The Swedish senior and U18 teams never challenged on Day 2 with both finishing 7th of 12 teams. Both poor performances, with the seniors perhaps mitigated due to injury. Even at their best they looked nothing like the class of Belgium or Lithuania who met in the semi with Belgians just getting home 17 – 14. In the actual final Ukraine were as usual big and powerful but they were unable to match the speed or skill of the Belgians who won 26 – 7. A pretty good tournament with Croatia and Israel making progress. Time for a rethink for Sweden, they were nowhere near the standard of a couple of years ago with perhaps 4 – 5 of the players not of international class. Why not take a look at the Swedish finals in a couple of weeks to see what talent is coming through?
By the way, please do not take my comments about the U18s as criticism of the players or their parents. Everyone would love to play for his or her country and if parents are able to help in some way, good for them. My point was that this is no way to run a national team. I might add that the Mabon family has had six players representing Sweden at different levels and my wife and I have been very proud of all of them.
I don´t like just being a cheerleader för everything happening in Swedish rugby. I give praise when I think it is justified and criticism when it is not. As almost no-one else criticises it is difficult to see how Swedish rugby can make progress. There are many serious issues which cannot just be brushed under the carpet.
A few other league games in Sweden at the weekend with someone sneeringly asking a friend why I hadn´t written about the Troján – Exiles B match which the home team won 24 – 17. Well, I´m in Italy for the moment and spending my time watching streaming of the European Sevens. I´m told that Exiles is not in a state of collapse now that their second team has lost narrowly away to a team which we hope will be in Allsvenskan next year. Also that the game was refereed by the Linköping trainer who put in a fine job defending the Troján try-line with a large number of penalties against Exiles.
Midsummer next week and a total of 34 league games have been played so far this season, about four games a week. Well under 100 games projected for the full season. How do we get out of this fairly desperate situation?
Finally, well done Portugal who just beat Germany to return to the 15´s Championship level next year. They demolished all the other teams at the Trophy level this year and deserve another go among the big boys.