Georgia is the defending champion of the men’s Rugby Europe Championship 2023, having won 10 of the previous 11 editions.
While the reigning champions’ identity may be recognizable, the structure has been changed, and the number of teams has been increased from six to eight.
Winners of the Rugby Europe Trophy in 2021-22 Belgium, Germany, and Poland have been promoted to the Championship, while Georgia, Romania, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands have remained in the top flight.
The event will also be an important element of Georgia’s, Romania’s, and Portugal’s preparations for the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
We give you the details on the new format and what it means for the Rugby Europe Championship 2023 before of this weekend’s kickoff.
Viewers around the world can watch the action live on the following channels and here for free:
What New 2023 Rugby Europe Championship:
For the 2023 season, the Rugby Europe Championship has been expanded to include the top three teams from the 2021-22 Trophy, making it an eight-team event.
The format of the Championship has changed due to the increase in size, with those eight teams divided into two pools of four.
Pool A will feature Georgia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany, while Pool B will feature Romania, Portugal, Belgium, and Poland.
Meanwhile, Romania, Belgium, and the Netherlands have new coaching staff for the Championship. Eugen Apjok will lead the Oaks, while Mike Ford will lead Belgium and Lyn Jones will handle the Netherlands’ campaign.
2023 Rugby Europe Championship Format:
Every country will play each team in their pool once in a round-robin format over three consecutive match weekends.
Following the pool phase, the top two teams from each pool will advance to the semi-finals.
The winner of Pool A will face the runner-up of Pool B, while the winner of Pool B will face the second-placed nation from Pool A.
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Whoever wins those matches will face off in the grand final on March 18th, with the winner taking the 2023 title.
The losing semi-finalists will also face in a third-place play-off on the final weekend.
What Happens If A Team Does Not Make The Semi-finals 2023 Rugby Europe Championship:
All eight teams in the 2023 Championship are guaranteed to play five matches, as they would have under the previous six-team structure.
The third and fourth-placed teams in each pool will meet in the ranking semi-finals, with the bottom side from the opposite pool taking on the third-placed team in each.
The winners of those matches will progress to the fifth-place final, while the losers will compete for seventh place.
Will The New Format Allow For Promotion And Relegation 2023 Rugby Europe Championship:
Yes, however, the present pools are only available for two years.
The side that finishes last in the cumulative rankings at the end of that term will be relegated to the Rugby Europe Trophy.
Subject to meeting participation rules, that team will be replaced by the nation that finishes first in the combined 2022-23 and 2023-24 Trophy rankings.
Ukraine began this season’s men’s Trophy with a 27-22 victory against Croatia in October, but Switzerland is presently leading the way, having defeated Sweden and Lithuania.
When Where and complete schedule start time 2023 Rugby Europe Championship:
This year’s Rugby Europe Championship will begin on February 4 in Bucharest, Romania, when Romania hosts newcomers Poland.
Later that day, Portugal, who will also compete in the RWC in France in 2023, will face Belgium in Lisbon. The hosts won the last meeting 23-17 in the same city in 2020.
Georgia, who has not lost a Rugby Europe Championship match since 2017, kick up their campaign against Germany on February 5 in Tbilisi. The previous time the teams met, the Lelos triumphed 52-3.
The final match of the first weekend will be held in Madrid, where Spain will face the Netherlands. Spain won 43-0 on the identical field a year ago.
The last pool phase matches will be played over the next two weekends. There will then be a week off until the semi-finals on the weekend of March 4th.
The last round of matches will be contested on the weekend of March 18th, with the winner of the grand final named the winner.
POOL PHASE FIXTURES
Romania v Poland – Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, 14:00 (GMT+2)
Portugal v Belgium, CAR Rugby do Jamor, 19:00 (GMT)
Georgia v Germany, Avchala Stadium, 13:00 (GMT+4)
Spain v Netherlands, Estadio Nacional Universidad Complutense, 12:45 (GMT+1)
Netherlands v Georgia, National Rugby Centre, 13:15 (GMT+1)
Poland v Portugal, Narodowy Stadion Rugby, 16:00 (GMT+1)
Belgium v Romania, Stade Nelson Mandela, 18:30 (GMT+1)
Germany v Spain, Fritz-Grunebaum-Sportpark, 14:30 (GMT+1)
Germany v Netherlands, Stadion Pichterich, 13:15 (GMT+1)
Poland v Belgium, Narodowy Stadion Rugby, 16:00 (GMT+1)
Spain v Georgia, Estadio El Malecón, 19:00 (GMT+1)
Portugal v Romania, TBC, 19:00 (GMT)