Alex Powell’s Dreams Come True At The Dragons While France Seal Back-To-Back European Championships

Harry Corish - Sportin Journalist

France piled on the pressure in the final two quarters of the 2023 Wheelchair Rugby European Championship on Sunday to seal back-to-back European titles, beating Great Britain 55-49 in an exciting final showdown at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.


By reaching the final of the eight-team tournament, Great Britain did manage to secure qualification for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games where they will defend their title from Tokyo 2020.


France qualified for Paris 2024 as the host nation, so the bronze medal match between Germany and Denmark held huge significance in determining who would get the final spot. It was Denmark who sealed Olympic qualification as they edged a 53-50 win in what was a tight encounter.


The Wheelchair Rugby Judgement Day also took centre stage on the weekend, with newly formed Cardiff Rugby taking on a Barbarians side before the Ospreys took on the Dragons in the Welsh capital.


It was the Dragons who prevailed in a topsy-turvy game of Wheelchair rugby against the Ospreys, winning 13-10 in a traditionally tight Welsh derby.


Judgement Day saw Chris Powell represent his region, the Dragons, for the first time at the Principality stadium, despite having only heard of Wheelchair Rugby a few short months ago.


Not only was Powell making his debut, but the 28-year-old gave a match-winning performance, scoring four tries and two assists to make it a dream day at the home of Welsh rugby.


Powell said, “It has been an incredible opportunity to play at the Principality Stadium.


“Just to be able to soak in the atmosphere, the stadium, the light, and everything has been incredible, a day that I will remember for a very long time.


“It’s hard to sum up the emotions really. It’s a privilege to be here and to lift the cup on such a momentous day.


“This is the stuff of dreams! To represent the badge, to represent the boys and to represent the region is a huge honour.”


Having been made disabled four years ago, Powell admits he was stuck at home looking for things to do at the time.


Powell, who had been involved in rugby for a number of years for Nelson and Dragons RFC academy alongside current Dragons’ centre Jack Dixon, had the opportunity to train with Dragons Wheelchair rugby and needless to say, he jumped at the chance.


Unbelievably, this was Powell’s first game for the Dragons Wheelchair rugby side, and he hopes this week’s European Championship and Judgement Day will serve to help more people come into the sport.


“To put it all out on the pitch and produce a performance like we did was so special. It was incredibly enjoyable out there. It will always be something that I will take with me.


“To say that I’ve scored a try at the Principality stadium is so special, it’s an absolute honour.


“It just goes to show that we need to be getting the sport out there for everyone to see and getting more people in chairs.


“I’m certain there are hundreds, if not thousands of people that could be pushing themselves, looking for a team, or playing sports but they don’t know where to start.


“You can watch sport on TV, but it’s not the same as being involved.


“I knew Julian Osborne, and he told me I should come and have a go, and that was it. They chucked me in a wheelchair, and I’ve not looked back.”


And as Powell’s weekend comes to a close and he gears up for the next match, it’s clear there are more blue skies ahead.