Spain

a
 

World Ranking: 21

COACH: Alfonso Fejoo. A former international player who won 23 caps for Spain. He has masterminded the qualification for the World Cup for the first time in his country's history. He has a no nonsense attitude mellowed by his enthusiasm and wit. Aware of his team's limitations he is adamant that Spain must aspire to play in rugby's premier tournament, no matter how painful the consequences.

TACTICAL TURN: Spain's game is based on a big set for forwards, exerting pressure up front to provide outhalf Andrei Kovalenco with an opportunity to kick penalties. They thrived against weaker opposition in qualifying for the finals but, thrashed 85-3 by Scotland, are aware that physical and technical limitations abound. Denied a platform up front they won't have too much to offer.

STAR TURN: Andrei Kovalenco. The 27 year old Ukranian born outhalf top scored for Spain in the qualifiers with 45 points. An excellent place-kicker, he thrives under pressure as shown when he kicked seven penalties and a conversion against Portugal in the final qualifying group. Unlikely to get too many opportunities with the placed ball but is also considered a fine player in other facets of the game.

VERDICT: Definitely a damage limitation exercise. Thrashed 85-3 by Scotland in the final qualifying group, the portents appear ominous as they find themselves pitted against the Scots again and South Africa in Pool A. They will target the match against fellow minnows Uruguay as their 'cup final,' although they have already lost 20-3 to the South Americans this year. How much Spain will learn suffering extreme maulings is a moot point. Have yet to win a game outside of the qualification process this season.

FINAL THOUGHTS: "It is very important for a country like Spain to be in a World Cup and I think it's the only chance we have as Spaniards to reach a level of play that would allow us to reach another."

- Alfonso Mandado (team manager, Spain).

a