EPRC Draw, Faletau, Dolan, Currie Cup, U20WC, Tier 2/3 Cups, USA Rugby and World Rugby News

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NEW YORK, NY – Despite the Northern Hemisphere season being over there is still plenty of news coming out to report. Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, the only focus are the Super Rugby Playoffs. In-between these two areas, there is loads of international action including regional cups and international World Rugby-sponsored cups. Not to mention a dash of   regional Olympic qualifiers to be considered. Before we get to the preview, we want to extend our condolences to family of those murdered in Charleston, on Wednesday night.  Now here’s the weekend preview:

Player Transactions:

EPRC: The 2016 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will take place in Lyon, while Edinburgh will host the Champions Cup final in 2017… The draw for the 2015/2016 Champions Cup was made earlier this week. The groups are reflected below. 

Champions Cup Draw

After seeing his club drawn into the pool of death, Toulon owner, Mourad Boudjellal stated “We weren’t top seeds, and in those circumstances we were guaranteed a tough group. That’s the rule but with five top seeds, perhaps it would be good to have the automatic top seeds as the French champions, English champions, PRO12 champions and Champions Cup winners. It seems like a good option for me, but the people in charge of the EPCR have chosen this rule, and we respect it.

The Champions Cup’s little bother the Challenge Cup was drawn about an hour prior, and produced the following results:

Challenge Cup Pools
Pool 1: Connacht, Brive, Newcastle, Enisei-STM (Russia)
Pool 2: Sale, Newport-Gwent Dragons, Castres, Pau
Pool 3: Montpellier, Harlequins, Cardiff Blues, Calvisano
Pool 4: La Rochelle, Gloucester, Zebre, Worcester
Pool 5: Edinburgh, Loondon Irish, Grenoble, Agen

#TOP14: French club Montpellier confirmed the arrival of Springbok front-row duo brothers Bismarck and Jannie du PlessisBordeaux-Bègles have named Emile Ntamack as backs coach for next season replacing the departed Vincent EtchetoToulon’s Director of fitness and conditioning, the highly respected Paul Stridgeon has been secured by Wales as consultant Head of Physical Performance… Oyonnax will become the first club in the Top 14 to play their home games on synthetic turf after problems with their pitch last season… Carl Fearns will be released from his contract with English Premiership side Bath a year early in order to join Lyon in Pro D2. Since being relegated from the Top 14 this season, Lyon have secured a new coach, Pierre Mignoni, and have already underlined their ambitions with the signings of Clermont‘s Julien Bonnaire, Napolioni Nalaga and former France prop David Attoub.

Faletau
Faletau

Aviva Premiership: Exeter Chiefs announced the signing of rugby league player Josh Jones, who will join the Premiership club on a two-year deal from St. Helen’s, one of England’s top League sides. Jones is expected to play center… London Irish  announced a new senior management structure to capitalize on current and future commercial opportunities and to ensure its long term sustainability. The club will have six departments – Commercial, Community, Finance, Marketing and Communications, Operations and Rugby, each led by an experienced executive who will report to the club’s Chief Executive. The leaders of these departments will Bob Casey as Chief Executive, Paul Forsyth as Head of Finance, Darren Henry as Head of Commercial, Fiona Stockley as Head of Operations, Glenn Delaney as Head of Rugby Operations and Kieran McCarthy as Rugby Chairman. Former executive David FitzGerald reverts to a non-executive Chairman role. The changes will take effect from 1 July… According to an unconfirmed source, Wales Eightman, Taulupe Faletau could be joining Bath because the dual contract he was offered by the WRU required him to play with the Neath-Swansea Ospreys rather than his home region of Newport-Gwent.

Cam Dolan
Cam Dolan

Guinness Pro 12: Cardiff Blues announced the signing of USA Eagle Cam Dolan, who will be joining the PRO12 region from Premiership side Northampton…Zebre have announced the signings of South African pair, utility back Ulrich Beyers and backrower Johan Meyer for next season… Connacht announced the signing of Ireland-qualified Api Pewhairangi from Rugby League.

