Weekend Rugby Preview: London 7s, NACRA, ENC, ASIA5N, SAMC, T14, Pro 12, Aviva and more

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London 7s Crowd
London 7s Crowd

NEW YORK, NY – We are repeatedly crossing timezones and the international dateline in our pursuit of covering all of the weekend’s upcoming rugby events. The RWU staff may be a bit blurry eyed but they are more than ready tackle all the action.  It begins with the final stop of the IRB 7s series in London, then there is the final weekend of the regular season for the Aviva Premiership and the Pro12. There is also the start of the playoffs for Top 14 …  Super Rugby hits its 13th week of action and to date, the standings and results are not going to script…. There will be Tier 3 action, with international clashes and championships in  North America, The Caribbean,  South America, Asia and Europe. We won’t slow down either as  have all the weeks transactions, news, events… and USA Rugby! Stay calm and take deep breathes because here comes the Weekend Rugby Preview:

England 7s:  The London 7s kickoff tomorrow morning and qualifying for the Cup should be enough for the AIG New Zealand All Black 7s side to seal their 12th series title and 4th title in a row.  The South African 7s Blitzbokke will try and press them all the way to the finish line but it appears to be an impossible task. As for the Team USA perspective, it seems a bit gloomy but in some positive news, courtesy of friends Grant Cole and ThisIsAmericanRugby.com, we can confirm that Carlin Isles in for the injured Mike Te’o and Madison Hughes is finished with finals in time to replace Ryan Maytas. For more information, check out our tournament preview.

Aviva Premiership – The East Midlands Machiavellian, Nick Hall, is back to cover the final week of the regular season. There will be showdown for the 4th and the final playoff spot. Plus who will be getting promoted into next season’s Aviva Premiership is still up for grabs. Please CLICK HERE for another fantastic preview.

Who will lift the Brennus this year in the Top14
Who will lift the Brennus this year in the Top14

Top 14 – Our Top14 expert du-jour, James Harrington  has all the latest news regarding the start of the Top 14 playoffs and the naming of the final roster for the Australia tour. Expect to read the name Francios Trinh-Duc a lot.  Please CLICK HERE to check it out.

Rabodirect Pro12 The final weekend of the Pro 12 will also be the final season of the Pro 12 as it will be revamped with a few less teams and a possible new sponsor, next season. To ensure integrity all the matches will take place simultaneously.   Munster need to beat Ulster and hope for a Glasgow loss or a Munster bonus point victory and a Glasgow non bonus point victory to win 2nd place and home playoff match. Glasgow have the good fortune of hosting Zebre which gives them a better chance of getting the bonus point victory to secure 2nd place and maybe win 1st, if Leinster go down to Edinburgh and get no bonus points. The rest of the matches, Ospreys vs Connacht, Newport Gwent vs Treviso, and Scarlets vs Cardiff will all be matches where teams are playing for pride and players for their contracts.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
SAT – 10TH MAY 14
Ospreys – Connacht
Newport Gwent Dragons – Benetton Treviso
Glasgow – Zebre
Leinster – Edinburgh
Munster – Ulster
Scarlets – Cardiff Blues

Super RugbyThe RWU Super Rugby Superman, Jamie Wall, has put together a  great preview of  a mother of round,  full of make-or-break games as this may be an unlucky number 13 (Round 13) for some clubs. Please CLICK HERE for the preview.

Tier 3 This weekends Tier 3 calendar is incredibly congested with championships all over the globe. We will be with the European Nations Cup, which consists of 7 divisions, each with 4-6 teams. The matches determine who will get promoted and relegated form groups 1A, 1B, 2A – 2D, and 3A. This weekend will see tiny Luxembourg welcome Finland, while Greece travels to Norway. In a mouthwatering clash, two programs on the rise, Germany and the Netherlands face-off in a match that doubles as a Rugby World Cup Qualifiers (RWCQs).

