Dutch call out Great Britain 'bravado,' allege 2016 gold 'pure luck' after dominant win in field hockey semifinal

·4-min read

The Netherlands field hockey team held nothing back when it came to ripping into Great Britain following a semifinal victory at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. It was a rematch of the 2016 Rio final that Great Britain won in a shootout, ending a streak of Dutch golds. 

The Dutch stars followed up a dominating 5-1 win on Wednesday with a thrashing in postgame remarks, calling the Great Britain players "almost arrogant" and contending that the gold in Rio was "pure luck." 

The sport of women's field hockey is ruled by the Netherlands in a similar way USA Basketball has ruled the women's tournament for six Olympic cycles. To fully grasp the trash talk the Netherlands, who will play for yet another gold on Friday, threw around on Wednesday, we must go back to 2016. 

What happened in 2016 with Netherlands, Great Britain? 

Great Britain scored in the last 10 minutes of the 2016 Rio Olympics final to level it at 3-3 and won the ensuing penalty shootout, 2-0, against the Netherlands. 

The GB team won its first women's hockey gold, ending the Dutch's attempt at a third consecutive Olympic title. It has medaled in eight of the nine Olympics it had appeared in heading to Tokyo this summer, and has placed first or second in every World Cup except 1976 (third) and 1994 (sixth). 

Great Britain won bronze in 2012. It lost to the Netherlands, 2-1, in the final game of pool play in their only meeting that tournament. Team GB also won bronze in 1992. 

What happened when they met in Tokyo? 

The Netherlands, ranked No. 1 in the world, have lost only two international competitions in more than 100 appearances since that Olympic loss five years ago. They're currently on a 45-game unbeaten streak, including a 1-0 pool play win against Great Britain this tournament. 

It also includes the dominating win against Great Britain in the Olympic semifinal on Wednesday. The Netherlands scored goals within a minute of each other in the first half. Team GB scored late to avoid the shutout. The Dutch have scored 26 goals in the tournament while allowing only three. 

The Netherlands will now face Argentina in the Olympic final on Friday. India, which lost to Argentina 2-1 in the other semifinal, draws Great Britain in the bronze medal game. 

Netherlands fueled by Britain's trash talk

Netherlands vs. Great Britain field hockey
A general view of the field while Xan Gerdien de Waard of Team Netherlands moves the ball past Lily Owsley of Team Great Britain during the women's semifinal match on by the Dutch. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ahead of the semifinal, some Great Britain players made comments about remembering that 2016 shootout victory for gold and the recent group play contest. 

"2016 is still in the back of the players' minds in the Netherlands," Great Britain goalkeeper Maddie Hinch said, via hockey.nl, the Dutch hockey federation's official website. "I'm sure they'll say no, but that's about it. Moreover, it helps us that we scared the Netherlands in the group stage. It will be difficult for us and we have to learn our lessons from that first game. But we're going to give everything. We have players in the team who have proven that you can win at the Olympic Games in the Netherlands.'

That appeared to embolden, and possibly tick off, the Netherlands squad. While the Dutch didn't speak of revenge ahead of the semifinal rematch, they let loose afterward. 

“They may say it hurts us, but that just gave me energy,” Dutch player Margot van Geffen told hockey.nl. 

“I can remember a lot of quarterfinals, semifinals and other tournaments where we humiliated them.

“Take, for example, the European Championship in 2019, in which we won 8-0 (against England). That hurts too, don’t you think? You also see today: it was pure luck what they put down in Rio. It’s great that we’re sending them home like this today.”

Dutch captain Eva de Goede was more direct about what she thought of the players on the other sideline. 

“I think everyone had their own personal reason why we wanted to beat them so badly," de Goede said.

“We have the feeling that those girls always have a lot of bravado, almost arrogant. We really wanted to show today that they certainly don’t come near us.

“I’m glad we were able to play our own game and knock them all out.”

Great Britain and the Netherlands play in the FIH Pro League, which launched in 2019 for both men's and women's national teams. They compete one game at home and one away against all of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, New Zealand and Team USA. 

They're also likely to meet in the 2022 World Cup, which is set to take place in Spain and the Netherlands in July. 

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