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International

Edinburgh Star Pushing for World Cup Place

Having made his debut for the Barbarians at the weekend one man is looking to secure his World Cup spot

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Edinburgh and Fiji No 8 Viliame ‘Big Bill’ Mata made his debut for the Barbarians last weekend and now his sights are firmly on a World Cup spot.

The electric No 8 was part of an entertaining match on Sunday which finished 51-43 in favour of an England XV and he believes that he can now push on after the experience.

“Making my debut last weekend for the Barbarians was a big step in my career. The Barbarians are known for world class players and being a part of the club is really exciting. The Barbarians have been going for many years with top quality players from around the globe coming together to make a world class team. Playing with a new group of players is what’s so exciting about becoming a Barbarian,” he said.

Mata thinks that playing the game has made him a better player and is looking at claiming a spot in Fiji’s talented World Cup squad.

“Every game for the Barbarians is massive and it’s all about putting on a world class show for the fans. Playing on such a big stage like Twickenham makes it even more special and helps build you as a player. The occasion makes you a better rugby player. My main goal now is to get into Fiji’s final squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and from there we will take every game as we go. We’ve got Australia in our first game so it’s going to be tough for us but we’re aiming to finish the tournament well,” he added.

Having been named the PRO 14 Player of the Year this season following some outstanding displays for Edinburgh, Mata is hoping to continue his current form and is thankful for what the Scottish side have done for him.

“I’ve had a good season with Edinburgh and the club has been really good to me. They like to use my strength and my talent on the field and putting out a game plan that suits me and my abilities well. Building up to the World Cup I want to take those performances and put them into the Fiji team,” he continued.

The Barbarians will return to Twickenham in November to take on Fiji and Mata finished up by saying he is excited by playing against the team he just made his debut for as his both sides play a similar style of rugby.

“Fiji and the Barbarians have a similar style of play, with less structure than most sides. We want to give the ball out wide and run from anywhere on the pitch. Hopefully I’ll be involved for Fiji when they return to Twickenham to play the Barbarians in November, after the World Cup. It’ll be a really fast match as both teams just love to play the game. There will be more action from those two sides than you’ll find in almost any other game,” he concluded.

Mata appears a certain name to be on the Fijian team sheet come the World Cup and with the nation ever improving in the XV’s game it could be a good year for them.

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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International

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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