Weekend Rugby Preview: South Africa 7s, European Champions and Challenge Cup

Laeving: Billy Millard
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Paul Treu with JWB at the 2013 Las Vegas 7s
Paul Treu with JWB at Las Vegas 7s

NEW YORK, NY – This weekend’s rugby features a severe case of deja vu – but it’s not a glitch in the matrix. The major club tournaments in the limelight are the European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, as the teams play the second half of a double-header of Pool matches… Other major events going on include another World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series event – the South Africa 7s.  Before we get into the fixtures, we’ll look at the week’s Player Transactions, USA Rugby News and World Rugby News Notes. No more needs to be said; here’s the Weekend Rugby Preview:

Transactions: The biggest news of the week is that promising Munster fly-half JJ Hanrahan is set to leave the province and join Northampton, according to reports in Ireland. The discussions and anger among the Irish rain men has reached Def-Con levels. All RWU staff have done our best to steer clear of Munsterman Declan Yeats

Meanwhile, Bath hookers Rob Webber and Ross Batty have both extended their contracts with the club.

Leinster fly-half Jimmy Gopperth has confirmed he will leave the club at the end of the season. Gopperth is currently in talks with a number of Aviva Premiership sides…

Wales International flanker Dan Lydiate has become the first player to join Wales captain Sam Warburton on a National Dual Contract between the Welsh Rugby Union and the Regions. Lydiate surprisingly signed with the Neath-Swansea Ospreys and not his hometown the Newport-Gwent Dragons as many expected…

Ulster announced that Ireland center Darren Cave signed a new three-year contract that will keep him with the club to the summer of 2018.

Fabien Galthie will not leave Montpellier as he has received the players backing to continue to stay on as coach…Soon-to-be Queensland Red James O’Connor has pushed back his return to Australia for one month after he was granted a brief extension to help his injury-hit Top 14 club Toulon.

The Super Rugby Melbourne Rebels announced that scrum-half Nic Stirzaker has signed a new a two year deal keeping him in Melbourne through 2017.

Laeving: Billy Millard
Leaving: Billy Millard

USA Rugby News and Updates: Penn State crushed Norwich 42-5 to win the Women’s DI Fall Championship. Notre Dame College defeated 45-10 Winona State for the USA Rugby Women’s Division II College Championship.

The full list of presenters and presentations for the the 2015 National Development Summit in Chicago, Ill. taking place from Jan. 23-25, 2015, has been announced. Please Click Here, to see the list.

USA Rugby will hold its first National Team Olympic Recruitment Camp, at the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. For more information, Click Here.

The cloudy future of the Las Vegas 7s won’t go away. According to This Is American Rugby, the key part of the future of the 7s tournament will be decided when the Las Vegas City Council votes on December 17 on whether to approve a revised term sheet for a $200million stadium downtown that would be home to a Major League Soccer expansion team.

In shocking news, Junior All-Americans head coach and 15s High Performance Pathway Director Billy Millard is leaving USA Rugby to return to the Cardiff Blues, where he will become the region’s new head of elite performance.

The inaugural URugby Challenge Cup, an inter-conference collegiate sevens tournament has been announce. It will takes place in the Philadelphia area April 11-12, 2015. The Venue has yet to be finalized but we can expect that announcement shortly.

Stars Rugby and Northeast ODA will be sending teams to the  Tobago International Rugby Sevens Tournament this weekend. Stars are sending a Mens and Womens side, while the Northeast ODA is only sending a men’s side.

World Rugby News: Paul Treu has resigned from his post as Kenya Sevens head coach and will leave the team after this weekend’s South Africa 7s. The former South Africa Sevens coach sent an email message to the Kenya Rugby Union [KRU] chairman, Mwangi Muthee stating that it was impossible to continue working with some members of the KRU board, who – he said, were destroying Kenya rugby.

World Rugby has announced the match official appointments for the RBS Six Nations 2015 in February. Click here for the list…World Rugby has confirmed that Moldova player Maxim Gargalic has been suspended for two years for an anti-doping rule violation.


South Africa 7s: The HSBC Sevens World Series has moved to its third leg, South Africa. To prepare you, we have a preview of the USA teams and a tournament analysis. Please click here.

European Champions Cup: The European (Rugby) Champions Cup has reached round 4. For those clubs still in the hunt, it is a make-it-or-break-it round. Others will still be playing for a place in the Challenge Cup, if they can’t move on to the quarterfinals. Once again, our East Midlands Man Nick Hall has put together an enthralling preview featuring the Six Pack’s picks, please click here.

The European Challenge Cup Trophy
European Challenge Cup

European Challenge Cup: The second tier, European Challenge Cup tournament should not be dismissed because it is a second tier competition You will find it filled with European clubs with real ambitions and playing a very entertaining brand of rugby. Some clubs will most likely make the Champions’ Cup competition next season, such is their talent. On Thursday, Stade Francais got a big win at home against Newcastle.

As for the matches going on this weekend:

Dragons will welcome Bucuresti while Lyon and Bordeux meet for a third time this season, once in the Top14 and twice in the ECC. Rovigo will host Grenoble as will London Irish when they face the Cardiff Blues. La Rochelle will travel to Exeter while Connacht travels to Bayonne. In a likely ugly affair, Zebre will take on Gloucester, while in an intriguing match-up Top14 rivals Brive and Oyonnax fight it out. Finally, London Welsh will hope to get their first all season against guests Edinburgh.

Here are the results:

Thu – 11th Dec 14

Pool 3 Stade Francais 31 – 24 Newcastle Falcons

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 12th Dec 14
Pool 3 Dragons – Bucuresti
Pool 4 Lyon Olympique – Bordeaux-Begles
Sat – 13th Dec 14
Pool 1 Rovigo – Grenoble
Pool 1 London Irish – Cardiff Blues
Pool 2 Exeter – La Rochelle
Pool 2 Bayonne – Connacht
Pool 5 Zebre – Gloucester
Pool 5 Oyonnax – Brive
Sun – 14th Dec 14
Pool 4 London Welsh – Edinburgh

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.