For the past week, the Romanian Rugby Federation and the "Arcul de Triumf" stadium staff have been hard at work preparing the venue for this year's IRB Nations Cup tournament, to be played for a third consecutive year in the Romanian capital city.

With the current holders the Emerging Springboks unable to defend their title due to the British and Irish Lions tour and, Georgia taking part in the Churchill Cup, two teams are making their debuts in the six-nation tournament - France A and Scotland A.

The contenders for the title

Italy A, who have taken part in every tournament since its launch in Lisbon in 2006, have arrived in Bucharest with a very young and comparatively inexperienced squad, captained by Treviso lock forward Antonio Pavanello.

They will certainly miss twelve Six Nations regulars, who had been summoned by Nick Mallett for the Australian tour.

Scotland A - The interest in Bucharest is mounting as it was revealed that Scotland A will be coached by the former England and Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson in his first assignment as the newly appointed coach of Scotland.

He will be assisted by Graham Steadman and Gregor Townsend with Perpignan scrum half Chris Cusiter among the 11 international players in the squad.

Russia and Uruguay, the latter making their second appearance in the tournament, have both sent their best teams and are using the tournament as a launching pad for their autumn qualifying rounds for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Romania - The host nation has managed to gather its top players from France, England and Italy for the first time during the last two seasons.

The players have been personally summoned by newly elected President of the Romanian Federation Alin Petrache, who captained Romania in 15 of his 53 appearances for the country.

New leadership for Romanian rugby

The 33-year old University Lecturer is younger than some of the Romanian veterans who have turned up to play in the tournament. He had been making occasional guest appearances for the Bucharest student club until a back injury forced him to stop playing altogether last season.

"We are delighted to host this tournament again in Bucharest. It is both an honour and a pleasure to have been chosen by the IRB to host the tournament for the third consecutive time and I hope to see the Romanian team doing well, even winning the tournament," Petrache said.

"We have new coaches and most of the players from France, Italy and England have turned up for the competition. This tournament is the first brick in our attempt to rebuild a credible side able to reach the 2011 World Cup."

Petrache, who was seen yesterday helping the FRR staff putting up posters on the walls of the Federation for Friday's game, today entertained the General Manager of BRD Societe Generale Patrick Gelin, who confirmed the commitment of the French bank to Romanian rugby and the IRB Nations Cup by presenting Petrache with a cheque for 300,000 RON (approximately 75,000 Euros).

Strong broadcast interest

IRB Tournament Director Beth Coalter, said: "I am delighted to be back in Bucharest and look forward to an exciting and well attended tournament in the spirit of the IRB Nations Cup.

"The objective of this tournament, which is sponsored by the IRB, is to provide tier-two and -three Nations with meaningful competition against the A teams of Tier One Unions.

"The tournament, which has been enthusiastically supported by the Romanian public since it was first held in Bucharest in 2007, will be televised live by local Television and will be broadcast to 150 million homes in Europe, North America, Asia, South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East."