For tighthead prop Moore, who won the last of his 10 Ireland caps in 2015, he has worked his way back into the Ireland reckoning through his consistent form at provincial level.
The Dubliner will be keen to make his mark off the bench at the RDS, while Stockdale has recovered from an ankle injury to don the green jersey, albeit the ‘A’ one, for the first time since playing against Japan in July 2021.
Andy Farrell says Stockdale’s start on the left wing – he will be up against the Chiefs’ Shaun Stevenson – is just reward for his strong start to the season in Ulster colours.
“We all know that Jacob’s been out injured for quite some time. There’s a few lads that have staked their place pretty well over the last 12 months, but Jacob coming back at the start of the season has shown a lot of hunger, in my eyes,” insisted the Ireland head coach.
“Looking at his performances, and I know that he’s not played for a couple of weeks, but his hunger at the start of the season, how he attacked the season, shows me the fight and the want to get his spot back.
“So, he gets the opportunity to show us how he’s going to push forward with the rest of the season.”
Moore will provide back-up to his Ulster front row colleague, Tom O’Toole, who started both of Ireland’s summer tour games against the Māori All Blacks, along with Munster’s Jeremy Loughman at loosehead.
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has dubbed the 31-year-old Moore ‘one of the top scrummagers around in Ireland’, and his recent displays for McFarland’s men would certainly back up that view.
“With Marty, I think he’s been ever-present and consistently very good for Ulster,” acknowledged Farrell. “I think he’s been the cornerstone of the Ulster pack for the last few years, actually.
“You look at his last game, he was man-of-the-match against Munster. He’s earned the right to deserve his chance to show his worth to his peers within the squad.”
It has been a long road back to earning an Ireland recall. Moore’s rugby journey has taken him from his native Leinster in 2016 to two injury-interrupted seasons with Wasps, and then back into the Irish system with Ulster in 2018.
He was involved in Farrell’s first ever Ireland training squad three years ago, and while still aspiring to make a return to international rugby, he said last year that ‘it’s not really part of my goal-setting and objectives’.
The two-time Six Nations winner may have to reset those goals if Friday night goes well and he can work his way back into the Irish front row ranks on a regular basis.
“I didn’t expect to be in an Irish squad, if I’m honest. The opportunity to play rugby as close to top level is something special, whether it’s an interpro game, European rugby, or an ‘A’ game with Ireland,” commented Moore.
“An ‘A’ international is as close as it comes to Test match rugby. It’s something I’ll grab with both hands – and hopefully get a good hit out on Friday.”
The All Blacks XV are New Zealand Rugby’s newest team, and their inaugural matchday squad features eight capped players, including the returning Damian McKenzie who joins vice-captain TJ Perenara – the team’s elder statesman at 30 – at half-back.
There are a combined 14 representatives from the Chiefs and the Crusaders, with six of the forwards hailing from the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific champions. Head coach Leon MacDonald is expecting ‘a huge challenge from a top tier, physical Ireland ‘A’ team’.
While they have not played before as a collective, seven of the All Blacks XV squad saw action for the Māori All Blacks during the summer. Analysis of their Super Rugby exploits will also aid the Ireland ‘A’ preparations.
“We’ve got plenty of information about the opposition as individuals. The lads will be well across that. They sure know the experience that they’ve got in their side,” explained Farrell.
“The amount of caps that they’ve got with the captain (42-times capped lock Patrick Tuipulotu) there, and with (Damian) McKenzie and (TJ) Perenara, etc. We know the experience that they’ve got and what they’re going to show.
We also know that our lads watch plenty of Super Rugby, so that these lads they’re playing against on Friday night are the next cabs on the rank as far as the All Blacks side is concerned.
“Their depth is pretty deep as well, so we know that they are going to be very strong and a big step up from the Māori game.
“At the same time, our lads came in last Sunday and they’ve had a couple of training sessions. We expect them to be up to speed, so most of the concentration has been on ourselves in that regard.”
The Ireland coaches are challenging the players selected, led by captain Craig Casey, to lay down a marker and alter the pecking order as selection draws nearer for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, and the Rugby World Cup in the longer term.
