Monday, February 28, 2011


Ireland 21, Scotland 18 at Murrayfield

Sunday, February 27, 2011

TEST MATCH RUGBY: Ireland v Scotland

Ireland v Scotland at Murrayfield

Referee: Nigel Owens Wales

Both teams will be flat out to win this Celtic clash at Murrayfield. The record between these two teams favours Ireland-slightly.Recent results has left Scotland floundering near the bottom of the 6 Nations points table whilst Ireland scored 3 tries to 1 against France but still lost.

Scotland has made seven changes to the side that lost 6-24 to Wales two weeks ago. Andy Robinson has rung the changes. The changes include the recall of veteran full back Chris Paterson, the first Scotsman to play 100 tests.

Ireland has kept much to the side that scored 3 tries against France.

Last Five Encounters
20.03.2010 Scotland 23-20 in Dublin (6 Nations)
14.03.2009 Ireland 22-15 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
22.02.2008 Ireland 34-13 in Dublin (6 Nations)
11.08.2007 Scotland 31-21 at Murrayfield (World Cup Warm Up)
10.03.2007 Ireland 19-18 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)

Fairly even contests are the norm between these two nations.

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Scotland 7th, Ireland 8th
Europe Table-Ireland 2nd, Scotland 5th

IRB Ranking Points
Ireland 80.95, Scotland 77.96

Prediction: Ireland by 3 points


15 Christopher Paterson, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Nicholas De Luca, 12 Sean Lamont, 11 Max Evans, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Michael Blair, 8 John Beattie, 7 John Barclay, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alastair Kellock (capt), 4 Richard Gray, 3 Moray Low, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
16 Scott Lawson, 17 Geoffrey Cross, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Richard Vernon, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Daniel Parks, 22 Simon Danielli.
Head Coach: Andy Robinson


15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Thomas Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (capt), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 James Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Michael Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
16 Sean Cronin, 17 Thomas Court, 18 Leo Cullen, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Peter Stringer, 21 Jonathan Sexton , 22 Patrick Wallace.
Head Coach: Declan Kidney

32 year old Chris Paterson will add to his record 101 tests for Scotland.
Ireland has two test centurions playing; O’Gara 106 and Brian O’Driscoll 109.
If Peter Stringer takes the field it will be his 96th test for Ireland.

TEST RUGBY 26 Feb: Six Nations

England 17, France 9 at Twickenham
Wales 24, Italy 16 in Rome

Sunday-Ireland v Scotland at Murrayfield

Brief Reviews
England placed themselves at the top of the points table after a close tussle with France. The result ended France’s hopes of successive Grand Slams and gives England the opportunity to win that title for themselves. According to reports it was a game played at pace but with handling errors ruining many opportunities especially by France.

Match Report,25883,16024_6781558,00.html
Match details

Italy came very close to causing a major upset in losing 16-24 to Wales in Rome. Poor goal kicking was the cause. Italy matched Wales in every other department and dominated possession. They should have won. Italy really struggle to finish off their opponents in these situations.

Match Report,25883,16024_6781547,00.html
Match details


Georgia 13, Portugal 12 in Lisbon
Romania 33, Russia 3 in Bucharest
Spain 35, Ukraine 13 in Madrid

Brief Review
Georgia just edged past a rising Portugal in Lisbon. Only one point separated the two teams. Portugal has been a bit of a surprise package in this tournament and was not taken seriously by the other teams. So far they have defeated Russia and Portugal and pushed Georgia to a one point margin.

Reports from those who were at the game or who have seen it on TV indicate that Georgia deserved to win but that Portugal are not far behind. Georgia was strong up front but matched by Portugal as the game progressed. Georgia was weak in the backs until their fly half was replaced. Georgia made far too many mistakes. Portugal could have won the game but for a missed late penalty goal attempt. There were a number of unfavourable comments about the referee.
And FIRA-AER match commissioners report

Romania were too good for a disappointing Russian team in Bucharest. This score line would indicate that Russia are going to have serious problems at the 2011 Rugby World Cup unless they make some dramatic improvements. According to reports the Russians made much of the play but made all the mistakes as well. Romania pounced on mistakes and scored from them.
And FIRA-AER match commissioners report
Videos of the tries

As predicted Spain had only a few difficulties with the Ukraine in Madrid. There was a nasty brawl between front rows during the match which, and a cool down period, held up play. No match commissioners report yet.

Next Round-12 March
Romania v Georgia in Tblissi
Portugal v Spain in Madrid
Russia v Ukraine in Odessa

Sunday, February 20, 2011


France v England at Twickenham (6 Nations)
Wales v Italy in Rome (6 Nations)
Georgia v Portugal in Lisbon (ENC 1A)
Russia v Romania in Bucharest (ENC 1A)
Ukraine v Spain in Madrid (ENC 1A)

Ireland v Scotland at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
Brunei v Philippines A in Kotu Kinabalu (Friendly)

My coverage of these games will be limited due to a very busy weekend. I’m the chief organiser of the local Stamp, Coin and Militaria Fair being held on the Saturday and our club meets on Friday night. Spare time used for eating and sleeping!

The France v England clash at Twickenham is THE big one. Both are undefeated and the result may well decide the 2011 6 Nations Championship. Italy faces Wales and a major hurdle out of their misery following the thrashing by England last weekend. On Sunday Ireland and Scotland battle for the ‘Celtic Pride’ award which means a right old tussle for the win.

