For the fourth year in succession Russia have won the European Seven Championship.
Russia have won the second leg of the European Grand Prix in Kharkiv in the Ukraine, and with it have also won the overall title for the fourth year running, and the sixth time in seven years. Russia have now drawn level with England as the nation with the most title wins.
Coming the week after the Olympic qualifier, the tournament in Kharkiv – the second leg of the Rugby Europe’s Grand Prix - was heavily overshadowed by the former event, with teams with little to play for entering weakened teams.
England – surprise Olympic qualification winners – sent a young and very different squad to the one the previous week, while Ireland and Spain were also understrength, and even France – winners of the first leg – has key players missed due to injury.
However, for other nations there was much to play for. The top three non-World Series teams are likely to be invited to next year’s World Series qualifier, while the bottom two teams in the series faced relegation to the European Trophy.
The result was significant imbalance in the strength of the various pools on the opening day. France still win Pool A, but Poland take the runners-up spot. Russia also win pool B, but Englalose all of their opening day fixtures (for the first time) and end bottom of the pool, while Belgium take the runner-up spot with the Netherlands also reaching the quarter-finals. But the major “surprise” is that Italy win Pool C, ahead of both Ireland and Spain.
Despite playing at home Ukraine – who finished last in the first leg – failed to win a game on the opening day, and were therefore relegated before the second day began. However, other results made the identity of the second team far fluid with even England threatened. But eventually Wales’ narrow defeat to Ireland followed by their loss to Italy in the last round of games confirms that will also play in the Ukraine next year.
The second day opens with four very close quarter-finals. Only Russia win by more than a single score. France, Ireland and Poland are pushed all the way by the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.
France see off Ireland in a high-scoring semi-final, while Russia sweep aside Poland – a win that ensures Russia take into the final a significant points difference advantage, which means that a Russian win will give them the overall title. The final is tight, but Russia prevailed 12-5, winning the tournament and title again..
Pool A: Scotland 12-17 Poland; France 47-0 Ukraine; France 12-0 Poland; Scotland 45-0 Ukraine; France 22-14 Scotland; Poland 26-0 Ukraine
Pool B: Russia 22-12 Netherlands; England 5-17 Belgium; Russia 43-0 Belgium; England 0-31 Netherlands; Russia 34-7 England; Belgium 19-12 Netherlands
Pool C: Spain 17-19 Wales; Ireland 7-27 Italy; Spain 19-7 Italy; Ireland 19-14 Wales; Spain 12-14 Ireland; Italy 26-0 Wales
Quarter-Finals: France 19-14 Netherlands; Russia 22-7 Scotland; Italy 14-17 Poland; Belgium 7-14 Ireland
9th-12th Place Semi-Finals: Wales 26-12 Ukraine; Spain 10-5 England
5th-8th Place Semi Finals: Netherlands 0-17 Belgium; Scotland 19-17 Italy
Semi-Finals: France 34-19 Ireland; Russia 32-0 Poland
11th Place Match: England 36-7 Ukraine
9th Place Match: Wales 12-22 Spain
7th Place Match: Netherlands 31-24 Italy
5th Place Match: Belgium 7-36 Scotland
3rd Place Match: Ireland 14-45 Poland
Final: France 5-12 Russia
1. Russia; 2: France; 3: Ireland; 4: Poland; 5: Scotland; 6: Spain; 7: Belgium; 8: England; 9: Italy; 10: Netherlands; 11: Wales; 12: Ukraine