NEW YORK, NY- The official close of the Spring Tours or June Internationals, depending on which hemisphere you reside in, occurred this weekend. However, that was not all the rugby that occurred this weekend. There was also the conclusion of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 international cup competitions. These events and high intensity matches dominated the rugby landscape but there was loads of other important rugby happenings, events and USA Rugby news that need wrapping up. Coming at you fast and high, like a ball being kicked to touch after the hooter, here is the Weekend Rugby Recap:
June Internationals – The official IRB window for test matches in June has closed. The window closed with a huge bang in high-quality matches and drenched with intense drama. Scotland needed a last minute drop goal to get by Argentina and remain undefeated on tour… RWU’s Kiwi ambassador, Jamie Wall, has a review of the third and final test between the AIG All Blacks and England, as the All Blacks blackwashed the English. Fellow RWU staff member and Englishman Nick Hall will probably be looking to dodge Wall at the next staff function, though Hall did give his thoughts on the tour, here… Our James Harrington of Castres will also avoiding the gaze of a fellow staff member, Working Class Rugger of Wollogong, Australia, after the Wallabies easily dismissed France… South Africa needed a last minute penalty try to scrape by Wales by the slimmest margin possible… Italy were so close to getting their first win of their tour of the Pacific, only to see a very late try by Japan take the Brave Blossoms – and Pacific giants – to 10 consecutive wins… Tonga dispatched a collection of ex-internationals known as the Pacific Barbarians in a thrilling exhibition match.
Here are the results:
FRI – 20TH JUN 14
TOUR Argentina 19 – 21 Scotland
Tier 2 Cups – As part of the IRB’s ongoing commitment to increase the competition schedule for Tier Two nations, There was a bevy of cup competitions featuring Tier 2 nations mixed in with a few experimental sides from Tier 1 nations.
Pacific Nations Cup – The Pacific Nations Cup is a tournament held between the six Pacific Rim nations of Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga, Canada and the USA. The tournament is intended to strengthen the Tier 2 rugby nations by providing competitive test matches in a tournament format. The PNC occurs along with the June internationals to ensure more games for these nations. With Japan and Tonga involved in tour matches, as already mentioned, the scheduled PNC matches for this weekend saw Pacific Islands rivals Fiji, fall short against Samoa as the Samoans set piece and conservative play put a halt to the free flowing Fijians. In the other match-up, the USA won a thriller against Canada in the North American Rugby Classic. Check out RWU staffer Jake Frechette‘s review of the match.
Nations Cup – The 9th annual IRB Nations Cup, for the eighth time in a row, it will be held in Bucharest, Romania. It will be played between 13 and 22 June and will run alongside the 2014 IRB Tbilisi Cup in Georgia. Romania are not only the hosts, as all fixtures will be played at the 5,000 capacity Stadionul National de Rugby, they are also the defending back to back cup champions having won the title in 2012 and 2013 home stadium for hosts . In a battle to avoid the wooden spoon, Russia came up just short to a very tough Uruguay side. Emerging Ireland (Ireland’s C side) managed to win their tussle with the hosts and wrestle away the Nations Cup title from Romania.
Tblisi Cup – The 2014 IRB Tbilisi Cup will be the second edition of this new tournament. It will be played from 14 to 22 June 2014 at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi. The hosts Georgia were defeated by the always tough the Argentina Jaguars, during the midweek meaning that the hosts would need a miracle to win the tournament. That miracle didn’t occur as the Jaguars made light work of a fiesty Spain side though the Georgians did their best by easily defeating Emerging Italy . The Tblisi Cup becomes the last trophy in the Jaguars trophy cabinet as they show just how far ahead the nation is in its rugby and why they can no longer be considered a tier two rugby nation.
