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6 Nations

Six Nations: Injury Report

Who’s out?

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Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Ireland

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Second row is the main area of concern for Ireland for the opening round of the Six Nations. Iain Henderson faces some time on the sidelines after a reoccurrence of an ongoing problem with his finger. Tadhg Beirne will miss the opening two games after sustaining a knee injury in Munster’s win over Exeter. Dan Leavy is still rehabbing a calf problem, but will probably be in contention for selection for Leinster against Scarlets this weekend.

Scrum-halves are a potential issue. Conor Murray is back, but both Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath are out. John Cooney is in flying form for Ulster, and is a very able deputy. Caoilin Blade will be raring for a run out, after impressing for Connacht for the last few seasons. Joe Schmidt will have been happy to see two of his most important big game players return to action in the Champion’s Cup last weekend, Sean O’Brien and Robbie Henshaw both completed 55 minutes against Wasps and showed no signs of being rusty.

Scotland

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Hooker is the biggest area of concern for Scotland. While number one choice Stuart McInally is fit, usual backups Fraser Brown and George Turner are unlikely to feature. Gregor Townsend has called up the uncapped trio of Edinburgh’s Dave Cherry, Glasgow’s Grant Stewart or Leicester’s Jake Kerr.

Hamish Watson was a huge loss to Scotland last weekend. The openside has a firm grasp on the Scotland 7 jersey, and was a part of a very effective combination with Johnny Barclay and Ryan Wilson. ‘Pinball’ was considered by many to be unlucky to miss out on a Lions jersey. Jonny Gray is currently dealing with a shoulder issue, but will remain in camp. His brother Richie unfortunately, will miss the tournament, as will captain Barclay, and the permanently crocked Duncan Taylor.

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England

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Eddie Jones may have been tempting fate when he said that England’s injury list is the lowest its been for three years. There are some minor concerns however. Dylan Hartley is set to miss the opening rounds, so Owen Farrell will retain the captaincy. Chris Robshaw is likely to miss the majority of the tournament, as is flanker Sam Underhill, and winger Anthony Watson.

There are recalls however for the Vunipola brothers and Ellis Genge who missed the Autumn internationals through injury. Joe Launchbury was withdrawn early from Wasps’ loss to Leinster, but Dai Young has played down any worries saying “We don’t see it potentially being an issue moving forward.”


Wales

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The backrow is an area of concern for Warren Gatland. Taulupe Faletau returned after three months out with a broken arm, only to re-break it in his comeback game.

Ellis Jenkins and Aaron Shingler are both still recovering from cruciate ligament damage, while Ross Moriarty and Ollie Griffiths still haven’t returned to action. James Davies had a reoccurrence of a foot problem playing for Scarlets against the Blues around Christmas and hasnt featured since. Dan Lydiate injured his bicep playing for Wales in November and is a doubt for the start of the competition. Leigh Halfpenny has been included in the extended squad, but is still suffering from concussion symptoms, so it remains to be seen whether he will make it back during the Six Nations. Props Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown and Nicky Smith are also in doubt, as is Cardiff out-half Jarrod Evans. Gareth Davies is also likely to miss the first game or two

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France

France have a quite short injury list, or maybe its harder to judge to the high player turnover rate in the national squad. Dangerous wing Teddy Thomas is the biggest name to miss out for France, along with fellow winger Alivereti Raka, who recently gained French citizenship. Other players to miss out include Castres flanker Mathieu Babillot, prop Cedate Gomes Sa, and veteran lock Yoann Maestri

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Italy

Italy have a similar problem to France with the player turnover rate, so there is not a long list of absent players. The two injured players are two important ones however. Gloucester flanker Jake Polledri. Polledri is an incredible ball-carrier and will be a huge loss to Italy’s source of go-forward ball. The other main absentee is electric full-back Matteo Minozzi. Minozzi lit up last year’s tournament with box office displays in every game, earning himself a nomination for Player of the Tournament


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6 Nations

Farrell Names 42-Player Ireland Summer Training Squad

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Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell has today named a 42-player Summer Training Squad to begin preparations for the Bank of Ireland Nations Series and Rugby World Cup 2023.

Following the conclusion of the BKT United Rugby Championship and Heineken Champions Cup campaigns, the Ireland Coaching Team have selected an extended panel of players to assemble at the IRFU High Performance Centre on 18th June for the first block of pre-season.

The Ireland squad will train at their Dublin base through June and July ahead of the Bank of Ireland Nations Series which will see Farrell’s side fine-tune their preparations for Rugby World Cup 2023 with home matches against Italy (Saturday, 5th August – kick-off 8pm) and England (Saturday, 19th August – kick-off 5.30pm) at Aviva Stadium and a fixture against Samoa at Stade Jean-Dauger in Bayonne (Saturday, 26th August – kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time).

Broadcast details for the Bank of Ireland Nations Series will be confirmed shortly, with tickets for the games against Italy and England at Aviva Stadium available to purchase via Ticketmaster now.

