O’Connell, Toulon, Montpelier, Hartley, Player Moves, USA Rugby and World Rugby News

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Paul O'Connell
Paul O’Connell

NEW YORK, NY – The shortened holiday week didn’t mean there was any less to cover. With less days to get our act together we dug deep and are able to produce another fine, Weekend Rugby Preview:

Player Transactions:

Guinness Pro12: Connacht and the Irish Rugby Football Union announced the signing of Leinster second-row Ben Marshall, for next season… Glasgow announced that back-row James Eddie and prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa have signed new deals, ahead of Saturday’s Pro12 final with MunsterThe Newport-Gwent Dragons have announced that long-serving center Ashley Smith has been forced to retire on medical grounds with immediate effect.

Aviva Premiership: Gloucester announced that 18-year-old Mat Protheroe, one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract. The Swansea born player, equally competent at fly-half or full-back, has deservedly earned rave reviews for his performances this season for Hartpury RFC in National League Division One and made his Aviva Premiership A League debut for Gloucester against the Sale Jets in January. He was then selected for England U18 and produced a Man of the Match performance in their 21-5 victory over France.

In Promotion/Relegation News, Bristol lost to Worcester by an aggregate score of 59-58 (29-28 in first game, 30-30 in second game). This mean Worcester are immediately back in the Aviva Premiership after a year in the Championship.

Quade Cooper

#TOP14: Oyonnax have continued their recruitment for next season by signing recently relegated Lyon’s Vincent Martin…According to the Irish Times, Paul O’Connell’s move to Toulon is a done deal, which he will announce next week after the Pro12 final. In other reports, Toulon president Mourad Boujdellal claims that Reds team-mates James O’Connor and Quade Cooper will be reunited in France later this year. Cooper is expected to confirm the two-year deal he signed within the next two weeks, while Boudjellal insists that O’Connor has agreed to return to the French club after Rugby World Cup… Clermont have completed the signings of two World Cup jokers for next season when they will be deprived of their internationals. They are Fijian winger Albert Vulivuli and Georgian hooker Iuri Natriashvili, the pair will join the club for the first seven rounds of the season through to November while the internationals will be at the World Cup…Australian playmaker Ben Lucas has extended his contract with Montpellier for another year after impressing in his first season, keeping him with the club until 2016. The rest of the new signings and departures for Montpellier were just published.

New Montpellier signings – 
Schalk van der Merwe (prop, Lions),
Paul Willemse (lock, Grenoble),
Jacques du Plessis (loose forward, Bulls),
Willem Liebenberg (loose forward, Bulls),
Nic White (scrum-half, Brumbies),
Cameron White (scrum-half, Sharks),
Demetri Catrakilis (fly-half, Stormers),
Julien Malzieu (wing, Clermont),
Marvin O’Connor (wing, Bayonne),
Seveci Nakailagi (wing, Fiji),
Jessie Mogg (full-back, Brumbies).

Montpellier departures – Yohann Artru, David Attoub, Thomas Bianchin, Alexandre Bias, Maximiliano Bustos, Lucas Dupont, Teddy Iribaren, Chris King, Na’ama Leleimalefaga, Nahuel Lobo, Wynand Olivier, Jonathan Pélissié, Fred Quercy, Rene Ranger, Enzo Selponi, Benoît Sicart, Alex Tulou, Samisoni Viriviri, Albert Vulivuli.

Super-Rugby-SharksSuper Rugby: The Sharks have confirmed a rare trade in rugby as fly-half Fred Zeilinga heads to the Cheetahs and Joe Pietersen heads to their way, ahead of the Currie Cup.After almost five years as SANZAR’s Chief Executive Officer, Greg Peters has announced his resignation to take up a new role as General Manager of Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR), including the new Super Rugby franchise.

USA Rugby News/Updates: USA Rugby announced a partnership with Gullivers Sport USA to provide low cost travel to Rugby World Cup 2015 England accessible to every rugby enthusiast, click here… USA Rugby announced a search for a new head coach for the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans, click here… The USA Men’s Eagles Sevens head back to camp in advance of 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships, click here for the rundown of the squads preparations and the roster…Jillian Potter and some of the College All-Americans joined Women’s Eagles Sevens in pre-NACRA Sevens Camp, click here for more information. This weekend will see the latest installment of the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s sponsored by Penn Mutual in Philadelphia. NBC, NBC Universal and the NBC Sports Network will provid coverage. Check your local listings.

World Rugby News: England hooker Dylan Hartley has been dropped from England’s World Cup squad after his latest suspension…World Rugby Council has reinstated the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Rugby (FRMR), Morocco’s national union and the Hellenic Rugby Federation (HRF), Greece’s national union as full member unions following periods of suspension.

Super Rugby LogoAs for the weekend’s fixtures:
Super Rugby: Our Super Rugby expert, Kiwi , has a great preview of another big week of super rugby action as well as his thoughts on some of the week’s news. For his fantastic preview Click Here.

#Top14: Our Top 14 expert, , will be back to recap the first round of the Top 14 playoffs. The playoffs began with long time rivals Stade Francais and Racing Metro doing battle, which Stade won handily. In the second match, historic giants Toulouse will take on upstarts Oyonnax.

Here is the weekend’s result:
Fri – 29th May 15
Stade Français 38 – 15 Racing Métro

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 30th May 15
Toulouse – Oyonnax

Aviva Premiership: It’s time for the big game. The one you play all year so you have the privilege to play at the end. Our Aviva Expert, Nick Hall has a quality preview of the final, just click here.

Guiness Pro12 awardGuinness Pro 12: As we have already mentioned, The Glasgow Warriors will take on Munster in the Pro12 Final, in Belfast. Will Munster give Paul O’Connell a great send off or will Glasgow finally win their first trophy.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 30th May 15
Glasgow Warriors – Munster

Exhibition Matches: There are two exhibition matches this weekend. The Fiji Warriors will take on Uruguay, while Kenya clashes Portugal.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 30th May 15
Exhibition Match: Uruguay – Fiji Warriors
Exhibition Match: Kenya – Portugal

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 Championships midweek action, Burkina Faso defeated Togo, Benin were crushed by Niger and Mali took down Ghana.

Here is the midweek result:
Wed – 27th May 15
North 2: Burkina Faso 20 – 7 Togo
North 2: Niger 82 – 5 Benin
North 2: Ghana 7 – 24 Mali

In weekend action, Mali plays Benin, Togo takes on Niger and Burkina Faso goes up against Ghana.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 30th May 15
North 2: Mali – Benin
North 2: Togo – Niger
North 2: Burkina Faso – Ghana

rugby europeEuropean 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 in 1B action, Netherlands face off against Sweden.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 30th May 15
1B:  Netherlands – Sweden

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… In midweek D3 action, Uzbekistan struggled against India. The two sides will face off again this weekend.

Here  is the midweek result:
Wed – 27th May 15
D3 Central: India 31 – 8 Uzbekistan

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 30th May 15
D3 Central: Uzbekistan – India

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 MeetTheMatts.com.