A Non-RWC Weekend Rugby Preview: Twelvetrees, Aviva, ITM, NRC, USA Rugby and More

Billy Twelvetrees
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Billy Twelvetrees
Billy Twelvetrees

NEW YORK, NY – We know, we know!! We missed you too! Awash in our RWC coverage, the Weekend Preview got lost. On top of the that little tournament happening over in England, there has been rugby happening all over the globe. In particular two of the top 3 leagues in Europe, with the third kicking off this weekend. Not to mention all of SANZAR‘s domestic club competitions. So in today’s edition we will catch you up on the standings and the weekend’s fixtures. Immediately after we update you on all the transactions you may have missed. So with no further delay, let’s get into The Weekend Rugby Preview:

News & Transactions:

Aviva Premiership: Worcester Warriors and former Wales back-row Jonathan Thomas announced his retirement from rugby. The Warriors also announced the signing of Fiji international second-row Tevita Cavubati  and former Springbok World Cup winner Wynand Olivier Namibia captain and Saracens flanker Jacques Burger revealed that he will retire at the end of the 2015/2016 season… London Irish confirmed the signing of Welsh international Rob McCusker from the Scarlets for the upcoming season… Newcastle announced that Simon Hammersley has committed his future to the club after signing a two-year extension… Sale Sharks signed former London Irish wing Nev Edwards on a one-year contract after he impressed during the pre-season… Gloucester confirmed that experienced hooker Chris Brooker signed for the club on a month long loan deal from Bristol. Glaws also announced that club captain Billy Twelvetrees has signed a new contract… Leicester Tigers fly-half Freddie Burns was ruled out for the first two months of the season with a broken jaw… The Telegraph has revealed that the new agreement between the RFU and Premiership Rugby over player release will include an extension to the current selection policy which states that overseas players can only be selected in exceptional circumstances, through the next two World Cups.

Pro 12: Leinster announced that Kevin McLaughlin will retire on medical grounds due to concerns about his increasing susceptibility to concussion… Scarlets announced that Scotland back-row John Barclay agreed to a new contract keeping him in Wales for the 2016/17 season and beyond… The Ospreys announced that Fiji center Josh Matavesi signed a new three-year contract with the Welsh region. Sadly the Ospreys also announced that former Wales center, Andrew Bishop, has been forced to retire from rugby due to injury… Ulster announced that Ireland international, Craig Gilroy, has signed a two-year contract extension.

James O'Connor faces a career abroad after being dismissed.
James O’Connor faces a career abroad after being dismissed.

Super Rugby: The Brumbies have brought back former player Andrew Smith on a two-year deal after time away in Ireland and France… James O’Connor has left the Queensland Reds with immediate effect after being released from his contract for personal reasons. The Reds will look to replace O’Conner by signing Fijian winger Eto Nabuli from NRL (National Rugby League) side St.George Illawarra Dragons for two years… The Stormers have officially named Eddie Jones as their head coach for the 2016 Super Rugby season… Hooker Tolu Latu has committed to the Waratahs until the end of 2018, signing a three-year contract extension. The Waratahs also confirmed the signing of former All Black Zac Guildford for the 2016 Super Rugby season, on a short-term contract for 10 months. Guildford will be joined by   Australia Sevens player Bradley Wilkin,who signed a two year contract… The Western Force announced that wing Luke Morahan and utility forward Ross Haylett-Petty have signed new deals with the Perth-based outfit… Southland flanker Tim Boys, who has just been named as the union’s Player of the Year for 2015, will join the Crusaders for the 2016 season.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: In the time since our last update on USA rugby, they signed a memorandum of understanding with International Gay Rugby (IGR) on Thursday, September 10, setting forth a partnership that will see the national governing body for the sport of rugby union in the United States promote a diverse and inclusive environment in all levels of Rugby, working to end homophobia in all areas of the game… Sports compression wear leader SKINS partnered with USA Rugby, the national governing body for the sport of rugby in America, as an official supplier of compression product…  Members of USA Football and USA Rugby met earlier this month at St. Vincent Sports Performance in suburban Indianapolis to share how the groups teach this all-player skill and see where the two national governing bodies can help one another train their coaches and players on the best ways to play and enjoy the two games… USA Rugby announced that former Eagle Jules McCoy will lead the Women’s Eagles Sevens into the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games… The latest Mens 7s OTC high performance camp occurred in September, and for more info on the dates and players selected, click here… USA Rugby legend and a key member of the international rugby community as respected referee, mentor, administrator, fan, and friend Don Morrison passed in September… Atlanta 7s – the U.S. leg of the 2015-2016 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series – returns to the Peach State for the third consecutive year. The tournament is scheduled for Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga… There will be two National Tracking Camps held Sunday, Oct. 18, in California and Wisconsin for athletes 18 years of age and older… The Maccabi USA rugby team has officially been selected for the 2015 Pan American Maccabi Games, which will be held from December 26, 2015 – January 5, 2016 in Santiago, Chile… USA Rugby announced Wednesday the Rugby Committee has approved amendments to the Collegiate Eligibility Regulations related to student-athletes and military service, click here for  more info. USA Rugby’s Collegiate Department is excited to announce the formation of a committee tasked with overseeing the selection process of the Women’s Collegiate All-Americans beginning with the current 2015-16 season.

