Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rugby Test Match: USA Begins International Season

United States v Ireland in Santa Clara

Venue: Buck Shaw Stadium


The USA mens national rugby team has little to celebrate about over the past few years. They have won only one test out of the last thirteen since the beginning of 2007. The last three wins since 2006 have all been against Uruguay. The low point came last November when they were humbled by the Japanese away, losing the series 2-0. They last won against Canada in 2005 and have come last in all their Churchill Cup tournaments since being in the first final.

This test match heralds a new beginning for USA rugby. Ironically, former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan will line up a USA team with a mix of experience and newcomers. O'Sullivan faces a not uncommon problem in USA rugby, the non-availability of players, especially those based overseas. Unavailable, some because of injury, are experienced players Valenese Malifa, Alec Parker, Rikus Pretorius, Tod Cleaver, Paul Emerick, Mike Palefau, Thretton Palamo, Salesi Sika, Gavin DeBartolo, Matt Wyatt, Taku Ngwenya and Kort Schubert. O'Sullivan has chosen eight new caps, six being in the run on lineup.

Ireland were not convincing in their 25-6 win over Canada last weekend. They have stuck with the same lineup with only Michael Ross replacing Tom Court in the front row. This new look Irish side will be looking to improve their performance.

Previous Encounters
20.11.2004 Ireland 55-6 in Dublin
10.06.2000 Ireland 83-3 in Manchester, USA
02.10.1999 Ireland 53-8 in Dublin
07.01.1996 Ireland 25-18 in Atlanta
05.11.1994 Ireland 26-15 in Dublin.

In recent years the USA has lost twice to Ireland 'A' in the Churchill Cup, 46-9 in 2008, and 28-13 in 2006.

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Ireland 3rd, USA 20th

Prediction: The Irish will have too much spit and polish for this fairly in experienced Eagles side. Ireland by 30 points


U.S. Eagles:
15 – Christopher Wyles (Saracens, England) Aged 26, 13 tests
14 – Kevin Swiryn (Old Puget Sound Beach) , New Cap
13 – Junior Sifa (Middleton) 26, 3
12 – Roland Suniula (Pearl City) , New Cap
11 – Justin Boyd (Dallas Harlequins) 25, 1
10 – Michael Hercus (Sunshine Coast, Australia) 30, 42
9 – Michael Petri, Capt. (New York Athletic Club) 24, 7
8 – Nicholas Johnson (Denver Barbarians RFC) , New Cap
7 – Peter Dahl (Belmont Shore RFC) , New Cap
6 – Louis Stanfill (New York Athletic Club) 23, 11
5 – Hayden Smith (Saracens, England) 24, 3
4 – John Van Der Giessen (Denver Barbarians) 27, 5
3 – William Johnson (Oxford University, England) , New Cap
2 – Christopher Biller (California) , New Cap
1 – Michael MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie, England) 28, 53
16 – Joseph Welch (Belmont Shore) 25, 3
17 – Matekitonga Moeakiola (Park City Haggis) 31, 10
18 – Courtney Mackay (Counties Manukau, New Zealand) 26, 1
19 – J.J. Gagiani (Univ. of Cape Town, South Africa) 24, 3
20 – Timothy Usasz (Nottingham, England) , New Cap
21 – Ata Malifa (Belmont Shore) 23, New Cap
22 – Alipate Tuilevuka (Provo Steelers) 28, 3
Head Coach: Eddie O’Sullivan

15. Gavin Duffy (Connacht) Age 27, 9 Tests
14. Barry Murphy (Munster) 26, 3
13. Darren Cave (Ulster) 22, 1
12. Ian Whitten (Ulster) 21, 1
11. Ian Dowling (Munster) 24, 1
10. Ian Keatley (Connacht) 22, 1
9. Peter Stringer (Munster) 31, 90
8. Denis Leamy (Munster) 27, 41
7. Niall Ronan (Munster) 26, 1
6. John Muldoon (Connacht) 24, 1
5. Michael O'Driscoll (Munster) 30, 16
4. Robert Casey (London Irish, England) 30, 6
3. Michael Ross (Harlequins, England) 29, New Cap
2. Rory Best, Capt. (Ulster) 26, 32
1. Anthony Buckley (Shannon/Munster) 28, 12
16. Sean Cronin (Connacht) 23, New Cap
17. Thomas Court (Ulster) 28, 2
18. Ryan Caldwell Ulster) 24, 1
19. Donnacha Ryan (Munster) 24, 2
20. Eoin Reddan (London Wasps, England) 28, 15
21. Niall O'Connor (Ulster) 21, New cap
22. Denis Hurley (Munster) 24, New Cap
Head Coach: Declan Kidney

International Rugby Results: Saturday 30 May

Barbarians (UK) RFC 33, England 26 at Twickenham (Non Test)
British and Irish Lions 37, Highvelt Royals XV 25 at Rustenburg (Non Test)
Wales 32, Canada 23 in Toronto
Poland 14, Belgium 3 in Gdansk (WCQ Euro.R4; ENC 2A)
Romania v Tunisia in Tunis (not sure if Romanian U23 or Romania)

The old hands of world rugby taught the new rugby boys of England a thing or two. The British and Irish Lions stuttered their way to an inglorious first win on tour. Perhaps a bit rusty? Canada gave Wales a good fright and the outsiders Poland have reached second in their division at the halfway point of ENC 2A. They won 14-3 against a weakened Belgian side.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rugby Match: Young England take on the Barbarians

England v Barbarians (UK) RFC at Twickenham

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Although not a test match, this fixture is a good warm-up for an England side about to do battle with the full-blooded Argentineans.

With a number of English players either with the Lions in South Africa or injured, Martin Johnson has taken the opportunity introduced a few new players to international rugby.

The Barbarians is made up of mostly hardened veterans who may lack a pace or two for this stage of their careers. It will be Martin Corry's last game of rugby. An interesting inclusion on the bench is 37 year-old Mike Catt.

Prediction: The oldies, much to the annoyance of Martin Johnson who will not be venturing to play open rugby,to fling the ball all over the park, enjoying themselves, entertaining the crowd, and to win by 10 points.


15 Delon Armitage (London Irish)
14 Ben Foden (Northampton)
13 Jamie Noon (Newcastle)
12 Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
11 Matt Banahan (Bath)
10 Andy Goode (Brive)
9 Danny Care (Harlequins)
8 Nick Easter (Harlequins)
7 Lewis Moody (Leicester)
6 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
5 Louis Deacon (Leicester)
4 Steve Borthwick (Saracens, capt)
3 David Wilson (Newcastle)
2 Dylan Harltey (Northampton)
1 Tim Payne (Wasps).
16 Steve Thompson (Brive)
17 Nick Wood (Gloucester)
18 Chris Jones (Sale Sharks)
19 Steffon Armitage (London Irish)
20 James Haskell (Wasps)
21 Paul Hodgson (London Irish)
22 Tom May (Newcastle)
Head Coach: Martin Johnson

15 Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues & New Zealand)
14 Doug Howlett (Munster & New Zealand)
13 Josh Lewsey (London Wasps & England)
12 Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster & Ireland)
11 Iain Balshaw (Gloucester Rugby & England)
10 Glen Jackson (Saracens)
9 Justin Marshall (Saracens & New Zealand)
8 Rocky Elsom (Leinster & Australia)
7 Serge Betsen (London Wasps & France)
6 Jerry Collins (Toulon & New Zealand)
5 Chris Jack (Saracens & New Zealand)
4 Martin Corry, Capt. (Leicester Tigers & England)
3 Greg Somerville (Gloucester Rugby & New Zealand)
2 Schalk Brits (Stormers & South Africa)
1 Clarke Dermody (London Irish & New Zealand).
16 Sebastien Bruno (Sale Sharks & France)
17 B J Botha (Ulster & South Africa)
18 Paul Tito (Cardiff Blues)
19 Phil Waugh (Waratahs & Australia)
20 Chris Whitaker (Leinster & Australia)
21 Mike Catt (London Irish & England)
22 Ratu Nasiganiyavi (Waratahs).

International Rugby: British Lions Tour Begins

British and Irish Lions v Highvelt Royal XV in Rustenburg

Venue: Royal Bafokeng Stadium

Referee: Marius Jonker

This long awaited unique tour on the international rugby calendar begins in South Africa on Saturday. By unique I mean that the days of long tours by international rugby teams ended with the advent of firstly, better airline travel, and finally, the beginning of the professional rugby era.

Coach Ian McGeechan has started with a team that looks on paper to be balanced. Solid at the back, experimental mid-field, experience in the halves and very solid and experienced up front. The world waits with anticipation.

The local side is made up of players mainly from Griqualand West and is not expected to win. They will certainly be playing the game od their lives and will rise to the occasion, to annoy and even worry the tourists at time but eventually the more experienced and fitter Lions will prevail.

No previous encounters and GWC Rugby Rankings to not apply.

