Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Test Rugby: Philippines play Iran

Iran v Philippines in Manilla (Asia Nations Division 3)

The second match in this tournament sees relatively newcomers Iran up against the home side, the Philippines.

Last year Iran defeated both Uzbekistan and Krygyzstan in a regional tournament played in Beshkek. As a result Iran was invited into Division 3. The Philippines made this grade by also bein undefeated against Brunei and Guam in Guam.

The winner of this match will play the winner of the Guam-Indonesia match.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Iran 12th, Philippines 15th

Prediction: Home crowd will be a huge advantage but I expect the heavier Iranian team to pull through. Iran to win by 7 points.

Teams are not yet available.

International Rugby: Asia Nations Division 3

Guam v Indonesia in Manilla

This is the first time a division three has operated in Asia under the new Asia Nations banner.

Guam has reached this division by coming second to the Phillipines in a regional tournament last year, whilst Indonesia achieved a clean sweep over Laos and Combodia in its regional tournament.

The winner will go on to play the winner in the other match, with promotion to Asia Nations Division 2 for 2010 the prize.

Previous Encounters
These two teams have never met before

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Guam 16th, Indonesia 17th

Prediction: Guam by 7 points

Teams not yet available

Test Rugby: Mid-week Matches

Guam v Indonesia in Manilla (Asia Nations Division 3)
Philippines v Iran in Manilla (Asia Nations Division 3)

Tonga v Junior All Blacks in Suva (Pacific Nations Cup)

Fiji v Japan in Suva (Pacific Nations Cup)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

International Test Rugby Results for 27 June

South Africa 28, British and Irish Lions 25 in Pretoria (2nd test)
New Zealand 27, Italy 6 in Christchurch
Australia 22, France 6 in Sydney
Japan 21,Tonga 19 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
Fiji 19, Samoa 14 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
Tunisia 38, Uganda 13 in Tunis (WCQ Africa R2, SF: Africa Cup SF)-result TBC
Namibia 54, Ivory Coast 14 in Windhoek (WCQ Africa R2: Africa Cup SF)
Papua New Guinea 86, Vanuatu 12 in Port Moresby (WCQ Oceania R1, SF 1)
Cook Islands 29, Niue 7 in Pukekohe, NZ (WCQ Oceania R1, SF 2)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

International Rugby Match: Lions Must Win

British and Irish Lions v South Africa in Pretoria

Venue: Loftus Versfeld,

The greatness of this British rugby team hinges upon the result of this match. A win for the Lions will give them the opportunity to win the series and repeat their performances of 1997. Another loss to South Africa will reduce the Lions to just another defeated British Isles team on tour.

South Africa are at the top of their game right from the start of the season. They dominated in most aspects of the game last weekend and only some folly in substitutions saw the Lions came within a..er..Lions roar. I can't see this happening again this weekend.

Lions Results on Tour So far
30 May Lions 37, Highvelt Royals XV 25 at Rustenburg
3 June: Lions 75, Golden Lions 10
6 June: Lions 26, Free State Cheetahs 24 in Bloemfontein
10 June: Lions 39, Natal Sharks 3 in Durban
13 June: Lions 26, Western Province 23 in Capetown
16 June: Lions 20, Southern Kings 8 in Port Elizabeth
20 June: South Africa 26, Lions 21 in Durban (1st Test)
23 June: Lions 13, Emerging Springbox 13 in Capetown

GWC Rugby Rankings do not apply.

Prediction: South Africa to continue to dominate as World Cup Champions, and to win by 14 points.


South Africa
15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Adi 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 (captain), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Heinrich Brüssow, 21 Jaque Fourie, 22 Morné Steyn

British & Irish Lions
15 Rob Kearney (Ireland),
14 Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
13 Brain O'Driscoll (Ireland)
12 Jamie Roberts (Wales)
11 Luke Fitzgerald (Ireland)
10 Stephen Jones (Wales)
9 Mike Phillips (Wales)
8 Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
7 David Wallace (Ireland)
6 Tom Croft (England)
5 Paul O'Connell, Capt. (Ireland)
4 Simon Shaw (England)
3 Adam Jones (Wales)
2 Matthew Rees (Wales)
1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
16 Ross Ford (Scotland)
17 Andrew Sheridan (England)
18 Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
19 Martyn Williams (Wales)
20 Harry Ellis (England)
21 Ronan O'Gara (Ireland)
22 Shane Williams (Wales)
Head Coach: Ian McGeechan

Team lists from, with some adaptions, http://www.planetrugby.com/lions-09/story/0,25883,3551_5401963,00.html

Rugby Test: Italians Up Against Kiwis

Italy v New Zealand in Christchurch

Venue: Jade Stadium

Italy will finish its 2008-09 season with this test against New Zealand after two tiring tests against Australia. They did well to hold onto Australia in their two test matches across the ditch. If they take their opportunities they could well get within twenty points of this All Black side.

New Zealand won well against France last weekend in very poor conditions for rugby. They have added a few players back from injury and have given a number of bench players a start with the up coming Tri Nations series in mind. It will be another test for a new Zealand side nowhere near full strength.

Last Five Encounters
08.09.2007 New Zealand 76-14 in Marseilles (World Cup, Pool C)
13.11.2004 New Zealand 59-10 in Rome
11.10.2003 New Zealand 70-7 in Melbourne (World Cup, Pool D)
08.06.2002 New Zealand 65-10 in Hamilton
25.11.2000 New Zealand 56-19 in Rome

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-New Zealand 1st, Italy 10th

Prediction: New Zealand to win by 25 points, struggling to gain rhythm against an improving Azzuri.


New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina (capt), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Josevata Rokocoko, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 George Whitelock, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Cory Jane.

15 Luke McLean, 14 Kaine Robertson, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Craig Gower, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Ignacio Rouyet, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Fabio Staibano, 18 Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Giulio Toniolatti, 21 Kristopher Burton, 22 Matteo Pratichetti.

Team lists from http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,3551_5401614,00.html

Test Match: Big Test for Australia

France v Australia in Sydney

Venue: ANZ Stadium

Australia face's its first big challenge for 2009. The French arrive to complete their 2008-09 season with this test against Australia.

The French arrive from two tough tests against New Zealand. Injuries and fatigue may well count against them but in New Zealand they showed a toughness and soundness in defence that made it very difficult for New Zealnd to score tries. They have made a lot of changes giving everybody in the squad a chnace to perform and injecting some fresh legs onto the paddock. Still it seems a little risky against a full strength Australian side.

Australia showed brilliance at times against a resilient Italian side. The selectors have brought back top players rested against Italy in the second test to field possibly their strongest available side.

Last Five Encounters
22.11.2008 Australia 18-13 in Paris
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

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-France 2nd, Australia 8th

Prediction: The French pack to overcome the Aussies, and win by 20 points.


15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Richard Brown, 7 George Smith, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Phil Waugh, 19 David Pocock, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Ryan Cross, 22 James O'Connor.

15 Damien Traille, 14 Maxime Medard, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Cedric Heymans, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Julien Puricelli, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romain Millo Chluski, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Sylvain Marconnet, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Nicolas Mas, 18 Remy Martin, 19 Damien Chouly, 20 Julien Dupuy, 21 Vincent Clerc, 22 Julien Arias.

Team lists from http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,3551_5401076,00.html

Test Rugby: Samoa and Fiji Clash

Samoa v Fiji in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)

Venue: Churchill Park Lautoka

This game is now underway.

Test matches between Fiji and Samoa are always eagerly looked forwards to. They bring out the best in Pacific Island rugby, with a tradition that goes back to 1924 when these two teams first met.

Last Five Encounters
07.06.2008 Fiji 34-17 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
19.05.2007 Samoa 8-3 in Apia (Pacific Nations Cup)
24.06.2006 Fiji 23-20 in Suva (Pacific Five Nations)
30.07.2005 Fiji 21-15 in Suva (WCQ Oceania R3)
09.07.2005 Samoa 36-10 in Apia (WCQ Oceania R3)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Fiji 11th, Samoa 13th
Oceania Table-Samoa 3rd, Fiji 4th

Teams: Not available at this time

International Rugby: Japan takes on Tonga

Japan 21, Tonga 19 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)

Venue: Churchill Park



Last Five Encounters
15.06.2008 Japan 35-13 in Sendai (Pacific Nations Cup)
02.06.2007 Japan 20-17 in Coffs Harbour (Pacific Nations Cup)
04.06.2006 Tonga 57-16 in Fukuoka (Pacific Five Nations)
25.05.2002 Tonga 41-29 in Kumaguya
03.06.2000 Tonga 26-25 in Tokyo (Pacific Rim)

Test Match Rugby: Ugandans have an Uphill Battle

Uganda v Tunisia in Tunis (WCQ Africa R2 SF; Africa Cup SF)

Venue: Stade El Menzah stadium

After their heavy loss at home to Tunisia two weeks ago, the Ugandans have the difficult task of travelling to Tunisia and having to win by 25 points to proceed to the African final. It would seem a huge, almost impossible, task. To add to their problems the Ugandans will be withuout their captain John Musoke, out with an injury.

Previous Encounter
The 41-17 win to Tunisia was the first ever encounter between these two teams.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Africa Table-Tunisia 5th, Uganda 6th

Prediction: Tunisia too strong at home, to win by 48 points.


Neither team's list is available at present.

International Rugby: Ivory Coast in With a Chance

Ivory Coast v Namibia in Windhoek (WCQ Africa R2, SF; Africa Cup SF)

Venue: Hage Geingob Stadium

These two teams drew 13-13 just a few weeks ago in the first leg in Abidjan. The task for Ivory Coast will be difficult after a journey to Namibia. The home side will be out to win a secure a final spot, probably against Tunisia. The finals winner will head directly to New Zealand in 2011.

Previous Encounters
14.06.2009 Drawn 13-13 in Abidjan (WCQ Africa R2, SF; Africa Cup SF)
12.09.1998 Namibia 22-10 in Casablanca (WCQ Africa RD)
16.06.1994 Ivory Coast 13-12 in Casablanca (WCQ Africa R2)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Africa Table-Namibia 2nd, Ivory Coast 3rd

Prediction: Namibia by 7 points


Ivory Coast Squad
Marc Youboue
Olivier Diomande
Edgare Babou, Capt.
Issa Meite
Franck Acho
Daouda Kone
Serge Jouve
Bakary Meite
Mohamed Dembele
Silvere Tian
Candry Tian
Lavrent Diomante
Jean-Maurice Ovlovma
Bedel Dogoui
Louis Kovandio
Ibrahima Konate
Guy-Pacome Yavo
Palo Diabate
Dao Gaovsso
Diack Gassama
Arthur Tin
Sydney Djiropo

Namibia team not yet available

Rugby Match: Papua New Guinea face Vanuatu

Papua New Guinea v Vanuatu in Port Moresby (WCQ Oceania R1, SF 2)

Vanuatu have a real battle on their hands in the form of the local team. Papua New Guinea rugby is measurably stronger than their eastern neighbour, as previous results suggest.

