The troup of 30 now becomes 23 and the 23 has to become 15 + 8. The original troup was unambitious, at least half a dozen top class players were missing. The choice of the 23 was also unambitious and did not raise expectations for the starting 15.
The 23 presented a number of problems. There is only one hooker and he tends to go off sometime in the second half. There is only one reserve prop and a total of four front row players. This means I think that Sweden cannot field 23 players. There was only one fullback in the squad of 30 and he is not included in the 23. There is no regular standoff in the squad of 23.
In a previous blog I showed my ignorance about the level at which prop Assarsson was playing. I apologise. Duffy has moved to a third level Irish club. Can´t find at what level he is playing. Still nothing known about Nordgren, can anyone help me?
And now the 15 + 8 has been announced. Suggesting it would be cautious was pretty wide of the mark.
1 Henrik Ek – Troján
2 Adam Christersson – centre/flanker (?) – Kalmar Södra
3 Pontus Assarsson – Richmond (2nd level England, 2nd team)
4 Arthur Marini – lock, Paris Université (5th French level)
5 Jonas Zengler – Troján
6 Theo Karlsson – Exiles
7 Va Luta Frixell – Exiles
8 Sami Paulsson – Troján
9 Jack Duffy – Dolphin, Cork (3rd level Ireland)
10 Mattieu Spens-Cossin – Troján
11 Alfred Nordgren – back – Harrowgate (?) (6th English level)
12 Axel Kalling-Smith – Ealing Trailfinders Academy
13 Tom Milner – winger Wimbledon (5th level England)
14 Samuel Ahlbäck- centre – Malmö
15 Alex Melander – Troján
Nilserius at hooker has been replaced by Adam Christersson who has played all season at flanker or centre. Philip Axelsson has been replaced at scrumhalf by Jack Duffy who has recently moved club to Cork. Mattieu Spens-Cossin has been moved from his normal centre to the vacancy at standoff, although he has played a couple of games there. Milner who has played all season as a winger is moved to the centre. Ahlbäck on the wing has played once at standoff and twice at inside centre for Malmö this season. Alex Melander has played all season at centre/winger, never fullback. More than half the backs seem to be playing out of position in addition to flanker/centre Christersson playing sensationally as hooker.
16 Gustav Lindberg – prop -Malmö
17 Ale Loman – Nr 8 – Lugi
18 Christopher Sidgwick – lock – St Gallen (3rd level Switzerland)
19 Gwion Williams – winger – Chester 2nd team (7th English level)
20 Mike Davis – Exiles (centre/winger)
21 Christopher Nilserius (hooker/prop) – Trojan
22 Erik Sjöbeck – Pingvin
23 Philip Axelsson – Troján
Would this first XV beat Exiles if their two players were returned? I doubt it. Would this team beat Luxemburg? Not the way Luxemburg played the last time around. Would this team beat Czechia in the Spring? Not a chance.
Rankings in this 3rd level European tournament at present are Czechia 35, Sweden 54, Luxemburg 56, Latvia 63 and Hungary 64. Sweden were 35 not so long ago, Latvia has fallen away dramatically while Luxemburg and Hungary are moving steadily up. Teams that we used to play against regularly like the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany are now ranked 24 – 30 while we have disappeared without a trace. It´s difficult to judge where nations stand at present because of Covid. The team against Luxemburg is about the same standard as before the pandemic, which means we have no chance of being promoted and a very small chance of being relegated.
All 8 of the foreign players in the 30 are selected for the 23 (the other one in fact played for Exiles B). 7 out of 10 Trojáns are selected for the 23. Eight players from the remaining 14 clubs are selected (3 from Exiles, 1 from Pingvin, 0 from Göteborg, 0 from Enköping). This after the most competitive Allsvenskan for years.
Have Troján really half of all the top players in Sweden? And yet they only won 5 out of 8 games in the short season and two out of five against the big boys.
The Swedish team is by no means representative of the current best of Swedish rugby. Interest in the international seems very low, not surprising in view of the fact that almost all of the leading clubs have little or no representation. I hope Sweden wins but that will depend more on how Luxemburg have developed. Sweden lost 9 – 0 the last time the teams met in October 2018. Our main hope is that Luxemburg are not very good at scoring tries.