Farrell has included four uncapped players in his Summer Training Squad, with Ulster hooker Tom Stewart called up having been part of the extended Ireland squad during the Guinness Six Nations campaign, while Leinster backs Ciaran Frawley and Jamie Osborne and Munster winger Calvin Nash are rewarded for their performances for their Provinces this season.

Commenting on the squad announcement, Farrell said: “It is exciting to announce our extended training squad for the first phase of Rugby World Cup preparations, and we’re looking forward to assembling in Dublin next month to hit the ground running as a group.

“It’s pleasing to see that selection has been as tough as ever, as real quality players have initially been unfortunate to have missed out. I’m sure that camp will be competitive enough as we grow minds and bodies and look to push on with our game from last season.

“In the meantime, it’s important that we freshen up for a busy and exciting summer ahead, so we’re ready to get to work on 18th June and build towards the Bank of Ireland Nations Series and to France beyond that.”

In addition to the three Bank of Ireland Nations Series matches, the Ireland squad will travel to Portugal for a warm-weather training camp in August, before Farrell’s final 33-player Rugby World Cup squad is announced in late August.

Ireland open their Rugby World Cup campaign against Romania in Bordeaux on 9th September, before further Pool B clashes against Tonga (16th September) in Nantes, and South Africa (23rd September) and Scotland (7th October) at the Stade de France in Paris.

Ireland Training Squad

Forwards (22)

Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University)
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers)
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne)
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere)
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster)
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College)
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf)
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf)
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy)
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne)
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians)
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University)
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution)
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch)
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD)
Cian Prendergast (Connacht/Corinthians)
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD)
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)
Tom Stewart (Ulster/Ballynahinch)*
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena)
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD)

Backs (20)

Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians)
Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians)
Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD)
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon)
Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/UCD)*
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)
Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians)
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers)
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD)
James Lowe (Leinster)
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor)
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen)
Calvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster)*
Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas)
Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas)*
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD)
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan)

*denotes uncapped player

Bank of Ireland Nations Series Fixtures

  • Saturday 5th August, Ireland v Italy – Aviva Stadium, 8pm
  • Saturday 19th August, Ireland v England – Aviva Stadium, 5.30pm
  • Saturday 26th August, Ireland v Samoa, Stade Jean-Dauger, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time

Rugby World Cup 2023 Fixtures

Pool B:

  • Saturday 9th September, Ireland v Romania – Stade de Bordeaux, 3.30pm local time/2.30pm Irish time
  • Saturday 16th September, Ireland v Tonga – Stade de la Beaujoire, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time
  • Saturday 23rd September, Ireland v South Africa – Stade de France, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time
  • Saturday 7th October, Ireland v Scotland – Stade de France, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Ireland Women’s Sevens Make History With Maiden Olympic Qualification

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In another historic moment for Irish Rugby, the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad, sponsored by TritonLake, have today realised their Olympic dream by securing the fourth and final automatic qualification berth through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The team captained by Lucy Mulhall defeated Fiji 10-5 at the France Sevens in Toulouse on Sunday morning to ensure they will finish in fifth position in the overall 2023 Women’s World Series standings, and join Australia, New Zealand, USA and hosts France as the fifth team to book their place at next summer’s Games in Paris.

By creating history on a magical morning at Stade Ernest Wallon, Ireland Women registered another major moment for the National Sevens Programme, following on from the Ireland Men’s qualification for Tokyo 2020, and the succession of World Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens podium finishes.

It is the culmination of years of hard work, the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad first embarking on their quest for Olympic qualification back in 2015, and now following near misses for Rio and Tokyo, secure their golden ticket to sport’s global showpiece next summer.

The Olympic Rugby Sevens competition runs from 24-30 July 2024 at the Stade de France in Paris.

IRFU Chief Executive Kevin Potts said: “On behalf of the IRFU and the wider Irish rugby community, I would like to offer my congratulations to the players, led by inspirational Captain, Lucy Mulhall, and management of the Ireland Women’s Sevens team on their qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“A huge amount of hard work has gone on behind the scenes for the last number of years to reach this historic milestone and it is testament to the dedication, talent and resilience of the players that they have qualified for the Olympics.

“Olympic Qualification was a stated aim for the IRFU in this cycle and I would like to pay tribute to all in our High-Performance Department, and everyone connected with the team for this seismic day, not just for rugby, but for Irish sport in general.”

There was no shortage of drama on the final weekend of the 2023 Women’s World Series as the race for Olympic qualification went down to the wire. Ireland, Fiji and Great Britain were all in the running to claim that final berth, but with all three teams falling at the quarter-final stage on Saturday and GB dropping out of the race, it meant Ireland and Fiji went head-to-head in a Paris 2024 shoot-out on Sunday morning.

Not only do Ireland Women qualify for the Olympics for the first time but they become the first Irish Rugby team to do so automatically through the World Series, with Temple Jones’ side producing strong performances in Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton and Sydney earlier in the season to put themselves in a good position heading into the final weekend in Toulouse.

