Monday, February 27, 2012


France 23, Scotland 17 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)

France struggled but finally overcame a gallant (how often has that phrase been used?) Scotland at Murrayfield. The France-Wales match is looming as the ‘Final’ of this competition. You will have to wait until 17 March for that one, the final round of the competition.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

TEST RUGBY RESULTS” Saturday 25 February

Ireland 42, Italy 10 in Dublin (6 Nations)
Wales 19, England 12 at Twickenham (6 Nations)
Georgia 32, Portugal 7 in Tblisi (ENC 1A)
Romania 25, Russia 0 in Sochi (ENC 1A)
Spain 41, Ukraine 6 in Spain (ENC 1A)
Belgium 58, Netherlands 3 in Brussels (ENC 1B)

Regret unable to cover any matches this weekend. Too many other commitments.

Wales took out the Triple Crown, Ireland too good for Italy (Where do Italy go from here?). Tomorrow (Sunday) sees France against Scotland. I don’t hold too much hope for the Scots!). Wales v France game on 17 March looks to be the decider from this distance out.

A stronger Georgian side too good for Portugal, Romania defeat Russia in a sea of mud, Spain outplay Ukraine in the cold whilst Belgium looks to be the promotion team from 1B to 1A after crushing Netherlands.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Italy v Ireland in Dublin (6 Nations)
Wales v England at Twickenham (6 Nations)
Portugal v Georgia in Tblisi (ENC 1A)
Romania v Russia in Russia (ENC 1A)
Spain v Ukraine in Spain (ENC 1A)

France v Scotland at Murrayfield (6 Nations)

I regret I cannot preview Saturday’s test matches due to other commitments.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Scotland v Wales in Cardiff

Regret I am unable to cover this match due to family commitments


England 19, Italy 15 in Rome (6 Nations)
Ireland v France in Paris (6 Nations)-Postponed
Spain 25, Georgia 18 in Madrid (ENC 1A)
Russia 33, Portugal 32 in Lisbon (ENC 1A)
Ukraine v Romania in Bucharest (ENC 1A)- Postponed

The cold snap that has gripped Europe had an adverse affect on all European rugby. Two scheduled test matches had to be postponed; the 6 Nations clash between Ireland and France in Paris, and earlier in the week the Ukraine-Romania games was postponed, all due to frozen pitches.

The test rugby that did get played provided viewers with some interesting games.

England continued its winning way against Italy but not before the home side made life extremely difficult for the visitors. A win is a win but England were no more convincing in Rome than they were the week before.

Spain caused a minor upset toppling the top team Georgia in Madrid. Georgia may need to rethink their vision of using the ENC as a blooding ground for new players. The needed a few more experienced older hands in Madrid. Anopther loss and Georgia wont hold top place on the points table.

Russia just piped the home side in Lisbon in what has been recorded as a lively, entertaining, and, in the last twenty minutes, thrilling test match.

Tomorrows rugby test at Murrayfield aside, European test rugby now has a break next weekend.

Italy v Ireland in Dublin (6 Nations)
Wales v England at Twickenham (6 Nations
Portugal v Georgia in Tblisi (ENC 1A)
Romania v Russia in Russia (ENC 1A)
Spain v Ukraine in Spain (ENC 1A)

France v Scotland at Murrayfield (6 Nations)

Saturday, February 11, 2012


England v Italy in Rome

Venue: Stadio Olimpico

Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)

England has kept to the same 22 that struggled against Scotland last weekend. With such a new-look side that is not surprising. It will take several games for this new English side to gel, if they do gel.

Italy has made two changes to their starting lineup. Veteran of 89 tests Marco Bortolami moves into lock replacing Van Zyl, whilst Canale is in for Scgabi. Coming in onto the bench is another veteran, 88 capped Mauro Bergamasco.

Italy will be out to cause another major upset. They defeated France in Rome last year. Can they ambush a rookie English side and grab their first win against England? I think they might just do it!

