Weekend Preview: GC7s; Amlin, Heineken, Currie, and ITM Cup; ARC and ENC

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Heineken_trophy_320NEW YORK, NY – There is so much rugby going on that the preview can barely keep up. Beyond Europe’s premier competition the Heineken Cup,  there is the Amlin Challenge Cup, ITM Cup and Currie Cup. And we have not even mentioned the Gold Coast 7s, which has kicked off already and the Americas Rugby Championship and European Nations Championship. There is so much to cover we need to just get into the Weekend Rugby Preview.

Gold Coast Sevens: As mentioned in the preview of the 7s series there have been 9 head coaching changes in the off-season. this means many teams are likely to struggle as they adjust to their new coaches.  New Zealand has no need to change coaches as they are coached by IRB hall of famer  and living legend Gordon Tietjens. Though known for their slow starts, the Kiwis consistency should see them avoid this unfortunate character trait. They will likely have the series wrapped up at the half way point. The teams with no coaching changes are the ones likely to shine in this tournament.

Here are the predictions:
Cup: New Zealand
Third: Australia
Plate: Canada
Bowl: Fiji
Shield: France

Heineken Cup: All the talk about whether this will be the final Heineken Cup is now left to the peanut gallery. The biggest and arguably best competition in rugby will kick off today. We expect some matches to be walkovers but a fair few will be tight contests . Ulster versus Leicester is the highlight of Friday’s match-ups, Castres against Northampton is Saturday’s match of the day and Sunday’s all Top 14 derby between Clermont and Racing is a must watch.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
FRI – 11TH OCT 13
Connacht – Saracens
Toulouse – Zebre
Ulster – Leicester
SAT – 12TH OCT 13
Castres – Northampton
Ospreys – Leinster
Harlequins – Scarlets
Benetton Treviso – Montpellier
Edinburgh – Munster
Gloucester – Perpignan
SUN – 13TH OCT 13
Exeter – Cardiff Blues
Toulon – Glasgow
Racing Metro 92 – Clermont Auvergne

Amlin Challenge Cup Players in streetAmlin Challenge Cup: Unlike the Heineken Cup, the Amlin’s match-ups leave a lot to be desired. The Sale versus Biarritz match is probably the most enticing. Beyond that there is Bayonne against GrenobleBordeaux-Begles versus  Bath and maybe Oyonnax against Worcester. All those matches look like they will go to the wire, but that is why we play the game.

Here is this weekend’s schedule and Thursday’s results:
THU – 10TH OCT 13
Sale Sharks 33 – 10 Biarritz
Bayonne 37 – 6 Grenoble
Stade Francais 61 – 3 Lusitanos
FRI – 11TH OCT 13
Newport Gwent Dragons – Mogliano Rugby
London Irish – Cavalieri Prato
SAT – 12TH OCT 13
Oyonnax – Worcester
Bordeaux-Begles – Bath
Bucuresti – Newcastle
Calvisano – Brive
Viadana – Wasps

Americas Rugby Championship: The Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence  in Langford, British Columbia will again host this year’s quadrangular week-long series.Our team profile and predictions cover most of our expectations on the sides involved. The midweek match between Canada and the USA will have the greatest impact on the standings.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
FRI – 11TH OCT 13
USA Select XV – Argentina Jaguars
Canada A – Uruguay

TUE – 15 OCT 2013
Uruguay – Jaguars
Canada A – USA Select XV

The Currie Cup:  Griquas will be hiring a new coach for next season, it is current Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie. However Mr. Fourie may well be coaching in the 1st division and not the Premier division as Griquas are dead certs to be in the promotion/relegation dogfight. Sharks and Province will face each other this week in a likely finals preview. Lions and Cheetahs will work to support their playoff positions while the Blue bulls try to salvage something from their season.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
SAT – 12TH OCT 13
Lions – Griquas
Cheetahs – Blue Bulls
Sharks – Western Province

ITM Cup Rugby The ITM Cup: It appears that our good friend*Jed Thian is Otago’s lucky charm. Since he mentioned his Otago allegiance they have not lost. They took down a very good Northland side in the midweek. They are still unlikely to win promotion from the ITM Championship this season but don’t tell the big fella. Promotion will come down to Tasman and Hawkes’ Bay. Hawkes’ Bay shocked all including Wellington as the Magpies took down the Capital City boys. Wellington’s loss gives Canterbury an opportunity to tie for the the ITM Premiership lead. Auckland will try to bounce back from their loss to Wellington and close the game when they take on, you guessed it … Otago!

Here are the midweek results and this weekend’s schedule:

WED – 9TH OCT 13
Northland 21 – 31 Otago
THU – 10TH OCT 13
Hawkes Bay 35 – 24 Wellington
FRI – 11TH OCT 13
Counties Manukau – Southland

SAT – 12TH OCT 13
North Harbour – Canterbury
Northland – Bay Of Plenty
Waikato – Taranaki
SUN – 13TH OCT 13
Otago – Auckland
Tasman – Manawatu

European Nations Cup: There will be 4 European Nations Cup matches featuring tier 3 teams this weekend. One will double as a Rugby World Cup Qualifier when Poland host neighbors Czech Republic. Scandinavian brothers will do battle as Finland takes on Norway.
Bosnia & Herzegovina will take on Greece in what will be a match-up of contrasting styles. Former powerhouse Latvia will look to re-claim past glory as the take on Serbia.

SAT – 12TH OCT 13

Poland – Czech Republic
Latvia – Serbia
Finland – Norway
Bosnia & Herzegovina – Greece

Sonny Bill Williams: After any number of twists and turns the saga of SBW may be nearing a conclusion (at least for this coming season!). He has knocked back an offer from New Zealand’s Super 15 champions the Waikato Chiefs in order to  re-sign with the Sydney Roosters. He has also backflipped on his decision to not play in the Rugby League World Cup. In a move that has infuriated a large percentage of the New Zealand population he has suddenly decided to be a part of the Kiwis defence of their title. This means that rookie Tohu Harris has had a whirlwind 48 hours, from believing he was to make his Kiwi debut to being evicted from the squad to make room for SBW. The arguments will continue to rage about this one, expect more fallout next week.

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That’s 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, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann and Declan Yeats, respectively.

*P.sClick the picture to hear our Matt McCarthy talking on Jed Thian’s Set Piece Rugby News out of Hong Kong.

And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.

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About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
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.