Previous Encounters
15.12.2007 Papua New Guinea 46-0 in Port Vila (FORU Oceania East)
20.08.2005 Papua New Guinea 97-3 in Port Moresby (WCQ Oceania R1A)
09.06.2001 Papua New Guinea 32-10 in Port Vila (WCQ Oceania 1B)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Oceania-Papua New Guinea 8th, Vanuatu 10th

Prediction: The locals will just have too much power and class, to win by 70 points.


Papua New Guinea
15 Jack Maraha
14 Emmanuel Auru
13 Chris Hogi
12 Raymond Romalus
11 David Eri
10 Edwin Noki
9 Lawrence Acanufa
8 Yaisuo Giheno
7 Ray Vagi
6 Alex Haija
5 Aaron Miai
4 Willie Rikis, Capt.
3 Adam Hill
2 Kapua Kapua
1 Westley Thomas
16 Manu Gairo Jr.
17 Peatrie Birney
18 Philip Suapo
19 Charles Maips
20 Roland Namo
21 Chris Kakah
22 Richard Mark
Adapted from http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/qualifying/news/newsid=2032550.html#png+ready+rise+rwc+qualifying+challenge
Vanuatu Squad
John Amos
Mara Bakokoto
Stevie George
Barry Kalotiti
Koko Kalsal
Andrew Kalsakau, Capt.
Kaltonga Kalsau
Geoffrey Kausei
Oliver Licht
Tonny Lui
Pakoa Managawai
Vatumaraga Molisa
George Renganvanu
George Sablan
James Seule
Nalu Sope
Henderson Toa
Jenery Toara
Graham Tungan
Frederick Ure
Romiti Usmoli
Joe Wesley
Adapted from http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/qualifying/news/newsid=2032550.html#png+ready+rise+rwc+qualifying+challenge

Test Rugby: Cooks and Niue play in Auckland.

Cook Islands v Niue in Pukekohe, NZ (WCQ Oceania SF 1)

Venue: Growers Stadium

Referee: Benjamin Skeen (New Zealand)

Last year the Cook Islands selected a team of only local players when they faced Niue in the Oceania Cup semi-final. The result was they lost! Will they pick their strongest team with a full complement of New Zealand-based players? I reckon they will!

And they do. "Local rugby players Bruce Goldsworthy and Turori Matutu are currently in Auckland as members of the national squad which will take on Niue at the weekend in the Oceania Cup East play off. The pair are the only Rarotonga-based players in the team and they have joined other Cook Islands players from Australia and New Zealand, at their camp in Pukekohe." from http://www.cookislandsnews.com/sports.htm#16

So the Cooks Island team will be a lot stronger than the team of 2008.

Last Five Encounters
16.08.2008 Niue 18-7 in Rarotonga (FORU Cup, East)
06.08.2005 Cook Islands 24-5 in Rarotonga (WCQ Oceania R1B)
28.08.2004 Cook Islands 50-5 in Rarotonga (Oceania Cup, East)
06.09.2003 Niue 17-14 in Auckland (Oceania Cup, East)
09.06.2001 Cook Islands 28-8 in Paliati (WCQ Oceania R1, Sect.A)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Oceania Table-Niue 6th, Cook Islands 7th

Prediction: Cook Islanders wont let this one get away from them, to win by 20 points.

Teams not yet available

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rugby Test Fixtures: This Weekend 27 June

British and Irish Lions v South Africa in Pretoria (2nd test)
New Zealand v Italy in Christchurch
Australia v France in Sydney
Tonga v Japan in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
Samoa v Fiji in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
Tunisia v Uganda in Tunis (WCQ Africa R2 SF; Africa Cup SF)
Namibia v Ivory Coast in Windhoek (WCQ Afr.R2 SF: Africa Cup SF)
Papua New Guinea v Vanuatu in Port Moresby (WCQ & Oceania Cup SF 1)
Cook Islands v Niue in Pukekohe, NZ (WCQ & Oceania Cup SF 2)

Preview Briefs
There is another huge weekend of international rugby ahead of us.

The British and Irish lions must win the second test against South Africa to keep the series alive and their hopes of another series win. New Zealand has a totally revamped side to face the Italians whilst Australia will field its strongest side yet against the French.

The Pacific Nations Cup looks like a dead certainty for the Junior All Blacks. The rest of the games are of some interest especially when the home side Fiji takes the field against their old foes Samoa.

World Cup qualifying games continue in Africa and begin in Oceania. Uganda has an uphill struggle away against the Tunisians whilst the Ivory Coast have every chance of pushing the Namibians out of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The first round of the Oceania section of World Cup qualifiers begins this weekend. The Cook Islanders will be out to avenge their shock loss to Niue last year, whilst Papua New Guinea will be looking to take the honours at home against Vanuatu.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recent Test Rugby Results

British and Irish Lions 13, Emerging Springbox 13 in Capetown
Samoa 27, Tonga 13 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
Junior All Blacks 52, Japan 21 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)

Scotland 'A' 22, France 'A' 12 in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup Final)-Non test
Italy 'A' 24, Romania 19 in Bucharest( IRB Nations Cup 3rd-4th)
Russia 29, Uruguay 26 in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup 5th-6th)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rugby Test Matches: Pacific Nations Cup

Samoa v Tonga in Lautoka
Junior All Blacks v Japan in Lautoka

At this stage of the tournament the JAB's look to have the edge on everbody else and tomorrow will be much the same. The Japanese will soon run out of tackle power against this strong side. Meanwhile Samoa should have too much gas for the Tongans who were disappointing in their first match. I expect comfortable wins to the JABs and to Samoa.

Test Rugby Results: Churchill Cup

Ireland 'A' 49, England Saxons 22 in Denver (Final)
Argentina 'A' 46, Canada 29 in Denver (Playoff 3rd-4th)
United States 31, Georgia 13 in Denver (Playoff 5th-6th)

Ireland 'A' surprised everybody by storming home to take the Churchill Cup from England. Argentina 'A' were too good for Canada whilst the USA registered their first win of the season (and for a while) against a disappointing Georgia. The results for Canada and the USA were better than last year's placings, which were 5th-6th respectively.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Test Rugby: IRB Nations Cup Finals Day

France 'A' v Scotland 'A' in Bucharest
Italy 'A' v Romania in Bucharest
Russia v Uruguay in Bucharest

The two undefeated teams, France 'A' and Scotland 'A' play for the Trophy in this the final round of the IRB Nations Cup. Italy 'A' and Romania play for 3rd-4th positions whilst Russia and Uruguay play for 5th-6th.

More team details later

International Rugby Results: 20 June

So far

South Africa 26, British and Irish Lions 21 in Durban (1st test)
New Zealand 14, France 10 in Wellington (2nd test)
Australia 34, Italy 12 in Melbourne (2nd test)

To Come
Churchill Cup
England Saxons v Ireland 'A' (Final)
Argentina 'A' v Canada (Playoff 3rd-4th)
United States v Georgia (Playoff 5th-6th_

Friday, June 19, 2009

Test Match Rugby: Lions Face First Test

British and Irish Lions v South Africa in Durban (1st test)


This test match is probably one of the most awaited test matches of the year. The British and Irish Lions are a unique rugby identity in a professional era that has done away with the idea of touring international rugby sides.

The rivalry between British and South African rugby sides goes back just under a century. 1997 was the last time Lions side toured South Africa. In that series the Lions won the first two tests and lost the last but took the series. They won the Durban test 18-15. That was the last time the Lions won a series, losing to Australia in 2001 and to New Zealand in 2005

Previous Encounters: The 1997 Series.
05.07.1997 South Africa 35-16 in Johannesburg
28.06.1997 Lions 18-15 in Durban
21.06.1997 Lions 25-16 in Capetown

GWC Rugby Rankings: Sadly do not apply

Prediction: South Africa by 7


South Africa
15 Frans Steyn (Natal Sharks) Age 22, 27 Tests
14 JP Pietersen (Natal Sharks) 23, 24
13 Adrian Jacobs (Natal Sharks) 28, 21
12 Jean de Villiers (Western Province) 27, 46
11 Bryan Habana (Blue Bulls) 25, 46
10 Ruan Pienaar (Natal Sharks) 25, 27
9 Fourie du Preez (Blue Bulls) 27, 43
8 Pierre Spies (Blue Bulls) 24, 19
7 Juan Smith (Free State Cheetahs) 27, 54
6 Heinrich Brüssow (Free State Cheetahs) 22, 1
5 Victor Matfield (Blue Bulls) 30, 80
4 Bakkies Botha (Blue Bulls) 29, 55
3 John Smit, Capt. (Cleremont-Auvergne, France) 31, 81
2 Bismarck du Plessis (Natal Sharks) 25, 21
1 Tendai Mtawarira (Natal Sharks) 23, 10

16 Gurthrö Steenkamp (Blue Bulls) 28, 20
17 Deon Carstens (Natal Sharks) 30, 7
18 Andries Bekker (Western Province) 26, 13
19 Danie Rossouw (Blue Bulls) 31, 36
20 Ricky Januarie (Western Province) 27, 34
21 Jaque Fourie (Golden Lions) 26, 42
22 Morné Steyn (Blue Bulls) 24, New cap
Head Coach: Peter de Villiers

British & Irish Lions
15 Lee Byrne (Wales, 27 tests) Aged 28, 0 tests for Lions
14 Tommy Bowe (Ireland, 23) 24, 0
13 Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland, 92) 29, 4
12 Jamie Roberts (Wales, 11) 21, 0
11 Ugo Monye (England, 6) 25, 0
10 Stephen Jones (Wales, 80) 31, 3
9 Mike Phillips (Wales, 39) 26, 0
8 Jamie Heaslip (Ireland, 18) 24, 0
7 David Wallace (Ireland, 55) 32, 0
6 Tom Croft (England)
5 Paul O'Connell, Capt. (Ireland, 62) 29, 3
4 Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales, 31) 23, 0
3 Phil Vickery (England, 73) 32, 0
2 Lee Mears (England, 33) 29, 0
1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales, 68) 28, 3

16 Matthew Rees (Wales, 27) 28, 0
17 Adam Jones (Wales, 56) 26, 0
18 Donncha O'Callaghan (Ireland, 55) 29, 3
19 Martyn Williams (Wales, 88) 33, 1
20 Harry Ellis (England, 26) 27, 0
21 Ronan O'Gara (Ireland, 92) 31, 1
22 Rob Kearney (Ireland, 16) 23, 0
Head Coach: Ian McGeechan

Rugby Test Match: Kiwis on the Rebound?

New Zealand v France in Wellington (2nd test)

The All Blacks will be hurting deeply after their loss to France last weekend. Excuses don't hold any weight with me for the All Black's display. Last November it didn't matter whether the Kiwis fielded their top lineup or the 'Second XV', they won their test matches regardless.

You can expect a different performance from the Kiwis this week. I'd expect the All Blacks to be a fired up, sharper outfit. Another loss will see heads rolling. France on the other hand will go about their business with a quiet confidence that this team will win this test series in New Zealand. This will be an absorbing test match.

