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Autumn Nations Cup

Scotland confirm Autumn Nations Squad

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Scotland has called up its full complement of 2021 British & Irish Lions as Head Coach Gregor Townsend confirms his 42-man squad for the Autumn Nations Series.

The extended group welcomes back Captain Stuart Hogg, half-back pairing Ali Price and Finn Russell, centre Chris Harris, winger Duhan van de Merwe, flanker Hamish Watson as well as props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland following their involvement in the South African series.

Support for Scotland continues to build ahead of the Autumn Nations Series with the confirmation today that the match against Australia on Sunday 7 November is sold out.

A total of 11 new players are added to the squad ahead of the opening game against Tonga on 30 October from the training group which came together earlier this week at the Oriam High Performance Centre.

Alongside the B&I Lions contingent centres Matt Scott, Huw Jones and fly-half Adam Hastings retain their places alongside flanker Sam Skinner from Scotland’s summer tour squad, which was hampered by Covid cancellations.

Also progressing to the Autumn Series squad are Edinburgh backs Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and Mark Bennett. They are joined by fellow capital teammates Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally, Jamie Ritchie and Nick Haining.

Scotland’s west-based professional side Glasgow Warriors provide experience also in the form of hookers Fraser Brown and George Turner, lock Rob Harley and back-row Matt Fagerson. Props Jamie Bhatti, Murray McCallum and Oli Kebble are also selected.

Glasgow Warriors centre Sam Johnson joins scrum-half George Horne and wing Kyle Steyn who all also missed out on possible game time in the summer series and will compete again for places this autumn.

Head Coach Townsend has selected 12 uncapped players to be part of the tournament squad following their initial involvement in the training group this week.

In the pack Ewan Ashman, Josh Bayliss, Rory Darge, Dylan Richardson, Luke Crosbie, Jamie Hodgson, Marshall Sykes and Pierre Schoeman will all be keen to feature in the four-match series, which begins against Tonga and sees Scotland play Australia, South Africa and Japan on consecutive weekends.

Glasgow Warriors provide all the uncapped backs in Rufus McLean, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson and Sione Tuipulotu.

It’s exciting to bring together a blend of highly experienced and uncapped players for our first week of the Autumn Nations Series campaign.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend

“There have been some notable performances from both our home-based players and those at clubs outside of Scotland, which has enabled us as coaches to select a group which are playing well and will be motivated across the four games.

“We also feel that this the right time to bring in some younger players given their early season form. They have created opportunities for themselves to represent their country and we believe that they will thrive in the Test match environment.

“We face four tough matches in four weeks and Tonga, Australia, South Africa and Japan each present a different challenge and an opportunity to perform in front of our people at BT Murrayfield. It’s great to hear that we will now play Australia in front of a capacity crowd at BT Murrayfield, and it means a huge amount to the players to have this level of support.”

Autumn Nations Series Squad

Forwards:
Ewan Ashman – Sale Sharks – uncapped
Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby – uncapped
Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
Fraser Brown – Glasgow Warriors – 54 caps
Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 13 caps
Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 38 caps
Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – 45 caps
Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 8 caps
Rob Harley – Glasgow Warriors – 22 caps
Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors – 8 caps
Murray McCallum – Glasgow Warriors – 3 caps
Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby – 40 caps
Dylan Richardson – Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby – 27 caps
Sam Skinner – Exeter Chiefs – 12 caps
Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Rory Sutherland – Worcester Warriors – 16 caps
Marshall Sykes – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 17 caps
Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 41 caps


Backs:
Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby – 22 caps
Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 19 caps
Jamie Dobie – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Chris Harris – Gloucester Rugby – 28 caps
Adam Hastings – Gloucester Rugby – 23 caps
Stuart Hogg – Exeter Chiefs – 85 caps
George Horne – Glasgow Warriors – 14 caps
Damien Hoyland – Edinburgh Rugby – 4 caps
Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
Huw Jones – Harlequins – 31 caps
Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 25 caps
Duhan van de Merwe – Worcester Warriors – 10 caps
Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 42 caps
Finn Russell – Racing 92 – 55 caps
Matt Scott – Leicester Tigers – 39 caps
Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 1 cap
Ross Thompson – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped

Scotland’s matches against South Africa and Australia are already sold out, a full house at BT Murrayfield is also expected for Japan.

Tonga will be the exciting opponents on Saturday 30 October when Scotland take the field for the first test match at BT Murrayfield with a live crowd since March 2020.

Plans are underway to host a massive Halloween party with fans encouraged to wear fancy dress and with ‘kids for £1’ tickets available it gives a great opportunity for families to see their national team in action, secure your tickets HERE.

