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Brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola sign contract extensions for Saracens

Brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola sign contract extensions for Saracens

NEW YORK, NY –  It will be one of the busiest weekend in Rugby history this weekend.  We has the return of  the Six Nations, along with all three top European leagues going on. Add the start of Super Rugby plus the continuing Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) and not to be forgotten is all the important Rugby News and Transactions. So with so much to get to, let’s dive into the Weekend Preview.

News & Transactions:

Aviva Premiership: Saracens and England International brotherly duo Mako (loosehead prop) and Billy Vunipola (eightman) have committed their futures to the club, by signing fresh contract extensions keeping them at until 2019. Leicester Tigers announced the signing of Bristol prop Ellis Genge, who will join the club on a loan agreement with immediate effect. The front-row will return to Bristol and be available for selection for the Championship play-offs… Sale Sharks confirmed that young center and product of the club’s academy, Sam James, has extended his contract by two years.

#Top14: According to French new-site Varmatin, Former Wallaby and Toulon back, James O’Connor is out for the next month after suffering a heart attack following the win against Oyonnax last weekend… Springbok wing Bryan Habana will join the South Africa Sevens Blitzboks squad in Stellenbosch in an agreement with his French club Toulon. Habana will be available for selection for the next two rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, in the USA and Canada. The popular Las Vegas tournament takes place from 4th to 6th of March and will be followed by the inaugural event in Vancouver on 12th and 13th of March.

James O’Connor

Guinness Pro 12:The Dragons announced that front-rower Hugh Gustafson will leave the region at the end of the season to join Ospreys. Ulster have confirmed that flanker Sean Reidy has agreed a two-year contract extension, while tighthead prop Ricky Lutton has signed on for another year. Scarlets announced that Welsh qualified scrum-half Jonathan Evans will join the region ahead of the 2016/17 campaign on a two-year deal from Bath.

Super Rugby: Tasman Makos winger Viliami Lolohea has signed with the Sunwolves ahead of this year’s season opener…  Flanker Colby Fainga’a has extended his contract with the Rebels for another two years until the end of 2018… Springbok and Bulls fly-half Handré Pollard will reportedly not be paid by SARU for the next six months while he is recovering from a knee injury. The 21-year-old injured his shoulder while playing rugby in Japan during the South African off-season, but had contract insurance to cover the damage. Financial cover for the season-ending injury Pollard sustained while training at the Bulls, however, will have to come out of the pivot’s own pocket, a source told Netwerk24 on Monday. Pollard needed to play for the Bulls after returning from Japan to be covered again by injury insurance, now making a paid salary for the next six months unlikely.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday will choose from 26 athletes at the Feb. 23rd to March 1st High Performance Camp at the Olympic Training Center to travel to Las Vegas for the upcoming leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. For a list of the 26 athletes, click here.

World Rugby: World Rugby announced the three pools for HSBC Atlanta 7s, the third leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series to be held in Kennesaw, Ga., April 8-9. Click here for the pool draw… World Rugby and England Rugby 2015 officials debrief organizing committee as Japan moves into next phase towards 2019… The Bolivian Rugby Federation is to enjoy the backing of the country’s National Olympic Committee as it looks to further develop the game within its borders.

The weekend’s fixtures:

Americas Rugby Championship: The inaugural Americas Rugby Championship heads into the fourth round of play. The competition is becoming a three horse race with the USA firmly in the driver’s seat. Not to mention that attendance at these matches has also been decent for a first year event.  For a great preview of each match-up this round, check out our own stats guru, Jake Frechette great preview of the the round by clicking here . It also features our Expert Panel’s Picks.

Six_Nations_Championship.svg

RBS 6 Nations: Round 3 of the 2016 6 Nations kicks of shortly. On that backdrop, we have a some incredibly important games coming up, that could turn the tournament on its ear. The RWU Wolfman Ronan Nelson has a great preview of all the matches  beginning with Wales versus France and our Expert Panel’s picks, in an issue coming out later.

