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6 Nations

Report & Highlights: Ireland Steer Past Stubborn Scotland

Ireland saw off Scotland in an error filled match

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Ireland got back to winning ways following last week’s defeat to England with a scrappy 22-13 win over Scotland in Murrayfield on Saturday.

With both teams making forced changes pre-game Scotland started the better, and their early pressure paid off with Greig Laidlaw slotting over a fifth minute penalty to put them in front.

However, Ireland responded brilliantly, putting pressure on the Scots before shipping the ball out wide to Jacob Stockdale who raced away in the middle of the park.

Stockdale showed a lot of intelligence by kicking the ball ahead into the Scottish 22. Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland got their wires crossed from the kick and allowed Conor Murray to pick up a loose ball and score the opening try of the game.

Sexton missed the conversion leaving the score at 5-3 in Ireland’s favour after 10 minutes.

Scotland were dealt a huge blow in the 16th minute as star full-back Stuart Hogg was forced off, with last weekend’s hat-trick hero Blair Kinghorn coming on.

A minute later and Ireland were in for their second try.

Some incredible play near halfway allowed Peter O’Mahony to switch play with Sexton with Sexton then releasing Stockdale, who had come in from his wing, and has showed immense pace to race under the posts and touch down.

The conversion was easy for Sexton who stretched Ireland’s lead to 12-3.

Stockdale brushed aside comments from Luke Fitzgerald during the week, claiming his defending was poor by saving Ireland with a couple of covering catches and outstanding tackles over the next few minutes.

Ireland faced their own injury setback as Sexton was forced off after 23 minutes to be replaced by Joey Carbery.

It was a risky pass by Carbery that allowed Finn Russell to intercept near halfway and race toward the Irish line on 29 minutes.

Keith Earls made a great recovering tackle but Carbery lost track of Sam Johnson, who received a clever pop pass from Russell on the floor and was in for a try.

Laidlaw sent over the conversion from the right touchline to make it 10-12 and that was how it stayed until half-time.

The second-half opened with a few scrappy pieces of play from both sides.

It took until the 55th minute for another score to come. Following a line-out for the visitors near the centre of the park, a misplaced pass from Sean O’Brien was picked up by Carbery.

From there Carbery showed his class by breaking through two Scottish players before ploughing into the 22 and sending the ball out wide to Earls who was in for an easy try.

Carbery sent the conversion over to leave the score at 19-10.

Greig Laidlaw brought Scotland within six points by sending over a lovely penalty from the left touch line on 62 minutes.

Carbery returned the favour with 12 minutes later slotting over a three pointer to give the visitors with a 22-13 lead.

That was how it stayed as Ireland failed to secure the bonus-point but got their first win of the campaign and showed some guts to grind out the victory.

Speaking after the game man of the match Peter O’Mahony spoke of his delight with the win following last weekend’s defeat.

“It says a lot about our character. I’m very proud of the boys today,” he said.

While head coach Joe Schmidt was happy with the win, he admitted his Irish team was missing something.

“We were lacking a tempo in our game, not quite hitting our rhythm,” he said.

“We’ve got to be better,” he added.

Schmidt also confirmed that fly-half Sexton failed a HIA assessment, hence he didn’t return to the action, which will be a worry for Ireland as they already have a growing injury list.

Scotland head to France in two weeks’ time and will be looking to get back to winning ways, while Ireland will be hoping to build on this victory when they head to Italy.

Match Highlights:

6 Nations

Rory Best to retire.

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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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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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