Spain have won the 2020 European Championship and with it a chance to compete to a place at the World Cup, against Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
Spain overwhelmed a young and inexperienced Netherlands 87-0 Estadio Pedro Escartín, Guadalajara to comfortably win the 202 European Championship. The win was the largest ever by Spain against Netherlands, and the second worst Dutch defeat in their 39-year test history.
Spain crossed the line after only 33 seconds of the game, though the score was ruled out. Even so – with the Dutch pack overwhelmed by power of their opponents, the first try came barely two minutes later.
Despite handling errors, tries flowed steadily for Spain throughout the first half as they dominated possession – over 75% of the ball being Spanish. By halftime eight had been scored, Spain leading by 46-0.
The result of a half-time rethink by the Dutch was immediately apparent in the second half as they started to keep the ball with the forwards, going through 10 or more phases at a time. As a tactic it did little to threaten Spain’s line, but it did slow the Spanish juggernaut down and ensured that the Dutch avoided a three-figure defeat – which had looked very likely after the first half. It was particularly effective for the last quarter-hour when Spanish frustration with the strategy resulted in a string of penalties and only one try.
Even so Spain did cross the line a further six times in the half, comfortably recording their largest ever win against the Dutch, but falling one point short of inflicting upon their visitors their worst ever defeat.
Spain now move on to play Ireland in the semi-finals of Europe’s World Cup qualifier – unless the structure of the qualifier is changed again – at a date and venue as yet unconfirmed. How much they will have gained from their two tests against Russia and the Netherlands is questionable as they were so much on top throughout both games.
Apart from as a World Cup eliminator the European Championship has lost most of its meaning. Both it and European test rugby in general has suffered badly since the Six Nations teams walked away from the competition after 2012. With no chance to even dream of playing competitive rugby (or even friendly games) against the continent’s leading teams - Spain excepted - it is difficult to see how the continent’s 15-a-side game can ever hope to improve.
While for Spain half-century point wins against inferior opposition is no preparation for the once-every-four-year chance they get to play competitive games against Six Nations teams.
The last two weekends have again shown that structure of test rugby in Europe is absurd, unfair and does nothing to grow the game on the continent where perhaps more of the world’s players live than any other.
Spain: 1 Saioa Jaurena; 2 Cristina Blanco; 3 Laura Delgado; 4 Anna Puig; 5 Carmen Castellucci; 6 Olivia Fresneda; 7 Paula Medin (C); 8 Maria Losada; 9 Lucia Diaz; 10 Anne Fernandez De Corres; 11 Beatriz Dominguez; 12 Amaia Erbina; 13 Lide Erbina; 14 Alba Vinuesa; 15 Amalia Argudo
Replacements: 16 Monica Castelo; 17 Marta Estelles; 18 Sidorella Bracic; 19 Lourdes Alameda; 20 Maria Calvo; 21 Iera Echebarria; 22 Uri Barrutieta; 23 Elisabet Segarra
Netherlands: 1. Irene Jansen; 2. Kendra Jonas; 3. Nicky Dix; 4. Judith Frinking; 5. Inger Jongeius; 6. Robin Zuiderhoek; 7. Liza de Wild; 8. Linde van der Velden; 9. Marit Lammens; 10. Jordan Heil; 11. Lieve Stallman; 12. Ouen Makkinga; 13. Hiske Blom; 14. Mirelle Nieuwenhuis; 15. Noa Dinkersloot