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Rugby’s back! The Houston SaberCats have started their 2020 season at Aveva Stadium. Here’s the team’s schedule and roster

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Houston, TX (KTRK) — The Houston SaberCats 2020 season is here!

The Houston SaberCats are an American professional rugby team, founded in 2017. The SaberCats are one of seven original teams of Major League Rugby (MLR). The MLR has expanded to nine teams in 2019 and will expand again in 2020 to 12 teams – or more. Since playing their first game in 2018, the Houston SaberCats have made their mark as one of Houston’s top sports teams.

In 2019, the Houston City Council approved the construction of a $3.2 million rugby stadium – Aveva Stadium. The SaberCats are excited to have played their first game at their new stadium on January 25 against their biggest rival, Nola Gold.

After the approval of Aveva Stadium, the SaberCats named JT Onyett as President of the organization in June 2019. When appointed he commented, “I look forward to building on what the great SaberCats staff and players have already started as we look toward the future. Sport is about bringing people together and AVEVA Stadium will be a community stage year-round. We will work hard to not only make SaberCats matches exciting events but also fully utilize AVEVA stadium 365 days a year to bring more sports and entertainment to Houston.”

The SaberCats will play 17 games this season, competing again teams from all around the world including Seattle Seawolves, Utha Warriors, Colorado Raptors and Toronto Arrows.

Want to go to a game? Here’s the Houston SaberCats schedule. The Houston SaberCats encourage Houstonians to learn more about rugby and to check out one of their 2020 games.



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The 24 teams that would qualify for 2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup

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Heineken Champions Cup
CARDIFF, WALES – NOVEMBER 06: Craig Doyle (BT Sport) interviwing Johnny Sextont during the European Rugby Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup 2019/2020 season launch for Gallagher Premiership and Pro14 clubs on November 6, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

With the Guinness Pro14 highlighting their qualifying process in yesterday’s announcement, the discussion once again turned to Heineken Champions Cup qualification, and who qualifies. 

There has been heavy talk of a 24-team competition, so here are the teams that would qualify for that ‘one-off’ setup.

Guinness Pro14

Let’s start off with the Celtic Rugby qualifiers. Now, in this one off 24-team event, the top four teams from each conference will qualify.

However, since the Toyota Cheetahs – who aren’t eligible for European qualification – occupy one of those spots in conference A, the spot will go to the fifth placed team, the Dragons.

So, here are the eight teams who qualify from the Pro14:

  1. Leinster
  2. Ulster
  3. Glasgow
  4. Dragons
  5. Edinburgh
  6. Munster
  7. Scarlets
  8. Connacht
Heineken Champions Cup
CARDIFF, WALES – APRIL 28: A Dragons balloon flies in the stadium during the Guinness PRO14 Round 21 Judgement Day VI match between Cardiff Blues and Ospreys at Principality Stadium at Principality Stadium on April 28, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Kevin Barnes – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Gallagher Premiership

Ordinarily, only the top six would qualify, or seven should criteria fall into place depending on who wins the previous competition etc.

The newly expected format allows that to be pushed up to eight teams.

  1. Exeter Chiefs
  2. Sale Sharks
  3. Bristol Bears
  4. Northampton Saints
  5. Wasps
  6. Bath
  7. Harlequins
  8. London Irish

Top14

Same as the Premiership, it’s usually a straight shootout, with the top six qualifying unless other criteria fall into place. Once again there’ll be eight team who qualify, ensuring an even split across the three leagues.

  1. Bordeaux
  2. Lyon
  3. Racing 92
  4. Toulon
  5. La Rochelle
  6. Clermont
  7. Toulouse
  8. Montpellier

How would the setup work?

Well, there has been talk of eight pools of three. Now, this would leave a ‘bye week’ for one team in each pool, but it has been suggested that in order to avoid a fixture pile-up and ease the schedule, the Premiership and Pro14 teams could clash, leaving the French Top14 sides to play their domestic fixtures in the same week.

Of course, this wouldn’t solve every issue, but it seems one of the very few ways that the complicated scheduling issue could be resolved.

