Fofana, Itoje, Canada Women’s 7s, EPRC Cups, Player Moves, USA Rugby, World Rugby News

Wesley Fofana
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Wesley Fofana
Wesley Fofana

NEW YORK, NY – We know that this weekend’s preview covers 6 continents (your move Antarctica!), god knows how many countries, domestic, intercontinental and international news and fixtures. Included in that are the  EPRC European Champions and Challenge Cup semi-finals as well as the latest round of Super Rugby action. In addition there is also the latest leg of the Womens Sevens World Series, the Canada 7s. And of course we have all of the week’s Transfer Rumors, Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news for you. So with all that said, let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview:

Player Transactions:
#Top14: Pau confirmed the signing of All Black, Crusaders and RWU Southern Hemisphere class of 2015 fly-half Colin Slade, who will join the newly-promoted Top 14 outfit from next season. This signing was rumored by our Top 14 expert, Kiwi  and confirmed by Super Rugby expert, Kiwi Clermont inside center and RWU European class of 2013 member Wesley Fofana has signed a three-year contract extension keeping him at the club until 2019… Toulon backs coach Pierre Mignoni will leave the European champions at the end of the season to take over as head coach of Top 14 rivals Lyon. Quick to put an end to any rumors His Supreme Galactical  Imperial Majesty Lord Sir Jonny of Wilkerson immediately revealed by way of Toulon boss Bernard Laporte that he doesn’t want to make the step up given he is enjoying his current agreement as a kicking consultant with the club.

Maro Itoje
Maro Itoje

Aviva Premiership: Saracens had very busy week. They announced that England Saxons and RWU European class of 2015 lock Maro Itoje committed his future to the club by signing a new contract. The 20-year-old Junior World Cup-winning captain, who skippered Saracens’ victorious LV=Cup side this season, has signed a long-term deal with the club. They also signed RWU Canada Class of 2013 and now England lock George Kruis also signed a long-term deal with the club. Sarries also announced that Argentina international outside center Marcelo Bosch signed a contract extension.

Northampton Saints announced the signing of promising (Currie Cup) Western Province and Super Rugby Stormers center Pat Howard, who will join the club next season. The Saints also announced the signing of England U20 tight-head prop Paul Hill from Championship side Yorkshire Carnegie for next season.

Bath announced the signing of England Sevens player Jeff Williams will join Premiership club next season. Williams plays as prop or wing in sevens and at center or wing in rugby union. Premiership bottom feeders London Welsh have announced the re-signing of front-rowers Nathan Trevett, Koree Britton, Nathan Morris and Ben Cooper.

Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola is free to face Clermont after his striking case was dismissed by an RFU Disciplinary Panel on Tuesday. Considering how Wasps were denied their eightman for their European Cups encounter, this stings a bit.

Guinness Pro12: Ulster and Ireland tighthead prop Declan Fitzpatrick will retire from rugby union on medical grounds, following “a number of concussive episodes”… Treviso announced that back-rower Robert Barbieri will rejoin the Italian franchise next season, leaving Premiership side LeicesterConnacht assistant coach Dan McFarland will join the Glasgow Warriors coaching team as a forwards coach in the off-season.

Super Rugby:  Cardiff Blues fullback, Joaquín Tuculet, has confirmed that he will return home to Argentina to represent his country’s Super Rugby team from 2016 on…Highlanders duo, lock Tom Franklin and center Jason Emery have both signed contract extensions with the franchise… The Sharks board of directors have decided to take a hard line when dealing with players who are suspended for foul play by fining them.

Eagles 7s logoUSA Rugby News and Updates: The National Round of Eight  for the D1A Playoffs and the Spring Championships are set for the Women’s DI, DII are set after Regional Playoffs. Click here for the men’s round of eight and click here for the Women’s playoffs…Men’s Eagles Sevens held their last High Performance Camp of the 2014/2015 sesaon, ahead of final two rounds of Series. For the full article and roster, click here…In shocking college rugby news, Arkansas State will not renew the contract of head NeMani Delaibtiki. The University has decided to go in a different direction.

World Rugby News: French Newspaper Midi Olympique are reporting that FFR boss Pierre Camou proposed the idea of France hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup, despite recently hosting the 2007 tournament, to the FFR’s governing body during a recent committee meeting on March 27.

WEEKEND FIXTURES:
WSWS Captains_shoot_VictoriaLadies First….
Canada Womens 7s: It is time for the fourth leg of the Women’s Sevens World Series held in beautiful Langford, Canada. The race is heating up for a top 4 spot and Olympic qualification. Before you check out the action, check out our team USA analysis and tournament preview by clicking here.

