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6 Nations

Alun Wyn Jones Announces Future Plans

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has confirmed his long-awaited decision for the future

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(Photo credit PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Image)

Alun Wyn Jones has announced that he has signed a contract extension with both the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys until June 2021.

The second-row, who had been rumoured to be heading overseas come the end of the season has committed his future to his hometown region and confirmed the news on social media.

“I have some news I would like to share with you. I’m happy to announce that I have signed a contract extension to June 2021 with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys and will be playing at the Liberty Stadium for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The Welsh captain who has gone on to make 134 caps at test level (125 with Wales and 9 for the British & Irish Lions), admitted he considered all options available to him but decided to stay put.

“After serious consideration and taking stock of all options, it is the right decision for my career at this point in time, along with my personal ambitions on and off the field, my welfare, and needs of my family. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to tell you directly, in particular to the Ospreys supporters and all those who have supported me during my career to date. Thanks, Alun Wyn,” he added.

Jones is set to head to Switzerland this week for Wales’ first overseas training camp ahead of the Rugby World Cup, and WRU CEO Martyn Phillips is delighted that Jones will be remaining in the country after the tournament in Japan.

“This announcement is a huge boost for Welsh rugby. Alun Wyn is hugely respected across the game and I’m delighted he has committed his future here in Wales and that he will be continuing to play for his hometown region. It is a boost for the game both on and off the field and I’m sure the news will delight both Wales and Ospreys supporters alike as he continues to inspire the next generation. The extension allows the WRU and the Ospreys to continue working together with Alun Wyn to ensure he has the very best of environments to thrive in,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke is also excited to have the clubs most capped player (238 caps) still in his squad and believes it is brilliant news for everyone in the region.

“Today’s announcement is fantastic news for us as a club and all Ospreys and Wales supporters. Alun Wyn is a man I have the upmost respect for; he is greatly admired not just because of what he has achieved and what he represents as a local boy playing for his home region and country but importantly because of the ambition and level of performance he consistently displays. He’s a tremendous individual and a winner with a deep hunger for the Ospreys to be successful on and off the field. Alun Wyn has spent his entire career with the Ospreys and I expect him to continue his legacy as a player and well beyond his playing days,” he said.

Jones’ announcement will be a massive boost for all Welsh Rugby supporters and will also be a motivation for the national team heading into the World Cup later this year as they look to add more silverware to their Six Nations Grand Slam from earlier in the year.

6 Nations

England to Use Past as Motive Against Ireland

England will delve into the recent past to motivate themselves for this weekend’s crunch Six Nations clash against Ireland according to star fly-half George Ford

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England fly-half George Ford has stated that the team will use their loss to Ireland two years’ ago as motivation for this weekend’s Six Nations game with the boys in green.

Ford and co are set to host Ireland on Sunday and are looking to stop their rivals making it three wins from three in the competition and halt their Grand Slam dreams. 

The hosts were on the losing side two years’ ago as Ireland ran out 24-15 winners in Twickenham on the final day of that season’s competition to secure a Grand Slam crown. 

Despite beating Ireland comfortably since then Ford admits that the squad still remember that loss and believes they can use that pain to help them this weekend. 

“We remember two years ago. We never like losing matches, particularly at home. Maybe in Test week we’ll dive into a few things to get us right emotionally. It’s a balance. You don’t want to look too far in the past but if it’s something you can use to get yourself to a higher level then you use it. This week we’ll work out what are the two or three critical things that we need to do to make sure we’re ready for this game,” he said. 

England head into the match with one win in two having lost to France on the opening weekend before overcoming Scotland in a scrappy affair a week later. 

However, it is a different story this time around as Ireland have former England coach Andy Farrell as their head coach along with another former England coach Mike Catt also in the backroom staff and Ford thinks that they will be prepared well for their Twickenham return. 

“We understand that Ireland are a very good team, very well-coached, and have started the Six Nations very well, so we have huge respect for them. With Andy being primarily a defence coach, we understand they are going to be hard to break down from an attack point of view. They will be looking to bring some line speed and something a bit different against us. They are probably trying to develop their attack in terms of phase play stuff. They have got Mike Catt there as well and he thinks about the game from a very attacking point of view. The stuff Ireland are notoriously good at is the contact area, the kicking game, in the air and the contest at the breakdown. It is something they are very good at and why would you go away from it if you are very good at it?” he added. 

Ireland head into the game as one of two teams to remain on course for a Grand Slam along with France, but they know how tough it will be as England prepare to play their first match on home soil since their run to the Rugby World Cup final last year. 

