2011 European Championships Minehead England
This year, the Tug of War Association hosted the European Outdoor Tug of War Championships between 22 and 25 September 2011 at Butlins Minehead, Somerset. We were again lucky with the weather, which remained largely dry for the whole event.
The first two days of the championships saw the European Open Club Championships take place with 85 tug of war clubs from Europe, as well as teams from South Africa and Chinese Taipei taking part.
In terms of the teams from England who took part, the English clubs competing were: Felton Eccles, Sandhurst (A and B), Glos/Som (A and B), Tavistock, Kennford, Holland, Two Dales, ETOWA (1 and 2), Oxney Vines Cross, Bedford Ladies and Team Army. Sheen Men, Sheen Ladies, and Norton were also at the European Championships, representing England in different weight classes, but did not compete in the open club competition.
The first two days of the open club competition saw four weight categories for mens teams (560 kilos, 640 kilos, 680 kilos, and 720 kilos), a mixed gender weight class at 600 kilos, two ladies weight classes (at 520 kilos and 560 kilos), a junior weight class at 560 kilos, and an under 23 weight class at 600 kilos take place.
In the open club competition, Felton Eccles, Sandhurst A and B, Tavistock, Kennford, Oxney Vines Cross and Team Army all competed in the mens 560 kilos weight class. The only team to make it to the knock-out of this weight class were Felton Eccles, who were knocked out by the eventual fourth placed team Bancran from Northern Ireland. The eventual winners of this weight class were Gaztedi from the Basque region of Spain, with Ebersecken from Switzerland finishing as runners up, with Mosnang from Switzerland winning bronze in a fiercely competitive weight class.
In the open 640 kilos event, Felton Eccles, Sandhurst A and B, Tavistock, Kennford, Holland, Oxney Vines Cross, and Team Army were the English teams that took part. Felton Eccles and Oxney Vines Cross both made it to the knock out stages, with Oxney being knocked out by the eventual bronze medallists Boley from Ireland, and Felton Eccles were knocked out by Gaztedi. The eventual winners of this weight class were Engelberg from Switzerland, with Eibergen from the Netherlands finishing as silver medallists.
In the open 680 kilos weight class, Felton Eccles, Two Dales, Kennford, and Holland all took part. Felton Eccles were the only English team to progress to the knock-out stages of the competition, and progressed all the way to the final, only to be defeated by Engelberg from Switzerland in the final. TTV Vorden from the Netherlands won the bronze medal.
In the open 720 kilos weight class, the English teams competing were from Holland and Kennford. Both teams competed well, but neither reached the knock-out stage of the competition. This competition was won by TTV Heure from the Netherlands, with PTC from South Africa winning the silver medal, and Koapman from the Netherlands winning the bronze medal.
The ladies 520 kilos saw Bedford Ladies competing in a full group competition with the top four teams progressing to the semi finals. Bedford were involved in close pulling with both Gonten from Switzerland and Gaztedi from the Basque Region of Spain to make the cross over, but in the end, missed out to finish in 5th spot overall. This weight was won by the impressive Chinese Taipei ladies team, with Gaztedi winning the silver medal, and Disa Ladies from South Africa winning the bronze medal.
The ladies 560 kilos competition did not see any English clubs taking part, but again, the impressive Chinese Taipei Ladies took the gold medal, with silver going to Vechtlust from the Netherlands, and the Koapman Ladies also from the Netherlands winning the bronze medal.
The junior 560 kilos competition took place with Gloucester and Somerset ACF team fielding two teams. The B team failed to make an impact on the final standings in their group, however the A team competed very well, losing only to the eventual winners Drostdy A from South Africa. Glos/Som A finished in third place in their group overall, missing out on the semi final places to Simonswald from Germany. The eventual winners were Drostdy A from South Africa, with Simonswald from Germany winning the silver, and the Chinese Taipei youth team winning the bronze medal.
The under 23 600 kilos open competition saw the England under 23 development squad field two teams, which was a great showing for our Association. The two teams (ETOWA 1 and ETOWA 2) competed very well, with the second team being almost 40 kilos under weight. The first team however competed exceptionally, finishing top of the group at the end of the group phase of the competition, having only dropped two ends to Swiss opposition. In the semi finals, the team met Ebersecken from Switzerland and suffered their first defeat of the competition. ETOWA 1 went into the bronze medal match with Paarl from South Africa, and took a well deserved bronze medal by 2 ends to 0. The eventual gold medallists were Ebersecken from Switzerland with Mosnang, also from Switzerland, finishing as silver medallists.
The mixed 600 kilos competition saw English teams Team Army and World Open 4+4 silver medallists from 2010 Holland take part in the competition, but neither team progressed to the knock-out stage of the competition, which was eventually won by Wallby from Sweden. Touwtje from the Netherlands won the silver medal, with Gaztedi taking the bronze – their clubs third medal of the tournament.
The opening ceremony for the European Championships and World Under 23 Championships took place on the Friday evening after the open competitions had been completed with a parade of teams, performances from the Minehead Spotlight Dance Academy, and opening speeches from TOWA president Mr. Tony Martin, and TWIF president Mr. Cathal McKeever. England’s representatives in the opening parade were Mick Grimston, Zak Baker, Diane Mcdonald, Matt Frost and Tom Knott.
The closed event saw England field teams in all weight classes. The first event was the 680 kilos, with the England team being represented by Two Dales from Derbyshire, who were representing England for the very first time. The team acquitted themselves well to the competition, however defeats to the medal winning teams, and a couple of other dropped ends meant that they missed out both the cross-over and fifth place, with England finishing in 6th place in this competition overall. A good result from the England representatives, who would have learned a lot from their experience. Republic of Ireland won the gold medal after defeating Sweden by 2 ends to 1 in the final.
