Bristol, Clerc, McCloskey, Smit, EPRU, Muiliana, USA Rugby College 7s, Mitchell & Friday

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NEW YORK, NY – We’ve got a mountain of information to work our way through, including  rugby news, transactions, and an ever-increasing fixture list. So without further adieu, let’s get into the Weekend Update:

News & Transactions:

English Premiership: After three previous play-off final losses to Exeter, London Welsh and Worcester, Bristol’s long wait for Premiership rugby is over after they defeated Doncaster 60-40 on aggregate at home to win promotion. The triumph was long overdue and ends one of the most painful runs of near misses in recent memory… Bath confirmed that back-row Leroy Houston will be returning to Australia and joining the Queensland Reds of Super Rugby. It was also confirmed that Springbok head coach Allister Coetzee has prevented his assistant Johan van Graan from taking up the assistant coach position at Bath Leicester Tigers have completed the signing of loosehead prop Ellis Genge from Bristol on a permanent deal, with their promotion, Bristol may regret this.. It was also announced that Tigers center Manu Tuilagi has withdrawn through injury from the England squad to tour Australia. Chris Ashton, who was left out of the squad, Tuilagi withdrew from, decided not to accept the call-up to the Saxons group head to South Africa Wasps center Ben Jacobs announced his retirement from rugby this week.

Vincent Clerc

Top14: After initiating denying reports earlier this week, former France international wing Vincent Clerc has put pen to paper on a one-year contract with Toulon, joining from Toulouse who chose to not offer Clerc a new contract. Clerc will be joined at Toulon by Oyonnax prop Laurent Delboulbès who has signed a two-year contract with the three-time European champions… Montpellier head coach Jake White has signed another two South Africans, hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and utility forward Nicholas Janse van Rensburg, who are set to join the Challenge Cup champions ahead of next season.This brings Montpellier’s total of South Africans to 13, not counting the coaching staff and trainers… Bordeaux Bègles and former Bulls scrum-half Heinrich Adams announced that he will retire from the game at the end of the season.

RWU Class of 2016 member Stuart McCloskey
RWU Class of 2016 member Stuart McCloskey

Pro 12: Ulster’s Rugby Player of the Year, and RWU Class of 2016 member, Stuart McCloskey, has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the province until 2019. Willie Anderson and Bryan Young will return to the province that they represented as the Ulster Academy Elite Player Development Officer and Talent Development Officer respectively… Ospreys were delighted to announce the return from injury for four players that have been sidelined for lengthy spells, ahead of next season. Tyler Ardron, Dan Baker, Ma’afu Fia and Jeff Hassler should all be back up and running before the new campaign kicks off… Zebre announced that twelve players, have re-signed with the PRO12 side ahead of the 2016/17 season. Here is the full list:

Andries Van Schalkwyk, Valerio Bernabò, Tommaso D’Apice, Andrea De Marchi, Oliviero Fabiani, Quintin Geldenhuys, Andrea Lovotti, Andrea Manici, Johan Meyer, Jacopo Sarto, Giulio Bisegni, Edoardo Padovani and Matteo Pratichetti.

Smit in his playing days
Smit in playing days

Super Rugby: Sharks CEO John Smit announced that he will be resigning at the end of 2016 season, after three years in the position. Smit did also deliver the good news that the Sharks have re-signed three of their promising and upcoming talents until the end of 2018. The players are the du Preez twins, backrowers Jean-Luc du Preez and Daniel du Preez, and fly-half Garth April have all extended their contracts for the next two seasons… Wallabies winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who last played for the Waratahs in 2015, is set to return to the franchise for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby team seasons after playing for Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12, this season… The Cheetahs have secured the signatures of four props – Luan de Bruin, Tom Botha, Gunther Janse van Vuuren and Johan Coetzee – ahead of next season… Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham is set to rejoin the Wallabies as an assistant to Michael Cheika ahead of the upcoming internationals.

Eastern_Province_Kings_logoThe Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) received a huge cash injection from a mystery investor, two weeks ago, that saved the cash strapped union. According to reports the EPRU’s mystery investor was revealed as Integrated Sport, a sports marketing company based in England. The partnership will see the EPRU receive R20 million each year for the next five years. With that money, the Kings completed the signing of former Junior Springbok wing Wandile Mjekevu, on a loan deal… Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne has re-signed with the Super Rugby franchise until the end of the 2017 season… Crusaders loose forward Jordan Taufua will continue to play his rugby in red and black for at least another two years, having re-signed with the team until the end of 2018.
Mils Muliaina
Mils Muliaina

PRO Rugby: Mils Muliaina has arrived in San Fransisco and will likely suit up for the franchise this weekend. The up and down, behind the scenes, first season for the inaugural season of PRO Rugby continues, with the latest development seeing the Denver franchise pull out of Infinity Park in Glendale. The team will play at the University of Denver’s CIBER Field for their four remaining home games. Pro Rugby also ended their association with AOL abruptly, with all further streaming coming directly from the official PRO Rugby website via YouTube live streams.

