Weekend Rugby Preview: Player Moves, USA Rugby News, Aviva, Pro12, Currie, ITM, NRC, TRC, Top14

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The All Blacks will look to breakaway and seal another TRC title.
All Blacks look to breakaway and seal another TRC title.

NEW YORK, NY – Man Your Writing Stations!!!” (or MYWS) echoed through the RWU cubicles in preparation for the battle of covering all of the rugby ahead. Our pens, phones, tablets and keyboards are at the ready for this latest bombardment of  high level international and global domestic rugby occurring simultaneously… This weekend sees the return of The Rugby Championship along with the three SANZAR domestic leagues in action and  Europe’s three top leagues. Not to be forgotten would be the RWC2015 repechage qualifier, plus all the international news,  transactions and USA Rugby News to cover. We almost considered making it a two-part preview, that is how much there is to go over. Hitting you hard and with great follow through like it was a ruck is the Weekend Rugby Preview:

The Rugby Championship: The TRC is back and ready to begin the final two legs.  The All Blacks, minus nursing-a-hangover Aaron Cruden, will be in Argentina – who are not likely to gain that first, elusive win… The Springboks welcome the Wallabies to The Republic, in what should be an interesting match of teams with something to prove. Our TRC expert Jamie Wall will have it all covered come Sunday from his rugby lair in Auckland.

Top 14: It was a quiet week off the field in the #Top14 but that just means the teams are under more pressure. In particular, the former crown princes of French and European rugby, Toulouse have to find a way to stop a four-game skid. Our Ligue Nationale de Rugby expert James Harrington details Toulouse’s troubles and previews the weekend…. please click here.

Are Ford and Co. ready for a test against the Champions?
Are Ford and Co. ready for the Champions?

Aviva Premiership:  The Aviva Premiership 2014/2015 season has gotten off to an unpredictable start with matches that were expected to be bigtime clashes turning into 1 way matches and 1 way matches becoming tense encounters. Our East Midlands Man Nick Hall has a recap of the most recent round already posted, please click here. Mr. Hall will be back to recap this weekend’s round next week.
As for the matches going on this weekend:
Gloucester travel to London Welsh, who are hoping to not be too welcoming on defense… Sale host SaracensLondon Irish will face a Leicester side licking their wounds from their match last week against Bath, while Bath will be traveling to defending champions NorthamptonHarlequins will face an attack-minded Exeter side and Wasps will have an interesting match-up against Newcastle.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 26th Sep 14
London Welsh – Gloucester
Sat – 27th Sep 14
Saracens – Sale Sharks
Leicester – London Irish
Northampton – Bath
Sun – 28th Sep 14
Exeter – Harlequins
Wasps – Newcastle

zebre logoGuinness Pro12: It is too early in the season to win the 2014/2015 Pro12 but it is just the right time to make championship claims. Defending champs, Leinster, in their three-peat campaign, will welcome Cardiff. Meanwhile, last year’s finalist, Glasgow, will test ConnachScarlets travel up to Scotland to face EdinburghZebre will try and earn their stripes in front of their home crowd as they face Ulster…  Ospreys will travel to the Emerald Isle to face Munster and Newport-Gwent will welcome Treviso.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 26th Sep 14
Leinster – Cardiff Blues
Glasgow – Connacht
Edinburgh – Scarlets
Sat – 27th Sep 14
Zebre – Ulster
Munster – Ospreys
Sun – 28th Sep 14
Newport Gwent Dragons – Benetton Treviso

The Currie Cup
Currie Cup

Currie Cup: The 2014 Currie Cup is entering its cross-over pool stage. This year’s version has two pools who have completed the home and away version of intra-pool play and now will play one-offs against the teams in the opposite pool. The first match of the weekend will see the Cheetahs travel to Pretoria to face the Blue Bulls. Over in in Nelspruit, the Pumas will host the table-topping Western Province side. The boys from Durban – the Sharks – will welcome those from Port Elizabeth – the Kings – and Griquas will square up against the Lions.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 26th Sep 14
Cheetahs – Blue Bulls
Pumas – Western Province
Sat – 27th Sep 14
Sharks – Eastern Province Kings
Griquas – Lions

ITM Cup:  The 2014 ITM Cup was rocked by the result of the midweek match as North Harbour managed to take down the previously unbeaten Canterbury. It was Harbour’s first win over the Red & Blacks in 5 years. In the Thursday night game, Northland edged out the Bay of Plenty Steamers.

