Friday, April 24, 2009

Rugby Tests This Weekend 25 April

Japan v Kazakhstan in Osaka (Asia5Nations)
Korea v Singapore in Seoul (Asia5Nations)
Chile v Brazil in Santiago (WCQ Am.R2; CONSUR A Prelim.)
Malta v Netherlands in La Valette (WCQ Euro.R3; ENC 2B)
Croatia v Latvia in Makarska (WCQ Europe R3; ENC 2B)
Austria v Denmark 9n Linz (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3B)
Slovenia v Norway in Ljubliana (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3B)
Finland v Bulgaria in Pernik (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3C)
Greece v Luxembourg in Lux. (WCQ Euro.R5;ENC 3C)

Uruguay v Paraguay in Montevideo (WCQ Am.R2; CONSUR A prelim.)

This weekend is huge in international rugby. This great international game is being played at the highest level in three of the continents. I'll be honest and say that with some other committments I have this weekend I'll be struggling to keep up with them all.

The Asia5Nations begins. Eyes will be on not who wins but on who loses. The last placed team will be relegated to Asia Nations Division 1 (to be replaced by Arabian Gulf). For it is in 2010 that the Asian qualifiers for the 2011 Rugby World Cup will be determined.

In Europe the halfway stage of the FIRA-AER 2008-10 competition is about to conclude. It is at this stage that teams will qualify for the next round of the 2011 Rugby World Cup qualifying in Europe.

Look out for the Netherlands. They must defeat Malta to ensure they proceed. Keep an eye on Croatia for if they win their next two games, and the Netherlands lose against Malta, they will be in.

Next, keep an eye on Slovenia. Only just promoted this season, they only need to defeat Norway at home and they are through. If they lose then Hungary will go through.

In Division 3C Greece will need to defeat Luxembourg away and then hope that Finland defeats Israel next weekend. At this stage Israel look likely to take this division.

In South America both the CONSUR A competition and the World Cup qualifiers get underway, with the main competition in Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital. The CONSUR A preliminary places 1st and 2nd will have to face Argentina 'A' later in May.

So its all happening this weekend in the world of rugby union.


  1. One thing I don't understand is Paraguay's role in South Africa. I understand that they are in this tournament because it serves both as a South American championship and as RWC Qualifier. However, they have also been eliminated from qualifying. So while their matches obviously count towards a South American championship, do they also affect RWC standings? Will a loss against Paraguay hurt the other teams' attempts to advance or will those be disregarded altogether for those purposes?

    In Europe, Croatia actually cannot advance, due to several levels of tie-breakers. Believe it or not, the Netherlands could still advance in defeat, provided the margin is less than four points and also provided the Croatians win their next two games. (If the margin were to be exactly 4 points, well, I'm not 100% sure how it would be decided, though I'm inclined to say it would go to Malta. >4 would be Malta for sure.)

    In Asia, I hope someone other than Singapore finishes last. It would be a bit boring for promotion and relegation to just be an annual exchange between Singapore and Arabian Gulf. Though I guess the time for that is running out, as AG will eventually be split along national lines.

  2. Alan. You are probably right about the Division 2A tiebreaking method, only according to FIRA-AER, this is how ties are split after all eight matches. Thsi method of separating three way ties is new, no?

    Paraguay matches do not count toward qualifiers. So if Uruguay were to get beaten by Paraguay, then it is inconsequential. Paraguay are in the four team 'CONSUR A' tournament which runs parallel.

    A message for Gary, Israel and Slovenia are already through. Even if Norway were to thrash Slovenia 100-0, Slovenia would still finish ahead of Hungary courtesy of head to head record. The same applies for Israel. Greece can only tie with Israel, thus cannot finish ahead of them, because Israel beat them earlier in the comp.

  3. Thanks Natal for both clearing up the Paraguay question, and also for pointing out the standing of the FIRA-AER qualifying situation for these teams below Division 1.

  4. Hi Alan

    Re Singapore. I'm in two minds on this one. One the one hand I don't want to see teams defeated by wide margins and I feel Singapore to be even weaker than Arabian Gulf. But on the other hand it may be the only way these smaller unions can progress. Sometimes you have to hit a wall to test where you are and then you have to do something about that to survive. I guess it would be easier to say, "hey look! Japan and Korea are at the top, nobody else comes near, keep those two in the Asia Nations Premier league". I think we have to give it a liitle time.

  5. I think the tie-breaker used now in Europe is that used in 2006-2008 championship. Personally, I think that making the head to head matchups more important than +/- in points across the whole division makes a lot of sense. Do you remember the 1994 5 Nations? On the last day, a 2-1 England side defeated a 3-0 Wales side. The Welsh captain looked embarrassed to then be awarded the indeed he should have.

    So in 2A, if Croatia manages to finish 3-1, along with Malta and the Netherlands, the head-to-head results wouldn't break the tie; each would be 1-1 in those matches. The next tie-breaker is net points in those matches. Croatia is currently -4, and obviously can't improve upon that. And of course the net points between the three must add up to 0, so at least one of them must be positive.

    Now if Malta wins by 4, then they and the Netherlands will be +2. I'm curious what happens next. Do they eliminate Croatia based on +2, +2, -4 and then go back to the first tie breaker (which favors Malta)? I think they should. Or do they consider Malta and the Netherlands tied and go to net tries in those matches?

    Gary, I'm perfectly happy with Singapore getting their chance against the big boys, and hope it works out for them. I just think it's better when promotion and relegation doesn't work out to the same pair of sides swapping places each year. Variety, as well as genuine risk and opportunity for a number of teams, is also more exciting.

  6. Alan, going back to the Malta, Croatia, Netherlands scenario, if Malta defeats Netherlands today, and Croatia wins the next two games, then reading the FIRA-AER website rules of play, my interpretation is that tries scored comes second after who won between the teams (I haven't calculated that out), then comes points differences in pool matches, then tries for-against difference. Is that how you see it?

  7. No, the Fira website says, "In case of two or mre Unions with same number of match points: - match points between tied teams - difference of points for ad against in the games between tied teams - difference of tries for and against in the games between tied teams..."

    Of course the Dutchmen took care of any further discussion.

    (For what it's worth, the Croats beat Malta 2-1 in tries, and were 0-0 in tries against the Dutch. Today, the Netherlands scored 4 tries while allowing none.)