by The Editor
NOW just because it’s finally summer in the Northern Hemisphere, do not for a moment be lulled into any illusion that things are quietening down up here. And as for down there, well, it’s all go with the Super Rugby reaching its climax and the Tri Nations looming in just a few weeks.
For a complete round up of all the matches throughout July and August, all you need do is click on the URC logo...
Up here, it’s the Sevens that are rocking the Summer, starting with a brand new tournament, which likely has passed you by mostly because FIRA forgot to tell anyone, despite it featuring the northern hemisphere’s top 7s side, England. So let us introduce you to the FIRA European Grand Prix Sevens Series, featuring 12 teams from across Europe playing in four venues through June and July.
Of course there’s the annual Middlesex 7s at Twickers...but rather oddly it’s moved from perfectly timed August -when rugby withdrawal is kicking in and it’s a great opportunity catch the Premiership players just as pre-season is kicking in properly- to Saturday 9th July and there are no Premiership teams at all. The line up is a bit odd, but whatever weather, it is always a craicing day out.
This year saw the following 16 teams battle it out for 7s supremacy...
British Army ~
Durham University ~
HFW Wailers ~ London Scottish ~ London Welsh ~ Olorun Sharks ~ Plymouth Albion ~ Samurai ~ Social Vibe 'Vipr' Pups ~ Templars 7 RFC ~
White Hart Marauders ~ Wooden Spoon
And it was Samurai that won the final battle for a second consecutive year beating Esher RFC 55-12 to be crowned Vauxhall Middlesex 7s Champions 2011. The HFW Wailers took the Plate Final against Simon Amor's London Scottish winning 41-12.
Next...more 7s! The JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens [and breathe!]. Year two of the tournament, and this one will no doubt grow in excitement, entertainment and increase its following. Honestly, it’s not a bad way to spend a Friday evening if the host ground is not a million mile from work. This year, you can see the Aviva Premiership sides in action from Friday 15th July at the Rec through until Friday 5th August at The Stoop for the finals.
FRIDAY 15 JULY ~ THE REC, BATH
WINNERS: HARLEQUINS RUNNERS UP: BATH
FRIDAY 22 JULY ~ FRANKLINS GARDENS
FRIDAY 29 JULY ~ EDGELEY PARK
FINAL ~ FRIDAY 5 AUGUST ~ TWICKENHAM STOOP
Every week in the run up to the Friday night extravaganza, we have 4 tickets to give away...so click away and enter now...
Now whilst the Northern hemisphere is going sevens crazy, down under, alongside the Super Rugby coming to its climax with a well deserved win for the St George Reds [which of course you can read about by clicking the logo below], the seasons continue in South Africa and New Zealand with the start of the Currie Cup and ITM Cup.
The ITM Cup begins its task of finding New Zealand’s best provincial side on Thursday 14 July with the Otago Razorbacks hosting North Harbour in Dunedin, and over in South Africa on Friday, 15 July, the Currie Cup kicks off when the MTN Golden Lions host the Ford Pumas at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg [that’s Ellis Park to you and me!]. You can follow the action with weekly round ups once the action has started at Rugby Unplugged...and don't forget that the full schedules are included in the Ultimate Rugby Calendar month by month so just bookmark the link by hitting the logo that matches your preference.
And then we have the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to the Six Nations...the truncated Tri Nations kicks off on Saturday 23rd July 2011 when Australia takes on South Africa in Sydney. This year, SANZAR have abbreviated the TNs to just six matches over six weeks to make allowances for the global phenomenon that begins in September.
Of course the biggest event looming over the entire rugby world is the aptly named Rugby World Cup 2011 which kicks off in New Zealand on Friday, 9th September at Eden Park in Auckland, when the host nation take on Tonga. But before all that excitement gets underway, there’s the small matter of warm up games across the globe. So here’s a round up for you of who is facing up to who, when and where with match reports & highlights in the 8 weeks running up to the RWC....
And we know you know already that we’ll have all the action for you live as it happens across the globe. And very soon you'll be able to pop over to Rugby Unplugged’s RWC Unplugged and bookmark the page for all the latest news on how the rugby world’s top 20 countries are shaping up to take the coveted title of Rugby World Cup Winners 2011.