Exhibition: In a unique friendly the Swiss nation team will take on the French Military.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 18th Apr 15
Switzerland – French Military

Super Rugby: Our Super Rugby expert, Kiwi  says we are for a great NZ derby match and some good clashes between the Kiwi and Aussies side. You can get into his wonderful preview, if you click here.

European Champions Cup: We are down to the final four of the European (Rugby) Champions Cup. There is so much tension in the match-ups that we can only wait with anticipation for the matches. Our American Brit, has a preview featuring the Six Pack’s picks by clicking here.

European_Rugby_Challenge_Cup_LogoEuropean Challenge Cup: The kid brother of the Champions’ Cup is the European Challenge Cup. It’s a second tier tournament but has become a great tournament for showcasing the mid-table European clubs with real ambition. Successful teams in the Challenge Cup will often be scene making a fuss in the Champions’ Cup the following season.

Exeter will try and juggle premiership priorities while going against a Gloucester desperate for hardware. Meanwhile the Newport-Gwent Dragons take on Edinburgh, as the two sides fight to salvage their seasons with a trophy in the other semi-final.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 17th Apr 15
Gloucester – Exeter
Sat – 18th Apr 15
Edinburgh – Newport Gwent Dragons

rugby europeEuropean Nations Cup:The ENC, or the 6 Nations “B” , is the premier tournament for the second-tier nations of Europe. Believe it or not, the ENC 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 aka the 6 Nations B is where the six best teams in the rest of Europe reside and there is no promotion to the Europe’s premier international rugby competition, only relegation back to 1B…There are several bits of information to report. Over the week, division 3 had its finals tournament. It featured Montenegro, Montenegro President’s XV, Slovakia and Estonia.  The winner was Slovakia in a very dominant manner…There are several divisions in action this weekend. In 1B, Belgium hosts Poland, while in 2A, Switzerland faces Croatia while Malta travel to face Israel. In 2C, Slovenia and Luxenbourg lock horns and Serbia will face a stern challenge from Austria.

Here are the results:
Div 3 Final Tournament :
Sat – 11th Apr 15
Semi final 1: Montenegro President’s XV 0 – 82 Slovakia
Semi final 2: Montenegro 29 – 27 Estonia
Tue – 14th Apr 15
Final: Slovakia 31 – 3 Montenegro
Third Place: Montenegro President’s XV 0 – 106 Estonia

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 18th Apr 15
1B: Belgium – Poland
2A: Switzerland – Croatia
2A: Israel – Malta
2C: Slovenia – Luxembourg
2C: Serbia – Austria

South American Championships (SAMC) 2015: The SAMC is the same as the ENC – except it’s South America, a minor detail – and that has 4 divisions featuring 15 teams. It is the battle to find the 2nd best team in South America with Argentina the firm number 1. The top division is called the CONSUR division and features Argentina’s B team, Uruguay and Chile. The A division will see Uruguay’s B side take on and likely trounce Brazil.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 18th Apr 15
Uruguay  –  Brazil

ARFUThe Asian Rugby Championship, which is similar to the ENC (European Nation’s Cup) but with 5 divisions with the 3 most dominant teams, the tri-nations of Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan in the top division. There are 4 teams in division 1 and 2 then division 3 is broken up into East, Central and West with 3 teams each before we finally get to division 4 with 7. Believe it or not this is allegedly streamlined from previous years where it was just 5 divisions and 5 teams in each. During the week in D3 West action Lebanon crushed Jordan on Tuesday and on Thursday, Jordan were soundly beaten by Iran.

As for the weekend’s fixtures, Iran will take on Lebanon for the D3W title while Korea challenges the juggernauts of Asian rugby, Japan in the top division.

Here are the midweek results:
Tue – 14th Apr 15
D3W: Lebanon 71 – 3 Jordan
Thu – 16th Apr 15
D3W: Iran 49 – 3 Jordan

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 18th Apr 15
D3W: Iran – Lebanon
Top: Korea – Japan

NACRA Championships 2015: Another regional tournament in full swing is the North America and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championship. The NACRA Championship is for the countries in North America and the Caribbean. NACRA has 2 zones with top level (championship) and a bottom level (cup). Each Championship zone has 3 teams while the Cup Zones have 4 each. The Zones are regionally divided, so there is a North Zone and South Zone. USA Rugby competes in the North Zone Championship division. The USA is represented by the USA South Regional all-star team, in order to develop talent and make the competition a much fairer one…The matches this weekend are all in the South Zone Cup league as Turks and Caicos welcome Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands are on the road against St. Vincent and the Grenandines.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 18th Apr 15
South Zone Cup League
Turks and Caicos Islands – Bahamas
St Vincent and the Grenadines – British Virgin Islands

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, Audrey Youn, Akweley Okine, Rocky Brown and Declan Yeats, respectively.

And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.

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About Junoir Blaber 868 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.