The six nations competing at Invictus Games 2016 are vying for slots in the wheelchair rugby semifinals Wednesday, May 11 at 2 pm and 3 pm. The Bronze Medal Match will be at 7:30pm and the Gold Medal Match at 9:10 pm.
All matches featured the physical play that makes this a can’t miss sporting event.
Get your tickets while you can!
New Zealand vs. U.S.
The New Zealand rugby team electrified a packed house at the opening of Invictus Games 2016 Wheelchair Rugby with a rousing performance of the Haka, the famous pregame All Blacks war dance.
“We really appreciate the New Zealand bringing the Haka to the Invictus Games,” said Anthony McDaniel of the U.S. team.
While impressed, U.S. team was not intimidated.
“The Haka was really motivating for us to come out and play,” said McDaniel who scored six tries of his own and set up teammates for even more.
The U.S. scored the first 6 tries of the match and never looked back en route to a 17-9 victory.
UK vs. Australia
This match pitted two traditional rugby powers—the UK and Australia. Both teams came ready to win but the pressure was on. While a spirited effort by Australia, the British raced out to 6-2 lead and cruised to a 19-7 victory.
Denmark vs. New Zealand
After a spirited effort from New Zealand in its opener against the United States, the All Blacks returned to the court for a duel against Denmark and got off to a rocky start.
Denmark got out to a 6-1 lead right out of the gate and never looked back, employing a strong blocking scheme to allow its primary ball handlers to score with ease. The pressure of Denmark’s defense appeared to rattle New Zealand, which made a few costly turnovers early on that led to the deficit. At halftime, New Zealand left the court trailing 11-3 and looked a bit tired after playing back-to-back matches.
New Zealand started the scoring off in the second half, cutting the lead to seven, but from there, Denmark regained control. A few breakaway tries from the Denmark attacked pushed the lead to nine with only four minutes remaining, and despite a few quality attacks, New Zealand was never able to recover. The electric speed of Denmark ended up being too much to handle and allowed the Danish team to coast to a 19-8 victory.
“We played against two very tough teams and I think we fought hard and gave it all we got. I’m proud of the boys, and we played hard together. We got some good moves against [Denmark], so I thought it was a good effort” New Zealand captain Dave Sherriff said of the team’s spirit after both matches.
Italy vs. Australia
The Italy-Australia match-up was action-packed. Competitors from nations around the world filled the stands to cheer as the two teams dueled it out. The Australian team took an early lead but Italy played strategically and made steady gains throughout the game. Ultimately, Australia’s early lead and incredible defense led the team to a 7-12 victory.
“The Games are very important to all of us because sports give you new targets. Invictus Games gives you a new target, a new possibility and new friendships,” said Marco Iannuzzi of Italy.
U.S. vs. Denmark
The match of the day on court one turned out to be an intense battle, as Denmark and the United States took to Court 1. Denmark, fresh off a strong victory over New Zealand, looked a bit out of sorts to start the match, however, falling behind 6-2 with four minutes left in the first half.
The United States played impeccable defense throughout the half, blocking the Denmark attacked from using their blocking scheme that worked well in their first match. Some strong passing, including a lob from midcourt with 3 seconds left, led the Americans to a 10-4 lead at the break.
After halftime, Denmark came out looking like a different team and lived up to their team motto, “Maximum Effort.” Despite trailing by as many as 11, Danish captain Mark Peters led an improbable comeback, cutting the American lead to 13-10 with three minutes remaining. A costly penalty and some superb passing from the U.S., however, stemmed the tide and gave them the victory.
After the game, the resounding message from Denmark was an overall vote of confidence, saying “we’ll see [The U.S.] in the Finals.” Captain Mark Peters said “the first quarter, we were a little shaky at the start and we started to play out of our roles and not do what we talked about. It took us awhile to get back at that, but we played pretty damn good in the second half. We gained on them and I’m proud.”
UK vs. Italy
Coming off a nail-biting loss against Australia, Italy looked to bounce back against the U.K., who were the heavily favored side. Despite the valiant effort, playing in back-to-back matches clearly got to the Italians and the British were able to impose their will from the start.
The U.K. side took a eight try lead early in the first half and never looked back. With fierce defense and a handful of intense hits, the British were able to force multiple turnovers and get on a roll that carried into the second half. With a double-digit lead by halftime, the British continued the attack and pushed to a 21-3 victory.
Please check the results section of the website for official final scores.