European Nations Rugby Cup: Portugal upsets Russia

Harry Kimble Roar Rookie

By Harry Kimble, Harry Kimble is a Roar Rookie

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    In round two of the European Nations Cup, the Portuguese rugby team travelled to Russia and beat the home team, 21-19. This follows the Lobos unexpected win last week against Romania. Now Portugal has beaten two teams who will go to the rugby World Cup ahead of them.

    For some reason, Russia is playing their home games in Sochi, a skiing resort on the Black Sea near the disputed Georgian territory of Abkhazia and nowhere near its rugby heartland. This was shown up as the crowd for the game was only just over 100. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Each team scored two tries but Portugal led 18-9 mid second half and the Russians had to play catch up rugby, but were not able make it with the missed conversions proving costly. Russia has a new coach in Nicolay Nerush who replaced Steve Diamond who has taken up a coaching position in England.

    Man of the match was the Australian-born fly half Joe Gardener who contributed 16 of Portugal’s 21 points from a try, three penalties and a conversion. However, the Lobos played as a team with Gardener the director general whilst the Russians did not seem to know each other.

    Meanwhile, over in Tbilisi, the Georgians playing in the grass-less Locomotiv Stadium tore apart the hapless Spanish team. Spain, who had played so well against Russia last week simply gave up. Spain only allowed the Lelos in for a solitary try in the first 25 minutes. However, right on half time, Georgia was awarded a penalty in front of the Spanish posts, but instead of kicking a penalty and going to the break, the Lelos packed a scrum and scored a converted try to lead 27-0.

    With a 12,000 home crowd, Georgia piled on another five tries in the second term as the Spanish were run off their feet and their lack of condition became a liability. The Spanish starting 15 comprised of 10 who played in France, four who play in the Spain and one who plays in England. It appears that Catalonia has completely broken from the Spanish Rugby Federation and now play only in their own region in two divisions. Not a single player in the Spanish squad comes from Catalonia.

    But it was the quality of Georgia’s nine tries that was impressive. The nine were scored by eight different players, Surprisingly seven were by the backs and only two by forwards. Two of the tries were absolute gems, one by the hooker, Iuri Natrashvili and the other by outside centre, David Kacharava, that both would be standouts in any level of rugby. The Spanish were obviously delighted when the referee called full-time with the 60-0 scoreline.

    The other A1 division game between Ukraine and Romania was postponed three hours before the scheduled starting time due to the frozen state of the ground. The fixture will be played sometime before June.

    In Brussels, a division 1B game was held between Belgium and Moldova. It was a heavy pitch played in rain with Belgium taking an 11-0 half time lead but overall, it was a scrappy and error ridden game with only one try each.

    Belgium finally won this mostly forgettable game 20-5.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • February 14th 2011 @ 2:02pm
      kovana said | February 14th 2011 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

      Thanks for the update.

      The Georgians are still getting good crowds for their games against lower opposition. Imagine if they play against a Tier one nation?

      As for the Russians.. Small crowd of only 100… Well any crowd is better then no crowd.

    • February 14th 2011 @ 2:16pm
      Working Class Rugger said | February 14th 2011 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

      Russia appears to be either not taking this seriously or all the training they have been undertaking has seriously begun to effect their performance.

      As for Belgium, the up and comers in Europe. They have a very well organised Union with the ambition to boot. They average around 5,000 for most internationals. Definitely favourites for promotion come the next ENC post 2012.

      • February 15th 2011 @ 3:33pm
        King of the Gorgonites said | February 15th 2011 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

        last year the owner of Stade Francais was going to take a Heinkeken Cup match to Brussel last year, but unfornuately due to a ftrozen pitch it was cancelled. hopefully a top flight game will be taken up there some time soon.

    • February 14th 2011 @ 2:26pm
      Working Class Rugger said | February 14th 2011 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

      Not regarding the ENC but for those interested the USA leg of the IRB World Sevens Series averaged 25,000 paid spectators both days, an impressive increase of 36% from last year. NBC have described the event as the ‘tipping point’ for the game commercially in the United States.

      • February 15th 2011 @ 3:38am
        Gavin Henson said | February 15th 2011 @ 3:38am | ! Report

        WCR I haven’t seen much about the success or otherwise of the tournament. where is that nbc quote from and do you know if there are tv ratings for the tournament out?

    • Roar Guru

      February 14th 2011 @ 2:56pm
      Ben Carter said | February 14th 2011 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      This is exactly the kind of stuff we need to hear more about… rugby union, in terms of nations playing the sport, must be up there with the world game, surely. Except that, like Test cricket, it seems only 10 or so countries are actually heard of. More people play it than you probably think, like in places such as Portugal and Russia for instance – so let’s give them some online airtime! Bravo!

    • February 14th 2011 @ 9:16pm
      allblackfan said | February 14th 2011 @ 9:16pm | ! Report

      Don’t underestimate the Russians. They may very well be foxing. Do we know if they used their European-based players? Sounds like it was a domestic-based squad. Maybe they don’t want to risk their RWC players

      • February 14th 2011 @ 10:24pm
        Dopey said | February 14th 2011 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

        The ENC is being played outside of the two IRB approved test windows so Russia and Georgia would have been playing wihtout their European-based players.

        As good a competition as this is I wouldn’t be reading too much into the results. Russia are playing the USA in the World Cup – that, if nothing else, will be motivating them and they will turn up. They consistently beat some very good teams (i.e Romania) to qualify for RWC so they will be there or thereabouts by RWC2011.

      • Roar Guru

        February 14th 2011 @ 10:50pm
        Harry Kimble said | February 14th 2011 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

        Russia has a squad of 31 players and all play in the Russian domestic competition except four who play in France.

        In the game against Portugal, the only French based players were Andrei Ostrikov who played in the second row and Konstantin Rachkov who came on as a second half replacement as flyhalf. The other 20 all were from the Russian national league.

    • February 15th 2011 @ 7:44am
      King of the Gorgonites said | February 15th 2011 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      i was very impressed with the crowds in Vegas. rugby in the US is really taking off. there is no doubt about that now.

      • February 15th 2011 @ 10:07am
        Gavin Henson said | February 15th 2011 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        prior to the event the view was it would be important to have a sell out so the stadium did not look part empty on tv for NBC

        • February 15th 2011 @ 10:10am
          King of the Gorgonites said | February 15th 2011 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          it looked very full. not at all bad for tv. 40K sell out each would have be to optimistic. a 30% increase on crowds is huge.

          prelimary figures coming in for the TV audience is above all expectations.

          • February 15th 2011 @ 4:45pm
            Working Class Rugger said | February 15th 2011 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

            Forty thousand would certainly be an achievement considering the Sam Boyd Stadiums’ capacity is only 36,000. Regardless of that little error the general feeling is very positive regarding not only the event but the game in the US in general. NBC has been very complimentary of the event and has begun to look at Rugby as a viable product in which to broadcast. We have the IOC’s decision to thank for this.

            Adding to this it appears the NBC Universal/Comcast are looking to set up a competitor to ESPN (the resources are available to them to do so) and Rugby is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this.

          • February 15th 2011 @ 6:36pm
            kovana said | February 15th 2011 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

            Does anyone know these preliminary figures yet?

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