 

“Main photo credit”

Heineken Champions Cup
CARDIFF, WALES – NOVEMBER 06: Craig Doyle (BT Sport) interviewing Johnny Sexton during the European Rugby Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup 2019/2020 season launch for Gallagher Premiership and Pro14 clubs on November 6, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

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Rugby in New Zealand Is Back. So Are 35,000 Fans.

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This weekend, rugby union in New Zealand will make its return. And there will be one crucial difference from many of the other leagues that have been resuming play around the world: The stands will be packed with fans.

Some 20,000 fans are expected to be on hand in Dunedin when the Highlanders host the Chiefs, the first Super League game since mid-March. Then, on Sunday, in Auckland, the Blues are expecting 35,000 for their game against the Highlanders.

Covid-19 is almost entirely under control in the New Zealand, thanks in part to an early and strict lockdown. There are currently no active cases in New Zealand, and, in total, there were 1,500 cases in the country and 22 deaths. The country largely opened up its society on Monday, including stores, restaurants and public transportation.

The Blues are doing nothing to discourage fans, and are making every effort to have the biggest crowd possible. Tickets are discounted, children will be admitted free and fans will be allowed on the field after the game.

Should they reach 35,000 fans, as they hope, it would be the biggest crowd at a Blues home game since 2011. That would be “an amazing result and will make for a fantastic atmosphere and a lift for the players,” the Blues’ chief executive, Andrew Hore, told The New Zealand Herald.

The country does continue to have travel restrictions, meaning its five Super Rugby teams, which normally also play against teams from Australia, South Africa, Japan and Argentina, will stick to domestic games for now.

Australian rules football also gets underway this weekend, though Australia is not quite ready for full stadiums yet. But some 2,000 fans will be allowed into the stands for a game between the Port Adelaide Power and the Adelaide Crows. Other games will have no fans, including the opener between the Richmond Tigers and the Collingwood Magpies, which under normal conditions would have drawn 80,000 to Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia, with a population five times that of New Zealand, has had 7,000 cases and 100 deaths. But its rate of new infections is down to about 20 a day.

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the sports landscape drastically this year. But its effects are also rippling forward, altering events in 2021 and beyond.

Brazil, the spiritual home of soccer, was a candidate to host the women’s World Cup in 2023 for the first time. But citing the economic effects of the virus, Brazil pulled out of the bidding on Monday.

The Brazilian government decided that “due to the scenario of economic and fiscal austerity, fueled by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it would not be advisable, at this moment” to proceed with a bid, the national federation said in a statement.

Brazil has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, with more than 700,000 cases and 30,000 deaths reported.

The federation also said that because the country had hosted many major events in the recent past, including the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, it might be at a disadvantage in the voting in any case.

Brazil says it now plans to support the bid of Colombia. Japan and a joint bid by Australia and New Zealand are also still in the mix for the event. All the candidates would be first-time hosts.

Unlike other forms of auto racing, which mostly have restarted or are gearing up to do so, the World Rally Championship continues to cancel its events deep into the fall. The latest event to be scrapped is the Wales Rally GB, scheduled to start Oct. 29.

After the first three rallies of the year, the season was halted. For now, just three events remain on the schedule.

One reason rallying is different is that races are frequently run over public roads, making crowd limitation difficult or impossible. Fans are known to cluster in groups right by the action; in the past, that has sometimes led to serious danger to spectators from the speeding cars. Now that danger could possibly include transmission of the coronavirus.

“This isn’t the appropriate time for us to be planning for and promoting an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors, many from outside the country, into rural Welsh communities,” said David Richards, chairman of Motorsport U.K.

The Wales Rally had previously been canceled because of World War II, the Suez Crisis (which led to gas rationing) and foot-and-mouth disease.

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Sports TV listings for Saturday July 4 | Sports

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AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL

11 p.m.: Fox Sports 1, Adelaide at Fremantle (live)

4 a.m. (Sunday): ESPN2, Hawthorn at GWS (live)

8:55 a.m.: ESPN, Formula One, Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying (live)

Noon: WSLS, IndyCar, GMR Grand Prix, at Indianapolis (live)

3 p.m.: WSLS, NASCAR Xfinity Series, Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard,, at Indianapolis (live; prerace show at 2 p.m.)