Last Five Encounters
13.06.2009 France 27-22 in Dunedin
06.10.2007 France 20-18 in Cardiff (World Cup, Quarter-final)
09.06.2007 New Zealand 61-10 in Wellington
02.06.2007 New Zealand 42-11 in Auckland
18.11.2006 New Zealand 23-11 in Paris

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-France 1st, New Zealand 2nd

Prediction: New Zealand by 7 points


New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina, Capt. (Waikato) Age 28, 69 tests
14 Cory Jane (Wellington) 26, 2
13 Conrad Smith (Wellington) 27, 23
12 Ma'a Nonu (Wellington) 27, 33
11 Josevata Rokocoko (Auckland) 26, 53
10 Stephen Donald (Waikato) 25, 9
9 Jimmy Cowan (Southland) 27, 22
8 Kieran Read (Canterbury) 24, 4
7 Tanerau Latimer (Bay of Plenty) 23, 1
6 Jerome Kaino (Auckland) 26, 15
5 Isaac Ross (Canterbury) 24, 1
4 Brad Thorn (Canterbury) 34, 24
3 Neemia Tialata (Wellington) 26, 32
2 Keven Mealamu (Auckland) 30, 44
1 Tony Woodcock (North Harbour) 28, 49

16 Aled de Malmanche (Waikato) 23, New cap
17 John Afoa (Auckland) 25, 14
18 Bryn Evans (Hawkes Bay) 24, 1
19 George Whitelock (Otago) 23, New cap
20 Piri Weepu (Wellington) 25, 29
21 Luke McAlister (North Harbour) 25, 23
22 Isaia Toeava (Couties Manukau) 22, 1
Head Coach: Graham Henry

Injured: Richie McCaw (the usual captain), Rodney So'oialo, Richard Kaku, Ali Williams, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Anthony Boric, Andy Ellis, Corey Flynn and Adam Thompson.

15 Maxime Medard (Toulouse) Age 21, 9 tests
14 Vincent Clerc (Toulouse) 27, 33
13 Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan) 22, 2
12 Damien Traille (Biarritz) 29, 69
11 Cedric Heymans (Toulouse) 30, 49
10 Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier) 21, 11
9 Julien Dupuy (Leicester, England) 25, 1
8 Louis Picamoles (Montpellier) 22, 13
7 Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier) 22, 15
6 Thierry Dusautoir, Capt. (Toulouse) 27, 23
5 Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse) 25, 8
4 Sebastien Chabal (Sale) 30, 47
3 Nicolas Mas (Perpignan) 28, 24
2 William Servat (Toulouse) 30, 22
1 Fabien Barcella (Biarritz) 24, 7

16 Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français) 25, 35
17 Thomas Domingo (Clermont-Auvergne) 23, 3
18 Remy Martin (Bayonne) 29, 21
19 Damien Chouly (Perpignan) 22, 2
20 Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz) 28, 38
21 Florian Fritz (Toulouse) 24, 16
22 Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Français) 20, 3
Head Coach: Marc Lièvremont

Rugby Test: Italians out to Impress

Italy v Australia in Melbourne (2nd test)

Italy were very competitive against Australia in the first test, especially in the forwards. Their backs lacked penetration. Nik Mallett the Italian coach has made up to ten changes from the first test side in an attempt to inject more urgency and fluidity in their play which was rather one-dimentional in the first test.

The Ausralian looked very sharp, especially in their backs, last weekend. Poor finishing and a strong challenege from Italy up front limited their domination of the match. The Aussies will be looking for a more polished performance and will be expecting a better performance from their forwards. Robbie Deans has made a number of changes which include leaving Matt Giteau and Sterling Mortlock out of the squad altogether. The move is to rest key players ahead of vital tests to come for Australia. As a result the Aussie may well struggle again against this side both in the forwards, an now, in the backs.

Last Five Encounters
13.06.2009 Australia 31-8 in Canberra
08.11.2009 Australia 30-20 in Padova
11.11.2006 Australia 25-18 in Rome
25.06.2005 Australia 69-20 in Melbourne

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Australia 8th, Italy 10th

Prediction: Australia by 14 points


15 James O'Connor (WA Western Force) Age 19, 2 tests
14 Lachie Turner (NSW Waratahs) 22, 3
13 Ryan Cross (WA Western Force) 29, 11
12 Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds) 21, 4
11 Peter Hynes (Queensland Reds) 26, 13
10 Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds) 23, 14
9 Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs) 25, 12
8 George Smith, Capt. (ACT Brumbies) 28, 96
7 David Pocock (WA Western Force) 21, 3
6 Peter Kimlin (ACT Brumbies) 23, 1
5 Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs) 25, 11
4 James Horwill (Queensland Reds) 24, 10
3 Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies) 24, 5
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs) 24, 11
1 Pekahou Cowan (WA Western Force) 23, new cap
16 Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies) 26, 34
17 Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs) 24, 19
18 Nathan Sharpe (WA Western Force) 31, 74
19 Phil Waugh (NSW Waratahs) 29, 74
20 Josh Valentine (WA Western Force) 26, 4
21 Matt Giteau (WA Western Force) 26, 65
22 Adam Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies) 25, 23
Head Coach: Robbie Deans James O'Connor

15 Luke McLean (Calvisano) Age 21, 9 tests
14 Giulio Rubini (Overmach Parma) 21, 3
13 Gonzalo Canale (Clermont-Auvergne, France) 26, 47
12 Gonzalo Garcia (Calvisano) 24, 9
11 Alberto Sgarbi (Treviso) 21, 3
10 Craig Gower (Bayonne, France) 31, 1
9 Tito Tebaldi (Parma) ?, 1
8 Sergio Parisse, Capt. (Stade Francais, France) 25, 63
7 Simone Favaro (Rovigo) ?, New Cap
6 Jean Francois Montauriol (Venise) 24, 1
5 Marco Bortolami (Gloucester, England) 28, 75
4 Tommaso Reato (Rovigo) 23, 9
3 Fabio Staibano (Castres, France) ?, 1
2 Franco Sbaraglini (Treviso) 26, 2
1 Matias Aguero (Saracens, England) 28, 11
16 Leonardo Ghiraldini (Calvisano) 23, 20
17 Salvatore Perugini (Toulouse, France) 30, 61
18 Quintin Geldenhuys Quintin Geldenhuys (Viadana) ?, 1
19 Alessandro Zanni (Calvisano) 24, 32
20 Giulio Toniolatti (Roma) 24, 3
21 Kris Burton (Prato) ?, 1
22 Roberto Quartaroli (Overmach Parma) ?, 1
Head Coach: Nik Mallett

International Rugby: Churchill Cup

England Saxons v Ireland 'A' in Denver (Final)

Both these teams deserve to be in the final. They have consistently put distance between themselves and their opponents who have mostly been full national teams. It must be of concern for the IRB that neither Canada nor the USA figured in this final.

The Saxons will be out to win this tournament for the second year in a row. Ireland 'A' has an unblemished record in its two matches so this final should be a cracker.

Prediction: Saxons by 7


England Saxons
15 Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
14 Noah Cato (Saracens)
13 Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps)
12 Brad Barritt (Saracens)
11 Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers)
10 Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
9 Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons)
8 Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby)
7 Ben Woods (Leicester Tigers)
6 Phil Dowson (Newcastle Falcons, captain)
5 Nick Kennedy (London Irish)
4 Stuart Hooper (Bath Rugby)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
2 Rob Webber (London Wasps)
1 David Flatman (Bath Rugby)
16 Tom Mercey (Saracens)
17 Joe Ward (London Wasps)
18 Dean Schofield (Sale Sharks)
19 Tom Guest (Harlequins)
20 Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
21 Danny Cipriani (London Wasps)
22 Shane Geraghty (London Irish)
Head Coach: Stuart Lancaster

Adapted from http://www.rfu.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/RFUHome.England_Detail/StoryID/22958

Ireland 'A' team not available at present

Canada v Argentina 'A' in Denver

Canada won well against Georgia but hten lost the crucial game against Ireland 'A'. Last year they played in the 5th-6th playoff so I guess you could say they have improved. Argentina 'A' pushed the Saxons in their first game and then won comfortable against the USA. This should be another fairly even contest

Prediction: Argentina 'A' by 7


15. James Pritchard (Bedford Blues, England)
14. Sean Duke (University of Victoria)
13. DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
12. Bryn Keys (Moseley, England)
11. Matt Evans (Hartpury College/Cowichan, BC)
10. Ander Monro (Colorno, Italy)
9. Ed Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates, England)
8. Aaron Carpenter (Coventry, England)
7. Nanyak Dala (Castaway Wanderers)
6. Stan McKeen (Oxford University, England)
5. Tyler Hotson (UBC Old Boy Ravens)
4. Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers)
3. Dan Pletch (Niagara Thunder)
2. Mike Pletch (Velox Valhallians)
1. Frank Walsh (Vandals)
16. Pat Riordan (University of Victoria)
17. Doug Wooldridge (Cowichan)
18. Stuart Ault (Moseley, England)
19. Chauncey O’Toole (Castaway Wanderers)
20. Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria)
21. Dean Van Camp (Velox Valhallians)
22. Phil Mack (James Bay AA)
Coach: Kieran Crowley

Argentina 'A'
15 Lucas Barrera Oro
14 Francisco Merello
13 Matías Viazzo
12 Benjamín Urdapilleta
11 Tomás De Vedia
10 Ignacio Mieres
9 Martín Landajo
8 Tomás Leonardi
7 Leonardo Senatore
6 Alejandro Campos
5 Carlos Cáceres
4 Mariano Sambucetti
3 Pedro Ledesma
2 Agustín Creevy (capitán)
1 Juan Figallo
16 Mauricio Guidone
17 Juan Gómez
18 Tomás Roan
19 Agustín Guzmán
20 Francisco Cubelli
21 Horacio San Martín
22 Belisario Agulla
Coaches: José Orengo, Raúl Pérez

Adapted from http://www.uar.com.ar/noticias4.asp?notcod=20090619201117

United States v Georgia in Denver (Playoff for 5th-6th)

Neither team has played well at this tournament and deserve this placing. It will make for an interesting first-ever encounter between these two nations. With their normal line-up Georgia would win but with some sixteen front-line players not here in Denver I'd expect a more even contest

Prediction: USA by 7


United States
15 Chris Wyles (Saracens, England)
14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz, France)
13 Paul Emerick (Overmach Parma, Italy)
12 Salesi Sika (Agen, France)
11 Colin Hawley (Univ. of California)
10 Mike Hercus (Sunshine Coast, Australia)
9 Tim Usasz (Nottingham, England)
8 Nic Johnson (Denver Barbarians)
7 Todd Clever, Capt. (Xerox Lions)
6 J.J. Gagiano (Univ. of Cape Town, Sth Africa)
5 John van der Giessen (Denver Barbarians)
4 Louis Stanfill (New York Athletic Club)
3 Shawn Pittman (Bayside)
2 Chris Biller (Univ. of California)
1 Matekitonga Moeakiola (Park City Haggis)
16 Joe Welch (Belmont Shore)
17 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie, England)
18 Hayden Smith (Saracens, England)
19 TBA
20 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club)
21 Malenese Malifa (Belmont Shore)
22 Alipate Tuilevuka (Provo Steelers)
Head Coach: Eddie O’Sullivan