Last Five Encounters
12.02.2011 England 59-13 at Twickenham (6 Nations)
14.02.2010 England 17-12 in Rome (6 Nations)
07.02.2009 England 36-11 at Twickenham (6 Nations)
10.02.2008 England 23-19 in Rome (6 Nations)
10.02.2007 England 20-7 at Twickenham (6 Nations)

England Last Five
04.02.2012 v Scotland W 13-6 at Murrayfield (6 Nations)
08.10.2011 v France L 12-19 in Auckland (World Cup, Quarter Final)
01.10.2011 v Scotland W 16-12 in Auckland (World Cup, Pool B)
24.09.2011 v Romania W 67-3 in Dunedin (World Cup, Pool B)
18.09.2011 v Georgia W 41-10 in Dunedin (World Cup, Pool B)

Italy Last Five
04.02.2012 v France L 12-30 in Paris (6 Nations)
02.10.2011 v Ireland L 6-36 in Dunedin (World Cup, Pool C)
27.09.2011 v United States W 27-10 in Nelson (World Cup, Pool C)
20.09.2011 v Russia W 53-17 in Nelson (World Cup, Pool C)
11.09.2011 v Australia L 6-32 in Albany (World Cup, Pool C)

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-England 8th, Italy 12th
Europe Table-England 2nd, Italy 6th

IRB Ranking Points
England 82.34, Italy 73.99

Prediction: Italy by 4 points




15   Benjamin Foden Northampton Saints
14   Christopher Ashton Northampton Saints
13   Bradley Barritt  Saracens
12   Owen Farrell Saracens
11   David Strettle Saracens
10   Charles Hodgson  Saracens
9   Benjamin Youngs  Leicester Tigers
8   Phillip Dowson  Northampton Saints
7   Christopher Robshaw (Capt.) Harlequins
6   Thomas Croft Leicester Tigers
5   Thomas Palmer  Stade Francais, France
4   Mouritz Botha Saracens
3   Daniel Cole Leicester Tigers
2   Dylan Hartley Northampton Saints
1   Alexander Corbisiero  London Irish
16   Robert Webber London Wasps
17   Matthew Stevens  Saracens
18   Geoffrey Parling  Leicester Tigers
19   Benjamin Morgan  Llanelly Scarlets, Wales
20   Lee Dickson  Northampton Saints
21   Jordan Turner-Hall  Harlequins
22   Michael Brown  Harlequins
    HEAD COACH: Stuart Lancaster



15   Andrea Masi Aironi
14   Giovanbattista Venditti Aironi
13   Tommaso Benvenuti Treviso
12   Gonzalo Canale  Clermont Auvergne, France
11   Luke McLean Treviso
10   Kristopher Burton  Treviso
9   Edoardo Gori  Treviso
8   Sergio Parisse (Capt.) Stade Francais, France
7   Robert Barbieri  Treviso
6   Alessandro Zanni Treviso
5   Quintin Geldenhuys  Aironi
4   Marco Bortolami  Aironi
3   Martin Castrogiovanni Leicester Tigers, England
2   Leonardo Ghiraldini  Treviso
1   Andrea Lo Cicero  Racing Metro, France
16   Tommaso D'Apice  Aironi
17   Lorenzo Cittadini  Treviso
18   Antonio Pavanello Treviso
19   Mauro Bergamasco Aironi
20   Fabio Semenzato  Treviso
21   Tobias Botes  Treviso
22   Luca Morisi Parma
    HEAD COACH: Jacques Brunel

6 NATIONS TEST RUGBY: Ireland Travel to Paris

Ireland v France in Paris (6 Nations)

Venue: Stade de France

Referee: David Pearson (England)

Ireland will face a French side that is looking to be the favourite to take out the 2012 6 Nations International Championship. They will also have to contend with a frozen ground and a match played in –6deg temperatures.

Ireland also have history to deal with. Their record in Paris is dismal. Their last win here was in 2000, and before that they last won in 1972!

The only change Ireland has made is that Keith Earls comes in at centre for McFadden to go to the bench.

