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Paralympic Sports: Wheelchair Rugby

Vejle 2019: Wheelchair rugby Euros take off

Eight teams go for regional title and Tokyo 2020 spots 06 Aug 2019
Imagen
Host of Swedish wheelchair rugby players try to steal ball from Danish player
Sebastian Frederiksen surrounded by Swedish defenders at the 2018 Canada Cup
ⒸWR Canada
By Beau Greenway | For the IPC

Eight nations will battle for regional glory from Wednesday when the Wheelchair Rugby European Championship Division A take off in Vejle, Denmark. 

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic implications add extra pressure for the teams, as the top two not otherwise qualified punch their tickets to next year’s Games.

Great Britain enter as favourites having moved to No.4 in the world rankings. The two-time defending champions will have to see off a vastly improved French side, while host Denmark will have plenty of crowd support. 

The competition runs until 11 August. 

Here is how the eight teams line up:

Denmark

Will the host nation qualify for the Paralympic Games for the first time in its wheelchair rugby history? 

After coming so close in 2015, the Danes will be more determined than ever. Danish head coach Jason Regier added more depth since his time in charge. The power of a home crowd advantage should never be underestimated and expect Denmark to be in contention for the medals.

Championship medals: Silver (2013), Bronze (2015)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Jason Regier

Squad: Thomas Pagh (0.5), Kurt Busk (0.5), Sofie Skoubo (0.5), Jesper Kruger (1.0), Kaare Momme Nielsen (1.5), Mikkel Schottel (2.0), Kristian Bak Eriksen (2.0), Jakob Mortensen (2.5), Leon Jorgensen (3.0), Morten Elmholt (3.0), Sebastian Frederiksen (3.5), Mark Peters (3.5)

Denmark's Sofie Skoubo will feed off the home crowd support

France

The big improver of wheelchair rugby in Europe, France will be expecting to finish in the top two. After winning the Metro Cup in Poland in July against a number of teams contesting the European Championship, the French side will be full of confidence. 

France produced its best performance at the World Championship last year when they placed fifth and have since become the second-ranked European team behind Great Britain. 

Championship medals: Bronze (2017)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Olivier Cusin

Squad: Corentin Le Guen (0.5), Pierre Laroque (0.5), Christophe Corompt (1.0), Jordan Ducret (1.0), Cedric Nankin (1.5), Matthieu Thiriet (1.5), Nicolas Rioux (2.0), Rodolphe Jarlan (2.5), Sebastian Verdin (3.0), Christophe Salegui (3.0), Jonathan Hivernat (3.0), Ryadh Sallem (3.5)

Germany

It has been 10 years since Germany were on the podium at the European Championships. But this year’s squad will give it the best possible chance to return to the medals. 

The Germans reached the Metro Cup final in Warsaw, Poland last month and narrowly went down against France. Germany had their equal lowest finish at a European Championship with sixth in 2017.

Championship medals: Silver (1999, 2005, 2007), Bronze (1997, 2003, 2009)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Christoph Werner 

Squad: Christian Riedel (0.5), Florian Bongard (1.0), Britta Kripke (1.0), Thorsten Altmann (1.5), Jens Sauerbier (2.0), Steffen Wecke (2.0), Josco Wilke (2.0), Luca Schneider (2.5), Michael Volter (3.0), Marco Herbst (3.5)

Great Britain

The most successful team in the tournament’s history will look to make it three straight gold medals. Great Britain won the European title six times and reached the podium at every edition since it began in 1995, except 2009 in Hillerod, Denmark. 

Great Britain have had strong preparation after beating the world’s top-ranked teams, Australia, USA and Japan at the Four Nations in Birmingham, USA, earlier this year. They are going for their seventh European title.

Championship medals: Gold (1995, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2015, 2017), Silver (1997, 2011), Bronze (1999, 2013)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Paul Shaw

Squad: Kylie Grimes (0.5), Jonathan Coggan (0.5), Ryan Cowling (1.0), Nick Cummins (1.5), Chris Ryan (2.0), Gavin Walker (2.0), Jamie Stead (2.5), Jim Roberts (3.0), Stuart Robinson (3.5), Aaron Phipps (3.5).

Jim Roberts will try to help Great Britain defend their title in Vejle

Netherlands

They may be the lowest-ranked team at the tournament. But they should not be overlooked in Vejle. 

The world’ No.18 ranked side are coming off victory at the 2018 European Championship Division B and will look to surprise. 
The Dutch outfit’s only podium finish was bronze at the inaugural Europeans in 1995. After failing to qualify for the event on the past three occasions, the Netherlands are hungrier than ever for success on the big stage.

Championship medals: Bronze (1995)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Jacqueline Pot

Squad: Scott van Polen (0.5), Reda Haouam (1.0), Hugo van Lersel (1.0), Bilal Mazgouti (1.0), Pieter den Admirant (1.5), Revando van Doorn (2.0), Jop van der Laan (2.0), Emilio Moes (2.5), Arne van Egmond (2.5), Resul Karabulut (3.0), Haico Nijkamp (3.0), Davy van den Doop (3.0)

Poland

Arguably the biggest win in the nation’s wheelchair rugby history came against Canada at the 2018 World Championship in Sydney, Australia. Poland eventually finished the tournament ninth. They have a well-balanced line-up at their disposal, with seven players classified at 2.0 allowing plenty of flexibility. 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Janusz Kozak

Squad: Krzysztof Kosider (0.5), Leszek Lachmanowicz (2.0), Tomasz Depciuch (2.0), Krzysztof Kapusta (2.0), Pawel Szostak (2.0), Rafal Rocki (2.0), Lukasz Szalabski (2.0), Piotr Stankiewicz (2.0), Lukasz Brudek (2.5), Lukasz Rekawiecki (3.0)

Emilio Moes and the Dutch squad earned their spot in Vejle 2019 via the Division B edition

Sweden

Sweden is behind Great Britain for the most gold medals won at a Europeans. Despite not being in outstanding form in the lead-up, Sweden always seem to find a way to lift for the big tournaments. 

They have broken Denmark’s heart in the semi-finals in the past two editions of the tournament to reach the gold medal match. 

Championship medals: Gold (1997, 1999, 2011, 2013), Silver (1995, 2009, 2015, 2017), Bronze (2005, 2007)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Benoit Labrecque

Squad: Rickard Loefgren (0.5), Conrad Hildebrand (1.0), Stefan Jansson (1.0), Lars Varnerud (1.5), Roger Lindberg (2.0), Tomas Hjert (2.5), Mikael Norlin (2.5), Marko Norrbacka (3.0), Tobias Sandberg (3.5)

Switzerland

The Swiss team returns to the European Championship for the first time since 2013. It has been a long climb back to the top tier of European wheelchair rugby, but under head coach Adrian Moser, the group is the strongest it has been in some time. 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Adrian Moser

Squad: Patrick Gosteli (0.5), Adrian Moser (1.0) Christian Hahnel (1.5), David Mzee (2.0), Anton Mityukov (2.0), Jeremy Jenal (2.5), Silvana Hegglin (3.0), Anton Schillig (3.0), Johnathan Baltensperger (TBD), Yves Langhard (TBD), David Amsler (TBD), Armend Dautaj (TBD)

More information on the 2019 Wheelchair Rugby European Championships is available on the event website.