Adapted from http://www.gainline.us/

Georgia Squad
Dimitri Bassilaia (Morlass, France) Aged 24, 11 Tests
Jaba Bregvadze () 23, 1 (07-08)
David Dadunashvili (Massy, France) 26, 21
Levan Datunashvili (Aurillac, France) 26, 27
George Elizbarashvili () 25, 16 (07-08)
David Gasviani () 28, 11
Lexo Gugava () 26, 10 (06-07)
Rezo Guigauri () 25, 21 (07-08)
Irakli Gundishvili , New Cap
George Jhghenti () 25, 7 (06-07)
Vassil Kakovini (University) ?, 1 (07-08)
David Katcharava (Enisey STM-Krasnoyarsk) 24, 26
Lasha Khmaladze () 22, 2
Merab Kvirikashvili (Massy, France) 26, 33
Guia Labadze [Capt] 36, 52
Simon Maissuradze (ASM Clermont-Auvergne, France) 22, 8
Zviad Maissuradze () 28, 23 (07-08)
Lasha Malaghuradze (Beziers, France) 23, 15
Irakli Machkhaneli (Agen, France) 28, 32
Irakli Natriashvili (Farul Constanta, Romania) 25, 17
George Nemsadze () 25, 8 (07-08)
Zero Petriashvili , New Cap
George Rokhvadze () 21, 20 (07-08)
Temur Sokhadze () 24, 8- (06-07)
Sandro Todua (Lelos) 22, 10
Kakhaber Uchava (Farul Constanta, Romania) 32, 14
Rati Urushadze [Vice Capt] (Enisey STM-Krasnoyarsk) 34, 36
Charles-Edouard Yachvili *
Head Coach: Tim Lane

Note: Stats as at beginning of tournament
* New cap
Years in () indicates when last played for Georgia
Not all stats complete

Test Match Rugby This Weekend, 20-21 June

British and Irish Lions v South Africa in Durban (1st test)
New Zealand v France in Wellington (2nd test)
Australia v Italy in Melbourne (2nd test)
England Saxons v Ireland 'A' in Denver (Churchill Cup Final) Non-test
Argentina 'A' v Canada in Denver (Churchill Cup, Playoff 3rd-4th)
United States v Georgia in Denver (Churchill Cup, Playoff 5th-6th)

Italy 'A' v Romania in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Russia v Uruguay in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
France 'A' v Scotland 'A' in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup) Non-test

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rugby Test Matches: Pacific Nations Results 18 June

Junior All Blacks 45, Fiji 17 in Lautoka

The Junior AB's recorded an impressive win over a strong Fijian side. They now look to be the pace-setters for this tournament.

Samoa 34, Japan 15 in Sigatoka

This was a match that see-sawed right through towards the end of the second half. Samoa came back strongly against a Japanese side that looked to have the match in hand when they led 15-12 mid-way through the second half. A strong Samoan finish saw them win comfortably in the end.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Test Rugby: Pacific Nations Cup-Japan v Samoa

Japan v Samoa in Sigatoka

This will be Japan's first game at this tournament. They came fresh from some easy wins in the Asia Five Nations compeition but will find Samoa a much different propspect. The Samoans are fresh from a very tough one point loss to the Junior All Blacks on Saturday. When the two teams met in last years competition in Apia, a high-scoring match resulted in Samoa winning 37-31.

Previous Encounters
05.07.2008 Samoa 37-31 in Apia (Pacific Nations Cup)
16.06.2007 Samoa 13-3 in Sendai (Pacific Nations Cup)
17.06.2006 Samoa 53-9 in New Plymouth (Pacific Five Nations)
04.07.2001 Samoa 47-8 in Tokyo (Pacific Rim Semi-final)
10.06.2000 Samoa 68-9 in Apia (Pacific Rim)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Samoa 13th, Japan 14th

Prediction: Samoa by 8 points


15 Jack Tarrant (Mitsubishi Sagamihara)
14 Hirotoki Onozawa (Suntory)
13 Koji Taira (Suntory)
12 Ryan Nicholas (Suntory)
11 Koji Tomioka
10 Shaun Webb (World/Coca-Cola)
9 Fumiaki Tanaka (Sanyo)
8 Takashi Kukutani (Capt.) (Toyota)
7 Touetsu Taufa (Kintetsu)
6 Michael Leitch (Tokai University)
5 Luke Thompson (Kintetsu)
4 Yuji Kitagawa (Kanto Gakuin University)
3 Hisateru Hirashima (Kobe)
2 Yusuke Aoki (Suntory)
1 Hiroshi Yamashita (Kobe)
Not confirmed
Head Coach: John Kirwan

Constructed from http://www.rugbyjapan.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=601&Itemid=2

1. Justin Vaa
2. Mahonri Schwalger
3. Fosi Palaamo
4. Daniel Leo
5. Filipo Levi
6. William Brame
7. Ofisa Treviranus
8. George Stowers, Capt.
9. Notise Tauafao
10. Uale Ma’i
11. Henry Faafili
12. Eliota Fuimaono
13. Gavin Williams
14. Sailosi Tagicakibau
15. Lolo Lui.
16. Ernest Skelton
17. Andrew Williams
18. Jonathan Faamatuainu
19. Semo Sititi
20. Junior Poluleuigaga
21. Reupena Levasa
22. Esera Lauina
Head Coach: Fuimaono Tafua.


Rugby Test Result: British and Irish Lions in South Africa

British and Irish Lions 20, Southern Kings 8 in Port Elizabeth

Test Rugby: Pacific Nations Cup-Fiji v Junior All Blacks

Fiji v Junior All Blacks in Lautoka

Fiji made the more impressive start to this competition out of the two. They powered their way over Tonga with what looked like a fairly good Fijian side containing a good supply of overesaes-based players. The Junior All Blacks had to work hard for their win against Samoa. Could this match tomorrow turn out to be the final?

Previous Encounters
03.06.2006 Junior All Blacks 35-17 in Suva (Pacific Five Nations)01.08.1970 Junior All Blacks 20-9 in Wellington

Prediction: Fiji by 3 points


Junior All Blacks
15. Tamati Ellison (captain)
14. Rene Ranger
13. Anthony Tuitavake
12. Ryan Crotty
11. Hosea Gear
10. Stephen Brett
9. Chris Smylie
8. Victor Vito
7. Karl Lowe
6. Jason Eaton
5. Tom Donnelly
4. Jeremy Thrush
3. Ben Franks
2. Hikawera Elliot
1. John Schwalger
16. Ged Robinson
17. James McGougan
18. Sione Lauaki
19. Alando Soakai
20. Sean Romans
21. Colin Slade
22. Robbie Fruean
Coaches: Ian Foster, Colin Cooper


1 Graham Dewes
2 Sunia Koto
3 Viliame Seuseu
4 Ifereimi Rawaqa
5 Kele Leawere, Capt.
6 Leone Nakarawa
7 Netani Talei
8 Sakiusa Masi
9 Nemia Kenatale
10 Alipate Nolea
11 Timoci Nagusa
12 Seru Rabeni
13 Waisale Suka
14 Filimoni Bolavucu
15 Iliesa Keresoni
16 Sireli Ledua
17 Alefoso Yalayalatabua
18 Josefa Domolailai
19 Anthony Wise
20 Jone Daunivucu
21 Waisea Luveniyali
22 Vereniki Goneva
Head Coach: Ilivasi Tabua

Rugby Test Matches: IRB Nations Cup 16 June

France 'A' 20, Romania 16
Scotland 'A' 27, Uruguay 3
Italy 'A' 35, Russia 3

Monday, June 15, 2009

Test Rugby This Week

France 'A' v Romania in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Scotland 'A' v Uruguay in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Italy 'A' v Russia in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)

Fiji v Junior All Blacks in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
Japan v Samoa in Sigatoka (Pacific Nations Cup)

Churchill Cup Rugby: Ireland 'A' Makes Final

Ireland 'A' 40, Georgia 5 in Denver

Ireland 'A' will play England Saxons in the Churchill Cup final on Saturday. Georgia fielded an relatively inexperienced side due to the fact that sixteen top players could not be released from their French clubs.

Other matches on Saturday will be Argentina 'A' v Canada for 3rd-4th, whilst Georgia will face the USA for 5th-6th.

International Rugby Results: 14 June

Ivory Coast 13, Namibia 13 in Abidjan (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)

The Ivory Coast came back twice the level the scores and still place themselves in with a chance to qualify for the final. They will need to win in Windhoek on the 27 June to accomplish that. It will be a tough task as I suspect the Coasters will not travel as well as the Namibians.

England Saxons 56, United States 17 in Denver (Churchill Cup)

The sorry state of USA rugby continues. The Saxons have booked themselves into the final next Saturday, thus defending the title they won last year. For the third year in a row the USA will battle, probably Georgia, for the wooden spoon.

To come: Ireland 'A' v Georgia

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Test Rugby Results 12-13 June

Romania 17, Uruguay 11 in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Scotland 'A' 49, Russia 7 in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup) Non test
France 'A' 31, Italy 'A' 15 in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup) Non test

France 27, New Zealand 22 in Dunedin
Argentina 24, England 22 in Salta
Australia 31, Italy 8 in Canberra
British and Irish Lions 26, Western province 23 in Capetown
Junior All Blacks 17, Samoa 16 in Apia(Pacific Nations Cup)
Fiji 36, Tonga 22 in Nuku'alofa (Pacific Nations Cup)
Tunisia 41, Uganda 17 in Kampala (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)
Ivory Coast v Namibia-Looks like its on Sunday
Nothing in from Tashkent

Brief Reviews
Ouch! France win in Dunedin. Looks like the French were stronger and the All Blacks weaker than I thought. They'll be some deep down soul-searching going on in Dunedin today!

I expected Argentina to win. The Pacific Nations Cup could be a very even competition this year. Fiji upset Tonga whilst Samoa nearly did the unthinkable-upset the Junior AB's, which would have given the Kiwis a 0-2 weekend.

Tunisia, as I expected, were too strong for the Ugandans. Uganda's team was not as strong as last years but even so they tell me the Tunisians were impressive.

Australia struggled to overcome a determined yet defensive Italian side. I watched the first half late last night and really in that half Italy had very few options outside their pack.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Test Rugby: Argentina Will Be Tougher at Home

England v Argentina in Salta (2nd of 2 tests)

Originally I picked England to win by 7. Then I saw that three very experienced players were included into the Argentine front and middle rows which gives this Argentine side a more solid look that was at Manchester last weekend. Also Argentina did not play as bad as the scoreline suggested. They made a few wrong options and were outplayed in the loose.

I feel that has tipped the match Argentina's way. Also playing out in the provinces will be tough on the English-Salta will be a bit like Dunedin, New Zealand-Argentina's equivalent of 'The House of Pain'.

