Kerr-Barlow, Worcester, NG Dragons, Cuthbert, USA Rugby and World Rugby News

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NEW YORK, NY – Welcome to, what we believe to be is, another fantastic edition of the Preview. We begin our coverage this weekend by looking at the latest Rugby News and Transactions. Our coverage then shifts to the two world sevens series tournaments occurring this weekend on different sides of the globe. We follow that up with a look at the knockout stages of the European Professional Club Rugby Champions and Challenge Cup. Then we turn our attention to the southern hemisphere as we look at this week’s Super Rugby matches before we finish with some Tier 2 coverage.  So without further adieu, let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview.

News & Transactions:

Super Rugby: The Chiefs received some good news this week as All Black scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow has re-signed for the next two years… The Golden Lions earlier this week re- signed 27 players and head coach Johan Ackkerman and his top assistant coaches. Before the week was out they followed it up by announcing that their coaching staff have all renewed their contracts until the end of 2018. Swys de Bruin (Assistant Coach Attack), JP Ferreira (Assistant Coach Defense) and Ivan van Rooyen (Assistant Coach Conditioning) all put pen to paper for another two years.

Worcester_Warriors_logo.svgAviva Premiership: Worcester Warriors will become the first Premiership club to convert to the latest generation of Artificial Grass Pitch ahead of the 2016/17 season… Newcastle Falcons have bolstered their forward stocks after acquiring the services of Championship side Jersey‘s prop Sam Lockwood for the 2016/17 season… Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill revealed that back Niall Morris will leave the club at the end of the season.

NG Dragons BallPro 12: Newport-Gwent Dragons announced a radical decision to establish themselves as a fully independent region with a view to attract fresh investment. The side are currently jointly owned by Newport RFC and the Welsh Rugby Union, but the proposals would see both parties transferring their shares to new owners once they are satisfied with their investment plans and intentions for the region… Cardiff Blues announced that Wales and Lions wing Alex Cuthbert has pledged his future to the region by signing a new contract… Ospreys announced that young prop Gareth Thomas has re-signed a three-year deal, committing to the region until the end of 2018/19 season… The Scarlets have announced that wing/fullback Jordan Williams will leave the PRO12 region at the end of the season to join Championship side Bristol. The Scarlets also announced that hooker Emyr Phillips is the latest player to commit his future to his home region.

 usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: The match-ups for the April 9-10 weekend’s rounds of the 2016 USA Rugby Women’s Division I and Division II Spring Championships have been finalized. For a reminder of the venues and a look at the match-up bracket, click here. USA Rugby has released a statement supporting the North Carolina Clubs and Union regarding recent Anti-LGBTQ legislation and it can be read here.

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby: Rugby Africa celebrates its 30th anniversary with a seminar being held in Morocco from 6-9 April, an occasion that provides an opportunity to take a closer look at the sport in the region… To celebrate the biggest and best year of rugby sevens, world series title sponsor HSBC has conducted a report into the game, entitled “The Future of Rugby: An HSBC report“. As a long-term partner of rugby, HSBC has invested in the report to help stimulate debate about the game and ensure it continues on its current growth trajectory. The publication, available to download, includes the views of experts across the world of media, business and sport, can be read by clicking hereEngland prop Joe Marler attended an independent judicial misconduct hearing in London this week with the final decision being suspended for two matches and fined £20,000 to be paid to a suitable equality charity in the UK.

The weekend’s fixtures:

World_Rugby_Sevens_Series_logoAtlanta 7s: The third leg of the 2015/2016 HSBC World Rugby Womens 7s Series has its stop in the USA, this weekend. The city of choice is Atlanta and we have a complete preview of the tournament and along with picks, if you click here.

Hong Kong 7s: It is time for the granddaddy of them all in the 7s world as the seventh leg of the 2015/2016 HSBC World Rugby Mens 7s Series hits Hong Kong. As we did for the women, we have a complete preview of the tournament and team USA analysis, if you click here.

European Rugby Champions Cup: The European (Rugby) Champions Cup has reached the knock-out round. The quarterfinals will be tough and an all Anglo-Franco affair. Once again, the RWU Wolf Man Ronan Nelson has put together an enthralling preview featuring the RWU Analysts’ picks, just click right here.

EPRC Trophies
EPRC Trophies

European Rugby Challenge Cup: The second tier, European Challenge Cup tournament should not be dismissed because it is a second tier competition You will find it filled with European clubs with real ambitions and playing a very entertaining brand of rugby. A club like Exeter in the Champions’ Cup quarterfinals began showing their merit in the Challenge Cup a few seasons back. As for the matches this weekend, they begin on Friday with Sale hosting Montpellier. Saturday sees Gloucester play Newport-Gwent, Grenoble host Connacht and Premiership rivals Harlequins and London Irish meet.

Here is the Schedule:
Fri – 8 Apr 2016
Sale Sharks – Montpellier
Sat – 9 Apr 2016
Gloucester – Newport-Gwent Dragons
Grenoble – Connacht
Harlequins – London Irish

Pro 12: The Pro 12 has one make up match this weekend as Zebre host Glasgow in match that was due to be played in January, but was postponed so the Warriors could play their rescheduled European Rugby Champions Cup fixture with Racing 92.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 9 Apr 2016

Zebre – Glasgow Warriors

Brodie Retallick returned to action was a factor in the Chiefs win

Super Rugby: Super Rugby continues into the eighth round of the newly re-formatted tournament that crosses 7 time zones. As for this round of fixtures, it started with the Chiefs coming back to defeat the Blues and the Crusaders needed a last gasp try to defeat the Force. In the other matches this weekend, the Sunwolves continue their South Africa tour and play the Stormers, the Hurricanes will welcome the Jaguares as they continue their New Zealand tour. The Reds and Highlanders will meet, The Sharks will face the Lions in a SA local derby. The final match will sees anothe SA derby as the Kings and the Bulls do battle.

Here are the results:
Fri – 8 Apr 2016
Chiefs 29-23 Blues
Force 19-20 Crusaders

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 8 Apr 2016
Stormers – Sunwolves
Sat – 9 Apr 2016
Hurricanes – Jaguares
Reds – Highlanders
Sharks – Lions
Kings – Bulls

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 2A this weekend, the Czech Republic tries to continue their winning streak as they face Croatia and tiny nations Switzerland and Malta clash. In 2B, Cyprus face Hungary and 2C sees Austria host Serbia.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 9 Apr 2016
2A: Czech Republic – Croatia
2A: Switzerland – Malta
2B: Cyprus – Hungary
2C: Austria – Serbia

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.

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