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Italy coach Nick Mallett remained upbeat despite his side's 16-11 defeat to Ireland at Croke Park on Saturday.
Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy will miss the remainder of the Six Nations Championship after breaking his arm in Saturday's 16-11 victory over Italy.
The separation of those stretching for glory and those trying to avoid ignominy is growing wider after just seven rounds of a 26-round competition on the way to the semi-finals.
The Hurricanes put their Super 14 season back on track with a narrow 42-40 pre-season victory over the Chiefs, scoring the winning try on the stroke of full-time, in Taupo on Saturday.
The Crusaders edged the Western Force 12-7 in their pre-season Super 14 match at Olympic Park in Melbourne on Saturday.
Portugal play Georgia in Tblissi in a match twice postponed in the European Nations Cup.
Scotland star Rory Lamont says he is hoping to use Sunday's Six Nations opener against France at Murrayfield as an opportunity to prove once and for all that his best position is at full-back.
There are many matches amongst the six nations which make up the Six Nations apart from the first teams of each of the countries.
England prop Matt Stevens has signed a new four-year contract with Bath, pledging his allegiance to the Guinness Premiership side until the end of the 2011/2 season.
Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher will be looking to a host of Wallabies to lift the team, after his youthful 'second-string' selection crashed 19-48 to a star-studded Waratahs selection at a soggy Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford on Friday.