Beauden Barrett, Adrian Strauss, Ruan Pienaar, Alofa, Halfpenny, AP, T14, Pro12

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Beauden Barrett
Beauden Barrett

NEW YORK, NY Hip hip… Hooray! It’s a long weekend here in the USA and we just might need the extra day, as the fixture list is almost filled to the brim! That means our Weekend Preview is overflowing with news re: Beauden Barrett, Adrian Strauss, Ruan Pienaar, Alofa Alofa, Leigh Halfpenny, the AP, T14, Pro12 and more… so without delay, here you go.

News & Transactions:

Super Rugby: All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett has inked a new deal across all levels of the game, in what is a major signing for New Zealand Rugby. Barrett has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, as well as his Hurricanes Super Rugby club and his province Taranaki, through until the end of the 2019 season…Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper has inked a three-year deal with Australian Rugby and the Reds that will tie him to the club until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.. The Waratahs announced the signing of powerful second row duo Dean Mumm and Leon Power. Mumm has re-signed to the club for another year, while new signing, Power has joined for the next two seasons… Adriaan Strauss will retire from Test rugby at the end of the 2016 season… The Crusaders announced that former All Blacks full-back Leon MacDonald will be one of their assistant coaches in 2017The Brumbies front row stocks have received a boost for 2017, with Blues prop Nic Mayhew signing a one-year deal with the club.

Ruan Pienaar s
Ruan Pienaar

Pro 12: The coming PRO12 season will be former Springbok scrum-half Ruan Pienaar‘s final one for Ulster, the province has confirmed. The club and the player were very keen for him to extend his stay in Belfast, with Operations Director Bryn Cunningham and Director of Rugby Les Kiss working with the Ireland Rugby Football Union (IRFU) over the past six months to reach a desirable outcome. Unfortunately, a contract extension was not possible due to the IRFU’s succession policy. Ulster were able to sign  Georgia tighthead prop Anton Peikrishvili, who will join the PRO12 province on a short-term deal until December 19. It is a short term deal as Ulster is in the midst of prop crisis with 3 props lost to injury in the pre-season.

Pro 12 P.s…  You must see the excellent piece by Martin Pengelly of The Guardian re PRO Rugby’s concerns over Pro 12 involvement in North America. Click here.

Alofa Alofa
Alofa Alofa

Aviva Premiership: Leicester have disciplined players internally who were involved in an incident with Italian military police after a pre-season game against Treviso. A few players were involved in the incident at a McDonald’s after Leicester’s 33-10 win over Treviso on August 19. Military police were called to by McDonald’s staff after a Leicester player allegedly took food without paying after becoming impatient waiting in a queue. Coach Richard Cockerill said the matter was dealt with internally and that the players involved were disciplined… Bath have announced that their former captain Stuart Hooper will take up the role of Performance and Player Development Director at the club. The club are also pleased to confirm that Andy Rock will take up the role of Academy Manager at Bath… Harlequins confirmed the signing of Samoa international wing Alofa Alofa, who has been training with the team throughout pre-season.

Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny

Top14: Toulouse and France hooker Christopher Tolofua has confirmed that he has signed a two-year deal with Saracens of the English Premiership. The Toulouse front-rower will head to north London after the completion of the 2016/17 Top 14 season… Wallabies wing Adam Ashley-Cooper will not play any further part in the Rugby Championship as he is set to return to France this week. According to a report on the Australian Rugby Union’s official website, the 116-Test Wallaby will fly back to Bordeaux in the coming days to line up in the Top 14 in the next fortnight… The Lions have been given a boost after Leigh Halfpenny declared he’s available to tour from the outset, even if Toulon make the Top 14 final.

Currie Cup: Western Province have recruited New Zealander Paul Feeney on a consultancy basis to improve their attacking skills. Feeney was an assistant-coach with the Blues in this year’s Super Rugby competition where his focus was on their attacking play and skill levels. He attended a Western Province practice session on Monday and will be used as a consultant over the next two weeks. His job is to give insight into WP’s attacking play… Kwagga Smith will only be available for four tournaments in the next World Sevens series to focus more time on 15-man rugby… Prop Dale Chadwick has left the Sharks to join French second division club Narbonne on a two-year contract.

Australia NRC: Alex Horan, son of Wallabies great Tim Horan, has signed with the University of Canberra Vikings for the 2016 Buildcorp NRC season in a bid to further his rugby career. UC is a feeder for the ACT Brumbies.

