Sunday, November 30, 2008

Test Results: 29 November

New Zealand 32, England 6 at Twickenham
Wales 21, Australia 18 in Cardiff
Bulgaria 18, Luxembourg 10 in Luxembourg City (WCQ Euro.R2:ENC2A)
Cyprus 37, Azerbaijan 3 in Baku (ENC 3D)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rugby Test: New Zealand v England

New Zealand v England at Twickenham

After last week's hammering by the Springbox and a flood of criticism from the Press you would think Martin Johnson and his team would be cringing in their rugby boots at the thought of a rampant All Black side. Well, rugby is a funny game and we have seen this English side bounce back before. Remember the 2007 Rugby World Cup? South Africa defeated England 36-0. England then bounced back to defeat Australia 12-10 and then to play South Africa again in the final. After all, one of Martin Johnson's bleak looks would be enough to motivate any player to play better. I expect England to put up a much stronger display but they are a very inexperienced side and they will be playing the best rugby side in the world.

The All Blacks are clever enough to know that England has bounced back before. They will be expecting a much tougher England side determined to make amends for last weekend's disaster. The New Zealanders have commented that they can still up their game by 20%. Well, look out England if they do. This team is playing excellent rugby at the moment and has swept all before it on this tour. I can't see England getting close.

Last Five Encounters
21.06.2008 New Zealand 44-12 in Christchurch
14.06.2008 New Zealand 37-20 in Auckland
05.11.2006 New Zealand 41-20 at Twickenham
19.11.2005 New Zealand 23-19 at Twickenham
19.06.2004 New Zealand 36-12 in Auckland.

The last time England defeated New Zealand was the one off test in Wellington in June 2003. England won 15-13 and then went on to win the World Cup in Australia four months later. The last time England defeated New Zealand at Twickenham was in November 2002 when they won 31-28. This was the time when England was at its height.

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-New Zealand 1st, England 5th

Prediction: New Zealand by 28 points.


15 Delon Armitage
14 Paul Sackey
13 James Noon
12 Riki Flutey
11 Ugo Monye
10 Tobias Flood
9 Daniel Care
8 Nicholas Easter
7 Michael Lipman
6 James Haskell
5 Nicholas Kennedy
4 Steven Borthwick, Capt.
3 Phillip Vickery,
2 Lee Mears
1 Timothy Payne.
16 Dylan Hartley
17 Matthew Stevens
18 Thomas Croft
19 Thomas Rees
20 Harold Ellis
21 Daniel Cipriani
22 Daniel Hipkiss
Head Coach: Martin Johnson

New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina
14 Joseph Rokocoko
13 Conrad Smith
12 Ma'a Nonu
11 Sitiveni Sivivatu
10 Daniel Carter
9 James Cowan
8 Rodney So'oialo
7 Richard McCaw, Capt.
6 Jerome Kaino
5 Alistair Williams
4 Bradley Thorn
3 Neemia Tialata
2 Keven Mealamu
1 Tony Woodcock
16 Hikawera Elliot
17 John Afoa
18 Anthony Boric
19 Kieran Read
20 Piri Weepu
21 Stephen Donald
22 Isaia Toeava
Head Coach: Graham Henry

Test Rugby: Australia v Wales

Australia v Wales in Cardiff

Australia is looking to emulate the South Africans and, probably, the New Zealanders, in winning all tests on this tour. So far all the Southern Hemisphere sides (except Argentina) have won all their games in the North. If Australia and New Zealand can win tomorrow it will create a clean-sweep the likes of which has not happened before.

Wales will be desperate to win. The put pressure on their opponents in all their November tests but have been unable to consistently keep that pressure up for 80 minutes. The best they kept for New Zealand, dominating the first half but were unable to do so for the second. They will be wanting to play like that for the whole match.

Australia just keeps getting better and better. Robbie Deans has made a bi difference with this youngish side and they pose a big threat to Wales. They key will be in the forwards where the tight five can dominate and the loosies are quick to the breakdowns. Australia will be hard to defeat.

Last Five Encounters
15.09.2007 Australia 32-20 in Cardiff (World Cup, Pool B)
02.06.2007 Australia 31-0 in Brisbane
26.05.2008 Australia 29-23 in Sydney
04.11.2006 Drawn 29-29 in Cardiff
26.11.2005 Wales 24-22 in cardiff

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Australia 3rd, Wales 4th

Prediction: Australia by 4 points.


15 Lee Byrne
14 Mark Jones
13 Thomas Shanklin
12 James Roberts
11 Shane Williams
10 Stephen Jones
9 Gareth Cooper
8 Andrew Powell
7 Martyn Williams
6 Ryan Jones, Capt.
5 Alun-Wyn Jones
4 Ian Gough
3 Adam Jones
2 Matthew Rees
1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Richard Hibbard
17 John Yapp
18 Luke Charteris
19 Dafydd Jones
20 Martin Roberts
21 James Hook
22 Andrew Bishop
Head Coach; Warren Gatland

15 Drew Mitchell
14 Peter Hynes
13 Ryan Cross
12 Stirling Mortlock, Capt.
11 Digby Ioane
10 Matthew Giteau
9 Luke Burgess
8 Richard Brown
7 Phillip Waugh
6 Hugh McMeniman
5 Nathan Sharpe
4 Mark Chisholm
3 Alistair Baxter
2 Stephen Moore
1 Benn Robinson
16 Adam Freier
17 Matthew Dunning
18 Dean Mumm
19 George Smith
20 Samuel Cordingley
21 Quade Cooper
22 Lote Tuqiri/Adam Ashley-Cooper
Head Coach: Robbie Deans

Rugby Test: Bulgaria v Luxembourg

Bulgaria v Luxembourg (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3C)

Bulgaria are in trouble. Their condidence is low after their shock loss at home to Israel and they rarely play well away from home.

Luxembourg drooped their first game away against Finland so has a grand opportunity to win this vital home fixture.

Previous Encounters
24.04.2004 Luxembourg 39-5 (ENC 3B)
18.10.1997 Luxembourg 39-6 in Sofia (FIRA Bronze A)
1993 Bulgaria 16-13 in Luxembourg (FIRA C1)
1989 Bulgaria 13-4 in Sofia (FIRA C)
1988 Bulgaria 14-4 in Luxembourg (FIRA C)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Bulgaria 33rd, Luxembourg 35th

Prediction: Luxembourg by 3 points.


Not available

Test Rugby: Cyprus v Azerbaijan

Cyprus v Azerbaijan in Baku (ENC 3D)

ENC 3D is the last/newest division formed by FIRA-AER. Previously a single venue played host in a tournament format. For the first time this division, for 2008-10, is played out as the other divisions. Although the teams do not qualify for Rugby World Cup 2011 qualifying tests the competition is fierce. The aim is, after two seasons, to win the division and automatically qualify for promotion to Division 3C.

Azerbaijan tavelled last weekend to Zenica to face the Bosnians with an undermanned side, having to leave ten front-line players behind due to injuries or work committments. The lost 7-18, putting up a garnd fight in a game many, including myself, thought they would lose by an avalanche.

Cyprus will play their second game of the season. In September they travelled to Israel to play for a place in the next division up. Unfortunately for them, they lost 14-23. This meant they stayed in ENC 3D whilst Israel went up to ENC 3C. The Cypriates could field a very strong side providing their top players can travel.

Azerbaijan will be working on improving from their loss last week and may be just a little too strong for the visitors.

Previous Encounter
28.10.2007 Cyprus 29-0 in Paphos (ENC 3D)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Cyprus 39th, Azerbaijan 42nd.

Prediction: Cyprus by 7 points

Teams not available

Friday, November 28, 2008

Test rugby this weekend.

New Zealand v England at Twickenham
Australia v Wales in Cardiff
Luxembourg v Bulgaria in Cessange (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 3A)
Azerbaijan v Cyprus in Baku (ENC 3D)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Test Result: South Africa 42, England 6

South Africa recorded a win on Saturday that saw England suffer their heaviest defeat ever at Twickenham.

This must be a severe set back for Martin Johnson and his team. Just what went wrong and why? English fans must have had nowhere to look coming out of Twickenham last Saturday. Just how angry are they? So many questions after such a loss.

What is your comment? Post your views here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Apologies

I have been only occasionally able to work on updating this blog this week due to work committments. Also because of work committments the usual data for each test player in team lists will not be available. Unfortunately my busiest month in my job coincides with the busiest test rugby month of the year. Such is life!

Latest International Rugby Results: 22 Nov.

New Zealand 29, Wales 9 in Cardiff
South Africa 42, England 6 at Twickenham
Australia 18, France 13 in Paris
Ireland 17, Argentina 3 in Dublin
Pacific Islands 45, Italy 17 inReggio Emilia
Japan 32, United States 17 in Tokyo
Scotland 41, Canada 0 in Aberdeen
Uruguay 46, Chile 12 in Montevideo (CONSUR A)
Czech Republic 11, Moldova 9 in Prague (WCQ Euro.R2; ENC 2A)
Israel 25, Greece 10 in Kfissia (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3C)
Bosnia Herzegovina 18, Azerbaijan 7 in Zenica (ENC 3D)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Test Rugby: Azerbaijan v Bosnia Herzegovina

Azerbaijan v Bosnia Herzegovina in Zenica (ENC 3D)

Earlier in the season Bosnia crushed Monaco 52-5 and last October Monaco crushed Azerbaijan 41-3. The arithematic does not look good for the visiting Azerbaijanies. Bosnia look to be way ahead in this division and Azerbaijan will struggle.

Previous Encounters
14.05.2006 Bosnia & H. 28-7 in Zenica (ENC 3C)
30.04.2005 Azerbaijan 11-6 in Baku (ENC 3C)
16.04.2005 Bosnia & H. 36-17 in Zenica (ENC 3C)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Bosnia & H. 38th, Azerbaijan 42nd.

Prediction: Bosnia & H. by 70 points.

Teams not available

Test Rugby: Israel v Greece in Kfissia

Israel v Greece in Kfissia (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3C)

Israel is fresh from an upset away win over Bulgaria. That was Israel's third win in a row and they now look to be a leading contender in this division.

The Greeks started their life in this division with an away win over Finland. Much newer to competition rugby at this level the Greeks may struggle against the Israelies but they will have a good home crowd behind them.

These two teams have not met before.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Israel 32nd, Greece 36th.

Prediction: Israel by 14 points.

Teams not available

Rugby Test: Moldova v Czech Republic

Moldova v Czech Republic in Prague (WCQ Euro.R2; ENC 2A)

Following their 20-8 win over ENC 2A high rollers Belgium last weekend, the Moldovans move to Prague with confidence. Having fallen at the last couple of hurdles last season and bailing out of top division contention, the Moldovans look to have a harder resolve. They travel to Prague with the same squad of 26 the prepared for Belgium.

