With the help of the one, the only and slightly infamous Rugby Rain Men Collective. As well as RWU contributor Nick “Bones” Attewell, yours truly presents this piece.
NEW YORK, NY – Currently, we are reviewing our 2013 USA, Canada and European Rugby classes and naming their 2014 class counterparts. After covering the Eagles and Maple Leafs, as well as the 2014 European Rugby Players To Watch, we now turn our attention to the 2014 European Clubs, Coaches & Management To Watch.
England – Bristol RFC (Greene King IPA Championship): They were in the premiership in 2008 and haven’t been back since. Strangely they perform well in the regular season but the weird playoff system to gain promotion in England’s second division has been an obstacle. However, considering the major signings of Anthony Perenise, Dwayne Peel and possibly Ryan Jones as well as getting players the caliber of Ross Rennie on loan, their ambitions are there for all to see. They are aiming for promotion this year and to be a major force in the Aviva when promoted.
France: Biarritz (Top14): The Basque Country club is in deep trouble. They are staring relegation from the Top14 square in the face. They have attempted a merger with Bayonne but to no avail. They are lead by French legend Serge Blanco but his charm and appeal has not helped their financials. So the question for them really is “where to from here?” Especially with ProD2 calling. We will all have to wait and see.
France – Laurent Travers & Laurent Labit (Racing Metro): The Lolos or Two Laurents must be wondering why they left the friendly confines of Castres. They could have enjoyed the company of our own James Harrington. After winning the Top14 title in the 2012/2013 season, they took the money and challenge to move to the recently bought and latest businessman sugar daddy plaything, Racing Metro. Despite having a budget unlike any other except Toulon, they have struggled. The struggle is understandable because Castres was small tight knit side in a small city. Now they have a big city side that has brought in 19 players, jettisoning 19 players during the summer of 2013. A tough first season was expected but Jacky Lorenzetti, Racing-Metro president and founder of estate agency Foncia is not known for infinite patience. It is important that they at least qualify for the Top14 playoffs in the spring and get off to a much better start in fall.
England – Andy Robinson (Bristol): After stepping down as Scotland coach in late 2012, no one was sure what Robinson would do. He popped a few months later in 2013 as Bristol Director of Rugby. That raised eyebrows but not many, that he was not at an Aviva Premiership side. It has been this spring’s aggressive player recruitment and signings that has grabbed attention. Now the pressure is on to win promotion and then see what he can do in the Aviva.
Scotland – Vern Cotter: Last year, when Robinson stepped down Scott Johnson was named coach (and one of our 2013 coaches to watch.) Johnson and the SRU created a new position(first of its kind in SRU history) for Johnson as Director of Rugby . One of Johnson’s tasks was finding a new coach and he settled on Vern Cotter, head coach of Clermont ASM. Cotter has coached ASM since 2006 and has lead them to one title, some runner-ups and semi-finals in Top14, not to mention a runners-up in last years Heineken Cup. The only snag is Cotter’s Clermont bosses demand that he not take over at Scotland until the Top14 season ends in May.
Wales RFU: They were here last year and they are here again this year because their on-going dispute with the regions is a thing to watch. They are now looking to centrally contract players in order to keep them from leaving Wales for bigger money. It is all a mess and great drama.
Regional Rugby Wales (RRW): The other half of the Welsh regional drama is the organization represents the 4 Welsh regional sides (Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Newport-Gwent Dragons and Neath-Swansea Ospreys). They are desperate to find a way to survive and they are nto getting funding help from the WRU so they are looking at possibly joining the Aviva Premiership.
Premiers Rugby Limited (PRL): The president of the PRL, Mark McCafferty, is possibly the most hated man in European rugby. Spurred by the broadcasting deal with BT Telecom , the PRL sought to re-address the disparity in the European Cup competitions. They thought they had support of the French and 2013 Class member Ligue de National Rugby. The LNR quickly turned their back on them. In addition the IRB and ERC are against them as well as the Unions that make up the Rabodirect 12 against them. The only possible friend they have is the RRW but that may not be enough. It will be interesting to see the next moves of McCafferty and the PRL.
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.
we will do a Southern Hemisphere Class of 2014 soon, so please look for it. And as always…Stay low and keep pumping those legs.