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International

Australian Legend Calls Time on Sensational Career

One of Australian Rugby’s greatest players of all-time has pulled the curtain on a glittering career

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(Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Australian flanker George Smith has announced his retirement after 20-years of playing professional rugby.

The 38-year-old confirmed the decision after his short-term contract with the Bristol Bears expired.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle thanked Smith for his time in the game and noted how big a star he was.

“On behalf of the Australian rugby community I extend my congratulations to George on what has been an amazing career. George belongs in that rare category of player that could turn the course of a game in an instant with a crucial turnover, a powerful run or a big defensive play. He was universally respected by his team-mates and opponents and has been a huge presence in the clubs he has represented all over the world, as well as on the international stage with the Wallabies,” he said.

Capped 111 times at international level the Wallaby had spells with Bristol, Wasps, Suntory in Japan, Lyon, Stade Francais, Toulon, the Brumbies and Queensland Reds during his club career.

General manager of the Classic Wallabies and former teammate Justin Harrison acknowledged how good a player he was to play alongside.

“On behalf of the Classic Wallabies I pass on our congratulations to George on his remarkable rugby career. I, like many, had the great privilege of playing alongside George and I knew every time you played with him you knew you were playing alongside one of our greatest players and hairstyles,” he said.

He went on to welcome the legend to the Classic Wallabies team while also taking time to point out the impact Smith had on the game.

“George has inspired a whole generation of Australian rugby supporters to pick up a ball and play the game. We are richer for having had the opportunity to witness George playing in a gold Wallaby jersey. We now welcome George to the Classic Wallabies and we ask that he keeps one pair of boots for his first Classics capped match,” he added.

Smith managed to pick up two Super Rugby titles with the Brumbies along with 164 Super Rugby caps between his time with them and the Reds. Before it all began Smith was at Sydney side Manly where he was signed from by Eddie Jones in 1999 for the Brumbies and Smith remembers the day well as well as being thankful for the chance he was given.

“I’m grateful for his advice and friendship. The day I rocked up to sign my first Brumbies contract with dreadlocked hair, board shorts and thongs [flip-flops], I think back and shake my head as to why he didn’t just turn me away right there and then,” Smith said.

During his 12 years with the club he picked up 10 Players’ Player of the year awards, as well as two Wallabies Players’ Player of the year awards and will be remembered for everything he brought to the game.

International

New Zealand Rugby Chairman Blasts World Rugby

New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey has not held back his disappointment in World Rugby’s decision to scrap the Nations Championship

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New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey is far from happy with World Rugby’s decision to call-off their Nations Championship plans.

World Rugby announced yesterday that it would no longer try and implement the concept of the Nations Championship, but Impey, who is also Sanzaar’s chairman is disappointed to say the least.

“The Nations Championship was a golden opportunity to grow the game internationally but is seemingly lost. Sanzaar remains convinced that such a revamped international calendar is the right course of action supported by professional cross-border competitions such as Super Rugby and the various European premierships,” he said in a statement reported by the New Zealand Herald.

Impey went on to confirm that South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina had committed to continuing to discuss the concept.

“All Sanzaar unions signed the letter of offer with World Rugby to continue negotiations. Sanzaar has been consistent in its support of the concept as we believed that this was an important decision for the future of the world game. Furthermore, the ability to have promotion/relegation in both hemispheres as proposed by World Rugby is a principle position with which Sanzaar agreed. That would have created a meaningful pathway and aspirations for emerging nations,” he added.

The main stumbling block appears to have been the possibility of promotion and relegation which worried Scotland and Italy in particular, but without it Tier Two nations such as Fiji and Samoa would be excluded.

However, even though Impey was disappointed he took time to announce that Sanzaar have been holding talks over the future of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship.

“While World Rugby has led discussions around the Nations Championship concept, Sanzaar and its member unions, have been in constant and positive dialogue with our broadcast partners to secure the future of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship,” he finished.

New Zealand Rugby was not as hard on World Rugby’s decision with CEO Steve Tew stating that the challenge was always going to be hard when it involved so many parties.

“We want to acknowledge the tireless efforts and leadership from World Rugby to get the proposal to this point. Creating a new international competition was always going to be a challenging conversation for world rugby nations. The challenges have been complex and multi-faceted as we sought to find a model that balanced demands of fans, with the welfare of all players, growing the commercial strength of our competition and ensuring we were providing a pathway for other nations. While there were some serious issues to be resolved such as the varying positions on promotion/relegation, New Zealand Rugby remained committed to continuing dialogue to see if these could be overcome for the greater good of the game,” he said.

It remains to be seen whether or not World Rugby will try and develop a new competition for international sides, but what is clear is that even though the Nations Championship had it’s flaws many still backed it to be successful in the long run.

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International

England Name 29-Man World Cup Training Squad

Eddie Jones has announced a 29-man squad a week-long training camp and has left some star names out

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(Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has confirmed his 29-man squad to part-take in a training camp at Pennyhill Park next week.

The majority of players that featured in either the Premiership semi-finals or final, and some that were involved in the Quilter Cup game against the Barbarians have not been included.

However, former England captains Chris Robshaw and Dylan Hartley have both been excluded from the five-day camp.

Joining them on the absentee list is 32-year-old scrum-half Danny Care along with No 8 Nathan Hughes.

On the other hand, Alex Dombrandt, Lewis Ludlam, Ruaridh McConnochie and Val Rapava Ruskin have all received their first call ups.

Eddie Jones is using the camps, with the second one on the following week (June 30th to July 4th), to give players a chance to gain a ticket to Japan.

“The first two England training camps are designed to improve individual players’ fundamentals to allow them to compete for a place in the Rugby World Cup squad,” he said.

Jones will announce England’s official Rugby World Cup training squad at Japan House on July 4th following the conclusion of the second week of this camp, with official World Cup training starting on July 7th.

England begin their World Cup warm-up games on August 11th against Wales and will be hoping to push on from there before heading to Japan.

Check Out the Full Squad Below:

Forwards – Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints), Val Rapava Ruskin (Gloucester Rugby), Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons).

Backs – Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby), Dan Robson (Wasps), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

*In for medical treatment – George Kruis (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens).

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Wallabies Set Sights on Keeping Young Talent

Australia look set to offer one youngster a huge deal to remain in the country

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(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia are set to offer young prop Taniela Tupou a million-dollar contract to remain in Australia until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The deal would see Tupou earn between 800,000 to a million dollars per year, making him one of the best paid players in the country as well as the highest earning Aussie prop in history.

It is believed that the move is to ensure that the Wallabies don’t lose another young talent overseas in the near future following the announcement that Samu Kerevi will depart for Japan later this year.

Only last week Rugby Australia claimed they did all they could and offered Kerevi a very good deal. However, it is thought that the 24-year-old was offered a similar deal to Tupou, who doesn’t yet have the same impact on the game as Kerevi.

The Wallabies look set to face some sort of crisis in the coming years if they do not sort out their contract structure with the likes of Nick Phipps, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley and Christian Leali’ifano all likely to be playing abroad next season.

Rugby Australia have already secured the services of Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa for a couple more years, and it appears as though the focus has now switched to keeping young talent in the country.

However, if the deal for Topou goes through it will raise questions as more players will surely seek to earn more money than him which could cause future contract complications.

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