NBC, Goneva, Du Preez, ENC, USA Rugby and World Rugby News

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Premiership-NBCNEW YORK, NY – We can enjoy a far less hectic weekend of rugby action, this weekend. We will cover the three top European competitions as each league starts heading into the final stretch for playoff position. Then we have another big round of Super Rugby action along with some Tier 2 coverage. Before we get to that though we have some big Rugby News along with interesting developments in the Transactions department to report. So without further adieu, let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview.

News & Transactions:

NBC: NBC announced a media rights partnership agreement with Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) to be the Premiership’s television and digital media provider in United States. It is a three-year deal, with a further two-year option, that is set to provide rugby fans in the States with an unprecedented level of English top-flight rugby action and analysis.

Vereniki Goneva
Vereniki Goneva

Aviva Premiership:  Newcastle Falcons added world-class finishing power to their ranks for next season with the signing of Leicester Tigers wing/center Vereniki Goneva. Leicester also had to deal with the news that wing Miles Benjamin has retired from rugby due to a knee injury… Worcester Warriors have confirmed a contract extension of backrow captain GJ van Velze Bath announced that tighthead prop Kane Palma-Newport has extended his contract with the Premiership club… London Irish also had their tighthead prop, Richard Palframan, sign a two-year contract extension.

#Top 14: Toulon back James O’Connor returned to training on Tuesday following his five-week lay-off due to a suspected heart problem.

Pro 12: It was a busy week for the two Scottish sides. In Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, Canadian international Djustice Sears-Duru signed a short-term contract with the Glasgow Warriors until the end of the season. Then Warriors centurion Peter Murchie signed a new one-year contract with the club, which will see him stay at Scotstoun until at least May 2017... In the capital city of EdinburghNewport Gwent Dragons’ fly-half Jason Tovey joined on loan until the end of May. Edinburgh then persuaded Glasgow full-back Glenn Bryce to join the capital club at the start of the 2016/17 season on a two-year deal… Leinster confirmed that winger Darragh Fanning will be released from his contract at the end of the month to allow him to concentrate on other opportunities away from the rugby field. 

Super Rugby: Earlier this week, we reported that the  Brumbies Board had stood down (forced to resign) Michael Jones from his position as the franchise’s CEO. Well apparently there is a bit of drama involving the situation. Jones appears to have filed a lawsuit and used the protected whistle-blower status to lay some damaging claims at the Board and at the Australian Rugby Union. Stay tuned for more details as they are released. For more information on the current situation, click here.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: In a shocking move, Richie Walker will lead the Women’s Eagles Sevens program through the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games, USA Rugby announced, following Jules McCoy‘s release from the United States Olympic Committee’s Olympic Training Center. McCoy’s dismissal has caused questions to be asked about the amount of support coaches get and the overall situation for coaches and gives credence to issues brought up in this article.

fourie du preezWorld Rugby: Seedings for Rugby World Cup 2019 are likely to be based on international results in 2017, it has emerged. As per the Scotsman newspaper, read more here. For all its flaws, at least FIFA isn’t so blatant with its pandering to Europe while Tier 1 sides seems to be all that matter at the WR office… World Rugby confirms details of an exciting program of June test matches, including tier one versus tier two fixtures. Click for the full schedule of June Tests… England’s Joe Marler will face an independent hearing following comments made during an RBS 6 Nations match against Wales on 12 MarchSpringbok scrum-half Fourie du Preez, who called time on his illustrious rugby career this week. The 34-year-old Du Preez represented South Africa in 76 Tests between 2004 and 2015, captaining the Springboks in four Tests at the Rugby World Cup in England last year… Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg has been voted the RBS Player of the Championship for the 2016 Six Nations.

The weekend’s fixtures:

It will be another physical match as Quins take on Saints

Aviva Premiership: Due to the 2015 RWC, the 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership is not taking any breaks during the 6N. And with the start their European Cup place and playoff push, things are only getting more intense. This weekend will begin with the match of the round as Exeter are on the road at Saracens, Gloucester welcoming Bath, and Worcester play London Irish. On Sunday, Sale and Leicester do battle, Newcastle will host Wasps, and finally in the other clash of the weekend, Northampton meets Harlequins.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 26 Mar 2016
Saracens – Exeter Chiefs
Gloucester -Bath
Worcester Warriors – London Irish
Sun – 27 Mar 2016
Sale Sharks – Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons – Wasps
Northampton Saints – Harlequins

Toulon and rivals Racing meet again

Top 14: The Top 14 has a full slate of matches this weekend also. Round 19 will be an important round. The first match of the weekend sees Racing host Toulon in arguably the match of the round, then Montpellier travel to Agen as Brive role out the red carpet for Castres, Grenoble and La Rochelle do battle and Pau and Oyonnax are set to clash. The final two matches of the round see Bordeaux-Begles face Clermont-Auvergne and in the other big match of the round, Toulouse will welcome Stade Francias.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 26 Mar 2016
Racing 92 – Toulon
Agen – Montpellier
Brive – Castres
Grenoble – La Rochelle
Pau – Oyonnax
Sun – 27 Mar 2016
Bordeaux-Begles – Clermont-Auvergne
Toulouse – Stade Francais

Pro 12: The Pro 12 has a very big round of its own as the playoffs loom. Zebre will travel to Limerick and face Munster while their fellow Italians, Treviso,  head over to Cardiff to face the Cardiff Blues. In an important clash with playoff ramifications, Glasgow and Ulster will do battle. Also on the menu this weekend are Ospreys battle Scarlets, Connacht will host Leinster in another playoff position battle. Final match of the weekend will see Newport-Gwent and Edinburgh go at it.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 25 Mar 2016
Munster – Zebre
Cardiff Blues – Benetton Treviso
Glasgow Warriors – Ulster
Sat – 26 Mar 2016
Ospreys – Scarlets
Connacht – Leinster
Sun – 27 Mar 2016
Newport-Gwent Dragons – Edinburgh

Will the Lions continue winning and playing open rugby?
Will the Lions continue winning and playing open rugby?

Super Rugby: Super Rugby continues into the fifth round of the newly re-formatted tournament that crosses 7 time zones. As for this round of fixtures, it starts with the Hurricanes likely crushing the Kings. In the other matches this weekend, the Chiefs will look to show off to their fans in their home opener against the Force and the Rebels will welcome the Highlanders. The Sunwolvess host the Bulls, The Cheetahs will face a backlash from the Brumbies after last weeks lose, the Crusaders will continue the SA tour against the Sharks, the Stomers will travel to Argentina to face Los Jaguares. The final match will see rivals since creation, the Reds and the Waratahs will do battle.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 25 Mar 2016

Hurricanes – Kings
Sat – 26 Mar 2016
Chiefs – Force
Rebels – Highlanders
Sunwolves -Bulls
Cheetahs – Brumbies
Sharks – Crusaders
Jaguares – Stormers
Sun – 27 Mar 2016
Reds – Waratahs

Rugby Europe Logo

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 2B this weekend, Andorra will face a physical match up against Latvia.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 26 Mar 2016
2B: Andorra – Latvia

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 MeetTheMatts.com.