A couple thousand spectators wandered into Kyiv’s Spartak Stadium to watch a near top of the table clash between Ukraine and Germany in this year’s European Nations Cup. Having been relegated last year, Ukraine immediately found themselves again on the back foot defending their line after knocking on from the kick off. The intensity was strong, but their resolve held out and they went back to half way – only 3 points down.

The next few passages of play saw great forward work for the first 5 pointer for Ukraine. Converted from the sideline, Ukraine hit the lead 7-3. More aggressive pick and go from the forwards saw Germany back pedaling and Ukraine makes it 14-3. A couple more penalties are all Germany can manage. Ukraine’s tackling was aggressive and their defense clinical. But a terrible mistake from the full back just before half time allows the German team over the line and the conversion gives them the lead.

Unfortunately after the break Ukraine lacked any potency. It was a game they could have won. The Czech referee made some interesting calls – but the game was one that Ukraine should look back on and learn that there are crucial times in a game when you need to pull out the big plays – and they came up empty handed this time. A try towards the end sealed it for the German side. I spoke with one German player after the game – they have their sights on going up a division after this year.

But Ukraine rugby is still alive – I’d love to see the sports ministry of Ukraine as well as the IRB get behind this sport financially at the grass roots level. It currently runs almost totally on volunteers.

If you know of clubs who would like to sponsor rugby in Ukraine (maybe by sending a set of team jerseys) – please contact me and I will let you know how you can help.

Thanks.

Jono Miller