IRB Nations Cup
France A and Italy A, the sides that will contest the opening match of IRB Nations Cup 2009, have both named their squads for the six-team tournament in the Romanian capital of Bucharest from 12-21 June.
Italy A coach Gianluca Guidi has fielded a youthful looking side with a number of players who 12 months ago were playing under his charge at the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship in Wales.
Andrea De Marchi, Massimiliano Ravalle, Tommaso D'Apice, Riccardo Bocchino and Andrea Pratichetti are yet to appear for the senior side, unlike Andrea Bacchetti, who made his debut against Ireland in this year's RBS Six Nations.
The most capped player is Valerio Bernabó with 13 caps, although the second row won the last of these at Rugby World Cup 2007, while half of the players in the Italy A squad are uncapped at senior level.
"The IRB Nations Cup is a very competitive tournament and I'm expecting three very difficult matches," explained Guidi. "The opener against France A will be a tough test for our defence and for our forwards as well, while the Russia game will be a very physical one.
"Finally, if Romania will be a full-strength side with players from the French championship, they will perhaps be the most dangerous opponent in the competition."
While Italy A have been ever present in the IRB Nations Cup, which returns to Bucharest for the third year running in 2009, this will be the first appearance for France A as they and Scotland A replace defending champions Emerging South Africa and Georgia in the tournament.
France A, like their Italian counterparts, will be have last year's Under 20 coach Philippe Agostini at the helm in Romania along with Olivier Magne, the former flanker who played 89 Tests for France between 1997 and 2007.
The opening match day of the IRB Nations Cup on 12 June will also see Scotland A face Russia and hosts Romania tackle Uruguay at the stadionul National Arcul de Triumf. The two other match days are 16 and 21 June.
France A squad:
Forwards: Luc Ducalcon (Castres Olympique), Yannick Foerestier (Castres Olympique), Aretz Iguiniz (Aviron Bayonnais), Yohan Montes (Stade toulousain), Brice Mach (US Montauban), Jean-Philippe Genevois (CS Bourgoin-Jallieu), Aliki Fakate (Lyon OU), Yoann Maestri (RC Toulon), Guillaume Vilaceca (USA Perpignan), Ibrahim Diarra (US Montauban), Steve Malonga (Castres Olympique), Jean-Pierre Perez (USA Perpignan), Julien Puricello (Aviron Bayonnais).
Backs: Julien Audy (Montauban), Julien Tomas (Montpellier), Régis Lespinas (Montauban), Romain Sola (Agen), Yann David (Bourgoin), Lionel Mazars (Castres), Fabrice Estebanez (Brive), Rémy Groso (Lyon OU), Yohan Huget (Agen), Romain Martial (Narbonne), Florian Denos (Bourgoin), Jérôme Porical (Perpignan).
Italy A squad:
Andrea Bacchetti (Femi CZ Rovigo), Robert Barbieri (Benetton Treviso), Valerio Bernabó (Cammi Calvisano), Riccardo Bocchino (AlmavivA UR Capitolina), Kristopher Burton (Consiag I Cavalieri Prato), Paolo Buso (Cammi Calvisano), Agustin Cavalieri (Carrera Petrarca Padova), Tommaso D'Apice (Cammi Calvisano), Alberto De Marchi (Overmach Cariparma), Andrea De Marchi (Femi CZ Rovigo), Paul Derbyshire (Carrera Petrarca Padova), Ignacyo Rouyet (MPS Viadana), Luigi Ferraro (MPS Viadana), Alessio Galante (Plusvalore Gran Parma), Francesco Minto (Overmach Cariparma), Marco Neethling (Benetton Treviso), Riccardo Pavan (Overmach Cariparma), Antonio Pavanello (Benetton Treviso), Lance Persico (MPS Viadana), Andrea Pratichetti (Cammi Calvisano), Massimiliano Ravalle (Overmach Cariparma), Fabio Semenzato (Benetton Treviso), Michele Sepe (AlmavivA UR Capitolina), Alberto Sgarbi (Benetton Treviso), Tito TEBALDI (Plusvalore Gran Parma), Mantvydas Tveraga (Overmach Cariparma), Manoa Vosawai (Overmach Cariparma), Michael Wilson (Saracens).