The Asian5N is short for the Asian 5 Nations, which is similar to the ENC but with 5 divisions and 5 teams in each. Two matches this weekend will be doubling as RWCQs. This means that the matches between Hong Kong and Korea and Japan versus Sri Lanka will have added spice. Kazakhstan will host Chinese Taipei in a match of developing rugby programs.

The SAMC is the same as the two previously mentioned tournaments but for South America and that has 4 divisions featuring 15 teams. In that competition, we will witness Uruguay‘s B side welcome Chile and  Paraguay will host the up and coming rugby nation that is Brazil.

The NACRA Championship is the same as the three previously mentioned tournaments but for North  America and the Caribbean. It is not as layered as the other three competitions and rather has the weaker teams play qualifiers to get to a stage that it would seem fair to bring in the larger unions. USA Rugby competes in this tournament by sending the USA South Regional all-star team, in order to develop talent and make the competition a much fairer one. this weekend, USA South will host Bermuda and Curacao will welcome St. Lucia.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
SAT– 10th MAY 14
ENC Luxembourg – Finland
ENC Norway – Greece
ENC/RWCQ Netherlands – Germany

ASIA5N Kazakhstan – Chinese Taipei
ASIA5N/RWCQ Hong Kong – Korea
ASIA5N/RWCQ Japan – Sri Lanka

SAMC Paraguay – Brazil
SAMC Uruguay – Chile

NACRA CH Curacao – St. Lucia
NACRA CH USA South – Bermuda

Tuilagi Brothers
Tuilagi Brothers (Alesana, Henry and Anitelea) 

Unconverted Try:
Signings/Player Moves: Exeter Chiefs have signed Tongan hooker Elvis Taione from Greene King IPA Championship side Jersey for the 2014/15 season. Newcastle Falcons have landed Tuilagi brothers Alesana and Anitelea on two-year deals ahead of the 2014-15  season. Samoan internationals Alesana, 33, was with Leicester then moved to Japan and played for NTT Shining Arcs before signing. Anitelea, 27, had been playing for the Newport-Gwent Dragons of the Pro 12.  Both play at either wing or centre…Northampton Saints announced that a host of the club’s young players have signed new contracts, the vast majority representing the first team this season. Tom Collins (Wing/Fullback), Will Hooley (fly-half), Alex Day (scrum-half), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (loose-head prop), Alex Woolford and Jordan Onojaife (locks). Joining them are Matt Williams and Reece Marshall (hookers),  Sam Olver (fly-half), Howard Packman (wing/full back), and finally Josh Skelcey (wing). Five other Saints teenagers signed their first professional contracts to step up into the Saints Senior Academy. James Fish (hooker; Trent College), Rory Hutchinson (centre; MPW Cambridge), Lewis Ludlam (back row; St Joseph’s College), Harry Mallinder [(centre; Rugby School) Yes, Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder‘s son] and Josh Peters (lock; Oundle School).

Chiefs and former All Blacks utility back Mils Muliaina has signed a one-year contract to join Irish province Connacht for the 2014/15 season. The Ospreys announced that Wales U20 prop Gareth Thomas has signed a three-year contract with the region.They also have announced that winger Hanno Dirksen  (he of USA Eagle eligibility) has signed a new contract. The 23-year old signed a three-year deal, making him the 13th player to re-commit so far in 2014. Ospreys also announced that with their mathematical elimination from the Pro 12 playoff race, Bristol-bound forward Ryan Jones has left the club early in order to play for his new club in the GKIPA Championship playoffs… Leinster released a press release annoucing a bevy of re-signing with the club. Currently staying with Leinster are: Michael Bent, Isaac Boss, Sam Coghlan-Murray, Jack Conan, Gordon D’Arcy, Tom Denton, Aaron Dundon, Darragh Fanning, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings, Dave Kearney, Jack McGrath, Luke McGrath, Martin Moore, Sean O’Brien, Colm O’Shea , Eoin Reddan, Noel Reid, Rhys Ruddock, and James Tracy. Leinster also added prop Sean McCarthy from Jersey in the GKIPA Championship. Not done recruiting, it appears there are rumors that Waratahs second-row Kane Douglas is set to leave the Sydney-based franchise to join Leinster… Veteran fly-half Ian Humphreys will return to Ulster during pre-season having signed a two-year contract with the province.  Cardiff Blues announced the signing of powerful Fiji born, 14 times capped Italy back-rower Manoa Vosawai, who joins them from Treviso at the end of the season.  Hulking Fijian international prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa has signed a new one-year deal with Glasgow Warriors.