The Czechs lost 7-13 to Poland last weekend to confirm predictions that this could be one of the closest of all divisions in ENC. The inclusion of Toulon back Martin Jagr will make a huge difference to the organisation of the Czech backline. This could well be a different team performance from last week. A Czech win could through the competition wide open.

This is the first time these two nations have met.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Czech Republic 14th, Moldova 15th

Prediction: Czech Republic by 2 points


Czech Republic
15 Tomáš Krejčí (Dragon Brno)
14 Martin Jágr, Capt. (Toulon, France)
13 Martin Pekárek (Říčany)
12 Jan Kolář (Slavia Praha)
11 Michal Schlanger (Říčany)
10 Milan Jirman (Slavia Praha)
9 Pavel Syrový (Praga Praha)
8 Jiří Buryánek (Dragon Brno)
7 Jan Macháček (Slavia Praha)
6 Ondřej Kutil (US Oyonnax, France)
5 Robert Voves (Narbonne, France)
4 Tomáš Holovský (St. Raphael, France)
3 Lukáš Rapant (US Oyonnax, France)
2 Jiří Skall (RC Sparta Praha)
1 Roman Šuster (RC Rouen, France)
Jan Benda (Sparta Praha)
Martin Wognitsch (Oyonnax, France)
Tomáš Veniger (Tatra Smíchov)
Josef Bláha (Říčany)
Petr Okleštěk (Auxerre, France)
Jan Rudolf (Tatra Smíchov)
Roman Kodera (Říčany)
Head Coach: Martin Kafka

Moldova Squad
Dumitru Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Victor Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Anton Bajutinde (Olimp - Electromaş Tiraspol)
Adrian Baltag (USEFS Blumarine)
Vasile Bolea (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Ion Buşilă (USEFS Blumarine)
Nicolae Caburgan (USEFS Blumarine)
Sergiu Castraveţ (USEFS Blumarine)
Nicolae Chirilă (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Maxim Cobîlaş (Steaua Bucureşti, Romania)
Vadim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Vitalie Coropcean (UTM Chişinău)
Alexei Cotruţa (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Maxim Gargalîc (Farul Constanţa, Romania)
Vitalie Gîra (UTM Chişinău)
Vasile Leu (UTM Chişinău)
Veaceslav Lozinschii (USEFS Blumarine)
Octavian Manoli (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Alexandr Matveev (USEFS Blumarine)
Andrei Romanov (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Alexandru Şîşcan, Capt. (Slava Moscow, Russia)
Pavel Titarenco (Olimp Electromaş Tiraspol)
Veaceslav Titica (Slava Moscow, Russia)
Dumitru Vasilachi (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Gheorghe Volosciuc (USEFS Blumarine)
Constantin Zubco (USEFS Blumarine)
Head Coach: Vasile Revencu

Rugby Test: Chile v Uruguay

Chile v Uruguay in Montevideo (CONSUR A)

Uruguay looks to be a stronger side than that which travel to the USA. A couple of overseas-based players have arrived in Montevideo to strengthen the side. The Chileans have called only upon home-based players.

Argentina 'A' defeated Chile 71-3 in Santiago earlier this month in this competition.

Last Five Encounters
25.08.2007 Uruguay 35-34 in Santiago (CONSUR A)
22.07.2006 Uruguay 43-15 in Montevideo (WCQ America, South)
11.05.2005 Chile 34-25 in Buenos Aires (26th S.America Champ.)
01.05.2004 Uruguay 20-13 in Santiago (25th S.America Champ.)
26.04.2003 Uruguay 20-13 in Montevideo (24th S.American Champ.)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Chile 23rd, Uruguay 24th
South America Table-Uruguay 2nd, Chile 3rd

Prediction: Uruguay by 17 points


Chile Squad
Matetic Andres (Alumni)
Sebastian Aviles (Alumni)
Oliver Bassa (Santo Tomas)
Felipe Burgos (Troncos)
Felipe Osorio Burgos (Troncos)
Matias Cabrera (Old Boys)
Francisco De La Fuente (Old Mackayan's)
Sergio De La Fuente (Old Mackayan's)
Francisco Deformes (Old Mackayan's)
Ignacio Deformes (Old Mackayan's )
Bejamin Del Solar (Old Boys)
Manuel Gurruchaga (Old john's)
Cristian Manzur (Univ.Catolica)
Andres Matetic (COBS)
Cristian Onetto (COBS)
Juan Pablo Perrota (Univ.Catolica)
Javier Reyes (Prince of Wales Country Club)
Diego Schachner (COBS)
Pablo Sepulveda (Old Georgeans)
Javier Valderrama (Old John's)
Nicolas Venegas (Stade Francais)
Cristobal Westenenk (Old Boys)
Head Coach: Daniel Graco

Uruguay Squad
15 Jeronimo Etcheverry (Carasco Polo)
14 Jolivet (?)
13 Joaquin Pastore (Old Boys)
12 Martin Llovet (Old Christians)
11 Juan Lavat (Old Christians)
10 Matias Arocena (Old Christians)
9 Juan Campomar (Old Boys)
8 Nicolas Brignoni (Oyonax, France)
7 Alfredo Giuria (L’Aquila, Italy)
6 Ignacio Conti (Carasco Polo)
5 De Oliveria (?)
4 Juan Bado (Montauban, France)
3 Pablo Lemoine, Capt. (Montevideo Cricket)
2 Carlos Arboleya (Trebol)
1 Rodrigo Sanchez (Carasco Polo)
16 Nicholas Klappembach (Champagnat)
17 Mario Sagario (Carasco Polo)
18 Matias Fonseca (Los Cuervos)
19 Martin Espiga (Old Christians)
20 Manuel Martinez (Old Christians)
21 Nicholas Morales (Trebol)
22 To be named
Head Coach: Guillermo Garcia

Rugby Test: United States v Japan

United States v Japan in Tokyo (2nd test)

The USA team will improve the longer they are together. They lost shape as a team against Japan and with good coaching that should improve this week.

The question is will they improve enough to get past a Japanese side that is batting well above their weight. With 16 top line players out with injury coach John Kirwan has this young side firing at the right time.

Prediction: USA by 3 points


United States
15 Chris Wyles (Saracens, England)
14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz, France)
13 Paul Emerick (Overmach Parma, Italy)
12 Junior Sifa (Midleton)
11 Gavin Debartolo (Eastern Suburbs)
10 Michael Hercus (IBM, Japan)
9 Mike Petri (New York AC)
8 Pat Quinn (Denver Barbarians)
7 Todd Clever, Capt. (Xerox Lions)
6 Inaki Basaui (Agen, France)
5 Hayden Smith (Saracens, England)
4 John Van der Giessen (Denver Barbarians)
3 Brian LeMay (Boston Irish Wolfhounds)
2 Mark Crick (Potomac AC)
1 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie, England)
16 Joseph Welch (Univ. of California)
17 Mate Moeakiola (undeclared)
18 Courney MacKay (Auckland, New Zealand)
19 JJ Gagiano (Univ. of Cape Town, Sth Africa)
20 Chad Erskine (Rotherham)
21 Thretton Palamo (Biarritz, France)
22 Valenese Malifa (Belmont Shore)
Head Coach: Scott Johnson

15. Kaoru Matsushita (Yamaha)
14. Kosuke Endo (Toyota)
13 Bryce Robins (NEC)
12. Ryan Nicholas (Suntory)
11. Koji Tomioka (Yamaha)
10. Shaun Webb (World)
9. Fumiaki Tanaka (Sanyo)
8. Ryu Holani (Sanyo)
7. Takashi Kikutani, Capt. (Toyota)
6. Michael Leitch (Tokai University)
5. Toshizumi Kitagawa (Toyota)
4. Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba)
3. Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory)
2. Yusuke Aoki (Suntory)
1. Hisateru Hirashima (Kobe Steel)
16. Naonori Mizuyama (NEC)
17. Naoki Kawamata (Sanyo)
18. Luke Thompson (Kintetsu)
19. Mosata Toyida (Toshiba)
20. Tomoki Yoshida (Toshiba)
21. Masakazu Irie (Sanyo)
22. Piei Mafileo (Nihon University)
Head Coach: John Kirwan

Test Rugby: Pacific Islands v Italy

Pacific Islands v Italy

This test match looks an interesting contest. These two teams have never met before. Both teams are looking for their first win in the 'Autumn' series.Only occasionally have the Italans played any of the Pacific Island nations.

The Pacific Islanders have looked well short of a gallop in each of their games. They just haven't had the preperation time the other teams have been allowed.

Italy looked the goods against Australia and then dropped the game against Argentina. The size and grunt of their pack should be enough to hold the Islanders but their backs just can't find the gaps

Prediction: Italy by 14


15 Andrea Masi
14 Kaine Robertson
13 Mirco Bergamasco
12 Gonzalo Garcia
11 Matteo Pratichetti
10 Andrea Marcato
9 Pietro Travagli
8 Sergio Parisse, Capt.
7 Mauro Bergamasco
6 Joshua Sole
5 Marco Bortolami
4 Tommaso Reato
3 Carlos Nieto
2 Leonardo Ghiraldini
1 Matias Aguero
16 Fabio Ongaro
17 Andrea Lo Cicero
18 Salvatore Perugini
19 Alessandro Zanni
20 Pablo Canavosio/Giulio Toniolatti
21 Luke McLean
22 Riccardo Pavan
Head Coach: Nik Mallett

Pacific Islands
15 Kameli Ratuvou
14 Sailosi Tagicakibau
13 Seilala Mapusua
12 Epi Taione
11 Vilimoni Delasau
10 Seremaia Bai
9 Sililo Martens
8 Sisa Koyamaibole
7 Nili Latu, Capt.
6 Viliami Vaki
5 Paino Hehe
4 Filipo Levi
3 Kisi Pulu
2 Tanielu Fuga
1 Justin Va'a
16 Sunia Koto
17 Tonga Lea'aetoa
18 Semisi Naevo
19 Hale T-Pole
20 Mosese Rauluni
21 Seru Rabeni
22 Gavin Williams
Head Coach: Quiddus Fielea

Test Match: Argentina v Ireland

Argentina v Ireland in Dublin

On a magnificent occasion in Paris last September Argentina powered their way to a 30-15 win over Ireland in Pool D to propel themselves in the Quarter Finals and bounce Ireland out of the tournament. One just feels Argentina has not been able to recapture the high standard of that match in their November 2008 tour so far.

