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Bledisloe Cup as important as ever – Foster



All Blacks coach Ian Foster is certain the Bledisloe Cup has lost none of its appeal for both his side and the New Zealand public ahead of Thursday’s Lipovitan D Rugby Championship Test with Australia in Melbourne.

He didn’t think the New Zealand public had grown weary over the tenure of the Bledisloe Cup, now in its 19th year.


“I think the Bledisloe has always been something our public is excited about. New Zealand-Australia Test matches are pretty special.


“The fact we’ve held it for a while is nice but kind of irrelevant right now. It’s about the here and now, and there would be nothing better than to lock that away on Thursday night.”


Australia was like New Zealand in seeking consistency in performance. The Test was a home game for them, and they had to win it to have a chance of winning the Bledisloe Cup and the Championship. The same applied to New Zealand.


The side was primed and ready to go in what shaped as a big game in the Championship.


“Everyone is sort of on the same starting line with two rounds to go, so it’s a big weekend to make a bit of a statement,” Foster said.


Both teams liked to play at tempo, and both would attempt to stop the other playing the way they wanted.


“We’ve seen when they get front foot ball, they’ve certainly beefed up some of their ball carry options and all designed to get in behind you and get speed of ball and start to exploit that short side and get their nines [halfbacks] moving at you. And, in some ways, the game doesn’t change from Argentina where you’re going to have to control that gain-line and that tackle point.



“So we kind of know their game because it looks pretty similar to ours at times.”


Assessing their last outing, the 53-3 win over Argentina, Foster said he felt it was possibly a better defensive game than attacking.


“We put Argentina under a lot of pressure and forced mistakes, and that gave us opportunity to play what we wanted to do, so the lesson for this week is probably the same.


“We’ve got a lot of respect for the way Aussies play, their speed, their skill sets, and we know if we’re not up defensively you’re chasing your tail a little bit.”


Foster was confident recalled No8 Hoskins Sotutu was ready to step in Ardie Savea’s boots for the game. Sotutu, who hasn’t started in the Championship, was released last weekend to play for Counties Manukau to get some game time. He had trained well throughout his time with the All Blacks squad.


“He’s been training alongside Ardie and putting pressure on during training weeks. He knows his roles well and needs to go and execute the game we need him to play, but also not to be afraid to show some of the skill set he’s got.


“We are confident he’s ready.”


Due to circumstances, choosing Scott Barrett on the blindside flank hadn’t been possible after his showing in the first Test against Ireland, but playing him there was an option they wanted to keep up their sleeve and use.


Returning Australian first five-eighths Bernard Foley was an organising type of five-eighths who was astute, an experienced Test match player who had played with many of the side for a long time.


“He’ll probably bring a bit of enthusiasm and love the chance to put his hand up to get back into that group so I don’t think they’ll lose anything and may gain a little.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity



James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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6 Nations

RTÉ And Virgin Media Confirm Details Of Free-To-Air Six Nations Coverage



RTÉ and Virgin Media Television today announced details of its joint Guinness Six Nations coverage, where the action will be free-to-air for supporters in the Republic of Ireland.

Kicking off on Friday, 3 February, this year’s Six Nations coverage will include all fixtures from Ireland’s Men’s, Women’s and U20 tournaments.

The partnership will see all games equally aired across both broadcasters again this year.

The 2023 Men’s Six Nations will open with Ireland v Wales on Virgin Media One, followed by England v Scotland on RTÉ2. Ireland will then take on current champions France on Saturday, 11 February.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations will begin on Sunday, 26 March with Wales v Ireland.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the Aviva Stadium, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Joe Molloy were joined on stage by members of their broadcast teams this year including pundits Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television), and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team.

Commenting, Head of RTÉ Sport, Declan McBennett said: “With this being a great year for rugby, there is added excitement about this year’s Six Nations which RTÉ is once again bringing to sports fans all over the country free-to-air along with Virgin Media Ireland as part of our historic partnership which we launched last year.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Irish rugby and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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Statement on behalf of Dave Rennie



Following Monday’s announcement Dave Rennie has issued the following statement.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank all of those who have reached out to Steph and I over the past 48 hours or so.

“The support has been immense and much appreciated from the more than 500 messages I’ve received from current and former players, coaches, administrators and friends both here and abroad.

“I’ve loved my time with the team. They’re outstanding young men who are keen to learn and prepared to work hard.

“The staff I worked with during my time with the Wallabies are some of the best in the world and they played a massive role in creating a quality environment and developing the depth of the playing group.

“I’d like to particularly thank those in the Australian Rugby community for their support of the team over the past three years and for all the words of encouragement when we have crossed paths in schools, on the training field or in airports around the country.

“I’m disappointed I won’t be able to see out my contract in the way I agreed to back in 2019 but leave knowing I had the full support of the playing group and the staff.

“I certainly felt we have made massive shifts over the past three years both on and off the field, which is off the back of a hell of a lot of hard work put in by good people.

“I wish Eddie, the staff and the team all the best in what’s a massive year, with the Rugby World Cup less than nine months away.”

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby

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