Georgia and Portugal clash in what is THE clash for this competition. Both are undefeated. Georgia has scored two massive wins against Ukraine and Spain, whilst Portugal has, against the odds, narrowly defeated Romania and Russia. Played in Lisbon gives the Portuguese an advantage but Georgia appears to have slipped into a higher gear and looks the likely winner


Andorra 42, Serbia 25 in Andorra La Vela (ENC 2B)

Andorra scored 7 tries to 3 and played a more open game. Serbia’s tries came from pick and drives close to the line. Three yellow cards dished out for infringements. Andorra now takes a handy lead in Division 2B

Saturday, February 19, 2011

RUGBY TEST MATCH: European Nations Cup, Div.2B

Serbia v Andorra at Andorra La Vela

Venue: Campus de Consell

Referee: P.Mariaud (France)

Serbia’s last outing was a huge turnaround from the 3-33 loss to Slovenia.

There is very little between all the teams in this division of the European Nations Cup. All have won a game and lost a game, no team dominating.

Although Serbia has defeated Andorra in Andorra before, they don’t have as a good an overall record as the Andorians and at present lie at the bottom of the table. Both teams have injury worries and the Serbians do not look to have their strongest squad travelling.

Last Five Encounters
29.11.2009 Andorra 21-7 in Andorra La Vela (ENC 3A)
06.12.2008 Serbia 32-7 in Smederevo (WCQ Europe R2; ENC 3A)
04.05.2002 Serbia 19-5 in Andorra La Vela (FIRA B, Pool A)
14.10.2000 Andorra 12-9 in Andorra La Vela (WCQ Europe R1; FIRA Pool 3)

Recent Serbia Results
20.11.2010 v Switzerland in Belgrade W 18-15 (ENC 2B)
23.10.2010 v Slovenia in Ljubliana L 3-33 (ENC 2B)

Recent Andorra Results
22.11.2010 v Armenia in Abovian L 12-15 (ENC 2B)
09.10.2010 v Slovenia in Andorra La Vela W 22-7 (ENC 2B)

GWC Rugby Rankings
Europe Table-Andorra 26th, Serbia 28th

IRB Rankings Points
Andorra 42.91, Serbia 41.67

Prediction: Andorra by 6 points.


Andorra Logo

Likely Andorra Squad
Marc Abelló (injury)
Paul Alieu
Peter Ambor
Àlex Ballesta
Jeremy Berrio
Óscar Cabanes
Albert Canturri
Antoni Carmona
Eduard Estevenet
Àlex Fernández
Joan Fité
Roger Fité (injury)
Galaktion Gagnidze
Jonathan Garcia
Marc Gispert
Edisher Jamrulidze
David Kirikaixvili
Josep Magallón (injury)
David Martínez
Arnau Olivé
Dani Raya
Estefano Tossati
Eduard Vergara
Xavier Vilasetrú
Head Coach: Michael Broad (Australia)


Serbia Squad
Nemanja Babic (RK Partizan)
Uroš Babić (RK Pobednik)
Nikola Dimic (RK Partizan)
Sasa Djukic (RK Partizan)
Vladimir Djukic (RK Pobednik)
Andrija Jankovic (KBRK Belgrade)
Vladimir Jelic (Italian Club)
Miloš Joksimović (RK Partizan)
Aleksandar Krstic (RK Partizan)
Jerko Labus (CR Tarragona, Spain)
Bojan Lukic (Vienna Celtic, Austria)
Boris Martic (KBRK)
Nenad Matejić (RK Partizan)
Milos Milanko (RK Partizan)
Milan Orlović (RK Pobednik)
Nikola Simonovic (RK Pobednik)
Vlastimir Sretenović (KBRK Belgrade)
Dejan Tasic (RK Partizan)
Mihajlo Vukobratovic (RC Dinamo Pancevo)
Miladin Živanov (RK Pobednik)
Milos Zogovic (RC Krusevac)
Head Coach: Nedeljko Savic

Friday, February 18, 2011


Only one test match this weekend

Serbia v Andorra in Andorra La Vela (ENC 2B)

TEST RUGBY RESULTS: 12-13 February

My apologies for the lack of coverage last weekend. Our house was full of relations who descended upon us to help celebrate my 60th Birthday.

France 25, Ireland 22 in Dublin (6 Nations)

England 59, Italy 13 at Twickenham (6 Nations)
Wales 24, Scotland 6 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
Georgia 60, Spain 0 in Tblissi (ENC 1A)
Portugal 21, Russia 19 in Sotchi (ENC 1A)
Romania v Ukraine in Odessa (ENC 1A)-Postponed
Belgium 20, Moldova 5 in Brussels (ENC 1B)

Ireland scored 3 tries to 1 against France but still lost. England crushed Italy and on form look to be the 6 Nations champion for 2011. Georgia crushed Spain and they look to be head and shoulders above the rest of the European Nations Cup Division 1A. Portugal gained it’s second win in a row against the odds and move into second-best.

An iced up field in Odessa prevented any play in the Romania v Ukraine match whilst Belgium defeated Moldova 20-5 in a hard-fought match in which the scoreline did not reflect the closeness of the game.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Italy v England at Twickenham (6 Nations)
Wales v Scotland at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
Spain v Georgia in Tblissi (ENC 1A)
Portugal v Russia in Sotchi (ENC 1A)
Romania v Ukraine in Odessa (ENC 1A)
Moldova v Belgium in Brussels (ENC 1B)

France v Ireland in Dublin (6 Nations)

Note: Czech Republic v Germany, originally listed as 12.02.2011 will be played 12 March.