Autumn Nations Cup

World Rugby approves birth right amendment for players to transfer unions

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  • New process can benefit players and the global competitiveness of rugby
  • Fairness and integrity key principles that underpin the framework
  • Approval follows extensive discussion and collaboration across the game
  • Revised Regulation will apply from 1 January 2022

The World Rugby Council has approved an amendment to the sport’s regulations governing national team representation that will now permit an international player to transfer once from one union to another subject to demonstrating a close and credible link to that union via birth right.

From 1 January, 2022, in order to transfer from one union to another under the revised Regulation 8 (eligibility), a player will need to achieve the below criteria:

  • The player must stand-down from international rugby for 36 months
  • The player must either be born in the country to which they wish to transfer or have a parent or grandparent born in that country
  • Under the revised Regulation 8 criteria, a player may only change union once and each case will be subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee to preserve integrity

After 1 January 2022, any player who meets the above criteria can apply immediately for a transfer.

The Regulation 8 revisions will also align the “age of majority” across 15s and sevens. All players will now be ‘captured’ at 18 years of age to simplify the Regulation and improve union understanding and compliance.

Approval of the amended regulation follows requests by emerging nations and a subsequent wide-ranging consultation process with member unions, regions and International Rugby Players examining the possibility of amending the principle within Regulation that stipulates that a player may only represent one union at international level, save for specific circumstances relating to participation in the Olympic Games.

The benefits of the amendment include:

  • Simplicity and alignment: transfers are currently permitted in the context of participation in the Olympics in the sevens game. This amendment will create one aligned, simplified process across the game
  • Development of emerging nations: the player depth of emerging nations may be improved by permitting players, who have close and credible links to the “emerging union” through birth or ancestry, to “return” to those unions having previously represented another union
  • Player-focused approach: the process recognised the modern rugby environment, including global player movement, the current ability to capture players by selecting them on the bench, and the desire of some players to transfer having been selected a limited number of times for one union. It also examined the impact of any change on the integrity of the international competition landscape.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Approval of this landmark regulatory change is the culmination of detailed and widespread modelling and consultation across the game. We have listened to our membership and players and sought to update the regulation recognising the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game.

“Any player who wishes to transfer will need to have a close and credible link to their new union, namely birth right or parent or grandparent birth right while meeting strong criteria, including a 36-month stand down period. We believe that this is the fairest way to implement progressive change that puts players first while also having the potential to support a growing, increasingly competitive international men’s and women’s game.”

World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte added: “We have listened to our membership and honoured our pledge to undertake wide-ranging review of this important regulation. We have consulted, sought feedback from our unions, regions and most importantly to players’ representatives, before making a recommendation to the Council. This change to how international rugby operates will provide transformational opportunities to players with dual backgrounds, providing they meet the key criteria sets out in the Regulation 8.”

International Rugby Players CEO, Omar Hassanein said:“The proposal to change the rules around player eligibility is something that we have worked on over many years with our member associations. Many players across the world will now benefit from the chance to represent the country of their or their ancestors’ birth, serving as a real boost to the competitiveness of emerging nations, which in turn, will benefit the game as a whole.” 

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6 Nations

World Player of the Year nominees revealed

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The rugby family can now cast their vote for six of the prestigious World Rugby Awards 2021 categories after the nominations selected by the star-studded panel were revealed on Monday.

Fans will be able to select their winners for the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year in sevens and 15s, as well as the International Rugby Players Men’s and Women’s Try of the Year scorers on the Awards’ voting website and join the conversation using #WorldRugbyAwards.

Voting will be open from 10:00 GMT on Monday, 15 November until 23:59 GMT on Sunday, 21 November.

CAST YOUR VOTES NOW >>

The remaining six categories will be voted by the World Rugby Awards panel, a stellar team of rugby legends who will have the hard task of selecting winners for the World Rugby Breakthrough, Coach and Referee awards as well as the newly created Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of 2021.

To maintain the integrity of the outcome, the panel will have the opportunity to review the public voting to ensure the recipients are fitting winners in their respective category.

VIEW THE FULL WORLD RUGBY AWARDS PANEL >>

Nine countries are represented among the nominees in Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Wales, with France having the most representatives with eight, two more than England and New Zealand. Fiji are also rewarded for their teams’ performances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with four nominees in the Men’s and Women’s Sevens Player of the Year categories.

WORLD RUGBY AWARDS 2021 NOMINEES

World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard (fan vote)

Antoine Dupont (France)
Michael Hooper (Australia)
Maro Itoje (England/British and Irish Lions)
Samu Kerevi (Australia)

Australia captain Michael Hooper – who became his country’s most-capped captain in September – and England’s Maro Itoje have both previously been nominated for the Award, but lively scrum-half Antoine Dupont becomes the first Frenchman to be nominated since 2012 while Samu Kerevi is rewarded for his impactful return to the Wallabies midfield in 2021 which saw them win five tests, their best run outside of a Rugby World Cup year since 2008.

