This time of year can be tough for rugby supporters.
In the northern hemisphere at least, there is no domestic action as clubs prepare for the upcoming season which begins in September.
However, the last week has seen some pretty big announcements and the Sevens World Cup and Super Rugby quarter-finals also provided some talking points so here, we take you through the five biggest rugby stories of the week.
Sam Warburton Retirement
Last week Sam Warburton announced his retirement at just 29-years-old. The Welsh back-row hasn’t played since captaining his side to a series draw against the All Blacks for the British and Irish Lions last July.
Warburton was recovering from knee and neck surgeries but on medical advice, the 29-year-old was told to call time on his career.
Six Nations titles, a Grand Slam and captaining the British and Irish Lions on two series – Warburton had a very successful career and it’s a real shame to see him leave the game at such a young age.
A great player.
Ireland Upset The Odds At Sevens Rugby World Cup
Over 100,000 people took in the action at San Francisco’s AT&T Park at the weekend and the glorious weather in the Californian city provided the perfect backdrop to some exciting sevens rugby.
This was the first Sevens World Cup where both Ireland men’s and women’s teams were competing and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Ireland’s men ended up finishing 9th overall (out of 24 teams) by winning the Challenge trophy while Ireland’s women finished in sixth which was their greatest ever finish at a World Cup. A last-gasp try from Spain denied them a fifth-place finish.
The IRFU have come in for criticism in recent times for their focus on Sevens, especially in the women’s game but the performances of both teams suggest that they are on the right track and continue to impress.
Super Rugby Down To Four
Can anyone stop the Crusaders? That’s the question on everyone’s lips as Scott Robertson’s side secured their passage into the semi-finals after beating the Sharks in Christchurch. They take on the Hurricanes in the last-four which will be played at their home and it’s difficult to see anyone stopping them en route to a second successive title.
On the other side of the draw, the Waratahs will face the Lions in Johannesburg after the Sydney-based outfit produced a sublime second-half to come back from the brink against the Highlanders. Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley were excellent as they helped their side to a first semi-final since 2015.
The Lions meanwhile will expect to beat the Tahs at home and if they do so, they will compete in their third successive Super Rugby final.
PRO14 Fixtures Released
The PRO14 fixtures for the 2018/2019 season were released on Tuesday of this week and it allows supporters to plan their away trip for the coming campaign. Derby matches are always ones to look out for and for the Irish provinces, there will be back-to-back interprovincial derbies on the two weekends before the first round of European action.
There will be no St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing day derbies this year which is a bit disappointing as it is generally a tradition for many families at that time of year.
Argentina’s Sevens Kit
Ok, so perhaps not the most important or ground-breaking bit of rugby news but if you haven’t seen Argentina’s kit for the Sevens Rugby World Cup then you need to take a look.
— UnionArgentinaRugby (@unionargentina) July 19, 2018
It’s just amazing!