Following the success of last year's inaugural Tournament, the 2007 IRB Nations Cup has been expanded from four to six participating teams. Argentina A will be joined by Italy A, the Emerging Springboks and the test sides from Georgia, Namibia and Romania in the round-robin Tournament.
"The IRB is committed to increasing global playing standards and competitiveness through the implementation of a range of high performance, management and Tournament initiatives as part of the unprecedented three-year US$50 million global strategic investment programme," said International Rugby Board Head of Rugby Services Mark Egan.
"The IRB Nations Cup was introduced to the global Rugby calendar in 2006 in order to provide an expanded competition pathway for Tier 1 A sides, while providing Tier 2 and 3 Test teams with the opportunity to compete in a high intensity international competition against high level opposition. Importantly the Tournament also plays a key player development role for each participating Union."
"The inaugural Tournament in Portugal last year was a resounding success, generating competitive matches, attracting strong crowds and helping foster the increasing popularity of the Game in Portugal. It also proved instrumental in providing Portugal and Russia with valuable competitive game time ahead of important Rugby World Cup qualifiers," added Egan.
Participation in the IRB Nations Cup is an exciting development for Georgia, Namibia and Romania. With Rugby World Cup 2007 a little over eight months away, the Tournament will be invaluable in providing each country with a competitive player development platform. With Romania and Italy in Pool C and Argentina, Georgia and Namibia in Pool D the IRB Nations Cup provides an opportunity to put down a marker ahead of the Tournament in France.Groundbreaking
The IRB Nations Cup will be the first stand alone senior international Rugby Tournament to be hosted in Romania and with Rugby World Cup just around the corner Romanian Rugby Union President George Straton believes that the competition will capture the imagination of the Rugby community within the country.
"The IRB Nations Cup is a great opportunity to promote the Game in Romania and we are very honoured to be hosting the Tournament at a time when the Rugby community will be looking forward to Rugby World Cup. From a development point of view the competitive Tournament format also allows us to test the work of the High Performance programmes that have been implemented with the help of the IRB."
Round One of the IRB Nations Cup kicks-off on June 5 when Argentina A begins its title defence against Italy A, debutants Georgia and Namibia go head to head and host nation Romania takes on the Emerging Springbok side. Two further rounds will be played over eleven days before the IRB Nations Cup winners are crowned.
IRB Nations Cup 2007
Argentina A v Italy A
Georgia v Namibia
Emerging Springboks v Romania
Argentina A v Namibia
Emerging Springboks v Georgia
Italy A v Romania
Italy A v Georgia
Namibia v Romania
Emerging Springboks v Argentina A
*all matches will be played at the Tineretului Stadium in Bucharest. Kick-off times will be confirmed shortly.
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