An exceptional weekend at the Lignano Beach Arena concluded on Sunday evening 21st July with an outstanding final. The packed stands witnessed 2 of Europe’s Beach 5’s heavy-weights – I PESSIMI (Italy) and Ovale Beach Marseille (France) battle it out under the summer sun, for the top spot in European Beach 5’s Rugby.
And in one of the finest finals seen at the home of SUPER BEACH 5’s, it was Italy’s I PESSIMI who claimed both the 13th Lignano International Cup and the title of 2013 EBRA European Beach 5’s Club Champions, overcoming the challenge of the French by a scoreline of 3-2.
The final was always going to be close. Indeed during the qualification phase on Saturday, these 2 sides played a thrilling POOL B opener, which Ovale Beach Marseille won, also with the scoreline 3-2.
But as reigning Italian Beach 5’s Champions, I PESSIMI were determined not to be caught cold twice in the same weekend and so it proved to be in the Final. They saved their best ‘til last putting on an awesome display to over-turn the result from Saturday morning. ‘I PESSIMI’….worthy 2013 Champions, of this there is no doubt.
While Marseille had to settle for 2nd best in LIGNANO, they nevertheless did have something to celebrate as they scooped the 1st EBRA Beach 5’s Series title. Played over a series of 4 tournaments, as Winners in Marseille (F), 4th Place in Zeebrugge (B) and as Runners-Up in Lignano (ITA), Ovale Beach Marseille’s skill, speed, precision and consistency during the summer season proving to be the decisive factors in securing the series.
In the 3rd/4th Place play-off, it was the PACIFIC ISLANDERS who claimed the spoils with an impressive victory over the GHENT MAGNETS. The Magnets, who were leaders in the classification following the opening day of play, were not quite able to sustain their flying form when faced with the boys from the South Pacific, whose fitness, physicality and determination saw them take a deserved 3rd place.
The big shock of the final day was the unexpected defeat of the 2012 European Champions, DUTCH LIONS who fell in the quater final to the might of PACIFIC ISLANDERS. However the recovered their composure, and in the 5th – 6th Place Play-Off, they took a hard fought victory over the ever-popular and ever-strong ROMANTICS squad from Germany.
One of the surprises of the weekend, finishing in 7th place, were the DANUBE PIRATES from Austria whose youthful and talented squad proved that Austrian Beach 5’s Rugby is on the rise. It was already a major step for them to reach the quarter finals stage and by taking victory over the galant and entertaining England FLAIR BEARS, it also provided a memorable moment for the throngs of voiciferous Austrian fans who had come to support the boys from Vienna.
The 9th and 10th Place play-off turned out to be one of matches of the tournament when Isiah Youngs BELIEF TONGA lined out against LES BLEUS (France). From the opening whistle this was a hard-hitting, heated, intense and, on occasion, ill-tempered affair, which brought fans in the packed Arena to their feet. In the end it was the Tongan boys who were able to maintain their cool under the searing summer sun to secure an impressive and memorable victory over the French squad who were unable to live up to pre-tournament expectations.
One thing that LIGNANO is renowned for is the ‘baptism of fire’ it saves for all teams making their debut at the home of Beach 5’s Rugby. As it proved for French side, Les Bleus, it also proved for Mario Copetti’s ASTURES CELTAS (Spain) and THE EAGLES (USA). In the 11th and 12th Place Play-Off the Spanish from Oviedo edged out Kai Blankley’s American squad in a lively affair, in which both teams displayed some of the new beach skills they’d picked up during the opening day of play. While Beach 5’s Rugby is quickly learned, naturally it takes time to master.
Congratulations to all teams who participated in making SB5 2013 another outstanding success !