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6 Nations

End of an era as Wales medical team legend retires

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After 30 years’ service devoted to the success of the Wales senior men’s team, physio Mark Davies is retiring.

Joining as a member of the backroom team in 1992, no one has been part of more Wales men’s Test matches since then than Davies.

He has participated in seven World Cups and two British & Irish Lions tours and former players he treated such as Neil Jenkins, Jonathan Humphreys, Martyn Williams, Stephen Jones, Gethin Jenkins and Huw Bennett became colleagues.

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Ask any Welsh rugby player of recent history for their views on the man known to everyone as ‘Carcass’ and you will be greeted with a warm response, such is the esteem in which Davies is held.

His rugby longevity has been truly remarkable and Davies will be greatly missed in the national squad set up.

Speaking about his decision to retire Davies said: “I glanced in the mirror once too often and saw my sell-by date.

“The decision to retire is mine. I realise I’ve had a longer run than I could have wished for, but the job is much more active than it used to be and there comes a time when you have to be honest and put your hand up.

“I’ve accumulated a number of ailments over the years which has required a new knee, hip and shoulder. I’ve had a number of fusions in both feet, so long gone are the days when I had four good wheels on my wagon. They are boney problems which is a bit ironic in view of my nickname.

“Somebody called me ‘carcass’ way back in primary school in Maesteg because some bright spark thought it summed up my anatomical state. I was skin and bone at the time and it’s stuck ever since.

“The boney issue now means I can’t get about as quickly as I used to.”

Mark Davies

While he may not be in camp with the squad come the autumn, Davies will still be keeping a close eye on how the men’s national squad fair in their four home Test matches, “It’ll be a wrench when the season starts and Wales play their next match,” he said.

“It’s going to be a little bit different and I don’t know how I’ll approach that. It is going to be a bit strange really, so I’ll have to wait and see on that front.”

Retirement brings new opportunities, however, and Davies is ready to embrace those, “I have my wife and a new cockapoo, so that’s my immediate on the horizon shall we say.

“Then I’m looking forward to a bit of golf and just chilling out getting a feel for things. I want to be as active as I can be really. I think that’s important for your own welfare.”

This summer’s historic win against the Springboks on South African soil for the first time is one of many recollections Davies has from his time with Wales, “The boys showed huge courage in these epic battles last month on three successive weeks, no mean feat against the Springboks.

“I have the kind of precious memories which no amount of money can buy, like the 1999 win over England at Wembley and the Grand Slam campaign of 2005.”

Mark Davies

Wales Gethin Jenkins has his strapping put on by physio Mark Davies in 2008

And while there are too many memories to single out one at the top, Davies is clear about what made the job so special, “I think the best thing about the job is the people you meet and the friends that you make really at the end of the day.

“The games are great highlights and they’re pinnacles to remember things from, but I think you make lasting friends in the game. For me obviously it’s been a lifelong experience, meeting up with friends and having very good memories to savour so that’s I think the thing that really stands out.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work with some great coaching and management teams and our own staff as well which is almost like a bit of a family. So it’s very poignant and very difficult to leave that environment in many respects.”

Davies’ final campaign for Wales was the recent three-Test series in South Africa and he received a fitting send off from the squad and backroom colleagues, “Yeah the boys and the management to be fair they made it very special for me.

“It was very nice in terms of a send-off and very humbling listening to people saying kind words about you. I’m self-deprecating in that sense, so all those things you know I take a lot of them very personally and really appreciate those comments.”

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac is one of 15 that Davies has worked with in his time in the national squad set up. Pivac believes Davies’ longevity is down to expertise and the person that he is.

Mark Davies

Mark Davies during the South Africa v Wales – Castle Lager Series in the summer

“The fact that Carc has been here as long as he has indicates that he has done a really good job. Someone that can go through the different eras and still be at the forefront of his game speaks volumes,” said Pivac.

“In the time I have been here, not only is he very good clinically but he’s also a really good bloke to have in and around the environment.

“He’s got a great sense of humour and no job is too big for him. He’d do anything he can to help the team, he’ll always put the team first.

“The players love him, the management love him and I think they broke the mould once Carc came into the position. In the area of his expertise he is a legend. Certainly a legend in Welsh rugby.

Pivac is one of many that will be very sad to see Davies retire, “I’d like to wish Carc all the best for his retirement and thank him for his time with us. I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it – the working side of it but he’s also a fantastic guy to have a beer with or a wine.

“He will be sorely missed by this group, but hopefully we’ll be catching up away from work on a regular basis and he’s welcome to come back in at any time.”

Images & Content – Wales Rugby


6 Nations

Aki Banned For Eight Weeks

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Aki will be unavailable for the westerners’ next five URC games, including the derby clashes with Munster and Leinster, and will also miss at least the first two of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures.

He will definitely be absent for the Tests against South Africa and Fiji, but could return to face Australia on Saturday, November 19 if he ‘successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme’.

After an act of foul play against Stormers winger Seabelo Senatla, referee Gianluca Gnecchi showed Aki a red card in the 60th minute of the game under law 9.20(a).

The particular law states that a player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul.

In his responses to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Pamela Woodman from Scotland), Aki had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card.