TEST RUGBY: Belgian Team Selected

From the Belgian Rugby Union, below is the squad that will face Moldova in Brussels Saturday


Thibaut Andre (Soignies)
Aurélien Batardy (Soignies)
Julien Berger (La Rochelle, France)
Jérôme Cauwe (ASUB Rugby Waterloo)
Christophe Debaty (Limoges, France)
Mika Demolder (Boitsfort)
Thomas Dienst (Lille, France)
Noam Dubart (Brussels University Club)
Carlos Fierro (Rugby Olympique de Grasse, France)
Charlie Fourneau (Lille, France)
Sébastien Guns (Boitsfort)
Julien Hanchir (Millau, France)
Pierre Hendrikx (Boitsfort)
Maxime Jadot (Pau, France)
Julien Massimi (Saint-Etienne, France)
Nicolas Meeus (Kituro)
Cyril Nana (Anderlecht)
Andrew Neal (Tournefeuille, France)
Pierre Plasman (Dendermonde)
Frédéric Rongé (Kituro)
Norman Wende (Saint-Etienne, France)
Alan Williams (Montluçon, France)
Head Coach: Richard McClintock

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Czech Republic v Germany will be 12 March and not 12 February

TEST RUGBY: Moldovan Team For Saturday

This Saturday Moldova plays Belgium in Brussels. A squad of 32 players was selected for training. The group will be reduced to 24 for the trip to Brussels.

Alexandru Matveev (USEFS Blumarine)
Dorin Petrache (USEFS Blumarine)

Mihai Gheorghieş (UTM Chişinău)
Veaceslav Lozinschi (USEFS Blumarine)
Ion Cavcaliuc (LIMPS Chişinău)
Mihai Vasian (LIMPS Chişinău)

Gheorghe Volosciuc (USEFS Blumarine)
Andrian Baltag (RC Lokomotiv “Spartak’’ Russia)
Vitalie Baleca (USEFS Blumarine)
Alexandru Bulgac (USEFS Blumarine)

Octavian Manoli (UTM Chişinău)
Alexandru Gagăuz (RC Lokomotiv “Spartak’’ Russia)
Alexandru Breazu (R.C.Ciorescu)

Nicolae Chirilă (Imperia Penza, Russia)
Nicolae Caburgan (USEFS Blumarine)
Eduard Toderică (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)

3rd Row:
Victor Arhip (USEFS Blumarine)
Oleg Prepeliţă (RC Lokomotiv “Spartak’’ Russia)
Sergiu Castraveţ (RC Lokomotiv “Spartak’’ Russia)
Serghei Muntean (Olimp-Electromaş,Tiraspol)

2nd Row:
Andrei Romanov (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Veaceslav Titica (Krasny Yar, Russia)
Maxim Gargalîc (ASEM Chişinău)

Vadim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Maxim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Victor Leon (UTM Chişinău)
Gheorghe Gajion (UTM Chişinău)
Andrei Mîtăblîndă (USEFS Blumarine)
Igor Orghianu (ASEM Chişinău )
Daniel Hîncu (USEFS Blumarine)

Dumitru Vasilachi (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Dumitru Arhip (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Ion Dascal (USEFS Blumarine)
Victor Beilic (SSSAR Chişinău)

Head coach: Vyacheslav Bulai

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Russia 28, Spain 24 in Madrid (ENC 1A)
Portugal 24, Romania 17 in Lisbon (ENC 1A)
Georgia 62, Ukraine 3 in Odessa (ENC 1A)

Portugal caused the major upset of the day defeating Romania in Lisbon. The Romanians were below strength and Portugal took full advantage. I suspect the Romanians wont be panicking because at full strength they can defeat any of the other teams. The worry is that at the 2011 Rugby World Cup you are only as good as your second team.

Spain very nearly followed Portugal’s example. The Russians were nearly at full strength and Spain’s new look side gave them a fright in Madrid. The Spanish experiment of using mostly France-based players looks to have given the team extra skill and resolve. My conclusion is Russia will struggle to hold other teams in their pool at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The big worry of the day is the Ukraine. They were hopelessly outclassed by a Georgian team not up to full strength but good enough on the day. On this display its difficult to see Ukraine winning any games in the next two seasons.

The Next Round
Spain v Georgia in Tblissi (ENC 1A)
Portugal v Russia in Sotchi (ENC 1A)
Romania v Ukraine in Odessa (ENC 1A)


Ireland 13, Italy 11 in Rome (6 Nations Int. Championship)
France 34, Scotland 21 in Paris (6 Nations Int. Championship)

England 26, Wales 19

England, Ireland and France came away from the first round of the 6 Nations International rugby championship with maximum points. The only clear-cut winners were France.

The French proved my theory about not playing two poor games in a row. Scotland were on the receiving end of the French backlash following Australia’s humiliating 59-16 win in Paris last November.

The surprise of the day came in Rome where Italy very nearly pulled off their first 6 Nations win against Italy. Only a late dropped goal by veteran O’Gara saved Irish blushes.

On Friday night England had to battle hard against a determined Welsh side in Cardiff.