As for Ireland, they are rebuilding after that failed World Cup and a number of new players has emerged on the scene. Some of the old hands from that World Cup are still around making the team an interesting mix.

Last Five Encounters
30.09.2007 Argentina 30-15 in Paris (World Cup, Pool D)
02.06.2007 Argentina 16-0 in Buenos Aires
26.05.2007 Argentina 22-20 in Santa Fe
27.11.2004 Ireland 21-19 in Dublin
26.10.2003 Ireland 16-15 in Adelaide (World Cup, Pool A)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Argentina 7th, Ireland 12th

Prediction: Los Pumas to recapture some glory, by 15 points


15 Horacio Agulla
14 Francisco Leonelli
13 Federico Martin Aramburu
12 Miguel Avramovic
11 Rafael Carballo
10 Juan Martin Hernandez
9 Nicolas Vergallo
8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon
7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Capt
6 Martin Durand
5 Patricio Albacete
4 Rimas Alvarez Kairelis
3 Juan Pablo Orlandi
2 Mario Ledesma
1 Rodrigo Roncero
16 Alberto Vernet Basualdo
17 Marcos Ayerza
18 Esteban Lozada
19 Alvaro Galindo
20 Agustin Figuerola
21 Santiago Fernandez
22 Bernardo Stortoni
Head Coach: Santiago Phelan

15 Geordan Murphy
14 Tommy Bowe
13 Brian O'Driscoll, Capt.
12 Luke Fitzgerald
11 Robert Kearney
10 Ronan O'Gara
9 Tomas O'Leary
8 James Heaslip
7 David Wallace
6 Stephen Ferris
5 Paul O'Connell
4 Donncha O'Callaghan
3 John Hayes
2 Jerry Flannery
1 Marcus Horan
16 Rory Best
17 Anthony Buckley
18 Malcolm O'Kelly
19 To be named
20 Eoin Reddan
21 Paddy Wallace
22 Keith Earls
Head Coach: Declan Kidney

Test Rugby: Australia v France

Australia v France in Paris

Australia does not have a good record against France in Paris.Forget the results of France's tour down south in June with a scratch team. This French side is developing, improving, still unpredictable and eager to continue their winning way on their home turf. There could be some pressure from the crowd. Remember how badly the french team let their fans down towards the end of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. They need a good win.

The Wallabies are still rebuilding their team. 2008 has not been a thoroughly happy year but Australia jumped a level with that convincing win against England last week. Now we know their pack is rock solid. And their backs aren't too bad as well

Last Five Encounters
05.07.2008 Australia 40-10 in Brisbane
28.06.2008 Australia 34-13 in Sydney
05.11.2005 France 26-16 in Paris
02.07.2005 Australia 37-31 in Brisbane
13.11.2004 France 27-14 in Paris

Australia last won in Paris 18-13 in 2000

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Australia 3rd, France 9th

Prediction: Leus Blues to flop! Australia by 19.


15 Maxime Medard
14 Julien Malzieu
13 Yannick Jauzion
12 Benoit Baby
11 Cedric Heymans
10 David Skrela
9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde
8 Imanol Harinordoquy
7 Fulgence Ouedraogo
6 Thierry Dusautoir
5 Lionel Nallet
4 Sébastien Chabal
3 Nicolas Mas
2 Dimitri Szarzewski
1 Lionel Faure
16 Benjamin Kayser
17 Benoit Lecouls
18 Romain Millo Chluski
19 Louis Picamoles
20 Julien Tomas
21 Damien Traille
22 Alexis Palisson
Head Coach: Marc Lièvremont's

15 Adam Ashley-Cooper
14 Peter Hynes
13 Ryan Cross
12 Stirling Mortlock, Capt.
11 Drew Mitchell
10 Matthew Giteau
9 Luke Burgess
8 Wycliff Palu
7 George Smith
6 Dean Mumm
5 Nathan Sharpe
4 Hugh McMeniman
3 Alistair Baxter
2 Stephen Moore
1 Benjamin Alexander
16 Tatafu Polota-Nau
17 Sekope Kepu
18 Mark Chisholm
19 David Pocock
20 Samuel Cordingley
21 Quade Cooper
22 Digby Ioane
Head Coach: Robbie Deans

Rugby Test: South Africa v England

South Africa v England at Twickenham

This clash is brewing up into a most interesting encounter. These two teams battled out the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup and were at the time the giants of world rugby. It would be difficult to tag that label on them at the moment. Both sides has struggled to dominate their opposition so a rematch of the Cup final looms as a titanic struggle with the pressure on both sides to perform.

England were too organised for a Pacific Island team flung together at the last minute but found the Australians too tough last weekend. England is rebuilding their side after the disappointments of the 2007 Rugby World Cup and the 2007-08 6 Nations tournament. Their forwards are certainly lacking the muscle usually associated with an English side whilst the backline is missing the composure of a Johno Wilkinson.

South Africa has experienced the high and lows of test rugby in 2008 but at the tail end of their season they are struggling. South Africa has rarely showed the form this year that won them the 2007 Rugby World Cup. They look a tired bunch only they only just squeeked past Scotland last weekend.
Last Five Encounters
20.10.2007 South Africa 15-6 in Paris (World Cup Final)
04.09.2007 South Africa 36-0 in Paris (World Cup, Pool A)
02.06.2007 South Africa 55-22 in Pretoria
26.05.2007 South Africa 58-10 in Bloemfontein
21.11.2006 South Africa 25-14 at Twickenham

You have to go back seven test matches before you read an England win in the history of clashes between these two nations. That was a close 23-21 win at Twickenham November two years ago.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-South Africa 2nd, England 5th.

Prediction: South Africa by 11 points.


15 Delon Armitage
14 Paul Sackey
13 James Noon
12 Riki Flutey
11 Ugo Monye
10 Daniel Cipriani
9 Danny Care
8 Nicholas Easter
7 Thomas Rees
6 James Haskell
5 Thomas Palmer
4 Steven Borthwick, Capt.
3 Phillip Vickery
2 Lee Mears
1 Timothy Payne
16 Dylan Hartley
17 Matthew Stevens
18 Simon Shaw
19 Thomas Croft
20 Jordan Crane
21 Harry Ellis
22 Tobias Flood
Head Coach: Martin Johnson

South Africa
15 Conrad Jantjes
14 JP Pietersen
13 Adrian Jacobs
12 Jean de Villiers
11 Bryan Habana
10 Ruan Pienaar
9 Ricky Januarie
8 Pierre Spies
7 Danie Rossouw
6 Schalk Burger
5 Victor Matfield
4 Bakkies Botha
3 Jannie du Plessis
2 John Smit, Capt
1 Beast Mtawarira
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle
17 Brian Mujati/CJ van der Linde
18 Andries Bekker
19 Ryan Kankowski
20 Heinrich Brussow
21 Francois Steyn
22 Jaque Fourie
Head Coach: Pieter de Villiers

For lists of all international rugby tests played by South Africa, and by England, go to

Test Rugby: New Zealand v Wales

New Zealand v Wales

6 Nations title holder Wales takes on the ruthless All Blacks at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Wales has always been regarded as a major foe that the New Zealanders love to defeat. However its been over fifty years since Wales has won a test against the All Blacks and in the last twenty years the Welsh have taken some mighty hammerings from the Kiwis.

I call the AllBlacks ruthless because of the way they shut out opposing attacks and then stamp their authority on the game. Not since Hong Kong has a side scored a try against this team. This All Black side has the chance to grab the 'Grand Slam', which for Southern Hemisphere sides involves winning tests against all the 'Home' nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) in one test series. So far the New Zealanders have defeated Scotland 32-6 (with virtually their second-string side) and Ireland 22-3 (with the full complement) with ease.

Wales on the other hand conceded 20 points against South Africa and 13 against Canada this month. They were unlucky to lose to the Springbox (am I allowed to call them that?) and their second-string side struggled against a determined Canadian side. Wales on their hallowed ground (Why did they ever drop the name 'Cardiff Arms Park'?) in front of a passionate crowd are always a handful. The Welsh will need to play well beyond what they have produced so far in November to get near the New Zealanders. The last two occasions the Kiwis ventured out on this ground each time they gave the Welsh an almighty walloping.

One thing you can be sure of is that the Welsh will throw everything at the All Blacks in the first half. Whether they can maintain that for the whole eighty minutes is another story.

Mid-week the second-string All Black side won 18-16 against the European Champions side Munster. What a day for the provincial side and for rugby outside the main test arena. A match like in the gold-old-days when touring teams played a mid-week game and then took on a test side come Saturday. Unfortunately such matches usually always produce casualties and New Zealand hooker Corey Flynn broke his arm in this match. Elliott may well gain his first All Black test 'cap'. To me being able to front up in a test match after a mid-week match is the real 'test' of an international rugby team.

Last Five Encounters
25.11.2006 New Zealand 45-10 in Cardiff.
05.11.2005 New Zealand 41-5 in cardiff
20.11.2004 New Zealand 26-25 in cardiff
02.11.2003 New Zealand 53-37 in Sydney (World Cup, Pool D)
21.06.2003 New Zealand 55-3 in Hamilton

GWC Rugby Rankings: New Zealand 1st, Wales 4th

Prediction: New Zealand by 23 points.


15 Lee Byrne
14 Leigh Halfpenny
13 Thomas Shanklin
12 James Roberts
11 Shane Williams
10 Stephen Jones
9 Gareth Cooper
8 Andrew Powell
7 Martyn Williams
6 Ryan Jones, Capt.
5 Ian Evans
4 Alun-Wyn Jones
3 Adam Jones
2 Matthew Rees
1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Richard Hibbard
17 John Yapp
18 Luke Charteris
19 Dafydd Jones
20 Dwayne Peel
21 James Hook/Dan Biggar
22 Andrew Bishop
Head Coach: Warren Gatland

New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina
14 Joe Rokocoko
13 Richard Kahui
12 Ma'a Nonu
11 Sitiveni Sivivatu
10 Daniel Carter
9 James Cowan
8 Rodney So'oialo
7 Richard McCaw, Capt.
6 Jerome Kaino
5 Alistair Williams
4 Bradley Thorn
3 Tony Woodcock
2 Keven Mealamu
1 Neemia Tialata
16 Hikawera Elliot
17 John Afoa
18 Anthony Boric
19 Kieran Read
20 Piri Weepu
21 Stephen Donald
22 Isaia Toeava
Head Coach: Graham Henry

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Wales, and by New Zealand, go to

Friday, November 21, 2008

Test rugby: Canada v Scotland

Canada v Scotland in Aberdeen

This will be the first time a test match has been staged in the beautiful North of Scotland city of Aberdeen.