World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard (fan vote)

Zoe Aldcroft (England)
Caroline Boujard (France)
Poppy Cleall (England)
Laure Sansus (France)

Four first-time nominees in this category representing the two teams that have led the way in women’s rugby in 2021. Poppy Cleall and Zoe Aldcroft are two powerhouses of the England pack, both comfortable in either the second row and back row, while Caroline Boujard scored what is believed to be the joint-fastest hat-trick in Women’s Six Nations history against Wales in April. Laure Sansus’ selection, meanwhile, make it three years in a row that a French scrum-half has been nominated for the prestigious award.

World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with Tudor (panel vote)

Will Jordan (New Zealand)
Andrew Kellaway (Australia)
Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
Marcus Smith (England)

Three flying wingers and an exciting talent at fly-half who have all lit up the international stage over the last year. Will Jordan is the second-fastest All Black to 15 test tries and has only failed to score in two of his 12 tests, while Andrew Kellaway is closing in on the Australian record for most tries in a debut season with eight in 12 tests in 2021. Louis Rees-Zammit became the youngest British and Irish Lion player for more than 50 years after impressing for Wales, while Marcus Smith has looked like a veteran in the England No.10 jersey since his debut in July.

World Rugby Coach of the Year (panel vote)

Allan Bunting/Cory Sweeney (New Zealand Women’s Sevens)
Ian Foster (New Zealand Men)
Simon Middleton (England Women)
Dave Rennie (Australia Men)

All first-time nominees split across sevens and 15s, Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney led New Zealand to Olympic gold in Tokyo, the one remaining accolade they were missing, while Simon Middleton led England to another Women’s Six Nations title and back-to-back record victories over world champions New Zealand in 2021. Ian Foster coached New Zealand to Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup success in a record-breaking year, while Dave Rennie has injected youth and experience into a Wallabies side that won five matches in a row, two of them against world champions South Africa.

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC (fan vote)

Napolioni Bolaca (Fiji)
Scott Curry (New Zealand)
Marcos Moneta (Argentina)
Jiuta Wainiqolo (Fiji)

The nominees blend the guile and experience of New Zealand’s co-captain and talisman Scott Curry to the fresh exuberance of youth of Argentina’s Marcos Moneta, the top try-scorer with six in Tokyo. Fiji continue their proud record of having at least one player among the nominees from 2013 onwards with two gold medallists in Napolioni Bolaca and Jiuta Wainiqolo, the latter marking his Fiji debut in a global sevens tournament with the opening try of Tokyo 2020 to quickly announce himself to the world.

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC (fan vote)

Anne-Cécile Ciofani (France)
Sarah Hirini (New Zealand)
Alowesi Nakoci (Fiji)
Reapi Ulunisau (Fiji)

New Zealand’s inspirational captain Sarah Hirini led the Black Ferns Sevens to the Olympic gold that had driven them on for the last five years, while Anne-Cécile Ciofani was a standout for France on the way to silver. Two players who helped inspire Fiji become their nation’s first female Olympic medallists are also nominated in Alowesi Nakoci and Reapi Ulunisau, the latter belying the fact it was her debut in a global tournament by finishing as top try-scorer with eight, including a record four against Brazil in the pool stage.

International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year (fan vote)

Lukhanyo Am (South Africa A, v British and Irish Lions on 14 July)  
Pierre-Louis Barassi (France, v Australia on 17 July)
Luke Jacobson (New Zealand, v Argentina on 12 September)
Damian Penaud (France, v Scotland on 26 March)

Three tries that began deep in their own 22 from a free-kick or scrum and were quickly turned into tries after free-flowing attacks and the fourth a run back from a clearing kick to halfway. Damian Penaud’s try against Scotland in the Six Nations saw the winger gather his own chip dot down, while France team-mate Pierre-Louis Barassi finished off a move that had begun five metres from their own line against Australia in July. Cheslin Kolbe’s dancing feet and offload released Lukhanyo Am to score for South Africa A against the British and Irish Lions, while an outrageous offload from Beauden Barrett was gratefully received by Luke Jacobson to finish another flowing move from the All Blacks in The Rugby Championship against Argentina.

International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year (fan vote)

Sara Barattin (Italy, v Scotland on 13 September)
Emilie Boulard (France, v Wales on 3 April)
Abby Dow (England, v France on 30 April)
Romane Ménager (France, v Ireland on 17 April)

Two French tries in the Women’s Six Nations, one to round out an impressive debut from Emilie Boulard late on against Wales when she finished off a slick passing move in the corner and the other another run-in from back-row Romane Ménager against Ireland. England swung the ball wide quickly from a lineout to find Abby Dow, the winger running around the outside of the defender to race in against hosts France a week after their Six Nations final triumph. The final nominee comes from the RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier, hosts Italy stealing an overthrown Scottish lineout near halfway to quickly send Sara Barattin over near the posts. 

