Thursday, June 11, 2009

Test Rugby This Weekend 12-13-14 June

I don't know how you are all going to stay awake with all this international rugby happening around our globe.

Samoa v Junior All Blacks in Samoa (Pacific Nations Cup)
Uruguay v Romania in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Scotland 'A' v Russia in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Italy 'A' v France 'A' in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)

The Pacific Nations Cup gets underway tomorrow. A couple of matches are being played offshore but mostly, due to cost-cutting, they will mostly be played in Fiji.

The IRB Nations Cup pits the strongest 'A' teams from France, Italy and Scotland against Romania, Uruguay and Russia. Now that the Emerging Springbok are not playing this year fields will be even.

New Zealand v France in Dunedin
England v Argentina in Salta
Australia v Italy in Canberra
Tonga v Fiji in Nuku'alofa (Pacific Nations Cup)
Uganda v Tunisia in Kampala (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)
Ivory Coast v Namibia in Abidjan (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)
Uzbekistan v Kyrgyzstan in Tashkent (Asia Regions 2 Final)
Uzbekistan 'B' v Mongolia in Tashkent (Friendly)

The teams from the Northern Hemisphere begin their southern tours on Saturday. At first impression one would think that France are not taking their best side down under. They were because the French Top 14 final between Perpignan and Clermont-Auvergne only involved a few French test players. But injuries has forced a number of players to withdraw. The result is this is not the strongest of French teams but, unlike the last couple of tours, its not their weakest either.

England against Argentina in Argentina is a totally different proposition to playing Argentina in Manchester. The strange thing is that both teams will suffer jet lag. Still I expect the Argies to be far more competitive in front of a provincial crowd in Salta.

Italy has a very hard tour ahead of it. Injuries have hit the Italians and they look like continuing their losing streak.

Fiji and Tonga clash in Nuku'alofa whilst the Junior AllBlacks start their Pacific Nations campaign in Apia. Elsewhere the Africa World Cup qualifying process goes into the third round. Tunisia travel to Kampala to take on the Ugandans, whilst Namibia (the favourite) travels to Ivory Coast to tackle a team with a number of French-based players in the squad.

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