Both England and Scotland have made several changes to their starting line-ups ahead of the final round of the 2019 Six Nations on Saturday.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made six alterations to the team that narrowly lost to Wales last week.
Sam Skinner and Hamish Watson start at six and seven respectively, replacing Josh Strauss and the injured Jamie Ritchie.
Ben Toolis comes in for Jonny Gray at second-row, completing a new-look forward pack.
Sean Maitland will start at full-back, and Byron McGuigan will join him in the back-three, with Blair Kinghorn and Tommy Seymour ruled out through injury.
Sam Johnston gets the nod ahead of Pete Horne at centre.
Meanwhile, England boss Eddie Jones has made four changes – most notably replacing Joe Cokanasiga, who was man-of-match on his debut against Italy.
Jack Nowell will start on the wing instead of 21-year-old Cokanasiga, whom Jones says he is protecting from media ‘over-hyping’ after impressing on his first England start.
“The media has an effect on the player and we need to be conscious of that,” Jones told BBC Sport.
“I think it is important, particularly in England, because I have seen so many good young players that start with this boom and then only play three or four Tests. I want him to play 100 Tests for England.”
Mark Wilson also returns in place of Brad Shields at flanker, and Ben Moon is restored at prop, at the expense of Ellis Genge.
Jones has opted for playmaker Henry Slade at centre, with the heavyweight Ben Te’o dropping out the starting XV.
What they said
England winger Jonny May, who is the competitions leading try scorer, was keen to praise Cokanasiga following his promising first England cap.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, May said; “I haven’t played with a winger like him before – he’s got so much talent and so much potential.”
“He’s brilliant now and he’s only going to get better. I’m pleased that we’ve got him.”
Cokanasiga displayed his ability to carry the ball one-handed in the game against Italy, often allowing him to find an offload, but May admitted it isn’t something he could do.
“When I see him carrying it one-handed I think, I’m not going to try that, but I think too it shows confidence,” May said. “It shows he’s a 21-year-old guy out there who’s out there on the pitch expressing himself.”
Despite the ramifications of the Wales game on Saturday, May reiterated that England’s attentions will not be on the game in Cardiff.
“For me it’s not about winning the Six Nations,” he said. “There’s a bigger purpose to what we’re doing here, and that’s the World Cup.
“We can go away feeling good about ourselves in this campaign regardless of whether we win the championship or not. If we put down the performance we want against Scotland we can feel good about ourselves.
“The main thing is doing what’s right for you. We need to get our best performance out regardless of what happens in Cardiff.”
England head coach Eddie Jones was wary of the threat the Scottish side will pose, as he spoke ahead of the game that will also decide the Calcutta Cup.
“Scotland is a difficult side, they are always at you, they play with a lot of enthusiasm and effort and have got a lot of attacking strings to their bow,” the Australian said,
“Finn Russell is an exceptional player at 10 and they have got some pace on the outside so we are going to have to defend really well against them.”
England centre Manu Tuilagi recently rejected a move to Racing 92 in France, and revealed playing for his national side was a major factor in his decision.
English players playing overseas are not considered for the national team, due the RFU’s selection policy.
Tuilagi, who moves to inside centre against Scotland, told BBC Sport;
“Playing for England is massive.”
“It’s a feeling you can’t replace. Hopefully I will keep playing for England.”
“I couldn’t be happier with the decision that I’ve made. I’m over the moon and I’m happy it’s done and I can focus on Scotland at the weekend,” he added.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has hit back at critics of side, and is confident he can orchestrate a shock result at Twickenham.
“If no-one thinks we’re going to win then that’s fine,” he said.
“We believe we can win and that’s what we’re working to do. Scotland teams tend to be underdogs on a number of occasions and it usually brings the best out in them.
Townsend also highlighted his teams performance last week against Wales as a cause for optimism.
“We’re very motivated and full of energy. There were a lot of positive aspects against Wales, a quality team. We know we have to improve again to win at Twickenham.”
“The character and fitness the players displayed showed, in the second half, what the team is capable of against one of the best sides in the world. The next step is making that pressure count on the scoreboard, more regularly.”
