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England Confirm Historic Japanese Tour

England have confirmed part of their summer plans for next year and they are poised to make history

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(Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England have confirmed that they will take on Japan in a two-test series in July of 2020 in what will be the first time that the nations have faced off on Japanese soil.

The series has been expected to be announced for a number of weeks but it is now set in stone as head coach Eddie Jones and his troops will head to the Rugby World Cup hosts once again. 

Jones, who previously managed the Japanese national side, is delighted that his players will have another chance to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.

“Japan were fantastic Rugby World Cup hosts and we feel humbled to have been a part of it. The England squad had a fantastic experience of the country and we are excited to return in July next year. The Japan national team have shown again how good a side they are with their performances during the World Cup and I know they will provide a great test for us in July,” he said. 

Having lost the World Cup final to South Africa it will provide England with a chance to make some fonder memories, while for Japan it is another platform for them to impress against the best around having made it to their first-ever World Cup quarter-final during the tournament and gaining admirers all over the planet for their displays. 

The first test is set to be played in Oita, where England saw off the Wallabies during their World Cup quarter-final, while the second test will be played in Kobe, another place where England were victorious, as they defeated the USA in the pool stages. 

The two countries have only ever met twice before, once in the inaugural World Cup in 1987 when England hammered the Brave Blossoms 60-7, while the other was a more recent 35-15 win for the English at Twickenham last year. 

However, what is certain is that the Japanese are on an upward curve in terms of their rugby development and England will have to be at their best if they are to return home with better memories than this year. Although, if Japan perform as they did in the World Cup once again they will only enhance the debate as to whether they should be included in either the Six Nations or Rugby Championship in the future.

International

PREVIEW: All Blacks v Fiji

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Steinlager Series ends on a high in Hamilton as the All Blacks face an incredibly physical and skillful Fijian side who will be eager to improve on the 57-23 score line from Dunedin last week.

Match details: All Blacks v Fiji, Saturday 17 July, 7.05pm (NZT), FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

Played: 6

First game: All Blacks 74, Fiji 13 (27 May 1987)

Last game: All Blacks 57, Fiji 23 (10 July 2021)

Referee: Damon Murphy

FIJI NO SURPRISE PACKAGE

While Fiji’s strong performance in the first Test came as a surprise to some fans, it wasn’t to the All Blacks according to first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga. “We knew what we were going to get and for those who didn’t know, the New Zealand public who don’t watch European rugby, these guys are rock stars over there,” Mo’unga said. Despite a hampered build-up to the first Test with some players not coming out of MIQ until the week of the Test, Fiji pressured the All Blacks in many facets of the game and trailed by just eight points with 20 minutes to go. Fiji Head Coach Vern Cotter believes his side can get even better with another week of preparation under their belt. “The ingredients are there, a brave performance…you can build something from that,” Cotter said.

ARDIE AND ANTON MILESTONES

It will be a night to remember for Ardie Savea and Anton Lienert-Brown who both bring up 50 Tests for the All Blacks. Both players debuted in 2016 as youngsters and have quickly become regular starters and leaders in the All Blacks. Lienert-Brown said it was even more special for him to celebrate the milestone in Hamilton. “This region is probably the reason I am here. It has given a lot to me so to do it at FMG Waikato Stadium is special so I am very grateful.”

BREAKDOWN CHALLENGE

Fiji excelled at the breakdown last week in Dunedin and will be looking to edge the All Blacks again in this crucial area. It’s no secret that the All Blacks have been working hard during the week to improve their work at the breakdown and the addition of Ardie Savea to the starting line-up for the first time in 2021 will no doubt boost the All Blacks ability to compete in the tackle zone. Assistant Coach Brad Mooar outlined a simple formula to success at the breakdown: “I think it’s more about just winning the race, beating the opposition to the breakdown, making good decisions and execution as a ball carrier, supporters’ anticipation, and getting into that breakdown,” Mooar said.

STATCHAT

This will be the All Blacks 600th Test in the team’s rich history. The first All Blacks Test match was against Australia way back in 1903.

COACH’S CHAT

Hear from All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster on the 23 players named to face Fiji in Hamilton.

WATCH

Watch the action live on Sky Sport in New Zealand and click HERE for international broadcast details.

