Weekend Rugby Preview: Suniula, Robbie Shaw, USA Rugby News, 6N, ENC, Player Moves

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Suniula heading to Romania according to the paper

NEW YORK, NY – We have so much rugby action that this week, some staff members were mumbling under their breath. Our coverage begins with the 6 Nations, Women’s 6 Nations, U-20 6 Nations and 6 Nations “B” aka European Nations Cup (two divisions). In the Southern Hemisphere, there is action in their premier intercontinental league, Super Rugby. From the south, we go back up north to cover the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12, two of Europe‘s three top leagues. We must take a deep breathe before we get to the matches because we have to cover Transfer Rumors, Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news. Let’s take one more deep breathe and begin the Weekend Rugby Preview:

Player Transactions:
#Top14: WalesOnline claims that Racing Metro will release Wales international center Jamie Roberts at the end of the current campaign, citing ‘financial constraints,’ along with the fact that Roberts will be away for the first three months of next season due to the Rugby World CupClermont have found their replacement for departing winger Napolioni Nalaga in the form of 23-year-old former New Zealand Sevens international and current Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo, who has signed a two-year deal with an option for a third.

Aviva Premiership: Wasps have announced the arrival of World Cup winner Piri Weepu from London Welsh and Gloucester full-back Martyn Thomas as injury cover until the end of the season. Weepu earlier this week announced that he was joining Top 14 side Oyonnax at the end of the season… Newcastle Falcons have signed England Sevens international star Marcus Watson for the 2015/2016 season. Marcus is the 23-year-old older brother of England and Bath winger Anthony. With the England Sevens team, he has stepped into the playmaker role vacated by former Falcon and RWU friend Ben Gollings during the 2011/2012 season. The Falcons also completed the signing of Tongan scrum-half Sonatane Takulua until the end of next season… Harlequins have signed back-rower Netani Talei for the remainder of the season… Gloucester announced the signing of scrum-half Will Heinz, who will join from Super Rugby’s Crusaders ahead of next season… Wasps‘  Samoan winger Sailosi Tagicakibau has extended his contract at the club for another season… Bath announced that scrum-half Jonathan Evans will join from Newport Gwent Dragons for the 2015 season… London Irish confirmed that back-rower Conor Gilsenan has signed a two-year contract extension. Speaking about Bath and London Irish, the former’s Matt Garvey has said that rumours of him rejecting a possible return to the latter are incorrect… Northampton Saints have announced that scrum-half Tom Kessell is joining the club ahead of the 2015/16 season. Kessell just signed a short-term deal with Bristol of England’s Greene King IPA Championship from the Cornish Pirates yesterday until the end of the season. Keep the name Kessell in mind.

Guinness Pro12: Cardiff Blues director of rugby Mark Hammett will leave the club with immediate effect.

Super Rugby: Prop Pauliasi Manu and winger James Lowe re-signed with the the Chiefs for another two years… The Lions have secured  lock Andries Ferreira to a two-year contract as well as academy products center Harold Vorster and lock JP du Preez until the end of the 2016 season.

Robbie Shaw

USA Rugby News/Updates: USA center Andrew Suniula has apparently negotiated a deal with CSM Bucuresti and he’s going there to take the medical tests before signing… 31-year-old USA scrum-half Robbie Shaw has signed with Bristol. Shaw will be loaned back out to Esher, where he is currently playing, as he will be behind former Wales international Dwayne Peel, Craig Hampson and the aforementioned Tom Kessell in the Bristol pecking order. Newly-appointed USA Rugby director of performance Alex Magleby has announced the restructuring of the women’s high performance program. The efforts of the Women’s Eagles, AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans and AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans have been combined into one program to create a clearer pathway. To read more click here… The pools and fixtures for Atlanta 7s, the third leg of the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series have been announced, click here… In an interesting collaboration between World Rugby and USA Rugby, national team members past and present will be surveyed and interviewed in the coming months as part of a study to better understand the factors that cause players to either leave or stay with the sport. Click here for the full read… The Eagles will have a spring camp in Sunrise, Fla., from Feb. 26 to March 1 in preparation for a three-match tour to South America, the Pacific Nations Cup and the upcoming Rugby World Cup in England. The list of the 33 invitees can be found here and the less said the better about some of the selections on that list.

World Rugby News: A law interpretation group has attempted to provide clarity around when there is time left to restart after a score. Please click here for the press release… The remaining information regarding ticket sales and purchase for the U20 Championship in Italy has been released. Click here to read more… In big news, for 7s rugby and Rugby Canada, Vancouver has been announced as the newest addition to the World Rugby Sevens Series cycle beginning next season, the 2015-16 season. For more info on the 25 countries between out, Click hereFinn Russell of Scotland (a RWU Class of 2015 member) was suspended for two weeks for a clash with Wales’ Dan Biggar in the air. This story by the BBC covers how the incident went from yellow to a suspension and how he lost his appeal, Click here.

