For the 2022 European Touch Championships (ETC) held in Nottingham, England from August 2nd to 6th, Luxembourg sent a Men’s Over 30s team and 1 referee representative. There were over 1000 players and 150 officials from 17 countries competing over the 5 days.
Our Luxembourg M30 team performed valiantly with a small squad of 11 players, which went down to 10, and then 9 for the last 3 games, whilst nearly all the other teams had squads of 14-16. Needless to say it was a gruelling tournament physically, but throughout all their games they continued to give 100% effort.
Playing against England, France and Ireland, we were pitted against world class sides with large squads and player pools. For example in England there are over 500,000 registered Touch players, we have 48! We did well to hold our shape and composure in heavy losses to the heavyweights of touch in Europe, however our chances to excel would come against the smaller touch playing nations of Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden.
You can check out our full results here: https://www.internationaltouch.org/events/euros/2022/mens-30/
Picture gallery here: https://touch-luxembourg.lu/2022-european-touch-championships-gallery/
Belgium proved too strong for us wearing us down towards the end of the match with their superior structure and pace. They went on to the bronze medal play-off which they lost to France after a close and hard-fought match.
Our loss to Switzerland in the pool match had some positives with us finishing strongly and drawing the 2nd half 4-4 and earning the praise of FIT board member and Switzerland M45 coach Mike Abramowitz, commenting that we showed a lot of fight and had a great never-say-never attitude. Final result was a 7-4 loss.
Our final pool match was our eagerly awaited game against Sweden, who going into the final round of pool games were also without a win. Whilst they are a newly formed touch nation they had recruited Peter Walters as their coach as part of their preparation, and we had noticed them improving throughout the tournament no doubt due to Peter’s great knowledge of the game and coaching experience.
Unfortunately our previous habits flowed through and a slow start entailed. Basic errors were made and with Sweden’s try-line attack functioning well in the early stages we found ourselves behind. Unfortunately a touch no-touch call by our tournament top try-scorer Jean-Charles Wiart saw has down to 5 men for 4 possessions. Another try to Sweden ensued.
Our own attack started to click though and we went into half-time 3-2 behind. We started strong in the 2nd half with Nick Frank racking up a hat-trick early in the 2nd stanza. However we continued to turnover possession early and with some close calls seemingly going against us, we weren’t able to peg back the deficit, eventually losing 7-5.
After losing our quarter-final to France we went into the final day of games with moral quite low, having suffered 7 straight defeats and being down to only 9 players and furthermore our star defensive Mid Thomas Blondel restricted in movement but still valiantly playing on with a groin injury sustained against France. However our re-match with Sweden and a chance for revenge in our play-off game awaited.
Our legs were tired but we knew Sweden were there for the taking, and for once we started well! With 9 players we were inevitably tiring but we noticed the Swedish team were also. We went into half time ahead 3-2 and feeling confident.
The 2nd half was an arm-wrestle and the game eventually became tied up at 4-4. However we kept our structure and a quick scoop play from Antoine Pfaltzgraff gave us the lead back with 5 minutes left on the clock. From there thanks to our injured Link turned Manager extra-ordinaire Dave “no-ribs” Atkinsons who kept our guys in the middle informed of the time remaining, we managed to defend well and hold-on. Finally victory was tasted with our 5-4 win! Whilst it was somewhat sweet it was also quite a relief as going back to Luxembourg empty handed was the worst fear for quite a few of us.
We weren’t done yet, well, we kind of were?! Because of this win we earned the right to play Switzerland again in the 5th/6th playoff game. It was a mental struggle as well as a physical one to get up for this last game with so much effort going into the previous one against Sweden. However as with our other games we battled right until the very end with only 9 players and lost 8-2, after managing to restrict Switzerland to only a 2-0 half-time lead.
Whilst it wasn’t our best performance at the Euros our campaign did leave us with some positives with our overall structure holding firm and our never-say-die being admirable. However, we know we have a lot to work on and will continue to develop towards the 2023 European Touch Championships and beyond.
A special mention also goes to Laurence Cortey, our elite referee representative who refereed at the 2022 ETC. Laurence is a Level 2 qualified Touch Europe referee and adjudicated an abundance of games at the Euros including a “top-seeds” match between England & Scotland in the Women’s Open section. Her final game was refereeing the Bronze play-off game of the Women’s over 27s division, quite an achievement.
If you are in Luxembourg and would like to be part of the 2023 European Touch Championships or play or be involved in Touch in anyway, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. New players, ideas, and support/sponsorship are always welcome!