The Next Round
Italy v England at Twickenham (6 Nations)
Wales v Scotland at Murrayfield (6 Nations)

France v Ireland in Dublin (6 Nations)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

6 NATIONS RUGBY: Ireland v Italy

Ireland v Italy in Rome (6 Nations)

Venue: Stadio Flaminio

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Ireland has made some changes to the side that won convincingly against Argentina and fought well against the All Blacks, in November. There is no John Hayes in the front row and no Stringer at scrum half. There are centurions in the Irish backline. O’Driscoll has 107 tests, O’Gara 103. The side is a mix of youth and experience. McFadden and Ross make their test debuts whilst Lions captain Paul O’Connell returns after a long absence. All-in-all, Ireland look like a well blended side.

The Italian forward pack is one of the strongest in the competition. They have an abundance of experience; Lo Cicero 81 tests, Ongaro 74, Perugini 75, Castrogiovanni 71, Parisse 71. If Del Fava takes the field off the bench he will play his 50th test for Italy. They will certainly match Ireland in the forwards. But Italy’s age old problem is their backs. They can win any amount of possession but the back line combinations just don’t work. For this test they have a new half back combination and so the search goes on for someone to guide the backline. I can’t see Italy winning.

Last Five Encounters
06.02.2010 Ireland 29-11 in Dublin (6 Nations)
15.02.2009 Ireland 38-9 in Rome (6 Nations)
02.02.2008 Ireland 16-11 in Dublin (6 Nations)
24.08.2007 Ireland 23-20 in Belfast (World Cup Warm-up)
17.03.2007 Ireland 51-24 in Rome (6 Nations)

Italy has never defeated Ireland since they joined the 5 Nations to make the six nations, in 2000. Italy did defeat Ireland 37-22 in Bologna, back in December 1997.

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Ireland 7th, Italy 10th
Europe Table-Ireland 2nd, Italy 6th

IRB Ranking Points
Ireland 81.79, Italy 73.31

Prediction: Ireland by 12 points.



15 Luke McLean, 14 Andrea Masi, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse, Capt. 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Joshua Sole, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Santiago Dellape, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18 Carlo Del Fava, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Paulo Canavosio, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Gonzalo Garcia.
Head Coach: Nik Mallett


15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, Capt.12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Sean O'Brien, 7 David Wallace, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Michael Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
16 Sean Cronin, 17 Thomas Court, 18 Leo Cullen, 19 Shane Jennings, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Patrick Wallace.
Head Coach: Declan Kidney

SIX NATIONS RUGBY: Scotland v France

Scotland v France in Paris (6 Nations)

Venue: Stade de France

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Both teams have a lot to play for in this match. France will look to erase the disasters of 2010, whilst Scotland will look to build on the good work they achieved in November. The recent encounters between these two rugby nations have been close which points to a fairly close tussle in the French capital.

France had a horror year of international rugby in 2010. They lost heavily to Argentina in Buenos Aires and then were walked all over by Australia 16-59 late November. France has got to put all that behind them. They need their forwards to dominate and their backs to play with flair and authority, something they can either do, or not, depending on the day, and the mood. I’m somewhat puzzled as to why Traille is at fullback whilst Rougerie is at centre. Both picked out of position and both part of the problem against Australia. Which means the French are difficult to predict, including the selector! One thing is certain. They rarely have two poor showings in a row. So watch out Scotland!

Scotland has been building up a good team spirit since Andy Robinson took control. Sure the All Blacks walked all over them in November but before that and since the Scots have been impressive in they’ve attempted. They are building gradually but carefully and I’d expect them to push France very close.

Last Five Encounters
07.02.2010 France 18-9 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
14.02.2009 France 22-13 in Paris (6 Nations)
03.02.2008 France 27-6 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
17.03.2007 France 46-19 in Paris (6 Nations)
05.02.2006 Scotland 20-16 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)

Scotland has to go away back to 1999, the year they won the International Championship (called the 5 Nations then), to when they last defeated France in Paris.

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Scotland 5th, France 6th
Europe Table-France 1st, Scotland 4th

IRB Ranking Points
France 81.66, Scotland 81.20

Prediction: France by 8 points



15 Damien Traille, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Francois Thrinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, Capt. 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Thomas Domingo.
16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Luc Ducalcon, 18 Jerome Thion, 19 Sebastien Chabal, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Clement Poitrenaud, 22 Vincent Clerc.
Head Coach: Marc Lièvremont


15 Hugo Southwell , 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Joseph Ansbro, 12 Nicholas De Luca, 11 Max Evans, 10 Daniel Parks, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Kelly Brown, 7 John Barclay, 6 Nathan Hines, 5 Alastair Kellock, Capt.4 Richard Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
16 Douglas Hall, 17 Moray Low, 18 Richard Vernon, 19 Ross Rennie, 20 Mike Blair, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Sean Lamont.
Head Coach: Andy Robinson


Russia v Spain in Madrid (ENC 1A)

Venue: Estadio Universidad Complutense

Referee: S.Mancini (Italy)

Poster pinched from

The experiment continues for Spain. Their new coach cleaned out the cupboard of 2010 for the two November internationals against Canada and Namibia. In came a swathe of new players, mostly France-based of Spanish origin. The experiment seemed to flounder at the Canadian hurdle, the side going down 22-60. Namibia, not at full strength, went down 20-33 to a second Spanish side again changed from that which played Canada. Now to February and four new caps are listed, three on the bench. The rebuild continues.

Russia has the benefit of a months camp in New Zealand, acclimatising themselves to New Zealand conditions heading into the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Pity it was in New Zealand’s summer when cricket and cicada’s rule. Still, they will certainly be two matches and a number training runs ahead of Spain. They will want to rease the memory of a 3-75 thrashing at the hands of Japan in early November. There can be no weak efforts like that from a team priming themselves for their first Rugby World Cup finals tournament.

