Weekend Rugby Preview: Amsterdam 7s, All Blacks in Chicago, Pro12, Top 14 and Aviva Playoffs

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Amsterdam 7sNEW YORK, NY-  When England were the largest colonial empire in the world, the saying was “The sun never sets on English soil.” It was true as wherever in the world it was daytime, England usually had a colony. The same can be said for Rugby Union now, but maybe hold it to weekends as it is not quite 24/7. We bring that up because after conquering all the continents and the rugby action over the last few weeks, we get a slight respite with one continent done with its competition. However we have the semi-finals of all three of Europe’s top comeptitions, the Pro12, Aviva Premeirship and Top14, this weekend. There is also coverage of the intercontinental challenge that is Super Rugby and Tier 3 still has action in 3 continents. We also  haven’t forgotten the women that play this game either as there is the Amsterdam 7s and the Asia 4 Nations Championship. So much to go through, so let’s dive into the Weekend Rugby Preview:

Let us not forget our manners!! Ladies first,
Amsterdam 7s  The  Amsterdam 7s are the last stop on the women’s circuit. Those old rivals, New Zealand and Australia,  from opposite sides of the Tasman Sea are in a dead heat for the title. They have finished first and second in 3 of the 4 series stops and in the one that they didn’t, Australia only fell to third. Meanwhile, the USA is in 7th while Canada is in 3rd with more than twice the amount of points as the USA.  This year’s series appears to have a top 2, a chasing pack of four and then the USA. Though this is the final stop, it would be good for the USA’s morale, if they could finish strong and maybe steal 6th from Spain. Lets take a look at the 12 teams involved:

Pool A: New Zealand, Spain, Ireland, USA  
Pool B: Australia, Russia,  France,  South Africa  
Pool C: Canada, England, Brazil, Netherlands

Now with a look at the field, lets run down our list of expected results.

Here are our predictions:
Cup: New Zealand
Second: Australia 

Third: England
Plate: USA
Bowl: Brazil

The 2013/2014 IRB Womens World Series Champions are New Zealand.

The Asian RFU Womens 4 Nations Rugby championship will take place in Hong Kong this year. This is the top Divison, the division II event will take place in a different location date and time. In this weekend’s action, the WRWC qualified Kazakhstan side is the team to beat and they will take on the host Hong Kong. The early match will see an interesting clash between Japan and Singapore.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
SUN – 18TH MAY 14
WARC Japan – Singapore
WARC Hong Kong – Kazakhstan

Aviva Premiership – The East Midlands Machiavellian Rugger Nick Hall has put together a wonderful preview of this weekend’s semi-finals action. He has pulled off a double as he has a preview for both the Northampton v Leicester and Saracens v Harlequins fixtures. 

Top 14 – Our Top14 expert, James Harrington has lost a bit of his nerve. He has put together a thoroughly enjoyable preview of the semi-final matches. However with the quarter-finals filled with upsets, Mssr. Harrignton does not dare make a prediction on the winners. Please CLICK HERE to check it out.

Rabodirect Pro12 It is playoff time in the Rabodirect Pro12 also. This year the contestants are from Ireland and Scotland. This year’s surprise package, the Glasgow Warriors welcome perennial powerhouse Munster to Scotstoun, while in a re-match of last year’s final Ulster travel to the RDS in Dublin to face defending champion’s Leinster.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
FRI – 16TH MAY 14
Glasgow  – Munster
SAT – 17TH MAY 14
Leinster – Ulster

Super RugbyThe RWU Super Rugby Superman, Jamie Wall, has a strongly-opinionated article regarding the All Blacks playing in Chicago and Super Rugby hitting the final stretch as the race for playoff places heats up. Please CLICK HERE.

Tier 3 – The weekend’s Tier 3 calendar has lightened up in Europe but is picking up in other areas of the globe. We will begin with the European Nations Cup, which consists of 7 divisions, each with 4-6 teams. The matches determine who will get promoted and relegated form groups 1A, 1B, 2A – 2D, and 3A. Saturday’s fixture sees the undefeated (since their inception) Cyprus Moufflons take on Hungary in the reverse fixture of their match-up in 2013 which saw Cyprus escape Budapest with a 1 point victory.

