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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

RFU CEO gives COVID-19 planning & support update

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(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Bill Sweeney – RFU, CEO

My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU continue to be with everyone impacted by the difficult and exceptional situation we are all facing, both across the country and within our own rugby union community.

Earlier today we held a virtual board meeting and I am writing to advise you of the actions that have been agreed to offer a support package directly funded from the RFU worth £7m to provide support for community clubs in England.  

IMPACT

To support clubs we are today announcing that the RFU will be providing a £7m relief package for community clubs. The package includes monies ring fenced and diverted for the community game as well as additional funding. These measures include:

•       An early release of £800,000 cash due to clubs through the ticketing fund.  

•       Early release of final funding payments (£600,000) to Constituent Bodies and suspension of the activity plans against which this was allocated, enabling them to utilise this to provide “immediate support grants” to clubs most in need. In addition £400,000 will be made available to Constituent Bodies who elect to match fund from their own reserves.

•       A suspension of the Quarterly loan repayments for clubs with outstanding loans due in March (£335,000).  

•       The creation of a £5m support loans programme, offering loans of between circa £2k and circa £10k to clubs, with deferred re-payments for six months and repayable over three years. 

We will be providing more details on this financial package in the coming week. We will also be issuing regular club recovery updates with practical advice on how government grants can be accessed as well as other business management advice. 

We welcome government interventions which will provide business rate holidays and grants for clubs.

The RFU will continue to provide a free helpline to assist clubs with legal and tax related matters: https://www.englandrugby.com/participation/running-your-club/legal-and-administration

Significant progress has been made on the process for considering the implications of ending the season early. We will ensure a fair and balanced outcome for the game and are now committed to update on this by the middle of April.

No one can predict every possible outcome of the COVID-19 outbreak particularly with regard to the duration of this crisis and we are managing in the unknown. We have modelled three potential scenarios and are working on an assumption based on a medium term impact with a view to a return to rugby in the autumn. We will continue to monitor against this assumption and review and revise planning where necessary.

The RFU had budgeted for a loss making year within a four year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 RWC campaign and hosting only two home Six Nations games. The loss will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the country. 

The RFU’s biggest asset is also a major cost and the closure of Twickenham Stadium has a significant impact on the revenues we can generate to re-invest back into the game. In that sense we are like every other club in the Union, when we do not stage matches and events we do not generate revenue.

Based on our planning assumption we estimate RFU revenue losses over the next 18 months to be approximately £45-£50 million and have a firm plan in place to mitigate this. The RFU Executive Team will be taking a cut in remuneration in excess of 25%. In addition, combined Board fees will be reduced by 75%.

WELFARE  

We are continuing our support to ensure colleagues and communities are given help to follow government advice and are providing recommendations on how to stay fit and healthy and a range of new content will be made available to players and fans across our social media channels. 

We are discussing with government and the NHS the role the RFU and Twickenham Stadium can play in providing volunteers as well as support for the NHS including accommodation, parking and meal provisioning.

I am confident that rugby will play a big role in energising communities across England after this difficult period. In the meantime, we are working hard with the wider rugby community to take the necessary measures to safeguard a financially resilient Union so that we can.

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6 Nations

Rodney Parade to help in fight against coronavirus

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Rodney Parade has become the latest sporting venue to open its doors to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Newport stadium has been provided free of charge as a base for front-line NHS staff to check if they have the virus and are able to continue working. At this stage only NHS staff are eligible to be tested at Rodney Parade to see if they have COVID-19. Dragons managing director Mark Jones said: “The health service and care workers are doing an incredible job in such difficult circumstances so we are happy to offer our help and support in any way we can.

“Playing our part in the local community is at the heart of what we’re about at the Dragons and in times of crisis people stick together. We would urge everyone to follow the latest NHS advice on protecting themselves from the virus, particularly to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.”

A statement from Aneurin Bevan Health Board read: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is essential for delivering services for the people of Gwent. It is fundamental during this time when the most vulnerable people need us most.

“We have set up a drive-through facility to test staff for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and help us get our teams back in to work on the front line. The testing site is located at Rodney Parade in Newport and we ask that everyone practises the stay-at-home guidance and does not visit the site.

“Everyone at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board would like to thank the team at Rodney Parade for their community-focused approach and accommodating us during these difficult times.”

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6 Nations

IRFU And Rugby Players Ireland Agree Pay Deferrals

Result of COVID-19

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The IRFU, Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster Rugby, in agreement and partnership with Rugby Players Ireland and its members, have today agreed a payment deferral model for all employees.

These deferrals, based on an equitable sliding scale which ranges from 10% – 50%, will be effective from April, and beyond if required, but will remain subject to constant review of the financial circumstances of the IRFU and Provinces.

The IRFU hopes to return to full pay, and repay any deferrals, as soon as possible.

IRFU CEO Philip Browne said,

“We are entering uncharted waters as the Covid-19 crisis continues to unfold but we remain hopeful that something of this season can be retrieved later in summer. This is important as the whole game, amateur and professional, is financially dependent on the resumption of the professional tournaments and the revenues that they generate. With postponement of these tournaments the IRFU and the Provinces are facing some daunting financial challenges around loss of revenue and cash flow and we must cut our costs.

The IRFU has worked closely with our provincial colleagues and our partners in Rugby Players Ireland to move to protect the future of Irish Rugby and this arrangement will allow Irish Rugby the breathing space required in relation to cashflow that can ensure that when this crisis abates, we still have a business that can deliver for all those that play and love rugby. The situation will obviously remain under continuous review in case further action is required.

I thank all our partners, Rugby Players Ireland and all our employees for standing with us at this time.”

RPI CEO Simon Keogh said,

“We recognise the need to work with the IRFU with respect to these payment deferrals in light of the current circumstances. All endeavours have been made to contact those affected on an individual basis. Our members appreciate that such moves are necessary in order to protect the future of the game in this country. The health and safety of the public is the priority at this time. We will continue to work with the IRFU as this situation develops.”

From Irish Rugby

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