Prediction: Lions by 15 points


Royal XV
15 Russell Jeacocks
14 Egon Seconds
13 Deon van Rensburg
12 Hanno Coetzee
11 Bjorn Basson
10 Naas Olivier
9 Sarel Pretorius
8 Jonathan Mokuena
7 Devon Raubenheimer
6 Wilhelm Koch (c)
5 Jacques Lombaard
4 Rudi Mathee
3 Bees Roux
2 Rayno Barnes
1 Albertus Buckle.
16 Pellow van der Westhuizen
17 Stef Roberts
18 Rynard Landman
19 RW Kember
20 Jacques Coetzee
21 Riaan Viljoen
22 Jovan Bowles
Head Coach:

British and Irish Lions
15 Lee Byrne (Wales)
14 Thomas Bowe (Ireland)
13 Keith Earls (Ireland)
12 James Roberts (Ireland)
11 Shane Williams (Wales)
10 Ronan O'Gara (Ireland)
9 Michael Blair (Scotland)
8 Andrew Powell (Wales)
7 Martyn Williams (Wales)
6 Joseph Worsley (England)
5 Paul O'Connell, Capt. (Ireland)
4 Simon Shaw (England)
3 Adam Jones (Wales)
2 Matthew Rees (Wales)
1 Andrew Sheridan England)
16 Lee Mears (England)
17 Philip Vickery (England)
18 Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
19 Stephen Ferris (Ireland)
20 Michael Phillips (Wales)
21 Stephen Jones (Wales)
22 Riki Flutey (England)
Head Coach: Ian McGeechan,25883,16024_5354637,00.html

Test Rugby: Wales Begin Tour

Canada v Wales in Toronto

Venue: York University Stadium, Toronto

Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)

Against Ireland last week the Canadians played well for the first 60 minutes and then let Ireland through. Up to that point the game was even. The Canadians will be looking to play a full 80 minutes and win the game.

The Welsh begin their North American tour with a team that has a mixture of experience and youth. Two new caps are in the starting line up with Daniel Evans and Jonathan Davies starting in the backline. Mitchell, Warburton and Spratt may well get their first caps from the bench. With players like Dwane Peel and Ian Gough on the bench Wales will have plenty of options during the match.

Previous Encounters
14.11.2008 Wales 34-13 in Cardiff
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)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Wales 6th, Canada 19th

Prediction: A tough game but Welsh fitness will tell in the end. Wales by 13 points.


15. James Pritchard (Bedford RFC, England) Age 28, 25 tests
14. Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers) 22, 4
13. DTH van der Merwe (James Bay AA) 23, 7
12. Ryan Smith (Calgary Irish) 29, 40
11. Sean Duke (University of Victoria) 21, 1
10. Ander Monro (Colorno, Italy) 27, 12
9. Edward Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates, England) 30, 41
8. Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harelquins) 25, 21
7. Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria) 25, 16
6. Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers) 23, 5
5. Luke Tait (Stade Montois, France) 27, 15
4. Michael Burak (Cornish Pirates, England) 28, 18
3. Andrew Tiedemann (University of Victoria) 20, New Cap
2. Patrick Riordan (University of Victoria) 29, 21
1. Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) 32, 44
16. Michael Pletch (Velox Valhallians) 26, 18
17. Douglas Wooldridge (Cowichan) 23, 1
18. Tyler Hotson (UBC Old Boy Ravens) 24, 6
19. Nanyak Dala (Castaway Wanderers) 24, 4
20. Matthew Evans (Hartpury College, England) 21, 3
21. David Spicer (University of Victoria) 24, 18
22. Phillip Mack (James Bay AA) 23, 1
Head Coach: Kieran Crowley

15 Daniel Evans (Llanelly Scarlets) 20, New Cap
14 Thomas James (Cardiff Blues) 21, 3
13 Jonathan Davies (Llanelly Scarlets) 20, New Cap
12 Andrew Bishop (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 23, 4
11 Christopher Czekaj (Cardiff Blues) 22, 6
10 Daniel Biggar (Neath Swansea Ospreys) Aged 19, 1 test
9 Gareth Cooper (Gloucester, England) 29, 40
8 Ryan Jones, Capt. (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 28, 30
7 Robin Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff Blues) 26, 6
6 Dafydd Jones (Llanelli Scarlets) 28, 38
5 Deiniol Jones (Cardiff Blues) 30, 5
4 Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues) 21, 2
3 John Yapp (Cardiff Blues) 25, 12
2 Richard Hibbard (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 25, 7
1 Duncan Jones (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 30, 52
16 Gareth Williams (Cardiff Blues) 28, 5
17 Craig Mitchell (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 22, New Cap
18 Ian Gough (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 32, 59
19 Samuel Warburton (Cardiff Blues) 20, New Cap
20 Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks, England) 27, 67
21 Nicholas Robinson (Cardiff Blues) 26, 12
22 Jonathan Spratt (Neath Swansea Ospreys) 22, New Cap
Head Coach: Robin McBryde (caretaker)

Rugby Match: Young Romanian Side in Tunisia

Romania Under 23 v Tunisia in Tunis (Friendly)

Venue: Venue: Stade Municipal de rugby d’El Menzah.

Referee: Referee: Bernard Dalmaso (France)

A young Romanian side takes on the full strength of Tunisia. Some off the Romanian players will be looking to force their way into the Romanian squad for the IRB Nations cup which starts 12 June. The Tunisians will use this game as a warm-up for their World Cup qualifying games, starting against Uganda 13 June.

Previous Encounters
None: Romania last played Tunisia back in 1993 winning 51-0. Tunisia was then playing in the FIRA competition.

GWC Rankings: Does not apply

Prediction: Romania U23 by 10 points.


Romanian Squad
Vlad Ailenei (CSM Baia Mare)
Ionut Botezatu (CSM Baia Mare)
Alexandru Braileanu (Olimpia Bucuresti)
Vlad Bunea (RC Timisoara)
George Catuna (CSM Baia Mare)
Alin Coste (Narbonne, France)
Marius Danila (CSM Baia Mare)
Mihai Dico (CSM Baia Mare)
Stefan Drusca (CS Poli Iasi)
Ionut Florea (RCJ Farul)
Andrei Gorcioaia (CSU Cluj)
Nicu Ignea (CS Poli Iasi)
Valentin Ivan (Dinamo Bucuresti)
Andrei Kiss (RC Grivita)
Eduard Marinca (CS Metrorex)
Florin Mitroi (CS Olimpia)
Alexandru Mitu (RCJ Farul)
Mihai Moraru (RC Cleopatra)
Ionel Munteanu (CS Cleopatra)
Cristian Onofrei (RC Barlad)
Andrei Radoi (CSM Baia Mare)
Cristian Rizea (CS Metrorex)
Mihai Rosca (CSM Baia Mare)
Florin Rusu (CS Metrorex)
Gabriel Sibiceanu (CS Metroex)
Georgian Tonita (RC Barlad)
Sergiu Ursache (Parma, Italy)
Viorel Zamfir (Steaua Bucuresti)
Coaches: Romeo Gontineac and Razvan Mavrodin

Tunisia Squad
Kaïs Aïssa
Akram Aouamri (Dijon, France)
Sabeur Ben Charada
Mohamed Chargui
Haïthem Chelli
Amara Dridi
Imed Fhal
Mohamed Garali
Sabri Gmir
Mokhtar Gtari
Amine Gharsallah
Aymen Gloulou
Amor Hamdi (Perigueux, France)
Noureddine Hammami
Mohamed Ben Hamida
Tarek Jelali (Lyon-Villeurbanne, France),
Aziz Kassar
Mahmoud Khadraoui
Abbès Kherfani
Mohamed Kochlef
Sami Kochlef
Lotfi Ben M’sallem
Amor Mezgan
Anouar Ben Nhila
Slim Sallem
Yosri Souguir (Millau, France)
Hédi Souid (Montlucon),
Khaled Zegden
Abdelmajid Zemzem
Head Coach: Danie De Villiers

International Rugby: Belgium and Poland in Final ENC Match

Belgium v Poland in Gdansk (WCQ Euro.R4; ENC 2A)

This test match is the last to be played in European Nations Cup Division 2A before the halfway mark is reached. The next round, beginning in September 2009, will be crucial in determining which team qualifies for a World Cup 2011 playoff position and which teams are promoted to ENC 1 or relegated to ENC 2B.

This is an important rugby test match for both teams. Poland, poised near the top of the table just beneath Ukraine, were promoted from ENC 2B at the beginning of the season. They have taken this division by storm with wins over Czech Republic and, just recently, a 30-28 upset over Moldova. A win today will place Poland on ten points, the same as the Ukraine but they will remain in second place due to their one point loss to the Ukraine earlier in the season.

Belgium has been disappointing this season. Unlucky to miss promotion last season, they have struggled to dominate a very even field. A win to Belgium will steer it clear of the relegation zone.

Belgium will be without several regulars. Mathieu Verschelden, Bertrand Billi and Fred Rongé are sitting exams whilst Simon Marote, Romain Orban and Pierre Plasman are injured. Amid some controversy Alan Williams has made himself unavailable for the national team. Daniel Janssens, Victor Wartique, Aurélien Batardy, Stefan Zinzen, Bram Coupe and Mathias Rondou will be making their test debuts. Selector Richard McClintock has had to announced a rearranged team.

Last Five Encounters
16.10.1999 Poland 43-14 in Brussels (FIRA C)
28.03.1998 Poland 30-10 in Gdynia (WCQ Euro. Pool 2, Rd B)
28.10.1995 Poland 30-10 in Lodz (FIRA A2)
15.10.1994 Poland 50-13 in Siedlce (FIRA A1)
12.10.1991 Drawn 16-16 in Lublin (FIRA B1)

These two teams have not played each other for ten years so the results above count for little.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Poland 13th, Belgium 16th

Prediction: Poland gaining in strength with their now strong France-based contingent, whilst Belgium is missing leading players. Poland by 28 points.


