Alex Goode, Armitage, SOB, Potgeiter, USA Rugby, World Rugby News

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Alex Goode: Premiership Player of the Year

NEW YORK, NY – This weekend’s report is bursting at the seams. There is so much in rugby news and transactions to cover, my fingers cramped. Combine that with a truckload of fixtures at the club and Tier 2/3 international level. So lets not wait any longer and get to the Weekend Update:

News & Transactions:

English Premiership: Saracens fullback Alex Goode has been named Premiership Rugby Player of the SeasonNewcastle Falcons continue to progress after announcing that lock Calum Green, lock Glen Young, hooker Santiago Socino and prop Andrew Foster have all agreed to new contracts ahead of next season. in addition to those four, utility back Belisario Agulla has extended his temporary stay by signing a permanent deal with the club… Wasps center James Downey has called time on an illustrious career which spans over thirteen years…  Connacht head coach Pat Lam has revealed that his contract includes clauses which allows him to leave his position before his current deal ends in 2018. Lam said, however, he is happy in his role at the Irish province, following speculation that he is in line to replace Mike Ford, who was recently fired, at Bath. Harlequins announced that former England U20 full-back Aaron Morris will join them from Saracens ahead of the 2016/17 season… … London Irish’s former Scotland prop Geoff Cross announced his retirement from professional rugby following 13 seasons in the game… Leicester Tigers have announced the signing of Welsh back-row Luke Hamilton from French club Agen.

Toulon's Steffon Armitage is due in court next month

Steffon Armitage

Top14: Steffon Armitage has reportedly informed Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal that he wants to return to the Premiership in order to play for England. In other Toulon news, Australia utility back Drew Mitchell will undergo surgery later this week, after he sustained a groin injury.The 32-year-old Australian announced on his Twitter page that the operation will put him out of action for at least three months… Scotland lock Richie Gray has formalized his move to Toulouse from Top 14 rivals Castres ahead of next season. Gray has signed a four-year contract with the four-time European champions.

Sean O'Brien

Sean O’Brien

Pro 12: The Leinster flanker Sean O’Brien is set to meet with a specialist to discuss when it’s likely he will be scheduled for surgery on his hamstring… Connacht prop Denis Buckley has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after he underwent surgery on an ankle injury this week.

Jacques "JackPot" Potgeiter

Jacques “JackPot” Potgeiter

Super Rugby: The Melbourne Rebels have lured NRL star Marika Koroibete to Super Rugby from 2017. The 23-year-old, regarded as one of the most electrifying talents in the National Rugby League (NRL), will swap codes next year after agreeing to a two-year deal with Super Rugby’s Rebels. The Rebels also looked within their code or academy to be specific. The Rebels have retained the services of homegrown players, center Sione Tuipulotu and back-rower Rob Leota until the end of 2019. The pair have signed two-year extensions with the Rebels this week after they became the first Victorians players to graduate from the local elite pathway to sign their first professional contract with the club ahead of the 2016 season… The Blue Bulls have announced the re-signing of Springbok loose forward Jacques Potgieter. The 30-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Bulls (2017 and 2018 Super Rugby) and has already started training with the team… Wallaby  Pek Cowan and youngster Jermaine Ainsley have both put pen to paper with the Western Force as both props signed on until the end of the 2018 Super Rugby season…Crusaders lock Scott Barrett has re-signed with the Christchurch outfit for another two years… Super Rugby chief executive Andy Marinos has hinted that the competition’s format could change again in 2018. Criticism hasn’t been in short supply for the new setup following the introduction of the Kings, Sunwolves and Jaguares to increase the tournament to 18 sides, splitting it into four conferences. Any tweaks to the format are unlikely to happen in 2017 but a report by Fairfax Media says that SANZAAR have hired a consultancy firm to help map out a long-term strategy for Super Rugby over the next decade.

PRO Rugby: JP Eloff will now miss June’s international tests, and will almost certainly be lost for the remainder of the PRO season after having surgery to repair a broken left fibula and damaged ankle ligaments.

