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6 Nations

Scotland get past Italy. Highlights & Interviews

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Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Scotland secured their first win of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations championship with a solid defensive effort, as they kept their Italian counterparts pointless in glorious conditions at Stadio Olimpico in Rome (0-17).

The first-half saw the visitors hold a narrow five-point lead going into the interval, following a terrific solo try from captain and full-back Stuart Hogg, who picked a fine line and held his nerve as he raced through the Italian defence.

The second-half was initially a more turgid affair but a try from centre Chris Harris was enough to spark inspiration for Scotland who carried their momentum to the end of the game.

Scotland captain, Hogg, said: “We were delighted with that. We came here to do a job and we’ve done exactly that. I’m so proud of the boys.

“We had a huge challenge in terms of their back-row. We challenged our boys to stand up and you can see that with Hamish Watson getting man-of-the-match, backed up by Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury.”

Match Highlights:

Dominance and brute force in the scrum fell in Scotland’s favour early on as the side were awarded a penalty, to which Stuart Hogg booted into touch to set-up a lineout ten metres from the line.

Hooker Stuart McInally threw it long and into the hands of Sam Johnson as the centre picked a superb line to bring the side close to the Italian whitewash, however, an unfortunate knock-on thwarted their progress.

The Scotland pack remained in control in the scrum and lineouts in the opening exchanges, winning penalties and keeping the Azzurri at bay.

Stand-off Adam Hastings was handed his first sight of goal on the 10th minute but his attempt unfortunately failed to hit target.

Scotland lacked the clinical edge required for the next ten minutes, as the side struggled to penetrate through the Italian defence. A series of costly errors continued to mar their progress.

On the 21st minute, however, a series of slick passes created a sliver of an opportunity for Hogg. A neat dummy allowed him the space to accelerate down the right touchline where he evaded three defenders before diving into the corner.

Scotland thought they had their second try of the game nine minutes later when scrum-half Ali Price dotted down, however it was disallowed following a TMO review, which showed a forward pass from Watson to Johnson in the lead-up.

Italy started to test the resolve of the dogged Scotland defence but were struggling to craft the breakthrough.

The side had to settle for a chance at the posts but Scotland breathed a sigh of relief when Tommaso Allan’s kick hit the posts just before the interval.

Scotland came firing out the blocks in the second-half and were agonisingly close to the try line following a good break by Watson, who offloaded to Magnus Bradbury, who carried hard and deep into the Italian 22 before being thwarted at the 5m line.

He got his popped up offload away to supporting back-row compadre Jamie Ritchie who was tackled as the ball met his arms and knocked on.

Buoyed by the growing momentum, Scotland cranked through the gears in a series of pick and goes.

The ball was then moved wide to the on-rushing Chris Harris who crashed over the line.

Hastings’ struggles from the tee continued as the he missed the conversion from out wide.

Scotland lost a bit of momentum as Italy started to make some promising attacks in the visitor’s territory, however, the pendulum swung once again as Federico Zani was shown a yellow card for a tip-tackle on replacement lock Grant Gilchrist.

With a penalty decision reversed as a result, Scotland had a good attacking opportunity knocking at their door again, however, the lineout failed to hit the target, which allowed Italy to get back on the ball.

Scotland’s third and final try came in the last minute as Hastings collected the ball from around 30 metres out to cruise past a passive Italian defence down the blindside before sauntering over the line.

Hastings made no mistake with the conversion to extend the gap on the scoreboard and see out the match,

Post Match Press Conference:

Match Report from Scottish Rugby

6 Nations

IRFU Updates Transgender Policy

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The IRFU will amend its gender participation policy for rugby from the forthcoming season, based on medical and scientific evidence and in line with World Rugby guidance.

The IRFU is keenly aware that this is a sensitive and challenging area for those involved and the wider LGBT+ community and will continue to work with those impacted, providing support to ensure their ongoing involvement with the game.

