Hartley, Gustard, Borthwick, Ford, Champions & Challenge Cup, USA Rugby and World Rugby News

Dylan Hartley is all smiles
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Dylan Hartley is all smiles
Dylan Hartley is all smiles

NEW YORK, NY – It is getting toward the end of the year. We have to preview action from the European Champions and Challenge Cup. In addition there was important news and transactions that we must cover.With that said, lets dive into the Weekend Rugby Preview.

News & Transactions:

England National Team: Saracens confirmed that forwards and defense coach Paul Gustard will leave the club at the end of January to join England as defense coach… Northampton Saints DoR Jim Mallinder has given assistant coach Alex King the club’s blessing to link up with England should the RFU make an approach. King has been linked with an attacking/skills coaching role in Eddie Jones’ new coaching set-up… Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley has emerged as the favourite to take over England’s captaincy under new head coach Eddie Jones Bristol have stated that Steve Borthwick has agreed to become England’s assistant coach without the permission of the club. Borthwick joined the English Championship side after his success with Japan at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Talks between Bristol and the RFU were presumed to have taken place to allow Borthwick to link up with Eddie Jones once more, but the club have now said that no discussions between Borthwick and England were permitted by his employer and that Bristol will now take action.

George Ford
George Ford

Aviva Premiership: Harlequins announced that center George Lowe has signed a new contract, further extending his time at QuinsBath announced that England fly-half George Ford has extended his contract with the club.

Pro 12: Scarlets confirmed that Rhys Patchell will join the region ahead of 2016/17 when he will bring to an end his time with Cardiff Blues... Cardiff did have some positive news, with the announcement that back-row Ellis Jenkins has pledged his future to them by signing a new long-term deal with the region.

Top 14: Toulon lock Paul O’Connell could make his debut for his new club early next year, according to the former Ireland international…Toulon and their Australian prop Salesi Ma’afu have parted ways following the player’s suspended prison sentence for assault, according to reports in France. Ma’afu was found guilty of assault and fined €1500 after an altercation with a woman in a car park in Mourillon earlier this year. Toulon have lined up Fiji tighthead Manusa Saulo for the rest of the season, before he joins Toulouse in 2016, with the prop set to arrive in January. In the final piece of Toulon news is also important for USA fans, Toulon and USA forward Samu Manoa is facing a one-month absence from the club due to suffering an injury to his knee ligaments.

Super Rugby:  The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced a new broadcast rights deal worth more than AUS$275 million. Some of that new found money found its way to Wallaby captain and hooker Stephen Moore. The 2016 Super Rugby season will Moore’s final season with the Brumbies following his decision to re-join the Reds until the contract expires in 2019. The Highlanders have refused to comment on the future of their coach Jamie Joseph who has been rumored to take over as Japan’s head coach... The Western Force have signed one of the ITM Cup’s leading tackle busters and line breakers, with the recruitment of Manawatu flyer Semisi Mesirewa... The Executive Council of the South African Rugby Union has approved a new funding model for players designed to encourage them to stay in the country. The increase in funding – from R25m to R90m per annum (in addition to Springbok contracts and match fees) – was approved by the General Council on Friday as part of the 2016 SARU budget… The UAR have revealed that Argentina’s new Super Rugby franchise will be called the Jaguares, coached by Raúl Pérez.

Old NACRA logo
Old NACRA logo

USA Rugby: The North American and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) recently changed its name to Rugby Americas North (RAN). While they do have a new name – RAN needs your help designing a logo! click here  to submit your design

The USA Rugby Men’s Eagles will open the the Americas Rugby Championship with three consecutive home games, followed by two away matches. The Eagles will first return to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas to face off against the world’s fifth ranked nation, Argentina. The following weekend in Round Rock (Austin), Texas, fans will watch the USA take on northern rival Canada at Dell Diamond. For their final match, the Eagles will face Chile at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The complete home schedule is as follows:

  • USA v. Argentina, BBVA Compass Stadium – Sat., Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. CT
  • USA v. Canada, Dell Diamond – Sat., Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. CT
  • USA v. Chile, Lockhart Stadium – Sat., Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. ET

usa_rugby_logoTickets will go on sale for all three matches at 10 a.m. local time on Thursday, December 17 with ticket pre-sale opportunities offered to all active USA Rugby members and those who have signed up for USA Rugby’s pre-sale ticket alerts.

TLA (The Legacy Agency), one of the world’s leading athlete representation, sports and entertainment marketing businesses, today announced that a special youth group discount is now available for inaugural regular season Aviva Premiership rugby match featuring the London Irish vs. the reigning champions, Saracens at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on Saturday, March 12, 2016. For more info click here, click here.

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby: Rugby World Cup 2015 was the most competitive to date, according to a comprehensive game analysis report published by World Rugby. READ THE FULL REPORT HERE … International rugby sevens stars will compete in the annual invitational beach rugby competition at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro on 19th December to promote rugby sevens’ debut at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Supported by World Rugby and run by the Confederaçao Brasileira de Rugby (CBRu) , the event will deliver a fitting celebration of rugby sevens as excitement and interest in the high-octane sport continues to grow within Rio and across Brazil ahead of the Games… World Rugby has confirmed that Kenya’s women’s rugby sevens team will compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The announcement follows confirmation by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) to the South African Rugby Union and World Rugby that it does not intend to accept a place at the Games, which the South African women earned via the Africa regional qualifier.

The weekend’s fixtures:

European Champions Cup: Round 4 of pool stages of the European (Rugby) Champions Cup has arrived. The matches in this round will be key in helping some teams wrap up qualification for the quarters while others will try and get back into the race. Our Ronan Nelson will have a fantastic preview of the round, later this week.

European Challenge Cup: The second tier European Challenge Cup is a great tournament in its own right. Though it is played by mid-table European clubs but they play good rugby and are looking to move up to the Champions Cup. The weekend begun with Gloucester defeating Aviva Premiership rivals Worcester and Montpellier scrapped by the skin of its teeth against Cardiff. On Friday, Grenoble plays Top 14 rival Agen and Edinburgh takes on London Irish. On Saturday, Zebre will likely lose to La Rochelle and Brive will welcome Russian side Enisey-STM, Sale host Castres, Quins will run a live scrimmage against Calvisano and finally Pau will do battle with Newport-Gwent. The final match of the weekend will see Connacht travel to Newcastle.

Here are the results:
Thu – 17 Dec 2015
Gloucester 27-13 Worcester Warriors
Montpellier 23-22 Cardiff Blues

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 18 Dec 2015
Grenoble – Agen
Edinburgh – London Irish
Sat – 19 Dec 2015
Zebre – La Rochelle
Brive – Enisey-STM
Sale Sharks – Castres
Harlequins – Calvisano
Pau – Newport Gwent Dragons
Sun – 20 Dec 2015
Newcastle Falcons – Connacht

Spain’s 2015 Hong Kong Tour: Spain is doing an end of the year of Hong Kong. The first match of the tour will be a test match against the host nation, Hong Kong.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 19 Dec 2015

Spain – Hong Kong

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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.