Belgium winger Craig Dowsett admits that Saturday’s 29-18 victory over Rugby Europe Trophy winners Portugal was huge for the sport in the Lowlands country.

Born in Brussels to English parents, Dowsett made his test debut in this year’s Rugby Europe Championship and is looking forward to appearing on that stage again next year after the Blacks Devils secured their top-tier status thanks to the win over Os Lobos.

“After we lost the game against Spain and faced this ‘barrage’ (play-off) against Portugal, it was decided that we needed to get everyone available to play and spend at least a week together in the build-up because it was so crucial for rugby in Belgium that we stayed in that division," he told World Rugby.

“By staying up, it helps with rugby’s profile and the end goal of one day getting to a Rugby World Cup. I don’t think that’s unattainable, it’s just that a lot of things will have to fall in place for it to happen.”


While getting to the next tournament in Japan is realistically beyond Belgium, unless rivals Russia, Spain and Germany endure a disastrous campaign in 2018, Dowsett (pictured) is confident they can kick on and register their first win at the 16th attempt in the Rugby Europe Championship.



They propped up the 2017 table after five straight losses, but encouragement was taken from the narrow defeats to Germany and Russia, where a losing bonus point was picked up in each.

“To play in the division below the Six Nations, against some of the countries who, rightly so, are arguing they should be in the Six Nations themselves, is huge. Beating Portugal showed that we have every right to be there.

“Hopefully we’ve had our teething period and we can push on. In my opinion, Germany were not a better side than us when we played them (Belgium lost 34-29), the luck just fell their way. We should be targeting a win against them next year.”


Dowsett missed the Portugal play-off because of the knee injury he sustained on club duty for Old Albanians in the penultimate game of the English National One season.

While disappointed to miss such a big match, Dowsett is looking forward to adding to his three caps in the future.

“I’ve always had a strong affinity with Belgium having lived there until I was 18 and played for the Brussels Barbarians and the national age group sides, but winning my first cap earlier in the year against Georgia – the most physical game I have ever played in – has strengthened that even more.

“Belgium is a small country, not a massive rugby-playing country, but the boys involved are so passionate, taking unpaid time off work to play for their country. For me, it’s the same, but it is all worth it because not that many people get to say they have represented their country at senior level.”

Click here for more information on the qualification process for RWC 2019 in Japan.

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