College Rugby Championships, Armitage, Cooper, Tier 2/3 Cups, More

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Life University D1A Champions 2016

NEW YORK, NY – There was a ton of good rugby nuggets to sift through in the last handful of day, including a heavy dose of USA college rugby and usual Rugby News, Player/Coach Transactions and some Rumors that have to be addressed. We’ll also squeeze in coverage of the final weekend of regular season play in two of Europe‘s three top domestic competitions, plus Super Rugby. On top of all of that, there were boatloads of important matches regarding world cup qualification and Tier 2 and 3 championships, so our collective cups runneth over!  Let’s dive into the Global RugbyUpdate:

News & Transactions:

USA Rugby: This past weekend was championship weekend for the USA Rugby College Fifteens National Championship. All of the matches were played in Moraga, California, home of the Saint Mary’s College Gaels. So to congratulate all those teams, their pics will be spread throughout this piece.

U of Davenport Women
Davenport University Women

Women’s Division II Fall Champion, Davenport University completed its season with a second trophy Saturday, defeating University of Southern California 61-0, to win the National Championship. USC took the place of Spring Champion, Tulane University. Tulane was unable to attend Championship weekend. The Trojans finished third at the Spring Championships.

In the Women’s Division I Spring Championship final  the University of California – Davis won a 10 try thriller by scoring a tie-breaker at the full-time whistle beating the  University of Virginia, 30-25.

Pennsylvania State University’s reign atop the collegiate women’s game continued on Saturday with a 15-5 defeat of Brigham Young University. It was a tough and physical encounter as they secured the first annual Women’s D1 Elite title.

UC-Davis Women
UC-Davis Women

The University of California – Davis had two very different kinds of doubles. The Women won a national title but so too did the Men (1 double). The Men also proved its 2015 Men’s Division 1AA title was not a fluke by becoming back to back 1AA Champions beating Notre Dame College, 17-13.

It’s been three long years since the Running Eagles have brought a D1A National Championship trophy back to the Life University campus in Marietta, Ga., but the wait is over. Life overcame rivals and hosts Saint Mary’s, 24-20, to retain the No. 1 title.

There was one national championship of sorts that was not held in California. The University of California – Berkley came back from a 29-19 deficit with three converted tries in the final ten minutes to beat Brigham Young University 40-29 in the Varsity Cup final. This win shocked most rugby observers and the crowd at South Field in Provo, Utah.

PSU Women
PSU Women

Premiership: Wasps confirmed that Italian hooker Carlo Festuccia will leave the club at the end of the season. Wasps are also rumored to be close to signing Toulon flanker Stefan Armitage.

Top14: Wales have dismissed a report in the French press linking defense coach Shaun Edwards with a move to Toulon. La Provence alleged that Toulon are in the market for a specialist defense coach with Edwards being considered as a potential candidate. Edwards re-signed with the WRU back in December last year following the Rugby World Cup after speculation linked him with a move to England. The prospect of Edwards taking on even a part-time role with Toulon, as is the case with fitness coach Paul Stridgeon, will not be considered.

Pro 12: Zebre second-rower Marco Bortolami, who recently announced his retirement from the game, has admitted he wants to take up coaching as a career. Bortolami amassed 112 Test caps for his country which include three World Cups and 11 Six Nations tournaments since making his debut in 2001.

UC-Davis Men
UC-Davis Men

Super Rugby: The Queensland Reds confirmed they are in pursuit of former stars Quade Cooper and Leroy Houston as they attempt to beef up their struggling Super Rugby squad with much-needed experience. Interim co-coach, Matt O’Connor confirmed Cooper and Houston are in the franchise’s sights as a double coup that would dramatically transform the team and also have implications for the Wallabies.

World Rugby: With just over a month to go until the tournament kicks off in Manchester, the World Rugby U20 Championship trophy is set to tour the north west of England.

The weekend’s fixtures:

PRO Rugbypro-rugby-logo_sm: The inaugural season of professional rugby is finally here in America. In the fourth round we had Ohio travel to Sacramento and then San Diego are on the road San Francisco. Our own Jake Frechette has a review of the Ohio v Sacramento game and the San Diego v San Fran game, if you follow the links.

