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Cisk-sponsored Malta National Rugby Team returns to the FIRA European Nations Cup 10/20/2006

Juan Borg Manduca, Acting President of the MRFU, addressing the media during the press conference  with from left Sean Doublesin, National Team Manager, and Mr Damian Neill, National Coach and Director of Rugby.

Season 2006/2007 kicks off in Riga on the 28th October 2006 for the Malta National Rugby team, which is supported by their major sponsor, Cisk Lager.  The National team will fly to Riga and start their commitments with an ‘away’ match against Latvia. This match marks the return of Malta into the FIRA European Nations Cup after an absence of two years due to the Rugby World Cup 2007 Qualifiers where Malta succeeded to advance up to the third Round.

Malta was promoted to Division 2B after successfully qualifying to the third round in the World Cup qualifiers last season. This achievement puts Malta in the same group as Poland, Andorra, Croatia and Latvia. IRB World rankings put Malta in 50th place while Poland 37, Croatia 39, Latvia 42 and Andorra 61st.

 Juan Borg Manduca, Acting President of Malta Rugby Football Union (MRFU), said: “The team has assembled in Malta this weekend and started preparations with intense dynamic training spread out over 4 days. All players are in Malta for this preparation to ensure that they are ready for the tournament. We thank Cisk Lager for extending its sponsorship for the sixth consecutive year, which has been instrumental in the progress and achievements of rugby in Malta.”

 The fact that Malta plays ‘away’ first will also be an advantage, since for the ‘home’ game the team would have been together for two weeks, a luxury not many international coaches have these days. With the globalisation of Rugby in the modern game, many players are not available for training camps since most players play club rugby in other countries. A case in point is Italy where their International players all play in professional leagues in England and France and only join their National sides a few days before the matches.

The National team had one previous encounter with all the teams of this group with the exception of Andorra. Malta lost to Poland in an ill tempered match two years ago in Marsa, while last season they beat Croatia at Kordin and an extremely important away win against our next opponents, Latvia, in Riga three years ago, where the team held out in defence for a 10-8 win.  

The Malta National Rugby Team wearing Cisk branded kit will play the second match at Hibs Ground, Kordin, on the 4th November 2006 against Croatia. Preparations by the MRFU are in full swing, which are led by Simon Mizzi, head of the organising committee.

The MRFU urges its’ regular crowd for this home game. This match promises another sporting and entertainment spectacle for the many patriotic rugby supporters and their families. Local artists Ivan Filletti and Indigo will perform during the curtain raiser. The event, will once again be hosted by Rugby regulars DJ’s Joe Tanti and Colin Fitz. Events prior the match will start at 1.00pm at the Hibs Ground.

The National squad announced by Damian Neill includes:

James Finlason – Hove RFC (UK)
Ryan Robson – Blaydon RFC (UK)
Lee Culnane – Tuggeranong Vikings RFC (Australia)
Malcolm Attard – Stompers RFC (Local)
John Attard – Hartpury College (UK) DEBUT
Jamie Caruana – Redruth RFC (UK)
John Dimmond – Barry RFC (UK)
Matthew Mirabelli – Stompers RFC (Local)
Ian Borda – Kavallieri RFC (Local)
Mick McArdle – Barking RFC (UK) DEBUT
Robert Bonavia – Kavallieri RFC (Local)
Pierre Mangion – Kavallieri RFC (Local)
David Gasan – Kavallieri RFC (Local)
Piers Allen – Overseas RFC (Local)
Guy Kennedy – Queenbeyan Whites RFC (Australia)
Dominic St George – Kews RFC (UK)
Steve Kempster – Tring RFC (UK)
Jason Ramage – Royal Airforce (UK)
Oliver Sacco – Clifton RFC (UK)
Tom Watts – Broad Street Old Boys RFC (UK)
Tom Webb – Malta RU (UK)
Eddie Zarb – Malta RU (Australia) 

The Referee for the match against Latvia will be Mr M Reinecke from Germany RFU.

Also, former Malta Team Manager Mr. Mike Beerman has been appointed FIRA Match Commissioner for the Division 3A fixture between Serbia Montenegro v Denmark on Saturday 4th November in Belgrade and will be representing the Malta Rugby Football Union.