Thursday, December 25, 2008

Seasons Greetings


Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 A Year of Rugby; Part 3


Travel! For the lower nations on this table this has been a major factor in their international rugby arrangements for 2008, especially at the senior level.

Oceania is governed by FORU, The Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions. There are fourteen rugby unions affiliated to this federation. The minor unions are divided into two zones, East and West. These zones will be involved in the 2011 Rugby World Cup qualifying process in 2009, the winner playing Samoa for a place in the Cup Finals.

Each zone holds a round robin tournament at one venue with the winners squaring off for a single winner-takes-all title. There is no promotion-relegation into the Pacific Nations Cup, which involves Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

In 2008 the Eastern Zone tournament was to be held in Rarotonga, whilst the West was to be in Noumea. It was expected that American Samoa would enter for the first time. But it all turned out to be a bit of a fizzer.

Firstly, Papua and New Guinea and Solomon Islands pulled out of the Western Zone, to be held in Noumea, at the last minute due to travel difficulties. PNG had warmed up with a 5-41 loss to Fiji 'A' in the curtain raiser to the Fiji v Samoa game at Lautoka, June 7. Wallis and Futuna also withdrew. That just left Vanuatu and New Caledonia, with the home side winning 29-20.

The Eastern Zone fared no better. Tahiti pulled out as did American Samoa leaving just the Cook Islands and Niue to play in Rarotonga. The Cook's decided only to play home-based players and lost 7-18, a mistake I'm sure they will not make in next years World Cup qualifiers.

The final in Noumea saw Niue easily win 27-5 to take the Oceania Cup for 2008.

Neither Tahiti nor Solomon Islands played international rugby in 2008 so they both drop off the table. The lower rankings look like this.

9th - New Caledonia
8th-Papua New Guinea
7th - Cook Islands

Samoa, Tonga and Fiji played in the Pacific Nations Cup, along with Japan, Australia 'A' and New Zealand Maori.

The Fijians were unable to improve on their 5th placing in 2007. Traditionally the leading Pacific island nation over the years they have slipped against their close neighbours. An early win over Samoa was countered by an away loss to Tonga in the last fixture of the tournament, sealing Fiji's 5th ranking.

The Tongans slipped from 3rd in 2007, losing to Samoa early in the tournament but upsetting the Fijians at home to prevent a slip further to 5th place. Generally the Tongans were unable to maintain their magnificent efforts at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Although losing to Fiji early in the tournament, the Samoans came back strongly with a youthful side to defeat Tonga at the right time and secure 3rd place. The gap from 3rd to 2nd to the top nations was emphasised with the Samoans' 14-101 loss to New Zealand in New Plymouth

New Zealand and Australia again hold the top two positions. It is difficult to see any other Oceania nations coming anywhere near these two.

For the fourth year in a row the Aussies play second fiddle to the Kiwis who had a magnificent season, except for a slight wobble in the middle of the Tri Nations. New Zealand and Australia played four times for the Bledisloe Cup. New Zealand dropped the first encounter in Sydney, but then took out the next three, including an historic meeting in Hong Kong, to keep their top position in Oceania.

1st-New Zealand.

Part 4 will see a review of North American rugby

For a complete list of all 2008 GWC Rugby Rankings, go to

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 A year of Rugby, Part 2

I will now look at each region and work my way through the nations of that region from the bottom up. Part 2 looks at South America, or its official IRB name CONSUR (Confederation Sudamericana de Rugby).

The 2008 CONSUR B tournament was held in Asuncion, Paraguay and signalled that nations return to international rugby after an absence of 3 years. The tournament was also part of the 2011 World Cup qualifying process, the winner playing the North American zone winner in order to proceed.

Peru lost all their games and finished last. They hosted the 2007 tournament in Lima where they did well in only losing to tournament winner Brazil. They lost heavily in all their games except for the 20-25 loss to Colombia. They dropped from 6th Ranking in 2007.

