Wheelchair rugby 2019 wrap-up
Get ready for the 2019 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship with a look back at the season so far.
Two-time defending IWRF European Championship Division A champions Great Britain cemented themselves as the team to beat at this year's event in Vejle with an impressive preparation. The world's no.4 ranked nation proved it belongs among wheelchair rugby's elite by winning the Four Nations in Alabama, USA, in May. Great Britain saw off world champions Japan, Paralympic gold medallists Australia and hosts USA in its biggest win at an IWRF-sanctioned event.
The tournament went down to the wire with all four teams finishing with three wins and three losses after the round-robin stage. Great Britain and USA met in the gold medal match and it was the European champions that prevailed, 49-47. Japan defeated Australia, 54-53, in a rematch of last year's IWRF World Championship to claim the bronze medal.
Great Britain and France also competed at the Quad Nations in Leicester, England, in February, finishing second and third, respectively. Japan eventually prevailed in an exciting gold medal match against Great Britain, 53-51, while France came away with bronze after getting past Canada, 52-48.
Six of the eight teams contesting the European Championship Division A used last month's Metro Cup in Warsaw, Poland, as an ideal final preparation. France were the eventual champions, beating Germany, 47-42, for gold in a high-quality final. As a result of the victory, France moved to No.6 in the world rankings and will be one of the teams to watch this week in Vejle.
Denmark fell by one goal to Germany in the semi-final, 53-52, but didn't leave the tournament without a medal. The Danes saw off a strong challenge from Brazil to win bronze with a 58-54 triumph.
Arguably, the biggest surprise of the tournament was the performance of Sweden. Albeit with a very small squad, the two-time European champions failed to win a game at the Metro Cup and fell below France in the rankings to No.7.