6 p.m.: NBC Sports Network, IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship, Weathertech 240, at Daytona Beach, Fla. (live)

9 p.m.: CBS Sports Network, World of Outlaws, at New Richmond, Wis. (live)

3 p.m.: ESPN, The Basketball Tournament, Jackson vs. Big X, at Columbus, Ohio (live)

5 p.m.: ESPN, The Basketball Tournament, Stillwater Stars vs. Brotherly Love, at Columbus, Ohio (live)

8 p.m.: ESPN, The Basketball Tournament, War Tampa vs. House of ‘Paign, at Columbus, Ohio (live)

10 p.m.: ESPN, The Basketball Tournament, PrimeTime Players vs. Team CP3, at Columbus, Ohio (live)

1 p.m.: ESPN, ACL Pro Invitational, at Oaks, Penn. (live)

1 p.m.: Golf Channel, PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Third Round, at Detroit (live)

2 p.m.: WDBJ, “Faldo Formula”

2:30 p.m.: WDBJ, “Course Record with Michael Breed” (new)

3 p.m.: WDBJ, PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Third Round, at Detroit (live)

3 p.m.: WSET, “30 for 30: Of Miracles and Men”

9 p.m.: ESPN2, “Miracle on Ice at 40”

10 a.m.: Fox Sports 1, English Oaks and English Derby (live)

1 p.m.: Fox Sports 1, live races

5 p.m.: WSLS, NBC Sports Network, Metropolitan Handicap and Poker Stakes, at Belmont Park (live)

3:55 a.m. (Sunday): ESPN, LG at Samsung (live)

10:30 a.m.: MASN, 1988 Texas-Baltimore game

2 p.m.: MASN, 2011 Washington-Chicago Cubs game

7 p.m.: Fox Sports 1, 1983 Boston-N.Y. Yankees game

7 p.m.: MASN, 2006 Florida-Washington game

10:30 p.m.: MASN, 2013 Chicago White Sox-Baltimore game

Noon: ACC Network, “Unbelievable: Virginia’s Improbable Path to a Title”

1 p.m.: ACC Network, “Serving the Stripes”

1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.: ACC Network, retrospectives of the 2015-19 ACC Tournaments

7 a.m.: SEC Network, “Marty & McGee” (live)

Noon: ESPN, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, at New York (live)

2 p.m.: “CBS Sports Connected,” new special on Black Lives Matter movement

11:30 p.m.: ACC Network, “Three-Day Weekend: Virginia Tech”

9 a.m. to midnight: NBC Sports Washington, six 2017 Eastern Conference quarterfinal games, Washington-Atlanta

4 p.m.: WSET, “Backstory: The Decision”

11:30 p.m.: ESPN2, Super Rugby, Hamilton at Wellington (live)

2 a.m. (Sunday): Fox Sports 1, National Rugby League, Manly-Warringah at Newcastle (live)

4:30 a.m. (Sunday): Fox Sports 1, National Rugby League, Canterbury-Bankstown at South Sydney (live)

7:25 a.m.: NBC Sports Network, Premier League, Brighton & Hove at Norwich City (live)

9:55 a.m.: NBC Sports Network, Premier League, Bournemouth at Manchester United (live)

12:25 p.m.: NBC Sports Network, Premier League, Arsenal at Wolverhampton (live)

1:45 p.m.: ESPN2 German Cup final, Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen, at Berlin (live)

2:55 p.m.: NBC Sports Network, Premier League, Watford at Chelsea (live)

5 p.m.: CBS Sports Network, National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup, Utah vs. Sky Blue, at Herriman, Utah (same-day tape)

5 p.m.: ESPN2, 2020 SheBelieves Cup, Japan-USA

7 p.m.: ESPN2, “Nine for IX: The ’99ers”

Noon: Tennis Channel, Draft Kings All American Team Cup (live)

3 p.m.: Tennis Channel, Ultimate Tennis Showdown (live)

6 p.m.: Tennis Channel, Draft Kings All American Team Cup (live)

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