Championship Permutations – Who needs what?
What do Wales need?
- If Wales beat Ireland, Wales will secure the Grand Slam and the Championship.
- If Ireland beat Wales without a bonus point, and Wales get the losing bonus point, and England lose, Wales will win the title .
- If Wales lose without a bonus point, and England draw without a bonus point, Wales take the title
What do England need?
- If Wales lose to Ireland, and England beat Scotland, England will win the title.
- If England draw with a bonus point, and Wales lose to Ireland without a bonus point (and Ireland don’t outscore England by 64 point), England will win the title.
What do Ireland need?
- If Ireland win with a bonus point, and England lose, Ireland will retain the title.
- If England win with no bonus point, and Ireland score 64 points more than England, Ireland will retain the title.
- If Ireland win with no bonus point, Wales lose without bonus point, and England draw with a bonus point, Ireland will retain the title.
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
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Farrell Named Coach Of The Year As Five Irish Players Make Dream Team
Andy Farrell has been named Coach of the Year and five Irish players included in the Men’s Dream Team at a star studded World Rugby Awards Ceremony tonight. Former International Referee David McHugh was also honoured on the night with the World Rugby Referee Award.
Just hours after South Africa defeated the All Blacks to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an historic fourth time at Stade de France, the victorious team reunited to open the spectacular 90-minute show, held at the breathtaking Opéra Garnier in the heart of Paris.
Farrell was named World Rugby Coach of the Year, recognising his achievement in leading Ireland’s to a Six Nations Grand Slam and top spot in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini for 15 months.
Speaking about the award Andy Farrell said, “I would like to thank World Rugby for this recognition and congratulate the other nominees for their efforts this year. Coaching is a demanding and hugely rewarding profession, with many highs and lows, and in accepting this award, I would like to pay tribute to the players and wider coaching and support staff who work tirelessly to bring success to Irish rugby.
I am incredibly proud to work with such a talented and committed group. This award is recognition for all those involved in Irish rugby and our incredible supporters who travel near and far to support us. I am honoured to accept this award on their behalf.”
Four nations are represented in the Dream Team with Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts France and Ireland claiming five players apiece, New Zealand four and World Champions South Africa one.
Three Irish forwards made the team with Dan Sheehan, Tadgh Furlong and Caelan Doris included. In the backline Bundee Aki, who was shortlisted for Player of the Year, and his centre partner Garry Ringrose were named.
McHugh was given the World Rugby Referee award in recognition of his dedication and contribution to the game of rugby which spans more than 20 years, from his decade as an international referee taking charge of 28 tests. He officiated at three Rugby World Cups between 1995 and 2003, and has acted as a mentor for the next generations of match officials, including the likes of Joy Neville and John Lacey in Ireland and Nika Amashukeli in Georgia.
Of the 11 awards presented in Paris, nine were selected by the star-studded World Rugby Awards panels, while the International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year was decided by a fan vote on social media.
Nominees and winners in a further four women’s categories will be announced and celebrated separately, at the conclusion of the ongoing WXV tournament.
World Rugby Men’s XVs Dream Team
1. Cyril Baille (France) 2. Dan Sheehan (Ireland) 3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) 4. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) 5. Scott Barrett (New Zealand) 6. Caelan Doris (Ireland) 7. Charles Ollivon (France) 8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand) 9. Antoine Dupont (France) 10. Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand) 11. Will Jordan (New Zealand) 12. Bundee Aki (Ireland) 13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland) 14. Damian Penaud (France) 15. Thomas Ramos (France).
World Rugby Award Winners
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard – Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Andy Farrell (Ireland)
World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor – Mark Tele’a (New Zealand)
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Rodrigo Isgro (Argentina)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand)
World Rugby Referee Award – David McHugh (Ireland)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – George Nijaradze (Georgia)
Rugby for All Award – SOS Kit Aid
International Rugby Players Special Merit Award – John Smit (South Africa)
International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year – Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees: Daniel Carter (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), George Smith (Australia), Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina), Bryan Habana (South Africa).
