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Fiji retain Olympic rugby sevens title with victory over New Zealand

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Fiji secured their second successive men’s Olympic rugby sevens gold medal as they beat New Zealand 27-12 in a thrilling gold medal match at Tokyo Stadium.

The defending champions raced into a 12-0 lead against the All Blacks Sevens as Meli Derenalagi and Sireli Maqala touched down in the opening three minutes.

Scott Curry crossed for his fifth try of the tournament to get New Zealand on the scoreboard but Jiuta Wainiqolo touched down before the break to equal that tally and give Fiji a 19-5 half-time lead.

New Zealand crucially scored the first try of the second period, as Sione Molia broke free of the Fijian defence to touch down, but that was as close as the All Blacks Sevens would get.

Asaeli Tuivuaka grabbed Fiji’s fourth try of the match and with time running out Waisea Nacuqu made sure of a second Olympic title when he successfully converted a penalty.

Argentina, who were beaten 26-14 by Fiji in the medal semi-finals, took their place on the final step of the podium after they beat Great Britain 17-12 in the bronze medal final.

Great Britain had lost 29-7 to New Zealand in the semi-finals, but opened the scoring in the first minute when Ben Harris crossed for his fourth try of the tournament.

Argentina hit back in the fifth minute when Lautaro Bazan Velez touched down, before Marcos Moneta produced a dazzling step to score his sixth try of the tournament and ensure his side led 12-5 at the break.

Ollie Lindsay-Hague got Great Britain back on level terms midway through the second period, but Argentina were soon back in front and Ignacio Mendy’s breakaway try ultimately secured the bronze medal – the South American nation’s first medal of the Games.

As the only member of the Rio 2016 winning squad to continue on to Tokyo 2020, Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai holds the unique title of being the only double Olympic gold medallist in rugby sevens history.

Comparing Tokyo with the previous Olympic triumph in Rio, Tuwai said: “It is more special than 2016 because we have been away from our families for about five or six months. I have three kids so it is really hard for me. My mum and dad sacrificed to buy my first boots. Those boots took me to Rio, to my first gold medal, and now my second. That is why I am really grateful to my whole family who have helped me along the way.

Commenting on the joyous scenes back in Fiji he added: “It will be very loud. We have very loud voices and I know everyone is shouting back in Fiji. They will not be thinking about the pandemic now but the celebration of the gold medal. A gold medal can’t replace human life. We tell our country and families to stay home and follow the guidance that has been put up.”

The Fiji squad have been in training camps and unable to see their families for the past five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Head Coach Gareth Baber said: “I’ve got to pay special tribute to the players and staff who have done this. They came into a training camp on Easter Monday thinking they were going back on the Friday, and on the Tuesday they were told they couldn’t go back and haven’t seen their families since. That takes a special kind of person to make that commitment.”

New Zealand co-captain Scott Curry was disappointed but proud of the All Blacks Sevens silver medal: “We went into it with a lot of confidence and belief that we could come away with gold, so it is obviously very disappointing to come up short. Fiji played really well and credit to them, they deserved the gold on the day. But I was really proud of our group. It has been a long time getting to this point and I have a lot of love and pride for our group.”

Argentina’s Marcos Moneta finished as the competition’s leading try scorer with six tries and was delighted with their bronze medal: “This is a dream come true. It was what we were looking for, to get on the podium. It is a great pleasure and we will enjoy it now. I can’t describe it. The team are crazy. You saw yesterday (in Tuesday’s 19-14 quarterfinal win over South Africa, which they finished with five players on the field) what this team is like, and here today also. We are really happy to get the bronze medal.”

Earlier in the day South Africa recovered from the disappointment of losing their medal quarter-final to Argentina on day two to wrap up fifth place at Tokyo Stadium.

Ronald Brown was the hero in the Blitzboks’ fifth-place semi-final, as his two tries helped his side hold off a second-half comeback from Australia and seal a 22-19 win.

Victory set up a fifth-place play-off against the USA, who had earned their place in the match with a see-saw 21-14 defeat of neighbours Canada. Carlin Isles’ late try proved decisive.

It was South Africa who controlled the fifth-place play-off, however, as tries from Justin Geduld and Sakoyisa Makata gave their side a 14-7 lead at the break.

The Blitzboks made sure of the win in the closing stages as Kurt-Lee Arendse and Stedman Gans crossed the whitewash to confirm a 28-7 scoreline.

Australia ended their tournament on a high against Canada, running in four tries to seal a 26-7 victory and seventh place.

Women’s rugby sevens will take centre stage at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 from 29-31 July as the final squads have been confirmed ahead of three days of intense competition in Tokyo Stadium, which will begin on Thursday with France v Fiji at 09:00 local time, while reigning Olympic champions Australia begin their title defence against hosts Japan at 10:30. The women’s competition will conclude with the gold medal match on ‘Super Saturday’ at 18:00 local time.

