West Ghana/USA – Continuing our condensed Wrap Up of the weekend news in Rugby, here is what happened while people where running from the heat in the USA, running from the cold in the Southern Hemisphere and dodging raindrops and tennis balls in Europe…
Sonny Bill Williams – The man known as SBW, $BW & Dollar Bill Williams has decided to seek MORE fame and fortune. He is easily the most divisive individual in Rugby Union and League. In 2008 he left the Canterbury Bulldogs in Australian Rugby League to play for Toulon Rugby, the French Rugby Union club. Then he left them for one of the largest contracts in New Zealand Rugby Union and became an All Black. He won the 2011 RWC with New Zealand, but changed from the Canterbury Crusaders to the Waikato Chiefs in Super 15s so he could box (NZ heavyweight Champion) and play rugby. Today, he will announce a move to the Panasonic Knights in Japan for 10 games and close to 1.7 million dollars. From Japan, he will likely return to Rugby League and sign a massive deal with the Sydney Roosters… back in Australia.
Gavin Henson – Henson’s career looked destined for a premature end after being drunk and misbehaving on a flight from Glasgow to Cardiff while with the Cardiff Blues, who released him and terminated his contract. BUT TODAY, the English Premiership‘s new boys, the London Welsh, who are in need of a marquee signing to guarantee attendance SIGNED HIM. with London Welsh Director of Rugby, Lyn Jones, looking like a genius. If it doesn’t pan out, he could return to the British show, Strictly Come Dancing.
Ben Youngs – The Leicester Tigers and England scrum-half appears to be out until December. He injured his shoulder in the second test match against South Africa during England’s Summer tour. It was thought he would be out for two months but it appears he will be out at least twice that. Leicester are not happy about losing Youngs but have accepted that he will be gone until the next time England play, which will be the End Of the Year Tours.
The Rugby Championship (aka 4 Nations) – The IRB announced the referees for the new 4 Nations Championship, which simply adds newbie Argentina to the old Tri-Nations of SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia). The referees will be Alain Rolland (IRFU), Steve Walsh (ARU), Nigel Owens (WRU), Romain Poite (FFR), Wayne Barnes (RFU), George Clancy (IRFU), Jaco Peyper (SARU) and Craig Joubert (SARU). To download a complete list of venue, time, location, match-up, refs and assistant ref please CLICK THIS.
Madagascar Rugby – I know jokes movie-related jokes will abound but this is big news. Though one of the poorest countries in the world, rugby is the national sport of Madagascar, and the number of registered male and female players is growing. In front of 35,000 home fans, Madagascar defeated Namibia 57-54 in AET (overtime, simply put), and qualified for the second round in the 3-round, 3-year process for African countries not named South Africa, to make RWC 2015. They are now officially a RWU favorite… Check out their version of the Haka.
Nathan Charles – The Western Force are one of the worst teams in Super Rugby. While the effort is there and they have solid players in Wallabies David Pocock and Nathan Sharpe, the real story is about hooker Nathan Charles. Charles’s story is incredible because he suffers from Cystic Fibrosis (a debilitating disease affecting the respiratory system) and was not expect to live to 10 when born. He is now 22 and the doctors are telling him he will not last til 37. He is the only pro athlete playing a contact sport with this illness. On a good day he has to take 28 tablets – 20 vitamins and eight prescribed medications. On bad days, it’s twice that. Despite all this he just signed a 2-year extension. There even is talk of him eventually becoming one of the Wallabies. Mind-boggling.
Until the next time, you can find me on the Rugby Wrap Up Facebook page or on Twitter @JunoirBlaber and @RugbyWrapUp, respectively. And as always – with a special shout to Nathan Charles – stay low and keep pumping those legs.