France won’t have a seat at the table when the crème de la crème of European club baseball gather this June in Bonn, Germany for the next Champions Cup, the continent’s top inter-league baseball tournament. And that’s because in last year’s event, the French entry, the Rouen Huskies, finished dead-last.
That’s the bad news.
But France’s relegation from the so-called “A Cup” also comes with a silver lining, which is that this year’s Confederation Cup (the “B Cup,” as it’s informally known) will thus have not one but two French teams in the mix: the Huskies, winners of the past six titles in France’s D1 league; but also the Montpellier Barracudas, who won last year’s Challenge de France tournament.
That means twice the fun. Twice the drama and intrique. And twice as much of a chance that one of the two D1 squads might actually win the event!
Yes, let’s dare to dream.
Not only that, but the tournament, formerly the CEB Cup, will be taking place in France, with both Rouen and Montigny-le-Bretonneux (home of the Cougars) acting as hosts. What all this means is that if there was ever a time to get excited about the Confederation Cup, this is it!
Here, then, is some key information about the event:
If all goes according to plan, the action will begin June 8, a Wednesday, and conclude that following Sunday, June 12.
As previously mentioned, games will take place in the Norman city of Rouen and in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, southwest of Paris.
Who plays whom?
The WBSC answered just that question in an article posted last week, noting, among other things, that the Rouen and Montpellier teams will be in separate pools.
The Huskies will be in Group A, which also features Minsk, from Belarus; the Metrostars of Vienna, Austria; and the Hoboken Pioneers, from across the border in Belgium.
Joining the Barracudas in Group B are the Tenerife Marlins Puerto Cruz, from the Canary Islands (Spain); the Therwil Flyers, from Switzerland; and the Croatian club Olimpija Karlovac.
Of those, only two – Minsk and the Therwil Flyers – appeared in last year’s CEB Cup, which was hosted by the Sénart Templiers and featured just six teams. Minsk finished fourth in the event. The winless Flyers came in dead last.
Sénart finished second, despite losing just one game and beating the tournament winner, Draci Brno, a Czech Team, on the final day. Both teams had identicial 4-1 records, but Brno, thanks to a run-differential advantage, ended up as champs.
Because last year’s Cup featured just six teams, there were no semi-final or final games. The entire competition, in other words, took place in a round-robin format.
The 2022 event will be different in that regard, given that it will feature eight teams divided into two pools. Presumably, after an initial round-robin phase, the top two teams from each pool will advance to a semi-final round.
That then raises the possibility that Rouen and Montpellier could meet either in the semis or in the championship game, and… ooh la la, how interesting would that be?
Keep in mind that the Barracudas qualified for the Confederation Cup by winning last year’s Challenge de France tournament. And they did so in emphatic fashion against none other than… the Huskies! Montpellier won the game 15-1.
A month later, however, Rouen got the last laugh by beating Montpellier (three games to one) in the D1 semi-finals. The Huskies then went on to beat Sénart in the league finals, albeit barely, edging past the Templiers in the 10th inning of the fifth and final game of the series.
Clearly we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, but a France vs. France final – between two teams that have plenty to prove against each other – isn’t beyond the realm of possibilities. And if it does happen, expect some serious fireworks.