15 Thibaut André (Soignies)
14 Aurélien Batardy (Soignies),
13 Jérôme Cauwe (ASUB Rugby Waterloo)
12 Daniel Janssens (Arras, France)
11 David Nemsadze (Domont, France)
10 Peter Duchau (Boitsfort)
9 Julien Berger (La Rochelle, France)
8 Charlie Fourneau (Lille, France)
7 Michaël Demolder (Boitsfort),
6 Denis Eppe (ROC Ottignies)
5 Damien Godefroy (Lille, France)
4 Cyril Nana (Lille, France)
3 Alain Miriallakis (Orléans, France)
2 Norman Wende (Rouen, France)
1 Julien Massimi (Arras, France)
16 Jimmy Mulumba (Domont, France)
17 Thomas Dienst (Le LOU, France)
18 Jérôme Wey (St Nazaire, France)
19 Dries Bovijn (Boitsfort)
20 Victor Wartique (Frameries)
21 Stefan Zinzen (Bédarieux, France)
22 Bram Coupé (Dendermonde)

Head Coach: Richard McClintock


15 David Chartier (?)
14 Donald Gargasson (Toulon, France)
13 Krzysztof Hotowski (Beaurepaire, France)
12 Romuald Berthe (RC Rouen, France)
11 Tomasz Rokicki (Lechia Gdańsk)
10 Dawid Banaszek (Bourgoin, France)
9 Łukasz Szostek (Arka Gdynia)
8 Stanislas Krzesinski (Albi, France)
7 Kacper Ławski (Budowlani Łódź)
6 Ciril Monarcha (C.A. Riberacois, France)
5 Michał Krużycki (Bourgoin, France)
4 Grzegorz Falk (Juvenia Kraków)
3 Marcin Wilczuk (Old Belvedere, Ireland)
2 Yaan Levandowski (Cahors, France)
1 Fabien Kwarta (U.S. Morlaas Rugby, France)
16 Kamil Bobryk (St Etienne, France)
17 Eric Piorkowski (?)
18 Aleksander Bartoszewicz
19 Kazimierz Raszpunda (Pogoń Siedlce)
20 Paweł Nowak (Arka Gdynia)
21 Dawid Popławski (Lechia Gdańsk)
22 Jurij Buhało (Posnania Poznan)
Head Coach: Tomasz Putra

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

International Rugby This Weekend

South Africa XV v Namibia Invitation XV in Windhoek (Non-test)

England v Barbarians (UK) RFC at Twickenham (Non-Test)
Canada v Wales in Toronto
Romania v Tunisia in Tunis
Belgium v Poland in Gdansk (WCQ Euro.R4; ENC 2A)

United States v Ireland in Santa Clara

International Rugby: Kazakhstan plays Hong Kong

Kazakhstan 25, Hong Kong 6 in Almaty (Asia 5 Nations)

A comfortable win to Kazakhstan places them second in Asian rugby for 2009.

A win to Kazakhstan will place them in 2nd place on the Asia Nations table.

Previous Encounter
03.05.2008 Hong Kong 23-17 in Hong Kong (Asia 5 Nations)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Kazakhstan 2nd, Hong Kong 4th

Teams: Not available

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rugby Test Results: 23 May

Canada 25, Ireland 6 in Vancouver
Japan 45, Singapore 15 in Singapore (Asia 5 Nations)
Argentina 'A' 33, Uruguay 9 in Montevideo (CONSUR A Final)
Lithuania 19, Israel 3 in Netanya (WCQ Euro.R4 Playoff)
Cambodia 24, Laos 8 in Phnom Penh (Mekong Cup)-Updated 6:20pm SET

Tomorrow 24.05.2009
Kazakhstan v Hong Kong in Almaty (Asia 5 Nations)

Test Match: Japan in Singapore

Japan 45, Singapore 15 in Singapore (Asia 5 Nations)


I originally thought this game was on Sunday. Not much more is known only that the game was a lot tighter than many predicted. I'd like to see the Japan team sheet.


Japan has taken the Asia 5 Nations title for 2009 without really being threatened. Singapore has found the step up to this level of international rugby far too difficult and has lost their games mostly by big scores. They did give Kazakhstan a fright when they visited. I suspect Japan will not send their strongest team but will nevertheless prove far too strong for the locals. Iexpect a big score.

Previous Encounters
20.09.1992 Japan XV 120-3 in Hong Kong (13th Asian Champ.)
25.10.1990 Japan XV 80-3 in Colombo (12th Asian Champ.)
13.11.1988 Japan XV 82-0 in Hong Kong (11th Asia Champ.)
25.10.1984 Japan XV 84-6 in Fukuoka (9th Asia Champ.)
04.11.1972 Japan XV 60-4 in Hong Kong (3rd Asia Champ.)

All the above results do is paint a very gloomy picture for Singapore. They have never met the full Japanese team before.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Japan 1st, Singapore 5th

Prediction: Not made in time


Saturday, May 23, 2009

International Rugby: Irish Tour Begins

Ireland v Canada in Vancouver

Ireland's inexperienced side will not find Canada the pushover they were during the November 2008 test between these sides. This Canadian side is a good mix of experience and youth. The Canadians will be remembering their famous 27-27 draw against the Irish in Toronto back in 2000.

Previous Encounters
08.11.2008 Ireland 55-0 in Limerick
17.06.2000 Drawn 27-27 in Toronto
30.11.1997 Ireland 33-11 in Dublin
30.05.1987 Ireland 46-19 in Dunedin (World Cup)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Ireland 3rd, Canada 19th

Prediction: Ireland by 24 points
Ireland will eventually outlast the Canadians but it will be a physical encounter,


15. James Pritchard (Bedford RFC, England) Age 28, 24 tests
14. Dean van Camp (Velox Valhallians) 26, 7
13. Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers) 22, 3
12. Ryan Smith (Calgary Irish) 29, 40
11. DTH van der Merwe (James Bay AA) 23, 6
10. David Spicer (University of Victoria) 24, 17
9. Edward Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates, England) 30, 40
8. Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harelquins) 25, 20
7. Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria) 25, 15
6. Chauncey O'Toole (Castaway Wanderers) ?, New Cap
5. Michael Burak (Cornish Pirates, England) 28, 18
4. Tyler Hotson (UBC Old Boy Ravens) 24, 5
3. Scott Franklin (Cornish Pirates, England) 28, 7
2. Patrick Riordan (University of Victoria) 29, 20
1. Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) 32, 43
16. Andrew Tiedemann (University of Victoria) 20, New Cap
17. Luke Tait (Stade Montois, France) 27, 14
18. Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers) 23, 4
19. Nanyak Dala (Castaway Wanderers) 24, 3
20. Sean Michael Stephen (Plymouth Albion, England) 26, 16
21. Phillip Mack (James Bay AA) 23, New Cap
22. Ander Monro (Colorno, Italy) 27, 11
Coach: Kieran Crowley

Van der Merwe and Tait both last played for Canada v Australia at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Data from rugbyinternational database

15. Gavin Duffy (Connacht) Age 27, 8 Tests
14. Barry Murphy (Munster) 26, 2
13. Darren Cave (Ulster) 22, New cap
12. Ian Whitten (Ulster) 21, New Cap
11. Ian Dowling (Munster) 24, New Cap
10. Ian Keatley (Connacht) 22, New Cap
9. Peter Stringer (Munster) 31, 89
8. Denis Leamy (Munster) 27, 40
7. Niall Ronan (Munster) 26, New Cap
6. John Muldoon (Connacht) 24, New Cap
5. Michael O'Driscoll (Munster) 30, 15
4. Robert Casey (London Irish, England) 30, 5
3. Anthony Buckley (Shannon/Munster) 28, 11
2. Rory Best, Capt. (Ulster) 26, 31
1. Thomas Court (Ulster) 28, 2
16. Sean Cronin (Connacht) 23, New Cap
17. Michael Ross (Harlequins, England) 29, New Cap
18. Ryan Caldwell Ulster) 24, New Cap
19. Donnacha Ryan (Munster) 24, 1
20. Eoin Reddan (London Wasps, England) 28, 14
21. Niall O'Connor (Ulster) 21, New cap
22. Denis Hurley (Munster) 24, New Cap
Head Coach: Declan Kidney

Duffy and O’Driscoll last played for Ireland in 2007-08 , whilst Murphy last played in 2007-07. Casey last played for Ireland 9 years ago in 2000.
Stats from rugbyinternational database

Test Match: CONSUR A Final

Argentina 'A' v Uruguay in Montevideo (CONSUR A Final)

The final of the 2009 CONSUR A competition will be played in Montevideo. The Argentinean side is virtually a 'C' selection following the announcement of the squad for the Churchill Cup. Only five players from the 22 will go to Canada.

Previous Encounters
31.05.2008 Argentina 'A' 43-8 in Montevideo (CONSUR A)
27.04.2002 Argentina 'A' 35-21 in Mendoza (23rd S.Ameri. Champ. A)
24.11.2001 Argentina 'A' 63-9 in ? (22nd S.American Champ. A)

Prior to 2001 Argentina played Uruguay either with their full XV or a 'XV'.

GWC Rugby Rankings do not apply.

Prediction: Argentina 'A' by 20 points.


Argentina 'A'
15- Lucas Barrera Oro *
14- Belisario Agulla
13- Facundo Vega
12- Santiago Piccaluga
11- Francisco Merello *
10- Santiago González Iglesias
9- Francisco Cubelli
8- Ignacio Pasman
7- Agustín Guzmán *
6- Miguel De Achával (capitán)
5- Gabriel Pata Curelo
4- Felipe Aranguren
3- Guillermo Roan
2- Mauricio Guidone *
1- César Bettolli*
16- Ignacio Di Santi
17- Matías Narváez
18- Benjamín Macome
19- Rodrigo Bruno
20- Lucas Alcácer
21- Juan Imhoff
22- Pedro Garzón
Coaches: Mauricio Reggiardo and Mario Barandiarán

* Selected in Argentina ‘A’ squad for Churchill Cup.

