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6 Nations

4 Changes for Scotland. Laidlaw benched.

Big names back.

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Glasgow Warriors pair Jonny Gray and Tommy Seymour will make their 50th appearance in a Scotland side – that features four changes – against Wales in the Guinness Six Nations this Saturday at BT Murrayfield (kick-off 2.15pm) – live on BBC.

It will also be a 50th start for Seymour – who made his debut against South Africa in the summer of 2013 – while the opportunity comes just five days before Gray – who debuted against the Springboks that autumn – turns 25, making him the second-youngest Scot to reach the milestone.

Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, paid tribute to the pair he’s coached for both club and country.

“Getting to 50 caps for your country is a milestone in a player’s career and it underlines the consistency and quality both Tommy and Jonny have delivered for Scotland over the years.”
“Tommy has started all his games and has an impressive try-scoring record, which is fundamental element of the game for a winger.

“As well as his finishing ability, his excellent work-rate off-the-ball and outstanding aerial skills have been the key reasons why he’s reached a half century of appearances for Scotland.

“Jonny is an exceptional player who came through as a young man and, by becoming the second-youngest player to win 50 caps, shows just how well he’s played in that relatively short time.

“He has a phenomenal work rate, is a very accurate tackler and takes real pride in helping the team prepare, as well as continually looking for ways to improve his own game.”

Among Scotland’s four starting changes are a new set of half-backs who will look to orchestrate the host’s efforts to secure the Doddie Weir Cup, as Racing 92 stand-off Finn Russell returns from a head injury to start alongside Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Ali Price.

Russell’s return sees Pete Horne move one place outfield to inside-centre – in place of Sam Johnson – to partner fellow Glasgow Warriors centre Nick Grigg, while the inclusion of Price means Greig Laidlaw moves to the bench, with Edinburgh hooker and club captain Stuart McInally taking on the national team responsibility for the third time.

The final change to the backs sees 21-year-old Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham earn his first start in place of injured Saracen Sean Maitland (foot) to join Seymour and clubmate Blair Kinghorn in the back-three.

The only change to the pack is at tighthead where Edinburgh prop Willem Nel returns from a calf injury to form an all-Edinburgh front-row with McInally and loosehead Allan Dell.

They pack down in front of an unchanged back-five where lock Grant Gilchrist partners Gray in the second-row and Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie and Josh Strauss return to the back-row.

There are three further changes to the bench which could see recent squad additions Hamish Watson (back-row), Gordon Reid (loosehead prop) and Byron McGuigan (back three) feature for the first time this campaign.

Townsend added: “While there have been some strong moments in our games this campaign, we have yet to deliver that quality and focus for 80 minutes and play to our potential.

“We have had a couple of weeks since our defeat in Paris to look at ways we can improve our performances, through what we do in training, our tactical approach and through selection.

“First and foremost, we select a team we believe gives us the best chance of winning at the weekend, while we also have an opportunity to reward players who have been in very good form and have been knocking at the door of the team in recent weeks – Darcy Graham and Ali Price especially.

“Greig [Laidlaw], having started in our last six games is a key member of our squad, although this week we have decided to utilise his leadership and experience off the bench. He is driven by a desire to win for his country and he should have an important role to play in the latter stages of the match at the weekend.”

Wales – the world’s third-ranked side – arrive in Edinburgh as the only unbeaten team remaining in the championship and have won 10 in their last 11 Tests against their hosts, with Scotland’s success coming in their last meeting at BT Murrayfield two years ago.

Townsend added: “They [Wales] have a very good record against us and are in excellent form. It’s a similar challenge to the one we faced last year against England, who had also been on a very good run of results in their preceding games.

“We rose that the challenge that day and found a way to win and I firmly believe we can reach that level of performance once again on Saturday.”

Press release from Scotland Rugby


6 Nations

Referee Appointments Made For November Internationals

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The match day officials for Ireland’s international fixtures in November have been announced by World Rugby and the IRFU High Performance Referees will have a busy month on international duty.

For our teams in green, the RFU’s Adam Leal will take charge of the game between Ireland ‘A’ and the All Blacks XV at the RDS on Friday, 4th November. The following day, Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli has the whistle for the game between Ireland and World Champions South Africa at Aviva Stadium.

South African Jaco Peyper is in charge of Ireland v Fiji and New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe is the man in the middle for Ireland’s final game of the Autumn Nations Series against Australia.

IRFU referee Andrew Brace takes charge of two games during this international window – England v Argentina and France v Japan. Joy Neville, who will have just returned from the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, is in the TMO hot seat for the France game against the Brave Blossoms.

Frank Murphy in on duty for Scotland against New Zealand at Murrayfield and Chris Busby has the whistle for the French Barbarians against Fiji in Lille.  Both Chris Busby and Eoghan Cross are on duty in Dubai for the World Cup Final Qualifier tournament.  Chris is refereeing the game between Portugal and Hong Kong with Eoghan in the AR role for that game and the clash between the USA and Kenya.

