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6 Nations

6 Nations Form Guide to Week One

A small guide on what to expect from each team this weekend as the 6 Nations returns

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This weekend sees the start of February and with it the 6 Nations returns with the opening weekend sure to set the tone for what awaits.

Here’s a quick form guide as to how each team performed over the past 12 months and who needs a good tournament to start off their Rugby World Cup year.

The first game sees France take on Wales in the Stade de France, on Friday, kick off 20 00.

Wales are the team on the up with wins over South Africa and two over Argentina last summer coupled with a clean sweep in the November internationals giving them a seven-game winning streak since last years tournament.

On the other hand, France had a lacklustre 2018, with only two wins in the 6 Nations, followed up by a 3-0 series lose to New Zealand in the summer. November was no different as they won one of three matches including a first loss to Fiji.

Both teams will be looking to kick start their year off with a win with the World Cup only around the corner.

Saturday hosts a double header with Scotland taking on Italy at Murrayfield at 14 15.

The hosts head into the fixture after a missed year finishing last years tournament in third, during the summer they bet Canada and Argentina but fell to defeat to the USA. Their year ended with two wins from four in the November series.

Italy are a team in desperate need of some form before the world cup and here would be a good place to start as they only narrowly lost out 29-27 in the teams encounter last year.

Conor O’Shea’s men come in to the tournament on the back of two wins in eleven last year while finishing in last place with a single point from the competition last year.

A win for either side would be a welcome opening to the new international rugby year.

In the final game of the weekend last years Grand Slam winners Ireland host an England team looking to end a three-game losing streak in the 6 Nations.

Ireland begin the tournament as favourites after what was arguably the best year in their history.

They took the 6 Nations and Grand Slam crown home last year with a 24-15 win over England. They then headed out to Australia in the summer and claiming a 2-1 series win on southern hemisphere soil for the first time since 1979.

The year concluded with four wins from four in November, including a 16-9 win over New Zealand.

England had mixed fortunes last year, ending their 6 Nations campaign with three defeats on the bounce and in fifth place in the table. Eddie Jones’ men then lost 2-1 in their summer tour of South Africa.

They ended on an almost perfect high, winning three of their four November series games and coming so close to a clean sweep only losing out 15-16 to New Zealand.

These are the two teams that will have the most pressure on their shoulders coming into the tournament and a win would be a perfect way to ease that.

Besides the last 12 months, and in terms of 6 Nations titles, Ireland and England have shared the last five. With Ireland coming out on top in 2014, 2015, and 2018, while England completed the double between 2016 and 2017.

From looking at all of this it is hard to look past Ireland or Wales due to form, but we all know how quickly things can change in sport.

Heading into this year’s tournament form will only be one factor, now we will have to wait and see if that form continues as we expect.

6 Nations

Ireland Squad Named For Autumn Nations Series

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Andy Farrell has named a 38 strong squad for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland face Japan on Saturday 6th November before hosting New Zealand a week later on Saturday 13th.

The final game in the series sees Mario Ledesma’s Argentina line out at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday 21stNovember.   The Aviva Stadium will be at full capacity for these three games.

Johnny Sexton who has been capped 99 times for his country will lead the squad during this international window.

Six of Ireland’s players who toured with the British and Irish Lions during the summer – Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Conor Murray are included as is Ronan Kelleher who joined the squad in South Africa.

Six of the players who won their first caps during the Vodafone Summer Series in July have been included in the squad – Robert Baloucoune, Harry Byrne, Gavin Coombes, James Hume, Tom O’Toole and Nick Timoney.

There are two uncapped players named Leinster duo Dan Sheehan and Ciaran Frawley while Munster’s Simon Zebo is named in an Ireland squad for the first time since June 2017.

Robbie Henshaw will continue his rehabilitation programme under the supervision of the Ireland medical team.

Thomas Ahern (Munster) and Jamie Osborne (Leinster) will train with the squad as development players during this window.

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell, commented,

“It has been a short lead in to this international window but that is the challenge, to get back up to speed quickly and build on the performances from the Six Nations and the Summer Tests.  This is the start of an exciting period for the group as we begin to build towards the Rugby World Cup in France.”

“In September we got together and mapped out what was coming up in this window, the exciting fixtures that lay ahead in the next 12 months and beyond that the opportunities to improve as a group over the next five windows we will have together.

“In a few weeks’ time we will face an exciting and well coached Japan team who showed in July what a dangerous team they are.  New Zealand dominated the Rugby Championship losing just one game while Argentina are battle hardened from playing the southern hemisphere’s Big 3 week in week out over the past two months.

