Source: Rugby Australia

Rugby News Round-up Mid-February 2024

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Australia

Brittany Mitchell (@BrittMitchell11) offers us our first view of Jo Yapp in earnest conversation with Phil Waugh (CEO of Rugby Australia and Jaime Fernandez (High Performance manager). She comments: the first aim is “top 4”.

Super W

Charli Jacoby becomes the first USA Eagle to join the Queensland Reds at the Gold Coast. After leaving Exeter Chiefs she summarises the contrast in playing styles as “a whole different brand of rugby in Australia which is more flashy, heads-up and fun.” So that’s got English rugby sorted.

WXV 2024 – Europe

The second instalment of WXV is a slow burn. Perhaps that is inevitable, given its size and spread. It all starts in Europe, but the local trophy-holders, Spain, don’t play till 30 March, when they take on neighbours Portugal. They then visit Netherlands and Sweden in turn, but that leg of the journey isn’t completed till mid-April. A win would assure Las Leonas of promotion to WXV2.

The Dutch have been eyeing a place in the tournament from way back. To achieve that goal they need first to beat Portugal, then Colombia, who finished last of the eighteen nations first time round. NL currently lie 15th in world rankings, just two behind South Africa.

Worthy though a Dutch (or Portuguese) win would be, it would cut South America out of the big time completely, and World Rugby’s ambitions are to spread the goodies as wide as possible.

Portugal are recently returned to the international scene after a break of 25 years. In 2023 they were glad to receive visits from the Belgian and German national sides; even more pleased to beat them thoroughly. They have worked sensibly to spread the game, re-establishing a league (Campeonato Nacional de Rugby Feminino) and building at Under 18 level too – all this despite the obstacle that was coronvirus. They showed their ambition by making a two-match tour of Brazil last year. It finished 1-1.
They have named a squad of 38 for the coming European Trophy. They play Netherlands in Jamor on 24 February. Coverage on Rugby Europe TV.

Celtic Challenge

Next weekend sees both matches take place at the Kingspan, Belfast.

Gwalia Lightning v Glasgow Warriors, KO 12.30
Wolfhounds v Clovers, KO 16.30

Wolfhounds, comprising the provinces of Leinster and Ulster, are already assured of the title, which robs the final rounds of an edge of drama.

Premiership Women’s Rugby

PWR reaches the twelfth round. Once more matches are split across three days.

Friday 23 February
Leicester Tigers v Trailfinders, KO 19.00
Bristol Bears v Loughborough Lightning, KO 19.45

Saturday 24 February
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins, KO 14.30

Sunday 25 February
Sale Sharks v Gloucester-Hartpury, KO 13.00

Six Nations

The 6N is now five weeks away. This is when nervous head coaches start checking the well-being of their players even more closely.

Sevens

The Vancouver Sevens are on the way, but the Arab Sevens, just completed, might be considered more important on the world scale. Eight nations competed, more than before, but Tunisia won yet again, beating UAE 33-5 in the final. The other six: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

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