NEW YORK, NY – Not sure how we did it, but we covered it all. There was club action in northern hemisphere with the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12, two of Europe‘s three top leagues. Europe was also the focus of major international attention, with the Men’s 6 Nations, Women’s 6 Nations, U-20 6 Nations and 6 Nations “B” – aka European Nations Cup (two divisions). Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere there were some huge matches in Super Rugby, the hemisphere’s premier non-Test level competition. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a plethora of Transfer Rumors, Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news – including the next British & Irish Lions tour and the Aviva Premiership. So with no further delay, let’s get into the Global Rugby Recap:
#Top14: Former Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle has left Toulouse by mutual agreement, terminating his contract with the Top 14 club to return to South Africa. Ralepelle had been recovering from a cruciate ligament injury and faces a possible doping ban… Patrick Sio, an Australia U20 star who had been compared to Wallaby eightman Wycliff Palu by his club coach at Eastwood, has signed for Stade Français – after not being picked up by any of the Super Rugby franchises.
Aviva Premiership: Gloucester have signed Leinster center Brendan Macken on loan until the end of the season.
Super Rugby: According to reports, Brumbies’ lock/blindside flanker Scott Fardy, lock Sam Carter and center Tevita Kuridrani are set to sign new contracts with the franchise ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
Guinness Pro 12: Rugby League full-back Kevin Locke, who has played in the Australia’s National Rugby League and now is in England’s Super League and represented New Zealand in the 13-man game, is reportedly being targeted for a move to Union to play for Scotland.
Vodacom Cup: The Vodacom Cup is Africa’s third tier competition behind Super Rugby and the Currie Cup and runs from February through May. Due to a late withdrawal by the Kenyan side Tusker Simba XV, their place will be taken by a developmental side from Namibia.
USA Rugby News/Updates: USA Rugby’s Referee High Performance Group is offering two Coach of Match Officials camps for referee coaches in 2015. The dates for the events will occur in conjunction with major USA rugby events. There will be one on April 10th-12th in conjunction with the USA Rugby Women’s Division I and II Spring Championship (location TBD) and May 22th-24th in conjunction with USA Rugby College 7s National Championship (Denver)… Meanwhile, a World Cup warm-up match between USA and Australia would appear to be very much on the cards. According to ThisIsAmericanRugby.com:
“The only two things that stand in the way of the possible match is the amount of money Australia will be guaranteed for making an appearance and where the match will be held. According to the latest report out of Australia it looks as if those questions could be resolved as the Wallabies could get an estimated AU$1 million for a match held in Chicago. That’s roughly $780,000 in U.S. dollars.”
World Rugby News: Australian Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has stated that Australian players heading overseas will still be considered for selection. This is a departure from previous policy and opens up the lucrative European leagues to those players who still want to wear the gold jersey. The Australian Rugby Union have confirmed the appointment of two new assistant coaches for the national side in Stephen Larkham and Nathan Grey.
Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis has announced that he will leave his position in October after the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Lewis was a very divisive figure in the huge war between Regional Rugby Wales and the WRU. The WRU stated that Lewis will work closely with the chairman and senior colleagues to help ensure a smooth and effective transition leading up to his departure on 31 October. RWU will attempt to secure an interview with Lewis’ predecessor David Moffett on how this impacts the WRU and the state of Welsh rugby.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew revealed details regarding the potential, three Test, 10-game tour of New Zealand by the British and Irish Lions in 2017. The full schedule will be released in May but it was confirmed that BILs will go up against New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams for the first time.
In a sign of good news, The Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) and World Rugby have concluded positive and constructive talks regarding the blueprint and implementation of wide-ranging governance reforms aimed at enhancing Samoa’s performance both on and off the field. The talks in Apia between union officials and a World Rugby delegation followed initial discussions between SRU Chairman and Samoa Prime Minister, the Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset in Europe in December.
The Aviva Premiership Ring-fenced?: English newspaper The Telegraph has reported that the Aviva Premiership is set to be increased to 14 teams and promotion/relegation will be ended in 2016/17. According to the report:
The move has the support of the majority of Premiership chairmen, with the shareholders having met on Monday.