That is the case for the more experienced cohort, as well as the exciting youngsters back for more from the Emerging Ireland tour, and those who have graced the Test arena already on a handful of occasions.
There is the carrot of potential involvement against Fiji in the second Test of the Bank of Ireland Nations, with Farrell underlining: “It’s their chance to show the fight on Friday night and to show that they’re ready for the big stage.
There’s an opportunity for them to show that they’re able to handle the big stage and hopefully that transfers to a cap for a few of them.
“We get to see who is serious about wanting to be in the room, not just for the medium or long term, which some of these guys obviously are, but for the short term as well.”
The Wigan native continued: “Come the Six Nations, we want a big headache as coaching staff of making sure that we understand that we have grown the pool and it’s one of a very competitive nature regarding Six Nations selection.
“This is why we’re doing it. This is the whole point, to make sure that everyone…we’ve had 50 lads in the same room all week, they’re all looking across the room at each other and they know who the competition is.
“It doesn’t really matter whether you class yourself as a senior player or a new kid on the block, we’ll see who has got the hunger from the experience that they’ve had all week.”
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Jones officially sacked by RFU
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will now conclude the long-term work it has been undertaking on coach succession planning with changes set to be announced in the near future. In the interim, Richard Cockerill will take over the day to day running of the men’s performance team.
“It is important to recognise the huge contribution Eddie has made to English rugby, winning three Six Nations Championships, one Grand Slam and taking us to a Rugby World Cup Final,” said RFU CEO, Bill Sweeney.
“He has the highest win ratio of any previous England head coach and has helped develop the leadership skills of many players and coaches. I am grateful to Eddie for all he has done for England across many areas of the game and the professional way in which he has approached reviewing the performance of the team. He has provided the panel with astute insight and meaningful lessons that will support the team performance going forward.”
During his time in charge Jones steered England to three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2016, two series wins in Australia, an unbeaten run of 18 matches, an Autumn Nations Cup, and a Rugby World Cup final in Japan.
“I am pleased with much that we have achieved as an England team and I look forward to watching the team’s performance in the future,” said Jones. “Many of the players and I will no doubt keep in touch and I wish them all well in their future careers.”
The decision for Eddie to leave was taken by the RFU board earlier today. Speaking about the decision, RFU Chair, Tom Ilube said: “The independent review panel regularly updates board on its discussions and findings. We are fully supportive of its process and recommendations.”
Gatland returns as Pivac is sacked
Warren Gatland will return to Wales before Christmas to replace incumbent head coach Wayne Pivac.
Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) CEO Steve Phillips has confirmed Gatland will take charge of Wales for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, with the ability to go through the next World Cup cycle up to and including Australia 2027.
Wales’ most successful and longest serving coach is back to take over from fellow New Zealander Pivac, who has agreed to part company with the WRU after the official 2022 Autumn Nations Series review was completed and approved by the WRU Board.
“This is one of the toughest calls to make in sport, but the review process has reached its conclusion and we have acted quickly and efficiently in the very best interests of our national team,” said Phillips.
“Ultimately we are in the results business and we have agreed with Wayne that the current trajectory for Wales is not where we want it to be and we thank him sincerely for his time, enthusiasm, diligence and effort, which is unquestioned, as head coach over the last three years.”
Gatland leaves Super Rugby side the Chiefs to return, after formerly serving Wales over a 12-year period. He completed his first Six Nations clean sweep in his debut season with Cymru in 2008, before repeating the feat in 2012 and finishing on the same high to win the 2019 tournament.
“In Warren we are bringing in one of the very best coaches in the international game,” continued Phillips.
“We were sorry to see him go when he left and we are delighted that he has agreed to return.
“We know him well and, most importantly, he knows us well too. We are extremely excited about this latest chapter for Wales-and-Warren-Gatland and I know the feeling is mutual.
“He will undoubtedly be able to make an immediate impact, just as he did when he joined us for the first time in 2008. But it has also been important to both parties to ensure we get absolute maximum gain out of the return of such an experienced and highly regarded individual.
“It is for this reason that we are particularly pleased to have been able to secure Warren’s services for the next few years with the ability to go to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
“This appointment is no quick fix, nor sticking plaster, it is part of our long term planning for the game in Wales.