History doesn’t favour Spain in this match. Russia has a long line of successes against their Iberian foes.

Last Five Encounters
13.02.2010 Russia 38-20 in Madrid (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 1)
08.11.2008 Russia 42-15 in Moscow (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 1)
08.03.2008 Russia 42-16 in Krasnodar (ENC 1)
10.02.2007 Russia 39-14 in Madrid (ENC 1)
14.02.2004 Russia 36-6 in Krasnodar (ENC 1)

Spain last defeated Russia in 2002, 38-22 in Krasnodar, in winter! They last defeated Russia in Madrid back in 1996, a whopping 52-6!

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Spain 19th, Russia 23rd
Europe Table-Russia 9th, Spain 11th

IRB Ranking Points
Russia 65.56, Spain 58.64

Prediction: Spain to cause the upset of the day, and win by 9 points


15 Remi Delgado (F.C. Oloron, France) Age 22, 1 test
14 Sergi Aubanell (ASM Clermont Auvergne, France) ?, 1
13 Martín Heredia (Costa Del Sol R.C.) 25, 4
12 Javier Canosa (CRC Madrid) 27, 38
11 Matías Tudela (Ampo Ordizia) 26, 3
10 Andoni Jorajuria (Biarritz Olimpique, France) ?, 1
9 Adrien Ayestaran (Biarritz Olimpique, France) ?, New cap
8 Matthew Cook (C.R. La Vila) 32, 7
7 Gauthier Gibouin (Unión Bourdeaux Begles, France) 21, 5
6 Martín Aceña, Capt. (C.R. La Vila) 27, 10
5 Federico Negrillo (Bizkaia Gernika R.T) 28, 6
4 Jesús Recuerda (Lille Metropole Rugby, France) 24, 8
3 Mattín Auzqui (US Dax, France) 28, 1
2 Beñat Auzqui (US Tyrosse, France) 27, 1
1 Anthony Pradalie (Rugby Perigeux, France) 24, 5
16 Stéphan Vitalla F.C. Oloron, France) 26, 1
17 Jesús Moreno (Leeds Carnegie, England) 24, 6
18 Sylvain Antequera (US Orthez, France) ?, New cap
19 Maxime Samson (US Tyrosse, France) ?, New cap
20 Sébastien Rouet (FC Lourdais, France) 26, 2
21 Ignacio Gutiérrez-Muller (VRAC Quesos Entrepinares) 24, 3
22 Mathieu Amoros (Béziers R.C., France) ?, New Cap


Russia Squad
Vasily Artemiev (VVA-Podmoskovje) Age 23, 14 tests
Mihail Babaev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 24, 24
Artem Fatakhov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 31, 26
Igor Galinovsky (Krasny Yar) 25, 9
Andrei Garbuzov (Krasny Yar) 27, 21
Victor Gresev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 24, 20
Alexander Khrokin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 34, 40
Igor Klyuchnikov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 28, 28
Andrey Kuzin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 32, 30
Kirill Kushnarev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 28, 23
Yuri Kushnarev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 25, 30
Carlo Maglakelidze (Penza) 33, 4
Alexey Makovetskiy (Krasny Yar) 27, 6
Evgeny Matveev (VVA-Podmoskovje) 24, 18
Andrey Ostrikov (Aurillac, France) 23, 11
Vladimir Ostroushko (Yug Krasnodar) 24, 6
Evgeny Pronenko (Enisey-STM-Krasnoyarsk) 26, 9
Konstantin Rachkov (Mountauban, France) 32, New Cap?
Alexander Shakirov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 30, 26
Alexey Travkin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 32, 24
Valery Tsnobiladze (Novokuznetsk) New cap
Alexander Voitov (VVA-Podmoskovje) 29, 26
Alexander Yanushkin (VVA-Podmoskovje) 28, 20
Head Coach: Nikolay Nerush

Note: data on Russian players only goes back as far as 2002. Players like Fatakhov, Khrokin, Kuzin, Rachkov, Travkin and others, could well have played more tests.

Not selected-Injury or otherwise
Vladislav Korshunov-hooker and captain 33 tests
Sergey Trishin-centre 27
Alexander Gvozdovskiy-back 26
Alexey Korobeynikov-fly half 24
Ivan Prishepenko-prop
Alexey Panasenko-prop/lock 16
Igor Galinovsky last played for Russia v Georgia, March 2008.

It’s Carlo Maglakelidze’s 33rd birthday today.

EUROPEAN NATIONS CUP: Romania v Portugal

Romania v Portugal in Lisbon (ENC 1A)

Venue: Estádio Universitário de Lisboa

Referee: D.Jones (Wales)

Romania travel to Lisbon missing a good number of their top players out with injury or suspension. There are enough experienced players to fill the gaps but Romania will not be at their best.

Portugal look to have a reasonably strong side with only a few top players missing. Playing on their home turf I’d expect the Portuguese to go all out to win this game. To get anywhere near the three leading teams Portugal must win their home games.