15-Jerónimo Etcheverry
14-Santiago Gibernau
13-Juan Martín Llovet
12-Joaquín Pastore (capitán)
11-Juan Labat
10-Matías Arocena
9-Juan Campomar
8-Rodrigo Capó
7-Ignacio Barcos
6-Juan Horta
5-Carlos Protasi
4-Matías Fonseca
3-Mario Sagario
2-Carlos Arboleya
1-Rodrigo Sánchez
16-Juan Rombys
17-Martín Espiga
18-Rafael Álvarez
19-Gonzalo Campomar
20-Manuel Martínez
21-Leandro Leivas
22-Alejandro Silveira
Head Coach: Guillermo García Porcel

World Cup Rugby: Israel takes on Lithuania

Lithuania v Israel in Netanya (WCQ Euro.R4 Playoff)

As I said in an earlier post this is the biggest game yet in the history of the game in Israel.

Israel defeated Slovenia 26-19 here last weekend in a surprise result. The Slovenes were expected to win but the locals played their hearts out to win. Lithuania is a very different prospect. A hardened team of veterens with plenty of experience playing in ENC 3A which is two levels above what Israel has been playing this season.

Still, you can never tell in this game of rugby. Anything can happen. Lithuania has arrived with a squad of only twenty players. It's not known why. Perhaps they are cutting costs. Perhaps they are very confident. Perhaps they only have twenty fits players who could travel. For whatever reason that puts them at a slight disadvantage although in the end I predict it will not matter. Lithuania will be just too experienced and tough for Israel.

Previous Encounters
23.10.2004 Lithuania 60-7 in Vilnius (WCQ Euro.R1)
16.10.2004 Lithuania 53-0 in Ranaana (WCQ Euro. R1)
18.05.2002 Lithuania 33-24 in Klaipeda (FIRA B, Pool B)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Lithuania 21st, Israel 28th

Prediction: Lithuania by 19 points


Lithuania Squad

Dainius Baltrukenas (RC Klevas Panevezys)
Ernestas Bartkevicius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Aleksandras Čiuchlejus (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Ignas Darkintius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Kestutis Marcisauskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Mindaugas Misevicius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Darius Nosys (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Egidijus Petronis (RC Kursiai Klaipeda)
Žygimantąs Radžiųs (RC Salda Siauliai)
Audrius Ramancionis (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Edmundas Scavinskas (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Paulius Šertvitis (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Richardas Stankus (RC Salda Siauliai)
Evaldas Štitilis (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Tomas Stungįs (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Gediminas Svoba (RC Salda Siauliai)
Adrius Tatorius (RC Klevas Panevezys)
Laurynas Tipelis (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Justinas Vasiliauskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Edvardas Žilius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Head coach - Anatolijus Smirnovas

15 Stav Gurtovoy
14 Alon Akon
13 Nimrod Kaplan
12 Adrian Rainstein
11 Jonathan Radashkovich
10 Amir Beutler
9 Nir Bar-Or
8 Guy Dotan
7 Michael Eli
6 Gilad Goldstein
5 Oren Brodhurst
4 Shai Dekel
3 Matan Brosh
2 Tomer Bracha
1 Nathan Amos
16 Hanan Gamburg
17 Ofer Hamburger
18 Alon Geller
19 Omri Lotan
20 Sean Kantor
21 Nestor Rainstein
22 Omer Mendelsohn Chafli
Coach Raanan Penn

Thanks to Julian Shapiro, Israeli team manager.

From the lineup that faced Slovenia last weekend…
Michael Eli moves from the bench to the side of the scrum, for Nesi Abravanel.
Guy Dotan moves in to No.8 replacing Nimrod Kaplan who moves to centre for Sean Kantor to move to the bench.

Scrum half Nir Bar-Or moves from the bench for Stav Gurtovoy who moves to fullback.
Adrain Rainstein moves from the wing to centre replacing Mordechay Radashkovich.
Alon Akon comes into the wing position.
Omri Lotan and Nestor Rainstein are new players who are on the bench.

Updated 25.05.2009

Rugby Match This weekend: An alteration

Argentina 'A' v Uruguay in Montevideo (CONSUR A Final)

The dates and venue for these finals changed from what was originally published. On Wednesday the semi-final between Argentina 'A' and Chile was played in Montevideo. Argentina 'A' were too strong winning 89-6.

This Saturday will see the final of CONSUR A, between Uruguay and Argentina 'A', to be played in Montevideo

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Test Rugby This Weekend 23 May

Canada v Ireland in Vancouver
Argentina 'A' v Chile in Buenos Aires (CONSUR A Semi-Final)
Israel v Lithuania in Netanya (WCQ Europe R2 Playoff)

Kazakhstan v Hong Kong in Almaty (Asia 5 Nations)
Singapore v Japan in Singapore (Asia 5 Nations)

It's only days from the beginning of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa. Most of the followers of world international rugby will be giving their time to following that tour. But before that there are a few little morsels of rugby interest elsewhere.

Probably unknown to most, but certainly with some significance, will be the test to be played in Israel. Yes Israel! This Saturday the Israeli team will host the mighty Lithuanians. Both teams have made significant rises in their world rankings, whether it be the official IRB rankings or my GWC Rugby Rankings.

Lithuania arrives in Israel with some significant rugby attributes. Firstly, from a fairly small club base, they have built an amazing winning combination. Fourteen wins in fact, all in a row. Two of the wins were, over the past two seasons, against neighbours Latvia who play in a division above the Lithuanians. So the Lithuanians have conquered all in ENC Division 3A for 2008-09 and so they face another amazing team with an impressive record.

You wouldn't think Israel takes its rugby seriously but I'm afraid your wrong. They do. And they have an impressive record of late to back the boast up. Firstly they won the lowest division in Europe participating in the 2011 Rugby World Cup qualifying system. Next they caused a major upset by defeating Slovenia who won Division 3B, which is above Israel's division. Now Israel play host to the Lithuanians who look to be favourites to take this match. Well, the Slovenians were favourites last week as well.

Another important test match this weekend is between Hong Kong and Kazakhstan. Whilst it's not to decide anything really in the Asia 5 Nations it will give a gauge as to the progress these two Asia teams has made. Both play a standard below the Japanese but are threatening Korea's traditional position as No.2 in Asia.

And finally, Ireland arrive in North America for two tests. Well actually its more accurate to label the team Ireland 'B', as the British and Irish Lions team in South Africa contain most of Ireland's top players. Still, the significance of this tour is the blooding of new Irish players who will be required to take over from some of the veterans in the Six Nations 2009 Grand Slam winning side.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend Test Rugby Results: 15-16 May

Argentina 'A' 19, Namibia 7 in Buenos Aires

Japan 80, Korea 9 in Osaka (Asia 5 Nations)
Hong Kong 64, Singapore 6 in Hong Kong (Asia 5 Nations)
Poland 30, Moldova 28 in Chisinau (WCQ Euro.R4; ENC 2A)

The Argentina 'A' selection for Friday's test was very different from the one that swamped Namibia 62-8 last weekend. The Argentine selectors were out to experiment with as many players as possible before the World Cup qualifiers, CONSUR A and Churchill Cup test matches just ahead. Given that, and Namibia's improved play, a much closer match resulted. For Namibia the question is how much stronger will they be if they can secure their South African-based players for the Africa Cup and World Cup qualifiers just around the corner?

As expected Japan walked all over Korea to put considerable distance between them and the rest of Asia. The gap is not closing, except that below Japan the field is now a lot more even. So how will the rest of Asia catch up to Japan?

Hong Kong surprised by the size of their win over Singapore. Singapore will move down to Asia Nations Division 1 for 2011 and are thus eliminated from World Cup finals contention. They will be replaced by Arabian Gulf. The problem is that the demise of the Arabian Gulf rugby union is very much on the IRB's agenda, that body preferring to have the individual states on the Arabian peninsula members of the governing body.

Poland caused a minor surprise with its 30-28 win over Moldova away. Poland's policy of picking a good number of French-based players is paying off. By late 2007 Moldova were picked to progress to European Nations Cup Division 1, but since then they have dramatically fallen away. I wonder why?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

British and Irish Lions on the Road

The British and Irish Lions 2009 rugby tour of South Africa is almost underway. The first match is in two weeks time.

What is unusual about this tour to South Africa is that the team will play some mid-week matches against invitation or provincial sides, rather than just test matches. There was a time when this was common. Teams toured with only 30 players and played dozens of matches including four tests.

There has been a few changes to the original selections. Tom Shanklin (Wales) and Tomas O'Leary (Ireland) were injured after selection. O'Leary has been replaced by Mike Blair (Scotland) but Shanklins replacement is yet to be made.
The tour captain is Irishman Paul O'Donnell

Ireland's Alan Quinlan may also miss the tour if his appeal against a 12 match suspension fails.

