NEW YORK, NY – The passing of Nelson Madiba Mandela cast a long shadow over the world, Tuesday, and like everyone else, those of us in this rugby thing owe him our deepest gratitude. He was truly a great man who single-handedly changed the political landscapes of many nations. He also permanently altered the rugby landscape for the better. With that, it’s only fitting that our Weekend Rugby Preview includes the Mandela Bay 7s to go along with Heineken Cup and Amlin Cup action. We’ll also have some developments for USA Rugby.
RIP Madiba: An old boss said “I learned more in one hour with him than I did years of study.” Commentators have said “We get paid to speak but in his presence, we were speechless.” Those are just some of the plaudits paid to Nelson Madiba Mandela. It is funny, in the rugby world he has the status of a god. But not for ending Apartheid or surviving 27 years in prison or his fight for justice. It was his determination and resolve to keep the Springboks the national team of South Africa and get the whole nation behind captain Francois Pienaar and the team – only years removed from prison and the start of presidency. His support of the 1995 RWC Springboks is covered in the movie Invictus and it truly helped unify the country as they shocked the world and won it. I myself, didn’t understand or discover this importance until about a decade ago as I began my journey to being a student of the game. It was through this, that I understood the magnitude of his actions and the victory. His value to South Africa and SA Rugby, International Rugby and the world are immeasurable.
RIP in Madiba. You showed the world that a warrior must use his mind and heart. Your ways will be imitated but your greatness can never be duplicated. Go in peace, great one. We were blessed to be graced by your presence.
South Africa 7s: Oddly enough, the Nelson Mandela Bay 7s are scheduled for this weekend in Port Elizabeth. As of publishing deadline, the SARU have not announced any plans to postpone or cancel the event. Like before with Dubai, expect a full review of the previous round and preview of this round. We will focus on the USA 7s team as well as pool predictions and final places.
Heineken Cup: As he has done for the previous two rounds James Harrington will has his previews of each match-up. Our East Midlands Machiavellian rugger Nick Hall will cover our staff picks and thoughts.
Here are the results:
Thu – 5th Dec 2013
Worcester 15 – 19 Biarritz
Oyonnax 16 – 10 Sale Sharks
Tier 3 Action: This week we have the CONSUR (Confederación Sudamericana de Rugby) Division C was having a tournament in San Jose, Costa Rica. It is a battle to see who gets promoted to Division B. Based on the results earlier in the week it looks like Costa Rica and Guatemala will be fighting in the championship decider. Also on Saturday, there will be an exhibition match between Panama and Nicaragua as both sides take another step toward developing an international presence.
Here are the week’s results and this weekend’s schedule:
Sun – 1st Dec 2013
Costa Rica 71 – 3 El Salvador
Ecuador 23 – 11 Guatemala
Wed – 4th Dec 2013
Ecuador 13 – 7 Costa Rica
Guatemala 43 – 18 El Salvador
Sat – 7th Dec 2013
Ecuador – El Salvador
Costa Rica – Guatemala
Panama – Nicaragua
IRB 2013 Awards: The magnificent season by the AIG New Zealand All Blacks resulted in them sweeping the 2013 awards. #8 Kieran Read won Player of the Year over Leigh Halfpenny (an absolute travesty when you compare the talent that surrounds the two). The All Blacks won Team of the Year and head coach Steve Hansen won Coach of the Year.
USA Rugby Players signing overseas: In recent news, it appears that joining Chris Wyles at Saracens will be Titi Lamositele – as mentioned previously – and a returning-from-NFL-sabbatical Hayden Smith… Joining Samu Manoa at Northampton will be stud eightman Cam Dolan… At London Irish will be John Quill… Along with Andrew Suniula at Wasps and Blaine Scully at Leicester, that brings the total to 8 Eagles playing in England.
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, Jaime Loyd and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.