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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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(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

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.

6 Nations

World Rugby applies 50/22 law trial globally, bolster concussion protocol

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World Rugby announced on Wednesday five law trials which will start next month, including a so-called “50/22” kicking adaptation.

The 50/22 change allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half.

The rule was used in recent Super Rugby tournaments and its primary intention is to “encourage the defensive team to put more players in the backfield, thereby creating more attacking space and reducing defensive line speed”, according to the sport’s governing body.

The other laws to come into force on a temporary basis from August 1 include a goal-line drop-out if the ball is held up in the in-goal area, if there is a knock-on from an attacking player in the same area or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal.

There are also restrictions on attacking players latching onto team-mates from a ruck and clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs at the breakdown.

Michael Hooper with a textbook tackle close out a certain try

The final trial allows for a one-player latch before contact, but the individual must “observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet”.

World Rugby has also moved to strengthen concussion protocols, with independent specialists set to review cases when Test players return to action after a head injury.

They will launch a panel of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) to provide expert opinion on whether players are ready to return to action after head knocks.

The global governing body will fully fund the process for Test-level competitions, with ICCs asked to rule when players look to return to action 10 days or fewer after a concussion or on players deemed higher risk due to previous head-injury history.

Source – Australia Rugby

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6 Nations

England name 8 new caps for USA clash

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(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has named his England team for this weekend’s Test match against USA.

Eight uncapped players are set to make their debuts at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday 4 July (2pm KO).

Lewis Ludlow will captain the side at blind-side flanker, with Sam Underhill at open-side flanker and Callum Chick at No.8.

Ellis Genge (loose-head prop) will be vice-captain and is joined by Curtis Langdon (hooker) and Joe Heyes (tight-head prop) in the front row.

Locks Josh McNally and Charlie Ewels complete the tight five.

Henry Slade, the most-capped player in the squad, will be at outside centre with Ollie Lawrence at inside centre.  Marcus Smith will start at fly half and Harry Randall is at scrum half. 

Freddie Steward is at full back, while Max Malins (left) and Joe Cokanasiga (right) are on the wings in attack.

Among the finishers there are four further uncapped players who could make their first appearance for England – Jamie Blamire, Trevor Davison, Ben Curry and Jacob Umaga.  Beno Obano, Ted Hill, Lewis Ludlam and Dan Robson are also named as finishers.

Jones said: “Over the past three weeks our biggest message to the players is what an opportunity this is to show what they can do and make their mark with England.

“They’ve applied themselves as a group and worked very hard individually during this camp to reach their personal bests.

“Now it’s all about coming together as a team, gelling and putting in a good performance at the weekend.”

England v USA is live on Channel 4, with coverage starting from 1.30pm.

England XV Starters
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
14. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 9 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 38 caps)
12. Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors, 6 caps)
11. Max Malins (Saracens, 7 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, uncapped)
9. Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, uncapped)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 28 caps)
2. Curtis Langdon (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
3. Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
4. Josh McNally (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
5. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 21 caps)
6. Lewis Ludlow (C) (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)
7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 22 caps)
8. Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)

Finishers
16. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)
17. Beno Obano (Bath Rugby, 1 cap)
18. Trevor Davison (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)
19. Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors, 1 cap)
20. Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
21. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 8 caps)
22. Dan Robson (Wasps, 12 caps)
23. Jacob Umaga (Wasps, uncapped)

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6 Nations

James Ryan starts for Ireland v Japan

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ireland coaching team have named the Ireland match day squad to face Japan at the Aviva Stadium in the opening fixture of the Vodafone Summer Series.

James Ryan will wear the captain’s armband on Saturday and will be partnered in the second row by Ultan Dillane.

Peter O’Mahony starts on the blindside flank and is joined in the backrow by Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris, who makes his international return after missing the 2021 Six Nations Championships.

The front row is made up of Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Finlay Bealham.

At half-back Jamison Gibson Park will partner Joey Carbery who returns to the international scene for the first time since the Rugby World Cup in 2019.  Stuart McCloskey and Chris Farrell are paired in midfield while Jacob Stockdale and Jordan Larmour on the wings and Hugo Keenan is at fullback.

The replacements include Rob Herring, Ed Byrne, John Ryan, Ryan Baird, the uncapped  Gavin Coombes, Craig Casey, Billy Burns and Shane Daly.

Last weekend Jamie Joseph’s Brave Blossoms made the British and Irish Lions work hard for their 28-10 victory in Murrayfield.

Five Ireland players – Chris Farrell, Jacob Stockdale, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony and James Ryan started against Japan in the last encounter between the two sides at the 2019 Rugby World Cup with Dave Kilcoyne, Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour featuring off the bench that day in Shizuoka.

The match will be televised by RTE (ROI) Channel 4 (NI) and kicks off at 1.00pm.

Vodafone Summer Series 2021

Ireland team to play Japan – 3rd July 2021, Aviva Stadium


15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 11 caps
14. Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 29 caps
13. Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 14 caps
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 4 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 34 caps
10. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 22 caps
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 9 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 43 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 11 caps
3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 14 caps
4. Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 18 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps captain
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 75 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 31 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/UCD) 7 caps

Replacements
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 21 caps
17. Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 4 caps
18. John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 23 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 3 caps
20. Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) uncapped
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 1 cap
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 6 caps
23. Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Constitution) 1 cap

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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