NEW YORK, NY: The European international calendar is done until the summer. For the 3 top leagues in Europe (Aviva Premiership, Rabodirect Pro 12 and Top 14) it’s time to turn their full focus on making the playoffs, avoiding relegation or just playing for pride and the fans. In the Southern Hemisphere, Super 15 is hitting its big inter-conference play stretch so national pride and travel are coming into play. The two biggest events on the international calendar will be the Rugby World Cup Qualifier (RWCQ) match between USA and Uruguay and the Tokyo 7s. We will cover all those events plus the week’s news and events. With all that said, let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview.
RWCQ: The RWCQ match between the USA and Uruguay (#USAvUru) will dominant rugby on this western side of the globe. It will the first leg in a two leg, home and away series. Our friend Ray’s Rugby has put together a great preview.
Here is this weekend’s schedule:
SAT– 22nd MAR 14
Uruguay – USA
Rabodirect Pro12: The Pro 12 will also see a few teams attempt to finish with a flurry. The top three teams in the battle for the playoffs are Leinster, who are in 1st place and host last place Zebre. 2nd place Munster welcome 2nd to last place Treviso, And 3rd place Ulster travel to Edinburgh. Currently in the 4th and final playoff spot is Ospreys who host Cardiff, Glasgow has two games in hand on the Top 4 and are in 5th place as they take on 6th place Scarlets, who still are mathematically eligible to make the playoffs. Playing for pride will be Dragons, who welcome Connacht to the not so intimidating Dragon’s lair.
Here is this weekend’s schedule:
FRI – 21ST MAR 14
Ospreys – Cardiff Blues
Leinster – Zebre
Edinburgh – Ulster
SAT – 22ND MAR 14
Glasgow – Scarlets
Munster – Benetton Treviso
SUN – 23RD MAR 14
Newport Gwent Dragons – Connacht
Japan 7s: The Tokyo 7s or the Japan 7s stop on the IRB circuit will be kicking off late night tonight, New York City time and though both the AIG New Zealand All Black 7s side and the The South African 7s Blitzbokke are denying it has become a two horse race. They are being humble. Check out our tournament preview.
Signings/Player Moves: Connacht annouced 26-year-old centre Kyle Tonetti has been forced to retire due to a long-standing ankle injury. Cardiff Blues centre Gavin Evans has agreed to terms on a new contract. Scotland international and Edinburgh tighthead prop Geoff Cross has moved Glasgow on loan until the end of the season as a result of injuries to both Mike Cusack and Ed Kalman. After announcing that he is leaving Edinburgh at the end of 2013/14, Edinburgh Director of Rugby Alan Solomons allowed prop Cross to be loaned out. London Irish confirmed the signing of winger James Short from Saracens on a two-year contract. Sale Sharks have snatched up Italy and Treviso prop Alberto De Marchi signing him to a two-year deal. Ageless former Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer has signed a new one-year contract with Bath, excited by this year’s success at the club. Top 14 La Galactiques, Toulon announced the signing of Montpellier scrum-half Éric Escande and Clermont‘s 34-year-old flanker Gerhard Vosloo to two-year deals each, for next season.
USA Rugby News and Updates: This week, USA Rugby had a press release regarding Contact in Youth Rugby featuring a soundcloud podcast. The release has comments from USA Rugby Youth Development Director Kurt Weaver and Richie Walker, who has helped the coaching staffs of both the Men’s and Women’s Eagles Sevens at the United States Olympic Committee’s Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., h also has helped out at Serevi Rugby’s youth development in the southern California area.
Peace in Europe, imminent: The UK newspaper, the Telegraph, is reporting that we are on the verge of witnessing a huge deal agreed upon that will save European rugby. The key will be the money-spinning broadcast and sponsorship deals are that are the priority for the tournament administrators, with the nine stakeholders due to sign a new accord replacing the Heineken and Challenge Cups in the next few days. The paper reports that, in the UK, sports television heavyweights, Sky Sports and BT Sport, have agreed to a lucrative television agreement between them to show the “Champions League-style” competition and will make their announcements simultaneously. The deal will in all likelihood match BT Sport’s original offer to the Anglo-French breakaway coalition for the now-defunct proposed Rugby Champions Cup.
Tickets on sale for JWC2014 in NZ: It was officially announced by the IRB, that fans can now secure their seats to see the future stars of world Rugby play in New Zealand in just 2 and half months time. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster beginning today for the IRB Junior World Championship 2014.
IRB ConfEx set for London in November 2014: The IRB announced that the Second IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition (IRB World Rugby ConfEx) will take place on November 17 and 18, 2014 in London. The press release states “the event will once again provide a unique environment for the global Rugby community to share knowledge, network and develop relationships. It will feature the IRB Medical Commission Conference, insightful plenary sessions, workshops and an exhibition, as well as providing an important opportunity to network with leading figures and decision-makers from across Rugby and the wider world of sport.”
That’s it for now, Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp,Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.