It’s been a tough few years for Switzerland, at both 7s and 15, but their first sevens title for 14 years suggests that they may be on their way back.
The Rugby Europe Conference is the third tier of European Sevens. With the number of entrants for Rugby Europe’s tournaments down to 33 teams this year (mainly due to Great Britain replacing three separate national teams), there were just nine teams in the Conference this year.
With a nine-team tournament Rugby Europe uses and interesting two-round pool phase.
After the first phase the second and third placed teams are redistributed in new pools for the second phase, with no team playing any team they played in the first phases.
The semi-finals and other playoff places are then decided based on performances over both of the opening two phases.
It is a slightly confusing format, but it ensures that every team plays four different opponents before the playoffs, and that the best teams reach the final four.
Andorra (fresh from gold at the GSSE), Switzerland – as expected – won their pools in the opening round, along with Slovakia.
The second phases began with a major surprise when Andorra went down 19-17 to Montenegro, but they battled back to beat Croatia and – with Montenegro losing to the Croatian – reached the semi-finals. Switzerland joined them with another two wins, but Slovakia could not repeat their first round performance, Lithuania taking Pool F. However, both Slovakia and Lithuania did enough to make the final four.
Switzerland were hitting their straps and reached the final with a big win against Lithuania, while Andorra did enough to beat Slovakia.
Switzerland were strong favourites for the final, but Andorra matched them in the first half, turning around just two points down. But a second try early in the second half extended the lead, after which the Swiss held out to prevent any further scores.
Switzerland – and Andorra – should therefore return to the second level Trophy next season
Pool A: Luxembourg 7-17 Malta; Andorra 22-7 Malta; Luxembourg 0-22 Andorra
Pool B: Switzerland 21-5 Montenegro; Lithuania 31-10 Montenegro; Switzerland 17-5 Lithuania
Pool C: Croatia 41-7 Estonia; Slovakia 41-7 Estonia; Croatia 0-12 Slovakia
Pool D: Andorra 17-19 Montenegro; Croatia 29-5 Montenegro; Andorra 36-0 Croatia
Pool E: Switzerland 48-7 Estonia; Malta 24-10 Estonia; Switzerland 22-5 Malta
Pool F: Slovakia 33-0 Luxembourg; Lithuania 27-19 Luxembourg; Slovakia 10-12 Lithuania
8th place match Luxembourg 43-5 Estonia
5th-7th place: Malta 35-10 Montenegro; Croatia 5-0 Montenegro; Croatia 0-27 Malta
Semi-Finals: Switzerland 34-5 Lithuania; Slovakia 5-12 Andorra
3rd Place: Lithuania 10-17 Slovakia
Final: Switzerland 14-5 Andorra