Last Five Encounters
06.06.2009 England 37-15 in Manchester (1st test)
11.11.2006 Argentina 25-18 at Twickenham
22.06.2002 England 26-18 in Buenos Aires
25.11.2000 England 19-0 at Twickenham
07.06.1997 Argentina 33-13 in Buenos Aires

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-England 3rd, Argentina 9th

Prediction: Argentina by 7 points


15 Horacio Agulla (Brive, France) 24, 18
14 Francisco Leonelli (Saracens, England) 31, 15
13 Gonzalo Tiesi (Harlequins, England) 24, 19
12 Santiago Fernández (Hindú Club) 23, 2
11 Gonzalo Camacho (B.A.C.R.C.) ?, 1
10 Juan Martín Hernández (Stade Francais, France) 27, 31
9 Alfredo Lalanne (San Isidro Club) 26, 1
8 Juan Fernández Lobbe, Capt’(Sale Sharks, England) 27, 29
7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón (Stade Francais, France) 25, 30
6 Genaro Fessia (Córdoba Athletic) 27, 1
5 Patricio Albacete (Stade Toulousian, France) 27, 30
4 Rimas Álvarez Kairelis (Perpignan, France) 34, 43
3 Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers, England) 26, 22
2 Mario Ledesma (ASM Clermont Auvergne, France) 36, 69
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Francais, France) 32, 33
16 Alberto Vernet Basualdo (Stade Toulousian, France) 26, 11
17 Juan Pablo Orlandi (Rovigo, Italy) 26, 4
18 Manuel Carizza (Biarritz Olympique, France) 24, 11
19 Esteban Lozada (Toulon, France) 27, 14
20 Nicolás Vergallo (Dax, France) 25, 15
21 Miguel Avramovic (Montauban, France) 27, 12
22 Lucas González Amorosino (Pucará) ?, 1
Head Coach: Santiago Phelan

15 Delon Armitage (London Irish) Age 24, 10 tests
14 Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks) 28, 30
13 Daniel Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers) 26, 8
12 Thomas May (Newcastle Falcons) 29, 1
11 Matthew Banahan (Bath Rugby) 22, 1
10 Andrew Goode (CA Brive, France) 28, 15
9 Daniel Care (Harlequins) 21, 10
8 Nicholas Easter (Harlequins) 33, 26
7 Steffon Armitage (London Irish) 23, 2
6 Christopher Robshaw (Harlequins) , New Cap
5 Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers) 28, 7
4 Steven Borthwick, Capt. (Saracens) 28, 50
3 Julian White (Leicester Tigers) 35, 50
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) 22, 10
1 Timothy Payne (London Wasps) 29, 11
16 George Chuter (Leicester Tigers) 32, 20
17 David Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) 23, 1
18 Benjamin Kay (Leicester Tigers) 33, 61
19 James Haskell (London Wasps) 23, 18
20 Paul Hodgson (London Irish) 26, 2
21 Samuel Vesty (Leicester Tigers) 26, 1
22 Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks) 22, 30
Head Coach: Martin Johnson

Test Match Rugby: Frogs out to eat a Kiwi

Am I allowed to say that? Ah well.

France v New Zealand in Dunedin (1st test of 2)

Venue: Carisbrook

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Much has been written about this game. I have read with interest as many media outlets have claimed this to be the weakest All Black side ever to assemble and that this is France's chance to avenge all the losses they have endured in the years they've been touring down under since the 90's.

Well, first I don't believe their is such a beast as a weak All Black side. Some are just stronger than others. At times the All Blacks have let their guard down and allowed the opposite to slip in as it were (most notably at Rugby World Cup semi-finals) but never were they a weak side.

So now down to business. Just how much less stronger is this All Black side and just how much stronger is this weak French side from the weak French side that didn't fare well at the 6 Nations Championship.

The first advantage New Zealand has is the venue. The Australians dented the pride of Dunedin's a little when they won there last year but it is still a formidible venue for overseas teams to play at. First there is the weather (usually cold to freezing, dark and wet). Then there is the crowd (partizan, vocal and unyealding).

Next advantage, and ably put by the French team manager when asked about this depleted All Black side. "I respect the All Blacks too much to think new players will be fragile. A player with the black jersey on the back is like a big monster. We're going to see 15 big monsters," said Ntamack. And not to mention some of the reserve monsters waiting on the bench.

It will be a new-look All Black side. They might not win by as many points as when they have all they available players, but then France has their problems also.

This French side is dripping with experience and that has been a fortunate situation. Luckily Toulouse was not involved in the French Top 14 final otherwise France would have been in a very weakened position. Only a few players were involved in the final and they are not available until the second test. But France has also had its injury worries.

Regular captain Lionel Nallet, loose forward Imanol Harinordoquy, scrum-half Morgan Parra, fly half David Skrela, flanker Julien Bonnaire and wing Aurelien Rougerie have all been left behind in France nursing injuries. They are all first choice selections and France is a weaker side as a result. France's main advantage is their experience in this side and their unpredictability. You just never know when a French side fires up. And when they do.......

In summary, if France has an opportunity to win a test again in New Zealand I guess Saturday is their best opportunity for some time. But I'm betting on New Zealand to take this test even by a slim margin. Look out for the outcry back in France if their team loses. The roar will be deafening!

New Zealand has extra motivation. It was France who pushed them out of the 2007 Rugby World Cup with that 20-18 win in Cardiff. Be zee aware les monsters seeking revenge!

Last Five Encounters
06.10.2007 France 20-18 in Cardiff (World Cup Semi-final)
04.06.2007 New Zealand 61-10 in Wellington
02.06.2007 New Zealand in Auckland 42-11
18.11.2006 New Zealand 23-11 in Paris
11.11.2006 New Zealand 47-3 in Lyon

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

Prediction: New Zealand by 7 points.


15 Maxime Medard (Toulouse) Age 21, 8 tests
14 Cedric Heymans (Toulouse) 30, 48
13 Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Français) 20, 3
12 Damien Traille (Biarritz) 29, 68
11 Vincent Clerc (Toulouse) 27, 32
10 Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier) 21, 10
9 Julien Dupuy (Leicester, England) 25, New Cap
8 Louis Picamoles (Montpellier) 22, 12
7 Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier) 22, 14
6 Thierry Dusautoir, Capt. (Toulouse) 27, 22
5 Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse) 25, 7
4 Pascal Pape (Stade Français) 28, 20
3 Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Français) 32, 74
2 William Servat (Toulouse) 30, 21
1 Fabien Barcella (Biarritz) 24, 6
16 Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français) 25, 35
17 Nicolas Mas (Perpignan) 28, 23
18 Sebastien Chabal (Sale) 30, 46
19 Julien Puricelli (Bayonne) ? , New Cap
20 Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz) 28, 37
21 Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse) 30, 60
22 Alexis Palisson (Brive) 21, 5
Head Coach: Marc Lièvremont

New Zealand
15 Mils Muliaina, Capt. (Waikato) Age 28, 68 tests
14 Joe Rokocoko (Auckland) 26, 52
13 Isaia Toeava (Auckland) 23, 20
12 Ma'a Nonu (Wellington) 27, 32
11 Corey Jane (Wellington) 26, 1
10 Stephen Donald (Waikato) 25, 8
9 Jimmy Cowan (Southland) 27, 21
8 Liam Messam (Waikato) 25, 1
7 Adam Thomson (Otago) 27, 8
6 Kieran Read (Canterbury) 24, 3
5 Isaac Ross (Canterbury) 24, New Cap
4 Brad Thorn (Canterbury) 34, 23
3 Neemia Tialata (Wellington) 26, 31
2 Andrew Hore (Taranaki) 30. 36
1 Tony Woodcock (North Harbour) 28, 48
16 Keven Mealamu (Auckland) 30, 43
17 John Afoa (Auckland) 25, 13
18 Bryn Evans (Hawkes Bay) 24, New Cap
19 Tanerau Latimer (Bay of Plenty) 23, New Cap
20 Piri Weepu (Wellington) 25, 28
21 Luke McAlister (North Harbour) 25, 22
22 Lelia Masaga(Counties Manukau) 22, New Cap
Head Coach: Graham Henry

Injured: Richie McCaw (the usual captain), Rodney So'oialo, Richard Kaku, Conrad Smith, Ali Williams, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Anthony Boric and Andy Ellis and Corey Flynn

Friday, June 12, 2009

Test Match: Italians in Australia

Italy v Australia in Canberra

This will only be the third test match played in Canberra. The weather is promising to be freezing for Australia's first test match of the season.

The way Australia tore into the Barbarians last weekend has made the rugby world sit up and take notice of this Australian side. This is a slick combination with Matt Giteau now making fly half his masterly position.

Italy arrived in Australia minus a few of their top players out with injury or unavailable. This team is short on success and confidence. Facing up to this Australian side will be a major challenge for the Azzuri.

Last Five Encounters
08.11.2008 Australia 30-20 in Padova
11.11.2006 Australia 25-18 in Rome
25.06.2005 Australia 69-21 in Melbourne
23.11.2002 Australia 34-3 in Genoa
23.10.1996 Australia 40-18 in Padova

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Australia 7th, Italy 10th

Prediction: Australia by 50 points


15 James O'Connor (WA Western Force)
14 Lachlan Turner (NSW Waratahs)
13 Stirling Mortlock, Capt. (ACT Brumbies)
12 Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds)
11 Drew Mitchell (WA Western Force)
10 Matt Giteau (WA Western Force)
9 Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
8 Richard Brown (WA Western Force)
7 George Smith (ACT Brumbies)
6 Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
5 Nathan Sharpe (WA Western Force)
4 James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
3 Alistair Baxter (NSW Waratahs)
2 Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies)
1 Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
16 Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)
17 Benjamin Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
18 Peter Kimlim (ACT Brumbies) New Cap
19 David Pocock (WA Western Force)
20 Joshua Valentine (WA Western Force)
21 Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
22 Adam Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies)
Head Coach; Robbie Deans

15- Luke McLean (Calvisano) 21, 8
14- Kaine Robertson (Viadana) 28, 37
13- Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais, France) age 25, 61 tests
12- Matteo Pratichetti (Calvisano) 23, 17
11- Alberto Sgarbi (Treviso) 21, 2
10- Craig Gower (Bayonne, France) 31, New Cap
9- Pablo Canavosio (Viadana) 26, 25
8- Sergio Parisse, Capt. (Stade Francais, France) 25, 62
7- Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais, France) 29, 71
6- Alessandro Zanni (Calvisano) 24, 31
5-Carlo Antonio Del Fava (Ulster, Ireland) 27, 36
4- Quintin Geldenhuys (Viadana) , New Cap
3- Fabio Staibano (Castres, France)
2- Leonardo Ghiraldini (Calvisano) 23, 19
1- Salvatore Perugini (Toulouse, France) 30, 60
16- Franco Sbaraglini (Treviso) 26, 1
17- Ignacio Rouyet (Viadana) 30, 2
18- Marco Bortolami (Gloucester, England) 28, 74
19- Paul Derbyshire (Padova) , New Cap
20- Tito Tebaldi (Parma) , New Cap
21- Kristopher Burton (Prato) , New Cap
22- Gonzalo Garcia (Calvisano) 24, 8
Head Coach: Nick Mallett

Rugby Test Match: Fiji take on Tonga

Fiji v Tonga in Nuku'alofa (Pacific Nations Cup)

Fiji and Tonga begin their Pacific Nations Cup campaign in Nuku'alofa before both teams head to Fiji to complete the tournament.

