IRB Nations Cup
Host nation Romania, Namibia, Georgia and the Emerging Springboks have all named their squads for the IRB Nations Cup, which kicks off in Bucharest on Tuesday 5 June and also includes Argentina A, Italy A and Georgia.
The matches all take place at the Tineretului Stadium in the capital city as Romania hosts the first stand alone senior international rugby tournament to be held on its soil, one that will provide invaluable preparation ahead of Rugby World Cup 2007.
Romania, Namibia and Georgia have all qualified for Rugby World Cup 2007 - which gets underway in less than 100 days - while players selected for Argentina A and Italy A will be hoping to force their way into the senior squad heading to France.
The host nation face the Emerging Springboks in their opening match on Tuesday, before tackling Italy A - a nation they will face at Rugby World Cup 2007 - and then Namibia with a 26-man squad that contains 11 veterans of RWC 2003.
Namibia can boast six in their squad, although coach Johan Venter has also named some younger players such as wing Stefan du Rand and scrum half Eugene Jantjies to balance a squad which has flanker Herman Lindvelt as its most capped player on 40.
Debut to remember
Venter's side come into the IRB Nations Cup on the back of an 83-10 defeat of Zambia in the Africa Cup last weekend, one which saw fly half Justinus van der Westhuizen mark his debut on the international scene with four tries and 38 points.
Namibia face Georgia and Argentina A in their first two matches on Tuesday and Sunday 10 June - both nations they will meet again in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup - before facing Italy A in their final match on Saturday 10 June.
Georgia also have a blend of youth and experience in their squad with backs Besiki Khamashuridze and Malkhaz Urjukashvili approaching 50 caps, while forwards Elizbar Kuparadze and Irakli Chkonia are in line for their international debuts.
Meanwhile Emerging Springboks head coach Pieter de Villiers has named hooker Schalk Brits as captain for their debut in the expanded IRB Nations Cup, which sees them face Romania, Georgia and then Argentina A.
"Schalk is one of the leaders in our team. He has a strong personality … he is an outstanding guy. I believe the captaincy will help bring out the best in him and the responsibility will not have a negative influence on his game," De Villiers told Die Burger.
The Emerging Springboks leave South Africa bound for Romania on Friday, although De Villiers has already had to make one change to his initial 26-man squad with flanker Ernst Joubert called up after number 8 Ryan Kankowski suffered an ankle injury.
Squads for IRB Nations Cup:
Forwards: Cezar Popescu, Bogdan Balan, Paulica Ion, Petrisor Toderasc, Razvan Mavrodin, Marius Tincu, Sorin Socol, Cristian Petre, Augustin Petrichei, Florin Corodeanu, Ovidiu Tonita, Stelian Burcea, Cosmin Ratiu, Costica Mersoiu.
Backs: Valentin Calafeteanu, Lucian Sirbu, Ionut Tofan, Ionut Dimofte, Catalin Dascalu, Csaba Gal, Dan Vlad, Catalin Fercu, Ioan Teodorescu, Gabriel Brezoianu, Iulian Dumitras, Florin Vlaicu.
Head coach: Daniel Santamans
Forwards: Skipper Bardenhorst, Jacques Burger, Tinus du Plessis, Jane du Toit, Wolfie Duvenhage, Nico Esterhuizen, Hugo Horn, Wacca Kazombiaze, Kees Lensing, Herman Lindvelt, Jacques Nieuwenhuis, Jonny Redelinghuys, Heino Senekal, Jurgen van Lill, Marius Visser.
Backs: Melrick Africa, Heini Bock, Lu-wayne Botes, Stefan du Rand, du Preez Grobler, Eugene Jantjies, TC Losper, Corne Powell, Pieter Rossouw, Justinus van der Westhuizen, Ryan Witbooi.
Head coach: Johan Venter
Forwards: David Khinchagashvili, Mamuka Magrakvelidze, George Jgenti, David Dadunashvili, Levan Datunashvili, Viktor Didebulidze, Zura Mchedlishvili, Rati Urushadze, Ilia Maisuradze, Giorgi Chkhaidze, Elizbar Kuparadze, Irakli Chkonia, Shalva Sutiashvili.
Backs: Irakli Abuseridze, Bidzina Samkharadze, David Kacharava, Iralki Machkhaneli, Besiki Khamashuridze, Malkhaz Urjukashvili, Girogi Shkinin, Otar Barkalaia, Otar Eloshvili, Revaz Gigauri, Davit Gurgenidze.
Coaches: Malkhaz Cheishvili, David Chavleishvili, Paata Narimanashvili.
Heini Adams, Bradley Barritt, Nikolai Blignaut, Schalk Brits (Captain), Ashton Constance, Tonderai Chavhanga, Marius Delport, Eddie Andrews, Kabamba Floors, Bevin Fortuin, Peter Grant, Morgan Newman, Ernst Joubert, Louis Ludik, Hilton Lobberts, Bandise Maku, Jonathan Mokuena, Sangoni Mxoli, Howard Noble, Odwa Ndungane, Jaco Pretorius, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Solly Tyibilika, Jano Vermaak, Heine van der Merwe, Ross Skeate.
Head coach: Pieter de Villiers
- 28 July - Pablo Lemoine on future of rugby in Uruguay
- 25 July - Barbados prepare for Commonwealth Games in Sutton Coldfield
- Listen to this week's Total Rugby show
- 23 July - Development of rugby in Colombia
- 22 July - The Netherlands team profile
- 21 July - In-depth look at rugby in Russia
- 20 July - New Zealand's John Afoa looks back on his career
- 19 July - Sean Fitzpatrick Tackle These
- 18 July - Australia's women look ahead to the Rugby World Cup
- 16 July - Shane Williams on life in Japan