Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Test Rugby This Weekend 14-15 March

Wales v Italy in Rome (6 Nations)
Ireland v Scotland at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
Romania v Georgia in Tblissi (WCQ Europe R1; ENC 1)
Czech Rep. v Belgium in Brussels (WCQ Europe R2; ENC 2A)
Switzerland v Andorra in Avusy (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 3A)
Cyprus v Slovakia in Episkopi (ENC 3D)

France v England at Twickenham (6 Nations)
Spain v Portugal in Lisbon (WCQ Europe R1; ENC 1)

The odds are on Ireland extending their lead in the 6 Nations Championship. However Scotland have a chance to defeat Ireland. Scotland won well against Italy last weekend whilst Ireland struggled against a struggling England and Scotland has the home advantage.

Realistically Wales would have to play dreadfully to lose to Italy in Rome whilst the England-France clash at Twickenham on Sunday could well be the game of the weekend. A loss to either side would almost certainly knock it out of championship contention.

The winner of the Romania-Georgia clash in Tblissi will jump to the lead in the European Nations Cup Division 1. Romania has already lost to Russia at home and may well find a rejuvinated Georgia too much at home. On Sunday Spain and Portugal clash in a most interesting Iberian contest. Both sides are on the brink in this competition with Portugal showing the better recent form and they also play at home.

For the first time since last November the contests below ENC Division 1 emerge. Divison 2A is wide open with all teams on four points and all with one loss each. The Czech Republic now play their last two games in a row and both are away. Belgium was one of the leading teams in ENC 2A last year but is finding the going tougher this year. The winner will jump to the lead.

Switzerland host Andorra in a bottom of the table clash in ENC 3A. Both teams have two losses and look well off the pace of the leaders Armenia and Lithuania. The host team has an advantage.

Cyprus and Slovakia are two of the newest teams in European rugby. Although not a Rugby World Cup qualifier, the contests in Divison 3D will produce a winner by 2010 and that winner will progress to Divison 3C. From there they will participate (under the existing system) in the qualifying system for the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.

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