National-Championship-Series-USA-RugbyUSA Rugby: The 2016 Club Championship Men and Women’s Club Playoffs will take place in Pittsburgh, Penn. and Tucson, Ariz., this weekend. The May 21 Quarterfinals and May 22 Semifinals for Men’s Divisions I, II, and III will be held at Founders Field in Pittsburgh and at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson.  The Women’s Division I and II will also have their quarterfinals and semi-final matches. USA Rugby announced that the matches will be streamed live on www.USARugbyTV.com… The USA Rugby AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans will embark on a competitive two-week trip to the southern hemisphere this summer as part of a tour to Queensland sponsored by WellDog, in conjunction with Queensland Rugby Union… While the Men’s Eagles Sevens are finishing the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London, the USA Falcons will be competing in the Howard Hinton Sevens tournament at Stade de la Vallée de Cher, France from May 20-22… Lost in the shadow cast by the launch of PRO Rugby is the fact that the Pacific Rugby Premiership played its championship. The Western-based competition completed their third year of operation with a scintillating finale. For the third straight year, the Glendale Raptors and San Francisco Golden Gate Rhinos squared off in the championship match with Glendale winning 44-20… US Eagles prospect Hanco Germishuys has been named Player of the Tournament for the World Rugby u20 Trophy. The 19-year-old was immense as captain of the USA U20 Junior All-Americans, scoring an incredible eight tries in four games, well ahead of all other competitors. While his team ended up in 5th place, it was only a pair of two-point losses that kept them out of the final. He is also a member of the Glendale Raptors and Denver based PRO Rugby franchise.

World Rugby: The third World Rugby Conference and Exhibition will take place on 14-15 November, 2016 at the Hilton London Metropole in London… The 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has been confirmed as a record-breaker ahead of its exciting climax in London this weekend. Click here for more info.

The weekend’s fixtures:

London 7s: As we mentioned earlier, the 2015/2016 HSBC World Rugby Mens Sevens Series will be in London, this weekend. It will be the final leg of the series. As we have done all series we have a preview of the tournament and a team USA‘s analysis, if you just click here.

PRO Rugbypro-rugby-logo_sm: Heading into the sixth week of action, San Diego gets a bye while San Francisco visit undefeated Denver and  Sacramento travel to Ohio.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 20 May 2016
San Francisco – Denver
Sun – 22 May 2016
Sacramento – Ohio

Aviva Premiership LogoAviva Premiership: It is now playoff time for the 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership. In the semi-final match-ups for the weekend, top seed Saracens draw fourth place Leicester while second place Exeter host third place Wasps.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 21 May 2016
Saracens – Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs – Wasps

Logo_Top14_2012Top 14: There are only a few rounds left in the Top 14 and the heat is on to make the playoffs or secure a place for Europe. The first match of the weekend sees Agen host Toulon, Brive welcome Grenoble, Castres tackle La Rochelle, Oyonnax do battle with Toulouse, Racing clashes with Pau and Montpellier takes on Bordeaux-Begles. The match of the round sees Clermont Auvergne at home against Stade Francais.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 21 May 2016
Agen – Toulon
Brive – Grenoble
Castres – La Rochelle
Oyonnax – Toulouse
Racing 92 – Pau
Montpellier – Bordeaux-Begles
Sun – 22 May 2016
Clermont Auvergne – Stade Francais

Guinness Pro12Guinness Pro 12: The Pro 12 is also in its playoff round. In a big all Irish match-up Leinster will host Ulster while defending champs Glasgow are on the road against Connacht.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 20 May 2016
Leinster – Ulster
Sat – 21 May 2016
Connacht – Glasgow Warriors

Super Rugby: Super Rugby has gone from 6 teams in 1996 to 18 teams in 2016. It only covered 3 countries and 3 times zones then, now it has games in 6 countries, crosses more than 7 time zones and has four conferences. The latest round of fixtures, starts with the Crusaders hosting the Waratahs. Then we have the Reds welcoming the Sunwolves, the Force and Blues doing battle, the Lions are in a big cat battle against Jaguares, with Sharks clashing the Kings, and finally Bulls and Stormers meet in a South Africa derby.

Here is the Schedule:
Fri – 20 May 2016
Crusaders – Waratahs
Sat – 21 May 2016
Reds – Sunwolves
Force – Blues
Lions – Jaguares
Sharks – Kings
Bulls – 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. This week in midweek action in 3A, Slovakia defeated Belarus and Estonia edged out Montenegro.

