Medal rush at 2023 Euros
England Touch’s High Performance squad had four days to remember in Vichy this week, bringing home nine Golds and a Bronze from the 10 competition categories.
Indeed, seven of the teams went through their competitions with hundred percent records, and while the Men’s 35 and Women’s 35 teams were not able to take part in the medal matches due to having been grouped with the Men’s 30 and Women’s 27 competitions, they nevertheless had the consolation of finishing third and second in their respective pools.
Finals day began with the Women’s 40, who completed their history-making tournament by winning the first Gold medal at that level by beating Scotland 5-1. Danielle Powley-Williams got a pair of tries, with Gaynor Sewell, Hester Williams and Sally Seymour completing the scoring.
The Men’s 45 had their final against Wales, who had won their pool game 5-4 at the start of day one. But when it mattered England put in a dominant performance, and thanks to tries from Niel Chambers (2), Lloyd Hook (2), Andre Le Cornu and skipper Erik Williams, they had Gold medals to add to the Simon Yarrow Memorial Trophy won earlier in the week against Scotland.
A year ago the Men’s 40 had had disappointment from their final defeat against France. But this time around there was a comprehensive win to take away from the clash with the host nation. Hat tricks from Daniel Connolly and Ben Blackburn led the way, Ollie Sills, Will Tenbroeke and Dan Lewis the other try scorers.
The Masters division was rounded off by the Men’s 50 team, who beat France and Wales a combined eight times in their tri series and finals to lift the title. Andy Verney top scored with nine, closely followed by Lee Thompson and Ryan Anglem with seven apiece as England outscored the opposition 66-21.
In the Seniors division there was plenty of satisfaction for the Mixed 30, who had had what would have been a win over France turned into a draw with a late controversial decision. There was no such debate in the final, however, as France were put to the sword at the end of a competition which had had twice the number of teams as 2022. Meghan Clayton crossed four times, Wigan team mate Sean Macdonald scored twice, and Akshan Jirasinha, Ryan Miemczyk, Clark Hobson, Jack Judd, Andrew Smerdon and Victoria Franks all scored a try each in the 12-6 final result.
The Women’s 27 continued to be the team to beat in Europe, as they took the momentum from their +37 try difference from the round robin to see off Scotland in the final. Jo Devine’s dramatic late break in 2022 had grabbed the latest of wins in Nottingham, but her opening effort put the team on the way to a much more comfortable outcome this time around. Devine scored a second, and efforts from Jamie Cone, Isobel Thomas, Beth Newton and Niki Bird rounded off a 6-2 win.
The Men’s 30 team had an imperious round robin, scoring 103 tries from their seven matches and ending with a try difference of +87. However the final against France was a much tighter affair, 6-4 the final result. Stuart Bussell’s triple took him to 20 tries for the tournament, with the other tries coming from Daniel Wines, Steve Holland and Tom Davies.
In the Opens division the Mixed Open team had to settle for Bronze at the end of a roller coaster few days. Unbeaten in the initial round robin, the team lost to Ireland by two points and drew with France and Wales to miss out on the Gold medal match. However they exacted revenge against the Irish in the Bronze medal match running up a 14-4 final result. Danielle Evans scored a hat trick, Emily Crowe, Jordan Melling, Ella Loveridge and Tom Lawton-Davies all grabbed braces, with Teddy Brooks, Anna Crossley and Jamie Ironside completing the scoring.
The Women’s Open had an Anglo-French clash for the final, scoring early to create a healthy lead and extending their run of consecutive titles to nine. Carly Wynne crossed three times against the French, Emily Irons and Sophia Barkham both scored twice, and Nikki Wise, Kensie Macnaught and Erin Payten rounded off the 10-4 win.
Finally, the Men’s Open competition had plenty of similarities with 2022. Once again England and Ireland led the way, pushed by France and Scotland to have to play their best. The Anglo-Irish clashes in the pool stages were also tight, 10-10 in the round-robin and 10-9 to England in the seeding match. But the final was much more one-way, and with Hanno Rossouw scoring four times, Matthew Bate and Matt Sandlant both crossing twice, and Louis Treays and Marcus Chung rounding off a 10-3 win.