Saturday, November 8, 2008

International Rugby: England v Pacific Islands

England v Pacific Islands at Twickenham

The Pacific Island team is made up of international rugby players from the three main Pacific rugby nations; Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. The concept is based upon the British and Irish Lions who tour every four years. The Islanders are all professionals based either in Europe or Japan. That should make them three times stronger than any of the original nations. But the reality is that in the past the Pacific Island team has not, for whatever reason, performed as well as expected. Again, very much like the Lions, on potential the Islanders should be world beaters, but on the paddock rarely so.

Having said that the Island team is full of experience. Most will be familiar with whatever the weather holds for Twickenham and you can be sure the tackles will be hard and England will be a sore bunch of lads at the end of the game. If the Islanders can add to the pressure their tackling can have on the opposition and score points then there is their strength. Up front they will struggle against the England pack.

Its a new look England team. There are four new caps in the starting line up with another waiting on the bench. Under new management, England is a blend of experience and new players. Some the inexperienced are certainly not youthful as England manager Martin Johnson has caste the net to include a few new foreign players. It's all part of the plan to get the England team back to World Cup 2003 standard. He has three years in which to do this.

It should be a close game.

Previous Encounters. This is the first time these two teams have met.

GWC Rugby Rankings-Does not apply

Prediction. Anything could happen. If England keep cool under pressure they should win by 5 points.


Pacific Islands
15. Kameli Ratuvou (Saracens, Fiji) Age 25, 16 tests (Fiji), 3 (PIR)
14. Sailosi Tagicakibau (London Irish, Samoa) 25, 12, 1
13. Seru Rabeni (Leicester, Fiji) 29, 26, 6
12. Seilala Mapusua (London Irish, Samoa) 26, 6, 4
11. Vilimoni Delasau (Clermont Auvergne, Fiji) 31, 28, 0
10. Pierre Hola ( Kobe Japan, Tonga) 30, 34, 0
9. Mosese Raulini (Saracens, Fiji) 32, 42, 6
8. Finau Maka (Stade Toulousain, Tonga) 30, 4, 0
7. Nili Latu (NEC Japan, Tonga) 26, 17, 3
6. Semisi Naevo (NEC Japan, Fiji) 32, 9, 0
5. Kele Leawere (Hino Motors Japan, Fiji) 34, 23, 0
4. Filipo Levi (Ricoh Japan, Samoa) 28, 8, 2
3. Census Johnston (Saracens, Samoa) 27, 17, 1
2. Aleki Lutui (Worcester, Tonga) 29, 23, 6
1. Justin Va’a (Glasgow, Samoa) 29, 13, 3
16. Sunia Koto (London Welsh, Fiji) 28, 22, 0
17. Kisi Pulu (Perpignan, Tonga) 29, 20, 0
18. Hale T Pole (Ospreys, Tonga) 29, 10, 2
19. George Stowers (Kobe Japan, Samoa) 29, 5, 0
20. Sililo Martens (Llanelli Scarlets, Tonga) 31, 27, 0
21. Seremaia Bai (Clermont Auvergne, Fiji) 29, 26, 5
22. Epi Taione (Harlequins, Tonga) 29, 17, 3
Coach: Quiddus Fielea

Martens last played for Tonga v Canada at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. A number of the players have not been available for the Pacific Nations during 2008. Raulini, Taione and Levi were not named in the original squad.

15 Delon Armitage (London Irish) Age 24, New Cap
14 Paul Sackey (London Wasps) 29, 15
13 James Noon (Newcastle Falcons) 29, 33
12 Riki Flutey (London Wasps) 28, New Cap
11 Ugo Monye (Harlequins) 25, New Cap
10 Daniel Cipriani (London Wasps) 21, 3
9 Daniel Care (Harlequins) 21, 2
8 Nicholas Easter (Harlequins) 33, 16
7 Thomas Rees (London Wasps) 24, 11
6 Thomas Croft (Leicester Tigers) 22, 4
5 Nicholas Kennedy (London Irish) 27, New Cap
4 Steven Borthwick, Capt. (Bath Rugby) 28, 40
3 Matthew Stevens (Bath Rugby) 26, 28
2 Lee Mears (Bath Rugby) 29, 24
1 Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks) 29, 25
16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) 22, New Cap
17 Phillip Vickery (London Wasps) 32, 64
18 Thomas Palmer (London Wasps) 29, 10
19 James Haskell (London Wasps) 23, 8
20 Michael Lipman (Bath Rugby) 25, 7
21 Harold Ellis (Leicester Tigers) 26, 18
22 Tobias Flood (Newcastle Falcons) 22, 18
Coach: Martin Johnson

New Zealand born Flutey is a former Junior All Black, New Zealand Maori and Wellington Hurricanes Super 14 player who has gained selection after qualifying on residency. Hartley is another born in New Zealand and represented Bay of Plenty at U18’s.
Not considered due to injury-Nik Abendanon, Mathew Tait, George Chuter, Luke Narraway

You can see the full lists of international rugby tests for both the Pacific Islands, the Pacific Nations of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, as well as England at

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