The Team to date
Mike Blair (Scotland)-replaced O'Leary
Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
Lee Byrne (Wales)
Keith Earls (Ireland)
Harry Ellis (England)
Stephen Ferris (Ireland)
Luke Fitzgerald (Ireland)
Jerry Flannery (Ireland)
Riki Flutey (England)
Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
Nathan Hines (Scotland)
Gethin Jenkins (Wales) Lions 2005
Rhys Adam Jones (Wales)
Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
Stephen Jones (Wales) Lions 2005
Rob Kearney (Ireland)
Lee Mears (England)
Ugo Monye (England)
Euan Murray (Scotland)
Donncha O'Callaghan (Ireland) Lions 2005
Paul O'Connell, Capt. (Ireland) Lions 2005
Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) Lions 2005
Ronan O'Gara (Ireland) Lions 2005
Mike Phillips (Wales)
Andy Powell (Wales)
Alan Quinlan (Ireland)-place in doubt-suspension
Matthew Rees (Wales)
Jamie Roberts (Wales)
Tom Shanklin (Wales) Lions 2005 (Injured-yet to be replaced)
Shaw Simon (England) Lions 2005
Andrew Sheridan (England) Lions 2005
Phil Vickery (England) Lions 2001
David Wallace (Ireland) Lions 2001
Martyn Williams (Wales) Lions 2005
Shane Williams (Wales) Lions 2005
Joe Worsley (England)

Head Coach: Ian McGeechan

Tour Schedule
Sat 30 May 15: v Royal XV, Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, Rustenburg

Wed 3 Jun 19: v Golden Lions, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg

Sat 6 Jun 15: v Free State Cheetahs, Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein

Wed 10 Jun 19: v Natal Sharks, ABSA Stadium, Durban

Sat 13 Jun 15: v Western Province, Newlands, Capetown

Tue 16 Jun 15: v Southern Kings, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Sat 20 Jun 15: First Test v South Africa, ABSA Stadium, Durban

Tue 23 Jun 19: v Emerging Springboks, Newlands, Capetown

Sat 27 Jun 15: Second Test v South Africa, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Sat 4 Jul 15: Third Test v South Africa, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg

Rugby Test: Big clash between Korea and Singapore

Korea v Japan in Osaka (Asia 5 Nations)

Venue: Hanazono Stadium

Although unfair to giant-killers Kazakhstan and nearly giant-killers Hong Kong, this match is billed as the clash of the top teams in Asia.

Japan has been head and shoulders above all teams in Asia since this competition format began last year. Korea has come the closest, losing 17-39 in Seoul last year.

Korea has, first game excluded, struggled this year. They went down 27-30 to Kazakhstan away, and then nearly gave the game away against Hong Kong last weekend after a 31-3 half time lead. The problems encounted in those matches (ill-discipline and poor concentration) will be cruelly exposed by a fit and motivated Japanese team.

Japan can do little wrong. Coach John Kirwan has a vast reserve of quality players for this level of competition. I suspect he is already thinking ahead to sterner competition in the Pacific Nations cup next month.

Hirotoki Onozawa will be come the fourth Japanese rugby player to play 50 test for his country. He follows Daisuke Ohata (58 caps), Takeomi Ito (62) and Yukio Motoki (79).

Last Five Encounters
26.04.2008 Japan 39-17 in Seoul (Asia 5 Nations)
22.04.2007 Japan 82-0 in Tokyo (Asia Nations Div.1)
25.11.2006 Japan 54-0 in Hong Kong (WCQ Asia R3; 20th Asia Champ.)
23.04.2006 Japan 50-14 in Tokyo (WCQ Asia R4. Division 1)
15.05.2005 Japan 50-31 in Seoul (WCQ Asia Qualifying, Div.1)

Japan by a long length since 2002 when they lost by a point, with a second-string side, for the gold medal at the Asia Games.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Japan 1st, Korea 3rd.

Prediction: Japan by 50 points

Teams not available

For a complete list of international test rugby results for both Korea and Japan, go to

Test Match: Asia 5 Nations

Hong Kong v Singapore in Hong Kong (Asia 5 Nations)

Venue: Hong Kong Football Club

Two weeks ago I would have confidently predicted that this test match would be a battle between the two weakest teams in this competition. At stake would be a place in next years Asia 5 Nations and the opportunity to qualify for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Now I'm not so sure.

Last Week Singapore gave Kazahkstan a grand old tussle. The visiting Kazahks only just won 22-19 and the gap between the top teams and the bottom in this competition closed somewhat. At the same time Hong Kong made the comeback of all comebacks, losing 34-36 to Korea after trailing 3-31 at one stage.

Although both these teams do trail this competition their positions as bunnies is no longer true. What is certain is that the loser of this match will have a huge struggle not to be relegated back to Division 1 come the end of May. Hong have a two point advantage thanks to a close game against Korea and scoring 5 tries in the process.

Last Five Encounters
08.05.2006 Hong Kong 26-14 in Singapore (Friendly)
22.05.2004 Hong Kong 47-14 in Singapore (Asia Tournament)
07.02.2002 Hong Kong 57-8 in Hong Kong (Friendly)
05.05.2001 Hong Kong 26-8 in Singapore (Asia Shield)
12.05.2000 Hong Kong 30-6 in ? (Friendly)

Singapore won the first official test match between these two nations 19 - 9 back in 1978. Hong Kong set a world record test win, 164-13 in 1994, when they played Singapore at the 14th Asia Rugby Campionship, staged in Kuala Lumpur.

Recent encounters have favoured Hong Kong, some by wide margins.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Hong Kong 4th, Singapore 5th

Prediction: Hong Kong by 17 points


Hong Kong

15 Mike Mckee (Hong Kong Football Club)
14 Simon Smith (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
13 Rowan Varty (DeA Tigers)
12 Simon Hemple (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
11 Adam Raby (Hong Kong Football Club)
10 Kenzo Pannell (Canterbury University, NZ)
9 Jeff Wong Chun Kui (Kowloon)
8 Simon Leung (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
7 Kwok Ka Chun (Kowloon)
6 Nigel Clarke (DeA Tigers)
5 Nick Hurrell (DeA Tigers
4 Angus Washington (Hong Kong Football Club)
3 Nigel Hobler (Hong Kong Football Club)
2 Jon Abel (DeA Tigers)
1 Peter Spizziri (Hong Kong Football Club)
16 Grapes Lai Tsz Leung (Kowloon)
17 Alex Ng Wai Shing (Valley)
18 Ivan Zenovic (DeA Tigers)
19 Kris Marin (Hong Kong Football Club)
20 Tim Alexander (Valley)
21 Jonny Elliot (Valley)
22 Adam Raby (Hong Kong Football Club)
Head Coach: Dai Rees

Singapore team not available.

For lists of international rugby results by both Singapore and Hong Kong go to

Friday, May 15, 2009

Test Rugby: Poland Travel to Moldova

Poland v Moldova in Chisinau (WCQ Euro.R4; ENC 2A)

Venue: "Dinamo" Stadium, Chişinău

Both teams languish at the bottom of the points table as this division nears the half-way stage. World Cup qualifying takes effect at the completion of the next round at the end of 2009-10.

Poland lost by one point to competition leaders Ukraine at the start of the season. The Poles then won convincingly against the Czech Republic. They have two matches in hard but they will both be tough asignments, today against Moldova away and then against Belgium at home.

The Polish squad spent time in France in February and then played a French Police side in Sochaczew, May 6, losing 16-22 (ht 10-9)

Moldova began promising enough with a good 20-8 win over high-flyers belgium. But since then they have lost to Czech Republic and then were swamped 32-0 by Ukraine last week, minus three key players from Russian Clubs. The good news for Moldova is that Vadim Cobîlaş, Alexei Cotruţa and Veaceslav Titica are available this week.

Previous Encounter
08.04.2006 Moldova 27-13 in Sochaczelo (WCQ Euro.R3, Pool A)

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

Prediction: Moldova by 7 points


Poland Squad

Dawid Banaszek (Bourgoin, France)
Romuald Berthe (RC Rouen, France)
Kamil Bobryk (St Etienne, France)
Grzegorz Falk (Juvenia Kraków)
Donald Gargasson (Toulon, France)
Krzysztof Hotowski (Beaurepaire, France)
Piotr Jurkowski (Lechia Gdańsk)
Michał Krużycki (Bourgoin, France)
Stanislas Krzesinski (Albi, France)
Fabien Kwarta (U.S. Morlaas Rugby, France)
Yaan Levandowski (Cahors, France)
Kacper Ławski (Budowlani Łódź)
Wojciech Łukasiewicz (Folc AZS Warszawa)
Ciril Monarcha (C.A. Riberacois, France)
Stanisław Niedźwiecki (Budowlani Łódź)
Paweł Nowak (Arka Gdynia)
Dawid Popławski (Lechia Gdańsk)
Kazimierz Raszpunda (Pogoń Siedlce)
Rafał Sajur (Lechia Gdańsk)
Bastien Siepielski (?)
Tomasz Stępień (Budowlani Łódź)
Łukasz Szostek (Arka Gdynia)
Cedric Vaissiere (Albi, France)
Marcin Wilczuk (Old Belvedere, Ireland)
Head Coach: Tomasz Putra

Moldova Squad

Dumitru Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)*
Adrian Baltag (USEFS Blumarine)*
Anton Bajutin (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)*
Vadim Braga (USEFS Blumarine)*
Alexandru Bulgac (USEFS Blumarine)*
Ion Buşilă (USEFS Blumarine)*
Nicolae Caburgan (USEFS Blumarine)*
Sergiu Castraveţ (Novocuznetc, Russia)*
Nicolae Chirilă (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)*
Maxim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia) *
Vadim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Alexandru Colţ (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)*
Alexei Cotruţa (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Vitalie Gîra (UTM Chişinău)*
Ştefan Leco (USEFS Blumarine)
Vasile Leu (UTM Chişinău)*
Veaceslav Lozinschii (USEFS Blumarine)*
Octavian Manoli (UTM Chişinău)*
Alexandr Matveev (USEFS Blumarine)*
Alexandru Şîşcan, Capt. (Slava Moscow, Russia)*
Pavel Titarenco (Olimp Electromaş Tiraspol)*
Veaceslav Titica (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Eduard Toderica (Olimp Electromaş Tiraspol)*
Gheorghe Volosciuc (USEFS Blumarine)
Head Coach: Vasile Revencu

* Played v Ukraine last week

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rugby Test: Namibians take on Jaguars

Argentina 'A' v Namibia in Buenos Aires

Venue: La Plata Rugby Club

Namibia travelled to Buenos Aires without its leading South African-based players. The team, therefor, was a mixture of experience and untried players at this level. They lost the first test 8-62.