Colombia hold the same ranking as in 2007, again managing to win only one of its games, a close 25-20 win over Peru. They have never got close to either Brazil nor Paraguay, the top seeds in CONSUR B.

Venezuela was the first CONSUR B winner outside of Brazil and Paraguay to play in CONSUR A against the likes of Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. This took place in 2004 but it was a disaster. Venezuela were well below the required standard losing all the games heavily, including 147-7 against Argentina. That little experiment would not be repeated. In 2008 though, and against similiar standards, they fared better than their last in 2007. Wins over Colombia and Peru ensured a better placing, but they lost heavily to both Paraguay and Brazil.

What a disappointment 2008 turned out for the Paraguayans. A self imposed exile from international rugby to build their strength and their finances failed in the last match of the tournament. Brazil caused a major upset to topple the hosts 15-6.

In winning this tournament Brazil won the right to play Trinidad and Tobago for the right to proceed in the 2011 World Cup qualifiers. Their 15-6 win over Paraguay was their first since 1979. They won all their other tournament matches easily. Brazil also qualified for the World Table because they played against Trinidad and Tobago, outside their region.

The Chileans failed to improve on their position from 2007. They lost 71-3 to Argentina 'A' and 46-12 to Uruguay to record a most disappointing season. Their standard has slipped since the expansive days of 2001-2004 when Chile made a huge effort to play outside their zone.

Uruguay cemented its place in South American rugby underneath the Argentinians with a 46-12 win at home against Chile and a 8-43 loss to Argentina 'A' in May. A trip to the USA in early November with a below par side registered a loss 43-9. Earlier, Uruguay travelled to Bucharest to play in the IRB Nations Cup. They played impressively to hold Romania 6-10, Georgia 18-20 and finally Russia 19-23.

Argentina hold their top position without being threatened. Their 'A' side did the job comfortably. Argentina is of course concentrating their efforts with the No.1 side, using the CONSUR tournaments to blood their home-based players into international rugby.

Part 3 will look at the Oceania Zone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2008: A year of Rugby. Part 1

2008 A year of Rugby will follow in a number of parts as Rugbyinternational looks at rugby around the world at the international level.

Part 1: What is GWC Rugby Rankings?

My Rugby Ranking system is simplicity to a fault. It's so easy it defies all the technically enhanced computer generated systems led of course by the IRB Ranking System.

The IRB System is now so respected that it determines the placings of the top Rugby nations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. That seeding system was completed with the 2008 November round of international rugby tests and the resulting draw for that tournament was made in early December.

The only real grizzle I have with such a system is that teams who never play each other are all ranked in together. For the top tier of nations that is not really a problem as they mostly play each other in a clalendar season. When you go beyond that level teams who never play each other are ranked together. To me that is just not logical.

So about 5 years ago I came up with a simple system of ranking nations in geographical groups, which is where most teams below the top tier play. So I grouped teams in the following areas.

North America
South America

The rankings follow the old tennis ladder system. If you defeat a team above you on the ladder, you move to their position, and then all teams move down. If you draw with a team above you you go to the position imediately below, with all teams in between moving down.

The rankings are readjusted at the end of any tournament. In the 6 Nations tournament, if team No.1 is defeated by team No.6 in the last round there may not be a change if, on the points table there is no change. Small adjustments can be made.

All teams are ranked in their geographical zones, and then if they play a test match across the regions they then enter the World Table as well, which of course is the premier table. For example, both Hong Kong and Tunisia entered the World Table earlier in the year as they played two tests, home and away. Hong Kong is in the Asian zone whilst Tunisia is in the African. Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago also entered the World Table for 2008 because they played against each other in Rugby World Cup qualifying matches.

A team must play a test match within a calendar year to remain on any table. Teams drop out of the World Table for the same reason. No play, no gain.

The ladder philosophy is very simple. You are only as good as the last game you played.

