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Day 1 Wrap-up: Denmark and Great Britain open in style

The Opening Ceremony showed just how much wheelchair rugby fans in Denmark had waited for this tournament. As the host team entered the main court, fans dressed in red exploded as they cheered, clapped and waved the Danish flag. Here’s a recap of all of the excitement from Day 1.

Day 1 Wrap-up: Denmark and Great Britain open in style
Morten Elmholt and the rest of the home team took care of business in the opening match against Brazil. Photo: Lars Møller for Parasport Danmark

The host country gave the fans plenty to cheer about in a 62-45 win over Brazil,  who are making their World Championship debut in Vejle.

The Great Danes got off to a hot start behind eight first quarter tries from star Sebastian Frederiksen and a suffocating defense that forced Brazil to use all their timeouts within the first quarter.

Denmark held a 15 try advantage at halftime and Coach Jason Regier made sure every player saw the court in the 2nd half. Frederiksen says it was great to see every player get a chance to shine.

“It’s important to get a win to start the competition and it’s great to get everyone into the game”

Denmark’s fans were loud and energetic throughout the match, creating an amazing atmosphere to give the team a boost.

“The crowd was great,” says Frederiksen, “it's great to have people come out, the people of Vejle, and the people of Denmark to get behind us"

Despite the loss, Brazil can hold their heads high. They never stopped competing and pushed hard to the end, rotating through their line-ups and playing with consistent energy throughout the match.

2.5 Alexandre Tanuguchi discussed the squad’s excitement for the week and hopes for a bright future.

“It’s the first time Brazil is playing in the worlds so it’s pretty exciting. We are still working on developing the team. But we are very excited to represent our country, to play the best players in the world and the best teams.”

With the goal of finishing in the Top 10 this week, the South Americans are building towards a qualification campaign for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“At this tournament, we are bringing a new squad so it’s more about developing or about building a future for our team. We have goals for Paris and future competitions so it’s more about developing and getting the players some experience in this high level tournament. So that’s our goal here. Win some games and bring some results but it’s more about the process here.”

In the other game of the day, Paralympic champions Great Britain beat Switzerland 66-43 to open their campaign in strong fashion after recovering from a difficult start.

While the second-ranked Great Britain were the favorites coming into the match, Switzerland, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, led for much of the first quarter and displayed some of their accurate ball passing that they have been known for.

After coming from behind for a one-try lead in the first period, Great Britain picked up momentum and took better control of the ball, extending their lead to six points before halftime.

Veterans Jamie Stead and Aaron Phipps went on to help the Paralympic gold medallists dominate the match, contributing to scoring 17 tries in the third quarter and taking the game out of Switzerland’s reach.

“We knew it would be a tough start because the Swiss are a very experienced team and they play very well together. So we knew they were going to give us a tough game,” said Stead, who was named Most Valuable Player of the match.

“We weren’t happy with the start and we know we can be better than that and we have to be better than that in games going forward. But quarter two, quarter three and quarter four – that’s how we want to perform and that’s the level we want to be.”

Great Britain have competed at every world championship since 1995, but they have never earned a spot on the podium. They will face world No. 10 Germany on Tuesday evening.

Despite the loss, the match was a memorable one for Switzerland, who are competing at the worlds for the first time since 2006.

“I think we had a really awesome first quarter. We did what we spoke about before, the tactic went really well and I think GB wasn’t really ready. But they came back as we expected and turned the game,” said Adrian Moser, a 1.0-player for Switzerland.

“And for us, we wanted to put everybody on court and let the young ones get some experience. So overall it was a really, really good first game for us.”

The World Championships continue tomorrow with a full day of games and all twelve teams in action. Pool play continues through Thursday to determine the Top Four teams in each pool that will move onto Friday’s quarterfinals.