Global Rugby Recap: Champions Cup, Challenge Cup, Currie, ITM & NRC playoffs

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The 2014 Currie Cup Champions
The 2014 Currie Cup Champions

NEW YORK, NY – The talk going into the weekend was about champions and championships. The matches of the weekend showed that to be true. We had champions crowned in two of the three SANZAR domestic leagues, while the third decided which two teams will play in the final. In Europe, it was the second round of pool play as a new champion is sought  in the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup. In addition to that, we have some news regarding the European Nations Cup (men and women), as well as Tier 3 action and Player Transactions, USA Rugby News and IRB News. Let’s dive into the Global Rugby Recap:

Ladies First:
Women’s European Nations Cup: The women’s European Nations Cup is similar to the men’s. It consists of 2 divisions, featuring 19 teams. The matches determine who will get promoted and relegated. The midweek match-ups will see The Netherlands take on Switzerland and Russia faces Belgium.

Here is the Midweek schedule:
Thu – 30th Oct 14
WENC Netherlands – Switzerland
WENC Russia – Belgium

European Champions Cup: The second round of the European (Rugby) Champions Cup is in the books and it is time for some teams to start worrying. They have dug themselves a hole while others can start legitimately dreaming of the quarters. For a complete review of the action, look for our East Midlands Man Nick Hall‘s article coming shorty. Later in the week we will review the Six Pack’s picks.

European Challenge Cup: The curtain raiser for the Champions Cup is the European Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup is not as glamorous but in its previous iteration it has been used as a huge stepping stone for clubs looking to challenge in Europe. On Thursday, Bordeaux-Begles ran rampant over London Welsh, keeping the exiles winless in all competitions. On Friday, Grenoble lost to the London Irish. La Rochelle defeated Bayonne in an all Top14 clash while Newport-Gwent came up short against Newcastle in an intriguing Anglo-Welsh match-up. Edinburgh repelled Lyon while Brive were upset at home by Zebre. On Saturday, Rovigo put up a fight but still lost to Cardiff and Connacht were no match for Exeter. Stade Francais struggled in their victory over Bucuresti and in an Anglo-French clash of attacking sides Oyonnax were outgunned by Gloucester.

Here are the results:
Thu – 23rd Oct 14
Pool 4 London Welsh 20 – 52 Bordeaux-Begles
Fri – 24th Oct 14
Pool 1 Grenoble 15 – 25 London Irish
Pool 2 La Rochelle 25 – 13 Bayonne
Pool 3 Newport Gwent Dragons 26 – 30 Newcastle
Pool 4 Edinburgh 25 – 17 LOU Rugby
Pool 5 Brive 21 – 26 Zebre
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Pool 1 Rovigo 18 – 33 Cardiff Blues
Pool 2 Exeter 33 – 13 Connacht
Pool 3 Bucuresti 9 – 13 Stade Francais
Pool 5 Oyonnax 15 – 25 Gloucester

Currie Cup:  In the history of the Currie Cup there is one side that has won the most. That side is Western Province and they have started a new dynasty as they won the 2014 Currie Cup (premier division), their 2nd in 3 years. In a tense affair that came down to a missed penalty to force extra time, the Lions fell just short of winning their 2nd title in 4 years.

Here are the results:
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Western Province 19 – 16 Lions

ITM ChampionshipITM Cup: The 2014 ITM Cup season is in the books. The two-tier competitions, this season were full of surprises and exciting finishes as giants fell and minnows became the new leaders of the pack. In the second tier, aka Championship, the Ranfurly Shield holders Hawkes’ Bay took on Manawatu in an exciting game which the hosts managed to win the match in the end.

In the senior circuit aka the Premiership, for the first time since 1992, the Champion is not a side from the “big five”  that make up the Super Rugby sides (Canterbury, Waikato, Wellington, Otago or Auckland).  It was a thrilling final and well worth the build-up but in the end the Amber and Blacks of  Taranaki triumphed over the boys from Tasman.

2014 ITM Champions
2014 ITM Champions

Here are the results:
Fri – 24th Oct 14
Championship Final: Manawatu 32 – 24 Hawke’s Bay
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Premiership semifinal: Taranaki 36 – 32 Tasman

Australia NRC: The inaugural NRC held its semi-final round this weekend. In semi-final 1, the city slickers of Brisbane City, RWU favs, recorded a comeback win over the country boys of NSW Country. In the other semi-final, two super rugby development sides Melbourne and Perth faced off. In a big surprise, Perth walked away victorious.

Here are the results:
Fri – 24th Oct 14
NSW Country Eagles 26 – 32 Brisbane City
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Melbourne Rising 29 – 45 Perth Spirit

Tier 3 The Men’s European Nations Cup, 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. On Saturday, fast rising Turkey failed a stern test against a tough Bosnia & Herzegovina side. There was also a men’s international in Asia that saw Thailand make light work of Malaysia.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 25th OCT 2014
ENC Turkey 25 – 34 Bosnia & Herzegovina
M INT Thailand 33 – 16 Malaysia

Conversion Kick:
Transactions: England Lock Joe Launchbury has signed a new three-year deal with Wasps. Gloucester have announced that England international wing Jonny May has signed a new long term contract with the club. The Cherry and Whites are also rumored to be in discussions with Sam Burgess’ brother, George (also an England international) about a cross-code move from Australian Rugby League to the Aviva Premiership. Another player playing in Oz, is Reds and Wallabies lock James Horwill. He has reportedly agreed a deal to sign with  Harlequins after the Rugby World Cup.

Gary Gold has been appointed as the Sharks’ new director of rugby and Brendan Venter has been appointed the technical director.

USA Rugby News and Updates: It was announced over the weekend that #USAvAllBlacks is officially 61.5K sellout match.

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