Nations Cup starts in Bucharest
The International Rugby Board started the Nations Cup in 2006 to provide more matches for the second teams of top countries and more rugby for the next level of rugby in Europe, the European Nations =Cup's División 1 teams.
The second teams of Six Nations sides are not all that keen, it seems. After all they compete during the Six Nations, then have hectic club schedules and now play in the Churchill Cup.
The teams taking part this year are Argentina Jaguars, Georgia, Namibia, Portugal, Romania and, for the first time, a team from the Eastern Cape of South Africa called the South African Kings.
Three of the sides are heading for the World Cup in New Zealand - Georgia, Namibia and Romania. For them the tournament is a wonderful warm-up opportunity. As in 2007 the awareness of the World Cup will be strong. After all Georgia and Romania are in the same World Cup pool.
The Kings are from the Eastern Province, trying hard with political backing to get into Super rugby. For them this is a chance to establish credibility. Coach Alan Solomons said: “The Kings wish to give a good account of themselves, thereby showing that the players have the ability to play at an elevated level. We are also aware of our responsibility of assisting both Georgia and Romania in their preparation for Rugby World Cup 2011.”
The opening match will be repeat of last year's final when Namibia surprised by winning.
2006 Argentina A
2007 Emerging Springboks
2008 Emerging Springboks
2009 Scotland A
The 2006 tournament of four teams was held in Portugal. Since 2007 there have been six teams and Romania have been the hosts.
Round 1 - Friday, 10 June
17.00: Romania vs Namibia
19.00: Georgia vs South African Kings
21.00: Argentina Jaguars vs Portugal
Round 2 - Wednesday, 15 June
17.00: Georgia vs Argentina Jaguars
19.00: Romania vs South African Kings
21.00: Portugal vs Namibia
Round 3 - Sunday, 19 June
17.00: Portugal vs South African Kings
19.00: Georgia vs Namibia
21.00: Romania vs Argentina Jaguars
Match officials, Round 1
Romania vs Namibia at Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew McMaster (Canada), Iñigo Atorrasagasti (Spain)
Georgia vs SA Kings at Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf , Bucharest
Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Horatiu Bargaunas (Romania), Iñigo Atorrasagasti (Spain)
Argentina Jaguars vs Portugal at Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Assistant referees: Vlad Iordachescu (Romania), Andrew McMaster (Canada)