Saturday, November 14, 2009

World Test Rugby: Scotland Faces Fiji

Fiji v Scotland at Murrayfield

Referee: Chris White (England)

Both Scotland and Fiji go into this match with the future in mind. My ranking system has Scotland just a touch above Fiji. The IRB ranking system (well, that's the system they are going to use to rank teams before the World Cup-sadly not mine), has Fiji just a touch above Scotland. So both teams have a lot to play for. With two years out from the 2011 Rugby World Cup, these two teams have rarely made their mark beyond the quarter finals. Both teams are rebuilding.

Fiji is having injury and selection woes that has reduced the team to 27 players available for selection against Scotland. "Saracens star Kameli Ratuvou pulled out for personal reasons and was replaced by Josh Matavesi. Gabriel Lovobalavu replaced Wise Luveniyali while France-based duo Norman Ligairi and Vilimone Delasau can’t travel to Scotland because of visa problems". Added to this, backrower Talei is injured as is Jone Qovu

Scotland has a new coach, a new captain and , hopefully, a new approach to their international game. There is a place for last year's captain Mike Blair on the bench. Also on the bench are Chris Paterson, a veteran of 95 tests for Scotland, and Jason White, a former captain, with 74 test caps. That's a decent sort of bench to rely on. Their recent record, actually there record for more than a decade, has seen a Scottish side under performing. Today's match signals a new start for Scotland.

This is going to be one heck of a ding-dong battle between two teams who play their rugby very differently from each other. Watch out for an explosive Fijian team hell-bent of lifting themselves in the rankings (or maintaining them). Watch out for a new-look Scotland embarking on a new era.

2009 Chris Cusiter
Chris Cusiter to lead Scotland into a new era? Image thanks to

Last Five Encounters
01.11.2003 Scotland 22-20 in Sydney (World Cup, Pool B)
24.11.2002 Scotland 36-22 at Murrayfield
26.05.1998 Fiji 51-26 in Suva
29.05.1993 Scotland XV 29-10 in Suva
28.10.1989 Scotland 38-17 at Murrayfield

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Scotland 9th, Fiji 11th

Prediction: Scotland will outlast an inexperienced Fijian side, sadly affected by injury and players with visa problems. Scotland by 16 points.



15 Rory Lamont (Toulon, France) Aged 27, 18 tests
14 Sean Lamont (Llanelly Scarlets, Wales) 27, 33
13 Alexander Grove (Worcester Warriors, England) New cap
12 Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors) 27, 16
11 Simon Danielli (Ulster, Ireland) 31, 20
10 Philip Godman (Edinburgh Gunner) 27, 17
9 Christopher Cusiter, Capt. (Glasgow Warriors) 27, 44
8 John Beattie (Glasgow Warriors) 23, 4*
7 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors) 22, 11
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester, England) 26, 11
5 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 28, 17
4 Nathan Hines (Leinster, Ireland) 32, 58
3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 25, 2
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Gunners) 25, 29
1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh Gunners) 31, 36
16 Douglas Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 29, 28
17 Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh Gunners) 23, New cap
18 Jason White (Clermont Auvergne, France) 31, 74
19 Richard Vernon (Glasgow Warriors) 22, New cap
20 Michael Blair (Edinburgh Gunners) 28, 58
21 Chris Paterson (Edinburgh Gunners) 31, 95
22 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Gunners) 25, 10
Head Coach: Andy Robinson

* Last played for Scotland 2007-08

Not considered through injury: Ben Cairns, Alasdair Dickinson, Max Evans, Jim Hamilton, Ruaridh Jackson and Euan Murray


15 Joshua Matavesi
14 Vereneki Goneva
13 Gabirieli Lovobalavu
12 Seremaia Bai, Capt
11 Napolioni Nalaga
10 Nicky Little
9 Moses Rauluni
8 Asaeli Boko
7 Akapusi Qera
6 Josefa Domolailai
5 Ifereimi Rawaqa
4 Wame Lewaravu
3 Deacon Manu
2 Vili Veikoso
1 Alefoso Yalayalatabua
16 Graham Dewes
17 Sereli Ledua
18 Leone Nakarawa
19 Samu Bola
20 Waisale Vatuvoka
21 Jonetani Ratu
22 Nasoni Roko

Head Coach: Samuela Domoni

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