Paul O’Connell, Pocock, Wayne Smith, Biting, 6N, ENC, USA Rugby, World Rugby News

Cavubati's bite on Sinclair
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Paul O'Connell: Good Night Sweet Prince
Paul O’Connell: Good Night, Sweet Prince

NEW YORK, NY – Usually, we start of talking about the tournaments and action and with the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) going on and the 6 Nations in all its forms, it would be justified. However, there was some huge/sad news: the retirement of a legend and the loss of a key administrator on the world stage. Those stories will therefore jump the queue in this Weekend Rugby Preview.

News & Transactions:

Paul O’Connell: It was a dark day  in rugby this week as Ireland, British & Irish Lions and legendary Munster second row Paul O’Connell retired from all rugby on medical advice. One of the greatest players and leaders the game has ever known never met an opponent he couldn’t overcome. After tearing his hamstring clean off the bone during the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool decider against France, the living legend could not come back from it.  O’Connell had signed a contract to join Toulon after the RWC but now he must call it day. RWU’s Declan Yeats said it best. “He was the greatest thing to ever come out of Limerick. He was such a great servant that when he took the Toulon money, all anyone could say was ‘good on Paulie, you deserve the top-off and some years in the sun.’ It is a shame he won’t get it but it is also fitting that he walks away only ever having played for Munster because no one meant more to Munster Rugby than he did over his decade and a half at the club.

Wayne Smith
Wayne Smith

Wayne Smith: The former All Blacks coach revealed that he is considering all his avenues.  Reports have linked the Kiwi with Harlequins, as well as taking over the Springboks. Smith told Radio Sport in New Zealand that he is keeping all his options open.

Aviva Premiership: Sale Sharks announced that backrower David Seymour has signed a new two-year deal with the club… London Irish announced that Elliott Stooke, Tom Halse and Tom Preece have all been added to their squad for the rest of the season. Stooke, a lock, joins from Gloucester. Halse is a versatile, goal-kicking Kiwi back making his way to London from Italy and Preece is a back-row forward who joins from Coventry RFC. The Exiles also agreed to a contract extension with Canadian international Ciaran Hearn for the 2016/17 season… Worcester Warriors have added former Bulls and Springbok flanker Dewald Potgieter. The Warriors also announced that scrum-half Luke Baldwin has signed a new contract to extend his stay at the club… Gloucester confirmed that center Henry Trinder has agreed a new deal to remain with the club beyond the end of the current season.

#Top14: Stade Français and France international tighthead prop Rabah Slimani has cooled talk of a move to Toulon by saying his future is in Paris.

Guinness Pro 12: Ulster confirmed the signing of South African international back row player, Marcell Coetzee, on a three-year contract.

David Pocock
David Pocock

Super Rugby: The Chiefs will kick-off their Super Rugby campaign without scrum-half Augustine Pulu after he broke his arm during the Sydney leg of the World Sevens Series semi-final clash between New Zealand and Fiji. Pulu is expected to be sidelined for eight to ten weeks… The Bulls were devastated with the news that Springbok fly-half Handré Pollard has been ruled out of the 2016 Super Rugby season following a freak training accident in which he tore cruciate knee ligaments. He is expected to be sidelined for six to nine months… The Australia Rugby Union (ARU) and Brumbies appear to be facing a battle to keep David Pocock, as he is considering a year off from the game. According to the Daily Telegraph in Australia, the international star is looking to study in England for twelve months, which has alarmed the ARU. Pocock’s current deal expires on December 31. The Brumbies want him to remain with the franchise with a flexible deal, but it denies the sabbatical… The ARU and Queensland Rugby Union have confirmed that flanker Liam Gill will depart the Reds at the end of the season to take up a contract in France… According to reports, Cornal Hendricks is being held out of action in Super Rugby and South Africa 7s due to a serious heart condition that could potentially end his career.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: Canada and the USA will come face-to-face in Austin, Texas on Saturday for the right to represent North America at the World Rugby U-20 Trophy 2016 in Zimbabwe. The Rugby Americas North regional qualifier will join hosts Zimbabwe, Fiji, Namibia, Spain, Hong Kong, Uruguay and Samoa – the side relegated from the U20 Championship last year in Harare from 19 April to 1 May… The Women’s Eagles Sevens will bring three new caps to Brazil Women’s Sevens, the second leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, to kick-off from São Paulo Saturday, Feb. 20. For the full USA roster click here.

As part of Premiership Rugby’s London Irish v Saracens game at the Red Bull Arena on March 12th, the British Council in partnership with Premiership Rugby, have announced they will bring their award winning international community outreach and youth development program Try Rugby to the USA. Try Rugby was co-created and launched internationally by the British Council and Premiership Rugby in 2011 and is already achieving tremendous impact in supporting the growth of the game around the world.

