NEW YORK, NY – Well club rugby, what do you have to say for yourself now!?! That seemed to be the thought of test rugby enthusiasts, who believe some rugby clubs view the club game as more important. It will be hard to top the drama of last weekend, but this weekend’s fixtures will give it a try. There are fixtures in each of Europe’s three top leagues, the #Top14, the Aviva Premiership and the Guinness Pro 12. There will also be the latest round of Super Rugby action going on this weekend. One big bit of international action going on this weekend will be the Hong Kong 7s. Before we get to the 7s or the other fixtures, let’s first look at the week’s Transfer Rumors, Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news. Now lets get to the Weekend Rugby Preview:
Hong Kong 7s: Depending on what time of day or time your reading this you should a) Turn on the TV and find the HK7s b) get online, universalsports.com if in the USA, and find the rugby or c) you missed it and should be looking for downloads online. With timezones being what they are, the 6th leg of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series kicked off at about 5am, NY time. In case you missed our preview of this tournament, including the core qualifier tournament or want to chat about the on-going action, click here.
#Top14: Former France lock Julien Pierre will leave Clermont at the end of the season to join likely Top 14 newcomers Pau…Oyonnax announced the signing of former Super Rugby Blue Bulls prop Bees Roux as a medical joker for the remainder of the season…Bernard Laporte, the current Toulon coach and the only declared candidate for the FFR presidency, was quoted in Journal du Dimanche has said “The Championship has to be cut down to 12 clubs and end with a final between the top two in the standings.” The current Toulon boss will step down at the end of the season in a bid to succeed Pierre Camou.
Aviva Premiership: On Monday, we told you Adam Jones wasn’t coming back to Cardiff. This week, it was revealed that his new home would be in London and playing for the Harlequins. According to the rumor mill, Jones’ fellow teammate with British and Irish Lion and Wales, center Jamie Roberts, is looking to move from Top14 side Racing Métro, who he is contracted to through 2016, to Harlequins. If that is not enough Quins news, it appears Harlequins wing Ugo Monye has decided to call time on his career and will be retiring from the game at the end of the season after thirteen years in the top flight, all with the same club…Wasps confirmed that center Ben Jacobs has signed a contract extension with the club. Jacobs will have a new backs coach to report to as Wasps announced that Lee Blackett will arrive at the club at the end of the season, taking over from Stephen Jones, the former Wales international, as their new backs coach. Blackett will leave his head coach role at Championship side, Rotherham Titans, where had been successful as the youngest coach in the Championship, to coach at Wasps…Exeter Chiefs have moved swiftly to fill the void left by departing captain Dean Mumm by recruiting fellow Aussie, Ollie Atkins from Edinburgh… London Irish announced the signing of lock Matt Symons from the Super Rugby Chiefs...Scottish loosehead prop Jon Welsh became Newcastle Falcons’ latest signing for 2015/16 agreeing a switch from the Pro 12’s Glasgow Warriors on a two-year deal.
Guinness Pro12: Ospreys wing Tom Grabham signed a two-year contract extension with the Welsh region until the end of 2016/17. The Ospreys were busy this week as they completed the signing of former Wales number eight Gareth Delve who will arrive from Japan next season and fellow backrower Joe Bearman signed a new one-year contract…Newport Gwent Dragons chairman Chris Kirwan has rejected claims that Wales Number 8 Taulupe Faletau could be on the move to the Premiership club Bath…Treviso announced the signing of Samoa lock Filo Paulo from Cardiff Blues for the 2015/16 season…Scarlets’ latest international, prop Rob Evans, has committed his immediate future to the region by signing a contract extension…Connacht have announced that backrower Nepia Fox-Matamua will join the province on a two year deal, from ITM Cup province Auckland, beginning in the 2015/16 season…Glasgow Warriors confirmed that hooker Dougie Hall will retire at the end of the season, while prop Jon Welsh, as well already know, and assistant coach Shade Munro will also leave the club…London Irish confirmed that lock/back-row forward Kieran Low will join Glasgow Warriors at the end of the current season. The signing of the aforementioned Symons made Low, dispensable… Super Rugby Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu signed with Scottish side Edinburgh and will leave at the end of the current Super Rugby season.