The Asian5N is short for the Asian 5 Nations, which is similar to the ENC but with 5 divisions and 5 teams in each. The matches this weekend are expected to be even match-ups and hotly contested affairs, that will double as RWCQs. In the first RWCQ Korea and Japan meet in a clash of Asia titans meanwhile upcoming sides Sri Lanka and The Philippines face-off in an highly anticipated tussle.

The NACRA Championship is the same as the three previously mentioned tournaments but for North America and the Caribbean. It is not as layered as the other three competitions and rather has the weaker teams play qualifiers to get to a stage that it would seem fair to bring in the larger unions. USA Rugby competes in this tournament by sending the USA South Regional all-star team, in order to develop talent and make the competition a much fairer one. This weekend will see regional powerhouses Jamaica and Guyana take on Turks & Caicos and Barbados, respectively. The British Virgin Islands will do battle against  St. Vincent & the Grenadines and upcoming program Mexico face The Bahamas.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
SAT – 17TH MAY 14

ENC Cyprus – Hungary

ASIA5N/RWCQ Sri Lanka – Philippines
ASIA5N/RWCQ Korea – Japan

NACRA CH Jamaica  –  Turks & Caicos
NACRA CH British Virgin Islands  –  St. Vincent & the Grenadines
NACRA CH Barbados – Guyana
NACRA CH Bahamas – Mexico

Corey Flynn
Corey Flynn

Conversion Kick:
Signings/Player Moves: London Wasps have signed hooker Ed Shervington from Worcester Warriors for next season, as well as re-signing current hooker Tom Lindsay through 2015. Bath academy grade Chris Cook has committed to the club until the end of the 2015 season. Bath also confirmed that Argentinian hooker Eusebio Guinazu will be leaving the club.  Newcastle Falcons have completed the signing of Italian international lock Josh Furno from Top 14 side Biarritz Olympique.

In Newcastle, Furno will be coached by the new coaching structure at the Falcons. It was announced that John Wells will be the new head coach for the 2014-15 season while former England international fly-half Dave Walder will be the attack coach. They will still work under Director of Rugby Dean Richards. Richards kept most of the backroom in place as defense coach Graham Steadman, scrum coach Micky Ward and skills coach Calum MacRae were all retained.

Up in Scotland, Edinburgh has announced the departure of nine players. Among the nine are capped internationalists Lee Jones (Scotland), centre Ben Atiga (All Blacks) and back-row Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia) . The non-capped players departing are scrum-halves Chris Leck and Alex Black; locks Perry Parker and Robert McAlpine; and front-row forwards Lewis Niven and Alun Walker.  Glasgow Warriors have confirmed that Ed Kalman, Scott Wight and Finlay Gillies will leave the club at the end of the season…Ulster‘s all-time appearance record holder, Paddy Wallace, has confirmed that he will retire at the end of this season.

Full-back Jerome Porical has left Stade Français to join newly-promoted Lyon on a three-year deal, it was confirmed earlier this week. His signing is the 10th by Lyon.  Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn will join concussion protocol disregarding Toulouse after the Super Rugby season. Grenoble have signed Queensland Reds prop Jono Owen ahead of next season.

The Brumbies have announced that full-back Jesse Mogg  and utility forward Scott Fardy have signed new 1 year deals with the Canberra-based franchise while Christian Lealiifano signed a two-year contract extension late last month.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby News and Updates: USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Nigel Melville confirmed Tuesday, that AIG New Zealand All Blacks will play USA Eagles on November 1st in Chicago at Soldier Field. It will be the All Blacks first match in the United States since 1980. NBC will provide national broadcast coverage for the 2:30 P.M. CT kickoff.   Our own, Jamie Wall gave his and  most of the New Zealand citizens thoughts on the match.  Melville stated “We have taken big steps to increase the profile of rugby in the United States with our international games drawing record crowds, but nothing on the scale of a match against the New Zealand All Blacks.  The Maori All Blacks offered a taste of the rugby tradition one can expect from New Zealand and we have no doubt the All Blacks will raise the level of play for the Eagles as they prepare for the World Cup and create a special event for rugby supporters around the world.” NZRU President Steve Tew was quoted as saying “We are very excited to be taking the All Blacks to a part of the world we know is incredibly keen on all sports and where we believe there is a real thirst to see the style of rugby we are famous for.” Here is the promo video for the massive occasion.

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, Jake Frechetteand Declan Yeats, respectively.

And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs!

About Junoir Blaber 867 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.