Fiji's position in Oceania rugby has slipped over the last few years. The Fijians have not defeated Tonga since 2005. The Fijians will still be hurting over this situation and I expect a huge game from them.

Last Five Encounters
05.07.2008 Tonga 27-16 in Nuku'alofa (Pacific Nations Cup)
16.06.2007 Tonga 21-15 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
10.06.2006 Tonga 24-23 in Gosford (Pacific Five Nations)
16.07.2005 Fiji 24-19 in Nuku'alofa (WCQ Oceania R3)
25.06.2005 Fiji 19-11 in Suva (WCQ Oceania R3)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Tonga 11th, Fiji 12th
Oceania Table-Tonga 4th, Fiji 5th

Prediction: Fiji by 7 points


15. Taniela Rawaga, Full Back
14. Filimoni Bolavucu, Right Wing
13. Waisale Sukanaveita, Right Centre
12. Seru Rabeni, Left Centre
11. Timoci Nagusa, Left Wing
10. Alipate Noilen, Fly Half
9. Jone Daunivucu, Scrum Half
8. Netani Talei, Number Eight
7. Malakai Volau, Right Flanker
6. Semisi Saukawa, Left Flanker
5. Kelemete Leawere, Right Lock
4. Josefa Domolailai, Left Lock
3. Viliame Seuseu, Tighthead Prop
2. Sunia Koto, Hooker
1. Graham Dewes, Loosehead Prop

16. Isireli Ledua, Front Row Forward
17. Aleposo Yalayalatabua, Front Row Forward
18. Leone Nakarawa, Lock Forward
19. Sakiusa Matadigo, Utility Forward
20. Nemia Ranuku, Scrum Half
21. Waisea Luvenivali, Utility Back
22. Ilikena Bolakoro, Utility Back Fiji
Head Coach, Ilivasi Tabua


Tonga 'Ikale Tahi

15. Vungakoto Lilo, Full Back
14. 'Alipate Fatafehi, Right Wing
13. Hudson Tonga'uiha, Right Centre
12. Epeli Taione, Left Centre
11. Tevita Halaifonua, Left Wing
10. Fangatapu 'Apikotoa, Fly Half
9. Sililo Marten, Scrum Half
8. Chris Hala'ufia, Number Eight
7. Nili Latu, Captain/Right Flanker
6. Hale Pole, Vice Captain/Left Flanker
5. Sione Timani, Right Lock
4. Joshua Afu, Left Lock
3. Po'alo'i Taula, Tighthead Prop
2. 'Ilaisa Ma'asi, Hooker
1. Toma Toke, Loosehead Prop

16. Viliami Ma'asi, Front Row Forward
17. Makoni Finau, Front Row Forward
18. 'Opeti Fonua, Lock Forward
19. Pasuka Mapakaitolo, Utility Forward
20. Mahe Fangupo, Scrum Half
21. Kaiongo Tupou, Utility Back
22. Joseph Vaka, Utility Back

Head Coach, Quddus Fielea.


Test Rugby: Ugandans Not at Full Strength

Tunisia v Uganda in Kampala (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)

Uganda will be without a number of experienced players who are unavailable for this match. They include Allan Musoke, Timothy Mudoola and Tony Luggya, players who played such a big part in Uganda's successful bid to qualify for this round. Uganda will struggle against the bigger and more experienced Tunisians.

For their part Tunisia warmed up for this encounter with a 15-7 win over a Romanian Under 23 side in Tunis last weekend. Playing away from home in Africa can give the opposition at least a 7 point lead before the game is underway. Despite this I think the Ugandans are a weaker team than last year and the Tunisians should win.

Previous Encounters: These two teams have never met before

GWC Rugby Rankings: Africa Table-Uganda 4th, Tunisia 6th

Prediction: Tunisia by 15 points.


15 Simon Wakabi (UTL Kobs)
14 P.Kabaze
13 S. Olwoch
12 Anthony Kinene (G4S Pirates)
11 John Musoke (Rhinos)
10 Joel Kimuli (G4S Pirates)
9 Robert Seguya (MTN Heathens)
8 Moses Soita (G4S Pirates)
7 Mathias Ochwo (MTN Heathens)
6 Joel Anguyo (UTL Kobs)
5 R.Mwisaka (MTN Heathens)
4 E.Butime
3 O.Ochulu
2 S.Mawanda (G4S Pirates)
1 Ronald Adigasi (Entebbe Mongers)
16 A.Irumba (Wits University, Sth Africa)
17 Gideon Kamya (Bracknell RFC, England)
18 Alex Mubiru (MTN Heathens)
19 Phillip Karumuna (G4S Pirates)
20 Dennis Etuket (G4S Pirates)
21 R.Ogwal
22 Bishop Onen (MTN Heathens)
Head Coach: Chester Williams

Tunisia squad
Akram Aouamri, Aziz Kassar, Anouar Ben N’hila, Amara Dridi, Abdelmajid Zemzem, Amine Gharsallah, Imed Fhal, Khaled Zegden, Mohamed Ben Hmida, Mohamed Kochlef, Mohamed Chargui,Mokhtar Gtari,Yousri Soughir, Kherfani Abbès, Aymen Gloulou, Amor Mozgar, Haïthem Chelly, Kais Aissa, Lotfi Ben M’sallem, Nasreddine Hammami, Sabri Gmir, Sabeur Charrada.
Head Coach: Danie De Villiers
http://www.lapresse.tn/index.php?opt=15 ... news=95111

International Rugby Test: Namibians to Be Tested By Ivory Coast

Namibia v Ivory Coast in Abidjan (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)

Although they haven't faced each other on a rugby ground, these two teams have an interesting history shared. It was Ivory Coast's shock 13-12 win against Namibia in 1994 which effectively eliminated them from the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Two days later Morocco sealed the Namibians fate by holding them to a 16-16 draw. It was all heart-stopping stuff.

Namibia recently played two tests against the Argentine Jaguars, their 'A' team which is now in the USA, playing in the Churchill Cup tournament. Namibia were outplayed 7-62 in the first test but come back strongly to lose the second 8-19. Some of these players had the experience of playing against a South African XV for a Namibian Invitation side last weekend.

Namibia are without some their South African-based players including regular captain Badenhorst who played for Natal Sharks against the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday.

The Ivory Coast is placing a strong selection on the park with a number of France-based players. They will have the strong advantage of a home game but I expect the more experienced Namibians to just pull through.

Previous Encounters
12.09.1998 Namibia 22-10 in Casablanca (WCQ Africa RD)
16.06.1994 Ivory Coast 13-12 in Casablanca (WCQ Africa R2)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Africa Table-Namibia 2nd, Ivory Coast 6th

Prediction: Namibia by 8 points


Ivory Coast (Just some of the players)
Some of the foreign-based players in Ivory Coast squad:
Babou Edgar, Prop & hooker, Gennevilliers
Diomandé Olivier, hooker, Racing Metro 92
Dogoui Bedel, wing, Chateaurenard
Edouard Sydney, wing & centre, Lannemezan
Meité Bakary, back-row, Domont
Oulouma Jean Maurice, wing & full-back, Oyonnax
Tian Silvere, out-half & full-back, Oyonnax
Tian Landry, centre & full-back, US Bressane
Yavo Guy Pacôme, Prop, Canada

Namibia Squad
Chrysander Botha (Kudus)
McGrath van Wyk (Western Suburbs)
Piet van Zyl (Boland Cavaliers, SA)
David Philander
Llewellyn Winckler (Stellenbosch University, SA)
Godwin Walters (Western Suburbs)
Jurie van Tonder (United Rugby Club)
Tinus du Plessis (2007:Stellenbosch University, SA)
Jacques Burger (Northern Transvaal Bulls, SA)
Jacques Nieuwenhuis (Aurillac, France)
Nico Esterhuyse (Boland Cavaliers, SA)
Wacca Kazombiaze (Birmingham & Solihull, England)
Marius Visser (Border Bulldogs, SA)
Hugo Horn (Rotherham Titans, England)
Kees Lensing (Castres, France)
Tinus Venter
Jacky Bock (Reho Falcons)
Eugene Jantjies (Farul Constanta, Romania)
PJ van Lill
Andre de Klerk
Johnny Redelinghuis (2007:Kimberley Tech, SA)
Shaun Esterhuizen (Stellenbosch University, SA)
Head Coach: John Williams

http://www.namibiasport.com.na/?q=node/7944 and thanks to ‘unrankedarmenia’s’ detective work at http://www.fira-aer-rugby.com/forum2007/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3116

Test Rugby: Asia Regions 2

Uzbekistan v Krygyzstan in Tashkent (Asia Regions 2, Final)

I'ts going to be difficult to predict this outcome. On Tuesday Kyrgyzstan had a comfortable 38-21 win over newcomers Mongolia but then that win was predicted. Last year these two teams drew 15-15.

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Both teams are placed 21st

Prediction: Uzbekistan to squeeze through in front of their home crowd, by 2 points

Teams as yet are unavailable

The extra Match
Mongolia v Uzbekistan 'B' in Tashkent

This will go into my list of test matches for Mongolia. I'll go for the Mongolians to win their first test match by 5 points.

International Rugby Matches: Other IRB Nation's Games

Scotland 'A' v Russia in Bucharest

As far as I'm aware, and going on last year's tournament, Russia will not be awarding test caps for this game. This is a formidible looking Scotland 'A' side. The Russians are going to have their hands full catching the Scottish backs although I would expect them to have some parity in the forwards. Having said that the Russians are without their usual front row; prop Alexander Khrokin, hooker and captain Vladislav Korshunov and prop Ivan Prishchepenko.

Prediction: Scotland 'A' to win by 32 points.


