Gatland, Tietjens, Lancaster, Watson, Rugby Championship

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NEW YORK, NY – Dominating the news this week were stories about some of the biggest coaches in the game. As a result, our Weekend Preview is overflowing with news re: Warren Gatland, Gordon Tietjens, Stuart Lancaster, Cheeky Watson, The Rugby Championship and more… so without delay, here you go.

British & Irish Lions: Warren Gatland has been named head coach of the British and Irish Lions for their tour of New Zealand next year. Gatland will be coaching the Lions on a third successive tour, having been an assistant coach in South Africa in 2009 before leading the Lions to victory in Australia in 2013 – the first series win for 16 years. The Wales head coach will start immediately and work exclusively with the Lions until the end of next year’s tour. After Gatland was named British and Irish Lions coach, the Wales Rugby Union (WRU) confirmed that Rob Howley will become Wales boss in his absence. Here is Gatland 4 years ago with our own JWB.

Goodbye Sir Titch: New Zealand Rugby has paid tribute to legendary Sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens following his decision not to seek a new contract after 22 years at the helm of the All Black Sevens team. The 60-year-old has led New Zealand to four Commonwealth Games gold medals, 12 World Rugby Sevens Series titles and two Sevens World Championship titles, becoming the most successful coach of all time in the abbreviated form of the game. He was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2012 and knighted for his contribution to rugby 12 months later. Here is JWB again with Sir Titch.

News & Transactions:

Super Rugby: South African Dave Wessels has been appointed as new head coach of the Western Force for the next two seasons. Wessels served as assistant to former coach Michael Foley, who was fired in June following the side’s poor Super Rugby campaign. Captain Matt Hodgson is reportedly close to re-signing for the Force. Wessels (33) is now the youngest coach in Super Rugby but has been with the Force for the last four years so he knows the team and culture well. The promotion of Wessels to senior head coach was made easier in some ways as he maintains the support of the players and are acutely aware of the challenges the Perth-based franchise is facing… The Brumbies are continuing to build the side’s 2017 playing roster and have seized the opportunity to capture Force players as a result of the uncertainty created by the drawn out process of the Force hiring Wessels. It begins with Western Force flanker Chris Alcock signing a one-year deal with the Brumbies  and then Alcock’s teammate, promising inside centre Kyle Godwin, joined on a two-year contract… The Waratahs added to their roster for 2017 with the announcement of fly-half Bryce Hegarty re-signing for a further season.

Return of the Lanc: Stuart Lancaster
Return of the Lanc: Stuart Lancaster

Pro 12: The former England head coach Stuart Lancaster has joined Leinster as a member of their senior coaching team. Leinster have turned to Lancaster after their defence coach Kurt McQuilkin left the province’s coaching staff this summer to return to New Zealand for family reasons… The Dragons announced that former Wales winger Aled Brew is to leave the region, with immediate effect. No sooner was Brew shown the door did Bath of the Aviva Premiership confirm that Brew has joined the club on a short-term contract until the end of the year.

Aviva Premiership: Hooker Rob Hawkins has joined Bristol Rugby on a short-term deal as injury cover for Marc Jones according to the official Bristol website… In former Aviva Club news, London Welsh confirmed that a petition presented to the High Court to have the club liquidated was dismissed. In American, they were endanger of being deemed unfit to exist as as business before they came up with the cash to pay all their creditors and be allowed to continue.

Top14: Former Bath head coach Mike Ford is reportedly set to meet with Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal on Friday, L’Equipe reports.

Currie Cup: The Currie Cup play-offs could be postponed by at least a week if the Sharks manage to finish first or second in the standings after the league phase. For more info,  click here… Under-fire Eastern Province Rugby Union president Cheeky Watson claims he is ready to resign and move on to pursue his business interests.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: The schedule for the Americas Rugby Championship 2017 has been announced by Rugby Americas.  Go to the USA Rugby Website for a look at the schedule…USA Rugby and Rugby Utah announced Tuesday a first-of-its-kind Rugby Referee Training Academy (RRTA) to be based in Utah with partnerships that extend over to the U.K. Read more here.

World Rugby LogoWorld Rugby: Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter has confirmed defensive contact consultant Richie Gray (Not the Scotland international lock) will return to his back room staff for the 2016 November Tests and 2017 Six Nations. Gray was part of last season’s 6 Nations and Summer Test preparations following a three-season spell as South Africa’s specialist breakdown coach, culminating in their bronze medal finish at last year’s Rugby World Cup, as well as the SA Sevens side… With less than a year to go until Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 kicks off in Ireland, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) have confirmed three programs which will raise the profile of women’s rugby in Ireland before, during and after the tournament. Click here for more.

