Russia enter RWC7s as European champions(IRB.COM) Monday 17 June 2013
Rugby World Cup Sevens hosts Russia were handed a timely boost at the weekend as they captured their first ever European title by winning the second FIRA Grand Prix Series event in Marbella.
Pavel Baronovsky’s charges were in superb form in the second round of the series, winning five of their pool games against Spain, Italy, Wales, Netherlands and Ukraine, before going on to beat Ireland and France en route to claiming the Cup and also clinching the overall European title on aggregate points.
With star players like Baizat Khamidova and Ekaterina Kazakova in excellent form, Russia’s final preparations for a World Cup on home soil could not have gone better and the home side will go into the competition in Moscow high on confidence.
England had started the second round of the series in top spot after winning in Brive, but they named a young side with nine changes in Spain and lost two pool games to open the door for Russia, Spain and France to overtake them on aggregate points. England went on to win the Plate, narrowly defeating Italy in the final.
France had also gone through the pool stages unbeaten, defeating Ireland, England, Portugal, Germany and Scotland, but were no match for the physical and clinical Russians in the final, the 29-12 scoreline reflecting the Russian dominance.
Overall the European Series provided excellent preparation for the sides competing qualified for Moscow, with only Netherlands finishing outside of the top six.
In reaching a Cup semi-final for the first time this season, Ireland showed that their progress is certainly enough for them to pose a real threat in their pool, while France will be thrilled with their late-season form.
It was a disappointing series, though, for Scotland and Ukraine who were both relegated from the top tier of European Women’s Sevens and will compete in Division A next season.
European Women’s Grand Prix Series (Round Two)
Cup Winners: Russia
Plate Winner: England
Bowl Winners: Netherlands
Final Euro Grand Prix standings (after two rounds)