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Day One Recap

Denmark, Great Britain, Sweden and France notched wins on day one of the 2019 IWRF European Championship Division A in Vejle, Denmark.

Day One Recap
Photo: www.leesfoto.net

A huge home crowd rolled in to watch the hosts demolish Poland 59-43 and start their quest for Tokyo 2020 qualification in perfect fashion. Sebastian Frederiksen and Leon Jorgensen led the way in scoring with 12 tries apiece in a dominant display.

- It was great to get started. I was a bit nervous at first, but once we got our first try, it was just a fantastic feeling, Jorgensen said after the match.

- The crowd was awesome, and I think they were well entertained.

Poland's Piotr Stankiewicz also enjoyed the experience in spite of the result.

- It was great to be in front of such a big crowd, the spectators were great. I think we played well, and I'm looking forward to facing Great Britain tomorrow.

Defending champions Great Britain were equally as impressive in their opening encounter, overpowering Switzerland 52-21. The tournament favourites used a number of different line-ups, and, after a slow start, showed their class to down the Swiss.

- It was a good start for us, good performance from everyone, kept fighting until the end, working on a few things that we are going to take into the next couple of games, Great Britain captain Chris Ryan said.

- We’re building into the tournament, we don’t want to peak too early, but I think it was a good first performance. We’re working on percentages really, conversion rates and things like that.

Despite the result, the Swiss team had an army of supporters cheering on every try. Silvana Hegglin, one of four female players at this year’s tournament, said it was great to finally be on court.

- We could feel the power of the game and from the crowd. It is just the best, Hegglin said.

- We are very grateful for all the supporters who came all the way to Denmark to see us, so that helps us a lot on court.

Sweden survived an early scare to prevail 54-48 against the Netherlands in the opening match of the event. The Netherlands led by four at the first break and were right in the contest for three quarters before Sweden’s experience shone through.

- Yeah it was tough, it’s all mental, but like you said we had the experience to finish the game and it’s not the first time we’ve had to fight from underneath, so it was good, relieved Swedish high-pointer Tobias Sandberg said.

- We are here to qualify for Tokyo, and to lose that game and put everything to the other teams’ hands; we don’t want to do that.

Experienced Dutchman Reda Haouam spoke openly after the match.

- We were maybe lacking a little bit in the second half and weren't quite sharp enough, he said.

- Tough loss, but we have to regroup and get ready for the next game (against France).

France rounded out an entertaining opening day in Vejle with a hard-fought 51-44 result against Germany. The pair met at last month’s Metro Cup final in Poland and French coach Olivier Cusin was delighted his side could produce the same result.

- The European Championship only has three games in the pool, so we have no chance to fail. We have to win all the games, Cusin said.

- I’m happy because we are under way to go to the semi-final to finish first in the pool and avoid GB. We have to win tomorrow, but it will be difficult as well as the Netherlands did well against Sweden.

Despite the early setback, Germany’s Jens Sauerbier said the team’s goal is still to reach the semi-finals.

- Everything is fine for now, we will learn from this game and take it into the next and try to improve there, he said.

- It is our overall aim to come to the half final to advance there and be able to beat the other teams, we are confident to do that and we had a good preparation before and we shall overcome this nervousness.

The standings after day one are:

Pool A
France 2 (+7)

Sweden 2 (+6)

Netherlands 0 (-6)

Germany 0 (-7)

Pool B
Great Britain 2 (+31)

Denmark 2 (+16)

Poland 0 (-16)

Switzerland 0 (-31)