Pat Lam, Will Skelton, Virimi Vakatawa, Christian Lealiifano, Champions and Challenge Cup

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NEW YORK, NY – We’ve had a long week and there is a lot of news and action to cover. With that, yours truly pulled some of it to speed your way on the Rugby Information Super Highway re: Pat Lam, Will Skelton, Virimi Vakatawa, Christian Lealiifano, Champions and Challenge Cup.

News & Transactions:

Pro 12: Connacht head coach Pat Lam will be leaving the province at the end of the 2016/17 season to take over at Bristol. The former Samoa captain, currently in his fourth season with the Irish side, will finish next summer to take up the head coaching role at Premiership side Bristol. Listen to Lam explain his decision.

Also leaving Ireland for Bristol is Ulster lock Dan Tuohy who has signed for Bristol and will make the switch to the Premiership immediately.

Will Skelton is the big(ger) one.

Aviva Premiership: Australian international second-row Will Skelton has joined Saracens on a short-term deal, the Premiership champions announced. Skelton will be available for Saracens’ Premiership, Anglo-Welsh Cup and Champions Cup games during the duration of his short-term deal… Sale Sharks have added New Zealand rugby league player Denny Solomona to their Champions Cup squad for round three, but are yet to finalize his signing…Worcester Warriors completed the signing of versatile Samoa international forward Chris Vui until the end of the season… London Welsh will go into liquidation after the chairman admitted the club’s business model is “totally unsustainable”… Gloucester have confirmed that there have been discussions with Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad with regards to a potential shareholder interest in the club. Gloucester also announced their next re-signing for the 2017/18 season as scrum-half Callum Braley agrees terms on a new contract.

Virimi Vakatawa

Top14: Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has revealed that France wing Virimi Vakatawa can repay his €125,000 fine to the club through installments. France’s Court of Appeals ruled on December 1 that Vakatawa would be forced to pay Toulon for failing to honour a contract agreement he signed back in 2013… Stade Français and head coach Gonzalo Quesada will part ways at the end of the Top 14 season. Quesada’s contract is coming to an end in Paris and the former Argentina international has decided to not activate a clause to extend his time at the club for another year. Clermont have announced the signing of loosehead prop Loni Uhila, who will join from the Super Rugby Hurricanes at the end of Super Rugby 2017. The 27-year-old, nicknamed ‘The Tongan Bear’, has put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the option of two further seasons after that.

Christian Lealiifano

Super Rugby: Wallabies and Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano has won Australia’s 2016 Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) Medal for Excellence. Lealiifano, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in August of this year and has been undergoing treatment in Melbourne, was voted by his peers as the individual who has shown the best performance, leadership, consistency and discipline, both on and off the field, across the international and domestic rugby season.

The General Council of SA Rugby has made a number of decisions that president, Mark Alexander, believes will have an impact in the sport. The Council accepted a raft of constitutional changes that were designed to better reflect the needs of the Springbok team by re-shaping elements of the constitution.

Key changes approved were:

– Permitting 74% shareholdings in commercial arms of rugby unions by private equity partners
– Increasing the make-up of the  independent and player representation on the Executive Council to five independents with six elected members
– Introducing new committees for franchise (Super Rugby) and non-franchise rugby to focus and streamline decision making
– Moving responsibility for the appointment of the Springbok coach and CEO from the General Council to the Executive Council
– Removing the selection committee while retaining a selection convenor to work with national team coaches
– Aligning with the country’s geopolitical boundaries by moving to nine members of SA Rugby, while retaining 14 playing unions
– Reducing the presidential roles from three to two by removing the vice presidency from 2018

USA Rugby: An AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans Identification and Verification Camp will be held at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., Jan. 13-16, 2017. Read more here.

Joubert on the left

World Rugby: Rugby World Cup 2011 final referee Craig Joubert has announced his retirement from 15s officiating in order to take up the role of Referee Talent Development Coach at World Rugby… World Rugby announced the match officials for RBS 6 Nations, click here for the list.

The weekend’s fixtures:

As always, Ladies first…
Women’s International: The biggest match of the weekend, in terms of importance was the Women’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers between, Hong Kong, Japan and Fiji. In the first match Hong Kong thrashed Fiji.

Here are the results:
Fri – 9 Dec 2016
Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 Qualifying: Hong Kong 45-7 Fiji

Cape Town 7s: The 2016/2017 HSBC World Rugby Mens 7s Series continues this weekend in Cape Town. As we did last weekend for Dubai, we have look at the tournament from a USA perspective and preview of the tournament. CLICK HERE for our preview.

Champions Cup
Champions Cup

European Champions Cup: The 2016/2017 European (Rugby) Champions Cup third week of action kicks off this weekend. With two rounds down most teams still have a chance of making the quarterfinals. We have a fantastic preview of the round, if you CLICK HERE.

European_Rugby_Challenge_Cup_LogoEuropean Challenge Cup: The second tier European Challenge Cup is a quality tournament in its own right. It is played by mid-table European clubs, they play good rugby and are looking to move up to the Champions Cup next season. The weekend began with Gloucester defeating La Rochelle, Ospreys thumped the Top 14’s Grenoble, Lyon cruised past Newcastle and Treviso upset Bayonne. The next batch matches sees Enisei-STM take on Brive, Harlequins travel to face Romanian side Timisoara Saracens, Cardiff go up against Bath, Worcester clash with Newport-Gwent, Edinburgh host Stade Francias, and finally Bristol challenge Pau.

Here are the results:
Thu – 8 Dec 2016
Gloucester 35-14 La Rochelle
Fri – 9 Dec 2016
Grenoble 7-59 Ospreys
Lyon 42-12 Newcastle Falcons
Bayonne 15-28 Treviso

Here is the schedule:
Sat – 10 Dec 2016
Enisei-STM – Brive
Timisoara Saracens – Harlequins
Cardiff Blues – Bath
Worcester – Newport-Gwent
Edinburgh – Stade Francais
Sun – 11 Dec 2016
Bristol – Pau

Sudamerica Rugby: Formerly the SAMC now just Sudamerica Ruby is the same as the ENC – except it’s South America, a minor detail – and that 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 CONSUR division and features Argentina’s B team, Uruguay and Chile. In the C division championship midweek matches, Costa Rica and Guatemala thumped their respective opponents Panama and El Salvador.

Here are the results:
Wed – 7 Dec 2016
C Division Championship: Costa Rica 41-10 Panama
C Division Championship: Guatemala 53-0 El Salvador

Oceania Rugby U20 Trophy 2016: Fiji, Tonga, and the Cook Islands fight for the the title of the third best county in Oceania behind Australia and New Zealand. In the second match, Fiji take on Tonga.

Here are the results:
Sat – 10 Dec 2016
Fiji – Tonga

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