Thursday, October 22, 2009

Test Rugby This Weekend

Poland v Czech Republic in Varsovie (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 2A)
Latvia v Croatia in Riga (WCQ Europe R3; ENC 2B)
Serbia v Switzerland in Belgrade (ENC 3A)
Bulgaria v Luxembourg in Pernik (ENC 3C)

The Poland v Czech Republic outcome is crucial for both teams. Both have two loses although the Czech Republic has a game in hand. The winner would be the only team to seriously challenge the Ukraine in this competition. The Ukraine would have to drop one of their remainder games for either of these teams to catch up. The winner of this Division gains promotion to the top level of the European Nations Cup for 2010-2012. The winner will also play, in 2010, the winner of World Cup Qualifying, Europe, Round 3. That winner goes on to playoff against ENC 1 3rd place for the final finals place at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Poland defeated Czech Republic 13-7 in the first round match.

Latvia is struggling to avoid relegation to ENC 3A. They lost 13-21 to Croatia away in April and has lost all their games so far. Croatia are one place behind Division leaders, the Netherlands, and should defeat Latvia even though this is an away game for them.

The outcome of this match has little bearing on the outcome of this Division. Lithuania looks a certainty since Armenia forfeited their game, due 31 October, against the leaders. Serbia has the psychological advantage of already defeating Switzerland away in the first round.

Neither Bulgaria nor Luxembourg look likely to topple group 3C leaders Israel and Greece. Bulgaria has performed strongly against bottom team Finland in their last two outings and looks the likely winner at home against their northern rivals.

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