Recent peer reviewed research provides evidence that there are physical differences between those people whose sex was assigned as male and those as female at birth, and advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression.

In Line With World Rugby Guidance

The new policy, which is in line with that of World Rugby, the RFU and other governing bodies, will mean that contact rugby for players in the female category is limited to those whose sex was recorded as female at birth.

There are two registered players affected, in Ireland, by this change and the IRFU has discussed the matter directly with them including options to remain active in the game, such as non-contact playing formats (tag/touch rugby), refereeing, coaching, and volunteering, underlining that the IRFU values their on-going involvement in the game.

In the male category, players whose sex is recorded at birth as female may continue to play if they provide written consent and a risk assessment is carried out. The IRFU has spoken to players we are permitted to contact directly and will work with them to support on-going participation in the sport.

Anne Marie Hughes, Spirit of Rugby Manager, who has worked on policy development in this area since 2014, said,

“The IRFU is committed to inclusivity and has worked with the players and other groups in the LGBT+ community to explain that this change is based solely on new research related to safety. This is a particularly sensitive area, and it is important that respect is shown to all members of our rugby family and the wider community.

“We will continue to work to be as inclusive as we can be and to explore areas such as tag and touch rugby, which we know some of our players are already considering, refereeing, volunteering, and coaching.

“We continue to stand with the LGBT+ community, and while we accept that today some may feel disappointed in this decision, we want to again underline to them – there is a place for everyone in rugby, and we can all work together.”

The IRFU is committed to engaging with World Rugby, and other organisations, to further explore options to allow wider participation in contact rugby. We are also committed to the ongoing review of the policy as new evidence, research and insights become available.

IRFU Gender Participation Policy

The policy and an FAQ document are also available here

World Rugby Transgender Guidelines – https://www.world.rugby/the-game/player-welfare/guidelines/transgender

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Pro Contracts & Head Of Women’s Performance & Pathways announced

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43 IRFU Centralised Contracts To Be Offered To Elite Women’s Players

The IRFU is pleased to announce that Gillian McDarby has been appointed as Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways following an extensive recruitment process directed by the IRFU National Professional Game Board.

Gillian will be responsible for the development, delivery, and implementation of the approved strategic and operational direction of the women’s rugby performance programme for both XVs and Sevens. She will be responsible for developing a cohesive player pathway that connects and feeds the needs of both national programmes.

She will work with the Domestic Rugby department to grow the playing base of young women and girls, thereby facilitating consistent performance of Irish teams at an elite level into the future.

Gillian McDarby’s extensive career, across business and sport, provides her with strong high performance structural development credentials, which will prove critical in the development of the next phase of growth and elite performance for Irish women’s rugby.

Through her career with the IRFU she already has a deep understanding of the issues and opportunities facing the women’s game in Ireland.

A synopsis of her involvement across sport includes:

2002 – 2007 Member of Cycling Ireland’s elite senior squad.
2011-2013 Women’s National Development Coach & National Team Manager, Cycling Ireland
2014-2016 Women’s Rugby National Teams Program Manager, IRFU
2017-2021 Member of Board of Directors, Cycling Ireland
2019-2020 Business Intelligence Analyst (Performance Department) & Project Management, IRFU
2020 – High Performance Centre, Facilities & Operations Manager, IRFU

43 Contracts To Be Offered

In addition, the IRFU has confirmed that it will be providing a total of 43 centralised, paid contracts to elite women’s players next season, this includes contracts already in operation for members of the women’s 7’s programme.

To respect the importance of the upcoming test windows in Japan and the Sevens World Cup, the IRFU will discuss the details of the contracts with players before making further public pronouncements on these exciting developments.

The contracts have been benchmarked internationally and will range up to €30,000 + match fees and bonuses.

Speaking of her appointment Gillian McDarby said, “It is a great privilege to be appointed as the IRFU’s first Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways. I have worked across several important areas in the game and believe there is a huge growth opportunity for the women’s game in Ireland and I am looking forward to working with all stakeholders to bring the women’s game to the next level.

