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International

Fitzgerald Questions Gatland’s Lions Appointment

Former Irish international Luke Fitzgerald has raised concerns over Warren Gatland’s appointment as head coach of the British & Irish Lions for a third successive tour

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Former British & Irish Lion Luke Fitzgerald has questioned whether Warren Gatland’s appointment as head coach for their 2021 South African Tour is the right call.

Gatland was announced as head coach for a third successive tour earlier today, having led the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013 and a series draw against the All Blacks in 2017.

However, Fitzgerald is cautious that his appointment could be less exciting for Welsh players considering he has coached the national side since 2008.

The 34 times capped Ireland back doesn’t want to put down Gatland and all he has achieved but he believes that the players should be given a new experience when they head on the tours.

Gatland will not be the first coach to have taken charge of three tours as Ian McGeechan previously did so in 1989, 1993 and 1997.

The 55-year-old Kiwi claimed his third Six Nations Grand Slam title earlier this year with the Welsh and is looking to continue his side’s winning run at the World Cup in Japan later this year.

He is a perfect candidate given the likes of Joe Schmidt and Eddie Jones ruled themselves out of the running but nonetheless it is an interesting point from Fitzgerald.

International

England Demolish Terrible Ireland

England set new records against Ireland in what was a stand-out performance from the home side

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

England thrashed Ireland 57-15 at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon in what was a record win for the English over their visitors.

Eddie Jones’ side secured a record points total against Ireland surpassing their previous 50 points scored against the Irish 19 years ago, while the win also gave them a record winning margin over the men in green.

The home side started well with captain Owen Farrell knocking over a penalty as early as the 7th minute.

However, Ireland bounced back with a Jordan Larmour try coming within two minutes of that score and Ross Byrne kicked the conversion to make it 7-3.

Ireland gave up their lead as quickly as they gained it when England broke out right with Elliot Daly providing the killer pass for Joe Cokanasiga to stroll over for five-points. Farrell couldn’t provide the extras, but it was 8-7 with 12 minutes on the clock.

The game became a more even contest over the next ten minutes with Ireland only getting the next score on 25 minutes courtesy of a brilliant 42 metre Byrne penalty.

That was the best it got for Ireland as Daly and man of the match Manu Tuilagi got in for further tries before half-time to leave it at 22-10 going into the second-half.

Things went from bad to worse for the Irish in the second period with England scoring a try five minutes in as an over-thrown line-out was gathered up and Maro Itoje burst through the defence to touchdown under the posts.

The floodgates were well and truly open after that try as Itoje’s second-row partner George Kruis got in on the try-scoring act in the 53rd minute and was followed up by Tom Curry who scored the team’s sixth try four minutes later.

Cokanasiga made a wonderful break through the Irish defence to score his second try of the game on 65 minutes to make it 50-10 with another Farrell conversion.

Ireland fought back late on and a brilliant step from Bundee Aki left him in the English 22 where he raced down the touchline and dived in for a try while holding off Daly.

England got the last laugh however as substitute Luke Cowan-Dickie caught an over-thrown Irish line-out and barged over for their eighth and final try. Farrell converted to leave it at 57-15 to the hosts.

A worrying sign for the English was the late yellow card received by Kruis who was fortunate not to see red as well as Mako Vunipola’s departure from the game after coming on as a sub.

Ireland will need to dust themselves down quickly and sort out their problems as they head to the Principality next weekend to face Wales, while England will hope that this is the start of what’s to come as they look more and more like World Cup contenders.

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Mallinder Leaves RFU for Scotland

Jim Mallinder is set to depart the RFU and take up a role with Scotland

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(Photo by Steve Bardens - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Imagesges)

Jim Mallinder has been confirmed as Scottish Rugby’s new performance director following Scott Johnson’s departure earlier this year.

By taking up the new role in Scotland Mallinder leaves the Rugby Football Union where he has been for some time.

Mallinder admitted that he is sad to leave the RFU behind, but he is also looking forward to his new challenge.

“I’m sad to be leaving the RFU as I’ve really enjoyed my time here, in particular getting to work with some fantastic people in a wide range of roles within the men’s pathway. I will miss working with them all but this was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse. It’s a chance to lead a long-term programme, work with talented people, and I’m looking forward to moving up to Scotland and getting started,” he said.

Mallinder worked in the English club game for a while, leading the likes of the England Saxons and recently lead an England XV to victory over the Barbarians.

RFU professional director of rugby Nigel Melville thanked Mallinder for his service and wished him luck in his new role.

“I’d like to thank Jim for all the work he’s done within the player pathway over the past year and, on behalf of everyone at the RFU, wish him all the best for his new role with Scottish Rugby,” he said.

Mallinder brings plenty of experience having coached Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints in the Premiership, as well as coaching the England U21’s to the Six Nations in 2006 and working with many underage teams in England during his time.

His new role will see him take over a leading role in the Scotland’s new Super6 competition for semi-professional players, while he will also look after player development, the Scotland Sevens team and the Scotland Women’s team in what is a huge challenge for the now former RFU man.

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Farrell Starts at Centre for England

England head coach Eddie Jones has confirmed his England side to take on Ireland this weekend

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has announced his 23-man squad to play Ireland in his side’s third World Cup warm-up game this Saturday at Twickenham.

Following last weekend’s 13-6 defeat to Wales Jones is hoping his side will bounce back against a team they dominated away from home earlier this year in the Six Nations and Jones has chosen to pick Owen Farrell to test out a different side to the one who lost to the Welsh.

In the front-row Joe Marler starts alongside Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler, with Maro Itoje and George Kruis behind them against the second-row.

The back-row is made up of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill on either side of Billy Vunipola in what is a formidable looking pack.

 Ben Youngs tarts in at scrum-half and is joined by George Ford who continues at fly-half, with captain Farrell opening at inside centre and Manu Tuilagi beside him at outside centre.

Jonny May takes the 11 jersey, while Joe Cokanasiga is on the right-wing and Elliot Daly completes the starting XV from full-back.

On the bench they have the likes of Courtney Lawes and Jonathan Joseph joined by Mako Vunipola and Mark Wilson to call on, with the latter two set return from injury.

England will want to avoid a second defeat in a row heading into the World Cup and a win for them would see them leap over South Africa into fourth place in the World Rankings.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

Elliot Daly; Joe Cokanasiga, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, George Kruis; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola. 

Replacements:

 Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Mark Wilson, Willi Heinz, Piers Francis, Jonathan Joseph.

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