Jyväskylä Compete in FIRA European Club Championship

"Last weekend (14th - 16th Oct) Jyväskylä represented Finland in the FIRA European Club Championship first round tournament in Stockholm, playing against the Swedish champions (Stockholm Exiles) and the champions from Norway (Bergen). The first game on Friday afternoon against the Exiles was always going to be tough, especially with 13 JRC players beling unavailable.

JRC got off to a perfect start with a try in the first 10 minutes from winger Antti Lammi following a brilliant break from the base of the scrum by Petri Virrankoski who along with Jaakko Vilen, Micke Holstrom and Konsta Salmela were on loan to JRC for the weekend.

After that the Exiles realised that they were in a game and lifted the pace. JRC competed well but lack of game practice coming into the tournament and the Exiles greater experience showed through. While JRC edged the territorial battle the Exiles capatilised on some errors and had more than a little luck to stretch away and lead 29 - 7 at half time.

The second half was much more evenly matchd and JRC had their chances but just couldn't quite make the breakthrough. Exiles scored a very lucky try 10 minutes into the half and that finished the scoring for the day. Final score Exiles 36 - 7 JRC.

Sunday provided JRC with a new challenge and one that we really felt we could meet. Bergen the champions from Norway had put in a good performance before losing to the Danish Champions.

In a first half where both sides showed some very good skills JRC dominated the scrums, pushing Bergen off a number of their own balls and Klaus's kicking made sure that we had an execellent share of the territory.

Again however Bergen's experience showed through and they were able to capitalise on JRC's errors to lead at half time 22 - 0.

As with the first game the second half was much tighter with JRC pummeling the Bergen line and Bergen having to resort to dubious methods to repel the attacks, eventually one of their players got yellow carded, and JRC took advantage quickly to score through Petri Virrankoski.

Bergen however came back and scored a really good try to open the gap again. Final score JRC 5 - 29 Bergen.

Although we lost both games JRC were happy with the experience, both teams we played were ex-pats teams with players of much greater experience in their line ups. JRC started both games with only 2 foreigners in the team and for large parts of both games matched the opposition blow for blow.

JRC were entered into this tournament for winning the Finnish Championship in 2004, and following our victory in the SM this year we will also be representing Finland in the 2006 competition. Next year we hope to be able to go one better and turn some spirited performances into a win.