Priestland, Madigan, Meneses, Aviva, #Top14, Pro12, USA Rugby And World Rugby News

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Rhys Priestland

Rhys Priestland

NEW YORK, NY – Happy New Year!! Time to shake of the hangover, open your eyes and drink some water. Begin the new year by sitting back in your chair and catch up on the upcoming action this weekend in Europe’s top three domestic leagues. We will also go over the week’s news and transactions. Without further delay, let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview.

News & Transactions:

Aviva Premiership:  Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland has made a shocking U-turn regarding his sabbatical from Test rugby and now wants to play for Wales, if selected. In other Bath news, Bath announced the signing of Japan back-rower Amanaki Mafi on a short-term contract until the end of the season meanwhile back Ollie Devoto could leave the club at the end of the season when his contract expires for Exeter... Scotland international second-row Kieran Low has joined Premiership side Saracens from Glasgow Warriors, where he was struggling for play time, until the end of the season. Wasps director of rugby Dai Young expects a decision from Toulon and Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny on his future by the end of next week.

Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan

Pro 12: Leinster confirmed that flyhalf Ian Madigan will leave at the end of the current season to join Bordeaux-Bègles in the Top 14… Cardiff Blues annonuced that Matt Sherratt will join the region as attack and backs coach from the 2016/17 season… Munster and the IRFU (Ireland Rugby Football Union) confirmed that backrowers Robin Copeland and Dave O’Callaghan have both signed two-year contract extensions with the province, while Greencore Academy utility back Rory Scannell has signed a senior contract… Ospreys and Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb has become the latest player to re-sign a National Dual Contract (NDC) pledging his future to the region and the nation.

#Top14: Toulouse number eight Imanol Harinordoquy has announced his retirement the from international rugby.

Eagles 7s logoUSA Rugby: The 2016 USA Rugby Boys HS National Championships will once again be held at the Rugby Athletic Center (RAC) in Charlotte, NC from May 19-20-21, 2016… In a bit of a eyebrow raiser, Thretton Palamo has come to an agreement with London Welsh to end his loan spell and negotiated a termination of his contract with his parent club Saracens. Palamo made these moves so that he can return to the USA 7s program and the Olympic Training Center. With Andrew Durutalo on a Super Rugby contract and Danny Barrett recovering from injury, he will be welcomed back with open arms. In other USA 7s news, the USA Rugby Falcons 7s, the USA Rugby Eagles 7s second team, has been announced for the Mar del Plata 7s on January 9-10th and the Vina del Mar 7s on January 16-17th. The 12 man squad is full of fringe and pool players looking to push onto the first team. The squad is is as follows: ConRoy Smith, Alex Faison-Donahoe, Peter Malcolm, Aaron Davis, Aladdin Schirmer, Jope Motokana, Mike Te’o, Seth Halliman, Kingsley McGowan, Tua Laei, Joey Sok,  and Anthony Welmers.

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby: England U20 head coach Ian Peel is set to join the premiership club Saracens coaching team and will also assist the England senior team as scrum coach in 2016. Peel will leave his position as an international performance coach with the RFU and England U20 head coach and will play a part-time role as scrum coach in Eddie Jones’ coaching team for the Six Nations.

Esteban Meneses

Esteban Meneses

Esteban Meneses has been appointed as head coach of the Uruguay national team following a restructure of the union’s high performance department. Meneses will be assisted by Guzmán Barreiro, former Uruguay A team and U20 coach, and recently retired hooker Oscar Durán. Durán hung up his boots after a 14-year international career that saw him win 35 caps including the most recent RWC. Experienced fitness coach Guillermo Selves is also part of the new-look coaching team and the management staff will be completed by Santiago Slinger and Fabián Stipo. Los Teros legend and former head coach Pablo Lemoine moves upstairs to become the new director of Uruguay’s high performance center. Lemoine will oversee the development of players from under 17s onwards and will continue to assist when needed with coaching duties. Meneses was selected after a search lead by Uruguay Rugby Union chairman Sebastían Piñeyrúa, Union de Argentina Rugby president Carlos Araujo, World Rugby council member and Pumas legend Agustín Pichot and Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade. As Argentina becomes a bigger player on the global rugby stage, they have made big efforts to help improve the lives of their former tier 2 brethren in the Americas. First it was pushing for the Americas 6 Nations and now it is working hand and hand in Uruguay in helping them find a new coach and revamping of their structure.

The weekend’s fixtures:

Alex Goode and Saracens have been unstoppable this season

Aviva Premiership: The New Year doesn’t necessarily bring lots of good cheer or hope for the remainder of the season. By this time on the calendar teams are well aware that a move needs to made to qualify for the playoffs or avoid relegation. The mid-season begins on New Years Day when Exeter travel to Northampton. Saturday sees Gloucester host London Irish, Newcastle welcome Bath, Saracens look to keep their unbeaten record going against Leicester in the match of the weekend. Wasps travel up country to play Sale and the weekend finishes with Worcester doing battle at home against Harlequins.

Here is the Schedule:
Fri – 1 Jan 2016
Northampton Saints – Exeter Chiefs
Sat – 2 Jan 2016
Gloucester – London Irish
Newcastle Falcons – Bath
Saracens – Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks – Wasps
Sun – 3 Jan 2016
Worcester Warriors – Harlequins

Top 14: The #Top14 lets its fans sleep in on New Years day with all the matches scheduled for the weekend proper. Agen welcome powerhouse Clermont, Grenoble host Oyonnax, La Rochelle clash with Castres, Racing 92 will play Bordeaux-Begles and finally Montpellier travel to Brive. Les Galactiques of Toulon will host Top14 new boys Pau and table-toppers Toulouse will be on the road against defending champions Stade Francais.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 2 Jan 2016
Agen – Clermont Auvergne
Grenoble – Oyonnax
La Rochelle  – Castres
Racing 92 – Bordeaux-Begles
Brive  – Montpellier
Sun – 3 Jan 2016
Toulon – Pau
Stade Francais – Toulouse

Guinness Pro 12: In the Pro 12, New Years day is the second part of the holiday derby weekend matches. Each match will be a match between rivals in the same country, with some of them having a long history of facing each other in big games. Ospreys will face Welsh rivals Newport-Gwent meanwhile the other two Welsh sides Cardiff and Scarlets will do battle. The Irish derbies will see Leinster face upstarts Connacht and high flying Ulster face an out of form Munster.  We will see the second game in the 1872 Cup, which is played between Glasgow and Edinburgh, as the two cities have been rugby rivals dating back that far. That match was scheduled to be played in Glasgow but due to a water-bogged pitch, it will be held in Edinburgh. The final match of the weekend will see the Italian derby as Treviso faces Zebre.

Here is the Schedule:
Fri – 1 Jan 2016
Ospreys – Newport-Gwent Dragons
Cardiff Blues – Scarlets
Leinster  – Connacht
Sat – 2 Jan 2016
Ulster – Munster
Glasgow Warriors – Edinburgh
Sat – 3 Jan 2016
Benetton Treviso – Zebre
That is 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, Ronan Nelson, Kaitlin McCabe, Kyle Phillips, Rocky Brown and Declan Yeats, respectively

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

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About the Author ()

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.

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