Weekend Rugby Preview: Steve Walsh, BT Sports, ENC, LV= Cup, WRPC, NACRA, USA Rugby, World Rugby News

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Steve Walsh looking towards his future
Steve Walsh looking towards his future

NEW YORK, NY – It is weekend of climatic matches. It will be the final weekend of the 6 Nations,, the Women’s 6 Nations, the U-20 6 Nations and the 6 Nations “B” . The LV= Cup final will also take place this weekend. In Super Rugby the final weekend is not here yet but some clubs season may well be over if they don’t start a winning streak, beginning with this weekend. The World Rugby Pacific Challenge and the NACRA Championships are not near their finals either but the still have very important matches taking place. However, lets first wade through all of the Transfer Rumors, Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news before we can get to the matches.Without further adieu, let’s just get into the Weekend Rugby Preview:

Player Transactions:
#Top14: Former Springbok scrum-half Enrico “Ricky” Januarie will leave Lyon to join La Rochelle next season on a two year deal… There is a massive club v country battle going on in French rugby at the moment. Clermont fly-half Camille Lopez  was ruled out of Saturday’s game with England, like a child in a custody battle, he is being used to further one sides wants. Two different opinions regarding his fitness due to the knee injury, are being given by the club and the national team along with allegations of impropriety slung at each other. For more information read articles here and here.

Aviva Premiership: Newcastle Falcons announced that Director of Rugby Dean Richards agreed to a new three-year contract that will extend his tenure at the club til June 2018. Joining Richards in extending his stay will be Argentine center Juan Pablo Socino who has agreed to a contract extension,  which will see him remain with the club until the end of the 2017/18 season. Coming to join that duo will be Tongan international prop Taione Vea, who will join the Premiership club from London Welsh on a two-year deal starting in with 2015/16 season…In further exiles news, the London Welsh announced that, former Wales defense coach, dual-code international and currently the club’s defense coach, Rowland Phillips was to be the new head coach, after Justin Burnell left the club with immediate effect following the sides 74-19 thrashing to the Exeter Chiefs. The Welsh are in their first season since winning promotion, have yet to win a single game in all competitions and in all likelihood return to the Championship… Leicester Tigers have completed the signings of two forwards according to the Leicester Mercury.  Lock Mike Fitzgerald will join the club from the Super Rugby Chiefs as will Exeter Chief Greg Bateman. The Daily Telegraph are also reporting that Wallaby and Super Rugby NSW Waratahs wing Peter Betham is close to signing a contract with Leicester that will see him join the club after the World Cup.

BT SportThe Aviva Premiership confirmed that it will be broadcast on BT Sport for the next six seasons in a ground-breaking new TV deal. The top flight of English club rugby will be live on BT Sport until at least the end of the 2020-21 campaign. The agreement covers:

• A four-year extension to the current four-year deal, making it the longest in Premiership Rugby history
• Live broadcast rights for up to 80 live matches per season from Aviva Premiership Rugby for four years starting from the 2017-18 season
• Extended highlights rights for all 135 Aviva Premiership Rugby matches per season from 2015-16
• Live broadcast rights to matches from the entire Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series until the end of the 2020-21 season
• Midweek Review and Preview programming

Guinness Pro12: Treviso have announced that Italian international backrower Alessandro Zanni has signed on for the next three seasons… Glasgow Warriors completed the signing of Edinburgh scrum-half Grayson Hart to a two-year contract. According to the Daily Mail, Edinburgh wing Tim Visser is being linked with a move to Harlequins. According to the same report, Super Rugby Waratahs winger Taqele Naiyaravoro is being touted as Visser’s replacement by Edinburgh while also being viewed as a long-term option for Scotland after completing a three-year residency. If that is not enough Edinburgh-Scotland rugby news, it appears Edinburgh and Scotland full-back Greig Tonks and back-row Roddy Grant signed extensions to their current contracts with the franchise.

Super Rugby: Bulls fly-half Tian Schoeman and props Dean Greyling and Dayan van der Westhuizen have all signed new contracts tying them to the franchise until 2017.

USA Rugby News/Updates: The USA Rugby Boys High School All-Americans will leave for the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens in England on Saturday, March 21. The team will compete against some of the finest schools from around the world for the fourth consecutive year. It will be coached Salty Thompson and for a full look at the squad and their schedule for the tournament that starts Thursday, March 26th, click hereUSA Rugby are currently accepting applicants for the head coaching roles for the AIG Men’s and Women’s Collegiate All-Americans and USA Rugby Girls High School All-Americans powered by Serevi. Click here to find out more about the positions and apply… Last week, it was announced that USA Rugby Director of Performance Alex Magleby, would be revamping the pathway in women’s rugby. This week, the revamped the Women’s Elite Coach Pathway and Elite Coach Development Program (ECDP) was announced. Details can be found by clicking hereUSA  Men’s 7s head coach Mike Friday, announced the squad that will travel to Hong Kong and Japan to play the Asian legs of the World Rugby Organization HSBC Sevens World Series. For a look at the squad, click here.