“We have been able to take swift action in difficult circumstances and that is testament to the good grace and professionalism of Wayne and the efficiency of our review process.”
Native New Zealander Gatland, who took charge of two successful British & Irish Lions tours during his time with Wales, was also in charge for three Rugby World Cups, reaching the semi-final stages on two occasions (2011 and 2019) and took Wales to the top of World Rugby’s rankings – for the first time – by virtue of a record 14-match unbeaten run during his final season.
“I’m very much looking forward to returning to coach Wales,” said Gatland
“This is an opportunity to achieve something with a talented group of players in a country so passionate about rugby. A country which made my family and I so welcome, when we first arrived fifteen years ago, and all the time we were there.
“Our immediate priority is obviously the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“There is little time for sentiment, professional sport is all about preparation, values and results. There will be new challenges as there always is with a change in head coach, but for me the environment, the players and their families will always come first.
“We must prepare to the best of our ability in the time available. We will value and respect each other, we will work hard and, if we get this right together, performances and results will follow.”
The WRU and New Zealand Rugby have reached agreement for Warren Gatland to be released from his existing contract with immediate effect.
“Warren Gatland is Wales’ most successful coach, overseeing a period in which we won three Grand Slams and reached the very top of World Rugby’s rankings for the first time in the history of those records,” added recently appointed WRU chair Ieuan Evans
“We are delighted he has agreed to return to us. We will of course need to afford him time and ensure he has the tools at his disposal to rekindle the success he has achieved with Wales during his previous tenure, but we are all very excited about the future.
“I would like to add my sincere gratitude to Wayne. He has given much of himself over the last three years, including leading Wales to the Six Nations Championship title in 2021 and we are extremely grateful to him for his dedication to the role.”
Wayne Pivac said: “I am obviously extremely sad to stand down from the role.
“It was a speedy review process post-Autumn Nations Series as time is of the essence with the Six Nations fast approaching. Unfortunately, the results or performances this year were not all as we hoped. As a group we all take responsibility for that, but me in particular as head coach.
“We have played some really good rugby at times, but needed to do that more consistently. However, I know that there is a strong foundation for the squad to progress to great things in the future.
“I would like to thank the players, coaches, management and the WRU for their commitment, support and hard work in my time as head coach and to all the people in Wales for making me feel at home here over the past eight years.”
Images & Content – Wales Rugby
Ireland’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations Home Games To Be Played At Musgrave Park
Ireland’s home matches in the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations will be played at Musgrave Park.
The Cork venue has been the home of the Ireland U20s since 2019 and has become a real fortress in recent seasons, with Ireland Women also enjoying huge support there when they defeated Italy at Musgrave Park in last year’s Six Nations.
Greg McWilliams‘ side open their 2023 Championship against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, 25th March (2.15pm) before welcoming France to Cork in Round 2 on Saturday, 1st April (3.15pm). After a rest weekend, Ireland will be on the road again, going head-to-head with Italy in Parma on Saturday, 15th April (4.45pm).
World Cup finalists England will visit Musgrave Park in Round 4 on Saturday, 22nd April (2.15pm) and the Championship will conclude with a trip to Edinburgh to take on Scotland at the DAM Health Stadium on Saturday, 29th April (7.30pm).
“We received huge home support during last year’s Six Nations and we’re excited to make Cork our home base for the 2023 Championship,” McWilliams said. “We enjoyed a good day out against Italy last year, with the people of Cork coming out to support the team and we will be hoping for more of the same in 2023, as two of the best teams in women’s rugby come to visit.”
Ticket details for Ireland’s home matches at Musgrave Park will be announced in due course.
TikTok Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2023:
- Wales v Ireland, Saturday 25 March, Cardiff Arms Park, 2.15pm
- Ireland v France, Saturday 1 April, Musgrave Park, 3.15pm
- Italy v Ireland, Saturday 15 April, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 4.45pm
- Ireland v England, Saturday 22 April, Musgrave Park, 2.15pm
- Scotland v Ireland, Saturday 29 April, DAM Health Stadium, 7.30pm.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
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