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6 Nations

Match Report: Ireland Scrape Past Energetic Italy

Ireland have kept their championship hopes alive with a fortunate win over Italy

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Ireland were lucky to come away with a 26-16 win over an aggressive Italy side in the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

Ireland who were looking to push on from their win over Scotland last time out caused most of their own problems with handling errors and silly penalties allowing Italy to stay in the game.

The visitors had a scrappy start up until the 12th minute when Quinn Roux finished off a 19 phase move after strong carries from the likes of Tadhg Furlong and Jacob Stockdale. Johnny Sexton kicked over the conversion to make it 7-0.

It seemed as though they might kick on from there, but within seven minutes Tomasso Allan got the hosts on the scoreboard with a penalty.

The Italian’s shot themselves in the foot immediately after scoring. Sexton kicked off, with Italy mistiming their catch, before a knock-on fell into Stockdale’s hands.

The winger did the rest, bursting through some defenders and touching down to give Ireland some breathing space. The kick was missed meaning it was 12-3 after 22 minutes.

Again, Ireland allowed Italy into the game, with Sean Cronin giving a penalty away for being offside which Allan slotted between the posts.

With the clock just ticking past the 30-minute mark Italy were in for their opening try of the game.

Edoardo Padovani capitalised on a Sean Cronin over-throw from a line-out. Jayden Hayward broke through the defence and after a couple of phases Allan sent a long-pass out to Padovani who scored.

Allan missed the extras, but it was a one-point game at 12-11.

With two minutes remaining in the first-half, Italy went in front. Breaking from their own 22, the Italian’s raced down the other end of the pitch with Luca Morisi getting the try. Again, the kick was missed, and it was 16-12 to Italy at half-time.

The second-half was filled with errors with two Irish tries the only highlights of the half.

Keith Earls scored with 49 minutes on the clock after sustained pressure from the men in green, Conor Murray took the kick this time and sent the ball flying over.

Ireland had to wait until the 66th minute for their bonus-point try, as Murray touched down after a rolling-maul from a line-out. He took the kick himself and scored once more to make it 26-16.

That’s how it remained as Ireland picked up five points to move into third in the table and keep their championship hopes alive.

After the game Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt admitted his relief at getting the win but was not pleased with the overall performance.

“There’s a relief, it’s done, in the end we got our five points and that’s what we came for, but we were too inaccurate,” he said.

Winger and try-scorer Stockdale also spoke following the game and when asked why his team are not flourishing as they have been over the past couple of years, he couldn’t answer.

“That’s the million dollar question I suppose,” he said in relation to what his team’s problems are.

Ireland will have to be better when they host France in two weeks’ time if they want to have any chance of winning another title and while there were positives for Italy, they will play England next looking to now end a 20-game unbeaten run in the 6 Nations.

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6 Nations

England announce new landmark deal with O2

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O2 and the RFU have today announced a new five-year partnership of the national teams and bringing spend parity across the men’s and women’s games. O2 is the principal shirt partner for the England Senior Men’s and England Senior Women’s teams with O2’s logo appearing front and centre on all match day and training kit.

As part of the new agreement, O2 has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the partnership. O2 and the RFU have the collective ambition to grow both the profile of the Red Roses and increase attendance at future games.

The deal also provides O2 customers the opportunity to access Priority Tickets for all England Rugby games, 48 hours before general release. As the UK’s No1 network, O2 is committed to offering the very best offers and experiences. Through Priority, O2 customers will have the opportunity to access exclusive player meet and greets, 20% matchday discount on England Rugby kit at the Twickenham Stadium store and O2 Ultimate Fan – winning the chance to go on summer tour with the team.

O2 Inside Line will continue as the exclusive England Rugby behind the scenes content series, now with equal commitment to both teams. This includes content from inside training camps, live broadcasts from camps during test week, and exclusive pre and post-match content from the O2 Blueroom. O2 Inside Line will be multi-format series including live stream, video and podcast.

The deal also brings a joint commitment from O2 and the RFU to support the country’s grassroots clubs through exclusive rugby community offers from O2, and a vision for Twickenham to become more connected, utilising O2 5G and O2 Business products and services.

Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO commented: “O2 have been a loyal supporter of England Rugby, a partnership that has lasted for 25 years and we are proud to continue to carry their logo front and centre on our shirts for a further five years. O2’s commitment to equally support both our elite teams is commendable and it’s great to collaborate with a partner that truly shares our same passion to see the women’s game flourish and continue to grow for future generations to enjoy.”

Nina Bibby, CMO of O2 said: “There has never been a more important time to get behind rugby, a sport we love and have invested in for over 25 years. We are proud to support the RFU through our extended partnership, which we believe is the longest shirt sponsorship in the history of UK sport. Our new agreement brings investment parity from O2 to England Men and England Women. The future for English rugby is bright, and together we want to make sure that rugby emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever before.”