TEAMS

 

All Blacks (caps in brackets):

1: George Bower (2) 2: Codie Taylor (57) 3: Nepo Laulala (30) 4: Scott Barrett (41) 5: Samuel Whitelock – captain (124) 6: Akira Ioane (3) 7: Ardie Savea (49) 8: Luke Jacobson (4) 9: Aaron Smith (98) 10: Richie Mo’unga (23) 11: Sevu Reece (9) 12: David Havili (4) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (49) 14: Will Jordan (4) 15: Damian McKenzei (29)

Reserves: 16: Dane Coles (76) 17: Ethan de Groot (1) 18: Angus Ta’avao (15) 19: Brodie Retallick (82) 20: Shannon Frizell (13) 21: Brad Weber (8) 22: Beauden Barrett (90) 23: Rieko Ioane (35)

Fiji:

1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa (C), 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Peceli Yato, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Eneriko Buliruarua, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Setareki Tuicuvu, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Albert Tuisue, 20. Kitione Kamikamica, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Teti Tela, 23. Manasa Mataele.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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6 Nations

World Rugby applies 50/22 law trial globally, bolster concussion protocol

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World Rugby announced on Wednesday five law trials which will start next month, including a so-called “50/22” kicking adaptation.

The 50/22 change allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half.

The rule was used in recent Super Rugby tournaments and its primary intention is to “encourage the defensive team to put more players in the backfield, thereby creating more attacking space and reducing defensive line speed”, according to the sport’s governing body.

The other laws to come into force on a temporary basis from August 1 include a goal-line drop-out if the ball is held up in the in-goal area, if there is a knock-on from an attacking player in the same area or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal.

There are also restrictions on attacking players latching onto team-mates from a ruck and clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs at the breakdown.

Michael Hooper with a textbook tackle close out a certain try

The final trial allows for a one-player latch before contact, but the individual must “observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet”.

World Rugby has also moved to strengthen concussion protocols, with independent specialists set to review cases when Test players return to action after a head injury.

They will launch a panel of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) to provide expert opinion on whether players are ready to return to action after head knocks.

The global governing body will fully fund the process for Test-level competitions, with ICCs asked to rule when players look to return to action 10 days or fewer after a concussion or on players deemed higher risk due to previous head-injury history.

Source – Australia Rugby

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International

Ireland Name Squad For Final Game Of Vodafone Summer Series

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Andy Farrell and his coaching team have named the Ireland side to face the USA at the Aviva Stadium in the final fixture of the Vodafone Summer Series. There are four new caps in the starting XV and a further four uncapped players in the replacements.

James Ryan wears the captain’s armband and is partnered in the second row by Ryan Baird who wins his 5th cap in his first start for Ireland. In the backrow Caelan Doris switches to the blindside flank to accommodate Gavin Coombes at No.8 with the uncapped Nick Timoney lining out at openside.

In the front row Tom O’Toole is set to make his international debut alongside Ronan Kelleher and Dave Kilcoyne.

Craig Casey will make his first start for Ireland and will partner his provincial colleague Joey Carbery at half-back. Stuart McCloskey retains the inside centre berth and is joined by fellow Ulsterman, debutant James Hume (pictured above).  Hugo Keenan starts his 13th consecutive game for Ireland and is supported in the back field by Andrew Conway and the uncapped Robert Baloucoune.Ireland

The replacements include Dave Heffernan, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Will Addison and the uncapped quartet Fineen Wycherley, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade and Harry Byrne. 

The match will be televised by RTE (ROI) and on Channel 4’s YouTube channel (UK & NI) and kicks off at 7.15pm.

Ireland Team & Replacements (v USA, Vodafone Summer Series, Saturday, July 10, 7:15 pm)

15. Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster) 12 caps
14. Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ulster) uncapped
13. James Hume (Banbridge/Ulster) uncapped
12. Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster) 5 caps
11. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 24 caps
10. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 23 caps
9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster) 2 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 44 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 12 caps
3. Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster) uncapped
4. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster) 4 caps
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 36 caps captain
6. Caelan Doris (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 8 caps
7. Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster) uncapped
8. Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster) 1 cap

Replacements
16. Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht) 5 caps
17. Ed Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 5 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 15 caps
19. Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster) uncapped
20. Paul Boyle (Buccaneers/Connacht) uncapped
21. Caolin Blade (Galwegians/Connacht) uncapped
22. Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster) uncapped
23. Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 4 caps

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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