Argentina are using these test matches to experiment. Of the 22 that were the team for the first test only nine return. Of those nine, four who started from the bench, are in the starting lineup.


Argentina 'A'
15 Lucas Barrera Oro (Tucumán Universitario)
14 Francisco Merello (Regatas de Bella Vista)
13 Horacio San Martín (Tala RC)
12 Álvaro Fulco (?)
11 Mauro Comuzzi, Capt. (Pucará)
10 Benjamín Urdapilleta (CUBA)
9 Martín Landajo (Club Atletico San Isidro)
8 Benjamín Macome (Tucumán R.C)
7 Alejandro Campos (Pueyrredón)
6 Dino Cáceres (Tucumán Lawn Tennis)
5 Mariano Galarza (Universitario de La Plata)
4 Agustín Guzmán (Tucumán R.C)
3 Juan Figallo (Jockey Club)
2 Agustín Creevy (San Luis)
1 Juan Gómez Kodela (Belgrano Athletic Club)
16 Mauricio Guidone (La Plata R.C)
17 Guillermo Roan (La Plata R.C)
18 Carlos Cáceres (Tucumán Lawn Tennis)
19 Rodrigo Bruno (Jockey de Villa María)
20 Lucas Alcácer (SIC)
21 Nicolás Sánchez (?)
22 Belisario Agulla (Hindú Club)

15- Chrisander Botha
14- David Philander
13- Julian Botes
12- Tinus Venter
11- Lluwellyn Winckler
10- Godwin Walters
9- Jurie van Tonder
8- Pieter Jan van Lille
7- Tinus du Plessis
6- Jacque Nieuwenhuis
5- Wacca Kazombiaze
4- Andre de Klerk
3- Jane du Toit
2- Hugo Horn
1- Johnny Redelinghuis
16- Shaun Esterhuisen
17- Kees Lensing
18- Marius Visser
19- Desmond Haihambo
20- Colin de Koe
21- Jaco van Zyl
22- Jacky Bock
Head Coach: John Williams

For a list of all international rugby tests played by both Argentina 'A' and Namibia, go to

Test Rugby This Weekend 15-16 May

Argentina 'A' v Namibia in Buenos Aires (2nd Test)

Japan v Korea in Osaka (Asia 5 Nations)
Hong Kong v Singapore in Hong Kong (Asia 5 Nations)
Poland v Moldova in Chisinau (WCQ Europe R4; ENC 2A)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

International Test Rugby Results This Weekend 8-9 May

Argentina 'A' 67, Namibia 8 in Buenos Aires

Ukraine 32, Moldova 0 in Kiev (WCQ Euro. R4; ENC 2A)
Korea 36, Hong Kong 34 in Seoul (Asia 5 Nations)
Kazakhstan 22, Singapore 19 in Singapore (Asia 5 Nations)
Lithuania 24, Armenia 19 in Abovian (WCQ Europe R2; ENC 3A)
Israel 26, Slovenia 19 in Netanya (WCQ Euro.R1 Playoff)

I was disappointed in the Namibian result. I didn't check the team list but I wonder if key players were not available. Not to take anything away from the Argentinians. Their depth of players is amazing. This team will be a major player in this year's Churchill Cup.

Ukraine's win over Moldova was expected but not by that margin. The FIRA-AER forum posts did suggest that a number of Moldovans who ply their trade in Russia would be missing. Two of the Russian clubs would need their players for either a crucial club match, or that they would be in a club training camp in England. I commented prior on the importance of this game, or even the first round of 2A results. Thanks to 'Mouton' I have been corrected and both ENC 1 and ENC 2A play into 2010 until qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup 2011 are found.

Some of the major eyebrow-raising results this weekend, though, came from Asia. Korea were leading HK 31-3 at one stage before the boys from the Sevens City staged the mother of all comebacks. They only just failed.

In Singapore the locals gave the giant-killers from last week Kazakhstan, a huge fright. Whilst not including a few of last weeks key players, the Kazahks were still expected to win comfortably. I don't think that japan faces any real threat from the other teams in this competition but certainly Korea has being drawn back into the pack. The results are very encouraging for Asian rugby.

Back to rugby in Europe, Lithuania continued its stretch of wins to fourteen in a row with this win over Armenia. They also take out the World Cup honours in ENC 3A and now face Israel.

Israel defeated Slovenia 26-19 at home in another big upset. The Israelies continue their rise in European rugby and now face the mighty Lithuanians in what should be a great game.

Friday, May 8, 2009

International Rugby: Moldova v Ukraine

Moldova v Ukraine in Kiev (WCQ Euro.R4; ENC 2A)

Division 2A would be the most even of all the FIRA-AER divisions. All but one team has suffered one loss and just about all those teams could take the honour of moving into the next round of World Cup qualifiers.

The Ukraine are favoured to win this match. They are playing on home soil and their last contest was a good win over the Czech Republic. Earlier they had a narrow win over Poland and a narrow loss to Belgium. Ukraine must win this game as they have played more games than the other contenders. A win here would put them in with a good chance of progressing.

Moldova began their campaign with a good win at home over Belgium. They lost their next outing to the Czech Republic. The pressure is on them to win this game, and then their last which will be against Poland.

Previous Encounters
13.05.2008 Ukraine 14-9 in Chisinau (ENC 2A)
05.05.2007 Moldova 17-16 in Kiev (ENC 2A)
1996 Ukraine 38-0 in Kiev (Friendly)

Home advantage has not helped either team in the past, both winning on each other's territory.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Ukraine 14th, Moldova 17th

Prediction: Ukraine by 8 points


Moldova Squad
Dumitru Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Victor Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Adrian Baltag (USEFS Blumarine)
Anton Bajutin (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Vadim Braga (USEFS Blumarine)
Alexandru Bulgac (USEFS Blumarine)
Ion Buşilă (USEFS Blumarine)
Nicolae Caburgan (USEFS Blumarine)
Sergiu Castraveţ (Novocuznetc, Russia)
Nicolae Chirilă (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Maxim Cobîlaş (Steaua Bucureşti, Romania)
Vadim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Alexandru Colţ (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Alexei Cotruţa (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Ion Dascal (USEFS Blumarine)
Maxim Gargalîc (Farul Constanţa, Romania)
Vitalie Gîra (UTM Chişinău)
Ştefan Leco (USEFS Blumarine)
Veaceslav Lozinschii (USEFS Blumarine)
Octavian Manoli (UTM Chişinău)
Alexandr Matveev (USEFS Blumarine)
Oleg Prepeliţa (SL Benefica, Portugal)
Andrei Romanov (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Alexandru Şîşcan, Capt. (Slava Moscow, Russia)
Pavel Titarenco (Olimp Electromaş Tiraspol)
Veaceslav Titica (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Eduard Toderica (Olimp Electromaş Tiraspol)
Dumitru Vasilachi (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Gheorghe Volosciuc (USEFS Blumarine)
Head Coach: Vasile Revencu

Ukraine Squad
Vitaliy Dotsenko (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Sergey Garkavyi (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Georgi Gegidze (RC Kredo 63)
A.Glinka (RK Sokol)
Andrey Golishchev (RC Penza, Russia)
H.Kirsanov (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Vadim Kolyshkin (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Maksim Kravchenko (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
O. Kul'gan (Epocha-Polytechnic)
Oleg Litvinenko (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Aleksandr Lomakin (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Aleksandr Lubiy (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
A.Melnikov (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Jaba Malaguradze (RC Kredo 63)
S.Monastryov (RC Aviator)
Dmytro Mukhin (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Vitaliy Orlov (RC Enisei-STM Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Aleksandr Polyanskyi (RC Kredo 63)
Vycheslav Ponomarenko (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Sergey Sukhikh (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
M.Tjurikov (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Aleksandr Tsapenko (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Sergey Tserkovnyi (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Sergii Yanchiy (RC Aviator)
Vitalii Zadvirnyi (RC Argo-NAU)
Ivan Zaliznyak (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Head Coach: S.Mina

International Test Rugby: Singapore plays Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan v Singapore in Singapore (Asia 5 Nations)


Kazakhstan has had to leave at home a number of Russia-based players including some of last weeks stars in their upset 30-27 win over Korea. Despite this Kazakhstan are expected to win this test match against the newly promoted Singaporeans.

These two teams have met only once before.
22.11.2002 Singapore 30-14 in Bangkok (18th Asia Champ. Div.2 Playoff)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Kazakhstan 2nd, Singapore 5th

Prediction: Kazakhstan by 30 points

Teams are not available

Rugby Match: Hong Kong Travels to Seoul

Hong Kong v Korea in Seoul (Asia 5 Nations)

Korea were stunned last weekend after their 27-30 loss to Kazakhstan. That result will have either blunted their confidence or motivated them to bounce back. Hong Kong could be on the receiving end of a backlash. Korea will be far stronger at home.

Hong Kong were defeated by Japan 59-6 last weekend. Their performance will depend on how the bumps and bruises against Japan have healed and how the team travel to Seoul. Although their coach has said Hong Kong's development will take time they need a confidence-boosting performance against the Koreans. At this stage it looks like a Singapore-Hong Kong clash to sort out who is to be relegated out of this competition and out of World Cup contention.

Last Five Encounters
24.05.2008 Korea 50-24 in Hong Kong (Asia 5 Nations)
27.05.2007 Hong Kong 27-20 in Hong Kong (Asia Nations Div.2)
21.11.2006 Korea 23-5 in Hong Kong (WCQ Asia R5; 20th Asia Champ.)
22.05.2005 Korea 51-3 in Hong Kong (WCQ Asia Qualification Div.1)
20.11.2002 Korea 40-17 in Bangkok (18th Asia Championship)

Hong Kong first played Korea in a test match in November 1972, winning 18-6.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Korea 3rd, Hong Kong 4th.

