Ashton, Aki, Dillane, Larkham, Gold, Zirakashvili

Ash Splash heading to France
Please Share.
Ash Splash heading to France
Ash-Splash flying to France

NEW YORK, NY – After a two-week break for European Cup action, the domestic competitions are back and we’ll touch on them and all other fixtures, after we cover the big comings and goings of the week. Plus, we’ll cover the headliners like: Chris Ashton, Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane, Stephen Larkham, Gary Gold & Davit Zirakashvili… So, off we go with this rendition of the RWU Weekend Preview.

News & Transactions:

Aviva Premiership: Premiership and Champions Cup holders Saracens have confirmed that wing Chris Ashton will join Toulon at the end of this season… Bath announced that hooker Tom Dunn has signed a new, long-term contract extension with the Premiership club.

Bundee Aki, Ultain Dillane and Connacht head coach Pat Lam
Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane and Connacht head coach Pat Lam

Pro 12: Connacht announced the contract renewals of superstar senior players, center Bundee Aki and second-row Ultan Dillane, in a boost for the province… Future Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has confirmed that his assistants at the Glasgow Warriors, Matt Taylor and Dan McFarland will join him when he starts the job in June.

Stephen Larkham
Stephen Larkham

Super Rugby: The Brumbies are set to lose head coach Stephen Larkham to a full-time coaching role with the Wallabies next year. The Canberra Times reports Larkham will announce his decision on Friday and join Australia as a full-time assistant coach until the next World Cup… The Sharks announced that their director of rugby, Gary Gold, has stepped down from his position to pursue another potentially exciting avenue in his rugby career… The Western Force have added another Perth-based product to their ranks after signing scrum-half Michael Ruru of the NRC’s Perth Spirit for the 2017 Super Rugby season… Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper has claimed a runaway John Eales Medal win, becoming the fourth player to claim Australia’s highest rugby honor twice.

Top 14: Clermont announced that experienced tighthead prop Davit Zirakashvili has put pen to paper on a new contract with the Top 14 side. The 33-year-old, who has been superb for the club since joining in 2004, signs an extension that ties him to Stade Marcel Michelin until 2020... Montpellier have announced that powerful South African second-row Paul Willemse has put pen to paper on a new deal with the Top 14 club.

usa_rugby_logoUSA Rugby: Thorne, USA Rugby’s nutritional supplement partner, has announced its comprehensive health and wellness educational program for the development and curation of educational information that will facilitate athlete understanding of how to best maintain health and wellness for themselves and their extended families. Read more here… The USA Rugby Training & Education Department is hosting a technical speed clinic in Illinois during “The Rugby Weekend Presented by AIG,” featuring NFL Combine Speed Specialist and USA Rugby Speed Coach Les Spellman. To register, follow this link.

World Rugby: World Rugby announced the appointment of International Games Broadcast Services (IGBS) as host broadcaster for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, the first Rugby World Cup in Asia…

Alisports(the sports marketing dept of Ali Baba inc.) committed to US$100 million investment over 10 years to support all levels of rugby development in world’s most populous nation

  • Investment to support establishment of first-ever professional men’s and women’s league structures and national rugby sevens programs
  • Unprecedented Get Into Rugby program to attract and retain one million new players over the next five years
  • Alisports to assist World Rugby in major marketing initiatives through its nationwide e-commerce and broadcast platforms

Rugby World Cup 2015 final referee Nigel Owens and former South Africa international and current Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will headline the panelists for the session on 15 November… World Rugby has joined other international sporting federations and leading independent experts to participate in the fifth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport in Berlin this weekend, with Chairman Bill Beaumont attending as part of the delegation.

The weekend’s fixtures:

As always, Ladies first…
Women’s Exhibition: Top Women’s rugby sides and rivals Australia and New Zealand are set to battle in a two test exhibition series. The Black Ferns crushed the Aussies in the first match and dominated in the second one.

Here are the results:
Wed – 26 Oct 2016
New Zealand 29-3 Australia

There will be a 6 nations exhibition match as Wales take on Scotland.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 29 Oct 2016
Wales – Scotland

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 have Northampton hosting Gloucester. Harlequins welcome Worcester, Saracens tackle Leicester in the clash of the weekend. On Sunday, Wasps play Newcastle, Bristol will face Sale and finally Exeter battle Bath.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 28 Oct 2016
Northampton Saints – Gloucester
Sat – 29 Oct 2016
Harlequins – Worcester Warriors
Saracens – Leicester Tigers
Sun – 30 Oct 2016
Wasps – Newcastle Falcons
Bristol – Sale Sharks
Exeter Chiefs – Bath

Top 14: The Top 14 season continues. The twelve 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 Pau and Toulouse doing battle… There’s also Montpellier against La Rochelle, Stade Francais versus Lyon, Toulon plays Grenoble and Bayonne challenges Racing. Finally, Castres travels to Bordeaux and in a key match Brive and Clermont clash.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 29 Oct 2016
Pau – Toulouse
Montpellier – La Rochelle
Stade Français – Lyon
Toulon – Grenoble
Bayonne – Racing 92
Sun – 30 Oct 2016
Castres – Bordeaux-Bègles
Brive – Clermont-Auvergne

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 Ulster welcoming Munster, Cardiff host Scarlets, Edinburgh go against Zebre. Glasgow will face Treviso, the other Italian side. In a Welsh Derby, Ospreys host the Newport-Gwent while Leinster versus Connacht finish off the weekend in a heavyweight clash.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 28 Sep 2016
Ulster – Munster
Cardiff Blues – Scarlets
Edinburgh – Zebre
Glasgow Warriors – Benetton Treviso
Sat – 29 Oct 2016
Ospreys – Newport-Gwent Dragons
Leinster – Connacht

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. It is finals weekend in the Cup. In the Championship final it will be South Island versus North Island as Otago host North Harbour. In the Premiership Final, it will be strictly a south island battle as kissing cousins Tasman take on Canterbury.

Here is the schedule:
Fri – 28 Oct 2016
Championship Final: Otago – North Harbour
Sat – 29 Oct 2016
Premiership Final: Canterbury – Tasman

Rugby Europe LogoEuropean 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 the Conference 1 South this weekend, Malta hosts Cyprus, Croatia take on Andorra and Serbia travel to play Slovenia.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 8 Oct 2016
C1S: Malta – Cyprus
C1S: Croatia – Andorra
C2S: Slovenia – Serbia


RWC 2019 logo

World Cup 2019 Qualifiers: Each of World Rugby‘s regional rugby unions must hold their Rugby World Cup Qualifiers for the at-large qualification spots for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. The regional unions are Rugby Afrique, Oceania Rugby, Rugby Europe, Asia Rugby, Rugby Americas North and ConSuR.  There is a big Americas clash as Colombia hosts Mexico.

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 29 Oct 2016
Colombia – Mexico
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, @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