USA Rugby: USA Rugby’s Training and Education department is pleased to announce the addition of Spanish language courses to be offered for coaching and referee clinics starting this October.

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby:  Western Province Rugby Union president Thelo Wakefield has emerged as a candidate to become South Africa Rugby’s new Vice President… With fans upset about the citing process and discipline following the non-citing of All Black Owen Franks and citing of Springbok Tebojo Mohoje, World Rugby released this statement regarding its disciplinary jurisdiction:

In response to the weight of enquiries regarding the extent of its disciplinary jurisdiction, World Rugby would like to clarify that the disciplinary process for The Rugby Championship is independent and under the auspices of tournament organiser, SANZAAR.

World Rugby’s ability to intervene in potential citing cases arising from tournaments run by independent tournament organisers is limited to circumstances where no such disciplinary process is in place or where the process has not been followed.

World Rugby has direct jurisdiction in all of its own competitions, including Rugby World Cup, Women’s Rugby World Cup, the men’s and women’s HSBC Sevens Series and the Under 20 World Championship. World Rugby also has the right of appeal in cases arising from international tours held during the June and November windows.

In other WRO News, World Rugby has announced a strong line-up of speakers to participate in the Fan engagement – connecting in a digital world panel at the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2016 (ConfEx) which will take place on 14-15 November at the Hilton London Metropole.

The panel will feature leading experts in the area of fan engagement, including:

  • Lawrence Dallaglio, Founding Partner at BBH Sport and Rugby World Cup 2003 winner
  • Alex Trickett, Global Sports Chair at Twitter and Head of Sport at Twitter UK
  • Alexandra Willis, Head of Communications, Content and Digital at The AELTC and The Championships, Wimbledon
  • Mark Parkman, General Manager, Olympic Channel Services

The weekend’s fixtures:

Aviva_Premiership_Rugby_Logo.svgAviva Premiership: The 2016/2017 Aviva Premiership Kicks off this weekend. The current champions are Saracens. The most recently promoted side is Bristol, who have returned to the top flight after defeating Doncaster in the 2015-16 RFU Championship Play-Off Final. It will be the 30th season of the top flight of English domestic rugby union competition, and the seventh to be sponsored by Aviva Insurance. This weekend will begin with Gloucester hosting Leicester and a Northern derby as Newcastle welcome Sale. Saracens tackle Worcester, Northampton play, and Harelquins welcome Bristol back to the big leagues. Finally Wasps will host last year’s runners-up Exeter.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 2 Sep 2016
Gloucester – Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons – Sale Sharks
Sat – 3 Sep 2016
Saracens – Worcester Warriors
Northampton Saints – Bath
Harlequins – Bristol
Sun – 4 Sep 2016
Wasps – Exeter Chiefs

Top 14: If it feels like the Top 14 season just ended, it did. It was less than 60 days between the end of the #Top14 final and the start of the season, not to mention the players also had to deal with pre-season. The season was extended a month because of the Rugby World Cup so hopefully this year, it won’t last as long. The twelve returning teams this season are champions Racing 92, runners-up Toulon, Clermont, Montpellier, Toulouse, Castres, Bordeaux, Brive, La Rochelle, Grenoble, Pau and Stade Français… Two new teams from the 2015–16 Pro D2 season were promoted to Top 14 this year, Bayonne and Lyon in place of the two relegated teams, Agen and Oyonnax. It marks the first time that both teams relegated are both promoted in the following season (Bayonne and Lyon where both relegated during the 2014–15 Top 14 season). The line-up for the weekend begins with heavyweights Stade Francais and Clermont-Auvergne doing battle… There’s also Castres against La Rochelle, Lyon vs Grenoble, Pau challenges Bayonne and Toulon faces BriveBordeaux-Begles host Montpellier and in another heavyweight bout to end the weekend, Racing 92 plays Toulouse.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 3 Sep 2016
Stade Francais – Clermont Auvergne
Castres – La Rochelle
Lyon – Grenoble
Pau – Bayonne
Toulon – Brive
Sun – 4 Sep 2016
Bordeaux Begles – Montpellier
Racing 92 – Toulouse

