Global Rugby Recap: Dubai 7s, European Champions and Challenge Cup

A victorious SA side
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A victorious SA side
A victorious SA side

NEW YORK, NY – Tournaments dominated the Rugby headlines this weekend. The European Rugby Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Dubai 7s had us all scrambling to our televisions, computers and favorite bars to make sure we could cover all the action. And we have it all. But before we get into the fixtures let’s take a look at Player TransactionsUSA Rugby News and World Rugby News/Notes. Without further adieu, here’s our Global Rugby Recap:

Transactions: Gloucester have signed Tonga winger David Halaifonua, subject to visa approval, as a replacement for Tom Isaacs, who joined Cardiff Blues last week. Former England lock Mouritz Botha and Saracens to have agreed to his release on January 1, 2015, freeing Botha to join The Sharks, of Super Rugby, in South Africa.

We will wait to hear back from our Top 14 expert on this next batch of Top 14 rumors. According to reports from Toulon local paper Var Matin, Toulon are planning to replace the retiring Bakkies Botha with Eben Etzebeth, and he has already signed with the French champions…The Midi Olympique reported on Saturday that Montpellier and Fabien Galthié have parted ways after a run of six straight defeats.

USA Rugby News and Updates: The University of Minnesota-Duluth won their second straight Men’s DII college championship title, defeating Wisconsin-Whitewater 24-14on Sunday. We are still waiting for results in the two women’s championship matches. Penn State is facing off against Norwich to play for Women’s DI Fall Championship. Notre Dame College is squaring off against Winona Statefor the USA Rugby Women’s Division II College Championship. We will have the results in the Weekend Preview.

Australian-born USA lock Greg Petersen has been handed a trial by Leicester Tigers, according to This Is American Rugby. Petersen has played for Manly for several seasons and captained the North Harbour Rays in the inaugural season of the Australian National Rugby Championship, which lead to 1 appearance for the Super Rugby Waratahs in 2014. With no plans to return to Australia, Petersen will likely latch on with a side in Europe, if his trial is not successful.

World Rugby News: The pool draws Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens were made following the conclusion of the Dubai 7s. Here are the Pools:
Pool A: South Africa, Wales, USA and Kenya
Pool B: Australia, Argentina, Portugal, and Zimbabwe
Pool C: Fiji, Scotland, France and Canada
Pool D: New Zealand, England, Samoa and Japan

WEEKEND FIXTURES:
Dubai 7s: The HSBC Sevens World Series leg in Dubai is over. Dubai had both the men’s and women’s legs of the 7s series and there was a similar theme in both tournaments. Those themes were the USA sides trying to overcome a learning curve and the dominance of teams from the Southern Hemisphere. Please click here for the tournament review.

ECC Final AdEuropean Champions Cup: It was a a weekend of unpleasant weather in the European (Rugby) Champions Cup. The English sides managed to do very well in the bad weather. This was good news for them but for several other sides, all hope of progression have effectively been crushed. Our man from the East Midlands Man, Nick Hall, has diligently put forth an effort as great as those that took place in the rain and mud. Please click here for his fantastic review of the round.

European Challenge Cup: The second tier European Challenge Cup has become a quality tournament in its own right with loads of mid-table European clubs playing exciting rugby and showing their ambition to graduate from this competition and move on to the Champions Cup. On Thursday, Exeter continued their fine form in all competitions and put newly promoted Top 14 side La Rochelle to the sword. On Friday, Grenoble steamrollered Italian side Rovigo, Stade Francais came up short against Newcastle and Brive shockingly lost at home to Oyonnax in an all-Top 14 affair to close out Friday. On Saturday, Cardiff Blues defeated London Irish while, Bayonne traveled to the Irish west country and got walloped by Connacht. The Newport-Gwent Dragons stopped in Romania to face Bucharest and handed them a solid whopping. In another Top 14-only affair Bordeaux were too much for Lyon. Sunday saw Edinburgh keep the London Welsh winless-in-all-competitions side and Gloucester easily put away Zebre.

Here are the results:
THU – 4TH DEC 14
Pool 2 La Rochelle 10 – 36 Exeter
FRI – 5TH DEC 14
Pool 1 Grenoble 68 – 10 Rovigo
Pool 3 Newcastle Falcons 30 – 23 Stade Francais
Pool 5 Brive 22 – 30 Oyonnax
SAT – 6TH DEC 14
Pool 1 Cardiff Blues 24 – 14 London Irish
Pool 2 Connacht 42 – 19 Bayonne
Pool 3 Bucuresti 10 – 37 Dragons
Pool 4 Bordeaux-Begles 37 – 29 Lyon
SUN – 7TH DEC 14
Pool 4 Edinburgh 25 – 13 London Welsh
Pool 5 Gloucester 35 – 10 Zebre

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.

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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.