Aviva Cup
Aviva Cup

Aviva Premiership: The 2015/2016 Aviva Premiership headed into its final round with European Cup places and playoffs still at stake. To ensure fairness, all the games kicked off simultaneously. The action began with Bath upsetting Leicester, Gloucester falling to Northampton. Harlequins were thrashed by Exeter. Newcastle lost the northern derby to Sale. Wasps put London Irish out of their misery and Worcester going down big to Saracens.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 2016
Bath Rugby 38-27 Leicester Tigers
Gloucester 20-28 Northampton Saints
Harlequins 24-62 Exeter Chiefs
Newcastle Falcons 15-21 Sale Sharks
Wasps 38-12 London Irish
Worcester Warriors 19-43 Saracens

Exeter’s heavy win over Harlequins ensured they will host a Premiership semi-final for the first time, in their first visit to the play-offs, against Wasps in two weeks time. Wasps defeated relegated London Irish but their result was irrelevant after Exeter’s win, while Leicester will travel to Saracens after finishing fourth despite losing to Bath. With regards to the European Champions Cup, Northampton secured fifth place thanks to their win away to Gloucester, but the drama came in the battle for sixth. Sale’s win over Newcastle and Harlequins’ loss to the Chiefs means that Sale take the final Champions Cup spot, with Harlequins relying on winning the Challenge Cup now to earn a spot in the competition next season.

Bouclier Brennus

Top 14: There are only three rounds left in the Top 14 and the heat is on to make the playoffs or secure a place for Europe. The first match of the weekend saw Grenoble fall to Bordeaux-Begles. Saturday began with La Rochelle toppling Montpellier, Pau losing to Clermont-Auvergne, Stade Francais destroying Oyonnax, and Brive victorious against Racing. Relegation bound Agen lost big to Toulouse and Toulon won a slugfest against Castres on Sunday.

Here are the results:
Fri – 6 May 2016
Grenoble 14-20 Bordeaux-Begles
Sat – 7 May 2016
La Rochelle 36-10 Montpellier
Pau 10-16 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 69-8 Oyonnax
Brive 33-27 Racing 92
Sat – 8 May 2016
Toulouse 52-19 Agen
Toulon 17-7 Castres

Guinness Pro 12: The Pro 12 also entered its final round with unsettled playoff and European Cup places to be decided. Similar to the Aviva Premiership, all matches kicked off simultaneously. Connacht won a tight one against Glasgow. Edinburgh fell to Cardiff, Leinster rolled Treviso, Munster took down Scarlets, Ulster traveled to Wales and soundly defeated the Ospreys, and finally Zebre won at home over Newport-Gwent.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 2016
Connacht 14-7 Glasgow Warriors
Edinburgh 17-21 Cardiff Blues
Leinster 50-19 Benetton Treviso
Munster 31-15 Scarlets
Ospreys 26-46 Ulster
Zebre 47-22 Newport Gwent Dragons

Leinster finished top of the PRO12 thanks to their bonus-point win over Treviso, securing a home semi-final against Ulster at the RDS Arena. Connacht and Glasgow Warriors will meet again at the Sportsground after Connacht won their battle on Saturday to book a home semi-final as they make the play-offs for the first time after a remarkable season. Scarlets and Munster finished in fifth and sixth, respectively, to book their Champions Cup places, but the drama came at the bottom. Zebre’s thrashing of the Dragons moved them above Treviso into 11th, making them the highest-ranked Italian side and making sure they will be in next season’s Champions Cup.

Super Rugby

Super Rugby: The newly re-formatted Super Rugby tournament continues. Under this new format, it has games in 6 countries, crosses more than 7 time zones, features 18 teams, and four conferences. As for the lucky 13th round of fixtures, it started with the Crusaders crushing the Reds and the Brumbies dominating the Bulls. The remaining matches saw the Sunwolves fall to the Force. The Chiefs lost to the Highlanders in the match of the round, Waratahs took down the Cheetahs, while the Sharks put together a quality performance in taking down the Hurricanes. The final match of the round saw the Blues in the Republic struggle to get past the Kings.