Guinness Pro12Pro 12: The 2016–17 Pro12 (also known as the Guinness Pro12 for sponsorship reasons) will be the sixteenth season of the professional rugby union competition originally known as the Celtic League, and the seventh with its current four-country format. It is the third season to be referred to as the Guinness Pro12. The weekend starts with Leinster welcome Treviso, Ospreys host the other Italian side Zebre and Ulster hosting Newport-Gwent. Scarlets will face Munster, Connacht and Glasgow do battle in rematch of last year’s final and Cardiff versus Edinburgh finish of the weekend.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 2 Sep 2016
Leinster – Benetton Treviso
Ospreys – Zebre
Ulster – Newport Gwent Dragons
Sat – 3 Sep 2016
Scarlets – Munster
Connacht – Glasgow Warriors
Cardiff Blues – Edinburgh

2016 Currie Cup qualification: The tournament is a competition that will be played between 5 August and 15 October 2016 and will feature nine teams that qualified through the 2016 Currie Cup qualification competition. The 9 South African provincial unions are Pumas, Sharks, Blue Bulls, Western Province, Eastern Province, Boland, Griquas, Free State and Golden Lions. This will be the 78th edition of South Africa’s premier domestic rugby union competition. The fourth round of fixtures began when Griquas smashed Eastern Province. The weekend will see Boland against Pumas and the Blue Bulls challenge the Golden Lions. Free State will battle Eastern Province and the Western Province will face the Sharks.

Here are the results:
Wed – 31 Aug 2016
47-24 Eastern Province
Here is the schedule:
Fri – 2 Sep 2016
Boland – Pumas
Blue Bulls – Golden Lions
Sat – 3 Sep 2016
Free State – Eastern Province
Western Province – Sharks

Mitre 10 Cup: The Mitre 10 Cup (formally known “National Provincial Championship” or “NPC“) is the highest level of New Zealand domestic professional rugby union competition, contested annually from late August to early November and managed by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU). Building off competitions dating back to the National Provincial Championship in 1976, with teams from a number of provinces, the Mitre 10 Cup officially started with the 2006 season with 14 teams after the National Provincial Championship (NPC) was split into this professional competition and the amateur Heartland Championship competition. The competition was known as the Air New Zealand Cup to the end of the 2009 season; the name then changed to the ITM Cup for the 2010 season after ITM, the trading name of Independent Timber Merchants Co-operative Ltd., a New Zealand building supplies retailer took over as lead sponsor. In 2016 the New Zealand-owned home improvement and garden retailer, Mitre 10 took over sponsorship after out-bidding ITM. For the Mitre 10 Cup competition it will involve the top 14 provincial unions of New Zealand. With 12 All Blacks released back to the provincial sides for the weekend, it guarantees that the action will only get more intense. The schedule for week three began with Otago beating Northland. Hawkes Bay and Counties Manukau are on the Thursday night ticket, with Southland and Auckland set for a Friday night lights affair. Saturday sees Tasman and Taranaki do battle, Wellington clash with North Harbour, Northland tackles Canterbury and Bay of Plenty faces Otago while Waikato ends the weekend against Manawatu.

Here is the schedule:
Wed – 31 Aug 2016
Otago 33-28 Northland
Thu – 1 Sep 2016
Hawkes Bay – Counties Manukau
Fri – 2 Sep 2016
Southland – Auckland
Sat – 3 Sep 2016
Tasman – Taranaki
Wellington – North Harbour
Northland – Canterbury
Sun – 4 Sep 2016
Bay Of Plenty – Otago
Waikato – Manawatu

NRC logoAus. NRC: Australia’s third tier competition goes into its third year as the National Rugby Championship kicks off. Those with New York Rugby Club ties like me, will be supporting the two-time defending champs Brisbane City since one of their feeder clubs, is New York’s sister club West (Brisbane) Bulldogs. This weekend will see the Sydney Rays host the Perth Spirit, Brisbane City against Western Sydney, the Melbourne Rising tackle Queensland County and the University of Canberra will welcome the New South Wales Country side.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 2 Sep 2016
Sydney Rays – Perth Spirit
Sat – 3 Sep 2016
Brisbane City – Western Sydney Rams
Melbourne Rising – Queensland Country
Sat – 4 Sep 2016
UC Vikings – NSW Country Eagles

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 Championship, Trophy, Conference 1 North &1 South and 2 North & 2 South over a two-year cycle. The Championship, 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 Conference 1 North this weekend, Sweden hosts the Czech Republic.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 3 Sep 2016
C1N: Sweden -Czech Republic

That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Pageand follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @Zack Stryfeller, @Brian C Cole, @Garrett Harper, @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