Wales face France in Europeans Opener

Adrian Meikle

Adrian Meikle (Skip)

The European Curling Championships are about to begin at Braehead, Scotland, and Wales are already there. The team, now an established setup, are looking to build on their result at the 2015 championships in Denmark, where they secured their place in the B-Division through a 7th-place group play-off.

For the 2016 competition, the team is largely the same as for the 2015 championships. Adrian Meikle returns to the line-up as Skip, as Jamie Fletcher takes the Coach’s position.

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (Coach), James Pougher (Third/vice-skip)

Jamie, who is currently unable to compete at international level due to injury, will also be providing some of the match reports for this website.

Alongside Jamie on our web team this year will be Laura Beever, who recently returned from representing Wales at the World Mixed Championships in Russia, and Martin Lloyd, who is a writer and has represented Wales at the annual Four Nations event.

 

Wales’ first match is against France, at 15:00 on Saturday afternoon. Live scores can be found on the 2016 European Curling Championships website. Sadly, while you can watch matches from the A-Division live on YouTube, none of the B-Division matches are due to be webcast.

However, with Braehead curling rink less than 200 miles away from Wales, it is expected that a large number of fans from Welsh curling will make the trip North at some stage of the next week. On behalf of all of them, and those who cannot make the journey for whatever reason, Good Luck, and Good Curling!

Wales secure European B-Division spot

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip)

Wales’ men had to come through relegation play-offs at the European Curling Championships 2015, but have managed to secure their place in the B-Division for the 2016 Championships in Braehead.

James Pougher’s team managed to come through their 7th-place play-off against Croatia this morning 10-4, meaning they have no more games to play in the competition. Belgium and Estonia, the 8th-ranked teams from the B-Division, are still playing as I write; the loser of that match faces immediate relegation, while the winner will face Croatia tomorrow (Sat) with the winner remaining in the B-Division and loser going down to the C-Division, which will now take place in the Spring.

Can the team do better for next year? The answer is a definite yes

It’s been a topsy-turvy week for Wales, who started well with a solid win over Slovenia in their first match, but struggled after that. Failing to win either of their games on Sunday was a bitter blow, as it effectively meant they no longer had a chance of qualifying for the medal games and possible promotion, but they bounced back well to take victory over Hungary which meant they were at least on track to avoid relegation.

The team were especially disappointed to have lost their final Group match to Lithuania on Wednesday as that would have secured their B-Division status earlier, but bounced back well to win conclusively this morning.

So can the Wales team do better for next year? The answer is a definite yes, as there were many factors that counted against them this year. It won’t have helped that Vice-Skip Jamie was injured at the start of this season and so the team as a whole did not have much practice or match experience together. That also meant they had less certainty about their best line-up and what order they should play in – with Jamie originally planned to play third but actually playing lead during this tournament.

It should also be noted that as the uncertainty regarding which brooms were and were not legal was only clarified the day before the competition, many teams (including Wales) set off for Esbjerg with brooms which they could not be certain would be permitted – Wales had to modify one broom head, although they didn’t fare as badly as some teams such as England’s ladies who had half their broom-heads banned. It is hoped that by next season Wales may once more have a ladies’ team of their own, and if they could qualify from the C-Division, the presence of a Wales squad which guarantees some supporters would certainly help both teams.

While securing their position in the B-Division may not have been easy this year, it is also worth noting that this was the first time that Adrian Meikle has not featured in the Wales Men’s team in more than a decade, and that a young team managed to stay put without that experience is a credit – if nothing else – to their determination and indefatigable attitude.

Wales in battle to avoid relegation

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip)

Wales’ men are now in the relegation play-offs at the European Curling Championships 2015, after failing to secure their B-Division spot in the Round Robin. The team could have secured their place on Wednesday afternoon with a win over Lithuania, but lost that match to end up 7th (out of 8) in the table.