In other WRO News,World Rugby has announced the schedule for the Americas Pacific Challenge 2016, a new “A” team tournament funded by the game’s governing body. The inaugural event, which includes two teams each from the Pacific Islands, North America and South America, will be hosted in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 8-16 October, 2016. Pool A features Argentina XV, USA Selects and Samoa A, while Fiji Warriors, Canada A and Uruguay A are in Pool B.

Hong Kong‘s men and Japan‘s women were both dominant as they claimed victory in their respective events in the opening round of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in Hong Kong. As a result, Hong Kong have taken a big step towards gaining a spot at next year’s all-important HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifying tournament, which they will host, as one of the top two ranked sides from the Asian region.

The weekend’s fixtures:

rugbychampThe Rugby Championship: New Zealand will host Argentina to begin round 3  of The Rugby Championship. In the other match, Australia and South Africa will renew their rivalry for the Mandela Plate.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 10 Sep 2016
New Zealand – Argentina
Australia – South Africa

Aviva_Premiership_Rugby_Logo.svgAviva Premiership: The 2016/2017 Aviva Premiership will be the 30th season of the top flight of English domestic rugby union competition, and the seventh to be sponsored by Aviva Insurance. 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. This weekend will begin with Worcester hosting Gloucester and Sale welcome Harlequins. Bath tackle Newcastle, Leicester play Wasps. Bristol will face Northampton in their first home match back in the big leagues. Finally, its a finals rematch as Exeter, last year’s runners-up, battle Saracens.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 9 Sep 2016
Worcester Warriors – Gloucester
Sale Sharks – Harlequins
Sat – 10 Sep 2016
Bath – Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers – Wasps
Sun – 11 Sep 2016
Bristol – Northampton Saints
Exeter Chiefs – Saracens

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 Stade Francais and Castres doing battle… There’s also Bordeaux-Begles against Bayonne, La Rochelle versus Lyon, Montpellier challenges Pau and in heavyweight bout Clermont-Auvergne plays Racing 92. Finally, Grenoble faces Brive and in another heavyweight bout Toulouse host Toulon.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 10 Sep 2016
Stade Francais – Castres
Bordeaux-Begles – Bayonne
La Rochelle – Lyon
Montpellier – Pau
Clermont Auvergne – Racing 92
Sun – 11 Sep 2016
Grenoble – Brive
Toulouse – Toulon

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 Newport Gwent welcome Zebre, Edinburgh host Scarlets and Munster go against Cardiff. Galsgow will face Leinster, the other Italian side Treviso and Ulster do battle and Connacht versus Ospreys finish of the weekend.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 9 Sep 2016
Newport Gwent Dragons – Zebre
Edinburgh – Scarlets
Munster – Cardiff Blues
Sat – 10 Sep 2016
Glasgow Warriors – Leinster
Benetton Treviso – Ulster
Connacht – Ospreys

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 Boland. The weekend will see Golden Lions against Western Province, the Sharks challenge Free State and the Pumas will battle the Blue Bulls.

Here are the results:
Thu – 8 Sep 2016
Griquas 46-22 Boland

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 9 Sep 2016
Golden Lions – Western Province
Sat – 10 Sep 2016
Sharks – Free State
Pumas – Blue Bulls

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 4 began with Auckland scrapping by Hawkes Bay. Taranaki won soundly against Southland on the Thursday night ticket, with Northland thrashing Bay of Plenty in a Friday night lights affair and Wellington just managed to defeat Counties Manukau by whisker to win the first installment of the Jonah Lomu Memorial Cup. Saturday sees North Harbour and  Manawatu do battle, Otago clash with Tasman, Canterbury tackles Hawkes Bay while Auckland ends the weekend against Waikato.

Here are the results:
Wed – 7 Sep 2016
Hawkes Bay 24-25 Auckland
Thu – 8 Sep 2016
Taranaki 30-14 Southland
Fri – 9 Sep 2016
Bay Of Plenty 25-52 Northland
Counties Manukau 27-28 Wellington

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 10 Sep 2016
North Harbour – Manawatu
Otago – Tasman
Sun – 11 Sep 2016
Canterbury – Hawkes Bay
Auckland – Waikato

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 Western Sydney Rays host the Perth Spirit, Queensland County against the Sydney Rays, Brisbane City tackle Canberra Vikings and the Melbourne Rising will travel to face the New South Wales Country side.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 10 Sep 2016
Western Sydney Rams – Perth Spirit
Queensland Country – Sydney Rays
Sat – 11 Sep 2016
Brisbane City – Canberra Vikings
NSW Country Eagles – Melbourne Rising

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, @Brian C Cole 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