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Historic Rugby Calendar Reform To Supercharge Reach And Competitiveness
The World Rugby Council has approved transformational reform of the global men’s and women’s rugby calendars, a seminal moment for the sport that marks a new era of opportunity, certainty and growth for the game, a fitting finale to its 200th birthday year.
Reform of Regulation 9 governing international player release has paved the way for the global club and international game to complement each other with clearly defined windows of release for international duties, as well as enhanced player welfare outcomes in the form of Player Load Guidelines.
Shaped through close collaboration with the players and stakeholders from across the whole sport, including domestic and international competitions, regions, unions, the adjustments have been driven by a game-wide commitment to prioritise player welfare while supporting desired competitiveness increases across performance unions.
In the women’s game, the decision means clearly defined global and regional player release periods for the first time with no domestic competition overlap, opening the way to a harmonious structure that promotes opportunity and growth ahead of an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup in 2025.
In the men’s game, new competition structures coupled with an increased level of cross-over fixtures between the high performance and performance unions, will deliver long-term certainty of content for the first time, supporting increases in competitiveness, interest and value ahead of a landmark Rugby World Cup in the USA in 2031.
Together, these developments crucially allow for better management of player load and overall welfare in the game, with the development of new Player Load Guidelines and ongoing expert input to oversee the development and evolution of the guidelines working with all stakeholders.
First-ever global calendar for women’s rugby with dedicated release windows
- First-ever dedicated international release windows (regional release window of seven weeks and global release window of eight weeks) from 2025.
- Clarity of release periods for club/league and cross-border competitions, to allow certainty of planning and investment.
- A commitment to more effectively manage player load and welfare in the fast-evolving women’s game, working with all stakeholders
- A framework to review the women’s global calendar and international competition structures on an ongoing basis to recognise that fast-evolving environment and opportunity.
First-ever global calendar for men’s rugby with new competitions and increased opportunity
- Establishment of an enhanced global calendar for men’s rugby with clearer international windows, including confirmation of the release window for Rugby World Cup 2027 (Australia).
- Expansion of Rugby World Cup to 24 teams in 2027, providing more qualification opportunities for more teams and regional competitions.
- Launch of a bi-annual new international competition from 2026, comprising a top division of 12 teams (Six Nations unions, SANZAAR unions and two further unions to be selected via a process run by SANZAAR), and a second division run by World Rugby of 12 teams with promotion and relegation commencing from 2030. Played in the July and November international release windows, it will provide crucial opportunities (and certainty of fixtures) for unions currently outside of the existing annual competitions, and in turn provide opportunities for unions and regional associations through to the second division.
- The competition provides players and fans with compelling matches, to build audiences and value for all.
- A significant uplift in the number of cross-over matches between unions in the respective divisions are included in the global calendar in the two other years, providing performance nations with annual competition certainty against high performance unions.
- Launch of new annual expanded Pacific Nations Cup competition in 2024, featuring Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and USA with home fixtures and Japan and USA alternating as finals hosts, guaranteeing a minimum of three additional matches a year in addition to the new international competition and cross-over fixtures.
- The global men’s calendar provides additional clarity for elite league and cross-border club competitions, supporting value growth investment opportunities for all.
The reform follows extensive consultation with the professional game, including regions, unions, domestic and international competitions, and detailed evaluation of the playing, commercial and fan landscape. Implementation of the agreed package will continue to involve dialogue with all parties.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “It is fitting that we finish Rugby World Cup 2023, the sport’s greatest celebration of togetherness, with the sport’s greatest feat of togetherness. Agreement on the men’s and women’s global calendars and their content is the most significant development in the sport since the game went professional. An historic moment for our sport that sets us up collectively for success.
“We now look forward to an exciting new era for our sport commencing in 2025 (women) and 2026 (men). An era that will bring certainty and opportunity for all. An era that will support the many, not the few, and an era that will supercharge the development of the sport beyond its traditional and often self-imposed boundaries. I would like to thank all my colleagues for their spirit of collaboration. Today, we have achieved something special.”
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