James Pougher and his team are up against Croatia this morning, and a win here would be enough to keep Wales in the B-Division and secure a spot at the 2016 Championships in Braehead.

If Wales lose, they will still have one last chance to stay up – they would face either Belgium or Estonia at the same time tomorrow.

Should Wales retain their B-Division place, they now know which of this year’s A-Division teams will be joining them – the men from the Netherlands and Czech Republic have only 5 Round Robin wins between them.

Wales beat Hungary but need another win

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip)

With any thought of promotion to the A-Division long gone, it’s now a battle to avoid relegation for Wales’ men at the European Curling Championships 2015, and they gave themselves a much better chance by beating Hungary this morning. The 10-8 victory was only secured in the 10th end, and the lead switched between the teams throughout – with the scores levelled three times after the first end.

Wales now lie joint fifth in the group table, and need a win in their final Group Round Robin match against Lithuania if they are to have the best chance of staying in the B-Division.

The fact that Wales have beaten Hungary should help them out if Hungary beat Belgium in their final match, but ideally Wales would want either Belgium to win or Turkey to beat Poland – either of those results would ensure Wales’ safety as long as James Pougher’s team win their own game.

If things go differently, Wales may need to go through a tie-breaker or directly into a relegation play-off match, which is best avoided.

Group A standings after 6 matches

# Team P W L
1 Denmark 6 6 0
2 Lithuania 6 4 2
2 Slovenia 6 4 2
4 Turkey 6 3 3
5 Hungary 6 2 4
5 Poland 6 2 4
5 Wales 6 2 4
8 Belgium 6 1 5

Wales’ final Group match (Wednesday, 3pm GMT) is against Lithuania.

Wales sit seventh after 4 matches

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip)

After four matches at the European Curling Championships 2015, Wales now lie seventh in the group table. It comes after a tough day of play on Sunday – they took two losses from their matches today against Poland and Denmark.

Poland entered a totally different team to the competition this year, after their previous team finished 6th in the 2014 Championships’ B-Division. The Wales team started well by stealing 1 in the first end, but that was the only time James Pougher’s team had a lead. By the 5th end Poland had opened up a 2-shot lead at 5-3, and Poland built on that in the second half of the match, shaking after the 9th end was completed with the score at Poland 8-5 Wales.

Denmark, who were relegated from the A-Division at last year’s competition, have entered a team which retains the core players of Rasmus Stjerne (skip), Troels Harry (lead) and Olivier Dupont (Alternate, previously Second) but introduces two new players as well. A recently-relegated team playing on home ice, they were always going to be tough to beat, and when the Danish managed to take a score of 4 in the first end, Wales were always likely to struggle. Wales didn’t simply capitulate; James Pougher’s team managed to score in the second end, but when Denmark took a 3 in the 5th end the score reached 9-1 and the match was effectively over. Tournament rules meant they had to play at least 6 ends, and Wales took one more shot, giving a final score of 9-2 to Denmark.

It leaves Wales with a lot of work to do in their remaining three group matches if they want to keep their hopes of a play-off place alive, although it is still possible. At the end of the Round Robin (Thursday) it is the teams ranked 1 and 2 in each group who go through, and second-ranked Slovenia have won only three of their first 4 matches so could still be caught by any of the teams below them.

Group A standings after 4 matches

# Team P W L
1 Denmark 4 4 0
2 Slovenia 4 3 1
3 Hungary 4 2 2
3 Lithuania 4 2 2
3 Poland 4 2 2
3 Turkey 4 2 2
7 Wales 4 1 3
8 Belgium 4 0 4

Wales’ next match (Monday, 3pm GMT) is against Belgium, a team who held onto their B-Division place last year – equalling Wales’ record of 4 wins and 3 losses – but have yet to win a single game at these Championships.

Sunday at the European Championships

Sunday is now looking like a crucial day for Wales, as they really need to get at least one win from the day to have a realistic chance of making it past the group stages of the competition. They face Poland at 12:00 Central European Time (11:00 GMT) and then Denmark at 20:00 CET (19:00 GMT).

