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On his way to Queensland: Matt O'Connor
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Matt OConnor
Matt O’Connor in happier times (we think)

NEW YORK, NY – Its about that time. And no, we don’t mean time for the rhythm and the rhyme. It is the first weekend of the playoffs for two of Europe’s three leagues, the Aviva Premiership and the Guinness Pro 12 and the #Top14 has its final round. In addition to that we have the final leg of HSBC World Rugby Org Womens Sevens World Series in Amsterdam. Plus, there is also the Junior (U-20) Rugby World Trophy to discuss along with Tier 3 international rugby championships in South America, Africa and Asia. Before we get to all of the matches,  we must discuss all of the Transfers, Player Transactions, USA Rugby and World Rugby news. And now, let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview:

Ladies first:

Amsterdam 7s: The Women’s series is on its final leg in action.  For a complete preview/update of the action checkout our team USA Women’s analysis and tournament preview by clicking here.

Player Transactions:

Guinness Pro12: Leinster have announced that head coach Matt O’Connor will depart the province at the end of the season by mutual agreement. It is an absolute shocker and game-changer in the Pro12… Former Wales scrum-half Richie Rees will joined the Dragons coaching stuff as academy skills coach from next season, it has been confirmedGlasgow Warriors have confirmed that utility back and Canadian International Connor Braid will leave the club at the end of the season.

Aviva Premiership:  London Welsh announced the signing of  former European Cup and Premiership-winning Samoan international lock Dan Leo, who joins from London Irish… Sale Sharks had made two key signings this week as they landed one-time All Black lock Bryn Evans from French club Biarritz on a two-year deal. Prior to that Sale signed former Ireland international scrum-half Peter Stringer on a one-year contract. Sale also had two key subtractions as Italian duo Luke McLean and Alberto de Marchi are both set to return to Italy to continue their club careers after the Rugby World Cup…Harlequins confirmed that center Tom Casson will join Championship side Yorkshire Carnegie from next season…Mathew Tait may end up staying with Leicester Tigers with confusion hanging over his move to Top 14 side Bayonne… Bayonne’s financial trouble and proposed merger with Biarritz is currently off but future talks haven’t been ruled out, with any merger likely to have major ramifications for the new side’s playing squad… Wasps had a super busy week, signing 11 players. They announced that center/wing/fullback Elliot Daly, backrower/hooker Ashley Johnson, prop Matt Mullan and scrumhalf Joe Simpson have all signed new contracts with the club. Talented up-and-coming players, Sam Jones, Thomas Young and Will Rowlands also earned new contracts. They then announced four new signings for the 2015/16 season, beginning with center Brendan Macken joining the Premiership club from PRO12 side Leinster. Meanwhile, center James Downey will remain at the club after arriving from Glasgow Warriors in February as injury cover. 23-year-old loosehead prop Tom Bristow will join Wasps from  Leicester meanwhile, Scotland A scrum-half, Jamie Stevenson, will provide another option at nine after four seasons with London Scottish.

Ash Splash heading to France
Ash Splash heading to France

#TOP14: According to the Midi Olympique, Clermont have set their sights on Saracens pair Chris Ashton and David Strettle as they look to boost their wing stocks. In more Clermont news, wing Napolioni Nalaga is set to join second flight side Lyon next season after undergoing a medical with the club. Previously Nalaga was due to leave Clermont for Toulon at the end of the season. Finally, Clermont have signed up two key players to extensions with new deals for France pair Vincent Debaty and Noa Nakaitaci… Wasps are set to bring in Wallaby legend George Smith from Lyon this season after the French side were relegated from the Top 14…Jake White has emerged as the latest candidate to replace Philippe Saint-André as French coach according to reports. Keep in mind, that former World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward was also rumored to be on the shortlist…Ugo Mola will join Toulouse next season and looks set to succeed Guy Novès at the head of the team after more than two decades.

Super Rugby: The Cheetahs will lose Springbok flanker Heinrich Brussow at the end of the season after ten years with the franchise. Brussow will not sign a new deal with the side focusing instead on his Japanese side, the Docomo HurricanesWaratahs utility back Jono Lance will join the Western Force for 2016, after signing with the Perth-based franchise for two seasons… The Melbourne Rebels have announced the signing of Reds hooker James Hanson for the 2016 and 2017 Super Rugby seasons.


USA Rugby News/Updates: After the flurry of 15s championships the focus is now on 7s, specifically the College 7s Nationals this weekend in Denver (streamed live on

World Rugby News: Vern Cotter has continued to shape of Scotland‘s backroom  with the recruitment of highly-rated New Zealander Jason O’Halloran to take the reins of the national team’s backs after the Rugby World Cup.O’Halloran, 42, will see out the remainder of his club contract as head coach of the Manawatu Turbos, and arrive in November, to take on the mantle from Duncan Hodge, who announced his move to Edinburgh Rugby yesterday (Tuesday).

As for the weekend’s fixtures:
Super Rugby: Our Super Rugby expert, Kiwi , has another fantastic preview. Soem of the action has already kicked of shares his thoughts on that and his predictions for the week. Here is a freebie, he was wrong to pick against my Blues at Eden Park!! You can check out his wonderful piece if you, Click Here.

