POC, Vermeulen, Top 14, USA Club Championships, Tier 2/3 Cups, JWC, And World Rugby News

Stade Francais rugby team holding the Bouclier de Brennus Trophy celebrate their victory over Clermont to their Top 14 final rugby match Stade français Against Clermont at Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis, north of Paris, France, Saturday, June 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
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NEW YORK, NY – The domestic season is officially over with the completion of the Top 14 final, in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, Super Rugby is now getting ready for its playoffs, while for the rest of the world it is all about cups. From regional cups to international World Rugby-sponsored cups we have you covered. There are also regional Olympic qualifiers occurring this season.  Here’s what you missed:

Player Transactions:
#TOP14: Confirming news reported in the weekend preview, Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has reportedly confirmed that Ireland lock Paul O’Connell, South African Springbok back-row Duane Vermeulen and former England tighthead prop Matt Stevens have all signed deals to join his club. According to Var-Matin newspaper, O’Connell has signed a one-year deal with the option of extending it for one more year. Springbok Vermeulen joins from Stormers on a three-year contract while Stevens joins from the Sharks on a two-year deal, Var-Matin said. O’Connell and Vermeulan will arrive after the Rugby World Cup while Stevens is expected to in Toulon in time for the Pre-season… Hosea Gear will make his return to the Top 14 next season after it was confirmed that he will be joining ClermontSuper Rugby Western Force fly-half Zack Holmes is leaving Perth to join La Rochelle.

Aviva Premiership: Wasps have confirmed the signing of Samoan tighthead prop James Johnston from Saracens ahead of the 2015/16 season.

Guniness Pro 12: Leinster have confirmed two further appointments to the senior coaching staff for the 2015/16 season, as John Fogarty and Kurt McQuilkin sign. Fogarty has been promoted from Elite Player Development Officer to the role of Provincial Scrum Coach after the departure of Marco Caputo, it was announced that Shaun Berne would replace Fogarty as Elite Player Development Officer. McQuilkin, a former Leinster captain and Defense Coach will re-join the province on a short-term contract once again as Defense Coach. Current Forwards Coach Leo Cullen remains the interim head coach.

Super Rugby: The Chiefs have re-signed All Blacks flanker Sam Cane for the next two years and also acquired the services of Crusaders tighthead prop Nepo Laulala for the next two years.

Currie Cup: The  Sharks have confirmed the resignation of Currie Cup coach Brad Macleod-Henderson and announced that the search for a new head coach has begun.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby News/Updates: The USA Rugby National Club Championships were played June 13 and 14 at Glendale, Colorado’s Infinity Park. The matches were broadcasted live on USARugbyTV.com and replays can be found there. As for the matches, Seattle Saracens defeated Beantown in the Women’s DI final, while in Women’s DII final Wisconsin Rugby were able to fight off the Sacramento Amazons for the title.

In the Men’s bracket, NYAC overcame atrocious weather and a late field change to beat the Austin Blacks in the Men’s D1 Final. In the DII final, last year’s DIII winner Life West (a satellite of Life University) won back to back and denied perennial DII powerhouse Wisconsin, a men’s and women’s double. In the DIII battle of the Barbarians, Wichita eeked out a win over Tri-City.

Here are the results:
Sat – 13th Jun 15
Women’s DI Final: Beantown 24 – 31 Seattle Saracens
Men’s DI Final: NYAC 44-39 Austin Blacks

Sun – 14th Jun 15
Men’s DIII Final: Wichita Barbarians 30-28 Tri City Barbarians
Women’s DII Final: Wisconsin Rugby 38-23 Sacramento Amazons
Men’s DII Final: Life West Gladiators 21-17 Wisconsin Rugby

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby News: World Rugby has clarified law and instructs match officials to be more strict on application. For more information, click here.

As for the weekend’s fixtures:
NACRA 7s: The North America region’s qualifier for the Rio Olympics are over and both USA teams have punched their tickets. For a complete review of the action,  checkout our team USA team analysis and tournament review by clicking here.

Super Rugby: Our Super Rugby expert, Kiwi ‘s has a review of the final round of action in Super Rugby and complete review of the final playoff picture. For his excellent review, click here.