Super Rugby: The aforementioned Dean Mumm announced earlier this week that he plans to return back Down Under to re-join former club the Waratahs on a one-year deal. Former World Cup winning New Zealand All Black, current Leicester Tiger and dual code legend, Brad Thorn, has linked with Super Rugby return at Queenland Reds as a player-coach.
USA Rugby News/Updates: The aforementioned Cardiff Blues have signed USA international wing Blaine Scully from the Leicester Tigers of the Aviva Premiership…Weetabix, maker of whole grain cereals, has re-signed as Official Breakfast Cereal of USA Rugby. Applications are now being accepted for the USA Rugby National College Academic Honor Roll. To nominate deserving collegiate student-athletes by the June 26 deadline, please fill out this JotForm… DHL Express, the world’s leading express and logistics provider plus USA Rugby sponsor, kicked off The DHL Youth Leadership Scrum contest in the U.S., which offers a once in a lifetime experience to an American child to become a part of Rugby history and deliver the official Match Ball onto the field at Rugby World Cup 2015 in London. To nominate an outstanding young person, visit simplydhl.com/USAmatchball2015 and explain why the nominee deserves to win. Entries will be accepted until April 30, 2015, and the winner will be chosen by an expert panel including Christine Nashick, chief customer officer at DHL Express; Nigel Melville, chief executive officer of USA Rugby; and two former USA Eagles and current USA Rugby Board of Directors members: Pam Kosanke and Brian McClenahan.
Canada snatched victory from AIG MJAAs in first leg of World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier. The MJAAs were up 23-11 with 12 mins to play and somehow Canada came back to win it with a penalty goal on full time. The recap of the match can be found here. The second and final leg of the 2015 series is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET Friday, March 27, at Westhills Stadium at Rugby Canada’s Center of Excellence. Follow @aarugby on Twitter for updates from the team throughout the week and live match updates, and watch the match on Rugby Canada TV.
Super Rugby: Despite posting from a suddenly rabid cricket nation, our Super Rugby expert, Kiwi was able to make time for some rugby. He knuckled down and produced a top quality and concise preview, you can see by clicking here.
Top 14: It is rumored French rugby fans have long ago stop caring about the national team and focused their attention on their clubs. Though we’re not sure that is a good thing, we are sure that this weekend’s match-ups and the playoff race will reward their interest. This weekend is highlighted by Toulouse playing Toulon but there are plenty of other matches of note, just check out our Top 14 expert, ‘s piece, click here.
Aviva Premiership: It is still a ridiculously close race between 2nd and 6th place in the Aviva Prem. Hopefully things will get clearer after the weekend, but don’t count on it. The fixtures kick-off when table toppers Northampton face off against playoff hopefuls Wasps. London Irish will take on Newcastle, Leicester will host Exeter and in the match of the weekend, Saracens will be challenged by Harlequins in a London Derby. Sale will meet Gloucester in a match of mid-table sides and Bath get the best tonic for an Aviva side in bad form, a match against the London Welsh.
Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 27th Mar 15
Northampton – Wasps
Sat – 28th Mar 15
London Irish – Newcastle
Leicester – Exeter
Saracens – Harlequins
Sun – 29th Mar 15
Sale – Gloucester
London Welsh – Bath
Guinness Pro 12: Things are so tight in the Pro 12 that depending on who wins and losses this weekend, there will be a whole new top 3. Leinster will welcome Glasgow in a top 4 faceoff, while Ulster welcome Cardiff to the northern province. Scarlets will roll out the welcome mat for Edinburgh, while top seed Munster face playoff hopefuls Connacht to Limerick. The Ospreys should have an easy time with Zebre while Newport-Gwent should steamroll Treviso.
Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 27th Mar 15
Leinster – Glasgow Warriors
Ulster – Cardiff Blues
Sat – 28th Mar 15
Scarlets – Edinburgh
Munster – Connacht
Ospreys – Zebre
Benetton Treviso – Newport-Gwent Dragons
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 Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.