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Planet rugby: Spain prepare for Czech encounter

27.9.2006 Task made easier

Spain receive Czech Republic in a Europe Round 4 Rugby World Cup qualifier and do so with great confidence, especially with the upheaval in the Czech side.

After all Spain went to Ricany and beat the Czechs 33-12 in the first leg of this round For Czechs to overtake them they need to beat Spain by more than 21 points in Madrid on Saturday. But the Czechs have a weakened side this time.

The Czechs are without at least seven first-choice players. First their English-based captain Ladislav Vondrášek was dropped. Some say it was for criticising the coaching, others because he missed training sessions to attend to business concerns in England. After missing a tactical session on the Thursday before the first leg against Spain, he returned on the Friday and then changed the gameplan, so they say, by talking to individual players.

After this a few other players, led by experienced Jan Machácek decided to support Vondrášek and withdraw from the side. They play for Sparta - prop Jirí Skall, wing Václav Jursik, and flyhalf/centre Pavel Vokrouhlik. Before this Martin Jagr, an experienced player who plays for Toulon in France, informed the Union, that he was no longer available to play for the national side, probably to protect his French job. Others missing are Robert Voves, and Lukáš Rapant.

It is not a happy situation.

In a sense Spain should be underdogs as they play in a FIRA-AER competition below the Czech Republic who are in the European Nations Cup, a level just below the Six Nations Spain are a level above that though they have won promotion for the coming season and are back where they have usually been The truth is they are the favourites to win this encounter and the leg and so to proceed to Round 5, there to face Romania in Madrid and Georgia in Tblisi in October The winner of that Round will go directly to France The team coming second in this round will play the team coming second in the other part of Round 56 - Italy, Portugal and Russia Those two runners-up will form Round 6 The winner of Round 6 will go to France, the runner-up into répechage against an African side

It will not be easy All three of the teams in Spain's section have been to the World Cup before whereas only Italy in the other has been to the World Cup

The Spanish coach, Englishman Ged Glynn, has chosen the same squad as the one which won in Ricany They gather at Ciudad del Fútbol de Las Rozas, Madrid, on Tuesday, 26 September, to prepare.


Czech squad: Jan Oswald (Tatra Smíchov), Pavel Indrák (Pwllheli, Wales), Pavel Štastný (Lannemezan, France), Jirí Sluka (Rk Petrovice), Jean-Baptiste Soucek (Mielan, France), Jirí Buryánek (Dragon Brno), Miroslav Procházka (Jimi Vyškov), Miroslav Nemecek (Rícany), Vlastimil Madry (Praga), Josef Bláha (Rícany), Martin Hudák (Jimi Vyškov), Karel Kucera (Rícany), Vítezslav Dosedla (Dragon Brno), Jaroslav Tomcík (Havírov), Martin Snídal (Jimi Vyškov), Martin Pekárek (Rícany), Pavel Camrda (Rícany), Michal Schlanger (Rk Petrovice), Tomáš Krejcí (Saint Saturnin), Martin Kafka (Rícany), Martin Pachman (Rícany), Petr Cížek (Praga)

The Spanish squad: César Sempere (CRC Madrid Noroeste), Juan Cano (Complutense Cisneros), Javier Canosa (CRC Madrid Noroeste), Alvar Enciso (Cetransa El Salvador), Rafael Alvarez (Stade Domontois, France), Esteban Roque (Cetransa El Salvador), Pablo Feijoo (Spyro Bera Bera RT), Óscar Astarloa (Kitmar Ordizia RE), Alfonso Mata (Cetransa El Salvador), Rafael Camacho (Inés Rosales CAR), César Bernasconi (FC Barcelona), Andrew Ebbet (Alcobendas), Javier Salazar (CRC Madrid Noroeste), Mathieu Cidre (Graulhet, France), César Caballero (Cetransa El Salvador), Diego Zarzosa (CRC Madrid Noroeste), Ion Insausti (Cetransa El Salvador), Sergio Souto (Cetransa El Salvador), Cyril Hijar (Sporting Albigeois, France), Igor Mirones (Getxo Artea RT), Andrei Kovalenko (FC Barcelona), Barcena (Stade Français, France)



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