NEW YORK, NY: We hope everyone had a happy and joyful Christmas & Boxing Day (the day after Christmas to our American readers). The three big European leagues – the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and RaboDirect Pro 12 – are all in action over the holiday season. With the Pro 12 even playing on Boxing Day matches. There is also news impacting USA Rugby and one of it’s marquee players, so without further delay, let’s get to the Weekend Rugby Preview.
Carlin Isles: In a huge blow to USA Rugby and the IRB, Carlin Isles has been signed by the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. Questions abound as to what would prompt the switch. How did he come to tryout for the Lions and what does it mean for him to be signed to the practice squad? Staff writer and lead NFL pundit DJ Eberle will cover those questions tomorrow in his weekly Saturday article.
Top 14: Our TOP14 expert-du-jour, James Harrington is on the scene to cover all your needs. He will take a look at the weekend’s key match-ups that will effect the top and bottom parts of the table. CLICK HERE.
Aviva Premiership: Nick Hall, our East Midlands Machiavellian rugger has made the new year resolutions for all 12 clubs, just CLICK HERE. As for the upcoming matches, Wasps travel north to face Newcastle, Northampton welcome Bath, Leicester take a short trip to Salford to take on Sale. Worcester will be looking to have the shock of the season as they take on Saracens, while Harelquins prepare for a tough game against Exeter and the lowly London Irish take on Gloucester.
Here is this weekend’s schedule:
FRI – 27TH DEC 13
Newcastle – Wasps
SAT – 28TH DEC 13
Northampton – Bath
Leicester – Sale
Worcester – Saracens
Harlequins – Exeter
SUN – 29TH DEC 13
London Irish – Gloucester
Rabodirect Pro 12: The Pro 12’s Boxing Day weekend fixture schedule often called Derby weekend. Every match will be a battle between regional foes for national bragging rights. In the oldest club derby match in rugby history, the 1872 Cup match, Glasgow grinded out a victory against Edinburgh. In the two Welsh derbies, Ospreys eeked out a win in Llanelli against Scarlets and Newport-Gwent were too much at home for Cardiff. In an intriguing Irish derby, longtime front-runners Munster host development province Connacht, leaving the other two provinces Leinster and Ulster match-up in a mouth-watering clash. There will also be an Italian derby as Zebre travel to Treviso.
Here are the Boxing Day results and this weekend’s schedule:
THU – 26TH DEC 13
Scarlets 6 – 10 Ospreys
Edinburgh 16 – 20 Glasgow
Newport Gwent Dragons 22 – 16 Cardiff Blues
FRI – 27TH DEC 13
Munster vs Connacht
SAT – 28TH DEC 13
Benetton Treviso vs Zebre
Leinster vs Ulster
Re-Signings: Our friend Allen Robson, CEO of the Northampton Saints, has had a busy two weeks. Over that time, Saints have managed to get 9 players to re-sign with the club. The players are England Internationals Ben Foden, Tom Wood and Lee Dickson, potential national team members Chritian Day ,and Luther Burrell, squad members squad members Sam Dickinson and Mike Haywood plus academy products Jamie Elliott and Ben Nutley along with Samoan International Ken Pisi, They also added Pisi’s international teammate Fa’atoina Autagavaia.
Not to be outdone Sale also managed to get 5 players to re-commit to the club. The 5 are forward trio Vadim Cobilas (two years), Andrei Ostrikov (one-year extension) and Mark Easter (two years) together with powerful centres Johnny Leota (two years) and Mark Jennings (two years).
Heineken Cup Drama: Premiership Rugby had not given up its quest to shake up the Heineken Cup. Talks were held on Christmas eve between PRL and the RFU to try and come to an agreement about the future. It is rumored that PRL is also talking with the 4 Welsh regions, who are upset with the WRU and the lack of funding. Furthermore, it appears that the French national union the FFR may yet still have a role to play, if their insistance to have FIRA run the Heineken cup and not the ERC create further conflict. Stay tuned is our best advice.
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.