“It is also pleasing that my appointment coincides with the formal announcement of contracts for up to 43 female players. This is a major step forward for women’s rugby in Ireland.

“Success in the women’s game will be based on sustainability: creating sustainable pathways within the competition structures, getting meaningful competition structures in place for both women and girls to access the game of rugby at the right entry points and continuing to develop competitive international teams in fifteens and sevens. That, to me, is success.”

“This is an exciting time for the game and while much work has been done, there is always more to do. There are no overnight successes in sport, but I know that by working collectively with clubs, players, coaches, staff, and volunteers we can build an ever-evolving environment where young women and girls are supported to be the best they can be.”

Kevin Potts, Chief Executive, IRFU in welcoming the appointment said, “I would like to congratulate Gillian on her appointment and thank the interview panel of Nancy Chillingworth, High Performance Manager with the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Gary Keegan CEO of Uppercut, the high-performance advisory consultancy firm that works with organisations and leaders across sport, both of whom are independent members of the IRFU’s National Professional Game Board (NPGB) and David Nucifora, the IRFU High Performance Director. The high-performance expertise and independence brought to this appointment was very important to the NPGB.

“We wish Gillian well in this vitally important role and will ensure that she has the full support of the NPGB and the IRFU to successfully bring women’s rugby in Ireland to the next level.

“Today’s announcement of the creation of up to 43 IRFU contracts for Women’s Players is a further strong signal of our intent to foster and grow the women’s game over the coming years and to ensure that our women’s players are provided with the best opportunities to compete at the highest levels of the game in the future.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Andy Farrell Extends Contract To 2025

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The IRFU will advise delegates at its Annual Council Meeting later today (Friday 29th July) that Ireland Men’s Head Coach, Andy Farrell, has signed a two-year contract extension that will see him remain in his position until at least August 2025.

In his address to Council Kevin Potts, Chief Executive, IRFU, will congratulate and thank Andy, his coaching team, support staff and players for their historic win in New Zealand, while also confirming the contract extension.

Ahead of the Council meeting, IRFU Chief Executive Potts said: “I am delighted to confirm that Andy Farrell has accepted a two-year contract extension as the head coach of our men’s international team which will keep him at the helm of that team until at least August 2025, and there is an option to extend the contract further, based on a number of mutually agreed performance markers.

“Andy is one of the finest coaches in the world, he has brought our game to new heights and has the team playing a brand of rugby that excites, entertains, and engages people, while, critically, producing winning results.

“I would like to thank our Performance Director, David Nucifora, for his work in negotiating this extension with Andy.

“I, on behalf of all the Union delegates and Irish Rugby fans across the world, thank Andy for the exceptional impact he has had on Ireland’s performances to date, as we look forward to the year ahead, which will of course include the Rugby World Cup in France.”

Commenting on the new deal, Farrell said: “I am happy to extend my contract with Irish Rugby for a further two years. As a group we have made it clear that we are building towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and we have taken some decent strides in that regard in recent months.

“Ahead of the tour to New Zealand myself and David (Nucifora) looked at the opportunities and challenges facing the national squad after the tournament in France. I am excited about continuing to work with the group and with the next generation of Irish international players.”

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, added: “Andy is one of the outstanding coaches in world rugby and his work in leading the transition within the national team since the 2019 Rugby World Cup has been exceptional. Ireland are currently the number one ranked team in the world, an incredibly tough five match tour of New Zealand was a success on several levels and a Triple Crown was secured in the 2022 Six Nations Championship.

“A coach of Andy’s calibre is always going to be in high demand, and we are delighted that he has agreed to extend his contract with the IRFU.  This new deal, agreed prior to the Tour of New Zealand, allows us to plan beyond the 2023 Rugby World Cup with the certainty that one of the top coaching talents in the game is spearheading the national programme.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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