Prediction: Korea by 36 points


Hong Kong
15 Mike Mckee (Hong Kong Football Club)
14 Simon Smith (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
13 Rowan Varty (DeA Tigers)
12 Edmund Rolston (Valley)
11 Adam Raby (Hong Kong Football Club)
10 Kenzo Pannell (Canterbury University, NZ)
9 Jeff Wong Chun Kui (Kowloon)
8 Simon Leung (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
7 Kwok Ka Chun (Kowloon)
6 Nigel Clarke (DeA Tigers)
5 Nick Hurrell (DeA Tigers
4 Ivan Zenovic (DeA Tigers)
3 Nigel Hobler (Hong Kong Football Club)
2 Jon Abel (DeA Tigers)
1 Peter Spizziri (Hong Kong Football Club)
16 Alex Ng Wai Shing (Valley)
17 Grapes Lai Tsz Leung (Kowloon)
18 Fraser Smith (DeA Tigers)
19 Angus Washington (Hong Kong Football Club)
20 Kris Marin (Hong Kong Football Club)
21 Tim Alexander (Valley)
22 Adam Raby (Hong Kong Football Club)
Head Coach: Dai Rees

Korea Squad not available

Test Match: Big Clash of the East Europeans

Lithuania v Armenia in Abovian (WCQ Euro.R2; ENC 3A)

Lithuania and Armenia clash in what is effectively the final in this division. Lithuania only needs to draw to qualify for the next round of World Cup 2011 qualification. Armenia must win to proceed. The winner will play the winner of the Slovenia-Israel clash, also on today.

In their latest match in this tournament Armenia lost to Andorra 10-36 in one of the biggest upsets in European rugby. Up to that match Armenia had virtually swept all before it including big wins over Serbia and Switzerland.

Lithuania's rise in European rugby has been nothing short of staggering. Firstly they were only promoted to ENC 3A at the beginning of this season. Since then thay have swept all the teams away. Their 50-9 win last weekend over Serbia was their 13th win on the trot since October 2006. In fact their last loss was against Armenia when they lost 3-18 in June 2006. Armenia were promoted to 3A only to find the Lithuanians in turn promoted.

The winning streak includes two big wins over neighbour Latvia who box in a division ABOVE Lithuania. What is remarkable is that the team can only draw on a small number of local clubs plus a few Lithuanians playing overseas.

Previous Encounter
04.06.2006 Armenia 18-3 in Siauliai (ENC 3B)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Lithuania 21st, Armenia 27th

Prediction: Lithuania by 8


Lithuania Squad
Tomas Astrauskas (RC Salda Siauliai)
Dainius Baltrukenas (RC Klevas Panevezys)
Ernestas Bartkevicius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Aleksandras Čiuchlejus (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Ignas Darkintius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Mindaugas Grigas (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Kestutis Marcisauskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Andrius Martinskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Darius Nosys (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Žygimantąs Radžiųs (RC Salda Siauliai)
Kestutis Ryskus (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Edmundas Scavinskas (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Paulius Šertvitis (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Richardas Stankus (RC Salda Siauliai)
Evaldas Štitilis (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Tomas Stungį (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Andrius Sutkus (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Gediminas Svoba (RC Salda Siauliai)
Adrius Tatorius (RC Klevas Panevezys)
Laurynas Tipelis (RC BaltRex Siauliai)
Justinas Vasiliauskas (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Edvardas Žilius (RC Vairas Siauliai)
Head coach - Anatolijus Smirnovas

Armenia Squad not available

Test Rugby: Israel v Slovenia

Slovenia v Israel in Netanya (WCQ Euro.R1 Playoff)

These two teams meet in a World Cup 2011 knockout clash. Both have won their respective FIRA-AER Division 3 pools at this the halfway stage. Last season Slovenia defeated Israel 17-5 at home when they were both in ENC 3C.

Slovenia were promoted to Division 3 from 3C in 2008. They bounced into the competition and defeated Hungary, one of the pool favourites, 32-26. They then shocked the rugby world as they cleaned up the rest of the Pool with wins over Denmark, Austria and Norway.

Israel has swept all before them in ENC 3C. First up they gained a shock 11-8 win away against favourites Bulgaria. From that point on Israel were going to be the team to beat. Greece, Luxembourg and last Saturday Finland were all swept aside, with the 70-8 win against Finland being a record score for Israel.

Previous Encounters
26.04.2008 Slovenia 17-5 in Ljubliana (ENC 3C)
28.10.2006 Slovenia 28-5 in Netanya (ENC 3C)

The records favour Slovenia. But the way Israel defeated Finland last weekend will make for an interesting contest.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Slovenia 28th, Israel 32nd.

Prediction: Slovenia by 8


15 David Cerar (RK Bežigrad)
14 Marko Gumzej (RK Bežigrad)
13 Goran Jelenčič (RK Bežigrad)
12 Aljaž Kralj Podobnik (RK Ljubjana)
11 Matej Kos (RK Ljubjana)
10 Damjan Ahačič (RK Ljubjana)
9 Urban Magušar (RAK Olimpija)
8 Grega Miljuš (RK Ljubjana)
7 Simon Gombač (RK Bežigrad)
6 Tit Hočevar (Oxford Harlequins, England)
5 Žarko Krsmanovič (RK Ljubjana)
4 Peter Gobec (RK Ljubjana)
3 Miroslav Lazič (RK Ljubjana)
2 Jošt Slapničar (RK Ljubjana)
1 Borut Završan (RAK Olimpija)
16 Luka Miklič (RAK Olimpija)
17 Lovro Sambol (RK Bežigrad)
18 Luka Potnik (RAK Olimpija)
19 Luka Kranjc (RK Ljubjana)
20 David Duh (RAK Olimpija)
21 Pavle Žle (?)
22 Žiga Kosi (?)
Head Coach: Žiga Dobnikar

Israel Team list not available

Test Match: Jaguars to meet Namibia

Namibia v Argentina 'A' in Buenos Aires

The Namibians (The Welwitschias) travel to Buenos Aires to meet the Jaguars (Argentina 'A') in a test friendly. The Namibians are preparing for their international programme which includes games against South Africa (before the Lions arrive). For the Jaguars this match will give them a warm-up before their CONSUR A and World Cup matches coming up in May, and later, for their matches in the Churchill Cup.

These teams met for the first time during the 2007 IRB Nations Cup held in Romania. Argentina 'A' won comfortably 47-13. The Namibians have also faced the full strength Pumas during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia. They lost that one as well, 14-67.

GWC Rugby Rankings do not apply.

Prediction: Argentina 'A' will be too slick, winning by 25 points.


Argentina 'A'
15 Lucas González Amorosino
14 Mauro Comuzzi (capitán)
13 Juan Pablo Estelles
12 Horacio San Martín
11 Gonzalo Camacho
10 Santiago Fernández
9 Agustín Figuerola
8 Tomás Leonardi
7 Leonardo Senatore
6 Mariano Galarza
5 Genaro Fessia
4 Carlos Cáceres
3 Juan Figalli
2 Agustín Creevy
1 Felipe Betolli
16 Lucas Vignau
17 Guillermo Roan
18 Tomás Roan
19 Alejandro Campos
20 Martín Landajo
21 Benjamín Urdapilleta
22 Martín Bustos Moyano
Head Coach: Santiago Phelan

15 Tersius Losper
14 David Philander
13 Julian Botes
12 John Drotsky
11 Lwellyn Winckler
10 Jaco van Zyl
9 Jurie van Tonder
8 Pieter Jan Van Lille
7 Tinus du Plessis
6 Jacques Nieuwenhuis
5 Julian Botha
4 Wacka Kazombiaze
3 Marius Visser
2 Shaun Eterhuisen
1 Kees Lensing (Capt.)
16 Hugo Horn
17 Huata Veii
18 Eugene Forbes
19 Desmond Haihambo
20 Colin de Koe
21 Jacky Bock
22 Tinus Venter
Head Coach: John Williams

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Test Rugby This Weekend 9 May

Moldova v Ukraine in Kiev (WCQ Euro.R4; ENC 2A)
Singapore v Kazakhstan in Singapore (Asia 5 Nations)
Korea v Hong Kong in Seoul (Asia 5 Nations)
Armenia v Lithuania in Abovian (WCQ Euro.R2; ENC 3A)
Israel v Slovenia in Netanya (WCQ Euro.R5 Playoff)
Azerbaijan v Slovakia in Baku - Default to Slovakia

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

British and Irish Lions Rugby Team

Here they are. Who do you think is missing and why? Who would you leave out?

Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
Lee Byrne (Wales)
Keith Earls (Ireland)
Harry Ellis (England)
Stephen Ferris (Ireland)
Luke Fitzgerald (Ireland)
Jerry Flannery (Ireland)
Riki Flutey (England)
Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
Nathan Hines (Scotland)
Gethin Jenkins (Wales) Lions 2005
Rhys Adam Jones (Wales)
Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
Stephen Jones (Wales) Lions 2005
Rob Kearney (Ireland)
Lee Mears (England)
Ugo Monye (England)
Euan Murray (Scotland)
Donncha O'Callaghan (Ireland) Lions 2005
Paul O'Connell, Capt. (Ireland) Lions 2005
Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) Lions 2005
Ronan O'Gara (Ireland) Lions 2005
Mike Phillips (Wales)
Andy Powell (Wales)
Alan Quinlan (Ireland)
Matthew Rees (Wales)
Jamie Roberts (Wales)
Tom Shanklin (Wales) Lions 2005
Shaw Simon (England) Lions 2005
Andrew Sheridan (England) Lions 2005
Phil Vickery (England) Lions 2001
David Wallace (Ireland) Lions 2001
Martyn Williams (Wales) Lions 2005
Shane Williams (Wales) Lions 2005
Joe Worsley (England)

Head Coach: Ian McGeechan

Monday, May 4, 2009

Test rugby result: Japan 59, Hong Kong 6

A match review from Ian McDonnell in Japan.

