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All Blacks Coach to Step Down After 15 Years

One of the most respected coaches in rugby is to leave his duties with the All Blacks following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup

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All Blacks forwards coach Mike Cron has confirmed he will be stepping away from the national side at the end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

The 64-year-old is well-known among the rugby community and has been involved with the All Blacks since 2004.

Cron is looking forward to the rest of the year with the team, where he will be involved in his fifth Rugby World Cup.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky and had a wonderful career coaching at international level and I’m really looking forward to this last year with the team. It will be my fifth Rugby World Cup this year (four with the All Blacks and one with Wales) so is the right time to step down from the international game,” he said.

Cron has been coaching for 37 years and although he plans to move aside from the international game, he still hopes to continue helping younger talent develop.

“That’s my other passion. As well as coaching younger players and helping them hopefully reach their potential, I’m also keen to help out the young coaches of the future, so looking forward to doing that,” he added.

His time with the All Blacks has included back-to-back World Cup successes in 2011 and 2015, while he could make it a hat-trick if they are to win again this year.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew paid tribute to Cron and is looking forward to continuing to work alongside him in a different capacity.

“Crono is a national treasure and thousands of players, from school, club, provincial, Super Rugby, the Black Ferns and of course the All Blacks, have been coached and mentored by one of the best rugby coaches in the world. He has a real desire to mentor young players and coaches and really cares about their development, so we’re delighted he will continue to contribute to the future of the game in New Zealand,” he said.

Meanwhile, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, who is also set to depart the All Blacks set-up at the end of the tournament, spoke of how fortunate he has been to work with Cron.

“Sometimes in life you’re lucky to come across a real influencer in your career. For me, Mike Cron is one of those people. He’s one of those guys I’ve leaned on from day one of my coaching career. Initially, that was around scrummaging, with Canterbury and the Crusaders, and then with Wales. Then I suggested to (former All Blacks Head Coach) Graham Henry that we bring him into the All Blacks,” he said.

Hansen noted how Cron can help anyone and is delighted that he will continue to work with New Zealand Rugby.

“His ability to teach anyone – younger, older, male or female – is world renowned and the greatest gift that Crono has is his ability to always keep learning and to keep giving. I’ve seen him coach club, provincial, Super and international rugby, plus even a stint overseas, all in the one year. As ‘Tewy’ said, he is a national treasure. He and his family must be immensely proud of everything he has achieved throughout his career, not only with the All Blacks, but with all the teams and individuals he has coached. It’s great that New Zealand Rugby hasn’t lost him completely,” he added.

Hansen concluded by thanking Cron for all his work with the national side.

“On behalf of the All Blacks family, we’d like to thank him for his many years of service. I’d also like to congratulate him and April on making their decision and wish them all the very best for the future,” he finished.

As mentioned above Cron will be hoping to add a third successive Rugby World Cup to the All Blacks cabinet come the end of the year and the All Blacks will want to ensure he goes out on a high too.

International

Huge Suspension Handed to Tongan Star

One of Tonga’s main men has been handed a big suspension as he heads back to play club rugby following the team’s elimination from the World Cup

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Tongan hooker has been handed a heavy ban after admitting to foul play during the side’s final Rugby World Cup game against the USA on Sunday.

Ngauamo admitted that he kicked an opposition player in the face contrary to Law 9.12 (kicking) during the Sunday’s 31-19 win. 

An independent Judicial Committee in Tokyo sat on Tuesday and after taking into account the situation at hand in which the Tongan player clearly kicked an opponent in the face they decided it would warrant at least a mid-range offence. 

Under World Rugby’s mandatory sanctions a mid-range entry point results in a minimum eight-week suspension, which was handed down to Ngauamo. 

However, after taking into account the player’s admission to the offence at an early stage in proceedings as well as his good disciplinary record up to the offence they chose to take a week off the ban meaning he will serve a seven-week suspension. 

The player is returning to his home country today before jetting back to France where he will return to Top 14 club Agen, but will now be out of selection for seven-weeks meaning he will not feature until around December in what is a huge blow for him and the club.

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Scottish Ace Considering International Future

Following Scotland’s departure from the Rugby World Cup it now looks like one of their key men may have finally had enough

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Scotland star Greig Laidlaw has admitted that he will consider his international future following his side’s exit from the Rugby World Cup.

The Scots were knocked out yesterday following a 28-21 loss to hosts Japan, which coupled with their opening round 27-3 loss to Ireland to leave them with two wins and two losses in the group as they finished third. 

It seems as though this set back could have been enough to push Laidlaw out the door as Scotland continue to falter on the biggest stages. 

“I’ll go away and have a think. Tonight it’s about staying together as a group. Tonight is not about me. I’ll go away and talk to the people I need to talk to and make my decision from there,” he said after the game. 

Having been capped 76 times for his country the 34-year-old is one of their longest serving players and is a regular starter along with being their main place-kicker so his departure would leave a huge void in the team. 

He also admitted that Japan were the better team on the day, applauding their improvement since the last World Cup and saying they were fully deserving of their victory. 

“We knew Japan have really improved as a team since four years ago. We have to give them credit for the way they have progressed and the way we have performed this evening. We gave away two soft tries and we left ourselves with a mountain to climb. They didn’t catch us off guard, we actually started the game pretty well. We got into a lead, we never switched off, but we let Japan into the game,” he added. 

Before the match was even played Japan were ranked higher than their opponents showing how far they have developed and how far Scotland are falling. 

However, following this latest set back and pending on Laidlaw’s decision things could get worse before they start to get better as he could open the flood gates with regards to player departures from the international stage as they seem pretty fed up.

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SA Rugby Issue Statement on Etzebeth

South African Rugby Union have issued a statement regarding star man Eben Etzebeth’s current situation

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South African Rugby Union have issued a statement with regard to forward Eben Etzebeth after reports yesterday claimed that the South African Human Rights Commission plan to take legal action against him.

Etzebeth is at the centre of an allegation claiming that he was involved of in a racist incident as well as it having physical repercussions. The incident is said to have taken place the day before the Springboks Rugby World Cup squad was announced. 

However, the towering second-row has already denied all allegations having been interviewed by the Human Rights Commission before the squad left for Japan. 

Following reports yesterday the Springboks have confirmed in a statement that the Human Rights Commission will proceed with legal action. 

“The South African Human Rights Commission announced on Wednesday that it would institute legal proceedings against Eben Etzebeth in the Equality Court, relating to allegations of an incident in Langebaan in August,” the statement read. 

As well as the statement a Springbok spokesperson has confirmed that they will continue to help with the case as much as possible as they look to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later. 

“SA Rugby reaffirms its commitment as a good corporate citizen to abide by any requirements placed on it or its employees by South African authorities. We have fulfilled all requests to date and will continue to do so as and when advised. Following our discussions with the South African Human Rights Commission we have instituted an internal process to address the matter, the details of which remain an employment matter between SA Rugby and the player,” he said. 

Etzebeth will hope that the case will not require him to return to South Africa before the conclusion of the World Cup in Japan as he is a vital part of the Springboks team that hope to win the whole tournament. 

However, whatever happens his sights will be firmly set on Friday’s clash with Italy, where he has been named among the starting line-up in what could decide who finished second in Pool B and progress to the last eight.

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