Last Five Encounters
20.03.2010 Romania 20-9 in Lisbon (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 1)
21.03.2009 Portugal 22-21 in Bucharest (WCQ Europe R5; ENC 1)
08.03.2008 Romania 21-15 in Bucharest (ENC 1)
01.12.2007 Romania 23-8 in Lisbon (ENC 1)
25.09.2007 Romania 14-10 in Toulouse (World Cup, Pool C)

GWC Rugby Rankings:
World Table-Portugal 18th, Romania 21st
Europe Table-Romania 7th, Portugal 10th

IRB Ranking Points
Romania 65.54, Portugal 60.94

Prediction: Romania by 7 points



Romania Squad

Full backs
Florin Vlaicu (Steaua Bucaresti) Age 24, 30 tests
Iulian Dumitras (Lourdes, France) 28, 41

Catalin Fercu (Timisoara) 24, 34
Lemnaru Madalin (Timisoara) 21, 4
Catalin Nicolae (RCJ Constanta Farul) 30, 13
Ionut Botezatu (Baia Mare) 23, 11

Csaba Gal (Baia Mare) 25, 24
Robert Dascalu (Steaua Bucaresti) 26, 26
Constantin Gheara (RCJ Constanta Farul) ?, 7
Ionel Cazan (Steaua Bucaresti) 22, 1

Danut Dumbrava (Steaua) 29, 48
Gabriel Conache (Timisoara) New cap

Valentin Calafeteanu (Timisoara) 26, 27
Florin Surugiu (CSM Bucaresti) 26, 3

Loose Forwards
Stelian Burcea (Timisoara) 27, 25
Daniel Carpo (RCJ Constanta Farul) 26, 18
Mihai Macovei (CSM Baia Mare) 24, 14
Ovidiu Tonita (Perpignan, France) 30, 53
Daniel Ianus (Steaua Bucuresti) 23, 4
Viorel Lucaci (Steaua Bucaresti) New cap

Lock Forwards
Cristian Petre (Saint Etienne, France) 31, 68
Marian Drenceanu (Timisoara) New cap
Valentin Poparlan (CSM Bucuresti) 24, 18
Marius Sirbe (Tarbes, France) 23, 4

Cezar Popescu (Macon, France) 34, 39
Bogdan Balan (Lyon, France) 30, 28
Mihai Lazar (Aix En Provence, France) 24, 10
Samuel Maris (Timisoara) 24, 4

Bogdan Zebega (Steaua Bucuresti) 25, 20
Catalin Beca (CSM Bucuresti) 25, 5

Not Selected-Injured or otherwise.
Lucian Sirbu (injury) 61 tests
Sorin Socol (suspended) 54 and captain
Petrişor Toderaşc 46
Ionut Dimofte (injured) 45
Paulica Ion 39
Marius Tincu (injury) 38
Alexandru Manta 32
Dragos Dima 31
Valentin Ursache 27 (injured)
Stefan Ciuntu 23
Andrei Rădoi (allergy) 6
Mihai Bageag (Grauhlet, France) New cap (Passport)

Poparlan last played v Georgia, March 2009
Beca last played v Portugal, March 2009


15 - Pedro Leal (GD Direito) Agee 26, 43 tests
14 - Gonçalo Foro (CD University Lisboa) 28, 22
13 - Frederico Oliveira (CD University Lisboa) 22, 8
12 - Pedro Silva (CF Belenenses) 26, 16
11 - António Aguilar (GD Direito) 32, 59
10 - Joe Gardener (Aubenas) ?, 8
9 - José Pinto (GD Direito) 29, 48
8 - Juan Severino (AEISA Agronomia) 29, 31
7 - Julien Bardy (Clermont Ferrand, France) 25, 5
6 - Vasco Uva (GD Direito) 28, 61
5 - Gonçalo Uva (Montpellier, France) 26, 49
4 - Eduardo Acosta (GD Direito) 32, 13
3 - Anthony Alves (Montauban, France) 2
2 - João Correia, Captain (GD Direito) 32, 54
1 - Juan Murre (El Salvador) 29, 17
16 - Lionel Campergue (Pau, France) 23, 1
17 - João Junior (CD University Lisboa) 24, 11
18 - Tiago Girão (CD University Lisboa) 26, 28
19 - Laurent Balangue (Colomiers, France) 22, 1
20 - Pedro Cabral (CD University Lisboa) 27, 27
21 - Francisco Mira (AEISA Agronomia) ?, 8
22 - José Lima (AEISA Agronomia) ?, 2

Data for caps taken from although do not identify who replaced whom for Portugal in their last game v Canada. The data affected is for João Junior, Eduardo Acosta, Laurent Balangue, Pedro Cabal and Francisco Mira.

Not Selected-Injury or otherwise
Christian Spachuk
Francisco Fernandes
Mateus brothers
Duarte C Pinto
David Penalva

Gonçalo Uva will play his 50th test for Portugal.


Ukraine v Georgia in Tblissi (ENC 1A)

Venue: Vake, Meskhi

Referee: C. Lafon (France)


Image pinched from

The European Nations Cup top division competition gets underway. Three teams, Romania, Russia and Georgia, will be heading for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in September, so all three need to put in top performances in this dress rehearsal.

The Ukraine returns to the top level of the ENC after an absence of four seasons. They will find the opposition even tougher than their last stint at the top. All other teams have moved on in one way or another but the Ukraine seem to have stood still over that time. They will find Georgia at home a tough first up hurdle.

Georgia may be without several top players for this clash but there is enough experience in the side to hold the youngsters together. Georgia will no doubt use their massive forward pack to grind the Ukrainians down. It wont be flashy but it will be effective.

