River Hamble make par on their first time outing at the European cup for clubs.
Southern Counties can boast a “joint 9th in Europe” Pétanque Club, as River Hamble PC make the last 16 of the European Cup finals in Angouleme, France.
Playing at the incredible ‘Bouledrome Gilbert Louis Fontastier’ the Southampton based club gave it their all on one of Pétanque’s biggest of stages.
26 Nations were in competition, with big hitters France the obvious favourites. 7 groups were drawn; 5 of 4 teams and 2 of 3 teams, this included a bye. Unfortunately, due to the Number of teams, England/River Hamble were not given the seed Baldock Town had accumulated this time last year, when the Chiltern Club reached a top 8 finish.
The CEP decided only the 4 Semi Finalists from 2021 would be seeded and a barrage format taken over from the usual group format of last season.
This meant that River Hamble could have been dealt a “Group of Death”, however, they avoided the bigger guns and had a group containing Wales, Lithuania and, unfortunately, a Bye.
River Hamble had English neighbours, Wales first.
A potential banana skin on paper but it proved otherwise on the piste. River Hamble came away with a perfect score, winning every singles & doubles game, meaning the triples were not needed. Yet, in true British spirit, the triples were contested anyway, in a friendly manner.
That win propelled River Hamble forward to a match against Lithuania. Winners of this match up would qualify for the Last 16 automatically, with 2 wins.
Lithuania proved a tougher calibre of opposition, and showed that if River Hamble had let their guard down, Lithuania may have caused a real threat. Luckily, the team showed great professionalism and determination to take the match away from their opponents. The match did reach the triples stage but River Hamble came out comfortable winners, dropping just 3 games – 2 singles & 1 doubles.
Objective complete: make the top 16.
Coach Glenn Floyd had worked out we had the winners of Denmark versus Slovenia in the last 16 – hoping for a Slovenia miracle that did not materialise, unfortunately.
Denmark it was.
Denmark, one of the leading countries in European Pétanque, would prove a real test of River Hamble’s credentials. River Hamble had the ability to win but they needed to find that consistency and aggression to proceed.
As is always the case in this types of matches, the English players showed their skill level was a match and many games went through to the latter stages of each game. Coming up just short in those critical moments.
River Hamble took the match to the triples; needing both to win. Alas, it was one step too far as the Boule Hedebo Club took the mixed triples and with it, the match. Meaning the open triples wasn’t needed.
This ended River Hamble’s run in the competition. Southern Counties are proud of our champion club and we hope they can inspire our clubs to further success in the Euro Cup.
After the event and the dust had settled, River Hamble Coach Glenn Floyd said “It was a great experience and I learned a lot, most notably the need for more firepower. That is no disrespect to anyone in the team but we were 1 or 2 out and out shooters light. We are disappointed as a group, understandably, but we will be better for the experience. Unfortunately, until we have Bouledromes for winter play and we go abroad more for competitive play, it doesn’t have to be France, it can be your Holland, Denmark or Germany, I don’t see us going beyond the top teams. Not at this moment. We spoke about taking the Danes to the triples, we did just that. I must admit, it is very hard being the coach and making decisions as you are up against it with keeping everyone happy or making the right choices.”
Here’s how the players reacted:
Callum Lombard said “It was fine margins and we did as well as expected. We were close to being in a position to only need 1 triples vs Denmark. Having that bit extra in the latter stages of games was the difference overall, I felt.”
Sammy Ogles said “I personally felt we could have performed better as a team in the last 16 match. Maybe a difference in balance in the team selection may have worked out better.”
Karen Lombard felt the squad needed more fire power, she said “We had an imbalance of pointers over shooters. This is something every team coming to a Euro Cup should think about. You need 6 attacking players at least.”
Steve Lombard echoed the sentiments of his wife, saying “the Danish team had 7 or 8 attacking players, maybe 1 or 2 specialist pointers. If you look across the best performing clubs, they all have an aggressive, more attacking mindset. They attack you and limit you at the same time. If you point, point, point, you eventually get found out.”
Kaylee Thatcher said “I felt I played OK overall. I should have won my singles against the Danish girl but I missed the last shot to win. It’s these moments that probably cost us. I do agree we need to maybe look at recruiting more shooters or training our pointers to be more consistent shooters.”
David Plumhoff felt it was our consistency in critical moments and not ability that cost us; “I felt we were not stretched at all in terms of skill level but in the big moments you need a big outcome, and we just didn’t take those chances we had. We need to not over analyse it, however but learn from the Danes and their attacking line up.”
Dave Franco-Cruz said “I am happy, overall with my performances. I lost two times to 10 to Denmark and should have won both times. My shooting is where I need to practice more. The squad depth needs improving, I think for next season. We can be proud but disappointed.”
River Hamble would like to place on record our gratitude to Glenn for his tireless work and effort to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible for everyone connected. Glenn proceeded over all the delegations, flight bookings, transfers, train journeys and making sure we had food every day & night. Glenn also had the arduous task of managing a group of individuals, with different personalities and working them into a team. Glenn deserves all the credit for his commitment on this Euro Cup journey that started on a sunny July day in Luton.
River Hamble would also like to thank everyone for their support throughout the championships.