Tier 3 – The NACRA Championship is the tournament similar to those in other IRB regions. This tournament is for the countries in North America and the Caribbean. NACRA has 2 zones with top level (championship) and a bottom level (cup). Each Championship zone has 3 teams while the Cup Zones have 4 each. The Zones are regionally divided, so there is a North Zone and South Zone. USA Rugby competes in the North Zone Championship division. The USA is represented by the USA South Regional all-star team, in order to develop talent and make the competition a much fairer one. In South Zone Cup action, Curacao continued to go from strength to strength as they put the British Virgin Islands to the sword and St. Lucia had to dig really deep to get by St. Vincent and The Grenadines.
The Asian5N is short for the Asian 5 Nations, which is similar to the ENC but with 5 divisions and 5 teams in each. There were no matches this weekend but there were midweek matches scheduled. In division 4, Brunei came up short against Cambodia despite Brunei having the extra days rest. In D3 west, India won thoroughly against their political and sporting rivals, as well as tournament hosts Pakistan to claim third place. Meanwhile Lebanon survived their match with Uzbekistan and found themselves victorious by one scant point.
Here are the results:
SAT – 21ST JUN 14
ASIA5N D4 Brunei 20 – 25 Cambodia
Africa Cup: The Africa Cup is an annual tournament of rugby that involves the best African national organized by the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR). Given the difference in level with other national continental the South African national has so far participated in the national tournament with only minor (under 23 and amateurs), however, winning it three times. The Africa Cup 2014 was the fourteenth edition of the continental competition, there are up to 15 rugby countries from Africa . The National participants in the main division were divided into three groups of 14 merit ( 1A, 1B, and 1C ), with promotion and relegation. Tournaments Divisions 1A and 1B were valid for the qualification for the Rugby World Cup of 2015 . This year’s 1C tournament was be held between 14 and 21 June 2014, in Gaborone, Botswana. Morocco were initially supposed to play in Division 1C, but withdrew; they were replaced by South African club side, the 2014 SARU Community Cup champions Rustenburg Impala. The remaining 4 nations are Mauitius, Swaziland, Nigeria and Zambia. The last minute fill in Impalas dominated all before them. They absolutely snotclapped Nigeria to secure the title. In the other matches Botswana performed their own snotclapp on Zambia and whatever is the Afrikaans word for something beyond a snotclapp, that is what Mauritius did to Swaziland.
Signings/Player Moves: It was a quiet weekend for the transfer market. The only news of note is the loss of Wallaby 1st and 2nd 5/8ths Matt Toouma to injury. Toomua is out for an unspecified amount of time after straining an abductor muscle.
USA Rugby News and Updates: The USA Rugby AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans won the opening match of their summer tour against Cambridge University. Tries from Paris Hollis, Mike Lawrenson, and Kingsley McGowan propelled the USA Rugby AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans to a 27-15 win against visiting the visiting side. For more information on the MCAA’s roster, schedule and match info, please click HERE.
IRB Junior Player of the Year: South Africa captain and fly-half Handré Pollard has been named the IRB Junior Player of the Year 2014 following his side’s 21-20 defeat to England in the IRB Junior World Championship final. Pollard becomes the 2nd South African to win the Award after Jan Serfontein, his teammate at the Super Rugby Bulls and last year when the Junior Springboks won the JWC title. Pollard had stiff competition from England wing Nathan Earle, Ireland centre Garry Ringrose and New Zealand wing Tevita Li.
Ben Ryan Interview: Our friends at UR7s.com have a great interview with RWU friend, former England 7s and current Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan. Of particular note to USA Rugby fans regarding eligibility is this statement:
If you haven’t played for 18 months for one of the “capped” teams in the nation you have already played for, AND hold a passport for another country then you can play in next year’s series for that country. Interestingly, once you make the switch, you are then available to be chosen for the nations XV’s test side too. You cannot switch back.
IRB Hall Of Fame Inductees: Australia greats Ken Catchpole and John Thornett have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame. In a press release, the IRB informed the world that the two had become the 69th and 70th individuals to be added to this prestigious group. At a special presentation ahead of the Australia v France match in Sydney on Saturday, Catchpole and Thornett’s coveted caps and pins were presented by IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
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!