Here are the results:
Fri – 6 May 2016
Crusaders 38-5 Reds
23-6 Bulls
Sat – 7 May 2016
Sunwolves 22-40 Force
Chiefs 13-26 Highlanders
Waratahs 21-6 Cheetahs
Sharks 32-15 Hurricanes
Kings 18-34 Blues

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 1B, the Netherlands fell just a little bit short against the Ukraine. While in 2C, Slovenia took down Austria and finally in 2D, Norway edged past Turkey and Bulgaria went down to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 2016

1B: Netherlands 27-30 Ukraine
2C: Slovenia 38-23 Austria
2D: Norway 28-24 Turkey
2D: Bulgaria 15-23 Bosnia-Herzegovina

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, Hong Kong fell to Japan as the Japanese ran in seven unanswered tries. Meanwhile, in Division 1 there is a 2 week tournament in Kuala Lumpur to find the best team between the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore, who are replacing the withdrawn Kazakhstan. In the first round, the Philippines did just enough to get by Malaysia while Sri Lanka comfortably took down Singapore.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 2016
Top 3: Hong Kong 3-38 Japan

Sun – 8 May 2016
Division 1: Philippines 15-10 Malaysia
Division 1: Sri Lanka 33-17 Singapore

In midweek action, the second round of play will be rematches as Sri Lanka goes against Singapore and Malaysia plays the Philippines.

Here is the schedule:
Wed – 11 May 2016
Sri Lanka – Singapore
Malaysia – Philippines

2016 Women’s Asia Rugby Championship: The Women of Asia also have their tournament and they are structured similar to the Men. The Women’s top 3 contest this weekend was the second part of a double header as the Hong Kong Women did no better than their Men as Japan won by an eerily almost similar scoreline.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 2016

Top 3: Hong Kong 3-39 Japan

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 saw the final round of action in the South American A Championship as Uruguay easily defeated Chile and Paraguay lost at home against Brazil. The results mean that Uruguay are the 2016 Champions of the A Division.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 2016

Division A: Uruguay 39-14 Chile
Division A: Paraguay 21-32 Brazil

Rugby Americas North: Another regional tournament in full swing is the Rugby Americas North Championship.  Formerly known as the NACRA (North America and Caribbean Rugby Association) Championship, it 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. In a friendly this weekend, USA South comfortably defeated Bermuda in Atlanta and Mexico won on the road against Bahamas.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 2016

Bahamas 3-39 Mexico
USA South 38-5 Bermuda

The Currie Cup

2015 Currie Cup qualification: The tournament is a competition 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 five’s fixtures began with Griffons defeating SouthWest District. The remaining matches in the round saw Eastern Province upset Blue Bulls, Leopards fell to Boland, Golden Lions lost to Free State, Pumas thrashed the Welwitschias and finally the Sharks defeated rivals Western Province.

Here are the results:
Fri – 6 May 2016
Griffons 30–14 SWD Eagles
Sat – 7 May 2016
Eastern Province Kings 19–14 Blue Bulls
Leopards 31–43 Boland Cavaliers
Golden Lions XV 15–29 Free State XV
Griquas 21–12 Border Bulldogs
Pumas 47–7 Welwitschias
Sharks XV 24–16 Western Province

The Oceania Rugby (U-20) Junior Championship 2016 will be the second edition of the Oceania Rugby Junior Championship. It will be played as two tournaments; the Oceania Under 20 Championship hosted on the Gold Coast in Australia, and the Oceania Under 20 Trophy hosted in Suva. The Championship will only consist of New Zealand and Australia. This weekend saw the return match between Australia and New Zealand, following New Zealand’s win last week. Australia shocked on-lookers with a first-ever victory over New Zealand at under-20s level by the smallest margin possible.

Here are the results:
Sat – 7 May 16

Australia 25-24 New Zealand

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 and Declan Yeats.

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

Cal Varsity Cup 2016

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