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby: World Rugby launches #RecogniseAndRemove concussion education App. Download the new concussion App, an easy-to-use tool for players, coaches, doctors, match officials, parents and fans to educate themselves about concussion on the World Rugby site via mobile phone… More than one million meals were raised to Tackle Hunger as RWC 2015 supports World Food Day. Today, October 16th 2015, is World Food Day, and as RWC 2015 reaches the knockout stage, the global rugby family pledge their support to the Tackle Hunger campaign… The Argentina Pumas call up Juan Figallo for injured prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

The weekend’s fixtures:

Aviva Premiership: The 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership was delayed a month so as not to interfere with the pool stages of the Rugby World Cup. So this weekend will be the kickoff of the the Premiership. The games begin tonight as Harlequins take on Wasps, Worcester play Northampton, and Newcastle challenge Gloucester. Bath play Exeter on Saturday, then Saracens take on Sale and the weekend concludes with London Irish welcoming Leicester.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 16 Oct 2015
Harlequins – Wasps
Worcester Warriors – Northampton Saints
Newcastle Falcons – Gloucester Rugby
Sat – 17 Oct 2015
Bath – Exeter Chiefs
Saracens – Sale Sharks
Sun – 18 Oct 2015
London Irish – Leicester Tigers

Logo_Top14_2012Top 14: The 2015/2016 #Top14 took a break for pool stages of the RWC, so the league is only 4 games in round 5 kicks off this weekend. The round will start off with Agen against Bordeaux, Brive tackle Toulon, table toppers Clermont face upstarts Pau. Grenoble play Montpellier, Oyonnax welcome Racing 92, defending champions Stade Francais play Castres and finally Toulouse host La Rochelle.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 17th Sep 15
Agen – Bordeaux Begles
Brive – Toulon
Clermont Auvergne – Pau
Grenoble – Montpellier
Oyonnax – Racing 92
Stade Francais – Castres
Toulouse – La Rochelle

Guinness Pro 12: The Pro 12 season also took a month off for the pool stages. The league returns for round 4, with Connacht welcoming Zebre, Glasgow Warriors tackle Newport-Gwent Dragons, Scarlets host Leinster and Ulster travel to face Edinburgh. Treviso will play Ospreys and Cardiff Blues will take on the challenge that is Munster at fortress Thormond.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 16 Oct 2015
Connacht – Zebre
Glasgow Warriors – Newport Gwent Dragons
Scarlets – Leinster
Edinburgh – Ulster
Sat – 17 Oct 2015
Benetton Treviso – Ospreys
Munster – Cardiff Blues

Germany v Poland, in late 2013
Germany v Poland, in late 2013

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… In action last week, Austria defeated Denmark and Ukraine edged out Belgium. In upcoming action in 1A, Ukraine play Poland and 1B will see Bosnia & Herzegovina up against Turkey.

Here are the results:
Oct – 10th Sep 15
1A: Denmark 25 – 31 Austria
1B: Ukraine 17 – 16 Belgium

Here is the schedule:
Oct – 17th Sep 15
1B: Ukraine – Poland
2D: Bosnia & Herzegovina – Turkey

itm_cupITM Cup: It is now playoff time in the ITM, if you were curious of our pre-season predictions, CLICK HERE. The Championship (lower division) semi-finals will see Hawkes Bay, who recently lost the Ranfury Shield to Waikato, play Bay of Plenty and the other semi-final will see Wellington host Otago.  In the Premiership, it will be a battle of the old guard versus the leaders of the new school. Canterbury and Auckland who have won 15 titles between them and traditionally dominated the ITM (Auckland in the ’90s and early ’00s and Canterbury in late ’00s and ’10s) will tackle Taranaki who have been around for years but are experiencing a resurgence and are shaking things up and Tasman who were only created a few years back and have been very competitive, including losing last year’s final to Taranaki.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 17th Oct 15
Semi-Final 1: Hawkes Bay – Bay Of Plenty
Semi-Final 2: Wellington – Otago

Semi-Final 1: Canterbury – Taranaki
Semi-Final 2: Auckland – Tasman

Currie Cup: The 77th edition of the Currie Cup is also in its playoffs. We will see the Blue Bulls welcome Western Province to the highveld and the Golden Lions will take on the Free State Cheetahs for the honor to play for the Cup.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 16 Oct 2015
Semi-Final 1: Blue Bulls – Western Province
Sat – 17 Oct 2015
Semi-Final 2: Golden Lions – Free State Cheetahs

Brizz City Trophy Cabinet
Brizz City Trophy Cabinet

Aus. NRC: Australia’s third tier competition goes into its second year as the National Rugby Championship has kicked off. 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. With the final round being played this weekend, Brisbane City and the UC Vikings have already locked in the top two spots on the competition ladder, ensuring home semi-finals. The team that tops the table at the end of the regular season plays the fourth-placed side, with second playing third. Five teams can still take the two remaining Buildcorp NRC berths. UC Vikings romped over Queensland Country to start the weekend, while Brisbane City will tackle the Greater Sydney Rams with City’s Horan-Little shield (the Aussie version of the Ranfurly Shield). NSW Country Eagles face North Harbour and Melbourne tackle Sydney.

Here are the results:
Thu – 15th Oct 15
Queensland Country 8 – 42 University of Canberra Vikings

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 17th Oct 15
Brisbane City – Greater Sydney Rams
NSW Country Eagles – North Harbour Rays
Sun – 18th Oct 15
Melbourne Rising – Sydney Stars

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, Ronan Nelson, Kaitlin McCabe, Rocky Brown and Declan Yeats, respectively.

And remember to 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.