The 2020 European Championship reaches its much-delayed climax this weekend when Spain take on the Netherlands at the Pedro Escartín Stadium in Guadalajara (KO 16:00 CET, live stream on Rugby Europe website).
After their bonus point win over Russia last weekend, Spain should win the European Championship this weekend. That bonus point means that Russia are already out of the running regardless of the result in Guadalajara, and the Dutch would at least need a four-try bonus point win against Spain, a team they have never beaten in nine previous attempts.
Spain are using the game to give as many of their squad game time as possible. The team will be lead by Paula Medín this week and also includes Cristina Blanco starting as hooker following the injury to Margarita Rodríguez. Carmen Castellucci takes over from Mónica Castelo in the second row, in the back row two props return, María Losada and Paula Medín .
In the three-quarters sisters Amaia and Lide Erbina come together as centres, Amalia Argudo moves to full back, and Alba Vinuesa starts on the wing.
José Antonio Barrio says of the game: “Our main rival is ourselves . If we play our game and give our best across the field, we have a chance of winning, but we cannot take anything for granted”.
The Dutch come to the game looking to the future, with coach Sylke Haverkorn including eight debutants in her squad.
“After a year without playing and with so few games played last season”, she says, “it is always difficult to measure what you have to work on. The most important thing is that this meeting will help the Dutch players to gain experience in international competition, which is what we are focusing on now ”.
“Due to all the corona measures taken last year, we had to be creative and flexible in the preparations,” she adds.
Preparation has faced many challenges: setting up and running a strong Covid-19 policy, cancelled training sessions, and snow-covered fields. “Ultimately, it brought us closer together. Due to the clack of club rugby, we were able to train more with the squad, and we could fully focus on guiding and training our national teams.”
Assistant coach Pien Selbeck adds “After not playing games for a year and with only a few games played last season, it is always difficult to measure what you need to work on. With this competition the ladies gather international competition experience and that is very important for the development of the Dutch team.”
Spain: 1 Saioa Jaurena; 2 Cristina Blanco; 3 Laura Delgado; 4 Anna Puig; 5 Carmen Castellucci; 6 Olivia Fresneda; 7 Paula Medin (C); 8 Maria Losada; 9 Lucia Diaz; 10 Anne Fernandez De Corres; 11 Beatriz Dominguez; 12 Amaia Erbina; 13 Lide Erbina; 14 Alba Vinuesa; 15 Amalia Argudo
Replacements: 16 Monica Castelo; 17 Marta Estelles; 18 Sidorella Bracic; 19 Lourdes Alameda; 20 Maria Calvo; 21 Iera Echebarria; 22 Uri Barrutieta; 23 Elisabet Segarra
Netherlands: 1. Irene Jansen; 2. Kendra Jonas; 3. Nicky Dix; 4. Judith Frinking; 5. Inger Jongeius; 6. Robin Zuiderhoek; 7. Liza de Wild; 8. Linde van der Velden; 9. Marit Lammens; 10. Jordan Heil; 11. Lieve Stallman; 12. Ouen Makkinga; 13. Hiske Blom; 14. Mirelle Nieuwenhuis; 15. Noa Dinkersloot