In order for it to officially go through, all 11 Premiership shareholders (except London Welsh) and three Greene King IPA Championship sides – Yorkshire Carnegie, Worcester and Bristol – would need to agree to a policy before it could be put before the RFU. This whole thing could get messy if some Championship clubs contest the move, as has happened before. Stay tuned.
As for the weekend’s fixtures:
Super Rugby: The early rounds of Super Rugby can be a bit unpredictable as some favorites take a few rounds to really hit their stride. You can count the Bulls and Crusaders in that group. Our resident Kiwi and Super Rugby expert Jamie Wall discusses the slow starts and the overall performances of all the sides in this weekend’s report. Click here to read the full report.
RBS 6 Nations: This was easily the most contested round of the #6N, this year. There were great stories of resilience, heartbreak and fighting spirit in each match. Our European Rugby expert has a great review of all the weekend’s matches. For his review, click here.
RBS Women’s 6 Nations: Monsieur Harrington’s fairer half, the lovely Scheenagh has 6N piece of her own. Scheens has been busy listening to the action via TV radio, underground weblink and the women’s rugby jungle telegraph to provide you with a complete review, though. Check it out her review by clicking here.
RBS U-20 6 Nations: The coming attractions of European rugby – the national Under 20 teams of the 6N – had their own matches this weekend. Ireland came up short against England while Italy were thrashed by Scotland and Wales were no match for France.
European Nations Cup: The ENC, or the 6 Nations “B,” is the premier tournament for the second-tier nations of Europe. Most people are unaware that the ENC actually consists of seven divisions, each featuring between four and six teams. The matches played will determine who will get promoted and relegated from groups 1B, 2A – 2D, and 3A over a two-year cycle. Division 1A is where the six best teams not in the 6N “proper” reside and has no promotion to the Europe’s premier international rugby competition, only relegation back to 1B.
In 1A this weekend, Russia‘s home match against Romania was postponed while Germany had their best performance to date but it was still not enough to beat Portugal. Georgia continued to show they were a class above as they easily dispatched Spain. In 1B, the Netherlands bounced back from last week’s loss by defeating Moldova.
Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 28th Feb 2015
1A: Russia PPD Romania
1A: Spain 13-26 Georgia
1A: Portugal 11-3 Germany
1B: Netherlands 18-10 Moldova
Aviva Premiership: Our man Nick Hall will be back later in the week with his talking points of the round. Mr Hall mentioned that only one point separates third through seventh, so this weekend’s match were filled with important encounters. The round began with top-of-the-table Northampton holding off Harlequins… London’s two exile clubs, London Welsh and London Irish went at it with the Irish trouncing the Welsh… In-form Newcastle still came up short against Saracens… In another match with playoff implications, Leicester easily got over on Sale and Exeter beat Bath… The final match of the weekend saw Wasps climb into the much cherished fourth spot with a fantastic performance against Gloucester.
Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 27th Feb 15
Northampton 17 – 13 Harlequins
Sat – 28th Feb 15
London Welsh 12 – 50 London Irish
Saracens 22 – 17 Newcastle
Leicester 28 – 8 Sale
Exeter 16 – 6 Bath
Sun – 1st Mar 15
Wasps 32 – 21 Gloucester
Guinness Pro 12: The Pro12 also is witnessing some incredible dogfights for playoff places. Going into the weekend, the top five teams were separated by seven points. The weekend began with second-place Ulster edging out Scarlets, while fourth-place Leinster and fifth-place Ospreys fought to a draw… In another big the playoff preview match, Glasgow lost to Munster and surrendered the top spot as a result… Cardiff were too much for Edinburgh while Newport-Gwent were shocked in Italy by Zebre… Connacht got a huge bonus-point win against Treviso.
Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 27th Feb 15
Ulster 25 – 20 Scarlets
Ospreys 9 – 9 Leinster
Sat – 28th Feb 15
Munster 22 – 10 Glasgow Warriors
Sun – 01st Mar 15
Cardiff Blues 21 – 15 Edinburgh
Zebre 23 – 17 Newport Gwent Dragons
Connacht 53 – 5 Benetton Treviso
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, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Nick Hall, DJ Eberle, Jake Frechette, Scheenagh Harrington, Jamie Loyd, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.