USA Rugby: Men’s Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell has selected a squad of 34 players to assemble for the Summer Series matches against Italy and Russia in northern California this June. Of the 34, 3 play in Super Rugby and all but two were part of the original Eagles Elite Training Squad or Eagles Development Training Group named earlier this year. Mitchell will be assisted by a the coaching staff of Phil Greening, Rob Hoadley, and Marty Veale as defense coach, backs coach, and forwards coach, respectively. Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday has been named as the team’s attack coach for the assembly, while Eagles Sevens Assistant Coach Chris Brown will partner former AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American and sevens national team representative Alex Ross of Super Rugby‘s Blues as strength and conditioning coaches…  The 2016 USA Rugby College 7s National Championships is scheduled for May 27-29 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Every one of the 167 games that will be played this weekend, including in the 10,000-seat stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, will be broadcast and aired free of charge on The Rugby Channel. I want to wish my alma mater, Niagara University, the best of luck as they play to win the Men’s Division II title.

World Rugby: The eighth edition of the Bingham Cup, the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby clubs, gets underway on Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. I would like to wish the club I formally coached the Gotham Knights RFC, of New York, the best of luck… World Rugby announced earlier this week, the dates for the 10 global destinations that will comprise the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the first season following rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut. For the schedule, please click hereJapan Rugby 2019, the local organizing body of the first Rugby World Cup to take place in Asia, will work in partnership with World Rugby to review a range of rugby clubs, schools, colleges, universities and dedicated training centers to ensure optimum training environment and to extend the reach of RWC 2019 to even more communities across Japan as the selection process for training centers for international sides during the RWC was released this week to the Japan sporting public… A new report published by EY (Ernest and Young) confirms the record-breaking impact of the Rugby World Cup 2015 and it place as the most economically-successful Rugby World Cup ever, with nearly £2.3 billion generated in economic output according to a report published by EY. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Rugby World Cup 2015 set new attendance, viewership and competition records
  • £2.3 billion economic output generated, £1.1 billion directly added to the UK GDP
  • 406,000 international visitors stayed an average of 14 days each in the UK, providing tourism and economic benefits to the host nation
    Strong regional impact at the heart of nationwide benefits

For more details and complete copy of the review, follow this link.

The weekend’s fixtures:

Clermont-Ferrand 7s: The 2015/2016 HSBC Womens Sevens Series will be in Clermont, this weekend. It will be the final leg of the series. As we have done all series we have a preview of the tournament and team USA‘s analysis, if you just click here.

PRO Rugbypro-rugby-logo_sm: Heading into the seventh week of action in the inaugural season, Denver gets a bye while San Diego will host Sacramento, in the southern part of the state of California, Ohio will be on the road at San Francisco.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 28 May 2016
Sacramento – San Diego
Sun – 29 May 2016
Ohio -San Francisco

Aviva Premiership: It is now time for the championship final of the 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership. It is only fair that the top two teams in the regular season will meet in the final as the top seeded Saracens will battle second place Exeter.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 28 May 2016
Saracens – Exeter Chiefs

Logo_Top14_2012Top 14: There are only a couple more rounds left in the Top 14 and with relegation decided, it is all about making the playoffs or securing a spot in the Champions Cup. The first match of the weekend sees La Rochelle host Racing, then Bordeaux-Begles welcome Brive, Pau tackle Grenoble, Stade Francais clashes with Agen and Oyonnax do battle with Castres.  The last two games of the weekend feature the two matches of the round. The first has Toulouse taking on Clermont-Auvergne and the second match of the round sees Montpellier at home against Toulon.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 21 May 2016
La Rochelle – Racing 92
Sat – 21 May 2016
Bordeaux-Begles – Brive
Pau – Grenoble
Stade Francais – Agen
Oyonnax -Castres
Sun – 22 May 2016
Toulouse – Clermont-Auvergne
Montpellier – Toulon

Guinness Pro 12: The Pro 12 is also going to play its championship final this weekend. It will be a one game season as perennial Irish powerhouse province Leinster host the upstart Irish province Connacht.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 28 May 2016
Leinster – Connacht


Super Rugby: Super Rugby has gone from 6 teams in 1996 to 18 teams in 2016. It only covered 3 countries and 3 times zones then, now it has games in 6 countries, crosses more than 7 time zones and has four conferences. The latest round of fixtures, starts with the Hurricanes hosting the Highlanders. Then we have the Waratahs welcoming the Chiefs, the Kings and Jaguares doing battle, the Blues are in a the other big New Zealand derby match against the Crusaders, with the Brumbies clashing with the Sunwolves. It will be two big South African derbies as the Stormers and the Cheetahs go at it and the Bulls face the Lions. Meanwhile an Australian derby finishes the weekend as the Rebels and the Force meet.