"Hong Kong were at home for their first game of the 2009 HSBC Asian Five Nations against Japan after having the bye in the first round. Hong Kong warmed up for this test with a game against the visiting New Zealand Universities side on the Friday of the bye weekend. In the equivalent game last year played in regional Niigata city, Hong Kong but in a far better performance than in other recent encounters but still went down to the tune of 75-29.

However, this year the encounter was back on the artificial surface of the Hong Kong Football Club for the first time since the final Asian qualification round for the 2007 Rugby World Cup held in November 2006. Japan head coach John Kirwan was an adviser to the Japan team on that occasion two and a half years ago with general manager Osamu Ota acting as interim coach after previous coach Jean-Pierre Elissalde was dismissed over a conflict of interest. Kirwan was officially sworn in as coach on 1 January 2007 and this was his twenty-fifth test in charge of the Japan national side.

In the first round, last Saturday in Osaka, Japan defeated Kazakhstan 87-10 whereas Hong Kong had the first round bye.

Fullback Jack Tarrant opened the scoring in this test with a try in the seventh minute of play. The New Zealand born Tarrant made his debut for Japan last week against Kazakhstan and so this was his first test in the run-on side. The home side were the next to score care of a successful shot at penalty from five-eighth Kenzo Pannell in the tenth minute to bring back the score to 5-3. However, over the remainder of the first half it was the Japanese forwards that added the tries with 23-year-old loose head prop Naoki Kawamata touching down in the 18th minute followed by further five-pointers to open side flanker Yoshitaka Nakamura (36th minute) and tight head prop Kensuke Hatakeyama two minutes later. Panel added a second penalty on the half hour mark and the sides went to the break with Japan leading 26-6 after centre Ryan Nicholas converted three of the four tries.

Japan kept Hong Kong scoreless in the second stanza while adding a further five tries to the scoreboard. Captain Takashi Kikutani touched down in the third minute of play to add to the try he scored last week against Kazakhstan. The captain played on the open side of the scrum last round but was moved to No8 for this clash with Hong Kong. Hatakeyama brought up his double in the seventh minute and this was followed by tries to veteran lock Hitoshi Ono (11th minute) and wing Hirotoki Onozawa (24th minute). The 31-year-old Onozawa, as the oldest player in the XXII, is also now in the veteran class for Japan as he gets set to become only the fourth Japanese player to play fifty tests for the national side. Onozawa sits on 49 caps after this test with only the Kobe trio of centre Daisuke Ohata (58), No8 Takeomi Ito (62) and centre Yukio Motoki (79) ahead of him. Halfback Fumiaki Tanaka finished off the try scoring near the close of play and Nicholas completed the day converting seven of the nine tries.

In the other round two game played in Almaty, the home side Kazakhstan surprised Korea by running out 30-27 winners after leading 13-3 at halftime. For Kazakhstan, all their 30 points were scored by just two players with flanker Anton Rudoy scoring all three tries and fullback Maxim Lifontov converting all the tries as well as landing three penalty goals. The hosts led 27-10 at one stage in the second half but Korea fought back to even things up at 27-all by about the hour mark. However, Lifontov kicked the decisive penalty and Kazakhstan held on for a memorable victory. Chae Jae Young, Jeong Dae Ik and Han Kun Kyu were the try scorers for Korea. "

A full view of Ian's newsletter can be found at

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Test Rugby Results: 2 May

Russia 53, Germany 0 in Hannover (WCQ Euro.R5; ENC 1)
Japan 59, Hong Kong 6 in Hong Kong (Asia 5 Nations)
Kazakhstan 30, Korea 27 in Almaty (Asia 5 Nations)
Uruguay 43, Chile 9 in Montevideo (WCQ Am.R2; CONSUR A Prelim.)
Brazil 36, Paraguay 21 in Montevideo (CONSUR A Preliminary)
Croatia 23, Sweden 13 in Spli (WCQ Euro.R3; ENC 2B)
Lithuania 50, Serbia 9 in Vilnius (WCQ Euro.R2; ENC 3A)
Israel 70, Finland 8 in Netanya (WCQ Euro.R1; ENC 3C)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rugby Test: Russia v Germany

Russia v Germany in Hannover (WCQ Euro.R5; ENC 1)

With not a lot hinging on this game both teams are looking to the future. For Russia it will be their games coming up for the Rugby World Cup qualifying process. For Germany it will be a desperate lunge at the opposition for a win which will ease their relegation worries in 2010.

Last Five Encounters
16.04.2000 Russia 89-6 in Moscow (FIRA B)
04.05.1994 Russia 67-5 in Bucharest (WCQ Europe)
24.10.1992 Russia 13-10 in Moscow (FIRA A1)
25.06.1983 USSR 37-9 in Heidelberg (Friendly?)
24.10.1982 USSR 31-9 in Moscow (FIRA A)

These two teams first met in 1977 with USSR winning 22-16 in Hannover. Not a lot can be read into these results. More recent results in common are from 2008-10 FIRA Division A.

Germany has lost to Spain 11-22, Georgia 5-38, Romania 0-22 and Portugal 6-44.

Russia defeated Spain 42-15, Portugal 18-14, Romania 28-19 and lost to Georgia 21-29.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Russia 9th, Germany 12th

Prediction: Russia by 25 points

Teams not available

International Rugby: Hong Kong takes on Japan

Hong Kong v Japan in Hong Kong (Asia 5 Nations)

Hong Kong struggled at this level last year and I can see the same happening again. A number of overseas-based players trained with the squad in Brisbane in January but only Pannell from New Zealand is available. Hong Kong's home ground will be an advantage but that's about it.

Last Five Encounters
18.05.2008 Japan 75-29 in Niigata (Asia 5 Nations)
29.04.2007 Japan 73-3 in Tokyo (Asia Nations Div.1)
18.11.2006 Japan 52-3 in Hong Kong (WCQ Asia R3; 20th Asia Champ.)
08.05.2005 Japan 91-3 in Tokyo (WCQ Asia Qualifying, Div.1)
28.10.2004 Japan XV 40-12 in Hong Kong (19th Asia Champ.)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Japan 1st; Hong Kong 3rd.

Prediction: Japan by 45 points


15 Jack Tarrant (Mitsubishi Sagamihara) 29, 1
14 Hiroki Yoshida (Toshiba) 27, 5
13 Koji Taira (Suntory) 26, 11
12 Ryan Nicholas (Suntory) 29, 9
11 Hirotoki Onozawa (Suntory) 30, 48
10 Tatsuhiko Otao (Yamaha) 27, 2
9 Fumiaki Tanaka (Sanyo) 24, 9
8 Takashi Kukutani (Capt.) (Toyota) 29, 19
7 Yoshitaka Nakayama (Toyota) 26, 6
6 Michael Leitch (Tokai University) 20, 3
5 Yuji Kitagawa (Kanto Gakuin University) 22, 1
4 Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba) 30, 30
3 Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory) 23, 2
2 Tateo Kanai (Suntory) 24, 1
1 Naoki Kawamata (Sanyo) 23, 1

16 Yoshimitsu Yasue (IBM/Kobe) 24, New Cap
17 Hiroshi Yamashita (Kobe) 23, 1
18 Luke Thompson (Kintetsu) 27, 14
19 Phillip O’Reilly (Sanyo) 28, 9
20 Tomoki Yoshida (Toshiba) 27, 15
21 Shaun Webb (World/Coca-Cola) 27, 10
22 Ayumu Goromaru (Yamaha) 23, 5
Head Coach: John Kirwan

Hong Kong

15 Mike Mckee (Hong Kong Football Club)
14 Sebastian Perkins (Hong Kong Football Club)
13 Rowan Varty (DeA Tigers)
12 Simon Hempel (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
11 Simon Smith (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
10 Kenzo Pannell (Canterbury University, NZ)
9 Jeff Wong Chun Kui (Kowloon)
8 Simon Leung (Hong Kong Cricket Club)
7 Kwok Ka Chun (Kowloon)
6 Nigel Clarke (DeA Tigers)
5 Nick Hurrell (DeA Tigers
4 Ivan Zenovic (DeA Tigers)
3 Nigel Hobler (Hong Kong Football Club)
2 Jon Abel (DeA Tigers)
1 Peter Spizziri (Hong Kong Football Club)
16 Alex Ng Wai Shing (Valley)
17 Grapes Lai Tsz Leung (Kowloon)
18 Angus Washington (Hong Kong Football Club)
19 Kris Marin (Hong Kong Football Club)
20 Tim Alexander (Valley)
21 Edmund Rolston (Valley)
22 Adam Raby (Hong Kong Football Club)
Head Coach: Dair Rees

Rugby Match: Kazakhs at home to Koreans

Kazakhstan v Korea in Almaty (Asia5Nations)

Kazakhstan began the 2009 Asia5Nations with a big loss to Japan. Another tests awaits them when Korea, fresh from a 65-0 win over Singapore last weekend, arrives in Almaty. Last year the Koreans won 40-21 in Seoul but I would expect a much closer result on Saturday.

Previous Encounters
17.05.2009 Korea 40-21 in Seoul (Asia5Nations)
20.10.2003 Korea 45-19 in Seoul

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Korea 2nd, Kazakhstan 4th

Prediction: Korea by 9 points

Teams not available