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Champions Cup

Leinster Topple Toulouse to Top Pool 1

Leinster, missing nine first team regulars including World Rugby Player of the Year and captain, Johnny Sexton, showed their strength and depth, with an impressive win over their fellow four-time European champions.

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Written by Joshua Freeman
Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster returned to the summit of their European pool as they had too much for French giants Toulouse on Saturday, running out 29-13 winners.

Jack Conan, Dave Kearney, Sean Cronin, and Adam Byrne all crossed for the home side, with Cheslin Kolbe claiming Toulouse’s consolation try, as Leinster claimed a bonus-point win.

Leinster, missing nine first team regulars including World Rugby Player of the Year and captain, Johnny Sexton, showed their strength and depth, with an impressive win over their fellow four-time European champions.

After, a tough start to the game, Sexton’s replacement Ross Byrne traded points with his opposite number, Thomas Ramos, to leave the game at 3-3 up until the 34th minute.

With Leinster having a scrum inside the 22, they pounced, passing across the line to Adam Byrne, who nearly crossed the white wash before being tackled. Moments later, Luke McGrath scooped up from the back of a ruck before firing to No.8 Conan who headed over for the first try off the game.

Ross Byrne kicked the extras; however, a late Thomas Ramos penalty had the teams going in at half-time at 10-6.

Leinster banished any fears of a Toulouse comeback 10 minutes into the second half. Ross Byrne sent a pin-point cross field kick from just outside the opposition 22 into the hands of Dave Kearney, who finished superbly in the corner despite the attention of Romain Ntamack.

This time Byrne failed to add the additional two.

On the stroke of the hour mark, Cronin touched down at the back of a ruck beside the posts, with Byrne converting, to make it 22-6.

The blow for both Leinster and Ireland was seeing scrum-half Luke McGrath being helped of the field after sustaining a leg injury.

In his absence replacement Jamison Gibson-Park showed his class. With five minutes remaining as he took a quick tap and go, sending a wonderful looping pass for Adam Byrne to run in for the bonus-point, Noel Reid kicked the extras this time.

In the dying seconds, the electric, Cheslin Kolbe, burst through the Leinster defence to score a try for the away side and drop kicked the conversion himself to confirm the 29-13 score line.

The win leaves Leinster 3 points clear at the top of Pool 1 with one round of fixtures left and in pole position for a home quarter-final.

Leinster head coach, Leo Cullen, was impressed by his team’s win post-match, but, ensured that the job is not done.

“We still have a lot of work to do to top this pool”, Cullen said, adding that Wasps away will be a “difficult” fixture.

Even though man of the match, Garry Ringrose, claimed his team’s performance, “wasn’t perfect”, it sent a message across the continent that Leinster are still the team to beat as they aim for back to back championships.

Check out the match highlights:

Champions Cup

Stephen Larkham Set For Return Home To Australia

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Munster - Pixabay

Stephen Larkham will depart Munster Rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

Larkham, who joined Munster as senior coach two years ago, is contracted to the province until the end of the season and was offered the opportunity to extend his time in Limerick.

After careful consideration Larkham eventually declined the extended contract offer citing personal reasons in seeking a return to Australia with his family and the additional incentive of a coaching opportunity closer to home.

Stephen Larkham said, “I only recently spoke about my desire to remain with Munster and continue working with my fellow coaches and playing group.

“That hopefully gives some indication as to how difficult a decision this has been for me. The staff, players, fans, and facilities are world class here and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

“My family made a number of sacrifices in joining me on this move to Ireland and my girls’ adjustment over here, particularly with covid, has been difficult. I have to put them first now, and with a coaching opportunity closer to home this is the right thing for my family at this time.

“For now, my focus is very much with Munster Rugby and with a long season ahead I will savour every moment of working within this great environment as we continue to build in the right direction.”

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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6 Nations

World Rugby to introduce contact training restrictions

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World Rugby

World Rugby and International Rugby Players (IRP) have published new contact training load guidance aimed at reducing injury risk and supporting short and long-term player welfare. The guidance is being supported by national players’ associations, national unions, international and domestic competitions, top coaches and clubs.