Here is the Schedule:
Fri – 27 May 2016
Hurricanes – Highlanders
Waratahs – Chiefs
Kings – Jaguares
Sat – 21 May 2016
Blues – Crusaders
Brumbies – Sunwolves
Stormers – Cheetahs
Bulls – Lions
Sat – 21 May 2016
Rebels – Force

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. This weekend in 2D, Finland will host Bulgaria in Helsinki.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 28 May 16
Finland – Bulgaria

Asia_Rugby_Championship_logoThe Asian Rugby Championship: which is similar to the ENC (European Nation’s Cup) but with 5 divisions with the 3 most dominant teams, the tri-nations of Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan in the top division. There are 4 teams in division 1 and 2 then division 3 is broken up into East, Central and West with 3 teams each before we finally get to division 4 with 7. Believe it or not this is allegedly streamlined from previous years where it was just 5 divisions and 5 teams in each. This weekend in the Top 3, Japan will welcome Hong Kong, to the land of the Rising Sun.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 28 May 16
Top 3:
Japan – Hong Kong

2016 Women’s Asia Rugby Championship: The Women of Asia also have their tournament and they are structured similar to the men. In their top 3 contest this weekend, it will be the second part of a double header as Japan takes on Hong Kong.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 28 May 16

Top 3: Japan – Hong Kong

Sudamerica RugbySudamerica Rugby: Formerly the SAMC now just Sudamerica Rugby, is the same as the ENC – except it’s South America, a minor detail – and it has 4 divisions featuring 15 teams. It is the battle to find the 2nd best team in South America with Argentina the firm number 1. The top division is called the Sudamerica Rugby Cup division and features Argentina’s B team, Uruguay and Chile. There are 3 divisions after that known as Divisions A, B, and C. This weekend will be the first game in the Sudamerica Rugby Cup division as Uruguay take on Argentina in Montevideo.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 28 May 16

SR Cup: Uruguay – Argentina

Rugby Americas North

Rugby Americas North: Another regional tournament in full swing is the North America and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championship. The NACRA Championship is for the countries in North America and the Caribbean. NACRA has 2 zones with top level (championship) and a bottom level (cup). Each Championship zone has 3 teams while the Cup Zones have 4 each. The Zones are regionally divided, so there is a North Zone and South Zone. USA Rugby competes in the North Zone Championship division. The USA is represented by the USA South Regional all-star team, in order to develop talent and make the competition a much fairer one… This weekend in the South, heavyweight Jamaica will host Barbados.

Here is the Schedule:
Sat – 28 May 16

South: Jamaica – Barbados

2015 Currie Cup qualification: The tournament is a competition between which will be played between 9 April and 23 July 2016. It will feature all fourteen South African provincial unions plus the Welwitschias from Namibia and will also serve as a qualifying competition for the 2016 Currie Cup, the 78th edition of South Africa’s premier domestic rugby union competition. Nine teams from this competition will play in the 2016 Currie Cup Premier Division, while the remaining six teams will play in the 2016 Currie Cup First Division. Round seven’s fixtures begin with the Boland hosting SouthWest District, Free State facing Pumas, Border challenge Falcons. Saturday sees Western Province battle Griquas, Blue Bulls welcome Leopards, Golden Lions clash with the Eastern Province and the Welwitschias up against Griffons.

Here is the Schedule:
Fri – 27 May 2016
Boland Cavaliers – SWD Eagles
Free State XV – Pumas
Border Bulldogs – Falcons
Sat – 28 May 2016
Western Province – Griquas
Blue Bulls – Leopards
Golden Lions XV – Eastern Province Kings
Welwitschias – Griffons

Exhibition Matches – In a match that has been labelled by fans as nothing more than a wallet stuffer, England will welcome Wales to Twickenham as the two sides play a warm-up match before each nation goes on their summer tours to the southern hemisphere.

Here is the Schedule:
Sun – 29 May 16
England – Wales

That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, @MeetTheMatts, Junoir BlaberRonan Nelson, Crawford Miller, Luke Bienstock, James Harrington and Declan Yeats.

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