Wallabies Abroad: Top League finals

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by Beth Newman

The Japanese Top League is quickly heading towards season’s end, with play-offs starting this weekend.

While the top prize is at stake, so is avoiding the threat of regulation, as the bottom eight teams battle it out to decide their final 2015-16 rankings.

Just two former or current Wallabies are left in the title fight, with Panasonic Wild Knights featuring in the quarter-finals this weekend.

Wallabies back rower Ben McCalman has found the line for the Wild Knights a handful of times this season, including a double in the last round of the regular season.

McCalman will be starting off the bench in the quarter-final against the Canon Eagles, as they battle to stay in the title hunt.

Usual starting Wild Knights flyhalf Berrick Barnes has not been named in the side to face the Eagles.

Plenty of Aussies will feature in the bottom half play-offs, with ninth-16th to be decided over the next three weeks.

Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley will again start at 10 for the Ricoh Black Rams as they look to break their season duck against the Toyota industries Shuttles.

There’ll be an Aussie face in the opposite flyhalf spot too, with Mark Gerrard named at 10 for the Shuttles in the quarter-final.

The Shuttles had a 3-4 record from their seven regular season games in Pool A and will go in as favourites in the play-off game.

In a Tokyo double header ,the Black Rams match will be followed by a clash between the Andy Friend-coached Suntory Sungoliaths and the Coca-Cola Red Sparks.

Former Wallabies winger Nick Cummins will start for the Red Sparks on the left wing in the critical match, as his side searches for its first win of the season.

Digby Ioane will be injected off the bench for the Honda Heat, as the promoted team plays off against the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

Capped Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight rounds out the Aussie contingent featuring in the Top League play-offs, starting at flyhalf for the NEC Green Rockets against the Kubota Spears.

The Green Rockets finished seventh in Pool A, while the Spears were sixth in Pool Band the match shapes as a good contest.


The European tournaments will play a rescheduled round this weekend, after a handful of fixtures were postponed in the wake of the Paris terror attacks last month.

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu and his side Bordeaux  will kick things off in the European Champions Cup this weekend, playing on Saturday morning (AEDT), against Clermont.

This will be the side’s first match-up in the European competition, through they have met in the French Top 14 numerous times.

Bordeaux sits fourth in their Champions Cup pool, while Clermont is second, meaning a win is vital to stay in touch with the quarter-finals.

Wallabies back Adam Ashley-Cooper has not been named for the match.

The teams for the remaining weekend fixtures are yet to be named, though there will almost certainly be plenty of Aussies on show.

Taqele Naiyaravoro’s Glasgow Warriors face Racing 92 and Will Genia’s Stade Francais meet Mark Chisholm’s Munster  on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Toulon faces Bath on Monday morning (AEDT), with flyhalf Matt Giteau set to miss another match.


Cardiff vs Munster and Zebre vs Glasgow matches have been postponed to fit around the rescheduled Champions Cup fixtures.

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