#Top14: According to our Top 14 expert, , will cover the final weekend in a great review. In the meantime, lets look at the match-ups for this weekend.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 23rd May 15
Bayonne – La Rochelle
Brive – Stade Français
Lyon – Grenoble
Montpellier – Clermont
Racing Métro – Castres
Toulon – Oyonnax
Toulouse – Bordeaux Bègles

Original Filename: ARF_7161Aviva Premiership: It is time for the second season. Playoff rugby is  a whole other animal and we will find out just how dangerous, this Saturday. Bath will welcome Leicester and Northampton will take on Saracens

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 23rd May 15
Bath v Leicester
Northampton – Saracens

Guinness Pro 12: Playoff rugby has begun and the Glasgow Warriors have confirmed their place in the final once again. The Warriors edged out Ulster thanks to a kick. Munster will challenge Ospreys in the other semi-final.

Here are the results:
Fri – 22nd May 15
Glasgow Warriors 16-14 Ulster

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 16th May 15
Munster – Ospreys

World-Rugby-U20-TrophyJunior World Rugby TrophyThe Junior (Under-20) World Rugby Trophy is a tournament for the second tier nations of rugby at the U-20 level. The winner gets promoted to the Junior World Cup competition which features, the top tier nations in international rugby. It is being held in Portugal this year. The USA failed to qualify this year and lost out to Canada. The teams playing this year are Canada, Uruguay, Portugal, Georgia, Namibia, Fiji, Tonga and Hong Kong. This week will be the start of pool play. Fans can watch live streaming of the tournament around the world. Two venues will be in use on each of the four match days during the tournament in Lisbon with all games being available to view via the Portuguese Rugby Union (FPR) website. In the final round of play, Uruguay scraped by Fiji and Georgia barely survived host Portugal. Canada survived Tonga by the slimmest of margins and Namibia comfortably beat Hong Kong.

Here are the results:
Wed – 20th May 15
Fixtures (local times)
Pool A – CAR Rugby do Jamor
15:00 Fiji 26 – 28 Uruguay
17:00 Georgia 19 – 11 Portugal
Pool B – Estadio Universitario de Lisboa
15:00 Tonga 11 – 13 Canada
17:00 Namibia 36 – 12 Hong Kong

For the title round, Portugal challenges Hong Kong, Fiji faces of against Namibia, Uruguay locks horns with Tonga and Georgia takes on Canada for the title and right to be promoted to the U20 Cup.

Here is the schedule:
Sun – 24th May 15
Fixtures (local times)
11:00 – 7th Place: Portugal – Hong Kong
13:00 – 5th Place: Fiji – Namibia
15:00 – 3rd Place: Uruguay – Tonga
17:00 – Championship: Georgia – Canada

Confederation_of_African_Rugby_(logo)Africa Cup: The Africa Cup 2015 will be the fifthteenth edition of the continental tournament that involves the best African national teams, organized by the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR). Given their superiority, the South African national team has rarely participated in the tournament and the 4 times the SARU has, they sent either a U-23 team or amateur side, they go on to win it. Beyond South Africa, there are up to 27 rugby countries in the Cup with the national participants in the two divisions with each division divided into three groups ( 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, and 2C ), with promotion and relegation. Tournaments Divisions 1A and 1B’s games are often double as qualification games for the Rugby World Cup. In division 2 North, Burkina Faso plays against Benin, Togo takes on Mali and Niger challenges Ghana. I think you all know, where I stand in that game.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sun – 24th May 15
North 2: Burkina Faso – Bénin
North 2: Togo – Mali
North 2: Niger – Ghana

European 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…This weekend sees Ukraine host the Netherlands, Denmark faces off against Luxembourg, Finland will go against Turkey.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 23rd May 15
1B: Ukraine – Netherlands
2D: Denmark – Luxembourg
2D: Finland – Turkey

Paraguay v Colombia
Paraguay v Colombia

South American Championships (SAMC) 2015: The SAMC is the same as the ENC – except it’s South America,  a minor detail – and that has 4 divisions featuring 15 teams. It is the battle to find the 2nd best team in South America with Argentina the firm number 1. The top division is called the CONSUR division and features Argentina’s B team, Uruguay and Chile. Speaking of the CONSUR division, this weekend will see Paraguay get crushed by the continental giants, Argentina. In and Exhibition match a Fiji President’s XV will take on Uruguay.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 9th May 15
Paraguay – Argentina

Exhibition Match
Fiji XV- Uruguay

The Asian Rugby Championship, which is similar to the ENC (European Nation’s Cup) but with 5 divisions with the 3 most dominant teams, the tri-nations of Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan in the top division. There are 4 teams in division 1 and 2 then division 3 is broken up into East, Central and West with 3 teams each before we finally get to division 4 with 7. Believe it or not this is allegedly streamlined from previous years where it was just 5 divisions and 5 teams in each…As for the weekend’s fixtures, Hong Kong will take on the giants of Asia, Japan. In D3 action Uzbekistan takes on Pakistan.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 23rd May 15
Top: Hong Kong – Japan

Sun – 24th May 15
D3 Central: Uzbekistan – Pakistan

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, Audrey Youn, Akweley Okine, Rocky Brown 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