Quad Nations Wheelchair Rugby Final
After seeing this year’s competing teams announced at the Quad Nations launch a few months ago, I was excited for the tournament itself to finally come around. Sadly, despite my best endeavours, out of the three days I could only make the final game, but I was very pleased to make that as it was a real humdinger.
Out of the previous two days of heats, the runners up game was to be played between France and Canada, a tightly fought match that was just reaching its hectic conclusion as I arrived at the Morningside Arena. France pipped Canada to the post to Bronze with only four tries in it. And then Team GB made their way onto the arena floor and it was time to battle Japan for tournament Gold.
Wheelchair rugby is a fast-paced, high contact sport which has echoes of both rugby and basketball in its rules. It’s simple to pick up – so simple that even I can understand it in fact! I find it interesting as the teams are mixed ability, with players being allocated points according to their levels of function and the team overall having a points limit. This lends an extra element of tactical play to the dynamics of the game. In particular, I really like the fact that its the one sport where the action off the ball is just as interesting as the action on it!
Anyway, it was absolutely neck and neck through the game. Great Britain and Japan scored and scored, and not a cigarette paper could be put between the two. It was notable that Japan held the advantage when it came to tactical plays, while Great Britain were evidently significantly stronger in defense.
It was four quarters of breathless action, but in the third, Japan started to edge away ever so slightly. Such is the nature of the game that it was near on impossible for Team GB to level things back up, although they were able to reduce a four try lead at one stage to just 2 tries. A true clash of the titans and the crowd went absolutely wild!
Great Britain couldn’t quite manage to pull back the deficit, although it was not for the want of trying. The pace of the game picked up noticeably in the final quarter and it was edge of the seat stuff! However, Japan made deserving champions. Silver for Team GB is absolutely excellent, the only downside being that the points they gained were not sufficient to move them up in the international standings on this occasion, so they remain seeded 5th in the world. Which is still not to be sniffed at!
I enjoyed the game thoroughly, as well as having the chance to see the medals awarded at the end – and I can only hope that the Quad Nations will return to Leicester for a third time in 2020!