Earlier this year, World Rugby unveiled a transformational six-point plan aiming to cement rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare. These new best-practice guidelines focus on the intensity and frequency of contact training to which professional rugby players should be exposed and have been shaped by consultation with players and coaches as well as leading medical, conditioning and scientific experts.

While the incidence of training injuries is low relative to that of matches, the volume of training performed means that a relatively high proportion (35-40 per cent) of all injuries during a season occur during training, with the majority of these being soft tissue injuries. Since the training environment is highly controllable, the guidelines have been developed to reduce injury risk and cumulative contact load to the lowest possible levels that still allow for adequate player conditioning and technical preparation.

Global study

The guidelines are based on a global study undertaken by IRP of almost 600 players participating across 18 elite men’s and women’s competitions, and a comprehensive review of the latest injury data. This reveals that training patterns vary across competitions, with an average of 21 minutes per week of full contact training and an average total contact load of 118 minutes per week. A more measured and consistent approach to training will help manage the contact load for players, especially those moving between club and national training environments. The research supports minimising contact load in training, in order that players can be prepared to perform but avoid an elevated injury risk at the same time. The guidelines aim to help strike that balance.

New ‘best practice’ training contact guidelines

World Rugby and International Rugby Players’ new framework [https://www.world.rugby/the-game/player-welfare/medical/contact-load] sets out clear and acceptable contact guidelines for training sessions, aiming to further inform coaches – and players – of best practice for reducing injury risk and optimising match preparation in season. The guidance covers the whole spectrum of contact training types, considering volume, intensity, frequency and predictability of contact, as well as the optimal structure of sessions across the typical training week, including crucial recovery and rest periods.

Recommended contact training limits for the professional game are:

  1. Full contact training: maximum of 15 minutes per week across a maximum of two days per week with Mondays and Fridays comprising zero full contact training to allow for recovery and preparation
  2. Controlled contact training: maximum of 40 minutes per week 
  3. Live set piece training: maximum of 30 minutes set piece training per week is advised

The guidelines, which also consider reducing the overall load for players of particular age, maturity and injury profile (in line with the risk factors and load guidance published in 2019), will feature in the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup player welfare standards.

Instrumented mouthguard research programme to inform effectiveness

World Rugby is partnering with elite teams to measure the ‘real life’ effect of these guidelines (in training and matches) and assess the mechanism, incidence and intensity of head impact events using the Prevent Biometics market-leading instrumented mouthguard technology and video analysis to monitor implementation and measure outcomes.

The technology, the same employed in the ground-breaking Otago Rugby Head Impact Detection Study, will deliver the biggest ever comparable bank of head impact data in the sport with more than 1,000 participants across the men’s and women’s elite, community and age-grade levels. The teams that have signed up so far are multiple Champions Cup winners Leinster, French powerhouse Clermont Auvergne and Benetton Treviso while discussions are ongoing with several other men’s and women’s teams across a range of competitions.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “This important body of work reflects our ambition to advance welfare for players at all levels of the game. Designed by experts, these guidelines are based on the largest study of contact training in the sport, developed by some of the best rugby, performance and medical minds in the game. We believe that by moderating overall training load on an individualised basis, including contact in season, it is possible to enhance both injury-prevention and performance outcomes, which is good for players, coaches and fans.”

World Rugby Director of Rugby and High Performance and former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt added: “Training has increasingly played an important role in injury-prevention as well as performance. While there is a lot less full contact training than many people might imagine, it is our hope that having a central set of guidelines will further inform players and coaches of key considerations for any contact that is done during training.

“These new guidelines, developed by leading experts and supported by the game, are by necessity a work in progress and will be monitored and further researched to understand the positive impact on player welfare. We are encouraged by the response that we have received so far.

“We recognise that community level rugby can be an almost entirely different sport in terms of fitness levels, resources and how players can be expected to train, but the guidelines can be applied at many levels, especially the planning, purpose and monitoring of any contact in training.”

International Rugby Players Chief Executive Omar Hassanein said the guidelines are being welcomed by players: “From an International Rugby Players’ perspective, this project represents a significant and very relevant piece of work relating to contact load. We’ve worked closely with our member bodies in gathering approximately 600 responses from across the globe, allowing us to have sufficient data to then be assessed by industry experts. The processing of this data has led to some quite specific recommendations which are designed to protect our players from injuries relating to excessive contact load. We will continue to work with World Rugby as we monitor the progress of these recommendations and undertake further research in this area.”

