The big news among non-first-tier nations over the past week has not been what has happened on the pitch but rather what won’t be happening upon it. At least, not for now.
Russia has cancelled its World Cup warm-up match with Georgia owing to political unrest. The fixture was to have taken place in Tbilisi on 27 August but Russian officials have decided to call the game off due to anti-Russian protests in the Georgian capital.
The press service of Rugby Union of Russia announced that it considered the situation in Tbilisi unsafe for Russian athletes. They also noted that they valued partnerships with their Georgian colleagues and apologised to the fans of both teams.
Russia are scheduled to visit Italy on 17 August, while Georgia host Scotland at the end of next month. It seems likely both nations will now look for alternative opposition in the build-up to this year’s World Cup in Japan.
Meanwhile, Kenya, having already postponed the first leg of their Victoria Cup ties with Zimbabwe, called off the second as well this weekend. Both matches are likely to be played next month, although this has yet to be confirmed.
While the entire issue has been shrouded in mystery, with little or nothing appearing in the press, it seems Kenya Rugby Union were keen for the national team to focus entirely on their Elgon Cup series with Uganda after suffering a shock 16-13 defeat in the home leg last month.
The Simbas duly obliged with a 16-5 victory in the return match at Kampala on 13 July. Returning sevens star Jacob Ojee was the hero with a late try on the counterattack after Uganda had gone close at the other end.
The same weekend Zimbabwe crushed rank outsiders Zambia 39-10 at Harare in their Victoria Cup tie. Centre Daniel Capsopoulos grabbed a brace of tries for the Sables, as did replacement Takudzwa Chieza on debut.
In South Africa on Saturday the Jaguares development team continued their unbeaten run in the Currie Cup first division, with a 78-12 thumping of the Border Bulldogs.
Flyhalf Domingo Miotti kicked nine conversions for an 18-point haul, while wings Widmer Dominguez and Facundo Cordero scored a hat-trick each. They led 49-12 at half-time.
The Jaguares XV are now alone at the top of the table with four straight wins, giving some indication of just how much depth there is in Argentinian rugby after the first-string side reached the Super Rugby final.
In Fiji, Nadroga defeated Suva 24-13 to win the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy at Nadi. Suva had clinched the 2019 Skipper Cup league title a month earlier with a 34-26 victory over Nadroga in the final.
Veteran Setefano Somoca and former Fiji sevens star Amenoni Nasilasila were among the stand-out performers for the Nadroga team. They will now take on Bainimarama Shield holders Lautoka.
There will be some interesting action in Bolivia this week when the host nation makes its XVs debut in a quadrangular tournament with Argentina’s Salta, Formosa and Juyjuy. The event kicks off in Yacuiba this Thursday and concludes on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Mexico will host a Washington DC selection on the outskirts of the capital city on Saturday. Los Serpientes are building up for the Americas Challenge tournament in Colombia next month, also involving Paraguay and the Cayman Islands.
There does not appear to be much going on in Asia at present aside from Japan’s involvement in the Pacific Nations Cup of course. This weekend the Brave Blossoms host Fiji in the opening round, while Tonga visit Samoa and the US take on Canada in Glendale, Colorado.