The world junior 560 kilos event was next up, with England being represented by the Gloucester and Somerset ACF team, who as a club, were also representing England for the first time. This year, we saw one of the most competitive youth competitions take place for many years, with no team progressing to the knock-out stages without losing any ends. The England team competed exceptionally well, and were only defeated by the eventual finalists Sweden and Switzerland, however to many draws with some of the teams, meant that they missed out on a place in the cross over, and finished in joint 5th position with Chinese Taipei, dropping to 6th place overall once the cautions were taken into account. A great performance from the England juniors nonetheless and a good learning experience for them. The gold medal eventually went to Sweden, with Switzerland winning the silver medal, and South Africa the bronze.
The mixed 600 kilos event saw England being represented by pullers from Bedford Ladies and Oxney Vines Cross. England competed well in the group stages to finish third in the group overall and make it to the semi finals. In the semi finals, England met the Netherlands, and were close to taking them over the line on the first end, however they did not have quite enough to take the Dutch over the line. England lost the semi final by 2 ends to 0 and went into the bronze medal match against Germany who they had already defeated in the group. Germany this time had more in the tank, and defeated England by 2 ends to 0 to take the bronze medal. The eventual gold medallists were Sweden, with the Netherlands winning the silver medal.
The ladies 560 kilos event saw Sheen Ladies representing England. England competed strongly and progressed to the semi finals along with Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden. In the semi finals, England were defeated by 2 ends to 0 to the Netherlands, and went on to meet Switzerland to pull for the bronze medal. In the bronze medal pull off, England had a good battle with Switzerland, and did well to start taking rope on the first end, but the Swiss hung on and managed to turn England over to take the first end. On the second end, Switzerland again pulled strongly to take the end, and deny England the bronze medal. The gold medal was won by Sweden who defeated the Netherlands in the final by 2 ends to 0.
The mens 560 kilos event saw Norton representing England. Norton went into the event on the back of a good domestic season, and having also won the 2009 European Championships at 600 kilos and reaching the final of the World Championships last year. England started off their challenge against current World 580 kilos champions the Netherlands and competed well to secure a 2 ends to 0 win to get their campaign off to a good start. England defeated all of their other opponents in the group stage, only dropping one end to Switzerland. England progressed to the semi finals along with Sweden, Switzerland and Ireland. In the semi final, England defeated Ireland, whilst Sweden pulled off a good win against Switzerland. England progressed to the final to meet Sweden, with the first end lasting just over 4 minutes before England drove strongly to take Sweden over the line. On the second end, England got Sweden under pressure from the drop, and took just over a minute and a half to take the second end and the gold medal. The bronze medal went to Switzerland with Ireland finishing 4th.
The second day of competition started with the mens 720 kilos event. England were represented by Sheen in this weight class, who were representing England at an outdoor European Championships for the first time since 1993. England started off with a defeat to Sweden, but got back into the competition to progress to the semi finals along with the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. In the semi finals, England were drawn against Sweden, and suffered another defeat, meaning that they would go through to pull off for the bronze medal against Switzerland, who had been defeated by the Netherlands. England performed well in the bronze medal pull off to defeat Switzerland by 2 ends to 0 to take bronze. The gold medal was won by the Netherlands, with Sweden winning the silver medal.
The world under 23 competition was a fiercely contested weight class this year, and England were again represented by a composite team selected from different TOWA clubs. The corner where the teams were competing turned out to be a little endy, which resulted in some 1-1 draws, and England competed well through the group, but had two bruising encounters with South Africa and Sweden, both of which involved no pulls. In the final round of pulls, England were level on points with South Africa, needing to win by 2 ends to 0 against Wales in their last match to have a chance of qualifying. England surprising lost the first end, but won the second end, and with South Africa defeating Chinese Taipei in their last match, they progressed to the semi finals at the expense of England. The gold medal was won by Switzerland, with Germany taking silver and South Africa the bronze.
The Ladies 520 kilos competition again saw England Ladies being represented by Sheen Ladies after Bedford Ladies withdrew from the event having suffered injuries and withdrawals from their team. As with the 560 kilos competition the previous day, England progressed to the semi finals along with Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands. As with the previous day of competition, England were drawn to face the Netherlands and were defeated by 2 ends to 0. England went into the bronze medal match to face Switzerland, and made up for the disappointment of the 560 kilos competition the previous day, taking the bronze medal by 2 ends to 0. The gold medal was won by Sweden, with the Netherlands taking the silver medal.
The final weight of the competition was the mens 640 kilos competition. England were represented by Felton Eccles in this weight class, who were representing England at 640 kilos for the 17th consecutive season at an outdoor European or World Championships. England faced current European Champions Switzerland early on, and came close to taking the first end, only to be blown out for receiving three cautions. England progressed through the group well, but then hit three hard teams in a row – Sweden, Netherlands and Germany, narrowly losing out to Holland, defeating Sweden, and losing to Germany. In the final pull of the round, England faced Ireland, only needing 1 end to guarantee a place in the semi final. Ireland also needed at least an end to guarantee qualification as they were level with Sweden going into the last match. England took a keenly contested first end, and then took the second equally tough end to make it through to the semi finals. In the semi finals, England met the Netherlands where they were defeated by 2 ends to 0. England went through to the bronze medal pull off against Sweden, and comfortably took the first end. On the second end, Sweden had to drop to 7 pullers after one of their team members had picked up an injury. Sweden had no option but to carry on with 7, as they had already used their substitute. England sportingly dropped to 7 pullers, but still took the second end to secure the bronze medal. The gold medal was won by Switzerland with Netherlands taking silver.
Well done to all of our teams who took part in the open and closed competitions, and thank you to all the teams, supporters, volunteers and the organising committee for making the 2011 European Tug of War Championships a big success.