Ford looks set to be given the nod at fly-half once more with Owen Farrell continuing in the centre and if they can channel the sort of performance that they put up against New Zealand last year they may well end Ireland’s hopes of not only a Grand Slam but a triple crown.

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6 Nations

Is Ireland’s rebuild progressing quicker than expected?

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(Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland have flexed their muscles in the opening two weeks of the Six Nations to stake their claim for the Grand Slam. After their disappointing exit at the World Cup and the departure of Joe Schmidt, there were fears that Ireland would not be able to compete for the title.

However, their performances under the tenure of new coach Andy Farrell have suggested that they will be vying for the crown come the end of the competition. Ireland are backed in the rugby union betting odds at 2/1 to triumph in the Six Nations, although they also have a price of 5/1 for the Grand Slam. Given that they have to play both England and France away from home it might not seem plausible, but Farrell has found a tune out of his team in the early stages of his reign.

Ireland suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, exiting the tournament in the last eight for the third time in a row. The Irish were the number one ranked side heading into the World Cup and had previously recorded victories over the All Blacks in two of their previous three meetings. However, Schmidt’s men were powerless to stop New Zealand easing to 46-14 victory. It was the end of an era for Irish rugby as Schmidt departed, while captain Rory Best called time on his career.

Farrell was already announced as the replacement for Schmidt having served as defence coach for three years, and he made an immediate statement by leaving Rob Kearney, Jordi Murphy, Sean Cronin, Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion out of his first squad. Kearney was a constant presence at full-back under the tenure of Schmidt and indeed for the past 12 years, but the move to replace him with Jordan Larmour, who impressed during the World Cup was one of the many signs that the next phase of Irish rugby was well underway.

The first challenge came against Scotland on home soil and although it was not a pretty performance, Ireland displayed enough quality to grind out the win in Dublin. Jonny Sexton’s injury problems in 2019 played a crucial role in the struggles of the team. However, he was back to top form with the decisive try in the contest as well as being deadly accurate with the boot, scoring all 19 of his side’s points in their 19-12 triumph.

Wales would provide the test of Ireland’s hopes of winning the competition. The Dragons were unbeaten in nine Six Nations matches heading into the contest at the Aviva Stadium. Farrell’s men needed a clinical display and they produced an excellent attacking outing, scoring four tries courtesy of Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway, while Sexton knocked over two of his three conversions. Wales were a threat in the second half, but the home side were solid in their defensive duties to keep them at bay until the closing stages, recording a comfortable victory by a 10-point margin.

Ireland will have to raise the level of their game on the road. England showed signs of life after their surprise defeat to France by beating Scotland in terrible conditions at Murrayfield. Producing back-to-back wins at Twickenham and the Stade de France is a massive undertaking and will provide evidence as to whether Ireland’s rebuild is progressing faster than expected after their winter of change.

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6 Nations

England Confirm 25-Man Training Squad

England have confirmed a 25-man strong training squad ahead of their crucial Six Nations game against Ireland next week

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(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

England have announced a 25-man training squad to prepare for their Six Nations clash with Ireland next Sunday.

The biggest absentee from the squad is forward Courtney Lawes who has been left out as he is being rested. 

In his absence Cameron Redpath has been brought in for training purposes for the three days at Kensington this week. 

Elsewhere in the squad both Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade have been included as the centre duo step up their rehabilitation from injury. 

Slade has been missing for the first two rounds with injury, but Tuilagi went off injured less than 20 minutes into the team’s loss to France in the opening round and although he is included it would appear unlikely that he will be ready in time for when England host the Irish. 

Luke Cowan-Dickie also links up with the squad once again, after missing last weekend’s win over Scotland due to the birth of his child. 

The rest of the squad is as you would expect with the likes of captain Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola and Tom Curry among those included. 

England will be hoping to get one over on their rivals next weekend following their disappointing start to the campaign and would love nothing more than to hand former coach Andy Farrell his first loss as head coach of Ireland, with the boys in green in the hunt for the Grand Slam with France after the opening two rounds. 

Check Out the Full 25-Man Squad Below. 

Forwards:

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)

Ben Earl (Saracens)

Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)

Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers)

Jamie George (Saracens)

Maro Itoje (Saracens)

George Kruis (Saracens)

Joe Launchbury (Wasps)

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)

Joe Marler (Harlequins)

Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)

Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)

Mako Vunipola (Saracens)

Backs:

Elliot Daly (Saracens)

Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs)

Owen Farrell (Saracens

George Ford (Leicester Tigers)

George Furbank (Northampton Saints)

Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby)

Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)

Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)

Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

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