World Rugby News: The Australian Rugby Union have announced that international referee Steve Walsh has retired from all forms of match officiating to pursue business interests outside of rugby, effective immediately. It is a shock move as the 43-years-old Walsh was a veteran of four Rugby World Cups and likely to make a fifth in 2015.

As for the weekend’s fixtures:
Super Rugby: Our resident Kiwi and Super Rugby Expert Jamie Wall is experiencing a new feeling as his Hurricanes continue to do well. For his preview of round 6, how his Canes will do and all the match-ups, just click here.

RBS 6 Nations: The final round of the 6 nations is here. It all comes down to winning and scoring enough points to improve your points difference for Wales, Ireland and England. Our American Brit scholar, Nick Hall has great preview of the round and our expert panel’s picks if you click here.

RBS Women’s 6 Nations: Our new women’s rugby correspondent team of Audrey Youn and Akweley Okine will be providing coverage of the final round of action in women’s 6N. Like the men, the title will not be decided until all the matches are completed. This makes Sunday, title showdown Sunday. Click here for their awesome debut preview.

RBS U-20 6 Nations: The rising stars of European rugby, the U-20s will decide their 6N winner this weekend. England are the reigning U-20 JWC Champions so they are favored to take the title but don’t discount the competition. Italy kicks things off with their match against Wales. Scotland faces off with Ireland and England will take on France in a Junior level Le Crunch match.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 20th Mar 2015
Italy U20s  – Wales U20s
Scotland U20s – Ireland U20s
England U20s  – France U20s

Rugby Europe LogoEuropean Nations Cup:The ENC, or the 6 Nations “B” , is the premier tournament for the second-tier nations of Europe. Believe it or not, 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 aka the 6 Nations B is where the six best teams in the rest of Europe reside and there is no promotion to the Europe’s premier international rugby competition, only relegation back to 1B.

In 1A this weekend, Russia will welcome Portugal while Spain clashes with Germany. The match that everyone has waited for will see the two teams that have gone back and forth in winning the 6N B for the last few years, Romania and Georgia face-off. A forward friendly match that will resemble a snuff film for backs, is expected.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
SAT – 21st Mar 15
1A:  Russia – Portugal
1A: Spain – Germany
1A: Romania – Georgia

LV=Cup: The LV= Cup will be front and center this weekend as it reaches its climax. This cup is sometimes referred to as the Anglo-Welsh competition. It serves as an important developmental tournament for young players in Wales and England. Speaking of player development,the LV= 2014/15 Breakthrough Player of the Year went to Northahmpton‘s Tom Collins. We all maybe familiar with that name as a popular cocktail but seriously keep that name in mind for English rugby. Previous winners like Johnny May, Jack Nowell and Ollie Devoto are now regulars for their club and or country. As for match-up this weekend, defending champions  Exeter Chiefs will take on a very cagey and dangerous Saracens side.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sun – 22nd Mar 2015
Exeter Chiefs – Saracens

World Rugby Pacific Challenge: The WRPC, was formerly known as the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, but to make sure it wasn’t confused with the Pacific Nations Cup, it was re-branded. It has actually been held in an Australasian country since 2006. It features the National ‘A’ representative teams from the Asia-Pacific region, and is run by World Rugby through FORU, the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions. This year’s development teams are from Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji as one would expect. In a move to improve their program, Argentina (Pampas XV) joined last year and this year they are accompanied by Canada…In round 3 midweek action, Tonga A hammered Junior Japan, Pampas XV had little problem dispatching Canada A as did Fiji Warriors against Samoa A. Round 4 action will take place on Monday and the match-ups will be covered in the Global Recap.

Here are the Midweek results:
Wednesday – 18th Mar 2015
Junior Japan 24 – 60 Tonga A
Pampas XV 36 – 15 Canada A
Samoa A   20 – 42 Fiji Warriors


NACRANACRA CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015: Lost in the shuffle last week was the kicking off of the North America and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championship. The NACRA Championship is for the countries in North America and the Caribbean. NACRA has 2 zones with top level (championship) and a bottom level (cup). Each Championship zone has 3 teams while the Cup Zones have 4 each. The Zones are regionally divided, so there is a North Zone and South Zone. USA Rugby competes in the North Zone Championship division. The USA is represented by the USA South Regional all-star team, in order to develop talent and make the competition a much fairer one…The matches for this weekend will see the Cayman Islands welcome USA South, Bermuda battle Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago will do battle with Barbados. The British Virgin Islands will face Curacao and finally St Vincent and the Grenadines take on St Lucia. Due to a miscommunication, it was believed that the matches were last weekend but they are this weekend.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
SAT – 21st Mar 15
North Zone Championship League
Cayman Islands – USA South
North Zone Cup League
Bermuda – Bahamas
South Zone Championship League
Trinidad & Tobago – Barbados
South Zone Cup League
British Virgin Islands – Curacao
St Vincent and the Grenadines – St Lucia

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 Hall, DJ 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.