After a special edition in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prestigious World Rugby Awards return in 2021 to celebrate on-field achievements of the calendar year and recognise the teams and individuals who have inspired players and fans around the world. The pandemic has continued to impact the international stage with a number of teams having only returned to test rugby in the last couple of months.

Placed at the end of the November international window, the biggest accolades in rugby union will be virtually handed to their recipients from 6-10 December. The 12 categories will be unveiled on World Rugby social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (@WorldRugby).

The other categories to be awarded next month are the World Rugby Referee Award, the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service and the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of the Year in association with Capgemini.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Awards are the ultimate accolade for rugby, and we are delighted to honour the outstanding players and individuals who have made an impact on our game on and off the field in 2021.

“The pandemic and its consequences have restricted several unions from playing international games this year and we recognise that not all rugby stars have had a chance to shine. Nevertheless, the World Rugby Awards Panel has done an amazing job in selecting suitable candidates in each category and I would like to congratulate all nominees who, deservingly, have been shortlisted for this year’s awards.”

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Autumn Nations Cup

All Blacks name team to face Ireland

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The All Blacks team has been named to play Ireland at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday 13 November. (Kick-off: 3.15PM / 4.15AM Sunday NZT).

The matchday 23 is:

1. Joe Moody (55)
2. Codie Taylor (65)
3. Nepo Laulala (38)
4. Brodie Retallick (90)
5. Samuel Whitelock – captain (130)
6. Ethan Blackadder (8)
7. Dalton Papalii (11)
8. Ardie Savea (57)
9. TJ Perenara (77)
10. Beauden Barrett (100)
11. Sevu Reece (16)
12. Anton Lienert-Brown (55)
13. Rieko Ioane (45)
14. Will Jordan (11)
15. Jordie Barrett (34)

16. Dane Coles (78)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (24)
18. Tyrel Lomax (13)
19. Tupou Vaa’i (10)
20. Akira Ioane (11)
21. Finlay Christie (5)
22. Richie Mo’unga (30)
23. David Havili (13)

The forward pack which ran out against Wales two weeks ago has been retained, with the front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala. The second row is the experienced Samuel Whitelock, who will captain the side, and Brodie Retallick, while in the loose forwards, Ethan Blackadder is at blindside flanker, Dalton Papalii is at openside, while Ardie Savea is number eight. Dane Coles comes in as reserve hooker, alongside fellow reserves: props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Tyrel Lomax, lock Tupou Vaa’i and loose forward Akira Ioane.

In the backs, TJ Perenara is at halfback, with Beauden Barrett at 10, while Anton Lienert-Brown moves to second five-eighth and Rieko Ioane is at centre. Sevu Reece is on the left wing, Will Jordan on the right and Jordie Barrett is at fullback.  Halfback Finlay Christie, first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga and David Havili are the back reserves.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: “We’ve had a great week here in Dublin. We travelled well from Italy and are back into our more traditional routine of hitting a town and then moving onto the next one. The weather has been great here and we’ve enjoyed training in those conditions and getting ready for what will be a massive occasion on Saturday.

“We obviously have objectives we want to get out of each training session and we feel we have done that well.  The guys are focussed and we achieved what we wanted to achieve.

Speaking on the changes in the starting backline, Foster said: “That’s the way we finished the Welsh game, with Anton moving in, Rieko moving to centre and Sevu on the wing.  It’s a little bit of a reward for that combination. We’ve been able to use this series of games and the time together to try different things and thought a little change there would be good for us.  We’re also pretty excited at the impact that Finlay, David and Richie will have off the bench.”

Foster added: “We’ve watched Ireland’s development this year with interest, particularly through the latter part of the Six Nations and last week’s big win over Japan. They are certainly playing with confidence and ambition and represent a formidable challenge.

“We have no doubt what Saturday is going to bring at a full Aviva Stadium.  It’s a big occasion, rugby is back to Dublin in terms of full grandstands, so we know what it’s going to mean here, and we want that kind of stage. It’s big and it’s exciting and is what motivates this team.”

Key facts

  • The All Blacks and Ireland have played each other 32 times since 1905, with 29 wins to the All Blacks,  two wins to Ireland and one draw. The last match between the two sides was the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final, which the All Blacks won 46-14.
  • The All Blacks have scored a record 96 tries this season.
  • Samuel Whitelock made his All Blacks debut from the bench against Ireland in New Plymouth in 2010 and scored two tries in 30 minutes. He scored his third against Ireland in Dublin later that year. Since that breakout season, he has scored three more tries.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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