Cavubati's bite on Sinclair
Cavubati’s bite on RWU friend Jebb Sinclair

World Rugby: World Rugby issued a press release announcing “It is with great sadness that we learned of the news that World Rugby’s Rugby Services Manager for Africa, Jean-Luc Barthes has passed away.” Our condolences go to his friends and family… Locks Tevita Cavubati of Worcester Warriors and Dominic Barrow of Leicester Tigers have both been suspended after last  weekend’s action.  Cavubati has been cited and banned for nine weeks for biting an opponent, contrary to Law 10.4(m), during the Premiership fixture against London Irish on February 7. The Fijian international was also ordered to pay £500 towards hearing costs. He is free to play again on April 12 2016. Barrow of Leicester Tigers has been has been suspended for two weeks for striking an opponent, contrary to Law 10.4(a), during the Premiership fixture against Sale Sharks on February 6.

The weekend’s fixtures:

Americas Rugby Championship: The inaugural Americas Rugby Championship heads into the second round of play. The on the field action has been good and fans have shown up, not to mention the first round and standings yielded competitive matches. For great preview of each match-up this round, check out our own stats guru, Jake Frechette great preview of the tournament by clicking here . It also features our Expert Panel’s Picks.


RBS 6 Nations: Week 1 of the 2016 6 Nations was filled with close matches as every match too until the last 10 minutes or late to be decided. On that backdrop, week 2 has a whole lot to live up to. The RWU Wolfman Ronan Nelson has a great preview of all the matches for week 2 and our Expert Panel’s picks, if you click here.

RBS U-20 6 Nations: The stars of the future of European rugby also have their 6N matches this weekend to give fans a preview of what’s to come. Like the big boys, Scotland will travel to Wales , while England journey to Italy and Ireland take on the France.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Fri – 12th Feb 2016
Wales U20s – Scotland U20s
Italy U20s – England U20s
France U20s – Ireland U20s

RBS Women’s 6 Nations: Though they don’t get as much coverage as they often deserve, the Women’s 6N will also be kicking off this weekend. The sparse coverage aside, Saturday begins with Italy hosting England, followed by Ireland on the road against France. On Sunday it finishes with the Welsh women clashing with Scotland.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 13 th Feb 2016
Italy – England
France – Ireland
Sun – 14th Feb 2016
Wales – Scotland

Defending 6N “B” Champs: Georgia

European Nations Cup: The ENC, or the 6 Nations “B” , is the premier tournament for the second-tier nations of Europe. Unbeknownst to some, 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, where the best teams in Europe not called England, Ireland, France, Italy, Wales or Scotland reside, has no promotion option – only relegation back to 1B. Hopefully promotion from 1A to the proper 6N will eventually occur… but we aren’t banking on it.

In 1A this weekend, Russia will host Germany while Portugal roll-out the welcome mat for Georgia and finally Spain and Romania, will do battle under the Spanish sun.

Here is the weekend’s schedule:
Sat – 13th Feb 2016
1A: Russia – Germany
1A: Portugal – Georgia
1A: Spain – Romania

Aviva Premiership: Due to the 2015 RWC, the 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership will not take any breaks during 6N weekends this year. This means each teams depth will be severally tested This weekend begins with Newcastle hosting Leicester. Saturday has Sale welcoming Exeter, Gloucester and Harlequins will do battle, and Norhtampton clash with the London Irish. Sunday sees Worcester tackle Bath and Saracens face Wasps.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 12th Feb 2016
Newcastle Falcons – Leicester Tigers
Sat – 13th Feb 2016
Sale Sharks – Exeter Chiefs
Gloucester – Harlequins
Northampton Saints – London Irish
Sun – 14th Feb 2016
Worcester Warriors – Bath Rugby
Saracens – Wasps

Top 14: There is one Top 14 game this weekend as result of the rescheduling due to the Paris Attacks and the European Cup matches. The match will see Toulon on the road against Bordeaux-Begles.

Here is the schedule:
Sun – 14th Feb 2016
Bordeaux-Begles – Toulon

Pro12_launch_2015_captains_logoGuinness Pro 12: The Pro 12 has nearly a full round this weekend. With the 6N going on simultaneously each squad will lean hard on its young academy players to step up to the challenge. This weekend begins with Leinster hosting Zebre, Ulster welcome Glasgow and  Scarlets will do battle with Edinurgh. Saturday witnesses Treviso clashing with Cardiff. Sunday sees Munster tackle Ospreys to close out the round.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 12 th Feb 2016
Leinster – Zebre
Ulster – Glasgow Warriors
Scarlets – Edinburgh
Sat – 13th Feb 2016
Benetton Treviso – Cardiff Blues
Sun – 14th Feb 2016
Munster – Ospreys

That is 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, Ronan Nelson, Kyle Phillips and Declan Yeats, respectively

And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.
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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