  • O2 to Wear the Rose for five more years as principal shirt sponsor commencing from September 2021
  • This year marks twenty-five years of O2 sponsorship of the England Rugby Team with the renewal taking the partnership to thirty years
  • O2 has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the partnership
  • Priority Tickets for both the men’s and women’s fixtures available to O2 customers 48 hours ahead of general release as part of a set of exclusive offers and experiences
  • Increased connectivity at Twickenham Stadium 

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6 Nations

Wales name 7 new caps

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Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named seven uncapped players in his 38-man squad for Wales’ upcoming autumn campaign.

Two uncapped forwards are named in hooker Sam Parry and back-row Josh Macleod, whilst five uncapped backs are included: Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Ioan Lloyd.
RWC squad members Tomas Francis, Rhys Patchell and Jonathan Davies, who all missed the Guinness Six Nations campaign earlier this year, return from injury to be included.

Wales will kick off their autumn fixtures with a friendly in Paris against France to prepare for their re-arranged Six Nations finale against Scotland at Parc y Scarlets.

Pivac’s squad will then take part in the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup, kicking the tournament off on Friday November 13th against Ireland in Dublin before fixtures against Georgia and England, as well as the tournament’s play-off final on December 5th.

“We are looking forward to getting back to international rugby and getting the squad together again,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“This campaign is hugely important looking to the future and long term to the RWC in 2023.
“We kick off the campaign with a game against France which will help prepare us for the re-arranged Six Nations match versus Scotland which is an important game and important we get a good performance from.

“We then go into the Autumn Nations Cup (ANC) which is an exciting tournament and a great opportunity for us. It is a chance for us to continue developing our game, give opportunities to players and test them at this level. It is ideal preparation for the all-important 2021 Six Nations which will come around quickly after the ANC.”

WALES SQUAD – AUTUMN 2020
Forwards (21): Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues, 8 Caps), Wyn Jones (Scarlets, 25 Caps), Nicky Smith (Ospreys, 35 Caps), Ken Owens (Scarlets, 77 Caps), Ryan Elias (Scarlets, 13 Caps), Sam Parry (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets, 41 Caps), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues, 26 Caps), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs, 48 Caps), Leon Brown (Dragons, 10 Caps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, 138 Caps), Will Rowlands (Wasps, 1 Cap), Jake Ball (Scarlets, 46 Caps), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues, 7 Caps), Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues, 25 Caps), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons, 21 Caps), Ross Moriarty (Dragons, 45 Caps), Taulupe Faletau (Bath, 76 Caps), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues, 24 Caps), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, 76 Caps), Josh Macleod (Scarlets).
Backs (17): Rhys Webb (Ospreys, 33 Caps), Gareth Davies (Scarlets, 53 Caps), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Northampton, 83 Caps), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets, 19 Caps), Callum Sheedy (Bristol), Owen Watkin (Ospreys, 22 Caps), Nick Tompkins (Dragons, 4 Caps), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets, 81 Caps), Johnny Williams (Scarlets), George North (Ospreys, 95 Caps), Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues, 24 Caps), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester), Jonah Holmes (Dragons, 3 Caps), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets, 89 Caps), Ioan Lloyd (Bristol)*, Liam Williams (Scarlets, 63 Caps).

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6 Nations

Official. Eddie Jones signs new England Deal.

Official.

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England men’s head coach Eddie Jones and the RFU have agreed a contract extension which will see him continue his role until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
 
Jones joined England Rugby at the end of 2015 and has coached the men’s national side on 54 occasions winning 42, drawing one and losing 11 – giving him a win ratio of 78%, the highest in the history of England coaches.
 
Under Jones, England has won two Six Nations titles including a Grand Slam in 2016, a 3-0 away Test series win against Australia in the same year, an unbeaten run of 18 matches equalling New Zealand’s record and were finalists at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. 
 
Jones said: “The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing.  We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together. I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right. Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that.
 
“I am excited about raising the standards again. We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes. Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It’s a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it. We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward.”
 
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news.  We are delighted that Eddie will continue as head coach to run England’s campaign to take us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby. The progress shown by England since 2015 has been indisputable and having fielded the youngest-ever team to play in a World Cup final, we know even more growth is possible. We are all excited by what this squad can do and having Eddie leading the team is very important to us. 
 
“We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides. We have announced Eddie’s contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time, we are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that.”
 
Ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Jones confirmed Simon Amor and Matt Proudfoot would join Steve Borthwick and John Mitchell as his assistant coaches. Jason Ryles will join later in the year as skills coach following Borthwick’s departure towards the end of the season.

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