Scotland 'A'
15 Jim Thompson (Edinburgh)
14 Rob Dewey (Glasgow Warriors)
13 Ben Cairns (Edinburgh)
12 Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors)
11 Simon Webster (Edinburgh)
10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors)
9 Chris Cusiter (Perpignan) CAPTAIN
8 Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors)
7 Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh Rugby)
6 Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors)
5 Al Kellock (Glasgow Warriors)
4 Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh)
3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors)
2 Scott Lawson (Gloucester)
1 Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh)
16 Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh)
17 Stuart Corsar (Doncaster Knights)
18 James Eddie (Glasgow Warriors)
19 Roddy Grant (Edinburgh)
20 Rory Lawson (Gloucester)
21 David Blair (Edinburgh)
22 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)
Head Coach: Andy Robinson


Russia Squad
Mikhail Babaev (VVA-Podmoskovje) Aged 22, 15 tests
Sergey Bazhenov (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 23, 8
Vladimir Botvinikov(Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 24, 6
Artem Fatakhov (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 29, 11
Igor Galinovskiy (Krasny Yar-Krasnoyarsk) 22, 3?
Dmitry Gerasimov (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 20, 3
Victor Gresev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 22, 14
Alexander Gvozdovskiy (Krasny Yar-Krasnoyarsk) 27, 10
Igor Kluchnikov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 27, 25
Kirill Kushnarev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 26, 10
Yuriy Kushnarev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 23, 21
Andrey Kuzin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 29, 21
Andrey Lugin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 28, 6
Carlo Maglakelidze(Penza) ?
Evgeny Matveev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 24, 12
Georgiy Minadze (Penza) ?
Victor Motorin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 32, 19
Vladimir Ostroushko(Yug-Krasnodar) 22, 1?
Alexey Panasenko (VVA-Podmoskovje) 25, 5
Evgeny Pronenko (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 24, 1
Alexander Shakirov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 27, 16
Alexey Travkin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 31, 23
Sergey Trishin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 23, 13
Alexey Volkov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 22, 4
Alexander Voytov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 26, 16
Alexander Yanushkin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 25, 19

Coach: Nikolay Nerush

France 'A' v Italy 'A' in Bucharest

If their strength is reflected in the senior partners then the Italians could be in for a tough match

Prediction: France 'A' by 32 points


France 'A'
Florian Denos (Bourgoin) – Yohan Huget (Agen), Lionel Mazars (Castres), Fabrice Estebanez (Brive), Romain Martial (Narbonne) – (10) Regis Lespinas (Montauban), (9) Julien Tomas (Montpellier - cap) – Raphael Lakafia (Grenoble), Stève Malonga (Castres), Irahim Diarra (Montauban) – Aliki Fakate (Lyon), Guillaume Villaceca (Perpignan) – Luc Ducalcon (Castres), Jean-Philippe Genevois (Bourgoin), Aretz Iguiniz (Bayonne)

Rezerve: Brice Mach (Montauban), Yohan Montès (Toulouse), Marc Baget (Bayonne), Romain Cabannes (Biarritz), Julien Audy (Montauban), Romain Sola (Agen), Jérôme Porical (Perpignan)


Italy 'A'
15 Paolo BUSO (Cammi Calvisano,1 cap)
14 Andrea BACCHETTI (Femi CZ Rovigo, 2 caps)
13 Andrea PRATICHETTI (Cammi Calvisano)
12 Samuele PACE (MPS Viadana, 3 caps)
11 Michele SEPE (AlmavivA UR Capitolina, 2 caps)
10 Riccardo BOCCHINO (AlmavivA UR Capitolina)
9 Michael WILSON (Saracens)
8 Robert BARBIERI (Benetton Treviso, 7 caps)
7 Francesco MINTO (Overmach Cariparma)
6 Agustin CAVALIERI (Carrera Petrarca Padova)
5 Valerio BERNABO’ (Cammi Calvisano, 13 caps)
4 Antonio PAVANELLO (Benetton Treviso, 3 caps)
3 Alberto DE MARCHI (Overmach Cariparma)
2 Luigi FERRARO (MPS Viadana)
1 Michele RIZZO (Carrera Petrarca Padova, 2 caps)

a disposizione
16 Andrea DE MARCHI (Femi CZ Rovigo)
17 Davide GIAZZON (Overmach Cariparma)
18 Andrea CECCATO (Benetton Treviso)
19 Manoa VOSAWAI (Overmach Cariparma, 5 caps)
20 Lance PERSICO (MPS Viadana)
21 Fabio SEMENZATO (Benetton Treviso)
22 Riccardo PAVAN (Overmach Cariparma, 1 cap)
23 Mantvydas TVERAGA (Overmach Cariparma)
24 Alessio GALANTE (Plusvalore Gran Parma, 2 caps)
25 Alberto CHIESA (AlmavivA UR Capitolina)
26 Massimiliano RAVALLE (Overmach Cariparma)
Head Coach: Gianluca Guidi

Rugby Test: Pacific Nations About to Begin

Junior All Blacks v Samoa in Apia (Pacific Nations Cup)

This match Samoa does not classify as a 'test' match. Which is a strange situation considering the strength of the Junior All Black side.

Samoa's problems are usually centred around how many of their overseas-based players are able, willing or fit enough to return home for this series. Traditionally the Samoan, Fijian and Tongan sides for this tournament are not as strong as say their World Cup squads. Having said that a good number of overseas players are in the squad. "The forward core is made up of overseas-based players with veteran Fosi Palaamo making a great comeback with Mahonri Schwalger and Census Johnston making up the front row. The backs see the return of Henry Faafili and Gavin Williams alongside European Player of the Year, Seilala Mapusua" as per http://www.samoarugbyunion.ws/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=275&Itemid=1

Previous Encounters
27.05.2007 Junior AB 31-10 in Apia (Pacific Nations Cup)
09.06.2006 Junior AB 56-12 in Albany (Pacific Five Nations)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Do not apply

Prediction: Junior All Blacks by 20 points

Junior All Blacks coaches Ian Foster and Colin Cooper have named their side to play Samoa in their opening Pacific Nations Cup match in Apia on Friday at 4.00pm (local time/ Saturday 3.00pm New Zealand time).

The team
Israel Dagg, Rene Ranger, Anthony Tuitavake, Tamati Ellison (captain), Hosea Gear, Colin Slade, Chris Smylie, Victor Vito, George Whitelock, Jason Eaton, Tom Donnelly, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Aled De Malmanche, Jacob Ellison

Reserves: Hikawera Elliot, John Schwalger, Craig Clarke, Alando Soakai, Stephen Brett, Ryan Crotty. The last reserve is yet to be confirmed.


Manu Samoa Squad
Andrew Williams
Mahonri Schwalger
Fosi Palaamo
Census Johnston
Ernest Skelton
Justin Va’a
Filipo Levi
Joe Tekori
Jonathan Faamatuainu
Daniel Leo
Ofisa Treviranus
Misioka Timoteo
William Brame
Semo Sititi
George Stowers (Capt)
Junior Poluleuligaga
Notise Tauafao
Angelo Lani Malifa
Ki Anufe
Eliota Sapolu
Seilala Mapusua
Gavin Williams (V/Capt)
Henry Faafili
Alesana Tuilagi
Esera Lauina
Reupena Levasa
Lolo Lui
Uale Mai
Head Coach: Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Test Matches: IRB Nations Cup Starts

Uruguay v Romania in Bucharest

Romania appears to have started a new era by including a number of France-based players who have not played test rugby, or very little, since the 2007 Rugby World Cup. This is a change in policy with the heralding in of a new President of the union and a new coach.

Uruguay arrived with their usual mix of youth and experience. It's good to see some of their overseas-based players available.

Last year's test between these two nations was a very close affair. I expect Romania, with the inclusion of many very experienced players, to be too strong for the visitors.

Previous Encounter
11.06.2008 Romania 10-6 in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-Romania 19th, Uruguay 23rd

Prediction: Romania by 16 points.


Romania Squad
Mihai Adăscăliţei (Dinamo Bucharest) age 25, 2 tests
Petru Bălan (Dax, France) 32, 53 #
Valentin Calafeteanu (Dinamo Bucharest) 23, 20
Daniel Carpo (RCJ Farul Constanţa) 24, 9
Ştefan Ciuntu (Dinamo Bucarest) 22, 12
Alin Coste (Narbonne, France) 20, 8
Robert Dascălu (Steaua Bucarest) 24, 18
Dragoş Dima (Orthez, France) 29, 25 @
Ionuţ Dimofte (CSM Baia Mare) 23, 30
Iulian Dumitraş (Pau, France) 23, 33
Dan Dumitru (Oyonax, France) 26
Cătălin Fercu (Steaua Bucarest) 21, 25
Csaba Gal Dinamo Bucarest) 23, 14
Alexandru Manta (Brive,France) 31, 25
Răzvan Mavrodin (Tarbes, France) 34, 47 ^
Cătălin Nicolae (Farul Constanţa) 28, 6
Ion Paulică (London Irish, England) 25, 33
Cristian Petre (Beziers, France) 28, 60
Augustin Petrichei (Beziers, France) 28, 17 #
Cezar Popescu (Agen, France) 31, 31 ^
Vasile Rus (CSA Steaua Bucharest) 25, 3 *
Lucian Sirbu (Beziers, France) 31, 51 ^
Sorin Socol (Pau, France) 30, 42 ^ (as captain)
Marius Tincu (Perpignan, France) 30, 32 *
Ovidiu Toniţa (Perpignan, France) 28, 42 ^
Alexandru Tudori (Dinamo Bucharest) 29, 30
Florin Vlaicu (Steaua Bucarest) 22, 20
Head Coach:

* Last played for Romania 2007-08
^ Last played for Romania at 2007 Rugby World Cup
# Last played for Romania 2006-07
@ Last played for Romania 2005-06

Răzvan Mavrodin (Tarbes) - also assistant coach for the forwards
Marius Tincu (Perpignan) - he will not play in the first match (his last game was Saturday in the TOP14 final)

And data from http://www.rugbyinternational/ database

Uruguay team not available at present

More reviews later for Scotland 'A' v Russia, and Italy 'A' v France 'A'

International Rugby Results:Churchill Cup

Ireland 'A' 30, Canada 19 in Denver
Argentina 'A' 35, United States 14 in Denver

Test Rugby This Weekend 12-13-14 June

I don't know how you are all going to stay awake with all this international rugby happening around our globe.

Samoa v Junior All Blacks in Samoa (Pacific Nations Cup)
Uruguay v Romania in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Scotland 'A' v Russia in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)
Italy 'A' v France 'A' in Bucharest (IRB Nations Cup)

The Pacific Nations Cup gets underway tomorrow. A couple of matches are being played offshore but mostly, due to cost-cutting, they will mostly be played in Fiji.

The IRB Nations Cup pits the strongest 'A' teams from France, Italy and Scotland against Romania, Uruguay and Russia. Now that the Emerging Springbok are not playing this year fields will be even.

New Zealand v France in Dunedin
England v Argentina in Salta
Australia v Italy in Canberra
Tonga v Fiji in Nuku'alofa (Pacific Nations Cup)
Uganda v Tunisia in Kampala (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)
Ivory Coast v Namibia in Abidjan (WCQ Africa R2; Africa Cup SF)
Uzbekistan v Kyrgyzstan in Tashkent (Asia Regions 2 Final)
Uzbekistan 'B' v Mongolia in Tashkent (Friendly)

The teams from the Northern Hemisphere begin their southern tours on Saturday. At first impression one would think that France are not taking their best side down under. They were because the French Top 14 final between Perpignan and Clermont-Auvergne only involved a few French test players. But injuries has forced a number of players to withdraw. The result is this is not the strongest of French teams but, unlike the last couple of tours, its not their weakest either.

England against Argentina in Argentina is a totally different proposition to playing Argentina in Manchester. The strange thing is that both teams will suffer jet lag. Still I expect the Argies to be far more competitive in front of a provincial crowd in Salta.

Italy has a very hard tour ahead of it. Injuries have hit the Italians and they look like continuing their losing streak.

