Warsaw, the capital of Poland, will be the venue for the first fully sanctioned International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament to be held since the outbreak of the pandemic. The sport has been eagerly awaiting the return to competition and the host nation will feature in the opening fixture against near neighbours and fierce rivals, the Czech Republic.
Just seven places in the IWRF World Rankings separate four of the Teams, Poland, Finland, Switzerland and Russia. The other two Teams, Israel and the Czech Republic were promoted from Division C and the step up in levels will be a tough hill to climb. However, the lack of competitive opportunities for all of the Teams in the past 18 months will no doubt be a great leveller and we could be in for some shocks, which will make it hugely exciting.
Sponsors Metro have supported the sport of Wheelchair Rugby for many years and the Metro Cup has been a long-standing fixture in the calendar. IWRF President, Richard Allcroft announced “I am delighted that Metro continue to invest in our sport and have been instrumental in elevating the long-standing Metro Cup to a Championship event. The Local Organising Committee have been outstanding in the face of great difficulties created by Covid-19. When the event had to be postponed in 2020, they continued to work tirelessly and closely with the IWRF to make sure that the Championship would be held as soon as it was safe for athletes and officials, whose health and safety remains everyone’s primary focus. I, along with many others who have seen little or no competitive wheelchair rugby for well over a year now, cannot wait to watch the live-streaming and see these six teams do battle.”
President of the Polish Federation, Peter Kaluba, stated “It is fantastic to be able to play International Wheelchair Rugby once again and for Poland to host its first European Championship event is a real honour and a privilege. We are looking forward to some extremely competitive matches between the Teams. Our Federation motto is the ‘Power of Fair Play’ and to us the most important aspect is that the Championship upholds and promotes that ideal for the entire wheelchair rugby family.”
Unusual times have created an unusual Tournament Schedule. The six teams competing will all play each other in a Round Robin format comprising 15 matches. The two teams placed first and second in the League at the end of the Tournament will be promoted to Division A but there will be no relegation as all the remaining teams, along with Austria and Ireland, who were not able to participate due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, will join Spain and Italy from Division C to compete in a combined “Division B and C” Championship in 2022. It will be strange not having an actual final to determine the Tournament winner but with six teams, this format provides the purest way to rank them as there are no Pool games where one might avoid other Teams.
Matches start on the morning of 30 June at the Arena Ursynów and run for four days to 3 July. The full Schedule is detailed on our special website https://www.pzrnw.pl/ec2021.