She determined that his actions towards Senatla were reckless and took into account, among other things, the speed, force and high degree of danger in his actions.

Ms. Woodman determined that, had it been based on this conduct alone, the offending would have been categorised as mid-range on the scale of seriousness.

However, she also considered Aki’s actions and demeanour towards the referee in connection with the issue of the red card, which she found did not meet the expected standards of conduct or respect.

This was also taken into account (in accordance with URC’s disciplinary rules) in determining that his offending was at the top-end on the scale of seriousness, which warranted an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.

The judicial officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that Aki’s acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play (during the off-field disciplinary process), expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his provincial coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors.

These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.

Aki’s previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the judicial officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.

As a result, the Ireland international will be suspended for a period of eight weeks. As previously stated, should he complete the Coaching Intervention programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week.

Fixtures Bundee Aki is unavailable for:

Vodacom Bulls v Connacht, September 30, BKT URC
Connacht v Munster, October 7, BKT URC
Connacht v Leinster, October 14, BKT URC
Connacht v Scarlets, October 21, BKT URC
Ospreys v Connacht, October 29, BKT URC
Ireland v South Africa, November 5, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Fiji, November 12, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Australia, November 19, Autumn Nations Series (substituted if the player successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Jones names squad for training camp

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England will begin preparations for their four home Autumn Nations Series fixtures in November during the camp. The squad will meet in Richmond on Sunday 2 October and train at Twickenham Stadium.

First call-ups for camp include Northampton Saints’ Alex Coles and Saracens’ Hugh Tizard, both players having previously appeared for England U20s.

Manu Tuilagi and Sam Simmonds are back in the squad following injury and there are returns for Ben Youngs, Alex Mitchell, Tom Pearson and David Ribbans.

England face Argentina in the first of their four matches at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday 6 November (2.15pm KO). They will then host Japan on Saturday 12 November (3.15pm KO), followed by New Zealand on Saturday 19 November (5.30pm KO). Their final match is against South Africa on Saturday 26 November (5.30pm KO).

“With a year to go to the Rugby World Cup, this is a big opportunity for players to come in and impress,” said Jones. “We want them to show real energy and enthusiasm and that they want to be a part of this massive year.

“It doesn’t mean that those who have been left out won’t be considered for the Autumn Nations Series matches. We’ll be looking at club games, form and fitness and the door is left open for those players.

“We finished the Australia tour well. It was a fantastic experience, particularly for the younger players. We now have to start again, but we’ll build on what we’ve done there and continue that momentum.”

Training Squad

FORWARDS

Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)

Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 37 caps)

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 41 caps)

Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 39 caps)

Jamie George (Saracens, 69 caps)

Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)

Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 15 caps)

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 14 caps)

Tom Pearson (London Irish, uncapped)

David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)

Patrick Schickerling (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps)

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)

Hugh Tizard (Saracens, uncapped)

Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 64 caps)

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 70 caps)

Jack Walker (Harlequins, uncapped)

Jack Willis (Wasps, 4 caps)

BACKS

Henry Arundell (London Irish, 3 caps)

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)

Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Owen Farrell (Saracens, 97 caps)

Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)

George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)

Will Joseph (London Irish, 1 cap)

Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 69 caps)

Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 42 caps)

Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)

Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 13 caps)

Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps)

Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 46 caps)

Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 117 caps)

Unavailable for selection due to injury: Alfie Barbeary, Nic Dolly, Alex Dombrandt, Charlie Ewels, George Ford, Sam Jeffries, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Anthony Watson.


Images & Content from England Rugby
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6 Nations

New governance structure agreed for rugby in Scotland

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Scottish Rugby President Colin Rigby hailed a “significant milestone” for the game in Scotland when member clubs agreed a new governance structure at an online special general meeting last night.

The new structure, based on the recommendations on the Standing Committee on Governance (SCOG), sees the new Scottish Rugby Union (a company limited by guarantee) take on the responsibility for the oversight of the organisation’s main operating vehicle, Scottish Rugby.

It also will provide an oversight function to the organisation’s members.

Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Interim Chair of the new Scottish Rugby Union, pledged to the SGM that “all the promises for a new, well-functioning governance system will absolutely be delivered.”

Professor Crerar also called on the membership to play its part in finding the “very best talent” to serve as “custodians” on the new company’s board.

Colin Rigby thanked members, SCOG, the Scottish Rugby Council and Scottish Rugby’s employees for their patience, while the new structure was arrived at.

He added: “This is a significant milestone in the history of the Scottish Rugby Union where all stakeholders now have clarity around governance, roles and responsibility.”

John Jeffrey remains chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board which will continue to oversee the day-to-day operational, commercial and executive functions of Scottish Rugby.

Earlier tonight, members voted unanimously to receive Scottish Rugby’s financial statements for 2021-22 at the second part of the organisation’s AGM.

During the period, overall revenue returned to within 5% of pre-pandemic levels at £57.9million, a rise of £5.5million from the previous year.

The accounts showed a deficit of £5.3 million on the base business, while the strategic investment from private equity partners CVC drove a gain on disposal of investment of £34.2million, bringing Scottish Rugby’s net surplus after tax to £29million for the year.

Images & Content – Scotland Rugby


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