Armenia v Switzerland in Bale (ENC 2B)
Greece v Finland in Helsinki (ENC 2D)
The Northern Hemisphere international rugby season begins this Saturday. Four teams will clash in the lower divisions of the European Nations Cup. Armenia travels to Switzerland whilst Greece plays Finland in Helsinki
The whole structure of the ENC has been altered for the 2010-12 competition. An extra team was added to the division just below 1A, the top division in the competition. The second division was renamed 1B, Germany relegated from 1A whilst the Netherlands was added to the new 1B to bring the number of teams in that competition to six.
Back to this weekend. ENC 2B consists of five teams. Armenia was left at this level, whilst Slovenia were promoted. The other teams being Serbia, Andorra and Switzerland.
The first test match in this division sees Armenia against Switzerland. Armenia had the misfortune to have the amazing Lithuanians take the division title and with promotion. Armenia are odds on favourites at this stage to move up to the next level by 2012. In the first round in 2008 Armenia won 35-15 at home against the Swiss but dropped their away game last season 0-18 amid rumours of rifts within the team and the Union
Switzerland had a very ordinary season last year, finishing last in the division. Luckily there was no relegation because of the promoted Netherlands further up in Division 1B. It's rebuilding time for them. A win at home will boost moral and set the season up for success.
Greece were tucked in second behind Israel in this division last year. They are now favourites to take this division. Finland finished last and although have the home advantage, Greece looks the winner. Greece won both games against Finland in 2008-10; 12-10 away and 31-10 at home.
For a complete look at the structure of the European Nations Cup 2010-12 go to http://www.rugbyinternational.net/, scroll down to tournaments and then click on FIRA-AER 2010-12.