I wrote a long blog a couple of weeks ago where I, inter alia, discussed the Swedish heavy defeat by Switzerland. My regular complaint was that the squad contained far too many Swedish qualified players who were selected from low level leagues around Western Europe, but where at best a couple could be said to be better than home-grown players. I did make the point, however, that the top three Swedish teams could only produce around 15 home-grown players while Troján, who couldn’t finish the season, had about twelve in their first team line-up. Thus the paradox of the poorest top team having most players in the squad. And perhaps why so many superficially modest players from abroad made the squad. I mentioned that I didn’t know of the 30 or so foreign players appearing regularly in the top teams how many were Sweden-qualified and interested in playing. There are certainly a fair number of foreigners who are qualified but whether they are interested in playing is another matter. I mentioned en passant in the previous blog that there was no doubt the foreign players in the Pingvin Swedish champions had made a decisive contribution to them winning the title. This was not intended to be a critical comment. There is not a single Swedish championship in the last in the last 30 odd years which hasn´t had a major contribution from abroad. In the decisive match against Exiles, Pingvin started with six Georgians and four other foreigners. Haydon Taylor is, I think Australian, not American as I had previously been told. Sorry about that.
The Pingvin chairman, Daniel Sörenssen, replied to my blog saying the vast majority of the Pingvin players were Swedish, something I had not denied, but he did not deny the importance of the ten foreign starters.
Most relevant for this discourse was, as far as he knew, that almost all of the Skåne Georgians had been in Sweden at least 3 years and thus could play for Sweden. He had no opinion about whether they were keen to play but had hinted before that the home-grown Swedes were not particularly interested. I think there are at least three Georgians who would be worth a look at from a Swedish perspective. Vano Margalitadze has shown himself to be Sweden´s best hooker this year; he pops up all over the place and is great at creating scoring opportunities from nothing. David Abashidze can play anywhere in the front five and is a powerful scrumager. And, finally, Vano Gabroshvili is a strong-running centre who can create openings and finish them off. Why not invite them along some time to a training camp and see how they fare? I wouldn´t like to think they are put off by the fact you have to pay to play rugby for Sweden. I see this as a disgrace. I don´t know what the current situation is for the men but as far as I know they have to pay for training camps and internationals as well. I know exactly what the situation is for the ladies, who have come cap in hand to Exiles for help with the many costs accrued in an extensive training and playing schedule. Six Exiles ladies have been involved in the Swedish squad and together it has cost them 30 000:- to represent their country. I find this outrageous and I imagine some younger girls see this as a barrier to international honours. The Exiles club usually helps out in situations like this, but with the ridiculous league and mismanaged Sevens this year the Ladies have been more expensive than normal and money has been tight. The money has been found this year through a private donation, but the club is very much against this “Pay to Play”- system. I look forward to a critical analys of the Union´s accounts this year, bearing in mind they are still not closed for last year.
PS Switzerland showed that they are a class above the other Trophy-teams when they outclassed Lithuania as well by 45 – 6. They seem clearly destined for the Championship after the two-year cycle with Sweden and Lithuania left to fight it out for second place.