Here are the results:
Wed- 18 May 2016
3A:
Slovakia 29-17 Belarus
3A: Estonia 16-13 Montenegro

As for the scheduled matches for this weekend in 3A, Montenegro plays Belarus and Estonia does battle with Slovakia.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 21 May 2016
3A:  Montenegro – Belarus
3A: Estonia – Slovakia

Asia_Rugby_Championship_logoThe Asian Rugby Championship: which is similar to the ENC (European Nation’s Cup) but with 5 divisions with the 3 most dominant teams, the tri-nations of Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan in the top division. There are 4 teams in division 1 and 2 then division 3 is broken up into East, Central and West with 3 teams each before we finally get to division 4 with 7. Believe it or not this is allegedly streamlined from previous years where it was just 5 divisions and 5 teams in each. This weekend in Division 2 there is a 1 week tournament to find out the best team between the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Guam, and Thailand. In midweek action, the second round of play Malaysia easily defeated Sri Lanka and Singapore nudged past the Philippines.

Here are the results:
Wed- 18 May 2016
Division 2:
United Arab Emirates 65-13 Uzbekistan
Division 2: Guam 16-25 Thailand

As for the scheduled matches for this weekend, Korea will host Japan in the Top 3. In Division 2, Guam will play Uzbekistan and United Arab Emirates will seek to go undefeated when they face Thailand.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 21 May 2016
Top 3: Korea – Japan
Division 2: Guam – Uzbekistan
Division 2: United Arab Emirates – Thailand

Rugby AfriqueAfrica 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 most tournaments. The four times the SARU has participated, they sent either a U-23 team or amateur side, and went 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, 2West, 2SouthEast, and 2South), with promotion and relegation. Tournament Divisions 1A and 1B’s games often double as qualification games for the Rugby World Cup. In a 2 East action in Kigali, Rwanda,  Rwanda defeated Burundi while the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinhasa) got a bye because Lesotho unable to attend due to airport trouble.

Here are the results:
Tue – 17 May 2016
2 East: Rwanda
14- 3 Burundi

In the final for the division will see Rwanda play Congo-Kinshasa.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 20 May 2016
2 East: Rwanda – Congo-Kinshasa (DRC)

Rugby Americas North

Rugby Americas North: Another regional tournament in full swing is the Rugby Americas (formerly the North America and Caribbean Rugby Association or NACRA) Championship. The RAN Championship is for the countries in North America and the Caribbean. RAN has 2 zones with top level (championship) and a bottom level (cup). Each Championship zone has 3 teams while the Cup Zones have 4 each. The Zones are regionally divided, so there is a North Zone and South Zone. USA Rugby competes in the North Zone Championship division. The USA is represented by the USA South Regional all-star team, in order to develop talent and make the competition a much fairer one… This weekend in the South, giants Guyana and Jamaica meet while Barbados hosts Trinidad & Tobago. In the North, the Cayman Islands battle the Bahamas and Mexico welcome Bermuda.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 21 May 16

South: Guyana – Jamaica
South: Barbados – Trinidad & Tobago
North: Cayman Islands – Bahamas
North: Mexico – Bermuda

2015 Currie Cup qualification: The tournament is a competition between which will be played between 9 April and 23 July 2016. It will feature all fourteen South African provincial unions plus the Welwitschias from Namibia and will also serve as a qualifying competition for the 2016 Currie Cup, the 78th edition of South Africa’s premier domestic rugby union competition. Nine teams from this competition will play in the 2016 Currie Cup Premier Division, while the remaining six teams will play in the 2016 Currie Cup First Division. Round seven’s fixtures begin with the Falcons hosting Boland, Eastern Province face Free State, Pumas challenge Western Province and Sharks battle Golden Lions. Saturday sees Leopards welcome Welwitschias, Griquas clash with the Blue Bulls and Griffons challenge Border Bulldogs.

Here is the Schedule:
Fri – 20 May 2016
Falcons – Boland Cavaliers
Eastern Province Kings – Free State XV
Pumas – Western Province
Sharks XV – Golden Lions XV
Sat – 21 May 2016
Leopards – Welwitschias
Griquas – Blue Bulls
Griffons – Border Bulldogs

Exhibition MatchesUruguay are welcoming Fiji on a two match tour. This is Fiji’s developmental side but they are still a challenge to the Teros, who are sending out a young line-up of their own. Last week, Fiji XV won 42 – 28 and this weekend is the second match.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 21 May 16
Uruguay – Fiji XV

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 and Declan Yeats.

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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