A New Year! More Eagles Abroad please!
The holidays were no time to rest for the Eagles as the boys overseas had a busy two weeks. Leading the way during the holiday season was Samu Manoa. After coming on in the second half against Bath on Christmas Eve, Manoa promptly picked up a yellow card, limiting his time on the field. Still Northampton were able to give their fans an early Christmas present by pulling out the 22-13 victory. The next week, this time on New Year’s Eve, Manoa started and played 80 minutes as the Saints continued to roll with a 32-14 victory over Newcastle.
While Manoa was surging, Chris Biller continued to bide his time to Bath. Biller dressed but didn’t play in the loss to Northampton and wasn’t on the bench the next week as Bath beat London Irish 30-3 on New Year’s Eve.
Another Premiership player having a good holiday was Chris Wyles. Wyles came off the bench and played 39 minutes in front of a record crowd for a domestic rugby match as the Saracens beat the league leaders Harlequins 19-11. The next week, Wyles started and played 80 minutes as Saracens drew 15-15 with Gloucester. Hayden Smith is still recovering from a broken hand and did not appear in either game for the Sarries.
In the Championship, Shawn Pittman returned to action starting and playing 80 minutes for London Welsh as they beat Esher 33-12 on Christmas Eve and lost to Moseley 10-7 on New Year’s Eve. Pittman had been out with injury.
Mike MacDonald continued to be as steady as ever. He made his 100th appearance for Leeds on Boxing Day as his team was held to a 9-9 draw with Donacaster. Robbie Shaw came off the bench as a second-half sub. MacDonald again got the start a week later and played 68 minutes while Shaw came on in the 63rd minute as Leeds beat London Scottish 19-17.
Andrew Suniula continued his up and down ride in Europe after not dressing in the Pirates 33-12 victory on Christmas Eve and their 32-13 loss to Bedford on New Year’s Day.
Down in France, Scott LaValla received great news when he signed a three year extension to stay at Stade Francais. Congratulations to Scott for all his hard work paying off. On the pitch, LaValla didn’t dress as Stade beat Biarritz 23-10. A week later however, LaValla came off the bench for 15 minutes to spell Sergio Parisse in Stade’s 39-6 loss.
Taku Ngwenya continued to start and play a regular 80 minutes, including in the loss to Stade. He repeated the same act the next week, but this time the result was better, a 25-6 victory over Toulon.
Kevin Swiryn has been injured for Agen and did not appear in their 26-8 loss to Racing Metro and 15-9 victory over Brive.
Also on the mend is Seta Tuilevuka who has suffered another injury setback. He didn’t appear in Montpellier’s 45-25 loss to Toulouse or their 29-14 victory over Racing Metro.
Inaki Basauri and the rest of the Pro D2 had the whole two weeks off.
Around the rest of Europe, Tommy Seymour continued to struggle with injury for the Glasgow Warriors and didn’t appear in their pair of derby matches with Edinburgh. The first match ended 23-all and the second match ended in a 17-12 win for Glasgow.
Also in the RaboDirect Pro12, Hanno Dirksen came on in the second half and played 7 minutes for the Ospreys as they lost 22-14 to Scarlets on Boxing Day. Dirksen did not dress in the Osprey’s 17-12 victory over Cardiff, however.
And finally in Japan, Todd Clever and Suntory had New Year’s off, but did play on Christmas Eve. Having played sporadically this season, Clever volunteered to play lock for an injured Suntory team. He played 60 minutes in his team’s 45-15 win.