Pool wins over the hosts and Brazil ensured a passage through to the quarter-finals in the south of France and although Australia proved too strong in the last eight, Ireland rallied and produced when it mattered most to achieve their ultimate ambition and a place at Paris 2024.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Our Commitment To The Women’s Game Is Unwavering – Potts

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IRFU Chief Executive Kevin Potts spoke to media today as part of the announcement of the new WNTS Pathway Staff and Women In Rugby overview and gave the following remarks:

“I would like to start by acknowledging the tremendous efforts of Nichola Fryday and the Ireland team in the Women’s Six Nations Campaign. The players put everything they had into representing their country,  and Irish Rugby could not have asked any more of them. While this was not their time, we are confident that their time will come.

“The IRFU accepts responsibility for the challenges in Irish women’s rugby, and will, as a matter of good practice, continually assess and re-assess how we can improve.

As I have said before, we are on a journey, and while there may be setbacks along the way, our commitment to the women’s game, and, to women in our game- is unwavering.

Since the publication of the Women In Rugby Report last December, there has been positive progress on both fronts, but there is still much work to do.  All recommendations have been or are being implemented,  For example

  • We have recently appointed our first head of EDI, Anne-Marie Hughes; A key objective is the development, training and implementation of best practice policies and protocols to ensure Irish rugby is as safe, inclusive, and welcoming as possible.
  • Later this month, we will also appoint a new Chair to lead the revised Women’s Advisory Group, which will have oversight of the delivery of the new Women’s Strategic Plan; This will include for the first time at least 3 independent members who have expertise in Women’s Rugby and/or Women’s Sport.
  • We are also developing policies and reporting mechanisms to provide confidential channels for anyone involved in the game who has experienced discrimination or harassment.
  • By September, more than a third of the senior management team in the IRFU, will be female, and there is a commitment to bring gender balance of 40% on the Union Committee by the end of this year.

This is just a sample of initiatives underway to maximise performance, access, and participation in the game, and to modernise our governance.

Kevin Potts 10/5/2023

IRFU Women In Rugby Press Briefing, IRFU High Performance Centre, Dublin 10/5/2023 – Kevin Potts, IRFU Chief Executive – Mandatory Credit – ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Together with the outputs from ongoing consultation across the game, all recommendations will feed into a new strategic plan for Rugby in Ireland, to be published later this year,  which will concentrate on future proofing the game.

Contrary to some commentary, the IRFU’s stewardship of the women’s game is in good hands, comprised of women and men elected from clubs and provinces , ALL of whom care deeply for the game and player well-being at all levels. It also includes 240 , committed staff from 15 nationalities,  35% of whom are Women.

In building rugby long-term, we know it is important to include a cross-section of voices, from diverse backgrounds, education, and perspectives from within and outside the game.

As CEO, I am personally committed  – as are my leadership team and the Union Committee -to doing everything in our power to ensure that Irish rugby is as high-performing and inclusive as possible .

We understand that discrimination is an issue for every sport and every business.  But unconscious bias and all instances of exclusion are unacceptable,  no matter what form they take.     The IRFU ‘Women in Rugby’ report, published at the end of 2022, in  Chapter 1, Page 1 identified this issue,  and set out plans to tackle it.   We have been acting on this report since its publication and are determined to ensure as safe, inclusive, and welcoming an environment as possible, in all levels of our game.

When I consider the commitment of volunteers and professional staff to the women’s game, together with increased financial resources and the unwavering support of Irish fans, I see much cause for realistic optimism;

Of course, our National Women’s XVs team is the focal point for many, but beneath that there are green shoots in participation and pathways.  For example:

  • There has been a 10% increase in male and female players, at all levels to almost 250,000 since Covid 19.
  • The total number of Women’s teams has more than doubled since 2018 from 190 to 470.
  • There are now almost 43,000 girls each year involved in our Aldi Play Rugby programmes.
  • And we have more than doubled our direct investment in Women’s Rugby to €6.4m this year.

Have we delivered everything we wanted to? No, we have much more to do, and we would like to fast-track that journey as much as possible, especially now that Covid 19 is well behind us; but progress is being made.

The IRFU also wants to sustain the confidence of our players on this journey. The prize is enormous and will be worth the effort.

I am confident that through effective leadership;  collaborative partnerships; and building improved structures, processes, and pathways;  more women and girls will have the opportunity;  interest;  and support to play rugby in Ireland to the best of their ability.  This will in turn lead to increasing numbers of girls playing in schools, clubs and colleges and having the opportunity to represent Ireland on the world stage .

In closing, let me reiterate our commitment not just to our players and all in our women’s game,  but to being available to you the media, to address your queries on all aspects of the game. We appreciate your interest and the opportunity, as the sport’s governing body in Ireland, to put forward the IRFU’s position on matters critical to our game.

And finally, I would like to wish the Ireland Women’s Sevens team the very best of luck in Toulouse this weekend as they bid to qualify directly for the 2024 Olympic Games.  Now that is something we all want to see.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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