Last Five Encounters
29.04.2006 Georgia 32-12 in Odessa (ENC 1)
26.02.2005 Georgia 65-0 in Tblissi (ENC 1)
03.05.1998 Georgia 31-17 in Kiev (WCQ Euro. Pool2, Rnd B)
15.07.1992 Georgia 15-0 in Kiev (Friendly)
13.07.1992 Georgia 18-13 in Kiev (Friendly)

GWC Rugby Rankings
Europe Table-Georgia 8th, Ukraine 17th

IRB Ranking Points
Georgia 68.21, Ukraine 54.35

Prediction: Georgia by 60



15. Bessik Khamashuridze (AIA) Age 33, 54 Tests
14. Irakli Machkhaneli (Macon, France) 29, 43
13. David Kacharava (Nice, France) 26, 38
12. Irakli Giorgadze (Chamberry, France) 28, 40
11. Lexso Gugava (Lelo) 28, 15
10. Merab Kvirikashvili (Figeac, France) 27, 47
9. Bidzina Samkharadze (Staeu Bucaresti) 27, 49
8. Besarion Udesiani (Macon, France) 32, 41
7. Giorgi Chkhaidze (Montpellier, France) 28, 43
6. Grigol Labadze (Marseille Vitrol, France) 37, 62
5. Shalva Sutiashvili (Massy, France) 27, 15
4. Levan Datunashvili (Figeac, France) 28, 33
3. David Zirakashvili (Clermont Ferrand, France) 27, 25
2. Irakli Natriashvili (Steau Bucaresti) 27, 28
1. David Khinchigashvili (Brive, France) 28, 30
16. Jaba Bregvadze (Visol-Kochebi) 23, 7
17. Vasil Kakovini (Brive, France) 21, 8
18. Vakhtang Maisuradze (St Nazaire, France) New cap
19. Zviad Maisuradze (Lokomotive) 30, 25
20. Irakli Abuseridze (Auxerre, France) 33, 67
21. Lasha Malaguradze (Beziers, France) 25, 27
22. Beka Urjukashvili (Figeac, France) 20, New Cap
Head Coach:

Vakhtang Maisuradze and Urjukashvili if they come off the bench

Samkharadze will play his 50th test for Georgia
Grigol Labadze, at age 37 years, 4 months and 16 days, is the second oldest active test rugby player, 20 days younger than Simon Shaw of England, who played on Friday.

Unavailable –injury or otherwise
Shvelidze, Kubriashvili, Gorgodze, Chkhikvadze, Peiqrishvili and Zibzibadze .


15 Vyacheslav Ponomarenko (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
14 Sergiy Monastyrov (RC Kredo 63)
13 Sergii Garkavyi (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
12 Pavlo Masiukov (RC Kredo 63)
11 Oleg Kosariev (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
10 Sergiy Tserkovniy (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
9 Zurab Kikacheishvili (RC Kredo 63)
8 Oleksandr Tsapenko (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
7 Oleksandr Lomakin (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
6 Bogdan Voloshyn (RK Sokol)
5 Roman Kulakivskyi (RC Kredo 63)
4 Viacheslav Krasylnyk (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
3 Ivan Zaliznyak (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
2 Mykola Kirsanov (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
1 Sergii Sukhikh (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Replacements from
Oleksandr Mishynov (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Vadym Misik (RC Olymp-RSC KhTZ)
Denys Masiukov (RC Kredo 63)
Chaika Ievgen (RC Kredo 63)
Oleksandr Polianskyi (RC Kredo 63)
Oleksii Novokreshchenov (RC Kredo 63)
Sergii Ianchyi (RC Aviator)
Andriy Golishchyev (Penza, Russia)

TEST RUGBY RESULT: England 26, Wales 19

England led 13-6 at halftime, drew out to 23-9 at one stage before Wales came back at England strongly late in the second half. The difference between the two teams? England scored a try when a Welshman was in the sin bin. Wales couldn’t do the same when an Englishman was in the bin. England deserved the win.

Friday, February 4, 2011

6 NATIONS RUGBY: England v Wales

England v Wales in Cardiff

Venue: Millennium Stadium

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

The 6 Nations International Championship is played between England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy. The tournament will be played over 5 rounds from early February ‘till the middle of March. The team with the most points is the winner and if they win all their matches they are credited with the ‘Grand Slam’. These rugby test matches will give some indication of the chances of these teams in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, played later in the year.

Friday night is the opening match. England will travel to Cardiff, a ground they have not won on since 2003. Wales last won the 6 Nations title in 2008 whilst England last won the title back in 2003. Both sides struggled last year and both have struggled in the November tests.

Wales perhaps has made the least headway in international rugby since that great win in 2008. They have an exciting backline that can stretch the opposition when on attack. It’s in the forwards where Wales struggle to dominate the opposition. They pushed New Zealand in their November test.

For todays game they are without key players due to injury, especially in the front row.

England appeared to make some ground last November after a long record of indifferent performances since they won the 2007 Rugby World Cup. In November they defeated Australia but then lost to South Africa. With new and exciting players in the backline, they are certainly the team to watch. This match will be crucial in determining if the progress will continue.

Last Five Encounters
06.02.2010 England 30-17 at Twickenham (6 Nations)
14.02.2009 Wales 23-15 in Cardiff ( 6 Nations)
02.02.2008 Wales 26-19 at Twickenham (6 Nations)
14.08.2007 England 62-5 at Twickenham (World Cup Warm-up
17.03.2007 Wales 27-18 in Cardiff (6 Nations)

England last won in Cardiff in 2003, a 43-9 victory in a Rugby World Cup warm-up game.