Five men in red jackets, in semi-profile

Poland’s team for ECC 2015. Tomasz Ziolo (Skip, Third), Konrad Stych (Fourth), Bartosz Dzikowski (Vice Skip, Second), Michal Koziol (Lead), Jakub Glowania (Alternate) Photo: © World Curling Federation

Poland have entered a totally different team to the competition this year, after their previous team finished 6th in the 2014 Championships’ B-Division. Like Wales, the Poles go into this match having played 2 matches, won one and lost one. Poland’s last match was a very tight win over Belgium which went to an Extra End. Belgium have yet to win a match at the Championships this year, after meeting hosts Denmark in their opening game.

Denmark, who were relegated from the A-Division at last year’s competition, have entered a team which retains the core players of Rasmus Stjerne (skip), Troels Harry (lead) and Olivier Dupont (Alternate, previously Second) but introduces two new players as well. A recently-relegated team playing on home ice, they will be tough to beat.

Five men in red jackets, in semi-profile

Denmark’s ECC2015 men’s team. Pictured (l-r): Rasmus Stjerne (Skip), Johnny Frederiksen (Third, Vice Skip), Mikkel Adrup Poulsen (Second), Troels Harry (Lead) Oliver Dupont (Alternate). Photo: © World Curling Federation

Live scores are available via the official competition website. We will also post regular updates on both the Welsh Curling and Team Pougher Facebook and twitter feeds.

Wales v. Turkey

Turkey men’s team 2015. Pictured: Fourth – Alican KARATAS (Skip) Third – Melik SENOL Second – Ugurcan KARAGOZ Lead – Muhammet Oguz ZENGIN Alternate – Kadir CAKIR Photo: © World Curling Federation

Wales’s men were up against Turkey in their second match at the European Curling Championships 2015.

Like Wales, Turkey have only made small changes to their line-up compared with 12 months ago. They were drawn in opposite groups at Monthey, so most of the current team members have never met each other.

By the fifth end, the teams were level at 3-3, but Turkey took a 3 with the “hammer” in that fifth end to lead 6-3 at the mid-session break. Sadly, it was a deficit the Wales team could never make up, and the teams shook before finishing the 8th end when Turkey were 9-3 ahead.

Sunday is now a crucial day for Wales, as they need to get at least one win from the day to have a realistic chance of making it past the group stages of the competition. They face Poland at 12:00 Central European Time (11:00 GMT) and then Denmark at 20:00 CET (19:00 GMT). Live scores are available via the official competition website. We will also post regular updates on both the Welsh Curling and Team Pougher Facebook and twitter feeds.

Follow Wales at the 2015 European Championships

Wales return to the international Curling stage this week as their men’s team compete at the European Curling Championships.

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher. Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip). Positions may be changed on a per-match basis.

The Europeans are contested in three separate divisions, with the C-Division taking place a few months before the A & B.

Last year, Wales secured their place in the B-Division, although they would have liked to be closer to reaching the knockout stage and possibly promotion to the A-Division.

You can follow their progress by tracking the live scores on the official event website. The team will also be posting regular updates on their own Team Pougher facebook page and twitter feed.

Wales have started well, winning their first match against Slovenia this morning by 7 shots to 3, although it took until the 9th end for Wales to get a crucial score of 2 shots. They need 4 more victories if they are to better their performance in Monthey last year and a chance at promotion.

Here is a list of all Wales’ upcoming matches at the Europeans:

  • Sorry, it looks like Wales have no more matches.

Must-win situation for Team Meikle

Hungary and Wales both needed a timeout to analyse this situation

Hungary and Wales both needed a timeout to analyse this situation

Wales have an uphill battle ahead of them if they want to qualify for the knock-out stage of this year’s European Curling Championships. Adrian Meikle’s team lost their second match of the B-Division contest today as Hungary found form exactly when they needed it. Continue reading