Super Rugby: Blues rugby legend and friend of RWU, Sir John Kirwan has resigned his role as head coach of the organization, the franchise confirmed.

USA Rugby News/Updates: USA Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin has selected a 50-man Rugby World Cup training squad ahead of a busy summer of rugby in the United States. The list includes 5 Members of the USA 7s Men’s team, 28 domestic-based players and 20 professionals in competition abroad, Click Here for the full roster… Less than a week after a successful Rio 2016 qualification campaign at the 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships, the Women’s Eagles Sevens squad for next month’s Toronto 2015 Pan American Games has been selected, Click Here for the squad list… On a sad note for my as a member of the New York Rugby Club family, Karina Nicolakis, a former U19 player, was involved in a car accident on May 13th. As a result of this accident, Karina is paralyzed from the waist down. There is a gofundme page set up to assist her financially, you can also read more about her and this incident on that site, http://www.gofundme.com/Karina-Nicolakis.

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby News: The Wallabies will face off with England in a blockbuster three-Test series in Australia next June, the Australian Rugby Union announced. The matches will be played between June 11th and June 25th 2016… World Rugby has announced that the U20 Championship 2016 will be held in Manchester, England
The Italy squad is expected to resume its World Cup training camp in the next few days after reaching an agreement in principle with the Italian Rugby Federation. Italy’s preparations for the tournament were suspended Monday after a financial squabble, with the conflict arising partly from the federation linking financial bonuses to results instead of simply being called up to the team.

As for the weekend’s fixtures:
Super Rugby: Our Super Rugby expert, Kiwi ‘s has a great preview of the big qualifying round of the Super Rugby playoffs. He took time to also cover the news regarding the Blues. The preview will be out shortly.

The Currie Cup
The Currie Cup

2015 Currie Cup qualification: The tournament is a competition between seven teams and will be played between 12 June and 25 July 2015, with the winner qualifying for the 2015 Currie Cup Premier Division. The remaining six teams will play in the 2015 Currie Cup First Division. Promotion into the 2015 Currie Cup is on the line this weekend. In round two, Leopards will take on Falcons, Griffons will face Southwest District Eagles and Griquas will tackle Boland Cavaliers.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 20th Jun 15
Leopards – Falcons
Griffons – SWD Eagles
Griquas – Boland Cavaliers

Regional Olympic Qualifiers: Each of World Rugby’s regional rugby unions must hold playoffs for 2016_Rio_Summer_Olympics_logotheir teams to book their places in the XXIX Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for the Men and the Women. The regional unions are Rugby Afrique, Oceania Rugby, Rugby Europe, Asia Rugby, NACRA, and ConSuR. As we mentioned NACRA is being decided this weekend, ConSuR was last weekend but Europe’s is a process. The 2015 Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix Series consists of 2 legs, Kazan, Russia (13/14 June) and Malemort, France on 20/21 June. Here are Rugby Europe Womens Sevens Grand Prix Series standings going into the weekend.

2015 Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Standings
Points After 1st leg
1. Russia 20 points
2. France 18
3. England – 16
4. Spain – 14
5. Ireland – 12
6. Netherlands – 10
7. Italy – 8
8. Wales – 6
9. Scotland – 4
10. Portugal – 3
11. Ukraine – 2
12. Germany – 1

Note the following regarding Rugby Europe and Olympic Qualification for Women’s 7:
– All participants except England, Scotland and Wales are eligible to qualify for the Olympic Games
– Therefore the Highest Ranked eligible team after all two legs of the Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix Series will qualify directly to Rio.
– The second highest eligible team after the two legs of the Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix Series qualifies to play in World Rugby’s Global Repechage Tournament in 2016
– All other eligible teams in the Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix will take part in the European Olympic Repechage Tournament in Lisbon on 18 / 19 July.

