Five reasons to watch Rugby Europe Championship 2024

Georgia have won the last five editions of the Rugby Europe Championship with some suggesting they should have a shot at competing in the Six Nations
©Photo by Pauline Ballet - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Everyone is set and ready for the Men’s Six Nations, but are you also gearing up for the Rugby Europe Championship 2024?

After Portugal captured the hearts of many during last year’s World Cup, the wider development of the sport was once again in the spotlight.

Italy have finished bottom of the Six Nations standings for the last eight seasons and if the Azzurri were to end with the wooden spoon again, it would only increase talk of reshaping the tournament to allow an opportunity for a Portgual, a Georgia or another ambitious Tier 2 nation to have a shot at competing in one the most compelling competitions in the rugby calendar.

But for now, those below the 'elite; in the northern hemisphere are set to do battle in the Rugby Europe Championship and TRU’s Francisco Isaac guides you through five reasons why you should watch the REC.

1 – Paris welcomes the Finals weekend!

For the first time, the Men’s Rugby Europe Championship will cap things off on a monumental last day, as all the teams will play their final match in the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris. From morning to evening, fans will be greeted with six hours of pure fun and joy brought to you by Georgia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Poland.

Fans only have to schedule their flights, buy tickets, and be ready to support their favourite players and teams in a supreme Rugby Europe-fest.

After one of the most memorable World Cups of all time, Paris will welcome back the best European emerging nations for a very special event. 

2 – What will David Gérard and Richard Cockerill add to the mix?

Georgia and Romania have both undergone a full-on backroom staff reshape, as Levan Maisashvili (who guided the Lelos to those famous wins against Wales and Italy) and Eugen Apjok have resigned and been replaced by Richard Cockerill and David Gérard, respectively. 

Gérard, who won the hearts of Portuguese fans in the World Cup, was signed to bring belief and stability to a team that needs to get back on track.

Romania only won three games out of 12 in 2023 and amongst the defeats were some demolishing losses at the World Cup. It will be important (but not crucial) to beat Portugal in 2024 and fight for the chance to reach the final, and Gérard is the right man for the job.

As for Cockerill, the former Montpellier coach was announced as Georgia’s new boss two weeks ago so what can the Englishman add to the Lelos? Georgia has simply dominated the REC for the past 11 years, and adapted to the demands of the modern game, earning trophies and memorable wins. Have they reached their maximum potential or is Cockerill the right person to expand their dominance beyond the REC? 

3 – Zabala, Appleton and Sharikadze - What role will the captains play?

Jon Zabala, Tomás Appleton, and Merab Sharikadze are three of the most experienced skippers in the Men’s Rugby Europe Championship universe and it will be up to them to guide their teams to victory.

Spain desperately needs to qualify for a World Cup and what happens in the next three seasons will be vital for their future. With that in mind, there will be a considerable amount of pressure on the Leones shoulders, and Zabala’s knowledge and experience can be that edge that drives them forward.

As for Tomás Appleton, his influence and status can be a driving force for Portugal, as we have seen in the last couple of years. Appleton has always led by example, becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the Lobos setup, as his voice and work inspire others to follow. If the centre does well, so will Portugal.

Finally, Merab Sharikadze and Georgia have defeated Wales and Italy in recent years, won the past five Rugby Europe Championships, and amazed fans all over the globe, begging the question; 'What’s next?' Whatever it is, if Georgia wants to keep progressing, Sharikadze must be involved as he is a major factor in pushing them forward.  

4 – Germany, Belgium, Poland, and Netherlands - What can they achieve in 2024?

Back in 2023, the Rugby Europe Championship expanded from six to eight teams, adding Germany, Belgium, and Poland to the mix (remember that Russia was ejected following the invasion of Ukraine). The expansion might have not been perfect, as the trio suffered a couple of big losses, but there were glimpses of a promising future for all of them.

2024 will add extra pressure, as there will be a relegation battle, and Poland, for now, is in last place. To avoid going down to the Trophy level, the trio have to bring their A-game and show that they can compete with the top dogs of the REC.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, are slowly catching up to the big boys, and the influx of the younger generations can become a trampoline to reach unprecedented heights. Can 2024 be the year they finally get a chance to make a semi-final?

5 – Tabutsadze, Storti, Marta, Chirica, or Jorba - Who's going to be the top Try Scorer of the year?

As ever, the feature that attracts fans: the try-scorers. Raffaele Storti, Davit Niniashvili, Akaki Tabutsadze, Cristi Chirica, Rodrigo Marta, Jordi Jorba, and Daily Limmen are just a few names that spark the REC fire, and who you will hear a lot of when the competition starts.

Akaki Tabutsadze and Rodrigo Marta have become their country's leading try-scorers and will certainly continue to drive up the numbers. Storti and Niniashvili are full-on blockbuster game-changers expected to deliver in every match and who will eventually take the MVP cake.

There’s a long shortlist of amazing players to follow closely, and for those not so familiar, the Rugby Europe Championship is the perfect stage to get to know them.


2019 Rugby World Cup Points Table