Kurtis Haiu, Itoje, Kruis, Lee, McNicholl, McCaw, USA Rugby And World Rugby News

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Kurtis Haiu

Kurtis Haiu

NEW YORK, NY – Welcome to another weekend of fantastic rugby action. Our coverage begins with looking at the top three domestic competitions in Europe as playoffs loom. Then we take a look at all of Super Rugby action this weekend along with some Tier 2 coverage. Before we get to that though we have to cover all of the Rugby News and Transactions that occured over the course of the week. So without further adieu, let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview.

News & Transactions:

Kurtis Haiu: Former  Super Rugby Blues player Kurtis Haiu has died from a rare form of cancer, aged 31. Haiu played 53 games for the Blues between 2006 and 2011 and 75 for provincial club Auckland before retiring because of a rare form of bone cancer. Yet another rugby player, tragically gone too soon. May he rest in peace.

Maro Itoje

Maro Itoje

George Kruis of Saracens RFC (England)

George Kruis

Aviva Premiership: Bath’s highly-regarded captain, lock Stuart Hooper, has been forced to retire with immediate effect due to a long-standing back problem. Hoper is a good rugby man and it is shame to hear he has to give up the game. We wish him the best in his future endeavors. Saracens announced that forward duo Maro Itoje and George Kruis (Alumni of the RWU Players to Watch Classes, 2015 and 2013, respectively)  have both signed new deals to remain with the club until 2019… Former South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer has been linked with the director of rugby role at Harlequins as a replacement for the departing Connor O’Shea.

#Top14: Clermont number eight Fritz Lee has extended his contract with the Top 14 giants for a further two seasons. Leewill now remain at the Stade Marcel Michelin until 2019… Racing 92 wing Marc Andreu has been suspended after being found guilty of stepping on the face of Toulon’s Virgile Bruni in last weekend’s contest.

Pro 12: Scarlets have secured the signature of Super Rugby Crusaders winger Johnny McNicholl on a two-and-a-half year deal. MicNicholl will join the club following the completion of this year’s Super Rugby season.

Super Rugby: Last month, we reported that the  Brumbies Board of Directors had stood down (forced to resign) Michael Jones from his position as the franchise’s CEO.  Jones filed a lawsuit and used the protected whistle-blower status to lay some damaging claims at the Board and at the Australian Rugby Union. Jones secured a temporary injunction to keep his job while further proceedings continue. In the most recent development, Jones has lost an application to include new evidence in his court fight to keep his job. A hearing was held this week to allow new lawyers for Jones to argue that more evidence should be submitted in his push to prevent his sacking, however that application was thrown out. Stay tuned for more details as they are released.

McCaw

McCaw

Richie McCaw: Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw became the youngest person to receive New Zealand’s highest honor earlier this week. At a ceremony at Government House, McCaw was invested as a Member of the Order of New Zealand. The Order of New Zealand is the country’s highest honor and is limited to only 20 living New Zealanders.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: USA Rugby will host the second year of the Women’s Rugby Super Series, featuring the USA Women’s Eagles and the top three nations from Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014, in Salt Lake City. The three teams in addition to the USA will be England, Canada and France. The four international teams will train at University of Utah ahead of match days July 1st, 5th, and 9th, with all matches to be played on the pristine championship field at the Regional Athletic Complex.

World Rugby: World Rugby will join other international sporting federations and leading independent experts to participate in the fifth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport in Berlin in October… World Rugby, the Tonga Rugby Union and the Tongan government have agreed to a package of reforms designed to address ongoing governance concerns within the union and support the future sustainable growth of rugby in Tonga. For more info, click here.

The weekend’s fixtures:

World_Rugby_Sevens_Series_logoLangford 7s: The fourth leg of the 2015/2016 HSBC World Rugby Womens 7s Series has its stop in Canada. Specifically the home of Rugby Canada headquarters, Langford, this weekend. We have a complete preview of the tournament and along with picks, if you click here.

Singapore 7s: After a decade long break, the eyes of 7s world turn to Singapore as the eighth leg of the 2015/2016 HSBC World Rugby Mens 7s Series hits town. As we did for the women, we have a complete preview of the tournament and team USA analysis, if you click here.