Canada move into this game with a few wounded. Fly half Ander Monro and captain Pat Riordan are unable to play to injury. They lost 10-26 to Scotland 'A' in Canada in the Churchill Cup contest back in June, and again to Scotland 'A' 10-15 back in 2006.

"It's possible the weather could slightly favour Canada - if the Canucks can deal with the bitter cold and wind expected at Pittodrie in Aberdeen. An arctic blast will be blowing through the ocean-side pitch on Scotland's East coast and forecasters are predicting snow and a consistently high wind for game time. Apparently - players may need to keep an eye out for one other thing on the pitch - fish. In high wind with big waves crashing nearby - it is not unknown for fish to be blown onto the pitch." I Like it!

Scotland have three players from the test against South Africa unavailable. They are Chris Paterson, Thom Evans and Jason White. I feel that Scotland can absorb such loses whilst Canada just does not have the depth.

Previous Encounters
15.06.2002 Canada 26-23 in Vanvouver
21.01.1995 Scotland 22-6 in Edinburgh

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Scotland 6th, Canada 17th

Prediction: Scotland by 55 points.


15 Rory Lamont (Sale Sharks, England)
14 Simon Webster (Edinburgh)
13 Benjamin Cairns (Edinburgh)
12 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)
11 Nikki Walker (Neath Swansea Ospreys, Wales)
10 Phil Godman (Edinburgh)
9 Mike Blair, Capt. (Edinburgh)
8 Simon Taylor (Stade Francais, France)
7 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester, England)
5 Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh)
4 Nathan Hines (Perpignan, France)
3 Euan Murray (Northampton, England)
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh)
1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh)
16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors)
17 Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester, England)
18 Matt Mustchin (Edinburgh)
19 Scott Gray (Northampton, England)
20 Rory Lawson (Gloucester, England)
21 Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors)
22 Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors)
Head Coach: Frank Hadden

15. James Pritchard (Bedford, England)
14. Sean Duke (University of Victoria)
13. Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers)
12. Ryan Smith (Calgary Irish)
11. Justin Mensah-Coker (Plymouth Albion)
10. Matt Evans (Hartpury College)
9. Ed Fairhurst, Capt.(Cornish Pirates, England)
8. Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harlequins)
7. Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria)
6. Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers)
5. Josh Jackson (Bordeaux Begles, France)
4. Tyler Hotson (Northern Suburbs, Australia)
3. Scott Franklin (Cornish Pirates, England)
2. Mike Pletch (Velox Valhallians)
1. Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
16. Frank Walsh (Vandals RFC)
17. Mike Burak (Cornish Pirates, England)
18. Sean Michael Stephen (Plymouth Albion)
19. Morgan Williams (James Bay AA)
20. Nathan Hirayama (University of Victoria)
21. Bryn Keys (Velox Valhallians)
22. To be named
Head Coach: Kieran Crowley

Full complete lists of international rugby results by these two nations go to

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Test Rugby: This Weekend 21-22 Nov.

Canada v Scotland in Aberdeen

New Zealand v Wales in Cardiff
South Africa v England at Twickenham
Australia v France in Paris
Argentina v Ireland in Dublin
Pacific Islands v Italy in Reggio Emilia
United States v Japan in Tokyo (2nd Test)
Uruguay v Chile in Montevideo (CONSUR A)
Moldova v Czech Republic in Prague (WCQ Euro. R2; ENC 2A)
Greece v Israel in Kfissa (WCQ Euro. R5; ENC 3C)
Bosnia Herzegovina v Azerbaijan in Baku (ENC 3D)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Test Results16 November

Japan 29, United States 19 in Nagoya (1st Test)
Moldova 20, Belgium 8 in Chisinau (WCQ Europe R2; ENC 2A)

Well, how out was I? Japan's result was abit of an upset. They did well without many of their top players. How did the USA lose this game?

I played Moldova up well in my previews but didn't back them! Silly me. It looks like they are well on the way back up. Belgium, if I can make an excuse, had to leave three of their original selections behind. Did this make a difference. Post your views on either game here.

Rugby Result: Bosnia Herzegovina 46, Slovakia 32

A very high scoring game saw the Bosnians home against relatively new players in ENC 3D. Someone who saw the game, and who posted on the FIRA-AER Forum, commented that the defence was 'not good'. They didn't mention to whom this applied, but perhaps both teams were at fault. Was it an entertaining game? Post your views here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Test Rugby: Belgium v Moldova

Belgium v Moldova in Chisinau (WCQ Europe R2; ENC 2A)

Belgium squeaked passed Ukraine in their first game of the season. This will be Moldova's first. The standard between the teams in this competition looks very even. Yesterday we saw Poland upset Czech Republic 13-7 and in early October the Ukraine defeated Poland 13-12.

Belgium has been one of the high flyers in European rugby. They have embarked on a rugby promotional programme which has seen Argentina and the British Barbarians play in Brussels. Their team has also been up there close with the leaders of Continental rugby. They were only just pipped by Germany last season in the race for a place in Division 1. They have sent a strong team to Chisinau and they remain favourites to win.

Moldova is a rugby playing country that we hear little about. But they have quietly worked their way up the European rugby ladder in the last five years. Their first year in the present format of the European Nations Cup, 2003, saw them competing successfully in Division 3A.

In late 2004 they entered the 2007 World Cup qualifying rounds defeating Denmark and Luxembourg, but lost to Germany (18-27) and suprisingly to Austria. They qualified for Round 3 and began with a shock 30-27 win over the Netherlands. The world began to take notice. They lost to Spain but went on to defeat Poland (27-13), with Spain eventually progressing.

This success story continued the next season when they were, on their qualifying efforts, promoted to ENC 2A. They promptly celebrated their rise in stature with a 26-24 win over Germany. This was in November 2006. They continued to dominate the first round with more wins, crushing the Netherlands, and then narrowly defeating both the Ukraine and Belgium in away games. Suddenly Moldova was a likely candidate for promotion into Division 1. But then rugby went pear-shaped for Moldova. The warning signs were out after a narrow win against the Netherlands. A week later Germany crushed the Moldovans 34-7 and then lost to both Belgium and Ukraine at home. Wins in the last two games could well have propelled the Moldovans into Division 1. Not so.

Today the Moldovans have a lot to play for. A new two-year competition and a lot more hard work is ahead of them if they are to keep in contention for that ellusive promotion. It could start here in Chisinau. They will have to be at the top of their game to defeat Belgium.

Previous Encounters
12.04.2008 Belgium 22-19 in Chisinau (ENC 2A)
21.04.2007 Moldova 29-27 in Brussels (ENC 2A)
07.04.2001 Belgium 26-10 in Brussels (FIRA Pool1; WCQ Euro. R1)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Belgium 14th, Moldova 15th

Prediction: Belgium by 2 points.

Julien Berger (Stade Rochelais, France)
Bertrand Billi (Soignies)
Dries Bovijn (Boitsfort)
Jérôme Cauwe (ASUB Rugby Waterloo)
Aurélien Decerf (Arras, France)
Thomas Dienst (Lyon, France)
Denis Eppe (Rugby Ottignies Club)
Charles Fourneau (Lille, France)
Damien Godefroy, Capt. (Lille, France)
Dirk Haghedooren (Lille, France)
Mathew Hocken (Brussels Barbarians RFC)
Simon Marote (Arras, France)
Julien Massimi (Arras, France)
Alain Miriallakis (St.Nazaire, France)
James Mulumba (Domont, France)
Cyril Nana (Lille, France)
David Nemsadze (Domont, France)
Joseph Nwema (Surennes, France)
Frédéric Rongé (Haywards Heath, England)
Mathieu Verschelden (ASUB Rugby Waterloo)
Alan Williams (Castres, France)
Kevin Williams (Arras, France)
Head Coach: Richard McClintock

Moldova squad
Dumitru Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Victor Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Anton Bajutinde (Olimp - Electromaş Tiraspol)
Adrian Baltag (USEFS Blumarine)
Vasile Bolea (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Ion Buşilă (USEFS Blumarine)
Nicolae Caburgan (USEFS Blumarine)
Sergiu Castraveţ (USEFS Blumarine)
Nicolae Chirilă (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Maxim Cobîlaş (Steaua Bucureşti, Romania)
Vadim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Vitalie Coropcean (UTM Chişinău)
Alexei Cotruţa (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Maxim Gargalîc (Farul Constanţa, Romania)
Vitalie Gîra (UTM Chişinău)
Vasile Leu (UTM Chişinău)
Veaceslav Lozinschii (USEFS Blumarine)
Octavian Manoli (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Alexandr Matveev (USEFS Blumarine)
Andrei Romanov (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Alexandru Şîşcan, Capt. (Slava Moscow, Russia)
Pavel Titarenco (Olimp Electromaş Tiraspol)
Veaceslav Titica (Slava Moscow, Russia)
Dumitru Vasilachi (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Gheorghe Volosciuc (USEFS Blumarine)
Constantin Zubco (USEFS Blumarine)
Head Coach: Vasile Revencu

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Belgium, and by Moldova, go to

Rugby Test: United States v Japan

United States v Japan at Nagoya (1st of 2 tests)

The USA arrived in Japan last week having just broken a rather embarrasing drought of victories. Not since October 2006 had the Americans won a game when they took the field in Salt lake City against the Uruguyans last Saturday. The 43-9 win, against a team missing all of their European-based players, and a welcomed relief for coach Scott Johnson and the USA rugby administration, may not have been the test they really needed. Johnson has been able to call upon most of his regulars for this months tests against Japan. The outcomes may not be much of a guide either.

Japanese coach, former All Black great John Kirwan, was unable to call upon seventeen of his Asia 5 Nations and Pacific Nations squads when he named a squad of thirty to do battle with the Americans. The Japanese starting line up includes four new test players with another three on the bench. This will leave the Japanese seriously under done to have call upon so many new caps or players with limited international experience.

You can be sure that the USA will concentrate their efforts in the scrum and use muscle to wear the Japanese down whilst Japan will try to outrun their heavier opponents. I can't see the Americans losing this first test.

