Switzerland beats Ukraine 54-18 to ensure safety in Rugby Europe Trophy
Plan-les-Ouates, 12.03.2017 – For its third match in the Rugby Europe Trophy, the Edelweiss XV marked a convincing victory (54 to 18) over the Ukraine and thereby ensures safety within the 3rd European Division (Top 18). Switzerland, who was superior in nearly every phase of play, controlled the match from start to finish, and can now go on to aim for the 3rd place in the group.
« It fills me with great pride, since our team-goal was to ensure safety in our division”, affirms Olivier Nier, co-coach of the team. “The players went beyond our expectations delivering high quality in all our phases of play”. The team scored 7 tries thanks to a varied and well-executed game plan. Simon Perrod, the team’s scrum-half explains: “We were able to play to our own strengths, especially in the breakthroughs and on wide play, as these were the zones where the Ukrainians are weaker, as opposed to close play, in which they are very strong.”
The beautiful victory took place in Plan-les-Ouates, thanks to the great efforts of the local club, who prepared the event with the Swiss Rugby Union at two months’ notice and with great support by the municipality.
The first 10 minutes of the match were bereft of opportunities for open play, but the Swiss team showed its physical presence with some very strong tackles. The Romanian Referee Radu Petrescu disliked a small early scuffle between the teams in the 4th minute, and sent Ukrainian Lose-Head prop Serhii Sukhih and Swiss Second-rower Nicolas Guyou to the sin-bin with a pair of yellow cards. In the following minutes, the Swiss had much of the ball possession and started to become much more threatening for a score. With more dynamic and intuitive play than their opponents, the Swiss Fly-Half Julien Gros’ kick found Florian Escoffier on the right wing, who fixed his defender and put fullback Thibault Géry into space for the first try in the 8th minute of play. Four minutes later the Ukraine got itself on the board with a well-taken penalty kick from more than 40 meters, scored by Oleg Kosariev. Switzerland found an immediate response with a penalty on their pwn, with Simon Perrod making the score 8-3 after 16 minutes.
In the 19th minute, it was the scrum-half again who found himself in support of a sprinting Florian Escoffier, who broke through a badly positioned Ukrainian defence, fixed the fullback, and set Perrod up for the score (15-3). Perrod then added another penalty shortly after the Ukraine scored one of their own, making the score 18-6 after 25 minutes of play. This scoreline was a fair reflection of a convincing first 30 minutes by the Swiss team, who was able to dominate as much in the mauls, as the scrums, as the lineout and in open play. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, showed their courage and physical presence, but were able to establish dominance mainly in the rucks and in close play, with the swiss open play moving the ball too fast for the Ukraine to pose any danger in that sector. The Ukraine’s efforts, however, finally paid off at the end of the first half when the number 8 Ruslan Radchuk capitalized on mounting Ukrainian pressure and slotted a try thanks to a strongly executed pick-and-go. Just before heading into the changing rooms, Perrod added one more swiss penalty, making the halftime score 21-13.
After the break, the Swiss came out of the sheds filled with determination. Seemingly unworried by the last minute of the first half, in which the Ukraine was able to regain some momentum, they played as if they had been finally unleashed. The first try of the half came at the 48th minute on a beautiful combination arising from a lineout ball caught by Ludovic Pommies, and a subsequent maul which drove a good 20 meters down the field before touching down for the try. Five minutes later, it was Julien Gros who was able to penetrate the porous Ukrainian Defense with speed and power, scoring the try and assuring the attacking bonus point on the scoreline. At the 55th minute Géry scored his 2nd try off a kick by Gros which found Heinrich on the wing, who in turn found the fullback with a pass. The Ukrainians seem to be left in the dust until a try by the powerful tight-head prop Mykola Aleksandriuk gave them new hope at the 58th minute, and made the score 40-18. Unfortunately for them, it was too late and the Swiss were still dominating, while their opponents tired steadily through an immense defensive effort. Cyril Lin, the captain of the Edelweiss XV scored another try in the 69th minute, off a sprint down the left wing, and Jonathan Wullschleger added the 7th try for the team, off a maul in the 77th minute, for a final score of 54-18. The strong Swiss Bench was also able to show its qualities through the entrance of the substitutes, notably of local favorite Gaëtan Hirsch of Plan-les-Ouates Rugby Club (he converted the last two tries) and of Dorian Hustaix, among many others. Overall a great win and a great success especially in the high quality of execution and the team-work as well as opportunism going into the different tries.
Heading for the Netherlands
After celebrating the victory, the players meet again at the end of the week to play on Saturday, March 18th, in the Netherlands. “The Dutch have a very strong team, they are currently second in the group, and are therefore ahead of us”, notes Switzerland’s coach Olivier Nier. The match poses a double challenge for Switzerland, as the Netherlands are a serious contender in the group, and at the same time not all the Swiss players will be available to take the trip. “Some of our players will not be there as we have made a commitment to their clubs to make them available for their domestic league matches”, notes the Swiss Coach. However, the Netherlands should not take this as good reason to underestimate the Swiss, despite its recent promotion to the Rugby Europe Trophy last year. The 15 players plus 5 subs who took to the pitch last Sunday against the Ukraine, proved that they have strong technical and mental qualities. For those who can not make the trip to Amsterdam, the match will be live-streamed on www.rugbyeurope.eu, the website of Rugby Europe (Link to live stream below)
French text by “LeMultimedia.info”
Editing, updating, and English translation by Suisserugby.com