As for the weekend’s fixtures:

Super Rugby: Our resident Kiwi and Super Rugby expert  Jamie Wall has tried to understand the inconsistency of the citing commission. Not for Finn Russell but for the like Owen Franks, Hayden Triggs and Kane Hames where there appeared to be three different sanctions for the same offense. After trying to make heads or tails of the decision, Mr. Wall goes on to preview round three of the Super Rugby season and the interesting and not-so-interesting match-ups of the round.  So far he has predicted the first match of the weekend correctly as the Highlanders did enough to beat the Reds. For his full report, click here.

RBS 6 Nations: Over the years of the 4N/5N/6N the big match-up has often been someone against England. For a while it was Scotland v England, then France v England, these past few years it has Ireland v England that has gone a long way toward deciding the 6N winner. Our European Rugby expert James Harrington has a great preview of the big game, as well as the tournament’s unique ‘dog bites man’ story. For the preview, click here to read it as it also features our Expert Panel’s Picks.

RBS Women’s 6 Nations: The other half of the dynamic writing duo that are the Harringtons, the lovely Scheenagh Harrington has been busy. 6nations logoScheens’ patience and research skills are being pushed to the limit by the Women’s 6N, though. The sparse coverage and attention has had her digging for every nugget of information she can find and present to you, our beloved fans, regarding the women’s game. Check it out here preview of round three by clicking here.

RBS U-20 6 Nations: The stars of the future of European rugby also have their 6N matches this weekend to give fans a preview of what’s to come. Like the big boys, Ireland welcome England , while Italy will travel to Scotland and face Wales journey over to France

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 27th Feb 2015
Ireland U20s – England U20s
Scotland U20s – Italy U20s
Sat – 28th Feb 2015
France U20s – Wales U20s

European Nations Cup: The ENC, or the 6 Nations “B” , is the premier tournament for the second-tier nations of Europe. Unbeknown to some, the ENC consists of seven divisions, each featuring between four and six teams. The matches played will determine who will get promoted and relegated from groups 1B, 2A – 2D, and 3A over a two-year cycle. Division 1A, where the best teams in Europe not called England, Ireland, France, Italy, Wales or Scotland reside, has no promotion option – only relegation back to 1B. Hopefully promotion from 1A to the proper 6N will eventually occur… but we aren’t banking on it.

In 1A this weekend,  Russia will host Romania while Germany and Georgia face Portugal and Spain, respectively.  In 1B, the Netherlands try to bounce back from last week’s loss when they face Moldova.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 28th Feb 2015
1A: Russia – Romania
1A: Spain – Georgia
1A: Portugal – Germany

1B: Netherlands – Moldova

Aviva Cup
Aviva Cup

Aviva Premiership: Our Midlands rugby man, Nick Hall in his recap of round 15, perfectly described the AP playoff race as being in chaos. While the first two spots are secure, only one point separates third through seventh. As the pressure ramps up even higher this week, there will be a few fewer finger nails on the hands of coaches and fans alike after this week. The round begins with top-of-the-table Northampton hosting playoff chasers Harlequins. London’s two exile clubs go at it as London Welsh face London Irish while a recently in-form Newcastle side makes the trip to the Smoke to face Saracens. In another big clash with playoff implications, Leicester host Sale, and Exeter will have Midlands clash against Bath. The final match of the weekend sees a Wasps side in playoff contention against a not-so-much-in-contention Gloucester.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 27th Feb 15
Northampton – Harlequins
Sat – 28th Feb 15
London Welsh – London Irish
Saracens – Newcastle
Leicester – Sale
Exeter – Bath
Sun – 1st Mar 15
Wasps – Gloucester

Guinness Pro 12: The race for playoff places in the Pro12 is also pretty tight. The top five teams are separated by seven points and the sixth place side is two bonus-point wins away from joining the chase and adding to the chaos. But, time is running out for the sixth-placed side, Connacht, and everyone else chasing top-of-the-table Glasgow. The weekend begins with second-place Ulster hosting Scarlets, while fourth-place Leinster take on fifth-place Ospreys in a match with huge playoff implications. In another match that that effects the playoff picture, Glasgow will travel to Ireland and take on third-place Munster. Cardiff will welcome Edinburgh, Newport-Gwent travel to Italy to face Zebre and Connacht hope to get a huge bonus-point win against Treviso.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 27th Feb 15
Ulster – Scarlets
Ospreys – Leinster
Sat – 28th Feb 15
Munster – Glasgow Warriors
Sun – 01st Mar 15
Cardiff Blues – Edinburgh
Zebre – Newport Gwent Dragons
Connacht – Benetton Treviso

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, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Nick HallDJ Eberle, Jake Frechette, Scheenagh Harrington, Jamie Loyd, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter 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.