Stade Francais holding the Bouclier de Brennus Trophy

#Top14: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That is all that can be said about Clermont, who for the 12th time in their history made a Top14 final but lost the match for the 11th time, this time against Stade Francias. Yes, Clermont were  without their starting centers Wesley Fofana, Jonathan Davies and winger Noa Nakaitaci, however,  that would be a disservice to Stade. Stade went through financial powerhouses Racing and Toulon to make the final and they had the discipline and unity needed to play smart rugby scratch out a win.

Here are the results:
Sat – 13th Jun 15
Clermont 6 – 12 Stade Francais

2015 Currie Cup qualification: The tournament is a competition between seven teams and it will be played between 12 June and 25 July 2015, with the winner qualifying for the 2015 Currie Cup Premier Division. The remaining six teams will play in the 2015 Currie Cup First Division. Promotion into the 2015 Currie Cup will be on the line this weekend. Familiar foes, SouthWest District Eagles will take on Leopards for the right to play in the Currie Cup Premier division.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 12th Jun 15
Border Bulldogs 20 – 13 Griquas
SWD Eagles 17 – 45 Leopards
Sat – 13th Jun 15
Boland Cavaliers 32 – 22 Griffons

Regional Olympic Qualifiers: Each of World Rugby’s regional rugby unions must hold playoffs for 2016_Rio_Summer_Olympics_logotheir teams to book their places in the XXIX Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for the Men and the Women. The regional unions are Rugby Afrique, Oceania Rugby, Rugby Europe, Asia Rugby, NACRA, and ConSuR.  As we mentioned NACRA is being decided this weekend, ConSuR was last weekend but Europe’s is a process. -The 2015 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series consists of 3 legs, Moscow, Russia (6/7 June), Lyon, France (13/14 June) and Exeter, England on 11/12 July. England and Wales are ineligible to qualify for the Olympic Games due to England qualifying Great Britain for the Olympics via the HSBC World Series.

In Europe, France beat Spain by 20-7 to win the first leg in Lyon, France battling it out. Here are Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series standings after the weekend.

2015 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Standings
Points After 2 of 3 legs
1. France 40 Points
2. Spain 34
3. Russia 28
4. England 26
5. Germany 24
6. Portugal 20
7. Belgium 19
8. Wales 10
9. Lithuania 9
10. Georgia 8
11. Italy 8
12. Romania 2

Note the following regarding Rugby Europe and Olympic Qualification:
-All participants except England, Scotland and Wales are eligible to qualify for the Olympic Games. Therefore, the Highest Ranked eligible team, after all three legs of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series, will qualify directly to Rio
-The second highest eligible team after all three legs of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series qualifies to play in World Rugby’s Global Repechage Tournament in 2016
-All other eligible teams in the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix will take part in the European Olympic Repechage Tournament in Lisbon on 18 / 19 July.

Russia 7s WomenIn the case of the the women, Russia are in pole position for Rio (and for retaining the European Championship) after a very close 19-15 victory over France in Kazan, Russia. The 2015 Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix Series consists of 2 legs, Kazan, Russia (13/14 June) and Malemort, France on 20/21 June. Here are Rugby Europe Womens Sevens Grand Prix Series standings after the weekend.

2015 Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Standings
Points After 1st leg
1. Russia 20 points
2. France 18
3. England – 16
4. Spain – 14
5. Ireland – 12
6. Netherlands – 10
7. Italy – 8
8. Wales – 6
9. Scotland – 4
10. Portugal – 3
11. Ukraine – 2
12. Germany – 1

Note the following regarding Rugby Europe and Olympic Qualification for Women’s 7:
– All participants except England, Scotland and Wales are eligible to qualify for the Olympic Games
– Therefore the Highest Ranked eligible team after all two legs of the Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix Series will qualify directly to Rio.
– The second highest eligible team after the two legs of the Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix Series qualifies to play in World Rugby’s Global Repechage Tournament in 2016
– All other eligible teams in the Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Grand Prix will take part in the European Olympic Repechage Tournament in Lisbon on 18 / 19 July.

U20 Captains_ItaliaJunior World Cup: The JWC is the yearly World Cup held for U-20 teams of the top tier rugby playing nations. Japan qualified for it by winning last year’s Junior World Trophy, the second tier competition. This year’s tournament is being held in Italy. England go into the tournament as defending champions for the past two years. In the playoff round, there a semi finals for places. The winners will play in the 1st/5th/9th place final, while the losers play in the 3rd/7th/11th place final. In the matches, Argentina demolished Italy and Japan were too much for Samoa. Australia moved on to the 5th place final with their win over Scotland and will face Wales in the 5th place final after Wales were too much for Ireland. New Zealand absolutely dominated against France and England survived a fierce fight with South Africa in the two semi-finals for the title.

