The Netherlands’ under-20 men’s rugby team has moved up the world rankings by winning the European championship for the first time.
The Dutch, runners-up to Spain a year ago, defeated Belgium in the final 26-16 in Prague on Sunday.
The result lifts the Netherlands into the top 20 nations in the world, which makes them eligible to compete for the World Champions Trophy against nations such as England, Scotland and Samoa.
It follows the success of the senior men’s team in achieving “developing nation” status a year ago, which qualifies them for extra funding and raises their hopes of reaching the World Cup for the first time in 2027.
“That was the first milestone, this is the second in two years,” said Kristof Vanhout, technical director of Rugby Nederland.
“This cements our position in the second tier of international youth rugby. It wasn’t a great surprise that we won the European Championships, it was our goal. But this is a huge step forward.
“The Rugby World Cup will feature four more teams in 2027. We have a good chance of being one of them.”
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