Stock Watch: Who's Up, Who's Down Across The Rugby Landscape?

As we get situated here in the new decade, let's take a quick look at whose stock is up, and whose is down at this moment in time:

Up | Louis Rees-Zammit

The 18-year old Welsh sensation exploded onto the scene for Gloucester in December, garnering Premiership Player of the Month honors for his efforts. 

In his first four starts for the senior team, Rees-Zammit notched a whopping five tries, including a hat-trick against top-of-the-table Northampton. 

His unbelievable speed and his keen sense of support running pair well with his fine ball skills and stepping ability. Wales coach Warren Pivac would be wise to fast-track the youngster into the Welsh side, as there are rumors that England boss Eddie Jones could be after Rees-Zammit's services!

Down | Ospreys Rugby

What on earth is going on at the Ospreys?

For a team that was a year-in, year-out contender in the Pro14 for the better of the last decade, it's baffling how they've descended into the utter basement of the league. 

So far this season, the Ospreys have won just one game across all competitions, and are currently riding an 11-game losing streak. 

While they have been without Welsh legend Alun Wyn Jones for this entire campaign to date, there's no excuse for that poor of a record, particularly with the caliber of players they still have. 

Some sweeping changes are in order for a team that's remarkably found itself as one of the lousiest top-flight teams in Britain. 

Up | Major League Rugby

We're now just one month away from the beginning of MLR Season 3, and the anticipation is palpable. 

Three new teams -- Rugby ATL, New England Freejacks, and Old Glory DC -- enter the fold for 2020, as well as a whole new crop of fresh faces. Among the newcomers is 2019 World Cup winner and Springbok legend Tendai Mtawarira, who joins aforementioned side Old Glory DC. 

A number of other stars have also arrived, and the league looks set to reach new heights. Seattle is looking for a three-peat and San Diego aims to bounce back from last year's heart break, while Austin is out to prove last year's campaign was a fluke.

RUNY and Toronto had magnificent debut seasons in 2019, and will be eager to get back to work and build upon the foundations they laid a year ago. 

NOLA and Colorado performed fairly well last year, but just ran out of steam at the end. They're going to be hungry to get out there and push for a playoff spot in 2020. 

Utah and Houston each showed flashes of excellent rugby last season, but in 2020 they will be determined to prove their good rugby is not just a flash in the pan. 

This figures to be the most competitive year the MLR has seen, and it could be the year it gains some real nationwide traction.

Down | Munster Flyhalf Options

The injury bug has hit Munster, and it's sure hit hard. 

With J.J. Hanrahan battling a nagging hamstring injury suffered in November, and Tyler Bleyendaal sidelined with a neck ailment, Munster was glad to see its first-choice outhalf Joey Carberry finally make his return from an ankle injury sustained before the World Cup. 

Unfortunately, Carberry's return didn't last long. The highly talented playmaker suffered a serious injury to a ligament in his wrist, and will be require surgery. 

That leaves Munster with very few options ahead of their enormous Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 this weekend. They'll either run out a hobbled Hanrahan, 20 year-old Ben Healy, or move center Rory Scannell into the 10 shirt.

Up | Dominant Leinster 

As ever, Leinster are once again setting the standard for professional rugby in the northern hemisphere. The men in blue have won all fourteen of their games this season, topping the tables in both the Heineken Champions Cup and the Pro14.

There isn't another club that consistently churns out academy players like Leinster does, and it's a testament to the quality of their system and structure that they can produce most of their talent in-house. 

They can lock up a spot in the Champions Cup quarterfinals with a win this weekend against French Top14 second-place side Lyon. 

Down | Saracens

No, Saracens have not played poorly, and no, they won't be down for long. But at the moment the Sarries are buried at the bottom of the Premiership table with negative 7 (you read that right, "negative") points after the organization was found guilty of severely breaching the salary cap regulations. 

To make matters worse, Saracens are about be forced into casting off a number of key players. They've already let go of Welsh superstar Liam Williams, and rumor has it towering lock George Kruis could be next. 

At 18 points adrift in the Premiership, it's unlikely that they'll wind up being relegated, but for the first time since 2009, it appears the Sarries will not make the semifinals. 

Additionally, they are tied up in a very tight race in the Champions Cup, needing a pair of wins in their remaining two pool play fixtures against Ospreys and Racing 92 to stay alive for the quarterfinals. 

Rugby Rules 101: What Does "Ruck" Mean?

For new players to the game of rugby, the concept of a "ruck" can be a tricky one to apprehend, as there is no other sport that involves rucking. However, once you've got a clearer picture of a ruck, also known as a "breakdown", it's a relatively easy thing to understand. 

Premiership Rugby Eyes Mid-August Return

Following the league shutdown due to coronavirus in March, the Gallagher Premiership looks set for a return to action on August 15th. One week ago, UK government officials announced that elite-level sports would be able to resume on June 1st behind closed doors. 

The 5 Best Women's Rugby Shorts

Having a comfortable pair of rugby shorts can greatly impact one’s performance during training and games. When choosing shorts, you want to take into consideration the fit and the durability, especially if you’re going to be in the scrum. The last thing you would want is for your shorts to rip during a scrum because the fabric was not durable enough. In addition to the durability, you want to make sure the shorts are breathable and comfortable for tackling, running, and potentially kicking. If you’re in the market for a new pair of shorts, here are five different types of shorts that you can check out:

Rugby vs Soccer: Former SEC Soccer Player Compares The Two

One of the great things about rugby is that it's a multi-skilled sport which lends itself well to crossover athletes. Particularly in a sports-mad country like the United States, we see tons of players seamlessly make the transition from other sports to rugby. 

How To Throw A Great Rugby Pass

Throwing a great pass can carve up a defense unlike any other facet of the game in rugby. A well-timed, well-placed ball puts a defense under enormous pressure and causes fractures in the defensive line. As long as the ball is placed accurately, on time, and in a position that the receiver can catch the ball on the move without breaking stride, it doesn't matter what it looks like. Heck, if we're looking at football, think of Peyton Manning's passes. One of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game rarely threw a spiral, but he did tick the boxes of accurate, on time, and in stride. 

Some Useful Rugby Passing Drills

Here is a quick, easy passing progression that will help you and your team sharpen your distribution skills and carve opponents up on the weekends. Even the best defenses in the world cannot defend near-perfect passing, so having the ability to run-catch-pass is one of the most lethal weapons in the book. 

We Stand With You

The events of the last week have been tremendously painful to us all.

Rugby Drills That Keep Your Social Distance

As of June 1st, many rugby teams have been granted the option of getting together to conduct practice. However, the practices must adhere to the six feet social distancing rules and players are not allowed to use any equipment. Therefore, options for a practice plan are going to be extremely limited, but that doesn't mean you can't still get some good out of having the team together. 

Bring Em Down: How To Tackle Big Guys In Rugby

For many of rugby players out there, especially us smaller ones, we're all too familiar with the sight of a large, rampaging big man or woman lined up across from us about to get the ball. Our fight or flight instincts kick in, and in that moment of instinctual reaction we dictate the likelihood that the tackle does or does not get made. 

Step By Step Guide: How To Break Tackles In Rugby

One of the best ways to completely unhinge a defense is to beat your defender one on one with a step or a tackle bust. While not all of us can step like Cheslin Kolbe, we do all have the ability to break a tackle and get our team on the front foot. No matter your size, speed, or strength, you can always bust out of a tackle with some clever use of footwork and a trust in your balance.