Last Five Encounters
27.10.2003 USA 39-26 in Gosford (World Cup, Pool B)
17.05.2003 USA 69-27 in San Francisco (Superpowers Cup)
27.05.2000 USA 36-21 in Osaka (Pacific Rim)
12.06.1999 Japan 47-31 in Honolulu (Pacific Rim)
13.06.1998 Japan 25-21 in San Francisco (Pacific Rim)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Japan 14th, United States 18th

Prediction: USA by 22 points

The Teams

15. Kaoru Matsushita (Yamaha) 24, New Cap
14. Kosuke Endo (Toyota) 27, 21
13. Koji Taira (Suntory) 25, 10
12. Ryan Nicholas (Suntory) 29, 7
11. Koji Tomioka (Yamaha) 28, New Cap
10. Shaun Webb (World) 26, 7
9. Fumiaki Tanaka (Sanyo) 23, 6
8. Ryu Holani (Sanyo) 27, 6
7. Takashi Kikutani, Capt. (Toyota) 28, 16
6. Hajime Kiso (Yamaha) 30, 31
5. Toshizumi Kitagawa (Toyota) 27, 15
4. Luke Thompson (Kintetsu) 27, 11
3. Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory) 23, New Cap
2. Yusuke Aoki (Suntory) 25, 10
1. Hisateru Hirashima (Kobe Steel) 25, New Cap
16. Naonori Mizuyama (NEC) 26, 2
17. Naoki Kawamata (Sanyo) 23, New Cap
18. Tomoaki Taniguchi (Toyota) 26, 11
19. Michael Leitch (Tokai University) 20, New cap
20. Tomoki Yoshida (Toshiba) 26, 14
21. Masakazu Irie (Sanyo) 27, New Cap
22. Bryce Robins (NEC) 28, 19
Head Coach: John Kirwan

15.Christopher Wyles (Saracens, England) Age 25, 11 tests
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz, France) 23, 7
13. Paul Emerick (Overmach Parma, Italy) 28, 30
12. Junior Sifa (Middleton) 25, 1
11. Gavin DeBartolo (Eastern Suburbs) 26, 3
10. Michael Hercus (IBM, Japan) 29, 40
9. Michael Petri (NYAC) 23, 5
8. Patrick Quinn (Denver Barbarians) 26, 2
7. Todd Clever, Capt. (Xerox Lions) 25, 25
6. Inaki Basauri (Agen, France) 24, 4
5. John Van der Giessen (Denver Barbarians) 26, 3
4. Hayden Smith (Saracens, England) 23, 1
3. Matekitonga Moeakiola (Unattached) 30, 8
2. Mark Crick (Potomac Athletic Club) 33, 7
1. Michael MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie, England) 27, 51
16. Joseph Welch (Cal) 24, New Cap
17. Shawn Pittman (Chuckanut Bay) 20, 1
18. Alexander Parker (Gentlemen of Aspen) 34, 51
19. J.J. Gagiano (Univ. of Capetown, Sth Africa) 23, 1
20. Chad Erskine (Rotherham, England) 27, 8
21. Valenese Malifa (Belmont Shore) 22, 5
22. Thretton Palamo (Biarritz, France) 20, 1
Head Coach: Scott Johnson
Palamo played his only test for the USA as a 19 year old against South Africa during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

For full lists of all the international rugby tests played by Japan, and by the USA, go to

Test Results This weekend 14-15 Nov.

New Zealand 22, Ireland 3
South Africa 14, Scotland 10
Australia 28, England 14
Argentina 22, Italy 14
Spain 22, Germany 11
France 42, Pacific Islands 17
China Taipei 35, Sri Lanka 23
Poland 13, Czech Republic 7
Lithuania 33, Switzerland 0
Israel 11, Bulgaria 8
Bosnia Herzegovina 46, Slovakia 32

Scotland 'A' 69, georgia 3
Wales 34, Canada 13

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Test rugby: New Zealand v Ireland

New Zealand v Ireland

After their impressive 55-0 win against Canada last weekend, Ireland will be out to prove a point at Croke Park. Never before in the history of the game has Ireland defeated New Zealand. On Saturday they face what is probably the complete international rugby team. They are match fit (Ireland could be a little under done here) and have a clear objective of winning a Grand Slam (winning all tests against all home rugby nations). The support of fanatical Irish supporters in the holy grail of Croke Park may not be enough.

Last Five Encounters
07.06.2008 New Zealand 21-11 in Wellington
17.06.2006 New Zealand 27-17 in Auckland
10.06.2006 New Zealand 34-23 in Hamilton
12.11.2005 New Zealand 45-7 in Dublin
22.06.2002 New Zealand 40-8 in Auckland

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-New Zealand 1st, Ireland 12th

Prediction: New Zealand by 30 points

Teams, as per Planet-Rugby

15 Girvan Dempsey, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Rob Kearney, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 James Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Rory Best, 1 Marcus Horan. Replacements: 16 Jerry Flannery, 17 Tony Buckley, 18 Stephen Ferris, 19 Shane Jennings, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Paddy Wallace, 22 Keith Earls

New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock. Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 John Afoa, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Isaia Toeava.

Test Rugby: South Africa v Scotland

South Africa v Scotland at Murrayfield.

Last week the All Blacks. This week the Springbox. Life doesn't get any easier for a Scottish side struggling at this level of world rugby.

Last Five Encounters
25.08.2007 South Africa 27-3 at Murrayfield (World Cup Warm Up)
17.06.2006 South Africa 29-15 in Port Elizabeth
10.06.2006 South Africa 36-16 in Durban
27.11.2004 South Africa 45-10 at Murrayfield
14.06.2003 South Africa 28-19 in Johannesburg

Scotland last defeated South Africa at Murrayfield in 2002 winning 21-6. Ah, for them days!

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-South Africa 2nd, Scotland 6th

Prediction. Much the same as last week-South Africa by 29 points.

Regret, but time restrictions has limited this coverage.

Teams, as per planet-rugby

15 Chris Paterson, 14 Thom Evans, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Rory Lamont, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair (c), 8 Ally Hogg, 7 John Barclay, 6 Jason White, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobson. Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Matt Mustchin, 19 Scott Gray, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Dan Parks, 22 Hugo Southwell

South Africa
15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Brian Mujati, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Frans Steyn, 22 Jaque Fourie.

Test Rugby: Pacific Islands v France

Pacific Islands v France in Marseilles

GWC Rugby Rankings: Do not apply

Prediction: France by 14 points

Regret time restrictions has meant a limited covereage

Teams as per planet-rugby

15 Maxime Médard, 14 Julien Malzieu, 13 Yannick Jauzion, 12 Benoît Baby, 11 Cedric Heymans, 10 David Skrela, 9 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, 8 Imanol Harnordoquy, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Lionel Nallet (c), 4 Romain Millo-Chluski, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Lionel Faure. Replacements:16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Benoît Lecouls, 18 Sébastien Chabal, 19 Louis Picamoles, 20 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 21 Damien Traille, 22 Alexis Palisson

Pacific Islands
15 Gavin Williams (SAM), 14 Napolioni Nalaga (FIJ), 13 Seru Rabeni (FIJ), 12 Epi Taione (TGA), 11 Vilimoni Delasau (FIJ), 10 Seremaia Bai (FIJ), 9 Mosese Rauluni (FIJ, cap), 8 Nili Latu (TGA), 7 Sisa Koyamaibole (FIJ), 6 Hale T-Pole (TGA), 5 Kele Leawere (FIJ), 4 Paino Hehea (TGA), 3 Kisi Pulu (TGA), 2 Tanielu Fuga (SAM), 1 Kas Lealamanua (SAM). Replacements: 16 Sunia Koto (FIJ), 17 Census Johnston (SAM), 18 Filipo Levi (SAM), 19 Viliami Vaki (TGA), 20 Sililo Martens (TGA), 21 Kameli Ratuvou (FIJ), 22 Seilala Mapusua (SAM)

Rugby Test: Australia v England

Australia v England at Twickenham

There was a time when a clash between these two would have been a clash between the two best rugby nations. Sadly, both teams have slipped in their ratings since they clashed at the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. England won this famous match with a Jonny Wilkinson dropped goal in the last minutes of the match. They also played a quarter final match at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, another close match finally won by England, putting Australia out of the finals.

Both teams have a lot to play for. Both teams are struggling at the top level of the game and this week has seen plenty of gamesmanship between the teams especially over their respective forward packs. England once had a pack that could easily crush the Wallabies but tomorrow things could be different.

Last Five Encounters
06.10.2007 England 12-10 in Marseilles (World Cup, Quarter final)
17.06.2006 Australia 34-18 in Melbourne (Cook Cup)
11.06.2006 Australia 34-3 in Sydney (Cook Cup)
12.11.2005 England 26-16 at Twickenham (Cook Cup)
27.11.2004 Australia 21-19 at Twickenham (Cook Cup)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Australia 3rd, England 5th

Prediction: Australia by 7 points


England: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Tom Rees, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Phil Vickery, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Andrew Sheridan. Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 James Haskell, 20 Michael Lipman, 21 Harry Ellis, 22 Toby Flood

Australia: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Peter Hynes, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Stirling Mortlock, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Richard Brown, 7 George Smith, 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson. Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Wycliff Palu, 20 Sam Cordingley, 21 Quade Cooper, 22 Digby Ioane.

Thanks to,18259,3551_4497100,00.html

I regret that time restrictions will result in limited coverage

Test Rugby: Argentina v Italy

Argentina v Italy in Turin

This match takes on considerable importance as it gives both teams an opportunity to make up for the disappointments of last weekend. Argentina just lost out to France whilst Italy also pushed the Wallabies very close.

The pressure is perhaps more on Argentina. After their resounding successes at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the Pumas are struggling to reassert themselves on the international stage. They lost to Italy the last time they met, in Cordoba back in June. With news out this week putting them in contention to be included in the Tri Nations tournament, the Pumas simply have to perform.

As the underdogs, Italy has just a little less at stake. Perhaps the Italian fans are getting impatient for some consistent success. Italy has struggled at the top level of international rugby since their inclusion into the International Championship, now called the 6 Nations.

Last Five Encounters
28.06.2008 Italy 13-12 in Cordoba
09.06.2007 Argentina 24-6 in Mendoza
18.11.2006 Argentina 23-16 in Rome
19.11.2005 Argentina 39-22 in Genoa
17.06.2005 Italy 30-29 in Cordoba.

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Italy 7th, Argentina 9th

Prediction: Argentina by 7 points.