RBS U-20 6 Nations: The stars of the future of European rugby also have their 6N matches this weekend to give fans a preview of what’s to come. It is looking to be a close season. Like the big boys, Ireland will travel to England , while Scotland journey to Italy and Wales will take on the France.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 26th Feb 2016
England U20s – Ireland U20s
Italy U20s – Scotland U20s
Sat – 27th Feb 2016
Wales U20s – France U20s

RBS Women’s 6 Nations: Though they don’t get as much coverage as they often deserve, the Women’s 6N will also be kicking off this weekend. The sparse coverage aside, Saturday begins with England hosting Ireland, followed on Sunday by France on the road against Wales and it finishes with the Italy women clashing with Scotland.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 27th Feb 2016
England Women – Ireland Women
Sun – 28th Feb 2016
Wales Women – France Women
Italy Women – Scotland Women

European Nations Cup: The ENC, or the 6 Nations “B” , is the premier tournament for the second-tier nations of Europe. Unbeknownst to some, 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, where the best teams in Europe not called England, Ireland, France, Italy, Wales or Scotland reside, has no promotion option – only relegation back to 1B. Hopefully promotion from 1A to the proper 6N will eventually occur… but we aren’t banking on it.

In 1A this weekend, Georgia will host Spain while Romania roll-out the welcome mat for Russia and finally Germany and Portugal, will do battle under the Iberian sun.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 27th Feb 2016
1A: Georgia – Spain
1A: Romania – Russia
1A: Germany – Portugal

Aviva Cup

Aviva Premiership: Due to the 2015 RWC, the 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership will take no breaks during the 6N. It is an interesting caveat as a lot of clubs are starting their playoff push. This weekend begins with Saracens hosting Sale, Northampton welcoming Worcester, Gloucester and Newcastle will do battle. Sunday sees Bath clash with the Exeter, London Irish tackle Leicester and Wasps face Harlequins.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 27th Feb 2016
Sale Sharks – Saracens
Northampton Saints – Worcester Warriors
Gloucester – Newcastle Falcons
Sun – 28th Feb 2016
Exeter Chiefs – Bath
Leicester Tigers – London Irish
Wasps – Harlequins

Top 14: The Top 14 game has a full slate of matches this weekend also. The first match of the weekend sees Brive on the road against Toulon, Agen hosting La RochelleClermont-Auvergne welcome Oyonnax, Pau will do battle with Bordeaux-Begles, Stade Francias host Grenoble and Racing 92 and Castres clash. Sunday sees Montpellier travel to Toulouse to close out the round.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 27th Feb 2016
Toulon – Brive
Agen – La Rochelle
Clermont Auvergne – Oyonnax
Pau – Bordeaux-Begles
Stade Francais – Grenoble
Racing 92 – Castres
Sun – 28th Feb 2016
Toulouse – Montpellier

Guinness Pro 12: The Pro 12 has another full round of action this weekend. It started with Glasgow Warriors edging out Newport-Gwent. The round continues over the weekend as Ospreys face off against Connacht. Sunday will have Treviso take on Munster, Edinburgh welcome Scarlets, Cardiff traveling to face Ulster and the round ends with Zebre playing Leinster.

Here are the results:
Thu – 25th Feb 2016
Newport-Gwent Dragons 15 – 18 Glasgow Warriors

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 27th Feb 2016
Connacht – Ospreys
Sun – 28th Feb 2016
Benetton Treviso – Munster
Edinburgh – Scarlets
Cardiff Blues – Ulster
Zebre – Leinster

Super Rugby LogoSuper Rugby: Super Rugby is back!! It is the first full round the newly re-formatted tournament. It crosses at least 6 or 7  time zones. We will have in-depth review of the weekends action in the recap. As for the opening round of fixtures, it starts with the Blues hosting the defending champion Highlanders, the Brumbies welcome the last year’s runner-ups the Hurricanes and new boys the Jaguares travel to SA to face the Cheetahs. Saturday sees the Sunwolves host the Lions, the Chiefs and the Crusaders will clash, while one of the oldest rivalries in rugby is  resumed when the Waratahs and Reds meet. The Force face off against the Rebels, the Kings challenge the Sharks and finally it will be old foes the Stormers and the Bulls going at it.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 26th Feb 2016
Blues – Highlanders
Brumbies – Hurricanes
Cheetahs – Jaguares
Sat – 27th Feb 2016
Sunwolves – Lions
Crusaders – Chiefs
Waratahs – Reds
Force – Rebels
Kings – Sharks
Stormers – Bulls

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, Ronan Nelson, Kyle Phillips 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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