As for the rest of the weekend’s action:
In battle for playoff places, Premiership #2, Taranaki, face #4 Auckland, while on Saturday, Waikato take on ManawatuCounties Manukau will try and keep Wellington winless, North Harbour will try and use the midweek as a boost as they face Hawkes Bay, Tasman welcome Otago in a face-off of southern powers and Canterbury will try to unleash their fury against Southland.

Here are the results:
Wed – 24th Sep 14
North Harbour 29 – 24 Canterbury
Thu – 25th Sep 14
Bay Of Plenty 27 – 30 Northland

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 26th Sep 14
Taranaki – Auckland
Sat – 27th Sep 14
Waikato – Manawatu
Counties Manukau vs Wellington
North Harbour – Hawkes Bay
Sun – 28th Sep 14
Tasman vs Otago
Canterbury – Southland

Australia NRC: The inaugural National Rugby Championship is starting to heat-up as playoff places are now genuinely at stake. In the Thursday night game, the Melbourne Rising were rude hosts to their guests, the University of Canberra Vikings.

As for the matches going on this weekend:
An all-Queensland Derby will occur when Brisbane City face Queensland Country, the Sydney stars will travel cross country to face the Perth Spirit and finally in local derby Greater Sydney will make a short trip to the North Harbour to face the Rays.

Here are the results:
Thu – 25th Sep 14
Melbourne Rising 34 – 13 UC Vikings

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 27th Sep 14
Brisbane City – Queensland Country
Perth Spirit – Sydney Stars
North Harbour Rays – Greater Sydney Rams

Russia V UruguayRWC Qualifer: The  first leg of the RWC 2015 Qualifier between Russia and Uruguay. The overall winner from the two-legged play off will join Australia, England, Wales and Fiji in Pool A at RWC 2015. Please click here to watch this match live.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 27th Sep 14
Russia – Uruguay

Uncoverted Try:
European Champions Cup Qualification Format: The play-off system for next season’s European Champions Cup has been changed, European Professional Club Rugby has announced. There is one out of the 20 spots to be fought for between the next highest ranked teams in each of the Aviva Premiership, Guinness PRO12 and the Top 14. because of an issue with scheduling, the format has been adjusted and will instead feature just one team from the Pro12 that will take on the English qualifier on May 23, with the home side to be decided by the toss of a coin. The winner of that will face a one off playoff match against the highest non-qualified French side.

McCabe to Ref?: Australian Rugby Union (ARU) CEO Bill Pulver has urged retired Wallaby and Brumbies cult hero Pat McCabe to consider becoming a rugby referee. McCabe broke his neck three times in two years and retired from rugby in August following five seasons of Super Rugby. Despite being set to join the Brumbies’ off-field team, ARU chief Pulver believes he should consider taking up the whistle.

David Campese received his IRB Hall of Fame cap from Ewen McKenzie in Cape Town
Campese received his IRB Hall of Fame cap from Ewen McKenzie in Cape Town

IRB Hall of Fame: Australia legend and one of the great wingers of all-time David Campese has been officially inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony ahead of Saturday’s South Africa v Australia Rugby Championship match in Cape Town.

Transactions: Pat Phibbs has agreed a short-term deal to stay with the Exeter Chiefs after initially joining  on trial, but his efforts in both training and for the club in league play.

Montpellier number eight Alex Tulou has signed a new deal that will keep him with the club for two more years…Argentine fly-half Nicolas Sanchez will join Toulon at the end of the Rugby Championship as a medical joker for Frederic Michalak…There are a number of unconfirmed reports that Sanchez’s compartriot Benjamin Macome is going to Bayonne.

