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Barrett and Mo’unga Start for All Blacks

The All Blacks have made a host of changes for their match against the Springboks this weekend and fans will be delighted by the possibility of seeing two world-class playmakers line-up together

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The All Blacks have rotated their squad ahead of this Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks at the Westpac Stadium.

Head coach Steve Hansen has brought back in many of their Crusaders contingent including fly-half Richie Mo’unga, meaning that Beauden Barrett moves to fullback. With fans particularly excited to see the two playmakers start in the same team.

There is also a return to the back-line for star centre Sonny Bill Williams who has recovered from a hamstring injury and gain some much-needed game-time ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Experience runs through the entire team with Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks replacing last weekend’s front-row trio of Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles and Angus Ta’avao, all of whom are named among the replacements.

Slotting in behind them are Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, with Shannon Frizell and Matt Todd on the flanks and Kieran Read captaining the side from No 8.

TJ Perenara opens alongside Mo’unga in the half-backs, with Williams at inside-centre and Jack Goodhue in the 13 channel.

Rieko Ioane begins on the left-wing, with Ben Smith shifting to the right to accommodate Barrett at full-back.

As well as the star front-rowers on the bench there are also the likes of Aaron Smith and Anton Lienert-Brown to call upon.

Speaking ahead of the game Hansen admitted that he is excited to see how this team works out and is hoping to build on last weekend’s 20-16 win over Argentina.

“The selectors are once again very excited with the team we’ve selected and are very much looking forward to seeing them play. The key for us this week has been to continue building on the very good groundwork we’ve put in over the last couple of weeks. Whilst we were a little rusty last week, we’re looking forward to seeing improvements in all areas of our game this week,” he said.

The Springboks are in fine form and ran out 35-17 winners against Australia last week, having rested many of their star names and Hansen knows that they will provide a tough challenge.

“It’s always an exciting occasion when we play the Springboks. We have a lot of respect for them and love playing them, as they bring many challenges to the contest. One of those challenge this week will be to not only match the physicality of the Boks, but to impose our own physicality on the game, and execute our game and our skillsets at a higher level,” he added.

He closed-up by encouraging fans to get behind the team in what is their opening home fixture this year.

“We love playing in Wellington and this is the first of only three home Tests for the team this year before the Rugby World Cup, so we’re looking forward to seeing a full house in full voice at Westpac Stadium on Saturday,” he finished.

The game on Saturday will provide a dress-rehearsal for when the two sides meet during the Rugby World Cup later this year. While it could also decide the winner of this year’s shortened Rugby Championship.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

1. Joe Moody (37)

2. Codie Taylor (41)

3. Owen Franks (106)

4. Brodie Retallick (76)

5. Samuel Whitelock (108)

6. Shannon Frizell (4)

7. Matt Todd (17)

8. Kieran Read – captain (118)

9. TJ Perenara (55)

10. Richie Mo’unga (9)

11. Rieko Ioane (24)

12. Sonny Bill Williams (51)

13. Jack Goodhue (7)

14. Ben Smith (77)

15. Beauden Barrett (74)

16. Dane Coles (61)

17. Ofa Tuungafasi (27)

18. Angus Ta’avao (4)

19. Vaea Fifita (10)

20. Dalton Papalii (2)

21. Aaron Smith (83)

22. Anton Lienert-Brown (34)

23. George Bridge (1)

International

SA matches postponed due to COVID variant risk

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

In a statement, organisers said that due to the sudden developments that had placed South Africa on the UK and EU travel red list the matches would be rescheduled for later this season.

“The safety and well-being of our participating clubs’ players, coaches, support staff and match officials is the foremost priority and the URC is currently working with the four visiting clubs – Cardiff Rugby, Munster Rugby, Scarlets and Zebre Parma – to facilitate their return as soon as possible,” the statement advised.

“This decision is based upon the latest guidance against non-essential travel to and from South Africa, the ban on direct flights to the UK and other home destinations and the potential hotel quarantines enforced upon those returning from South Africa.

“As has been the operating practice throughout the pandemic, the URC will continue engaging with our Medical Advisory Group, our union shareholders and respective governments to plan according to the latest health guidelines.

“A period of assessment will now be required to better understand the impact of these new travel restrictions and how to reschedule these games within the current season. Given the nature and speed of these developments URC will provide further updates at the appropriate time through official channels only.”

Source – South Africa Rugby

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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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British & Irish Lions

Independent misconduct hearing update: Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby – 2 Month Ban

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An independent misconduct committee has found that behaviour displayed by SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus towards match officials during this year’s test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions constituted misconduct.

The committee was chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC, together with Nigel Hampton QC and Judge Mike Mika (both New Zealand).

Six charges were brought by World Rugby against Rassie Erasmus for various breaches of World Rugby Regulation 18 and World Rugby’s Code of Conduct. The charges in summary were that Mr Erasmus:

  1. threatened a match official that unless a requested meeting took place, he would publish footage containing clips criticising the match official’s performance and then making good on that threat; published or permitted to be published the Erasmus Video containing numerous comments that were either abusive, insulting and/or offensive to match officials;
  2. attacked, disparaged and/or denigrated the game and the match officials;
  3. did not accept or observe the authority and decisions of match officials;
  4. published or caused to be published criticism of the manner in which a match official handled a match;
  5. engaged in conduct or activity that may impair public confidence in the integrity and good character of match official(s); and
  6. brought the game into disrepute when he published or caused to be published the Erasmus Video.

Having considered all the evidence, including oral evidence from the match officials, Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby, World Rugby, and submissions from the parties the committee found all six charges against Mr Erasmus proved.  

Two charges were brought by World Rugby against SA Rugby in accordance with World Rugby Regulation 18 and the World Rugby Code of Conduct. In summary, the charges were that SA Rugby:

  1. did not ensure that Rassie Erasmus complied with the World Rugby Code of Conduct and/or permitted Mr Erasmus to commit acts of misconduct; and/or did not publicly correct any comments or publications by or on behalf of Mr Erasmus that amounted to misconduct; and
  2. permitted and/or did not prevent Siya Kolisi and Mzwandile Stick to make comments at a press conference on 30 July, 2021 that were not disciplined or sporting and adversely affected the game of rugby; and/or did not publicly correct any such comments so as adversely affected the game of rugby.

Having considered all the evidence, including oral evidence from the match officials, Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby, World Rugby, and submissions from the parties, the committee found the first charge against SA Rugby proved.

Having considered submissions on behalf of both parties in respect of sanction, the independent committee decided on the following:

Rassie Erasmus

  • Suspension with immediate effect from all rugby activities for two months
  • Suspension from all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) with immediate effect until 30 September, 2022
  • A warning as to his future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials.

SA Rugby

  • A fine of £20,000
  • A warning as to future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials

The parties have seven days to appeal from receipt of the full written decision. 

The full written decision is available here.

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