NEW YORK, NY – With the Southern Hemisphere in their off-season until mid-February and the HSBC 7s Series down until after the holidays, the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup was all we had this weekend. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of good rugby to review for our Weekend Rugby Wrap-Up. There was.
For those not familiar with Santa-c0n, it’s basically a massive pub crawl with everyone dressed in some sort of Santa attire, and the attire of choice gets creative – see the NYRC Fairies. Either way, the drinking is considerable. Why bring this up, you ask? Simple. Our predictions were such that it looked like we completed our Santa-con crawl before making our prognostications.
See, a few underdogs decided to rock the boat and play with a passion that some favorites eschewed. Further, games that we expected to be tight affairs were blowouts, while expected blowouts were tight matches. One could argue that a large reason for this topsy-turvy tourney weekend was the fact that teams were playing each other in back-to-back weeks, so there was more time to figure out the opposition and depending on the previous week’s result, time to soul search and come back fired up.
The French Top 14 teams went 5-1 this weekend as did the Aviva Premiership teams. All this came at the expense of the Rabodirect 12 sides that went 1-10, including all 4 of the Irish provinces going winless. As covered by JWB, even the mighty Ulster had their undefeated streak ended.
The Friday night matches started the weekend with Racing Metro downing desperately poor Edinburgh. The Scottish side still looks incredibly inept in attack… Meanwhile Biarritz saved face and exacted some revenge for last week’s embarrassing loss in Galway by doggie-paddling past an injury-riddled Connacht on a swimming pool of a pitch…. On Saturday, the Neath-Swansea Ospreys produced the shock of the round by upending an *abject Toulouse side. Never underestimate the return of an Adam Jones, who said this was his biggest win with the Opreys. He also feels Wales can repeat as Six Nations champs… (Side Note: Ever see Eddie Vedder and Jones in the same room?) In Italy, Leicester must have had too much wine and pre-game pasta. They barely survived Treviso by a point… Harlequins vanquished Zebre… again, which wasn’t news… Clermont went into Dublin and dismantled Leinster in a match they should have won by more. Jonny Sexton’s forgoing of the penalty in their previous meeting now looms even larger… On Sunday we were treated to a clinical display of rugby as Toulon and their mercenaries dismantled Sale. Here are all the scores:
Edinburgh 3 – 15 Racing Metro 92
Biarritz 17 – 0 Connacht
Ospreys 17 – 6 Toulouse
Benetton Treviso 13 – 14 Leicester
Harlequins 53 – 5 Zebre
Ulster 9 – 10 Northampton
Leinster 21 – 28 Clermont Auvergne
Exeter 30 – 20 Scarlets
Montpellier 34 – 21 Cardiff Blues
SUN – 16TH DEC 12
Saracens 19 – 13 Munster
Castres 10 – 8 Glasgow
Toulon 62 – 0 Sale
In the Amlin match-ups, almost all went to script. Stade Francais beat up on Cavalieri as did Newport Gwent Dragons on Mogliano and Bath on Calvisano. The Irish and Italians didn’t have the greatest of weekends, did they? Anyway… In the more even match-ups, Wasps defeated Bayonne, and Mont de Marsan defeated Bordeaux-Begles. In the weekend’s big match, Perpignan went toe-to-toe with Worcester and won the battle. RWU favorites London Welsh lost to Grenoble, which statistically eliminates them from making the knock-out round. But we still love them. Here are the scores:
Wasps 30 – 16 Bayonne
Stade Francais 29 – 6 Cavalieri Prato
Mont de Marsan 18 – 7 Bordeaux-Begles
Agen 39 – 9 Bucuresti
Gloucester 47 – 3 London Irish
Rovigo 10 – 16 Bizkaia Gernika RT
Perpignan 13 – 6 Worcester
Calvisano 5 – 39 Bath
London Welsh 13 – 27 Grenoble
Newport Gwent Dragons 53 – 3 Mogliano Rugby
*Word of the Day.
That is it for me, for now until the next time and as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.