Global Rugby Recap: Fabien Barcella, Project Alcatraz, Challenge Cup and USA News

Fabien Barcella
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Fabien Barcella
Fabien Barcella

NEW YORK, NY – The European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup were the only tournaments on the worldwide schedule of note this weekend. Also reporting this weekend: Transfer Rumors, Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news. Now here’s your Global Rugby Recap:

Player Transactions: January  is the start of rugby’s silly season. It is when all the gossip and rumors come to the forefront as  players can be contacted by clubs trying to persuade them to leave their current club.

We begin with the rumor mill of the Top 14. Bordeaux-Bègles confirmed the signing of Super Rugby Blues’ eightman Peter Saili, who will join the club later this month. Grenoble announced the signing of 3 players for the start of the 2015/2016 season. They are former France loosehead prop Fabien Barcella, 23-year-old Racing-Métro tighthead Walter Desmaison and 23-year-old Biarritz lock Mathias Marie.  

In the Aviva Premiership, Harlequins announced the re-signing of three of their young players, second row George Merrick and utility back brothers Ross and James Chisholm until at least 2017.

USA Rugby News and Updates: USA Rugby announced that fifty-seven athletes from around the country responded to USA Rugby’s National Team Olympic Recruitment Camp last weekend at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. According to USA Rugby, Men’s Eagles Sevens Assistant Coach Chris Brown, USA Rugby National Sevens Director Alex Magleby, and Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin were all present at the open tryout camp.

Project Alcatraz
Project Alcatraz

World Rugby News: Currently on the BBC website, there is a great piece on rugby for rehab in Venezuela. Project Alcatraz reintegrates criminals into society through rugby. The project has made its creator, Alberto Vollmer, popular not only with the local community but with the government. It has reduced the murder rate from 114 homicides per 100,000 people down to 12 homicides for every 100,000 people according to official reports. For the full article click here.

Plymouth Albion & The Championship: Plymouth Albion have little more than a week to raise £250,000 or go into administration and be relegated from the Championship. The plight of a club that has tried to pay its way in a division dominated by two sides for whom money is little object, Bristol and Worcester, without in any way trying to match them, has raised the issue of funding in English rugby’s second tier. For the full article, click here.

European Champions Cup: Round 5 of The European (Rugby) Champions Cup is complete and now things are rather straight forward. Of the 20 teams that started pool play on match day one, only about 11 are in the hunt for the quarterfinals. Some have already clinched a quarterfinal spot and are looking towards home field advantage throughout the knockout phases. Others are hoping to win next week and get a little bit of help with the results of the other matches. Our East Midlands man, Nick Hall, has put together a great review of all of the round 5 action. Please lookout for his review later this week.

The European Challenge Cup Trophy
The European Challenge Cup Trophy

European Challenge Cup: The European Challenge Cup is also completing its 5th round of play.  With only the top seeds of each pool advancing to the quarterfinals, the top 3 sides that fail to qualify for the Champions Cup quarterfinals are put into the Challenge Cup quarterfinals so it is ‘finish first or bust’. It was a near clean sweep this weekend as nearly all the home teams won every match. The action kicked off when Cardiff Blues annihilated Rovigo, while Brodeaux-Begles stuffed London Welsh. Stade Francais easily dispatched Romania side Bucharest, while Zebre pulled a small upset against Brive. Gloucester handily won at home against Oyonnax. London Irish edged Grenoble in a shootout while Newcastle lost to Newport-Gwent. Bayonne shutout La Rochelle in an all Top14 clash while Lyon barely beat Edinburgh. The game that was the match of the round saw Connacht upended at home by Exeter.

Here are the results:
FRI – 16TH JAN 15
Cardiff Blues 104 – 12 Rovigo
Bordeaux-Begles 26 – 3 London Welsh
Sat – 17th Jan 15
Stade Francais 47 – 12 Romania Bucuresti
Zebre 23 – 13 Brive
Gloucester 33 – 3 Oyonnax
London Irish 43 – 41 Grenoble
Newcastle 29 – 40 Newport Gwent Dragons
Bayonne 14 – 0 La Rochelle
Lyon 21 – 19 Edinburgh
Sun – 18th Jan 15
Connacht 24 – 33 Exeter

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