Source – World Rugby

6 Nations

Ireland Squad Named For Autumn Nations Series

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Andy Farrell has named a 38 strong squad for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland face Japan on Saturday 6th November before hosting New Zealand a week later on Saturday 13th.

The final game in the series sees Mario Ledesma’s Argentina line out at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday 21stNovember.   The Aviva Stadium will be at full capacity for these three games.

Johnny Sexton who has been capped 99 times for his country will lead the squad during this international window.

Six of Ireland’s players who toured with the British and Irish Lions during the summer – Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Conor Murray are included as is Ronan Kelleher who joined the squad in South Africa.

Six of the players who won their first caps during the Vodafone Summer Series in July have been included in the squad – Robert Baloucoune, Harry Byrne, Gavin Coombes, James Hume, Tom O’Toole and Nick Timoney.

There are two uncapped players named Leinster duo Dan Sheehan and Ciaran Frawley while Munster’s Simon Zebo is named in an Ireland squad for the first time since June 2017.

Robbie Henshaw will continue his rehabilitation programme under the supervision of the Ireland medical team.

Thomas Ahern (Munster) and Jamie Osborne (Leinster) will train with the squad as development players during this window.

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell, commented,

“It has been a short lead in to this international window but that is the challenge, to get back up to speed quickly and build on the performances from the Six Nations and the Summer Tests.  This is the start of an exciting period for the group as we begin to build towards the Rugby World Cup in France.”

“In September we got together and mapped out what was coming up in this window, the exciting fixtures that lay ahead in the next 12 months and beyond that the opportunities to improve as a group over the next five windows we will have together.

“In a few weeks’ time we will face an exciting and well coached Japan team who showed in July what a dangerous team they are.  New Zealand dominated the Rugby Championship losing just one game while Argentina are battle hardened from playing the southern hemisphere’s Big 3 week in week out over the past two months.

“It would be fantastic to play in front of a full-house at the Aviva Stadium.  We had small crowds back in for the games in July and even that made a huge difference to the team and the atmosphere in the stadium.”

Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium will be televised on RTE (ROI) and Channel 4 (NI).

IRELAND Autumn Nations Series Squad 2021

Backs (18)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 31 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 1 cap
Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 24 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 25 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 93 caps
Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/UCD)*
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 10 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 6 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 5 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 89 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 99 caps CAPTAIN
Simon Zebo (Munster/Cork Constitution) 35 caps

Forwards (20)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 5 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 16 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 22 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 20 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 19 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 49 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 109 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 63 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 22 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 76 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 1 cap
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)*
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps

*denotes uncapped player

Development Players

Thomas Ahern (Munster/Shannon)
Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas)

Autumn Nations Series Fixtures 2021

IRELAND v Japan
Aviva Stadium , Saturday 6th November, 2021

IRELAND v New Zealand
Aviva Stadium , Saturday 13th November, 2021

IRELAND v Argentina
Aviva Stadium , Sunday 21st November, 2021

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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

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Autumn Nations Cup

Scotland confirm Autumn Nations Squad

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Scotland has called up its full complement of 2021 British & Irish Lions as Head Coach Gregor Townsend confirms his 42-man squad for the Autumn Nations Series.

The extended group welcomes back Captain Stuart Hogg, half-back pairing Ali Price and Finn Russell, centre Chris Harris, winger Duhan van de Merwe, flanker Hamish Watson as well as props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland following their involvement in the South African series.

Support for Scotland continues to build ahead of the Autumn Nations Series with the confirmation today that the match against Australia on Sunday 7 November is sold out.

A total of 11 new players are added to the squad ahead of the opening game against Tonga on 30 October from the training group which came together earlier this week at the Oriam High Performance Centre.

Alongside the B&I Lions contingent centres Matt Scott, Huw Jones and fly-half Adam Hastings retain their places alongside flanker Sam Skinner from Scotland’s summer tour squad, which was hampered by Covid cancellations.

Also progressing to the Autumn Series squad are Edinburgh backs Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and Mark Bennett. They are joined by fellow capital teammates Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally, Jamie Ritchie and Nick Haining.

Scotland’s west-based professional side Glasgow Warriors provide experience also in the form of hookers Fraser Brown and George Turner, lock Rob Harley and back-row Matt Fagerson. Props Jamie Bhatti, Murray McCallum and Oli Kebble are also selected.

Glasgow Warriors centre Sam Johnson joins scrum-half George Horne and wing Kyle Steyn who all also missed out on possible game time in the summer series and will compete again for places this autumn.

Head Coach Townsend has selected 12 uncapped players to be part of the tournament squad following their initial involvement in the training group this week.