Ulster have signed second-rower Ronald Raaymakers, from Counties Manukau on a short-term deal… In big news for our Canadian readers, The Ospreys have announced that Canadian back-row and test captain (and RWU Class of 2013 Alum) Tyler Ardron has signed a new 3 year contract with the region.

Former Highlanders and All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore has come out of retirement to help Southland for the remainder of the 2014 ITM Cup season as the Stags are in the middle of an injury crisis at hooker .

USA Rugby News and Updates: The AIG Rugby in a Box initiative will introduce the Rookie Rugby program to more than 200 local school and organizations in the greater Chicagoland area in the build-up to the historic match between the USA Eagles and New Zealand All Blacks at Soldier Field Nov. 1.  In conjunction with USA Rugby, the Illinois Youth Rugby Association will award Rugby in a Box kits to schools that run Rookie Rugby in at least one physical education class prior to Oct. 4 and coordinate with Olympic Rugby Ambassadors to deliver hands-on lessons.

Jake AbbottIt is being reported by This Is American Rugby that Eagles backrower Danny Barrett is joining Seamus Kelly on trial at Gloucester. In a bit of surprising news, former Worcester Warriors flanker and England 7s player Jake Abbott has left the Warriors to be a full-time player with Griffins rugby, out of Allen, Texas. Griffins made a splash last season when they signed former NFL Running Back Ryan Moats as player. Here is the Griffins Press Release on the matter:

In a move that may change the face of rugby in Texas, Griffins Rugby (Allen, TX) has signed Jake Abbott from Worcester Warriors on a multi-year, full-time player contract. Abbott, 26, has spent his entire career thus far with the Warriors, starting in their junior set up when he was six years old, but has had a couple of tough injuries in the last couple of years that have limited his number of 1st XV matches. Following Worcester’s relegation from the Aviva Premiership, the Griffins swooped to offer Abbott a chance to play a role in the club’s ambitious plans for professional rugby in the USA.

Bill Bingham, co-owner, commented, “Jake’s an immense player and we’re fortunate to have the kind of club that can attract a guy of his talent to the US. His experience will be amazing for the players around him.”

As well as playing a key role in helping Worcester win promotion to the Premiership in 2011, Abbott has also featured in the England Sevens squad, utilizing his pace as a former winger to good effect. Declining offers from other professional clubs in Europe, Abbott’s move to Texas is a clear demonstration that the quality of rugby in the region is quickly moving in the right direction. “We’ve had our sights on a couple of top-flight players for some time but these things take time,” explains Griffins’ director, Phil Camm, “We want Griffins Rugby to remain the best place to play and develop so there will be more full-time players and staff coming on board in the very near future. It’s great for those players who leave the US to get experience overseas but our goal has always been to attract talent to this side of the Atlantic so the rest of our players can benefit by playing and practicing alongside world class players like Jake.”

Jake is expected to arrive in Allen in the next few weeks to join the Griffins for pre-season and alongside his role as a player, will be helping to mentor and coach some of Texas’s best young talent.

We immediately reached out to Grant Cole, RWU commenter and writer for This Is Texas Rugby, for information on the move and the events at Griffins. He states

Much of this either I’ve published about or Griffins have. Phil Camm is not shy about sharing what the Griffins are doing. They planned to pay their coaches and chief administrators first & they are three years into that plan (Phil, Elaine Vassie, & an S&C coach are on the payroll). Griffins are one of the few clubs (most of the time, the ONLY club) that project a recruiting presence at Texas college & HS rugby events. They are proactive at helping club members obtain sustainable jobs in the local community (typical perk). Jake Abbott will likely be joined by 1-2 other rugby players from abroad who will be on team payroll in the Spring (when TX D1 season begins). Griffins fund the team through sponsorship, match attendance & commissary revenue, municipal grants (Allen is very proactive re: bringing different sports to town), and various other fund-raisers. They also embody a complete club ideal that encompasses men & women’s teams, as well as building a foundation of future players through Rookie Rugby & supporting local JS teams…The end goal is for Griffins to be a fully professional club that develops players, coaches, referees, & administrators.

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 as always, 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.