15 Andrea Masi (Biarritz Olympique, France) Age 27, 43 Caps
14 Kaine Robertson (Montepaschi Viadana) 28, 33
13 Matteo Pratichetti (Cammi Calvisano) 23, 10
12 Gonzalo Garcia (Cammi Calvisano) 24, 3
11 Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Français, France) 25, 54
10 Andrea Marcato (Benetton Treviso) 25, 9
9 Pablo Canavosio (Montepaschi Viadana) 26, 21
8 Sergio Parisse Capt. (Stade Français, France) 25, 55
7 Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Français, France) 29, 64
6 Josh Sole (Montepaschi Viadana) 28, 31
5 Marco Bortolami (Gloucester RFC, England) 28, 68
4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava (Ulster, Ireland) 27, 31
3 Carlos Nieto (Gloucester RFC, England) 32, 27
2 Fabio Ongaro (Saracens, England) 31, 56
1 Matias Aguero (Saracens, England) 28, 9
16 Leonardo Ghiraldini (Cammi Calvisano) 23, 14
17 Andrea Lo Cicero (Racing Metro Paris ) 31, 76
18 Salvatore Perugini (Stade Toulousain, France) 30, 53
19 Tommaso Reato (Femi CZ Rovigo) 23, 4
20 Pietro Travagli (Overmach Parma) 27, 7
21 Luciano Orquera (Brive, France) 27, 11
22 Luke Mclean (Cammi Calvisano) 21, 2
Head Coach: Nik Mallet

15 Bernardo Stortoni (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Age 30, 24 tests
14 Federico Martin Aramburu (Perpignan, France) 28, 17
13 Gonzalo Tiesi (Harlequins, England) 23, 17
12 Felipe Contepomi, Capt. (Leinster, Ireland) 30, 65
11 Rafael Carballo (Castres Olympique, France) 26, 4
10 Juan Martin Hernandez (Stade Francais, France) 26, 29
9 Nicolas Vergallo (Dax, France) 24, 12
8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Sale Sharks, England) 26, 26
7 Rimas Alvarez Kairelis (Perpignan, France) 33, 41
6 Martin Durand (Champagnat) 31, 59
5 Patricio Albacete (Stade Toulousian, France) 27, 27
4 Esteban Lozada (Toulon, France) 26, 11
3 Juan Pablo Orlandi (Rovigo, Italy) 25, 1
2 Mario Ledesma (ASM Clermont Auvergne, France) 35, 67
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Francais, France) 31, 30
16 Alberto Basualdo (Stade Toulousian, France) 25, 9
17 Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers, England) 25, 19
18 Alvaro Galindo (Beziers, France) 26, 5
19 Alejandro Campos (Pueyrredon) 25, 3
20 Agustin Figuerola (Club Atletico San Isidro) 23, New Cap
21 Santiago Fernandez (Hindu) 22, New Cap
22 Horacio Agulla (Brive, France) 23, 15
Head Coach: Santiago Phelan

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Argentina, and by Italy, go to

Test Rugby: Germany v Spain

Germany v Spain in Madrid (WCQ Europe R1; ENC 1)

A German team, without a number of their top players, lost 14-27 to A Welsh Clubs XV in Berlin last weekend. The team for this week's game will be much stronger including a number of top players from French clubs, including outstanding player Robert Mohr. This match will be Germany's first test match in the top division of European rugby and will go a long way to test whether the Germans are up to this level of international rugby.

Spain lost 15-42 away to Russia last weekend and will be looking to recover with a sound win at home. They have left out 4 of the players who travelled to Russia, replacing htem with 3 new caps and experienced back Jamie Nava

Previous Encounters
27.05.2006 Spain 36-10 in Madrid (WCQ Euro. R3, Playoff 2nd leg)
13.05.2006 Germany 18-6 in Heidelberg (WCQ Euro. R3, Playoff 1st leg)
26.04.1998 Spain 24-9 in Hannover (WCQ Euro.Pool 3, Rd B)
24.11.1996 Spain 25-17 in Heidelberg (FIRA, Pool A)
13.11.1994 Spain 29-10 in Hannover 9Friendly?)

The last time these two teams met is was for a place in the next round of World Cup 2007 qualifiers. Germany suprised the rugby world with their win in Heidelberg but Spain ran away with the return game in Madrid. You have to go back 12 years before you'll find a European competition between these two teams.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Spain 10th, Germany 12th

Prediction: Spain by 14 points


15 Edemoore Takendesa (RG Heidelberg)
14 Matthieu Franke (RC Orleans, France)
13 Kieron Davies (Luton RFC, England)
12 Colin Grzanna (Berliner RC)
11 Clemens von Grumbkow (RC Orleans, France)
10 Thorsten Wiedemann (TSV Handschuhsheim)
9 Mustafa Güngör (RG Heidelberg)
8 Robert Mohr (La Rochelle, France)
7 Gerrit van Look (Berliner RC )
6 Timothy Kasten (Southend RFC, England)
5 Jens Schmidt, Capt. (TSV Handschuhsheim)
4 Bodo Sieber (Univ. of Capetown RFC, Sth. Africa)
3 Alexander Widiker (RC Orleans, France)
2 Timothy Coly (RG Heidelberg)
1 Benjamin Krause (Hannover 78 / 08 Ricklingen)
16 Christian Baracat (SC Neuenheim)
17 Marcus Trick (SC Neuenheim)
18 Benjamin Danso (DRC Hannover )
19 Manuel Wilhelm (RG Heidelberg)
20 Lars Eckert (SC Neuenheim)
21 Marten Strauch (SC Neuenheim)
22 Markus Walger (RK Heusenstamm)
Head Coach: Rudolf Finsterer

Spain squad
César Bernasconi (CRC Madrid) Age 32, 16 tests
José Mª Bohorquez (CR Ciencias) 32, 22
Rafael Camacho (CR Ciencias) 30, 25
Juan Cano (CRC Madrid) 23, 17
Javier Canosa (CRC Madrid) 25, 28
Iván Criado (Cetransa El Salvador) 28, 50
Pablo Feijoo (CRC Madrid) 26, 43
Leandro Fernández-Aramburu (CR Ciencias) 28, 7
Juan González (CRC Madrid) 26, 24
Sergio Guerrero (UE Santboiana) New Cap*
Sebastián Hattori (CR Ciencias) 26, New Cap
Ion Insausti (Cetransa El Salvador) 24, 21
Juan Gónzalez Marruecos (CR Ciencias) 22, 2
Ignacio Martín (Gran Parma RC, Italy) 24, 23
Manuel Mazo (CR Ciencias) 23, 11
Igor Mirones (Getxo Artea RT) New Cap*
David Mota (CRC Madrid) 22, 19 *
Jaime Nava (Centransa El Salvador) 25, 24*
Marco Pinto (Clermont Auvergne, France) 20, 1
Camille Riu (UE Santboiana) New Cap*
Javier Salazar (CRC Madrid) 31, 54
César Sempere (CRC Madrid) 23, 31
Sergio Souto (Cetransa El Salvador) 31, 43
Matías Tudela (CRC Madrid) 24, 2
Head Coach: Ged Glynn
* Did not travel to Russia

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Germany, and by Spain, go to

Test Match: Sri Lanka v China Taipei

Sri Lanka v China Taipei in Tainan (Asia Nations Div.1)

Sri Lanka only needs to defeat China Taipei by 2 points or more to take out the honours in this winner takes all tournament. Sr Lanka drew 20-20 with Singapore last Tuesday, then Singapore defeated China Taipei 23-22 Thursday to create an interesting finale to this tournament.

China withdrew earlier this week in circumstances believed to be over passport arrangements into China Taipei. China regards this island nation as a part of China whereas the Taiwanese regard themselves as being independent. It begs the question ,yet unanswered, as to where does this leave China? Are they out of the competition now completely, or are they still in?

Previous Encounters
13.10.2002 China Taipei 56-18 in Pusan (Asia Games, Bronze Medal)
18.12.1998 China Taipei 28-10 in Bangkok (Asia Games, Bronze Medal)
17.01.1998 China Taipei 31-27 in Bangkok (WCQ Asia Round B)
26.10.1994 China Taipei 25-9 in Kuala Lumper (14th Asia Camp.)
20.09.1992 China Taipei 35-9 in Hong Kong (13th Asia Champ.)

Sri Lanka has only defeated China Taipei once, and that was back in 1990 when the Sri Lankans caused an upset to defeat the Taiwanese 9-6 on home soil in Colombo. This was where the 12th Asia Championships was held. Perhaps history is about to be made.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Sri lanka 6th, China Taipei 9th

Prediction: I just can't see the Chinese letting this one slip away. China Taipei by 3 points.


Sri Lanka Squad
Amjad Buksh (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Sashika Cooray (CH and FC)
Ashan de Costa (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Lasintha de Costa (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Kasun de Silva (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Shane Dissanayake (CH and FC)
Nilusha Fernando (Police Sports Club)
Bilal Hassen (Royal)
Ashan Karthelis (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Saliya Kumara (Kandy Sports Club)
Dushanth Lewke, Co Capt. (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Nushal Meepage (Army Sports Club)
Shamil Mohamed (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Reza Mubarak (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Achala Perera (CH and FC)
Danushka Perera (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Dinesh Sanjeewa (CH and FC)
Sajith Saranga (Isipatana College)
Mohamed Shariff (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Chula Susantha (Police Sports Club)
Henry Terrance (Ceylon Rugby & Football Club)
Gayan Weeraratne (Kandy Sports Club)
Dilanka Wijesekera, Co Capt. (CH and FC)
Coaches - Dawje Snyman, Norman Laker

China Taipei
Not available

For lists of all Sri Lanka international rugby results, and those of China Taipei, go to

Rugby Test: Czech Republic v Poland

Czech Republic v Poland in Ostrava (WCQ Europe R2, ENC 2A)

This match will be the Czech Republics first challenge in this Division. They were relegated from ENC 1 at the end of last season. This match marks the beginning of their climb back into the top Level of the European Nations Cup. They began the season by ending a long losing streak, defeating Croatia 47-0 last month in a warm up match.

The Poles are already on the board with a narrow 13-12 win over the Ukraine back in early October, whilst the Ukraine lost 8-9 to belgium in another narrow result. So the indications are that there is not much between these teams. I expect the result to be close.

Previous Encounters
04.11.2000 Poland 34-16 in Gdynia (FIRA B)
20.05.2000 Czech Republic 39-13 in Prague (FIRA C)
24.10.1998 Drawn 18-18 in Bezeg Dolny (FIRA Pool E)
14.03.1998 Poland 28-27 in Lodz (Friendly?)
04.04.1997 Czech Republic 39-32 in Olomouc (Friendly?)

