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6 Nations

“Awful, actually terrible” – Fitzgerald blasts one Ireland star.

“really poor” “awful defence”

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Luke Fitzgerald was far from impressed with Jacob Stockdale’s performance against England last weekend and expressed his feelings on this week’s edition of The Left Wing Podcast.

The former Leinster and Ireland utility back was very critical of the 22-year-old Ulster man saying he was

“awful, actually terrible”.

He went on to question why Stockdale failed to release a few passes saying, “you’re allowed to pass the ball,” when referring to him.

He continued, stating he was “really poor” and showed “awful defence” throughout a match that he described as “worst game of rugby” he has ever been to.

You can listen in full to the very enjoyable and analytical podcast below.  

Ulster & Irish teammate Stuart McCloskey was quick to Stockdale’s defence Tweeting Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was quick to respond.

We’d encourage readers to listen to the podcast (above) as while Fitzgerald’s comments were most critical on Stockdale, other plays don’t get an easy ride either with Keith Earls coming in for some frank criticism.

Stockdale himself admitted he didn’t have the greatest game over the weekend.

“It’s a tough one to analyse yourself when you’ve lost and you feel like nothing you did was good enough,” he said.

He even spoke of how he was the one at fault for Daly’s try, but Fitzgerald’s comments still appear a little harsh for last year’s player of the 6 Nations championship.

Fitzgerald went on to discuss the possible changes to the Irish team before it was announced and went as far as to say he would prefer to drop Stockdale rather than Henshaw and put full-back Rob Kearney on the wing.

“Bringing Rob Kearney in possibly on the wing, ahead of Stockdale or something, ahead of dropping Robbie Henshaw,” Fitzgerald said.

While Stockdale certainly didn’t have his finest game on the weekend, his comments seem unfair when you consider Stockdale’s age and what he has done so far in his short career.

With Henshaw being left out of the team due to injury Fitzgerald won’t get his wishes to see Kearney play on the wing just yet as he was announced at full-back by Schmidt. All of which means that Stockdale retains his place in the starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with Scotland, but will he improve enough to gain Fitzgerald’s vote of confidence? We will have to wait and see.

You can check our preview of Scotland v Ireland here.

We also ran our eye of everyones performance last week.

Click here to see how we rated them.

6 Nations

Rory Best to retire.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster and Ireland captain Rory Best has confirmed that he will retire from professional rugby when his current contract expires after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Best will bow out with a hugely impressive list of honours and will go down as a legend of the modern game, having spent 15 seasons at the top level.

Rory began his rugby development at Banbridge RFC, with whom he is still involved, while he also played at Portadown College and Belfast Harlequins RFC on route to the professional game.

He made his competitive debut for Ulster in 2004 and has amassed 219 appearances to date, scoring 23 tries. He was a key member of the squad which won the Celtic League title in 2005/06.

Best is Ulster’s most-capped international with 116 appearances (10 tries) and has helped Ireland win the Six Nations Championship on four occasions, including two Grand Slam successes (one as captain).

Best’s leadership of Ireland is record-breaking; he captained Ireland to its first ever win against New Zealand in 2016 and has steered the country to second in the world rankings.

He was a member of the British & Irish Lions squad for the 2013 and 2017 tours to Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Best was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to rugby.

“It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement from Ulster Rugby as of the end of this season,” said Best.

“This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms, a luxury for which I feel very privileged.

“I am very excited for the end of the season with Ulster Rugby and for the upcoming World Cup with Ireland, both of which I hope to finish with a massive high, playing at the top of my game.

“In my 15 years at this brilliant club, I have been lucky to have met, played alongside, been coached by and supported by many great people, and I would like to thank every individual for the time they have invested in me since 2004.

“I grew up supporting Ulster Rugby, have been fortunate to play and captain Ulster Rugby, and now look forward to supporting Ulster Rugby in the future with my family.”

Paying tribute to Best, Ulster’s Operations Director, Bryn Cunningham said:

“No player representing Ulster Rugby has had a more profound impact in the professional era than Rory.

“When Rory enters the room, everyone waits for his words. On the training pitch, he demands high standards at all times. During a match, players turn to Rory for leadership and direction. He has been our all-encompassing talismanic figure for more than a decade.

“Rory’s ability to not only stay at the top, but also fight his way through adversity, shows the strength of character he possesses.

“The ever-present support of the Best family on the side-lines, in particular Jodie, Ben, Penny and Richie, encapsulates Rory as the ultimate family man. We know that they will continue to follow Ulster Rugby for many years to come.

“Rory will justifiably go down as one of the greatest legends of Ulster and Irish Rugby.”

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6 Nations

Richards Claims 2003 World Cup Winners Cheated, Woodward Denies

Dean Richards has made some serious accusations to the RFU.

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Former Harlequins director of rugby and ‘Bloodgate’ scandal Dean Richards told the RFU that England’s 2003 World Cup winners cheated in a report.

He claims that his Harlequins side were not the only team using fake injuries to win games and that the World Cup winners were doing so too.

The document, which was uncovered by a documentary on talkSPORT revealed what Richards had said.

“The use of fake blood, cutting players, re-opening wounds, feigning injury in the front row, jabbing players with anaesthetic all occur regularly throughout the game,” he said.

When asked about giving examples by former RFU head of discipline Jeff Blackett he accused the English team.

“RWC 2003. England used faked blood,” he said.

Richards, who was banned from rugby for three years in 2009 for his part in the scandal in which players used fake blood to be taken off as blood substitutions has been shut down by 2003 coach Clive Woodward.

“This is simply not true. I am not sure why Dean raised this. I have never been involved in anything like this. It is ridiculous,” he said.

He also said that the claim was “absolute nonsense”.

It appears as though the RFU have nothing to worry about this time around as it seems like Richards is trying to stir the pot once more in the rugby world.

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6 Nations

French Rugby rule out foreign coach.

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Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been well documented that current French Coach Jacques Brunel will be vacating his role with the FFR post World Cup in Japan later this year and with all confirmed exits, speculation is always rife as to who will step up and take the role.

One thing that was confirmed this week was that the next head coach of France will not be Warren Gatland, Joe Schmidt, Eddie Jones – or any other overseas coach that has been linked with the top job in French Rugby.

This decision was made following a referendum of the country’s amateur rugby clubs which ruled out a non-Frenchman taking charge.

59% of the clubs voted with a view that they would not support the appointment of a foreigner to replace Jacques Brunel after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

French Federation president Bernard Laporte has promised to respect the result.

“I welcome this democratic expression and of course I will respect that choice,”

Several names have been linked with the job. Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt who have both coached their last 6 Nations games with Wales & Ireland respectively would be shrewd appointments as would Sir Clive Woodward and John Mitchell were also thought to be on the FFR’s shortlist. Current Montpellier boss Vern Cotter – was also expected to be a contender but he too will now not be considered for the role.

Rumours are still strong regarding Ronan O’Gara taking some sort of coaching role with the FFR pre Rugby World Cup but nothing official has been announced to date.

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