You can view the completed GWC Rugby Ranking tables at

Post your views on the various ranking systems around. Post the links here and others can view and discuss. Look forwards to hearing from you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Test Rugby results 6 Dec.

Serbia 32, Andorra 7 in Smederevo (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 3A)
Cyprus 24, Monaco 3 in Episkopi (ENC 3D)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rugby Test: Monaco v Cyprus

Monaco v Cyprus in Episkopi (ENC 3D)

Venue: Happy Valley, RAF Episkopi, Near Limassol

Cyprus come into this test match with an impressive 37-3 win over Azerbaijan away last weekend. A clear win over Monaco here will put the Cypriots up there with Bosnia Herzegovina as competition leaders.

These two teams met for the first time in October last year at the ENC 3D tournament held in Cyprus. On that occassion Cyprus won 19-10. Cypris won that tournament and qualified to play Israel in a 3C/3D playoff in September. The result placed Cyprus back into ENC 3D and out of World Cup qualification. They will be out to make amends.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Cyprus 39th, Monaco 41st.

Prediction: Cyprus by 15 points.

Teams not available

Test Rugby: Andorra v Serbia

Andorra v Serbia in Smederevo (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 3A)

Andorra and Serbia have both had a shocker start to the new competition. Andorra lost 10-26 to competition high-roller and new comer Lithuania at home. Serbia crashed 0-41 to Armenia at this same venue back in September after defeating Armenia 19-8 back in May! Picking form is going to be tricky.

Andorra are without some of their leading players due to injury. Heading into Serbia for the first time the Andorrans will find this assignment tough although they will be slight favourites. There is no information available about the make up of the Serbian side.

These two teams have not met before.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Andorra 24th, Serbia 27th

Prediction: Andorra by 6 points

David Martinez
Roger Font
Xavier Vilasetru
Joan Castellon
Franck Mitjana
Oscar Cabanes
Ritchie Ortega
Marcos Cellone
Josef Chelidze
Paul Alieu
David Kirikashvili
Toni Carmona
Peter Ambor
Waki Tchatokey
Fabian Tonino
Jonathan Garcia
Eduard Vergara
Sergi Lucas
Roger Fite
Marc Gispert
Flavien Sayo
Maxim Taurinya
Anthony Gaulin
Benjami Fajol
Roberto Gimenez
Emmanuel Sarti-Gardes
Gerard Sotera
Head Coach:

Special thanks to ‘AndorranFanClub’
For Andorra: Taurinyà, Magallón, Jonathan Garcia, Lucas, Paul Alieu and Carmona are all injured, Thanks to 'Quentin'.

Serbia-Not available

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The months of December and January are the quietest months of international rugby around the world. There are a few more games to be played, mostly in the European Championship, known as the European Nations Cup. They are in the lower divisions.

The international action hots up again in February when the 6 Nations International Championship for 2009 gets underway, and the European Nations Cup fires up, especially in Division 1 games.

So what is this blog going to do for two months? I've made a list below. If there are aspects of the international game you want to know about then you can add a question in the comments box.

Here we go..

  • A review of international rugby in 2008
  • A summary of the European Nations Cup, which is sort of mid-season now.
  • A best of for 2008 (best try, best player, most improved team, biggest upset..all ideas I think I'll pinch from the FIRA-AER forum)
  • Just what is this 'GWC Rugby Rankings' you see on every game preview.
  • A summary of the final table of GWC Rankings 2008
  • In January a preview of the 6 Nations Championship
  • A look at the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour.
  • A look at the 2011 Rugby World Cup Qualifying process and where it is up to.
  • How about a quiz with some prizes?
  • A look at some other rugby blogs from around the world.
  • The web sites I most use to build my data base of international rugby.

Gee Wizz, I thought I might have a rest over December-January. That's not going to happen. Well, after all, there are a lot of rugby fans out there busting to find out more about this game of rugby.

So, fire your questions/ideas at me.