These neighbours have not played each other for nearly eight years. Although to long ago to suggest any form, they do indicate a healthy rivalry back at a time when both nations were more or less on equal footings. In that the the Czech Republic climbed into the top level of European rugby only to be back with the Poles again. So, all in all, a most interesting fixture.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Czech Republic 13th, Poland 17th

Prediction: Czech Republic by 7


Czech Republic
15 Tomáš Nevický (RC Říčany) Age ?, New Cap
14 Jan Rudolf (RC Tatra Smíchov) 24, 8
13 Václav Jursík (Strasbourg, France) 24, 14
12 Jan Kolář (RC Slavia Praha) 1
11 Michal Schlanger (RC Říčany) 24, 16
10 Pavel Vokrouhlík (RC Sparta Praha) 27, 14
9 Vakhtang Pailodze (RC Sparta Praha) ?, 1
8 Jan Macháček (RC Slavia Praha) 36, 52
7 Miroslav Němeček (US Oyonnax, France) 28, 21
6 Josef Bláha (RC Říčany) 31, 12
5 Robert Voves (Narbonne, France) 27, 21
4 Tomáš Holovský (St. Raphael, France) ?, 2
3 Jan Benda (RC Sparta Praha) ?, 8
2 Ondřej Kutil (US Oyonnax, France) ?, 5
1 Lukáš Rapant (US Oyonnax, France) 25, 15
16 Jiří Skall (RC Sparta Praha) 35, 68
17 Roman Šuster (RC Rouen, France) 30, 24
18 Martin Wognitsch (US Oyonnax, France) ?, 1
19 Tomáš Veniger (RC Tatra Smíchov) ?, 4
20 Jiří Buryánek (RC Dragon Brno) 30, 23
21 Tomáš Forst (RC Praga) ?, 1
22 Petr Okleštěk, (Auxerre, France) ?, New Cap
Head Coach: Martin Kafka
Rapant last played for Czech Republic v Spain in September 2006
Adapted from ... ika-polsko and

Poland Squad
Dawid Banaszek (Bourgoin, France)
Romuald Berthe (?)
Kamil Bobryk( Budowlani Lodz)
Jurij Buhało (Posnania)
Grzegorz Falk (Juvenia Kraków)
Donald Gargasson (Toulon, France)
Tomasz Hebda (?)
Krzysztof Hotowski (Beaurepaire, France)
Michał Królikowski (Budowlani Lodz)
Michał Krużycki (Bourgoin, France)
Stanislas Krzesinski (Albi, France)
Fabien Kwarta (U.S. Morlaas Rugby, France)
Yaan Levandowski (Cahors, France)
Wojciech Łukasiewicz (Folc AZS Warszawa)
Ciril Monarcha (C.A. Riberacois, France)
Mariusz Motyl (Arka Gdynia)
Paweł Nowak (Arka Gdynia)
Konrad Pisarek (Orkan Sochaczew)
Kazimierz Raszpunda (Pogoń Siedlce)
Bastien Siepielski (?)
Łukasz Szostek (Arka Gdynia)
Cedric Vaissiere (Albi, France)
Marcin Wilczuk (Old Belvedere, Ireland)
Etienne Zyk (Clermont, France)
Head Coach: Tomasz Putra

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Czech Republic, and by Poland, go to

Test Match: Lithuania v Switzerland

Lithuania v Switzerland in Vilnius (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 3A)

Lithuania has already caused other nations in this division to take notice. A convincing 26-10 win away over Andorra, who were relegated from ENC 2B last season, has put the Lithuanians into the lead. A home win seems more likely.

Switzerland defeated the German Under 21 side back in September and were expected to set the pace at this level. It makes this match even more compelling.

These two teams have only met once before. Switzerland won a close game 23-21 in Switzerland in 1998 as part of the then FIRA seeding process.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Lithuania 23rd, Switzerland 26th

Prediction: Lithuania too strong at home, to win by 12 points.


Lithuania Squad
Tomas Astrauskas (RC Salda Siauliai)
Dainius Baltrukenas (RC Klevas Panevezys)
Rokas Daknys (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Ignas Darkintis (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Mindaugas Grigas (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Vilius Kucinas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Irmantą Kukulskį (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Gediminas Liutkus (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Kestutis Marcisauskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Andrius Martinskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Mindaugas Misevicius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Darius Nosys (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Egidijus Petronis (RC Kursiai Klaipeda)
Žygimantą Radžių (RC Salda Siauliai)
Audrius Ramancionis (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Edmundas Scavinskas (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Paulių Šertvytį (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Donatas Streckis (RC Kursiai Klaipeda)
Augustiną Terlecką (RC "Geležinis Vilkas" Vilniaus)
Laurynas Tipelis (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Justinas Vasiliauskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Tomas Zibolis (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Edvardą Žilių (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Head coach - Anatolijus Smirnovas

Lithuania squad from

“Seems that Mariaus Andrijausko, Gedimino Marcišausko, Mindaugo Šiumberevičiaus, Aleksandro Čiuchlejaus and Tomo Stungio who were in squad for Andorra are all unavailable”

Swiss Team
Not available

For lists of international rugby results played by Lithuania, and by Switzerland, go to

Test Rugby: Israel v Bulgaria

Israel v Bulgaria in Pernik (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3C)

Israels last test match was against Cyprus back in early September. That match was carried over from earlier in the year, being the ENC 3C-3D playoff. The Israeli 23-14 win lifted them into ENC 3C.

This match is Bulgaria's first for the new season. Last season they were relegated from ENC 3B. The Bulgarians are a tough team to play on their home soil, managing wins at home over Austria and Norway since 2006.

Previous Encounters
08.06.2003 Bulgaria 25-23 in Ibisa, Spain (ENC 3C, Final)
21.05.2000 Israel 37-16 in Herzliya (FIRA D2)
24.04.1999 Isreal 11-10 in Sofia (FIRA D)

There was a time a few years ago when these two teams met in some stirring encounters, famous of which was the ENC 3C final back in 2003 when 3C was the emerging nations division and was held on the Spanish Island of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands. A close encounter saw a Bulgarian win and a promotion. The two teams are now back together again in the same division. I suspect the Bulgarians will be too strong at home.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Bulgaria 32nd, Israel 37th.

Prediction: Bulgaria by 30 points

Not available

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Israel and by Bulgaria go to

Rugby Test: Slovakia v Bosnia Herzegovina

Slovakia v Bosnia Herzegovina (ENC 3D)

ENC Divison 3D is the only level of European international rugby that does not qualify for 2011 Rugby World Cup qualification. The incentive is to be the leading side after 2 rounds (2 seasons) and thus be able to be in the World Cup qualifying rounds for 2015.

At this early stage Bosnia Herzegovina, relegated from ENC 3C, look to be way out in front. Their 52-5 win over Monaco, away, back in October, confirmed that. This is their second away game and , provided they can travel with much the same squad that went to Monaco, they should win again.

Slovakia lost to Cyprus 8-38 last year in Cyprus and Cyprus had earlier defeated Monaco 19-10 to give some idea of Slovakia's strength. Most of Slovakia's players either play for the only club in Bratislava or for Czech clubs over the border but they will find the Bosnians too slick.

This is the first time these two teams have met.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Bosnia Herzegovina 38th, Slovakia 40th

Prediction: Bosnia Herzegovina by 40 points.


Slovakia Squad
Martin Čmiel (RC Havířov, Czech Republic) 2 tests
Ondřej Hankovski (Sokol Mariánské Hory, Czech Rep.) 4
Richard Hladík (Lokomotiva Olomouc, Czech Rep.) New Cap
David Hughes (RC Slovan Bratislava) 3
Richard Januš (RC Lokomotiva Olomouc, Czech Rep.) 3
Jan Klokner (Sokol Mariánské Hory, Czech Rep.) 3
Patrik Kovacs (RC Havířov, Czech Republic) New Cap
Pavel Kozubík (RC Havířov, Czech Republic) 3
Petr Kozubík (RC Havířov, Czech Republic) 3
Josef Kučera (RK Petrovice, Czech Republic) 1
Michal Kučera (Náměšť na Hané, Czech Republic) 1
Tomáš Kurka (RC Lokomotiva Olomouc, Czech Rep.) 3
Martin Majovský (RC Slovan Bratislava) 2
Marcel Mana (Lokomotiva Olomouc, Czech Rep.) 5@
Jan Mandičák (RK Petrovice) New Cap
Martin Mihálik (RC Slovan Bratislava) 1
Viktor Ondroušek (RC Jimi Vyškov, Czech Republic) 5@
Patrik Poledna (Náměšť na Hané, Czech Republic) 4
Daniel Puha (RC Slovan Bratislava) 4
Anthony Puverle (RC Slovan Bratislava) 5@
Jaroslav Stoklásek (RC Zlín, Czech Republic) 5*@
Marek Ujček (RC Slovan Bratislava) New Cap
Head Coach: Pavel Lištván

* Added to squad
@ Have played in all Slovak tests to date.

Bosnia Herzegovina
Not available

For complete lists of all Slovakia and of all Bosnia Herzegovina test results, go to

Test Rugby This Weekend 15 November

New Zealand v Ireland in Dublin
South Africa v Scotland at Murrayfield
France v Pacific Islands in Marseilles
Australia v England at Twickenham
Argentina v Italy in Turin
Spain v Germany in Madrid (WCQ Europe R1; ENC 1)
China Taipei v Sri Lanka in Tainan (Asia Nations 1)
Czech Republic v Poland in Ostrava (WCQ Euro. R2; ENC 2A)
Lithuania v Switzerland in Kaunus (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 3A)
Israel v Bulgaria in Pernik (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 3C)
Slovakia v Bosnia Herzegovina in Bratislava (ENC 3D)

Test Rugby This Weekend: 16 November

Japan v United States in Nagoya
Moldova v Belgium in Chisinau (WCQ Europe R2; ENC 2A)

Test Rugby Results

Scotland 'A' 69, Georgia 3
What a huge disappointment. This was a mismatch in the end. Who is to blame?

Wales 34, Canada 13
More fight from Canada, more questions than answers for Wales?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Test Rugby: Canada v Wales

Canada v Wales in Cardiff

Will Canada get a respite against a second string Welsh side on Saturday? I suspect not. There are a number of Welsh players itching to make it into the Welsh side that will face New Zealand a week later. Canada has stuck mostly with the team that were washed away by the Irish last week. Surely they cannot play that poorly again.

Previous Encounters
09.09.2007 Wales 42-17 in Nantes (World Cup, Pool B)
17.11.2006 Wales 61-26 in Cardiff
11.06.2005 Wales 60-3 in Toronto
12.10.2003 Wales 41-10 in Melbourne (World Cup, Pool D)
16.11.2002 Wales 32-21 in Cardiff

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Wales 4th, Canada 17th

Prediction: Wales by 29 points


15 Morgan Stoddart (Llanelly Scarlets) Age 23, 2 Tests
14 Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues) 19, 1
13 Thomas Shanklin (Cardiff Blues) 29, 54
12 Andrew Bishop (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 23, 1
11 Mark Jones (Llanelli Scarlets) 29, 41
10 James Hook (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 23, 27
9 Martin Roberts (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 22, New Cap
8 Ryan Jones, Capt. (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 28, 23
7 Robin Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff Blues) 26, 5
6 Dafydd Jones (Llanelly Scarlets) 28, 31
5 Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons) 25, 7
4 Ian Gough (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 32, 53
3 Rhys Thomas (Newport Gwent Dragons) 26, 5
2 Richard Hibbard (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 25, 6
1 John Yapp (Cardiff Blue) 25, 8
16 Matthew Rees (Llanelly Scarlets) 28, 20
17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts (Sale Sharks) 27, New Cap
18 Alun-Wyn Jones (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 23, 24
19 Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues) 27, 1
20 Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks, England) 27, 62
21 Dan Biggar (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 19, New cap
22 James Roberts (Cardiff Blues) 21, 4
Head Coach: Warren Gatland
Yapp last played for Wales v Argentina, June 2006.

