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England and Wales Make Changes for Second Test

Both England and Wales have made changes for their second World Cup warm-up game

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

England and Wales have announced their teams for the second of their two tests against one another ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

The Welsh are looking to bounce-back following last weekend’s 33-19 loss to the English and have only made three changes to starting line-up.

Following Gareth Anscombe’s injury last Sunday, which has left him out of the World Cup, Dan Biggar has been selected at fly-half.

Elsewhere, James Davies comes into the back-row and will play with older brother Jonathan for the first time in a Welsh jersey.

Jake Ball is the only other change to the side as he joins captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row, with the rest of the side remaining the same.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is hoping that his team will be able to come back after last weeks’ loss and admitted his squad’s disappointment in the ending of their 14-game winning streak.

“This weekend is another opportunity for us to take the field, test ourselves and continue our preparation for Japan. It is a little over five weeks until we kick off our campaign in Toyota against Georgia and it is important we are fully prepared and rugby-ready by then. We were disappointed to get the loss last weekend so it is important we step it up on Saturday and put in a big display in front of a packed Principality Stadium. The squad are looking forward to getting back out there, taking another step towards the RWC and putting in a big performance,” he said.

The visitors have also made three changes to their starting XV with Ruaridh McConnochie set for his first start a week late after being named in the team last weekend before withdrawing through injury.

There are returns to the line-up for the experienced duo of Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes, meaning that Lewis Ludlam moves to openside flanker.

There is also plenty of experience on the bench too with Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler all in line for their first piece of action in the World Cup warm-ups.

England head coach Eddie Jones is looking forward to the match and insists that there is a strategy in place for the rotation of players.

“Our selection strategy for our second game is similar to the first, so a bit of a mix-and-match approach. We are looking at different combinations and have a particular strategy for this game. The game is very much about ourselves preparing for the World Cup and we are respectful that we have got such strong opposition at their home ground. We are looking forward to it. The squad has been progressing well this week and I think there is a realisation among the squad now that the hard work really starts, nothing has been achieved,” he said.

The game will be the second test between the two sides in the past week, with both building momentum ahead of the Rugby World Cup. There is plenty at stake for both teams with England hoping to defeat the Six Nations Grand Slam champions in back-to-back games while Wales will be seeking revenge following last week’s loss to their old rivals.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squads Below.

Wales:

15. Liam Williams (Saracens) (56 Caps)

14. George North (Ospreys) (84 Caps)

13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets) (74 Caps)

12. Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (16 Caps)

11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (11 Caps)

10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints) (71 Caps)

9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (42 Caps)

1. Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (29 Caps)

2. Ken Owens (Scarlets) (65 Caps)

3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (41 Caps)

4. Jake Ball (Scarlets) (33 Caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (C) (Ospreys) (126 Caps)

6. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (9 Caps)

7. James Davies (Scarlets) (3 Caps)

8. Ross Moriarty (Dragons) (32 Caps)

Replacements:

16. Elliot Dee (Dragons) (19 Caps)

17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (13 Caps)

18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues) (13 Caps)

19. Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (18 Caps)

20. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (16 Caps)

21. Aled Davies (Ospreys) (17 Caps)

22. Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues) (1 Cap)

23. Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (14 Caps)

England:

15 Elliot Daly (Saracens, 31 caps)

14 Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped)

13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 41 caps)

12 Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)

11 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)

10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 56 caps) C

9 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)

1 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps)

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)

3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps)

4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 59 caps)

5 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps)

6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 72 caps)

7 Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)

8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 42 caps)

Replacements:

16 Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps)

17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 59 caps)

18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps)

19 George Kruis (Saracens, 33 caps)

20 Jack Singleton (Saracens, 1 cap)

21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps)

22 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps)

23 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps)

6 Nations

Paul O’Connell Joins Ireland Coaching Group

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined the Ireland national coaching group as forwards coach with Simon Easterby to focus on defence.

Paul was capped 108 times by Ireland and captained the team to Six Nations success in 2014.  O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British & Ireland Lions across three tours and two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.

Since retiring from playing in 2015, Paul has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.

O’Connell commented:

“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell commented:

“Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.

“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.

“The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed.”

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish Rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”

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All Blacks announce new Captain

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

All Blacks Press Release:

All Blacks loose forward and Chiefs Captain Sam Cane has been named as the new Captain of the All Blacks.

