IRB Nations Cup
Namibia primed for Nations Cup defence
ESPNscrum Staff
June 9, 2011
Namibia celebrate winning the 2010 Nations Cup, Bucharest, Romania, June 20, 2010
Namibia won last year's Nations Cup © Getty Images

The IRB Nations Cup kicks-off in Bucharest on Friday, with reigning champions Namibia, Romania and Georgia all hoping to build momentum before September's Rugby World Cup.

Namibia take on the hosts in the opening game, with the Romanians having secured passage to New Zealand thanks to their play-off victory over Uruguay last year.

Also competing in 2011 are the Argentina Jaguars, Portugal and the South African Kings, a composite side drawn from the Eastern/Southern Cape who boast former Springbok Luke Watson, South Africa Sevens international Mzwandile Stick and ex-New Zealand Maori prop Clint Newland among their number.

The Kings kick-off against Georgia, the reigning European Nations Cup champions. The Georgians are approaching a tough World Cup campaign, where they have been drawn alongside England, Scotland, Argentina and Romania in a fiercely competitive group.

"In deciding on the line-up we have tried to find a balance between ensuring that there are IRB ranking Test matches between the tier two unions and that the level of competiveness of the participating teams provides an appropriate benchmarking opportunity that the Rugby World Cup-bound Unions require to test their systems and team management structures," IRB chief Bernard Lapasset said.

"The inclusion of the South African Kings is welcome in that the team will be comprised of professional players from the Southern Kings franchise, thereby providing a higher quality of opposition for the tier two unions than they would otherwise encounter in their normal regional competition environment."

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