In the pack Ewan Ashman, Josh Bayliss, Rory Darge, Dylan Richardson, Luke Crosbie, Jamie Hodgson, Marshall Sykes and Pierre Schoeman will all be keen to feature in the four-match series, which begins against Tonga and sees Scotland play Australia, South Africa and Japan on consecutive weekends.

Glasgow Warriors provide all the uncapped backs in Rufus McLean, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson and Sione Tuipulotu.

It’s exciting to bring together a blend of highly experienced and uncapped players for our first week of the Autumn Nations Series campaign.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend

“There have been some notable performances from both our home-based players and those at clubs outside of Scotland, which has enabled us as coaches to select a group which are playing well and will be motivated across the four games.

“We also feel that this the right time to bring in some younger players given their early season form. They have created opportunities for themselves to represent their country and we believe that they will thrive in the Test match environment.

“We face four tough matches in four weeks and Tonga, Australia, South Africa and Japan each present a different challenge and an opportunity to perform in front of our people at BT Murrayfield. It’s great to hear that we will now play Australia in front of a capacity crowd at BT Murrayfield, and it means a huge amount to the players to have this level of support.”

Autumn Nations Series Squad

Forwards:
Ewan Ashman – Sale Sharks – uncapped
Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby – uncapped
Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
Fraser Brown – Glasgow Warriors – 54 caps
Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 13 caps
Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 38 caps
Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – 45 caps
Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 8 caps
Rob Harley – Glasgow Warriors – 22 caps
Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors – 8 caps
Murray McCallum – Glasgow Warriors – 3 caps
Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby – 40 caps
Dylan Richardson – Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby – 27 caps
Sam Skinner – Exeter Chiefs – 12 caps
Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Rory Sutherland – Worcester Warriors – 16 caps
Marshall Sykes – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 17 caps
Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 41 caps


Backs:
Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby – 22 caps
Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 19 caps
Jamie Dobie – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Chris Harris – Gloucester Rugby – 28 caps
Adam Hastings – Gloucester Rugby – 23 caps
Stuart Hogg – Exeter Chiefs – 85 caps
George Horne – Glasgow Warriors – 14 caps
Damien Hoyland – Edinburgh Rugby – 4 caps
Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
Huw Jones – Harlequins – 31 caps
Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 25 caps
Duhan van de Merwe – Worcester Warriors – 10 caps
Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 42 caps
Finn Russell – Racing 92 – 55 caps
Matt Scott – Leicester Tigers – 39 caps
Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 1 cap
Ross Thompson – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped

Scotland’s matches against South Africa and Australia are already sold out, a full house at BT Murrayfield is also expected for Japan.

Tonga will be the exciting opponents on Saturday 30 October when Scotland take the field for the first test match at BT Murrayfield with a live crowd since March 2020.

Plans are underway to host a massive Halloween party with fans encouraged to wear fancy dress and with ‘kids for £1’ tickets available it gives a great opportunity for families to see their national team in action, secure your tickets HERE.

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Autumn Nations Cup

Manu Samoa announces Management to lead clash against the Barbarians for the Killik Cup

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan - Simon Smith - Barbarians

Samoa’s rugby clash against the Barbarians for the Killik Cup at Twickenham on November 27, will be from a selected team to take the field in London, drawn from profile coaches and Samoan players based mainly in Europe, but also Australia, New Zealand, Japan and USA.

The Barbarian’s game is the only match to be played from the recently cancelled tour of Europe due to Covid-19 implications. The trip north proved too difficult for some management and squad of players from the southern hemisphere, with health and safety of everyone being prioritized especially upon returning home.

An overseas based Coaching and Management team has been selected, and Head Coach, Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua is confident with the selected coaching group.

“I am very pleased to be able to call the services of coaches that are plying their trade overseas and have an intimate knowledge of the Manu Samoa environment.” Said Vaovasamanaia.

“The challenges that the Pandemic has given us, have also created opportunity for me to grow our people in these key roles and to make sure that we are able to get our Manu Samoa on the field, as well as launch our new partnership with apparel sponsor Castore.” He added.

“Given the nature of the Barbarians, this should prove to be a highly entertaining game and a fantastic opportunity to round off the Autumn Internationals in style.”

The selected Coaching team members are made up of former Manu Samoa stars:
The Co-Coaches are Lemalu Tusiata Pisi, currently coaching at the Toyota Shokki in Japan, and Census Johnston with Racing 92 in France. The Assistant Coaches are Kane Thompson who coaches at NOLA Gold – USA (MLR), and Terry Fanolua who previously coached at Gloucester RFC. The Team Manager is Niuafolau Faautu Talapusi, who has extensive experience with Lakapi Samoa and currently residing in London.

The Manu Samoa players selected for the match will soon be announced, with the reveal of its new apparel sponsor, as game tickets are selling fast with close to 45,000 already sold.

Lakapi Samoa acknowledges the Barbarian Football Club and all its partners in making this very important match possible and their support is invaluable to the Union.

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