det finns 15 europeiska länder (ej 6N) rankade högre än Sverige för tillfället.

Sannolikheten att Sverige går till Trophy genom att vinna mot Ukraina/Malta med nuvarande truppen? Min subjektiva bedömning: strax under 50%. Men jag hoppas naturligtvis att jag har fel.

Obs! Rättelse. Hör från vanligtvis välunderrättat håll att Malta lämnat w.o. till kvalspel. De fick förvisso stryk med 90 poäng mot Litauen förra året i detta kvalspel men verkade vara starkare i år. Då räcker det för Sverige att slå Ukraina och chansen till uppflyttning kanske ökar till 50-50.

Sweden play Hungary (Rättad)

So it´s Sweden´s 3rd match in the Conference N 1 series for 2018 – 2019. Sweden won by a huge score against Moldova, who have lost all their games but one and been relegated, and by the narrowest of margins against Luxemburg. The two main contenders for promotion are now Sweden and Ukraine. Hungary had an outside chance of promotion until last week when they lost against Luxemburg. Ukraine also blotted their copybook a couple of weeks ago when they lost to bottom-placed Moldova. Ukraine now have ten points from three games while Sweden have nine points from two, with Hungary and Ukraine away remaining. The match today is no longer decisive as, irrespective of the result, the team promoted will be the one which wins the match against Ukraine next week. Sweden would, however, be in a slightly stronger position if they were to take five points today as Ukraine would then have to take five points to nil against Sweden for them to win promotion.

Sweden started off in sprightly fashion but Hungary kept them out. They were however looking slightly fragile on their left side and slick passing by Sweden got the ball out to Kalling-Smith who burst through to score on 14”. A penalty before made it 8 – 0. The match ranged from end to end with Hungary showing some creativity in the backs, Penalties were exchanged and the score moved to 11 – 6. Then on 32” a gap was created on the right again and Kalling-Smith took it gratefully.  A good conversion by C. Murray made it 18 – 6.  Hungary put up a better showing in the last ten minutes of the half and they finally drove over to make it 18 – 13.

Sweden made an excellent start to the second half with Colin Murray sneaking down the blindside from a scrum for a score. Sweden continued to press while Hungary persisted in interpassing a few yards from their line. Colin Murray snapped up a loose ball to score again and with no conversions that made it 28 – 13. But Sweden now have four tries which can give them five points. Sweden looked to be cruising and after sustained pressure from the pack Martini drove over. A further penalty went over and with around 15” to go it was 36 – 13. Sweden then made the mistake of bringing on the bench and they were frankly not up to it. Hungary fought back fiercely and it was suddenly 36 – 27. The Swedish pack was crumbling by the end but Hungary were unable to get any closer. The scrums and lineouts were pretty even with neither side dominating. Sweden got the ball out to the wings to create space but their off-loading was not in the same class as the Hungarians and there were too many handling errors. Fredrik E. gave an excellent service from scrum-half and Theo had a large number of his trade-mark bullocking runs. Neither should have been substituted with ten minutes to go.

So that´s the situation. Sweden are a little bit better than Hungary and Luxemburg, but not much. Rugby Europe shows that Sweden now has 13 points and Ukraine 10.  Five tries to three must mean no bonus point. This means that Ukraine will beat Sweden if they win 4 – 0, 5 – 1 or 5 – 0 next week. All to play for!

Sweden play Hungary

So it´s Sweden´s 3rd match in the Conference N 1 series for 2018 – 2019. Sweden won by a huge score against Moldova, who have lost all their games but one and been relegated, and by the narrowest of margins against Luxemburg. The two main contenders for promotion are now Sweden and Ukraine. Hungary had an outside chance of promotion until last week when they lost against Luxemburg. Ukraine also blotted their copybook a couple of weeks ago when they lost to bottom-placed Moldova. Ukraine now have ten points from three games while Sweden have nine points from two, with Hungary and Ukraine away remaining. The match today is no longer decisive as, irrespective of the result, the team promoted will be the one which wins the match against Ukraine next week. Sweden would, however, be in a slightly stronger position if they were to take five points today as Ukraine would then have to take five points to nil against Sweden for them to win promotion. olinSweden started off in sprightly fashion but Hungary kept them out. They were however looking slightly fragile on their left side and slick passing by Sweden got the ball out to Kalling-Smith who burst through to score on 14”. A penalty before made it 8 – 0. The match ranged from end to end with Hungary showing some creativity in the backs, Penalties were exchanged and the score moved to 11 – 6. Then on 32” a gap was created on the right again and Kalling-Smith took it gratefully.  A good conversion by C. Murray made it 18 – 6.  Hungary put up a better showing in the last ten minutes of the half and they finally drove over to make it 18 – 13.

Sweden made an excellent start to the second half with Colin Murray sneaking down the blindside from a scrum for a score. Sweden continued to press while Hungary persisted in interpassing a few yards from their line. Colin Murray snapped up a loose ball to score again and with no conversions that made it 28 – 13. But five points to Sweden after four tries. Sweden looked to be cruising and after sustained pressure from the pack Martini drove over. A further penalty went over and with around 15” to go it was 36 – 13. Sweden then made the mistake of bringing on the bench and they were frankly not up to it. Hungary fought back fiercely and it was suddenly 36 – 27. The Swedish pack was crumbling by the end but Hungary were unable to get any closer. The scrums and lineouts were pretty even with neither side dominating. Sweden got the ball out to the wings to create space but their off-loading was not in the same class as the Hungarians and there were too many handling errors. Fredrik E. gave an excellent service from scrum-half and Theo had a large number of his trade-mark bullocking runs. Neither should have been substituted with ten minutes to go.

So that´s the situation. Sweden are a little bit better than Hungary and Luxemburg, but not much. If I have calculated correctly, however, Sweden now have 14 points and Ukraine 10. If Ukraine win next week by 4 – 0, then Sweden will be promoted on points difference. The same applies if Sweden loses 4 – 1 or 5 – 1. But if Sweden wins or draws they are home by a margin. So 5 – 0 to Ukraine is the only outcome which must be avoided.

Match against Hungary

Squad of 23 is selected from the 40 who attended the only training camp a month ago and includes 14 of the 15 who achieved one of the worst results in Swedish rugby history by losing to Gibraltar last week. Conversely, they hailed it as their greatest ever triumph. I noted before that match that four good players were missing and three have now appeared for the Hungary match. They are Philip Murphy, Sami Paulsson and Richard Nunstedt. I assume the 4th is injured/unavailable, but that these three will be in the starting lineup. This will strengthen the team somewhat but half a dozen obvious names are still missing. The two best Swedish teams, who won their games by wide margins last Saturday, are still ridiculously underrepresented.

Hungary are a team of journeymen who have done well to stay in Conference 1 for the second year running. They were unlucky to lose last week against Luxemburg and will remember that they came close to beating Sweden in Norrköping 18 months ago. They are a considerably better team than Gibraltar.

I hope the Swedish team wins this weekend, it is not their fault that other, better, players are ignored.

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