France has made wholesale changes to the team that defeated Italy comfortably last weekend. Such is the confidence of the new coach that he can afford to rotate his players. The French side loses little with the changes made.

In comes Harinordoquy for Bonnaire, Parra for the injured Yachvilli, Maestri for veteran Nallet, with Szarzewski and Poux in for Servat and Debaty in the front row.

Frozen pitch or not Ireland will have to play the sort of rugby they dished out to Australia at Eden Park way back in September if they are to overcome this French side. I just can’t seem to see that same same passions and fire in the Irish eyes.

Last Five Encounters
20.08.2011 France 26-22 in Dublin (World Cup Warm up)
13.08.2011 France 19-12 in Bordeaux (World Cup Warm up)
13.02.2011 France 25-22 in Dublin (6 Nations)
13.02.2010 France 33-10 in Paris (6 Nations)
07.02.2009 Ireland 31-20 in Dublin (6 Nations)

Ireland last defeated France in Paris in 2000, winning 27-25.

Ireland last Five
05.02.2012 v Wales L 21-23 in Dublin (6 Nations)
08.10.2011 v Wales L 10-22 in Wellington (World Cup, Quarter Final)
02.10.2011 v Italy W 36-6 in Dunedin (World Cup, Pool C)
25.09.2011 v Russia W 62-12 in Rotorua (World Cup, Pool C)
17.09.2011 v Australia W 15-6 in Auckland (World Cup, Pool C)

France Last Five
04.02.2012 v Italy W 30-12 in Paris (6 Nations)
23.01.2011 v New Zealand L 7-8 in Auckland (World Cup, Final)
15.10.2011 v Wales W 9-8 in Auckland (World Cup, Semi-Final)
08.10.2011 v England W 19-12 in Auckland (World Cup, Quarter Final)
01.10.2011 v Tonga L 14-19 in Wellington (World Cup, Pool A)

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

IRB Ranking Points
France 84.70, Ireland 79.25

Prediction: France by 15 points




15   Rob Kearney  Leinster
14   Tommy Bowe  Neath Swansea Ospreys, Wales
13   Keith Earls Munster
12   Gordon D'Arcy  Leinster
11   Andrew Trimble  Ulster
10   Jonathan Sexton  Leinster
9   Conor Murray  Munster
8   James Heaslip  Leinster
7   Sean O'Brien  Leinster
6   Stephen Ferris  Ulster
5   Paul O'Connell (Capt.) Munster
4   Donncha O'Callaghan  Munster
3   Michael Ross  Leinster
2   Rory Best  Ulster
1   Cian Healy  Leinster
16   Sean Cronin  Leinster
17   Thomas Court  Ulster
18   Donnacha Ryan  Munster
19   Peter O'Mahony  Munster
20   Eoin Reddan  Leinster
21   Ronan O'Gara  Munster
22   Fergus McFadden  Leinster
    COACH: Declan Kidney



15   Maxime Medard Toulouse
14   Vincent Clerc Toulouse
13   Aurelien Rougerie  Clermont Auvergne
12   Wesley Fofana Clermont Auvergne
11   Julien Malzieu Clermont Auvergne
10   François Trinh-Duc  Montpellier
9   Morgan Parra  Clermont Auvergne
8   Louis Picamoles  Toulouse
7   Imanol Harinordoquy  Biarritz
6   Thierry Dusautoir (Capt.) Toulouse
5   Yoann Maestri  Toulouse
4   Pascal Pape Stade Francais
3   Nicolas Mas  Perpignan
2   Dimitri Szarzewski  Stade Francais
1   Jean-Baptiste Poux  Toulouse
16   William Servat  Toulouse
17   Vincent Debaty Clermont Auvergne
18   Lionel Nallet  Racing Metro
19   Julien Bonnaire Clermont Auvergne
20   Julian Dupuy Stade Français
21   Lionel Beauxis  Toulouse
22   Maxime Mermoz  Perpignan
    HEAD COACH: Philippe Saint-Andre