“It would be fantastic to play in front of a full-house at the Aviva Stadium.  We had small crowds back in for the games in July and even that made a huge difference to the team and the atmosphere in the stadium.”

Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium will be televised on RTE (ROI) and Channel 4 (NI).

IRELAND Autumn Nations Series Squad 2021

Backs (18)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 31 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 1 cap
Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 24 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 25 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 93 caps
Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/UCD)*
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 10 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 6 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 5 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 89 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 99 caps CAPTAIN
Simon Zebo (Munster/Cork Constitution) 35 caps

Forwards (20)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 5 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 16 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 22 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 20 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 19 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 49 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 109 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 63 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 22 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 76 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 1 cap
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)*
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps

*denotes uncapped player

Development Players

Thomas Ahern (Munster/Shannon)
Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas)

Autumn Nations Series Fixtures 2021

IRELAND v Japan
Aviva Stadium , Saturday 6th November, 2021

IRELAND v New Zealand
Aviva Stadium , Saturday 13th November, 2021

IRELAND v Argentina
Aviva Stadium , Sunday 21st November, 2021

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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6 Nations

Wales & Cardiff star to retire at 27

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Cardiff Rugby fullback Hallam Amos will retire at the end of the season to focus on a career in medicine.

The 27-year-old joined Cardiff ahead of the 2019-20 season having previously come through the ranks at the Dragons, where he spent nine years.

He recently completed his clinical medical exams and has informed the club and Welsh Rugby Union of his intention to hang up his boots in June.

Amos said: “After a decade of professional rugby, the 2021/22 season will be my last. I’ve experienced a lot in rugby and have been fortunate to go to two Rugby World Cups, a Commonwealth Games, several Six Nations and I’ve had a lot of great times in the regional game.

“I’m very grateful for the incredible experiences I’ve had but the time has almost come to face a new challenge. I am happy with what I have achieved and telling Dai and Cardiff, and Wayne (Pivac) and Wales, early so they can plan for the future sat a lot easier with me.

“It’s always been my intention to finish when I complete my degree and this season aligns nicely with the final year of my medical studies, so a perfect time to transition from pitch to hospital.

“Throughout my years combining university with a rugby career I’ve had plenty of support – from the WRU, from the Dragons for the first few years of my career, from Cardiff Rugby more recently, and from Cardiff University itself – and I’ll always be thankful for their willingness to accommodate both aspects of my life.

“Particular thanks go to Dai and Wayne who have been understanding over the last couple of weeks as I’ve talked to them about the thought process behind my decision.

“Retiring at 27 will definitely be strange but I’m fully committed to Cardiff Rugby for the rest of the season and hopefully I can finish on a high over the next few months.”

The full-back has made 32 appearances since joining the Blue and Blacks and has taken his tally of international caps to 25.

Cardiff Director of Rugby, Dai Young has led the tributes to the Cardiff medical student and commended his decision to retire on his own terms and with a clear education and plan for the future.

Young said: “Obviously it will be disappointing to lose a player of Hallam’s quality and he has plenty of rugby left in him but you can only admire his decision.

“Not many players get to go out on their own terms and to switch from rugby to a full-time career in medicine sets him up for a long and fruitful career.

“Hallam has worked incredibly hard to juggle rugby and his studies up until now and has achieved a huge amount in the game both at regional and international level.

“He will remain an important figure for us for the remainder of the season and can play without the pressure of the decision hanging over him. For now, the focus is on Cardiff and enjoying his rugby and next summer we will wish him all the very best for the future.”

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6 Nations

Connacht Sign Samoan International Tuimauga

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Connacht have added to their recruitment for the 2021/22 season with the signing of loosehead prop Tietie Tuimauga.

The 28-year old joins from New Zealand side Manawatu and won his first two caps with the Samoan national team during the summer, playing twice against Tonga.

Tuimauga will link up with the Connacht squad in the coming weeks with a view to being available for selection later in 2021.

Commenting on the signing, the province’s head coach Andy Friend said: “It’s no secret we’ve been exploring further options at loosehead following Denis Buckley’s long-term injury, so we are really pleased to welcome Tietie to Connacht.

“We now have strong cover across all of our front row, which is a good place to be, and with Tietie’s experience he’ll offer us something different.

“We now have a pro squad of 44 plus a number of integrated Academy players, so I’m really pleased with the group we have assembled.

“Our sole focus now is on building on last week’s win when we face the Dragons on Saturday.”

Source – Irish Rugby

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