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster, who was involved in reviewing the study and advising the development of the guidelines, said: “We have a responsibility to make the game as safe as possible for all our players. For coaches, optimising training plays a significant role in achieving that objective. It is important that we do not overdo contact load across the week in order that players are fresh, injury-free and ready for match days. These guidelines provide a practical and impactful approach to this central area of player preparation and management.”

Ireland international and IRP Head of Strategic Projects and Research Sene Naoupu said: “While this is the first step of the implementation and monitoring process, it is an incredible outcome that shows just how much players care about this area. It also provides a foundation to review and determine future direction of implementation across the game, within an evidence-based injury-prevention programme for performance and welfare.” 

World Rugby is also progressing a wide-ranging study of the impact of replacements on injury risk in the sport with the University of Bath in England, a ground-breaking study into the frequency and nature of head impacts in community rugby in partnership with the Otago Rugby Union, University of Otago and New Zealand Rugby, and further research specific to the professional women’s game. All of these priority activities will inform the decisions the sport makes to advance welfare for players at all levels and stages.

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6 Nations

Fixtures 2021/22 Season

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Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

SATURDAY 14 AUGUST

Rugby Championship

South Africa v Argentina (4.05pm, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth)

SATURDAY 21 AUGUST

Rugby Championship

Argentina v South Africa (4.05pm, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth)

WEDNESDAY 25 AUGUST

Rugby World Cup 2021 Repechage Qualifier

Kenya v Colombia (Nairobi)

SATURDAY 28 AUGUST

Rugby Championship

Australia v New Zealand (11am, Optus Stadium, Perth)

SATURDAY 4 SEPTEMBER

RWC 2023 Qualifying

Canada v USA (Swilers RFC, St John’s)

SATURDAY 11 SEPTEMBER

RWC 2023 Qualifier

USA v Canada (Infinity Park, Glendale)

Rugby Championship

New Zealand v Argentina (8.05am, Eden Park)

SUNDAY 12 SEPTEMBER

Rugby Championship

South Africa v Australia (6am, Sydney Cricket Ground)

FRIDAY 17 SEPTEMBER

Gallagher Premiership

Bristol v Saracens (7.45pm) Live on BT Sport

SATURDAY 18 SEPTEMBER

Rugby Championship

Argentina v New Zealand (8.05am, Sky Stadium)

Australia v South Africa (6am, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)

Gallagher Premiership

Leicester v Exeter (3pm) Live on BT Sport

Northampton v Gloucester (3pm)

Sale v Bath (3pm)

Worcester v London Irish (3pm)

SUNDAY 19 SEPTEMBER

Gallagher Premiership

Newcastle v Harlequins (3pm) Live on BT Sport

FRIDAY 24 SEPTEMBER

Gallagher Premiership

Gloucester v Leicester (7.45pm) Live on BT Sport

SATURDAY 25 SEPTEMBER

Rugby Championship

New Zealand v South Africa (8.05am, Forsyth Barr Stadium)

Australia v Argentina (5am, Newcastle)

Gallagher Premiership

Bath v Newcastle (3pm)

Exeter v Northampton (3pm)

Harlequins v Worcester (3pm)

Wasps v Bristol (3pm) Live on BT Sport

SUNDAY 26 SEPTEMBER

Gallagher Premiership

London Irish v Sale (3pm) Live on BT Sport

FRIDAY 1 OCTOBER

Gallagher Premiership

Bristol v Bath (7.45pm) Live on BT Sport

SATURDAY 2 OCTOBER

Rugby Championship

South Africa v New Zealand (8.05am, Eden Park)

Australia v Argentina (5am, GIO Stadium, Canberra)

Gallagher Premiership

Northampton v London Irish (2pm)

Leicester v Saracens (3pm) Live on BT Sport

Newcastle v Wasps (3pm)

Worcester v Gloucester (3pm)

SUNDAY 3 OCTOBER

Gallagher Premiership

Sale v Exeter (3pm) Live on BT Sport

More fixtures to follow.

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