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-England 2nd, Wales 9th
Europe Table-England 3rd, Wales 5th

IRB Ranking Points
England 82.48, Wales 77.04

England by 15 points



15 James Hook, 14 Morgan Stoddart, 13 James Roberts, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Andrew Powell, 7 Samuel Warburton, 6 Danial Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Matthew Rees, Capt. 1 Paul James.
16 Richard Hibbard, 17 John Yapp, 18 Ryan Jones, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 Dwayne Peel, 21 Rhys Priestland, 22 Lee Byrne.
Head Coach: Warren Gatland

Priestland, if he comes off the bench.

Not a record, but Stephen Jones will be playing his 96th test for Wales.

Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins (props), Leigh Halfpenny (wing), George North (wing), Thomas Shanklin (centre), Andrew Bishop (centre), Richard Rees (scrum half).


15 Benjamin Foden, 14 Christopher Ashton, 13 Michael Tindall, Capt. 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Tobias Flood, 9 Benjamin Youngs, 8 Nicholas Easter, 7 James Haskell, 6 Thomas Wood, 5 Thomas Palmer, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Daniel Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
16 Steven Thompson, 17 David Wilson, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 Joseph Worsley, 20 Daniel Care, 21 Jonny Wilkinson, 22 Matthew Banahan.
Head Coach: Martin Johnson

Thomas Wood

When Simon Shaw takes the field on Friday night he will be, as far as I find out, the second oldest rugby test player for England. Shaw will be 37 years, 5 months and 4 days old. The record is held by F.G.Gilbert who was 38 years, 11 months and 28 days old when he appeared against Ireland in 1923.

Courtney Lawes (lock), Thomas Croft (flanker), Lewis Moody (flanker and captain)

Not Considered
Delon Armitage (ban)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

TEST RUGBY: European Nations Cup Division 1A Preview

In the world of test rugby The European Nations Cup (ENC) is regarded as the next level below the 6 Nations International Championship. A promotion relegation system does not exist between these two competitions. Many arguments have been made for the implementation of such a system. A promotion relegation system does exist for all divisions of the ENC.

The title of Cup winner is decided annually although for promotion relegation purposes, the competition is held over two years. At the end of the 2008-10 competition a number of changes was made to the competition. Two Divisions 1 (1A and 1B) were created both to be made up of six teams. As a result there was no relegation between the old Divisions 2A and 2B.

Division 1A Contestants
Romania (Winner 2009-10)
Ukraine (Promoted from the old Division 2A)

What Can We Expect?
At this stage it looks like the title for 2010-11 is going to be slugged out between Romania, Russia and Georgia. All three are heading to the 2011 Rugby World Cup and so the heat is on for them to perform well in what is their main dress rehearsal. Spain and Portugal may defeat one of the three but not all three. The Ukraine will struggle to keep up with the other five teams.


The Romanians came through a tough 2010 with plenty of credit. Firstly, they came out on top of the ENC 1 table after finishing third the season before. That third placing meant they had to go through a long process to win the last spot at the 2011 Rugby World Cup finals. It also meant a change of coach and management at the end of 2009 and the recall of a number of France-based players. This made a world of difference to the team. I’d expect them to do well again but their main struggles will be with Georgia and Russia


The Georgian’s slipped a little, in 2010, from their 2009-10 win in ENC 1. Their form is patchy without their top players. Unavailability, loss of form, injury and some unfortunate suspensions affected the strength of the team except for the two tests in November. Close but convincing wins over Canada and the USA seems to have placed Georgia back somewhere near the top in this competition. They have a tough pack and good defensive, if not imaginative, backs. The Georgians will be difficult to defeat.


The Russians slipped in their last test for 2010. They were crushed 75-3 by Japan a most worrying result. Prior to that they were defeated by the Argentine Jaguars (their ‘B’ side) in two tests in Moscow in October. Prior to that Georgia won convincingly 36-8 on neutral ground in Turkey and Russia managed to only defeat Uruguay at the 2010 Churchill Cup. Despite those losses their is a quiet confidence about the Russian camp. They spent two weeks in New Zealand in January on a training camp which involved two games against country teams. They could surprise.


Portugal has not followed Romania and Georgia in deploying their top players in French clubs. A few have but a number have also returned to play their club rugby in Portugal. The Portuguese have always made a strong showing in this competition without ever winning the top prize. They did play in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Finals but although giving the ‘Top Three’ an occasional scare they haven’t quite made it to the top. I can’t see that changing.


A new coach and a new selection policy saw Spain line up against Canada early last November with a side lacking international rugby experience but full of experience in the French club competitions. The first result was a shock 22-60 loss to the Canadians but the Spanish came back strongly against Namibia two weeks later to win 33-20. Spain’s decision to go the way of the Georgians and select players of Spanish heritage already established in French clubs is interesting and is expected, in Spain anyway, to raise the standard of their first side. Time will tell.


Playing in the top level of the European Nations Cup is not new to the Ukrainians. They had a two year stint in 2004-06 which was most unsuccessful. Since then they have worked their way back to this level but lost their last two games last season both Czechoslovakia and Moldova. Those results were not encouraging. Neither were their two heavy defeats to Romania in their 2011 Rugby World Cup qualifying matches mid-year. Just recently the president of the Ukraine RU resigned, not a good thing to have happened to this newly promoted side. I can’t see them improving on their last time at this level and I fear relegation will face them in two years time.