Great Britain will meet defending champions France in the final of the 2023 Wheelchair Rugby European Championship at Principality Stadium in Cardiff tomorrow.
The Paralympic champions defeated Germany 56-42 in the first semi-final of the day, before France overcame 2019 silver medalists Denmark 60-49 to set up a repeat of the 2022 final.
An aggressive start saw Great Britain – seven-time European champions – go five tries ahead in a frenetic first quarter, but a resilient Germany kept the pressure on the host nation and the teams went into the half-time break with the score at 28-23. Spurred on by the passionate home crowd, Great Britain’s experience and squad depth helped them to stretch to an unassailable lead in the fourth quarter.
By reaching the final of the eight-team tournament, Great Britain have also secured qualification for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games where they will defend the title they won at the Tokyo 2020 Games. France qualify for Paris 2024 as host nation so the bronze medal match-up between Germany and Denmark holds increased significance with the winners also securing their participation at the Games.
Reacting after the match, Great Britain captain Gavin Walker said:
“It was a tricky first half but we expected it from Germany – the last few times we’ve played them we’ve been very impressed with the way they play. Towards the end of the game maybe a little bit of our experience and our ability to rotate our lines helped us out. Luckily we were able to pull our weight at the end.
“To regain our title would mean a hell of a lot. Obviously our end goal is to be there in Paris but we need to take it a step at a time. We’re here to win.”
Tomorrow’s grand finale will also bear witness to the very first wheelchair rugby Judgement Day – a concept well-loved by traditional rugby fans – where two Welsh teams Ospreys and Dragons will battle it out on the championship court.
Elsewhere, Israel claimed 7th place with their first ever European Championship victory, defeating Czech Republic 52-38.
Match schedule for Sunday 7th May
09:00 5th / 6th play-off: Netherlands v Switzerland
10:30 Wheelchair Rugby Judgement Day legacy match
12:00 Bronze medal match: Germany v Denmark
15:00 Final: Great Britain v France
Tickets for the final day are still available at Ticketmaster, with adult tickets £15 and under-16s able to experience the action for just £1.