Quartet eye IRB Nations Cup title in Romania

(IRB.COM) Saturday 18 June 2011
 Quartet eye IRB Nations Cup title in Romania
John Muggleton and Richie Dixon have been pleased with Georgia's efforts

The South African Kings, Romania, Namibia and Portugal are all still in contention for the coveted IRB Nations Cup title going into the final round of matches in Bucharest on Sunday.

The winning scenarios seem endless as the pundits calculate the options, though a South African Kings outright win in the first match against Portugal could end all speculations.

On the other hand if Portugal win with a bonus point - though scoring four tries against Alan Solomons’ outfit might be “a mountain too high to climb” for Joao Correia and his men - they could win the tournament, providing that both Romania and Namibia lose, or win without bonus points.

Should Portugal's spanner upset the works of the rampant Kings, though without a bonus point that would bring both Romania and Namibia into the picture if they win their respective encounters with the Argentina Jaguars and Georgia, and so on.

Georgia are one of two teams, the other being the Jaguars, who are not in contention for the trophy on the final day, though their coaches Richie Dixon, John Muggleton and Ilya Maisuradze seem content with their performance so far.

“It is mission accomplished for us, as the matches have provided answers to most of the question marks that concerned us before tournament. We are fine tuning the squad for the Rugby World Cup and players and combinations have come up trumps during the tournament,” said Dixon, a former Scotland flanker and national coach. 

His right hand man is defence and skills coach John Muggleton, a 51-year-old Australian, who helped the Wallabies win the Rugby World Cup in 1999 and carried on as their defence coach in the 2003 and 2007 tournaments.

Muggleton, who pioneered the concept of defence coaching with England’s Phil Larder, is very pleased with the way his new charges have adapted to the higher standards required for Rugby World Cup 2011.

“I have to say this work is very rewarding,” he said. “I started in November last year and you can see these guys making progress every day. They are incredibly keen in training, as they are hard and uncompromising on the field.

"Their forwards are well-known for their physicality and we are now trying that to upgrade the skill level of the backs. We also want the forwards to play a smarter game.

"They are beautiful people, great to work with. I am making efforts to learn Georgian to be able to better communicate with them and it does have benefits. At the end of the day, rugby is a game of people and respect is the key word in what we do.”