NEW YORK, NY – It was another excellent weekend of international rugby, replete with big games and big plays. Let’s get to it in this week’s Weekend Rugby Wrap-Up:
Close to home, the Pacific Nations Cup featured a match-up between two rivals, Canada and Team USA. On a slick pitch in misty Edmonton, Canada, the match was a game of two halves. Canada won the first half and the USA dominated the second. The host Canadians, however, took advantage of Team USA’s kicking the ball away and held strong with a solid defense to snatch the win. Both sides were missing some key players and the next match between these neighboring nations will be fun to watch… In the other PNC match, Tonga were able to eventually assert themselves over a very resolute Japan side. Here are the results:
Tonga 27 – 17 Japan
Canada 16 – 9 USA
In the Aviva Premiership, the Leicester Tigers were too much for a gutsy Northampton Saints side as Leicester were crowned champions. The Saints were valiant in defeat, despite playing the entire second half with 14 men. The reason Northampton had to play a half down a man was because captain Dylan Hartley was red carded by referee Wayne Barnes. Hartley alleged yelled “F***ing cheat” in Barnes’ direction. At his hearing, Hartley claimed it was at a Leicester player, but Judge Jeff “Hang’em High” Hackett wouldn’t hear it and gave him 11 weeks. His Lions tour is done before it started… Meanwhile an England XV select side played the Barbarians, minus players who were chosen for British & Irish Lions duty and/or playing in the AP final. The Barbarians, in their first hit out of the summer tour, were not yet gelling but will get better as the tour continues.
Here are the results:
Leicester 37 – 17 Northampton
England 40 – 12 Barbarians
The RaboDirect Pro 12 was an All-Ireland affair, with the northern Ulster boys coming down to Dublin to play the local Leinster boys. The match was a solid one, with the Leinster proving too much for the Red Hand. And it had some interesting subplots: Ulster/Ireland star hooker Rory Best, while disheartened by his team’s hard-fought loss, had to be doing cartwheels over Dylan Hartley’s suspension. Surely, he’ll be selected a the replacement for the British & Irish Lions… As for Leinster, Johnny Sexton hit all his kicks and steered Leinster to the win… for the last time. He’s now a professional in France… Another interesting note is that Jamie Heaslip captained Ireland, replacing Leinster teammate Brian O’Driscoll, yet he’s not Leinster’s captain??? Nor is O’Driscoll. Feel free to editorialize here re Declan Kidney’s choices as Ireland skipper…
Leinster 24 – 18 Ulster
Over in France’s Top 14, Toulon followed up their winning of the Heineken Cup by dispatching a very good Toulouse side with great ease. Meanwhile, Toulon’s victim in the HEC final, Clermont, seemed unable to heal their pain and came out flat against a ruthless Castres side. So now the stage is set for Jonny Wilkinson to grab the Top 14 title… and then slip into a nice, new B&I Lions jersey. Stay tuned… Here are the results:
Toulon 24 – 9 Toulouse
Clermont Auvergne 9 – 25 Castres
Down Under in the Super 15, the Chiefs increased their lead at the top of the NZ conference with a through victory over the Crusaders… The Rebels surprised the Waratahs while the Blues made a few too many mistakes in the rain against the Brumbies… The Highlanders will be the first NZ team to finish dead last on the table since 1996, following their loss to the Force… The Cheetahs were too much for the Kings, and the Stormers held out against the Reds… Finally, the Bulls just edged the Sharks. Here are the results:
Chiefs 28 – 19 Crusaders
Melbourne Rebels 24 – 22 Waratahs
Blues 13 – 20 Brumbies
Western Force 19 – 18 Highlanders
Southern Kings 22 – 34 Cheetahs
Stormers 20 – 15 Reds
Sharks 16 – 18 Bulls
Scotland: ASM Clermont Auvergne head coach Vern Cotter was named as Scotland Head Coach at 2pm GMT Monday May 27th. How he gets on with former Interim Coach and now Director of Rugby Scott Johnson, will be interesting. A new dawn for Scottish rugby has risen.
Finally, the Elite Cup is the USA Rugby-sanctioned replacement to the Super League. In a tight and tough contest San Fransisco-Golden Gate (photo below) defeated Life University for the title. This denied Life U the chance to win the Elite Cup and D1 Mens title (D1 championship next weekend). Life U. are the D1 college champion and will aim to add the CRC7s title to their trophy room.
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @Mathew Drew Turner and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.