Bayonne have confirmed the departure of nine players. Prop Neemia Tialata, fly half Stephen Brett is heading to Lyon along with backrower Julien Puricelli. Centre Manu Ahotaeiloa, Props Vitolio Manukula and Pierre-Philippe Lafond, hooker Grégory Arganese, loose forward Guillaume Bernad and centre Sam Gerbe are all leaving the club to currently unknown destinations. Bayonne have moved to replace Brett with Blair Stewart from Grenoble. Oyonnax, with and increased budget have snapped up ex-Springbok back-row Pedrie Wannenburg from Castres. Wannenburg can add his signatures to those of back-row forwards Guillaume Bernad (Bayonne), Olivier Missoup (Stade Francais) and Maurie Fa’asavalu (Harlequins), as well as South African number ten Riaan Smit (Cheetahs). After Romain Taofifenua’s move to Toulon was announced shortly after Perpignan were relegated, his brother Sébastien has also left. However his destination is yet to be confirmed though rumors proclaim he will end up with Bordeaux-Bègles.  French international loose forward Raphaël Lakafia has joined Stade Français on a three-year deal from relegated Biarritz. France fly-half Camille Lopez will also leave Perpignan and is now reportedly set to join Clermont next season.

Auckland coach Wayne Pivac has resigned from his position to take up a post Assistant coach under Simon Easterby with PRO 12 outfit the Scarlets. He will be succeeded by the current assistant coach, Paul Feeney.


USA Rugby News and Updates:
College Playoffs – Here are the list of championships set to occur this weekend at Stanford University’s Steuber Rugby Stadium

Here is this weekend’s schedule:
FRI– 9th MAY 14
Women’s DI College National Champion
Penn State – West Chester
Stanford – American International

SAT– 10th MAY 14
Women’s DII National Championship
Indiana (PA) –  Cal State Northridge
Mary Washington University – Florida International

Women’s DI College National Championship
3rd Place Match

Men’s DI-AA National Championship
Central Florida – San Diego
Arizona – Bowling Green

Men’s DI College National Championship Final
Saint Mary’s College (CA) – Life University (GA.)

SUN– 11th MAY 14
Women’s DII National Championship
3rd Place Match

Men’s DI-AA National Championship
3rd Place Match

All three National Championship Semi-Finals and Finals will be streamed live on USA Rugby TV.

AIC Wins ACRC 7s – Developing program American International College sent a message to all and sundry when they beat mid-major powerhouse Kutztown State at the Surfside 7s last weekend. The tournament also doubled as the American College Rugby Championship 7s tournament.

Ryan to coach BarbariansWorcester Warriors boss Dean Ryan will coach the Barbarians ahead of their match against England on June 1. Fourteen players have been named in the Barbarians squad for the match with another 9 or 10 yet to confirm.

USAP scrum-half loses eye and licence – Perpignan scrum-half Florian Cazenave was stripped of his French Rugby Federation (FFR) licence on earlier this week after losing his eye in a domestic accident. Despite completely a brutally long rehab the FFR has said no. He attempted to wear the newly recognized goggles from the IRB but the FFR still refuse to recognize the glasses. Poor form on the FFR’s part.

All Army Women’s Rugby – All Army Sports in the USA is starting its first female rugby program and it needs applicants! If any of your rugby club guys have any athletes on your 15s or 7s teams who are in the army reserves, national guard or active duty, please have them fill an application out at apps.imcom.army.mil/apptracmain or email Kelsie Whitney (kelsie.c.whitney@gmail.com).

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, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.

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

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.