Weekend Rugby Preview: Cheika Checks in, Champions Cup, Challenge Cup, Currie, ITM & NRC playoffs

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Waratahs  And New Wallabies Head Coach Michael Chieka
Waratahs And New Wallabies Head Coach Michael Chieka

NEW YORK, NY – We all play rugby because we love the game. The only thing better than playing is winning games and titles. Winning is theme of the weekend as most of the action and events have a heavy tilt toward winning titles. With their eyes toward the End of the Year Tour and the RWC 2015, Australia have hired Michael Chieka as head coach the Australian Wallabies. In further SANZAR news, two of its domestic leagues will have their championship final this weekend while the third has its semi-finals. In the Northern Hemisphere, it will be the second round of pool play as Europe looks for new champions in the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup We also have Tier 3 action along  with Player TransactionsUSA Rugby News and IRB News. Witness as we go for the gusto in  Weekend Rugby Preview:

Cheika Checks In: As expected, Super Rugby New South Wales Waratahs Head Coach Michael Cheika has been named as the new head coach of Australia’s Wallabies. With the team leaving tonight for their End of the Year tour, a new coach had to be found quickly. Cheika is still bound to his Waratahs contract so he will juggle both positions with help from a technical director as well as a management team to allow him to focus on coaching the two sides. How did Australia end up in such a sticky situation so close the next RWC? Jamie Loyd, lays bare his thoughts on who we got here and who is to blame please check it out.

All Blacks EotY Tour Side: Another End of the Year tour getting attention is of the New Zealand All Blacks tour. Beyond their much anticipated match against the USA; Where American fans are expected to not wear All Blacks Jerseys as per our own , his rant can be found if you click here. There is also the European swing of the tour and the big matches against England among other 6N countries.  Jamie Wall covers all the action from his lair, be on the look out for his piece.

The European Challenge Cup Trophy
The European Challenge Cup Trophy

European Champions Cup: The first round of the European (Rugby) Champions Cup has set the tone that the matches this year will all be exciting clashes with most going down to the end of the wire.  None other than our East Midlands Man Nick Hall has created a great preview of the ECC action, Click Here for it  and the Six Pack’s picks.

European Challenge Cup: The curtain raiser for the Champions Cup is the European Challenge Cup. The Challenge brings it own great action as teams want European Glory, may not be the most prestigious but a championship trophy is still a championship trophy. On Thursday, Bordeaux-Begles ran rampant over London Welsh keeping the exiles winless in all competitions. On Friday, Grenoble welcome the other London exiles side, the London Irish. La Rochelle face Bayonne in an all Top14 clash while Newport-Gwent face Newcastle in an intriguing Anglo-Welsh clash. Edinburgh welcome Lyon as does Brive, who host Zebre. On Saturday, Rovigo will face Cardiff and Connacht will challenge Exeter in a mouthwatering clash. Stade Francais will get to run rings around Bucuresti and in an Anglo-French clash of attacking sides Oyonnax will introduce Gloucester to the Plastic City.

Here are the results:
Thu – 23rd Oct 14
Pool 4 London Welsh 20 – 52 Bordeaux-Begles

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 24th Oct 14
Pool 1 Grenoble – London Irish
Pool 2 La Rochelle – Bayonne
Pool 3 Newport-Gwent Dragons – Newcastle
Pool 4 Edinburgh – LOU Rugby
Pool 5 Brive – Zebre
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Pool 1 Rovigo – Cardiff Blues
Pool 2 Exeter – Connacht
Pool 3 Bucuresti – Stade Francais
Pool 5 Oyonnax – Gloucester

Currie Cup: You play all year to be right here,as the saying goes. The champion of the 2014 Currie Cup (premier division) will be determined this Saturday. The on-fire Lions will challenge the side that has been the best all season long and only has one loss this year, Western Province.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Western Province  –  Lions

itm_cupITM Cup: When the 2014 ITM Cup season began there were a lot of teams that seemed capable of special seasons but as with all sports, you never know what the on the field product.   In the two-tier competition, the ITM the second tier, aka Championship, final will see  Ranfurly Shield holders Hawkes’ Bay travel to Manawatu in a match-up of sides that have been building towards a title winning 2014 since mid 2013.

In the senior circuit, aka the Premiership, there will be a new champion for the first time in 7 years as 7-time consecutive Champion Canterbury lost in the semi-final. More shocking is that for  the first time since 1998, the ITM Cup (or Air NZ Cup, NPC) final will not feature Canterbury, Waikato, Wellington or Auckland in the final. It comes down to party crashers Taranaki and Tasman.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 24th Oct 14
Championship Final: Manawatu – Hawke’s Bay
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Premiership semifinal: Taranaki – Tasman

Australia NRC: The inaugural NRC begins its semi-final round of play, this weekend. Battling it for the right to be in the final, semi-final 1, will be the city slickers of Brisbane City, RWU favs, versus the country boys of NSW Country. In the other semi-final, two super rugby development sides Melbourne and Perth face off. Rumors are rife that the the two sides will cast away the player development principles of the tourney and bring their Super Rugby big guns for the playoffs so they win some hardware..

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 24th Oct 14
NSW Country Eagles – Brisbane City
Sat – 25th Oct 14
Melbourne Rising – Perth Spirit

Tier 3 The action this week was from 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. On Saturday, fast rising Turkey will take on a tough Bosnia & Herzegovina side…There will also be a men’s international in Asia between Thailand and Malaysia.

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

Penalty  Kick:

Manoa on the move
Manoa on the move?!?

Transactions: Toulouse flanker Thierry Dusautoir has confirmed that the reports of him having talks with English clubs regarding a potential move to the Premiership next season are true…Gloucester confirmed that England international openside flanker Matt Kvesic has signed a contract extension with the club…London Welsh may sue Premiership Rugby, the governing body of the Premiership, over their lack of funding compared to other clubs.

Northampton Saints and USA Eagle forward Samu Manoa has been linked with a move to French and European champions Toulon for next season according to reports. Toulon’s current second row Jocelino Suta has signed a contract extension with the club.

The Super Rugby Chiefs have bolstered their stocks by signing Tasman wing Bryce Heem and Auckland flanker Sean Polwart…The Highlanders have announced three signings to their 2015 Super Rugby squad, including the ITM Cup‘s leading point’s scorer, Marty Banks,  and veteran Lock Alex Ainley of Tasman. The third player was Taranaki winger Waisake Naholo. To make room, Robbie Fruean is set to return to the Crusaders after playing just four games for the Chiefs during his one season in Hamilton and being let go to  for Sonny Bill Williams...Former Bath boss Gary Gold is set to be appointed as the Sharks’ new director of rugby, according to South African media…The 18th Super Rugby side looks almost certain to go to Japan after the bid from Singapore effectively conceded defeat.

IRB News: The IRB has announced that for the IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2014 (ConfEx)  will have a new panel session, the “Olympic Rugby Sevens – Faster, Higher, Stronger” panel session to be exact. IOC member Patrick Baumann, Octavian Morariu, President of Rugby Europe and former Argentina international Augustin Pichot. will make up the panel. For more information, click here.

USA Rugby News and Updates: It was announced earlier this week that DHL has signed an agreement to become the Official Presenting Sponsor for USA Rugby. For a clear explanation of what this agreement entails, please click here.

On Wednesday, Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin has selected 35 players to be available for at least one of the team’s four matches in the month of November, including the historic match to take place Nov. 1 against the New Zealand All Blacks. Click here for the entire roster and availability.

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.