PRO Rugby: After months of expectation and being drip fed news, the inaugural season of professional rugby in America kicks off. The first game will see Ohio at Denver and then Sacramento welcomes San Francisco.

Here is the schedule:
Sat- 16 Apr 2016
Denver – Ohio
Sacramento – San Francisco

Danny Cipriani will be key to Sale's chances of winning.

Danny Cipriani will be key to Sale’s chances of winning.

Aviva Premiership: The 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership is heading into its home stretch and the push for European Cup places and playoffs is intense. This weekend will begin with  Gloucester welcoming Exeter, then Wasps travel to Worcester, and Harlequins play Saracens, in the London Derby, aka the match of the round. Another big match-up and derby is the Midlands derby between Northampton and Leicester. The more intriguing match-up sees two teams who struggled this season led by two guys battling for the England 10 jersey when Sale host Bath. Final match of the round sees a possible relegation six-pointer on the cards when Newcastle meets the London Irish.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 15 Apr 2016
Gloucester – Exeter Chiefs
Sat – 16 Apr 2016
Worcester Warriors – Wasps
Saracens – Harlequins
Northampton Saints – Leicester Tigers
Sun – 17 Apr 2016
Sale Sharks – Bath
Newcastle Falcons – London Irish

Racing 92 v Toulouse (File photo) is the big match of the weekend

Top 14: The Top 14 has a full slate of matches this weekend also. There are 6 rounds left and the heat is on to make the playoffs or avoid relegation. The first match of the weekend sees Castres host Grenoble, then Toulon travel to Pau as Brive roll out the red carpet for Oyonnax, Clermont-Auvergne and Agen do battle, La Rochelle and Bordeaux-Begles are set to clash.  Finally on Sunday, Stade Francias will challenge in form  Montpellier. In the big match of the round, Toulouse will face the formidable Racing 92.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 15 Apr 2016
Grenoble – Castres
Sat – 16 Apr 2016
Pau – Toulon
Brive – Oyonnax
Clermont Auvergne – Agen
La Rochelle – Bordeaux Begles
Sun – 17 Apr 2016
Stade Francais – Montpellier
Toulouse – Racing 92

Connacht will test Munster’s lineout defense

Pro 12: The Pro 12 has a very big round of its own as the playoffs loom. Edinburgh will travel to Dublin and face LeinsterItalians Treviso head over to Wales to face the Ospreys. In an important clash with playoff ramifications, Munster and Connacht will do battle. Also on the menu this weekend are Scarlets battle Glasgow, Zebre will host Ulster. Final match of the weekend will be a Welsh derby as Cardiff  and Newport-Gwent do battle.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 15 Apr 2016
Leinster – Edinburgh
Ospreys – Benetton Treviso
Sat – 16 Apr 2016
Scarlets – Glasgow Warriors
Zebre – Ulster
Connacht – Munster
Sun – 17 Apr 2016
Cardiff Blues – Newport-Gwent Dragons

Cruden and the Chiefs are looking to keep moving forward.

Cruden and the Chiefs are looking to keep moving forward.

Super Rugby: Super Rugby continues into the eighth round of the newly re-formatted tournament that crosses 7 time zones. As for this round of fixtures, it started with the Crusaders easily putting away the Jagueres and the Hurricanes making light work of the Force. In the other matches this weekend, the Sunwolves continue their South Africa tour and play the Cheetahs, the Blues will welcome the Sharks as they start their New Zealand tour. The Waratahs and Brumbies will meet in a big Aussie derby, The Stormers will travel cross-country to face the Lions in a SA local derby and finally  the Bulls and the Reds do battle.

Here are the results:
Fri – 15 Apr 2016
Crusaders 32-15 Jaguares
Rebels 13-38 Hurricanes

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 15 Apr 2016
Cheetahs – Sunwolves
Sat – 16 Apr 2016
Blues – Sharks
Waratahs – Brumbies
Bulls – Reds
Lions – Stormers

Rugby Europe Logo

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 2A this weekend, Malta will face Israel as both teams try to bounce back from losses. In 2C, Serbia hosts Denmark and in 2D, Norway welcomes Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 16 Apr 2016
2A: Malta – Israel
2C: Serbia – Denmark
2D: Norway – Bosnia-Herzegovina

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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