The news was announced on SKY Sport’s The Breakdown show tonight, with Cane succeeding Kieran Read who retired from the All Blacks after Rugby World Cup 2019.

A natural leader, 28-year-old Cane has played 68 Tests, including 48 starts, since making his debut against Ireland in 2012, aged just 20.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said he was delighted to name Cane as the new captain.

“Sam is an experienced All Black with eight years in the team now and is a ‘follow me’ type of leader and a very good thinker in the game. He has a natural ability to connect with everyone in the team and is straightforward and direct when he needs to be.

“There’s massive respect for Sam amongst the players and management, and he’s perfectly placed to lead the All Blacks into the future.”

Foster said while the All Blacks’ plans for this year were still being worked through due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an important role for the captain.

“We wanted to confirm Sam now because he’ll play a key role helping us plan for whatever the future looks like and will be working behind the scenes with the other leaders,” Foster said.

Cane said it was a “massive honour” to be given the captaincy.

“It’s a pretty exciting challenge really and as I’ve spent more time in the All Blacks and grown as a player, I’ve become a lot more comfortable being a leader in the team.

“The great thing about the All Blacks is that the leadership group is full of captains and experienced players already, so I’m just really looking forward to working closely with that group and doing my best to lead them and the rest of the squad.”

Cane has already captained the All Blacks on three occasions. He became the 67th Test captain and fifth youngest ever when he captained the team against Namibia at RWC2015 at the age of 23. He also captained the team against Italy in 2016 and against Argentina in Buenos Aires last year.

“My style as captain will be to not really change the way I do things. I’m just myself and will continue to be. I already work on building relationships, especially with the younger guys in the squad, and everyone else connected with the team, so that will continue,” Cane added.

“While we don’t know yet what the rest of the year looks like for the All Blacks, I’m looking forward to catching up with the coaches and other senior players as we firm up our plans.”

Mini biography – Sam Cane

Raised in the small rural Bay of Plenty community of Reporoa, Sam Cane has had an exceptional career since breaking into professional rugby as a teenager. He made his provincial debut for Bay of Plenty in 2010 at just 18 years old and his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs the following year. In 2011, Cane was also part of the Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 side, was the New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year and was also nominated for International Age Grade Player award. He helped the Chiefs to the first of their back-to-back Investec Super Rugby titles in 2012 before making his All Blacks debut in June that year aged 20. A devastating tackler and scavenger, he has continued to take his game to new levels in recent seasons. He was co-Captain of the Chiefs for four years taking sole charge this year and has played 116 games for the club. In 2018 Cane fractured his neck during a Test against South Africa and faced months of recovery post-surgery before making a much-anticipated return to the Chiefs in 2019, helping the team through to the Quarter Finals. A Rugby World Cup 2015 champion with the All Blacks, Cane was also part of the RWC2019 squad.

Samuel Jordan Cane

Born: 13 January 1992 in Rotorua
Physical: 1.89m, 106kg
Position: Loose forward
Province: Bay of Plenty
Investec Super Rugby team: Chiefs
Investec Super Rugby appearances: 116
All Blacks Debut: 16 June 2012, vs Ireland in Christchurch, aged 20.
All Blacks Tests: 68 (Three as Captain)
All Blacks Test Points: 65pts (13 tries)
All Black Number: 1113

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Rugby Australia Make Significant Cuts

Following the coronavirus pandemic rugby has been hit hard with no way of playing games and now Rugby Australia have been forced into making cuts in order to retain staff in the long-run

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia have confirmed that they will be standing down 75% of their staff in a bid to combat the growing struggles that the coronavirus pandemic is causing.

The workers will be released from tomorrow until the 30th of June due to the lack of finances available to Rugby Australia with the Super Rugby season currently on hold and a strong possibility of the Wallabies summer tests being called off. 

In the worst case possible the organisation are predicting a loss of $120 million due to the virus and speaking on the latest developments the organisation’s chief executive Raelane Castle admitted this was the toughest decision she and her colleagues had ever had to make. 

“Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis. Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season. Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies test matches at some point this year. The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period,” she said. 

Castle’s has already taken a 50% pay cut since the crisis began and the rest of Rugby Australia’s executives will have a 30% reduction in pay. 

It is a tough call to make in order to preserve rugby in Australia and the fear is that things may get worse with a fear that not all four of the country’s Super Rugby franchises will make it through to next season due to the financial losses.

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