#Garissa2015, Muliaina, #Tokyo7s, Champions Cup, Rugby Europe, Player Moves, USA Rugby

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Courtesy of Kenyan Artist Mambo

NEW YORK, NY – What a weekend of matches! We had the EPRC European Champions and Challenge Cup playoff rounds, another insane weekend of action of Super Rugby and the seventh leg of the Sevens World Series, the Tokyo 7s. We also had Rugby Europe action – including a Youth Championship and the Nations Cup. Finally, we’ll look at the Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news beforehand.

Before we talk rugby, we need to apologize for rushing our Previews out last week and not mentioning the massacre of 147 men and women at the Kenyan Teachers College in Garissa. #Garissa2015 is a tragedy beyond words. This is not something most of the world can comprehend. Our prayers are with the family of those that died and we hope all those responsible are brought to justice. The layers of complexity are many but the hope for peace is singular and unites all Kenyans and the world.

Now on to rugby…

 Player Transactions:

#Top14: La Rochelle surprised loads of pundits by being able to re-sign captain – and France international tighthead – Uini Atonio to a new deal with the club through to 2017.

Guinness Pro12: Munster have confirmed the signing of Super Rugby Blues center Francis Saili on a two-year contract. Saili will join the province later this year upon completion of his 2015 contractual commitments.

There was a massive hullabaloo in Gloucester as Connacht and former New Zealand fullback Mils Muliaina was arrested following their Challenger’s Cup match. Muliaina was taken in for questioning then released on bail without charge. According to Connacht it was “relating to an alleged incident in Cardiff in March of this year.” He was arrested by Gloucestershire Police on behalf of the South Wales Police, who then met with Muliaina. We will keep you informed on this topic as more information comes out.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby News and Updates: The Boys High School All-Americans won the second match of their JV Tour to Europe, Saturday, a 31-8 defeat of Belgium’s under-17s at University of Liège. The victory comes just four days after losing to France’s under-17s, 65-6. Though the USA suffered a red and yellow card in the final 15 minutes allowing the French to run in easy tries at the end. It might have been better for the team if they played France at the end after gelling and playing against more even opposition in Belgium. There is still one more game left in Belgium, scheduled for Tuesday.

World Rugby News: World Rugby confirmed the pool draw for the Glasgow Sevens, the eighth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014-15 on 9-10 May. After claiming a first title in more than two years, England are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up South Africa, third-placed Fiji and fourth semi-finalist Canada lead the remaining pools. The USA is in Pool D and for the complete pool draw, click here.

WEEKEND FIXTURES:

SA in Tokyo

Tokyo 7s: There historic first victories and results in Tokyo. It was an incredibly unpredictable and fun time for the sevens world series in the Land of the Rising Sun. For a complete review of the action checkout our tournament review by clicking here.

Super Rugby: They say the only thing that is certain are death and taxes. In this season’s Super Rugby, it appears one can add a Hurricanes win and a Blues loss to that list; Well to date anyway. Our Super Rugby expert, Kiwi will tell you how one team powered through to victory while another found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as well as recap all the other matches.  Click here to read about it.

European Champions Cup: The quarterfinals of the European (Rugby) Champions Cup had a  little bit of everything. From a tight match to a laugh-er, there was something for everyone. Leinster barely and some would question if they deserved to, squeezed by Bath. Clermont absolutely humiliated Northampton, in a match that was only fun to watch if you were an ASM fan. Bright side for USA fans was that Samu Manoa was easily Northampton’s best player on the day. Bad news for England fans is Nick Abendanon but on a display that will have others in Europe asking why England never gave him a proper look but the likes of Alex Goode are repeatedly selected. Saracens broke Racing Metro hearts with a late try that left Racing fans ruing they blown opportunities to closeout the match. A rather unimpressive Toulon side won against a spirited Wasps outfit that just eventually ran out of fire power to match the reigning champions.

Here are the results:
Sat – 04th Apr 15
Leinster Rugby 18 – 17  Bath Rugby
ASM Clermont Auvergne
  37 – 5  Northampton Saints
Sun – 05th Apr 15
Racing Metro ’92 11  –  12 Saracens
RC Toulon 32 – 18 Wasps

European-Rugby-Challenge-Cup TrophyEuropean Challenge Cup: The under-appreciated kin of the Champions’ Cup is the European Challenge Cup. It is a second tier tournament but has become a great tournament for showcasing the mid-table European clubs with real ambition. Though the tournament’s name has changed over the years, but it is always wise to keep an eye on the teams to make the playoffs. It is often a trailer, as in a movie trailer, of clubs that will be big in Europe in a few seasons.

Gloucester won an ugly affair at home against Connacht. The Newport-Gwent Dragons emerged victorious against their regional rivals, the Cardiff Blues. Exeter showed their depth as they crushed premiership rival Newcastle. Finally, London Irish became the only home team to lose a quarterfinal as Edinburgh upset the Exiles.

Here are the results:
Fri – 03rd Apr 15
Gloucester 14 – 7 Connacht
Sat – 04th Apr 15
Newport Gwent Dragons 25 – 21 Cardiff Blues
Exeter 48 – 13 Newcastle
Sun – 05th Apr 15
London Irish 18 – 23 Edinburgh

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.

In 2B action this weekend, Andorra climbed up four places in the World Rugby rankings after their home victory over Hungry 

Here are the results:
SAT – 4th Apr 15
2B: Andorra 23 – 18 Hungary

Triumphant France U18s
Triumphant France U18s

Europe Under-18 Championships: France are the Under 18 Champions of Europe after crushing tournament upstarts Georgia. England defeated Italy to win third place. Russia won Division A and Ukraine won Division B.

Here are the results:
SAT – 4th Apr 15
Elite competition
Final: France 57-0 Georgia
3rd place play-off: England 39-12 Italy
5th place play-off: Portugal 8-38 Wales
7th place play-off: Scotland 12-21 Ireland

Division A
Final: Russia 16-0 Belgium
3rd place play-off: Germany 11-10 Romania
5th place play-off: Poland 0-38 Spain
7th place play-off: Sweden 8-46 Netherlands

Division B
Final: Ukraine 43-8 Lithuania
3rd place play-off: Czech Republic 25-13 Switzerland
5th place play-off: Latvia 10-35 Luxembourg
7th place play-off: Serbia 0-43 Croatia

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 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.