Friday 4th November, 2022
IRELAND A v All Blacks XV
REF: Adam Leal (RFU), ARs: Luc Ramos (FFR), Benoit Rousselet (FFR)

Saturday 5th November, 2022
IRELAND v South Africa
REF: Nika Amashukeli (GRU), ARs: Mathieu Raynal (FFR), Andrea Piardi (FIR)

Saturday 12th November, 2022
IRELAND v Fiji
REF: Jaco Peyper (SARU), ARs: Tual Trainini (FFR), Jordan Way (RA)

Saturday 19th November, 2022
IRELAND v Australia
REF: Ben O’Keeffe (NZRU), ARs: James Doleman (NZRU), Tual Trainini (FFR)

IRFU High Performance Referee Appointment

England v Argentina
REF: Andrew Brace (IRFU), ARs: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Pierre Brousset (FFR)

USA v Kenya
REF: Tual Trainini (FFR), ARs: Damian Schneider (UAR), Eoghan Cross (IRFU)

Portugal v Hong Kong
REF: Chris Busby (IRFU), ARs: Damian Schneider (UAR), Eoghan Cross (IRFU)

Scotland v New Zealand
REF: Frank Murphy (IRFU), ARs: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Chris Busby (IRFU)

Romania v Samoa
REF: Mathieu Raynal (FFR), ARs: Eoghan Cross (IRFU), Shota Tevadze (IRFU)

French Barbarians v Fiji
REF: Chris Busby (IRFU), ARs: Ben Blain (SARU), Adrien Marbot (FFR)

France v Japan
REF: Andrew Brace (IRFU), ARs: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Christophe Ridley (RFU)
TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)

England v South Africa
REF: Angus Gardner (RA), ARs: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Pierre Brousset (FFR)

Wales v Australia
REF: Matthew Carley (RFU), ARs: Luke Pearce (RFU), Chris Busby (IRFU)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Emerging Ireland Ready For Currie Cup Champions

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The Emerging Ireland Match Day Squad to take on Currie Cup champions, the Airlink Pumas, on Wednesday in Bloemfontein has been named by the Ireland coaching team.

Emerging Ireland started their Toyota Challenge campaign with a 54-7 victory over the Griquas on Sunday and will take on the Pumas on Wednesday afternoon at Toyota Stadium (Kick-off 4pm Irish time, live on IrishRugby.ie).

Cian Prendergast, a member of the touring party leadership group, will fulfil the captain’s duties against the Pumas.

Prenderast will line out on the blindside flank with John Hodnett in the number seven jersey and James Culhane in the number eight slot. Cormac Izuchukwu and Brian Deeny are named at lock with Callum Reid, Diarmuid Barron and Roman Salanoa in the front row.

Michael McDonald and Jake Flannery will steer the team from half-back with Cathal Forde and Antoine Frisch in midfield. Ethan McIlroy is joined in the back field by Sevens duo Chay Mullins and Andrew Smith.

The replacements named are Dylan Tierney-Martin, Josh Wycherley, Sam Illo, Tom Ahern, David McCann, Ben Murphy, Jack Crowley and Shane Daly.

The match will be streamed live on IrishRugby.ie, while there will be updates on Irish Rugby social media channels.

Emerging Ireland v Airlink Pumas:

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, Wednesday 5th October, 2022, KO 4.00pm (Irish time)

15. Chay Mullins (Connacht/IQ Rugby)
14. Ethan McIlroy (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
13. Antoine Frisch (Munster)
12. Cathal Forde (Connacht/Corinthians)
11. Andrew Smith (Leinster/Clontarf)
10. Jake Flannery (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
9. Michael McDonald (Ulster)

1. Callum Reid (Ulster/Banbridge)
2. Diarmuid Barron (Munster/Garryowen)
3. Roman Salonoa (Munster/Shannon)
4. Cormac Izuchukwu (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
5. Brian Deeny (Leinster/Clontarf)
6. Cian Prendergast (Connacht)(captain)
7. John Hodnett (Munster/UCC)
8. James Culhane (Leinster/UCD)

Replacements:

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (Connacht/Corinthians)
17. Josh Wycherley (Munster/Young Munster)
18. Sam Illo (Connacht/Buccaneers)
19. Tom Ahern (Munster/Shannon)
20. David McCann (Ulster/Banbridge)
21. Ben Murphy (Leinster/Clontarf)
22. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)
23. Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Constitution) 

Emerging Ireland Toyota Challenge Fixtures 2022:

Airlink Pumas vs Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Wednesday 5th October 2022, KO 16:00 (Irish time)

Toyota Cheetahs vs Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Sunday 9th October 2022, KO 14:00 (Irish time)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Aki Banned For Eight Weeks

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Aki will be unavailable for the westerners’ next five URC games, including the derby clashes with Munster and Leinster, and will also miss at least the first two of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures.

He will definitely be absent for the Tests against South Africa and Fiji, but could return to face Australia on Saturday, November 19 if he ‘successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme’.

After an act of foul play against Stormers winger Seabelo Senatla, referee Gianluca Gnecchi showed Aki a red card in the 60th minute of the game under law 9.20(a).

The particular law states that a player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul.

In his responses to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Pamela Woodman from Scotland), Aki had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card.

She determined that his actions towards Senatla were reckless and took into account, among other things, the speed, force and high degree of danger in his actions.

Ms. Woodman determined that, had it been based on this conduct alone, the offending would have been categorised as mid-range on the scale of seriousness.

However, she also considered Aki’s actions and demeanour towards the referee in connection with the issue of the red card, which she found did not meet the expected standards of conduct or respect.

This was also taken into account (in accordance with URC’s disciplinary rules) in determining that his offending was at the top-end on the scale of seriousness, which warranted an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.

The judicial officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that Aki’s acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play (during the off-field disciplinary process), expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his provincial coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors.

These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.

Aki’s previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the judicial officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.

As a result, the Ireland international will be suspended for a period of eight weeks. As previously stated, should he complete the Coaching Intervention programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week.

Fixtures Bundee Aki is unavailable for:

Vodacom Bulls v Connacht, September 30, BKT URC
Connacht v Munster, October 7, BKT URC
Connacht v Leinster, October 14, BKT URC
Connacht v Scarlets, October 21, BKT URC
Ospreys v Connacht, October 29, BKT URC
Ireland v South Africa, November 5, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Fiji, November 12, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Australia, November 19, Autumn Nations Series (substituted if the player successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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