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'Future's bright' for wheelchair team

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The Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby coaching team say the future is bright after their first taste of European action at the 15th Rugbymania in Prague.

The unseeded Tigers team won two of their fixtures in the toughest of pools, including victory over last year’s winners European Giants.

However, they missed out on fifth place after defeat to the Maniacs in their play-off game, eventually finishing sixth of the ten teams competing.

Head coach Rob Tarr said: “This was our first international competition and, as an unknown commodity in Europe, we were seeded last.

“This put us in the toughest pool, against some of the best international players in Europe.

“Our final position on the board does not reflect our performances. We played some excellent rugby against the toughest players in Europe. Every game was within our grasp to win but our lack of experience in the most crucial parts of the game was our only downfall.”

Tigers kicked off their Rugbymania campaign against European Giants, winners in 2009 and 2012 and runners-up in 2011, and won a thrilling game 53-52. The Tigers team then rallied from a nine-point deficit in their second game against Maniacs before eventually going down 57-53.

The second day of competition saw Tigers lose Gavin Walker to sickness. In wheelchair rugby, a total of four players per team are allowed on court at one time and each player is classified on their level of physical ability, between 0.5 and 3.5 points. The four on-court players cannot total more than eight points and, with Walker one of Tigers’ 2.0 players, his absence affected their line-up.

They were edged out of a thrilling clash with The Reds of Poland in their third game, losing 62-61 before Danish Dynamite, who eventually finished third, won another close encounter 59-56.

Tigers began the final day of games with a 55-53 win against the Bulls, who are based in the North East of England, to secure a fifth-placed play-off with the Maniacs.

The lead changed hands throughout the game but it was the Maniacs who emerged 61-59 victors to leave Tigers in sixth place at the end of the tournament, which was won the Rebels from Germany and Holland.

Assistant coach Darren Matthews said: “We played really well but just couldn’t capitalise on our turnovers and keep the lead.

“I truly believe the future is bright for the European Leicester Tigers.”