15 James Pritchard (Bedford Blues, England) Aged 27, 22 tests
14 Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers) 22, 1
13 Bryn Keys Bryn Keys (Velox Valhallians) 22, 3
12 Ryan Smith (Calgary Irish) 28, 38
11 Justin Mensah-Coker (Plymouth Albion, England) 24, 11
10 Ander Monro (Colorno, Italy) 26, 10
9 Edward Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates, England) 29, 38
8 Aaron Carpenter (Cowichan RFC) 24, 18
7 Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria) 24, 13
6 Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers) 22, 2
5 Joshua Jackson (Bordeaux Begles, France) 27, 19
4 Tyler Hotson (Northern Suburbs RFC, Australia) 23, 3
3 Jon Thiel (Bayside Sharks) 33, 43
2 Patrick Riordan, Capt. (University of Victoria) 28, 19
1 Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) 31, 41
16 Michael Pletch (Velox Valhallians) 25, 18
17 Frank Walsh (Vandals RFC) 31, 2
18 Michael Burak (Cornish Pirates, England) 27, 16
19 Sean Michael Stephen (Plymouth Albion, England) 25, 14
20 Morgan Williams (James Bay Athletic Association) 32, 54
21 Matthew Evans (Hartpury College, England) 20, 1
22 Dean Van Camp (Velox Valhallians) 25, 6
Head Coach: Kieran Crowley

For full lists of all Wales, and of Canada's international rugby tests go to

Test Rugby: Georgia v Scotland 'A'

Georgia v Scotland 'A'
This will be Georgia's first visit to Scotland and the first time they have ever played a Scottish XV.

Although this match is being played in the 'Window of November' (try explaining that to a soccer fan!) word has it that Georgia will not be able to call upon some of their top French-based players because Scotland 'A' is not actually a full test side.

I would have thought a test match is a test match. It doesn't seem right to me. What are your views?

Prediction: Scotland 'A' by 2 points.


Scotland 'A'
15 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors)
14 Nikki Walker (Neath Swansea Ospreys, Wales) *
13 Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors)
12 Rob Dewey (Ulster, Ireland)*
11 Mark Robertson (Edinburgh)
10 Gordon Ross (Saracens, England)*
9 Mark McMillan (Glasgow Warriors)
8 Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors)
7 Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors)
6 Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors)
5 Alastair Kellock, Capt. (Glasgow Warriors)
4 Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh)*
3 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh)
2 Phil Fitzgerald (Toulon, France)
1 Ed Kalman (Glasgow Warriors)
16 Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh)
17 Gavin Kerr (Edinburgh)*
18 Dan Turner (Glasgow Warriors)
19 Scott Newlands (Edinburgh)
20 Colin Gregor (Glasgow Warriors)
21 Andrew Henderson (Glasgow Warriors)*
22 Simon Webster (Edinburgh)*
Head Coach:
* Scottish internationals. Henderson and Kerr have both played 50 or more tests.
Thanks to

15 Otar Barkalaia (Figerac, France) Age 24, 33 tests
14 Irakli Chkhikvadze (Aia) 21, 10
13 Sandro Todua (Lelo) 21, 6
12 Davit Katcharava (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 23, 20
11 Irakli Machkhaneli (Agen, France) 27, 27
10 Lasha Malaghuradze (Kochebi) 22, 9
9 Irakli Abusseridze, Capt. (Orleans, France) 31, 53
8 Dimitri Bassilaia (ASM Clermont-Auvergne, France) 23, 6
7 Besso Udessiani (Chalon, France) 29, 33
6 Rati Urushadze (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 33, 30
5 Kakha Uchava (Farul Constanta, Romania) 32, 10
4 Ilia Zedguinidze (Auch, France) 31, 48
3 Guram Kavtidze, (Lyon, France) New Cap
2 Irakli Natriashvili (Farul Constanta, Romania) 25, 11
1 Davit Gasviani (Bobigny, France) 27, 11
16 Davit Dadunashvili (Massy, France) 26, 20
17 Vassil Kakovini (University) ?, New Cap
18 Shalva Sutiashvili (Massy, France) 24, 9
19 Simon Maissuradze (ASM Clermont-Auvergne, Fr.) 22, 7
20 Bidzina Samkharadze (Farul Constanta, Romania) 25, 34
21 Merab Kvirikashvili (Pau, France) 25, 28
22 Guiorgui Shkinini (Khuligana) 25, 30
Head Coach: Tim Lane

Zedguinidze was a late call up. He last played for Georgia v Ireland at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, after which he retired.

For complete lists of all test matches played by Scotland, Scotland XV's and Georgia go to

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rugby Test: Asia Nations: Singapore 23, China Taipei 22

Chinese Taipei defenders Wang Jen-Hsi (white & blue jersey left) and Wang Kuo-Feng (white & blue jersey right) try to bring down Singapore winger Jonathon Chen intoday's HSBC Asian Five Nations Division I Tournament in Tainan, Chinese Taipei. Singapore won today's match 23 - 22 after a last second try.

HSBC Asian Five Nations Division I
Singapore Survive Second Scare
From Sean Moore

Singapore 23, China Taipei 22

Singapore have survived a second scare to become the comeback side in the HSBC Asian Five Nations Division I Tournament after edging hosts Chinese Taipei with a last minute try to win the second match of the round robin tournament today in Tainan.

The win comes less than 48 hours after Singapore clawed back a draw against Sri Lanka with another 40th minute try in the opening match of the Asian Five Nations Division I Tournament played on Tuesday night, 11 November.

Nearly 400 fans were treated to another thriller today as both teams exchanged scores in perfect conditions. At the outset, Singapore looked as if they were still suffering from the effects of their Tuesday night heroics, as they conceded a try to Chinese Taipei from the kick-off through veteran centre Wu Chih-Chien. The try was not converted giving Chinese Taipei a 5 – nil lead. But Singapore bounced back, turning the tables with some consistent pressure on the Chinese Taipei defence for the second ten minutes of the first half. Despite the steady pressure, Chinese Taipei held the visitors to two penalties to bring the score to Singapore 6 – Chinese Taipei 5.

The Guinness Singapore Rugby Lions soon reverted to its successful game plan of earlier in the week, looking to the forward pack to make the hard yards and wear down Chinese Taipei’s consistent defensive line. In the 31st minute good interplay between the back row of No. 8 Ben Wheeler and flankers Andrew Bennett and Rong Jing Xiang opened up a gap for centre Daniel Thiam who further penetrated the defence before popping up to full-back Gareth Pritchard who crossed over for Singapore’s first try. The conversion by fly half John Forrester was successful, bringing the score to 13 – 5 Singapore.

Just five minutes later Chinese Taipei’s pacey backline finally found some breathing room amongst the Singapore defence, as centre Wang Jen-Hsi beautifully wrong-footed the opposition before dishing to winger Wang Kuo-Feng who crossed the line and moved behind the posts before touching down. The conversion was good bringing the score at halftime to 13 – 12 Singapore.

After a slow start to the second half by both teams, Chinese Taipei drew first blood through sharp centre Wang Jen-Hsi who successfully chased down an up and under that was bobbled by Singapore full back Pritchard. Wang picked up beautifully and finished off untouched from the 22-metre line. The successful conversion by fly half Chang Wei-Cheng put Chinese Taipei in the lead 19 – 13.

Long passages of play resumed before Singapore broke the impasse with another penalty through Forrester to bring the score to 19 – 16 in favour of the hosts. Frustration seeped in on both sides with two yellow cards being awarded in the 34th and 36th minute to Chinese Taipei hooker Chiu Po-Chih and Singapore fly half Forrester respectively. After Forrester was sent to the bin, Chinese Taipei kicked drop goal through fly half Chang Wei-Cheng to bring the score to 22 – 16 and seemingly put the game out of reach.

But in a replay of their last minute comeback from Match I, Singapore again rallied to drive the ball down field before hooker Gaspar Tan plunged over the line to bring the score to 22 – 21 Chinese Taipei. With Singapore’s fly-half and first choice kicker in the bin, the duties were left to Singapore centre Mohammed Ismail who calmly slotted his kick from the 22 to edge Singapore into the lead for good, 23 – 22.

The victory sees the Guinness Singapore Rugby Lions exit the HSBC Asian Five Nations Division I Tournament undefeated with a record of one win and one draw. Singapore’s tops the table with 8 points (5 points from a win and 3 points from their earlier draw). Sri Lanka lies in second place with 3 points from their draw versus Singapore. The hosts Chinese Taipei are in third place with 1 point, the result of a bonus point for losing by seven points or less.

In case of a tie on the Tournament table, (and in light of the previous draw between Singapore and Sri Lanka), the winner will be determined by points differential, then tries differential, most tries, most converted tries, most points scored and the least amount of first yellow and then red cards. If the table is still drawn a winner will be determined by the toss of a coin.

Sri Lanka now meets Chinese Taipei in the last match of the HSBC Asian Five Nations Tournament on Saturday, 15 November 2008, at 3.00pm. The winner of the Division I Tournament earns automatic promotion to the elite HSBC Asian Five Nations Top 5 competition alongside reigning champions Japan, as well as Korea, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan. The Top 5 competition is a Home and Away series that takes place every weekend from the last week of April through May 2009.

Test Rugby: Slovenia 18, Austria 9, with pics

Austria's ball with Slovenian defence moving in, from left, Potnik, Kos, Zavrsan, Sambol, Duh and Krsmanovic, with Miljus on the deck.

Gobec high after the ball.

Slovenia attacking: From left Djuratovic, Miljus, Magusar, Jovic and No.14 Kos.

Photos and info from Alexander Jug. View his excellent blog on Slovenian rugby at

Slovenia has now collected its third victory in ENC 3B with this win. Are they looking at moving up another level at the end of 2010? Are they that good? Post your opinion on this result. If you were at the game what are your post match thoughts?