Rugby World Cup 2011
Georgia and Russia vie for ENC glory
March 19, 2010
Georgia have booked their place at the Rugby World Cup © Associated Press
Georgia and Russia will go head-to-head for the European Nations Cup title this weekend in a game that will also confirm their Rugby World Cup opponents.
Both teams have already secured their places at the sport's showpiece event in New Zealand next year with the sold out clash in Trabzon, Turkey set to decide which team progresses as Europe 1 and which travels as Europe 2.
Georgia currently sit at the top of the ENC table by virtue of points difference from Russia, after their first loss in a two-year campaign to Romania in Bucharest last weekend. A draw will therefore be enough to claim the title and secure a place alongside Argentina, England, Scotland and the Play-Off winner in Pool B.
Russia, who made history by qualifying for their first World Cup following a draw with Romania in Sochi three weeks ago, need a victory for their first ENC title with the loser of the match set to slot into Pool C as Europe 2 alongside Australia, Ireland, Italy and USA.
The Lelos, who have qualified for a third successive Rugby World Cup, have the edge in the head-to-head with Russia, having won their last eight meetings and lost just once in 13 meetings - the first encounter back in May 1993 following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The most recent of these was a 29-20 success in Ukraine a year ago.
While Georgia relish the prospect of a third successive Rugby World Cup, Romania's ever present record is under threat from Portugal who currently lead the race to finish third. With a three-point advantage, Portugal must avoid defeat against the Oaks in Lisbon to ensure they enter the two-leg play-off against the winner of the ENC play-off match between Division 3A winners Lithuania and their Division 2A counterparts Ukraine. The winner of that game will represent Europe in the cross-continental play-off which will determine the 20th and final qualifier for RWC 2011.
If Romania emerge victorious then even defeat by Spain next weekend would see them finish level on points with Portugal, however should they win by more than one point it will be enough to split the teams on the differential used.
Rugby World Cup 2011 Pools:
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage
"If you listen carefully you should be able to hear them mining the granite for the statue of a certain Jonny Wilkinson" Graham Jenkins reports from the Heineken Cup Final
Quade Cooper's defence is better than it was 12 months ago and Robbie Deans has erred in omitting him from the core Wallabies squad to play the Lions, Greg Growden writes
"People on the outside think unfounded thoughts on Toulon." Tom Hamilton talks to RCT lock Nick Kennedy ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup final against Clermont