Here are the results:
Mon – 15th Jun 15
Semi Final: South Africa 20 – 28 England
Semi Final: New Zealand 45 – 7 France
5th Place Semi Final: Ireland 12 – 22 Wales
5th Place Semi Final: Australia 31 – 21 Scotland
9th Place Semi Final: Samoa 12 – 29 Japan
9th Place Semi Final: Argentina 46 – 5 Italy

Nations Cup – The 10th annual WRO Nations Cup will be held in Bucharest, Romania for the ninth time in a row. It will be played between 12 and 21 June and will run alongside the 2014 IRB Tbilisi Cup in Georgia. All fixtures will be played at the 5,000 capacity Stadionul National de Rugby, were Romania won back to back cup title in 2012 and 2013. The other teams in the tournament are NamibiaSpain and the Argentina Jaguars.  The weekend kicked off with Argentina Jaguars making light work of Namibia then Romania did the same to  Spain.

Here are the results:
Fri – 12th Jun 15
NC Argentina Jaguars 30 – 10 Namibia
NC Romania 35 – 9 Spain

For the midweek fixture, Argentine Jaguars tackle Spain and Romania face Namibia.

Here is the schedule:
Wed – 17th Jun 15
NC Argentina Jaguars – Spain
NC Romania – Namibia

Georgia_v_Uruguay_2015Tblisi Cup – The 2015 WRO Tbilisi Cup will be the third edition of this tournament. It will be played from the 13th to 21st June 2014 at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi. The hosts Georgia will welcome Emerging Italy,  Uruguay and Emerging Ireland (Ireland’s C side). The first match of the weekend saw Ireland dominate against Italy in the battle of the two emerging sides meanwhile Georgia will battle Uruguay.

Here are the results:
Sat – 13th Jun 15
TC Emerging Italy 0 – 25 Emerging Ireland
TC Georgia 19 – 10 Uruguay

For the midweek fixture, Emerging Ireland takes on Uruguay and Georgia takes on Emerging Italy.

Here is the schedule:
Wed – 17th Jun 15
TC  Uruguay – Emerging Ireland
TC Georgia – Emerging Italy

Confederation_of_African_Rugby_(logo)Africa Cup: The Africa Cup 2015 will be the fifteenth 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 1A, Zimbabwe were too much for Kenya.

Here are the results:
Sat – 13th Jun 15
1A:  Zimbabwe 28-20 Kenya

The Elgon Cup is held annually and contested between the rugby teams of Kenya and Uganda. The competition and the cups are named after Mount Elgon, a mountain on the border of the two countries. The men’s and women’s teams of these countries compete for their respective Cups on a Home-and-Away basis. As Kenya has grown as a power, they are sent their “A” side against the Uganda men and narrowly won. Meanwhile, the Kenya Women drew with Uganda, so the is all to play for in the return leg.

Here are the results:
Sat – 13th Jun 15
Men: Kenya A 20-17 Uganda
Women: Kenya 5 – 5 Uganda

The Crescent Cup: a competition which sees the participation of Muslim nations battle it out for best rugby playing Muslim nation. Malaysia will host the inaugural Crescent Cup Rugby Championships. It was originally scheduled to have twelve countries — Algeria, Iran, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Tajikistan, UAE, Uganda, and Uzbekistan were supposed to compete. However after being moved from December of 2014 until this weekend, only the six keenest countries were selected; Algeria, Iran, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia and Uzbekistan. The tournament face another restructuring as Iran have pulled out late. The matches still went on. This will likely be last Crescent Cup as a tournament focused on Muslim brotherhood ended in chaos. After Kazakhstan defeated Lebanon, hosts Malaysia were up 19-11 against Algeria when, allegedly the Algerians had it with the alleged favoritism of the Ref during a maul and a fracas ensued, and the match was immediately ended.

Here are the results:
Sun – 14th Jun 15
3rd/4th Place: Lebanon 25-35 Kazakhstan
Championship: Malaysia 19-11 Algeria

ARFUThe 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… China in spite of having to do a quick turnaround and triumphed over Indonesia.

Here are the results:
Sat – 13th Jun 15
D3 East: China 47 – 21 Indonesia

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.