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6 Nations

Japan Could Receive Six Nations Invitation

Following their incredible performances during this year’s Rugby World Cup it appears as though hosts Japan could be set for inclusion in one of the biggest international tournaments according to reports

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Japan are to be handed an invite into the Six Nations after their impressive showing at this year’s Rugby World Cup, according to a report by the Mail Online.

The report by Martin Samuel claims that the World Cup host nation, who went all the way to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, are to “receive a shock invitation” to European rugby’s elite international competition. 

It was previously thought that a move to the Rugby Championship would make more sense and that it was on the cards as the Southern Hemisphere nations were impressed by the brand of rugby that Japan played. 

However, it appears as though the tournament organisers are hesitant to bring them into the championship straight away, and are looking to include them within the next four or five years. Which would see them join come the end of the next World Cup cycle and see them miss out on some valuable development time ahead of the tournament. 

The report is clear that although formal talks between the Brave Blossoms and the Six Nations are yet to take place that World Rugby have been made aware that leading figures within the European organisation are very interested in the prospect. 

It would be a brilliant opportunity for the Japanese as they look to expand interest in the sport within the country and are in a prime position to do so with interest at an all time high following the success of the tournament in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

They have earned respect especially within Europe following wins over Six Nations side’s Scotland and Ireland during the group stages of the World Cup with Japan now sitting ahead of the former in 8th position in the World Rugby rankings due to their performances. 

Japan were among several tier two nations backing the making of a Nations Championship which would have allowed the likes of Fiji and themselves compete against the best nations around on an annual basis and with these developments it will raise further questions as to why the competition isn’t being developed. 

We will have to wait and see how things progress over the coming weeks and months but it seems as though Japan are in with a bigger chance than ever before in being added to one of the biggest international tournaments on the planet.

6 Nations

Ireland Announce Team to Play Scotland

Ireland have announced their 23-man squad to face Scotland in the opening round of the Six Nations against Scotland

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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has announced his first 23-man squad for their opening Six Nations game against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday at 16 45.

As was expected captain Johnny Sexton has been passed fit to play and starts alongside Conor Murray in the half-backs. 

Meanwhile, there are two uncapped players in the squad with Leinster duo Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher, in the starting XV and among the bench respectively. 

Elsewhere, Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong begin either side of hooker Rob Herring, with Iain Henderson and James Ryan slotting in behind in the second-row pairing. 

CJ Stander has been chosen as the blindside-flanker, with Josh van der Flier at openside and Doris makes his debut at No 8, completing the pack. 

Murray gets the nod at scrum-half ahead of John Cooney, which will come as a surprise to many fans, and is joined in the half-backs by Sexton as mentioned above and they have a midfield of Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose outside them. 

Jacob Stockdale takes up his place on the left-wing, with Andrew Conway on the right and Jordan Larmour has overcome a minor foot injury to finish the team from full-back. 

Farrell has plenty of experience on the bench with the likes of Devin Toner, Peter O’Mahony and Robbie Henshaw among those joining youngster Kelleher among the replacements. 

Ireland will be hoping to put a disappointing 2019 behind them and kick start their campaign on the right foot when they welcome the Scots. While Farrell will hope that his trust in certain players will pay off and give him a winning start to the job. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV: 

15. Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 21 caps

14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 18 caps

13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 28 caps

12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 23 caps

11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 25 caps

10. Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 88 caps Captain

9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 78 caps

1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 95 caps

2. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 8 caps

3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 41 caps

4. Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 53 caps

5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps

6. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 38 caps

7. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps

8. Caelan Doris (UCD/Leinster)*

Replacements:

16. Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster)*

17. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 36 caps

18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps

19. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 67 caps

20. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 64 caps

21. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 8 caps

22. Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 3 caps

23. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 40 caps

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6 Nations

Scotland Suffer Major Six Nations Blow

Scotland have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their Six Nations opener against Ireland in just over a week

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Scotland could be without fly-half Finn Russell for the entire Six Nations campaign according to reports after he left the team camp of his own accord.

BBC Sport are reporting that the 27-year-old Racing 92 star has breached “team protocol” and it has been confirmed by Scottish Rugby that he will not feature during the team’s opening game against Ireland on February 1st. 

“Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener,” a statement read.

Some believed that the player was injured during last weekend’s Champions Cup defeat to Saracens while on club duty, but there are growing concerns that there may be tension between Russell and head coach Gregor Townsend. 

Russell has had problems before with the coaches tactics and didn’t hide anything following last year’s Six Nations draw with England, when the Scots came back from 31-7 at half-time to draw 38-all in the end. 

“I actually had an argument with Gregor [at half-time]. I said to him ‘you’re telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they’re just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back’. Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries. We played good Scottish rugby,” he said after the game last March.

However, there is no certainty as to what is the actual reason behind the scenario, but Russell will in fact head back to Racing for now. 

It is a huge blow for Scotland with Russell being one of the more experienced players among a young group, but it appears as though Adam Hastings would be most likely to take his place. However, fans will be worried with it being unknown whether or not their skillful playmaker will be involved at all during this year’s competition. 

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6 Nations

Smith Defends Parisse “Send-Off” Decision

Italian head coach Franco Smith has defended the decision to allow Sergio Parisse play only one game in the Six Nations this year in order to give him a send-off

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New Italy head coach Franco Smith has come out to defend the decision to allow Sergio Parisse have a send-off in the team’s final home match in the upcoming Six Nations campaign.

It has been confirmed that former captain Parisse, who has a total of 142-caps to his name for the side will not be involved at any other point of the competition other than their game against England in Rome on March 14th. 

The 36-year-old had planned to make his final appearance against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup pool stages last year, only for the game to be cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis. Smith believes that it is only right to give Parisse one last chance to play in blue. 

“Sergio will be involved in the last game with England and he has a lot to contribute. I said to Sergio two days ago not to worry and he doesn’t want to let the team down. I said we would stick to the plan and I will help him settle in and give him the best opportunity to play as well as he can. There was a misinterpretation that it will be a goodbye game and that is not the case and the agreement we have is that he is going to contribute one last time. We have turned the page, but he (Parisse) is a player of stature and deserves a send-off, but it is not just a send-off game and we hope he can make a difference and contribute from a leadership point of view and also be the icon we can follow,” he said. 

Smith thinks that the other players in the squad may gain motivation by seeing Parisse get a send-off as they will see what could happen to them if they reach the high-levels he has. 

“If other players see the send-off that Sergio gets then that will inspire them to be as good as they can be in an Italian jersey as well. He will come into camp when he can but we have also made an agreement with his club in France. He was a leader for Italian rugby for so long that very few leaders were developed and now it is time for a new leadership group and we have identified seven players of which Luca Bigi is the captain. Sergio will come and contribute for old time’s sake,” he added. 

The news has got a mixed reception from some fans, but maybe it will be something to motivate younger players in the squads as Smith believes. 

Meanwhile, the new head coach, who took over from Conor O’Shea following the World Cup, is looking to Japan for inspiration with his new side. 

“I want to help the team get to the next level and the game is going to change. Japan helped with the way they went about it ( at the World Cup) saying they couldn’t beat other teams with the way they play and we have to find our own way. I think that will be a point of reference (for us). For a long time Italy played in a way to beat teams not necessarily with their own game. The pressure game has been a feature of the last six or seven years and attack is the most difficult area to coach,” he finished up on. 

Italy face a tough task heading into the campaign with current Grand Slam holders Wales up first on February 1st, with the Azzurri looking to end a run of 22 defeats in a row in the tournament.

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