Ryan Jones, Cullen, Top 14, ITM Cup, Currie Cup, NRC, USA Rugby and World Rugby News

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Ryan Jones
Ryan Jones
NEW YORK, NY –  This is a busy weekend of action as two competitions kickoff the new season.  Three of the southern hemisphere’s 4 main domestic comps have kicked off and the longest and toughest competition in the north hemisphere has also started. Combine all of that with the week’s news and transactions and you have a great preview. So let’s get into things with…
The Weekend Preview:


News & Transactions:

Ryan Jones Retires: Former Wales captain Ryan Jones has retired from playing on the advice of doctors. The 34-year-old former Ospreys captain, won 75 caps for Wales and won three Grand Slam titles in 2005, 2008 and 2012.  Jones also played in three Tests for the British and Irish Lions on the 2005 tour to New Zealand. Jones featured in Wales’ 2011 World Cup semi-final loss to France and also in three games during the 2013 Six Nations. Wales won the Championship title, but Jones missed the decider against England with a shoulder injury. It was another shoulder injury and surgery that has forced Jones to abandon plans for a comeback with Bristol this season after being told he risked further significant damage.

Top 14: Clermont will be in search of a medical joker after hooker John Ulugia was ruled out for three to four months.

Aviva Premiership: Harlequins announced that England scrum-half Danny Care will be their captain for the 2015-2016 season.

Pro 12: Leinster and the IRFU announced Leo Cullen as Head Coach of the province on a two-year deal. Leinster also announced that Kevin McLaughlin will be the captain during the Rugby World Cup period… PRO12 title holders Glasgow Warriors have signed Fiji-born, Scotland raised wing Junior Bulumakau from the British Army on a one-year contract after he impressed on trial… The Ospreys captain for the new season will be lock Lloyd Ashley…

Super Rugby: Zac Guildford’s next stop could be in Auckland with Super Rugby franchise, the Blues. Guildford had been close to joining the Waratahs to link up with his former coach Daryl Gibson. Instead he decided that he wanted to remain in New Zealand to be closer to his family… Japan head coach Eddie Jones is negotiating with the Stormers to take over as their head coach for the 2016 Super Rugby season... Queensland Rugby Union have announced the re-appointment of Richard Graham as Reds head coach for the 2016 season (Yes! you read that correctly).

ITM Cup: World Cup-winning former All Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald has signed with Waikato for the 2015 season… New Zealand has released 17 players back to their ITM Cup provinces including fly-half duo Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga. For the full list, click here.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 10.53.25 AMUSA Rugby News/Updates: USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans lead by interim Head Coach Wil Snape (of NYRC Rugby) will take a 16-point lead in the aggregate scoring after the first match of the two-match Under-20 Can-Am Series powered by ATAVUS. The second match is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 22, at 11 a.m. PST at Central Washington UniversityClick Here for the complete match review… NBCSN will present an international rugby showdown in prime time on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET, when the USA Eagles host the Qantas Wallabies at historic Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. Unfortunately this weekend’s USA Men’s Eagles match-up against Canada at 4 p.m. ET.

World Rugby News: World Rugby’s Rugby World Cup site is your recommended source for keeping track of all the final squad announcements, click here. Twelve women’s sevens teams (Brazil, China, Colombia, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Samoa, South Africa, Wales and hosts Ireland) hope to join the sides who retained their core status by finishing in the top nine in the 2014-15 series standings. The teams have arrived in Ireland ahead of this weekend’s sevens series qualifier in Dublin. The top two teams from the event will qualify as core teams on next season’s HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series circuit… The All Blacks Sevens will go into the new season with the services of All Blacks Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam and exciting young loose forwards Ardie Savea and Akira Ioane. The four, along with Auckland’s Ben Lam, are new faces in the squad from last season. Ioane, Lam, Messam and Savea, have previously pulled on the sevens jersey. Click here for the full squad list.

The weekend’s fixtures:

Logo_Top14_2012Top 14: The #Top14 has the longest season of any rugby competition, lasting 10 months. It is kicking off again this weekend. Our Ligue Nationale de Rugby expert James Harrington will begin his coverage shortly including a season preview. In the meantime, let’s look at the match-up for the opening weekend. Two mega clubs and rivals clash to start the season as Toulon face Racing on Friday. La Rochelle tackles Clermont, Bordeaux faces Castres, Toulouse welcome Brive, Montpellier will battle Oyonnax, Grenoble and Agen will tangle and defending champions Stade Francais will take on new boys Pau.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 21st Aug 15
Toulon – Racing
Sat – 22nd Aug 15
La Rochelle – Clermont
Bordeaux – Castres
Toulouse – Brive
Montpellier – Oyonnax
Grenoble – Agen
Stade Français – Pau

World Cup Warm-up: Teams will be playing their last few warm-up matches before the World Cup. This weekend that means we will see Italy welcome Scotland, England travel to France and Japan face Uruguay. Finally rivals Canada and United States resume pleasantries. Our house statistician and hardcore Eagle fan  has preview on the match, just click here.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 22nd Aug 15
France – England
Italy – Scotland
Japan – Uruguay
Canada – United States

itm_cupITM Cup: For our preview of the season, CLICK HERE. The second round began with Wellington demolishing North Harbour and Tasman cruised by Bay of Plenty. Still to come this weekend, we will see Manawatu against Waikato, Northland will take on Southland, Otago will do battle with Hawkes Bay, Auckland will host defending champs Taranaki and Canterbury versus Counties-Manukau will close out the weekend.

Here are the results:
Thu – 20th Aug 15
North Harbour 0 – 43 Wellington

Fri – 21st Aug 15
Tasman 34 – 13 Bay Of Plenty

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 22nd Aug 15
Manawatu – Waikato
Northland – Southland
Otago – Hawkes Bay

Sun – 23rd Aug 15
Auckland – Taranaki
Canterbury – Counties Manukau

Currie Cup: The 77th edition of the Currie Cup kicked off last weekend and you can find our preview HERE. As for round 3, this weekend, we will see the Eastern Province Kings take on Pumas, Griquas will battle rivals Free State Cheetahs. The Natal Sharks will challenge the Golden Lions and finally the Blue Bulls will go against Western Province.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 21st Aug 15
Eastern Province Kings – Pumas
Griquas – Free State Cheetahs

Sat – 22nd Aug 15
Natal Sharks – Golden Lions
Blue Bulls – Western Province

NRC logoAus. NRC: Australia’s third tier competition goes into its second year as the National Rugby Championship kicked off yesterday. We took the time to provide a preview and explain the competition, just CLICK HERE. Those with New York Rugby Club ties like me, will be supporting  the defending champs Brisbane City since one of their feeder clubs, is New York’s sister club West (Brisbane) Bulldogs. Brisbane City started this like they finished last season with a strong performance and win against the Perth Spirit. This weekend will see the North Harbour Rays against the Sydney Stars in a match-up of crosstown rivals. The Greater Sydney Rams battle the NSW Country Eagles and finally Queensland Country take on the Melbourne Rising.

Here are the results:
Thu – 20th Aug 15
Brisbane City 29–16 Perth Spirit

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 22nd Aug 15
North Harbour Rays – Sydney Stars
Greater Sydney Rams – NSW Country Eagles

Sun – 23rd Aug 15
Queensland Country – Melbourne Rising


Today’s column is in memory of Senoir Blaber, who passed earlier this week.


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.