U20 World Cup: The JWC is the yearly World Cup held for U-20 teams of the top tier rugby playing nations. Japan qualified for it by winning last year’s Junior World Trophy, the second tier competition. This year’s tournament is being held in Italy. England go into the tournament as defending champions for the past two years. This weekend, the tournament determines who will finish 3rd/5th/7th/9th/11th/ place. In the battle for 11th, Samoa and host Italy face off, Argentina and Japan battle for 9th, Ireland face Scotland for 7th, Australia clash with Wales for 5th, South Africa challenge France for 3rd and New Zealand will challenge England for the title.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 20th Jun 15
Final: New Zealand – England
3rd Place Final:  South Africa – France
5th Place Final: Australia – Wales
7th Place Semi Final: Ireland – Scotland
9th Place Semi Final:  Argentina – Japan
11th Place Semi Final:  Samoa – Italy

Nations Cup – The 10th annual WRO Nations Cup will be held in Bucharest, Romania for the ninth time in a row. It will be played between 12 and 21 June and will run alongside the 2014 IRB Tbilisi Cup in Georgia. All fixtures will be played at the 5,000 capacity Stadionul National de Rugby, were Romania won back to back cup title in 2012 and 2013. The other teams in the tournament are Namibia, Spain and the Argentina Jaguars. In the midweek fixtures, Argentina Jaguars barely survived Spain and Romania crushed Namibia.

Here are the results:
Wed – 17th Jun 15
NC: Argentina Jaguars 15 – 6 Spain
NC: Romania 43 – 3 Namibia

In the final weekend of action, Spain play Namibia then Romania and the Jaguars will battle for the title.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 20th Jun 15
NC: Spain v Namibia
NC: Argentina Jaguars – Romania

Tblisi Cup – The 2015 WRO Tbilisi Cup will be the third edition of this tournament. It will be played from the 13th to 21st June 2014 at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi. The hosts Georgia will welcome Emerging Italy, Uruguay and Emerging Ireland (Ireland’s C side). The midweek fixture saw Ireland easily dispatch Uruguay, and surprisingly Italy were too much for hosts Georgia.

Here are the results:
Wed – 17th Jun 15
TC: Uruguay 7 – 33 Emerging Ireland
TC: Georgia 10 – 26 Emerging Italy

In the final weekend of action Emerging Italy takes on Uruguay and Georgia face Emerging Ireland.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 20th Jun 15
TC Uruguay – Emerging Italy
TC Georgia – Emerging Ireland

Reunion RugbyExhibition Match – In non-test match action, a French Barbarians side, made up of the best available players in France, are touring Argentina and will play their first game. In another  exhibition match, Mauritius will face the isle of Reunion, an overseas department of France and therefor is not a member of World Rugby.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 20th Jun 15
Argentina v French Barbarians
Mauritius v Reunion

Africa Cup: The Africa Cup 2015 will be the fifteenth edition of the continental tournament that involves the best African national teams, organized by the Rugby Afrique , formerly known as the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR). Given their superiority, the South African national team has rarely participated in the tournament and the 4 times the SARU has, they sent either a U-23 team or amateur side, they go on to win it. Beyond South Africa, there are up to 27 rugby countries in the Cup with the national participants in the two divisions with each division divided into three groups ( 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, and 2C ), with promotion and relegation. Tournaments Divisions 1A and 1B’s games are often double as qualification games for the Rugby World Cup. In 1C, there is a three way tournament between Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe “A”. This weekend will see Zambia against Nigeria.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 20th Jun 15
1c: Zambia v Nigeria

The Elgon Cup is held annually and contested between the rugby teams of Kenya and Uganda. The competition and the cups are named after Mount Elgon, a mountain on the border of the two countries. The men’s and women’s teams of these countries compete for their respective Cups on a Home-and-Away basis. As Kenya has grown as a power, they are sending their “A” side against the Uganda. This weekend will be the return leg in Uganda.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 20th Jun 15
Men: Uganda – Kenya A
Women: Uganda – Kenya

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.

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.