Fiji and Tonga clash in Nuku'alofa whilst the Junior AllBlacks start their Pacific Nations campaign in Apia. Elsewhere the Africa World Cup qualifying process goes into the third round. Tunisia travel to Kampala to take on the Ugandans, whilst Namibia (the favourite) travels to Ivory Coast to tackle a team with a number of French-based players in the squad.

Test Rugby Result: A first for Mongolia

Kyrgyzstan 38, Mongolia 21 in Tashkent (Asia Regions 2)

My supposed itinerary for this tournament has been shot down in flames. Mongolia played its first ever test match against Kyrgyzstan and lost by a respectable 21-38. The IRB website states that the final on Saturday will be between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan which leaves me pndering..what happened to Jordan?

"Also notable is that Wednesday's match was the first full 15-aside international Test match refereed by Gabriel Lee Wing Yi, Asia’s number one ranked female referee and the first ever Asian Rugby Football Union men’s Test match to be refereed by a female match official."

"Lee had her work cut out in her first Test as an entertaining match was disfigured by the awarding of six yellow cards for a variety of infringements. "

Six yellow cards must be some kind of a record. Still it's good to see women referees officiating at mens rugby tests. I can't recall other women refereeing mens rugby tests.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Test Rugby Coming Up 9-10 June

Mongolia v Uzbekistan in Tashkent (Asia Regions 2)
Jordan v Kyrgyzstan in Tashkent (Asia Regions 2)

Canada v Ireland 'A' in Denver (Churchill Cup, Pool A) Non-test
United States v Argentina 'A' in Denver (Churchill Cup, Pool B)

Mongolia and Jordan play their first international test rugby matches in Tashkent. The winner from this tournament will most likely be promoted to a new Asia Nations Division 4 in 2010.

In keeping with its test match policy from the past I expect Canada will not be awarding test caps for this match, important though it may be.

The Canadians got their tournament off to a good start with a convincing 42-10 over a Georgian side missing key players. They will find the Irish tougher. Only three weeks ago Canada lost to the full Irish side 6-25.

In the other Churchill Cup game the USA takes on Argentina 'A'. The USA Eagles will have had to have pulled up well from their heavy loss to Wales on Saturday to be competitive. They will the Jaguars just as tough as the Welsh.

Uzbekistan by 20 v Mongolia
Kygyzstan by 30 v Jordan
Ireland 'A' by 3 v Canada
Argentina 'A' by 15 v USA

Monday, June 8, 2009

Test Rugby Results Update

Canada 42, Georgia 10 in Denver (Churchill Cup)

Information to hand has the Asia Regions 2 tournament starting Tuesday 9 June with Mongolia being added to the tournament, giving four teams.

With the media giving Mongolia v Uzbekistan as the first game and the tournament over 5 days (9-13 June) I predict the following draw, based on other Asia tournaments below the 5 nations.

9 June: Mongolia v Uzbekistan
Jordan v Krygyzstan

13 June: Winner v Winner
Loser v Loser

Winner of the 13 June game possibly going into an Asia Nations Division 4

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rugby Tests: Early Results 6 June

Updated 9:15am
England 37, Argentina 15 in Manchester
British and Irish Lions 26, Free State Cheetahs 24 in Bloemfontein
Australia 55, Barbarians (UK) RFC 7 in Sydney
Wales 48, United States 15 in Bridgeview, Illnois
England Saxons 28, Argentina 'A' 20 in Denver (Churchill Cup)
Lithuania 6, Netherlands 3 in Vilnius (WCQ Euro.R3 Playoff)
Malaysia 43, China 15 in Kuala Lumpur (Asia Nations Div.2)
India 44, Pakistan 3 in Kuala Lumpur (Asia Nations Div.2)

To Come
Georgia v Canada in Denver (Churchill Cup)
Uzbekistan v Kyrgyzstan in Tashkent (Asia Regions 2)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Test Match Rugby: Pumas Ready to Pounce the Lions

Argentina v England in Manchester

Argentina have prepared a very experienced side to take on the English in test matches in Manchester and then in the Argentinean city of Salta.

England suffered defeat at the hands of the Barbarains last weekend. Coach Martin Johnson has made changes and with enough old hands still available England will need to improve on that display and some more if they are going to defeat Argentina.

Argentina returns to the ground where they last played England and caused an upset by winning 25-18. Martin Johnson will be very wary of the Pumas. That last match at Twickenham caused the demise of an England coach. Will history repeat itself?

Last Five Encounters
11.11.2006 Argentina 25-18 at Twickenham
15.11.2000 England 19-0 at Twickenham
07.06.1997 Argentina 33-13 in Buenos Aires
31.05.1997 England 46-20 in Buenos Aires
14.12.1996 England 20-18 at Twickenham

GWC Rugby Rankings: World Table-England 4th, Argentina 9th

Prediction: Argentina by 7 points.


15 Horacio Agulla (Brive, France) Aged 24, 17 Tests
14 Federico Martín Aramburu (Dax, France) 29, 19
13 Gonzalo Tiesi (Harlequins, England) 24, 18
12 Miguel Avramovic (Montauban, France) 27, 11
11 Gonzalo Camacho (B.A.C.R.C.) ?, New Cap
10 Juan Martín Hernández (Stade Francais, France) 27, 30
9 Nicolás Vergallo (Dax, France) 25, 14
8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Capt. (Sale Sharks, England) 27, 28
7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Stade Francais, France) 25, 29
6 Álvaro Galindo (Racing Metro, France) 27, 7
5 Patricio Albacete (Stade Toulousian, France) 27, 29
4 Manuel Carizza (Biarritz Olympique, France) 24, 10
3 Juan Pablo Orlandi (Rovigo, Italy) 26, 3
2 Alberto Vernet Basualdo (Stade Toulousian, France) 26, 10
1 Rodrigo Roncero (Stade Francais, France) 32, 32
16 Eusebio Guiñazu (Sporting Union Agen, France) 27, 13
17 Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers, England) 26, 21
18 Esteban Lozada (Toulon, France) 27, 13
19 Alejandro Abadie(Capitolina, Italy) 24, 1
20 Alfredo Lalanne (San Isidro Club) 26, 1
21 Santiago Fernández (Hindú Club) 23, 2
22 Lucas González Amorosino (Pucará) ?, 1
Head Coach: Santiago Phelan

Injured: Felipe Contepomi (Toulon)

15 Delon Armitage (London Irish) Age 24, 9 tests
14 Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks) 28, 29
13 Daniel Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers) 26, 7
12 Thomas May (Newcastle Falcons) 29, New Cap
11 Matthew Banahan (Bath Rugby) 22, New Cap
10 Andrew Goode (CA Brive, France) 28, 14
9 Daniel Care (Harlequins) 21, 9
8 Nicholas Easter (Harlequins) 33, 25
7 Steffon Armitage (London Irish) 23, 1
6 James Haskell (London Wasps) 23, 17
5 Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers) 28, 6 +
4 Steven Borthwick, Capt. (Saracens) 28, 49
3 David Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) 23, New Cap
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) 22, 9
1 Timothy Payne (London Wasps) 29, 10
16 Julian White (Leicester Tigers) 35, 49
17 Steven Thompson (CA Brive, France) 30, 42
18 Benjamin Kay (Leicester Tigers) 33, 60 *
19 Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers) 22, 1
20 Paul Hodgson (London Irish) 26, 1 *
21 Samuel Vesty (Leicester Tigers) 26, New Cap
22 Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks) 22, 29
Head Coach: Martin Johnson

* Last played for England 2007-08 season
+ Last played for England 2006-07 season

Rugby Match: British and Irish lions 3rd Tour match

British and Irish Lions v Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein

This British and Irish lions combination will need to outdo their Wednesday team in the way it delt with the opposition. The pressure is on this combination to dominate the opposition and score trys. The Cheetahs will provide sterner opposition than the Golden Lions did last Wednesday but in the end the tourists will have too much skill, and especially, strength up front.

Prediction: British and Irish Lions by 15 points.


15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JW Jonker, 10 Jaques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Tewis De Bruyn, 8 Hendro Scholtz (captain), 7 Francois Uys, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 David De Villiers, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian Du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 WP Nel, 18 Frans Viljoen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Gerrie Odendaal, 21 Louis Strydom, 22 Fabian Juries.

British and Irish Lions
15 Lee Byrne, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Shane Willians, 10 James Hook, 9 Harry Ellis, 8 Andy Powell, 7 Joe Worsley, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Donncha O'Callaghan, 4 Paul O'Connell, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Andy Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Adam Jones, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 Nathan Hines, 20 Mike Blair, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Gordon D'Arcy.

International Rugby: The Barbarians in Australia

Barbarians (UK) RFC v Australia in Sydney-Non Test

This is certainly a strange match for Australia to be warming up with prior to their tests against Italy, France and then the Tri Nations. The Baabaas are fresh from a 33-26 win against England last weekend and will provide worthy opposition. These two teams play for a trophy, the Nick Shehadie Cup.

Prediction: Barbarians by 7 points


15 Adam Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies)
14 Lachlan Turner (NSW Waratahs)
13 Stirling Mortlock, Capt. (ACT Brumbies)
12 Berrick Barnes (Queensland Reds)
11 Drew Mitchell (WA Western Force)
10 Matt Giteau (WA Western Force)
9 Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)
8 Richard Brown (WA Western Force)
7 George Smith (ACT Brumbies)
6 Matthew Hodgson (WA Western Force)
5 Nathan Sharpe (WA Western Force)
4 James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
3 Alistair Baxter (NSW Waratahs)
2 Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies)
1 Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
16 Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)
17 Benjamin Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
18 Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)
19 David Pocock (WA Western Force)
20 Joshua Valentine (WA Western Force)
21 Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
22 James O'Connor (WA Western Force)
Head Coach; Robbie Deans

15 Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers, Ireland)
14 Iain Balshaw (Gloucester, England)
13 Sonny Bill Williams (Toulon)
12 Seilala Mapusua (London Irish, Samoa)
11 Josh Lewsey (London Wasps, England)
10 Luke McAlister (Sale Sharks, New Zealand)
9 Chris Whitaker (Leinster, Australia)
8 Rocky Elsom (ACT Brumbies, Australia)
7 Phil Waugh, Capt (Waratahs, Australia)
6 Jerry Collins (Toulon, New Zealand)
5 Paul Tito (Cardiff Blues)
4 Chris Jack (Saracens, New Zealand)
3 BJ Botha (Ulster, South Africa)
2 Sebastien Bruno (Sale Sharks, France)
1 Clarke Dermody (London Irish, New Zealand).
16 Schalk Brits (Stormers, South Africa)
17 Greg Somerville (Gloucester, New Zealand)
18 Martin Corry (Leicester Tigers, England)
19 Serge Betsen (London Wasps, France)
20 Justin Marshall (Saracens, New Zealand)
21 Glen Jackson (Saracens)
22 Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues, New Zealand)
David Lyons (Llanelly Scarlets, Australia) is on standby for Rocky Elsom.
Head Coach: David Young