71-Test Wallaby Bernard Foley has been selected for his first Test since 2019, named at flyhalf for Thursday night’s first Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Melbourne, after Noah Lolesio was ruled out of the match.
He’s one of eight changes to the run-on side made by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, with Foley to partner NSW Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon in the halves, who starts in the number nine jersey for the first time this year.
James Slipper will lead the side out in his 122nd Test, which takes him to outright third on the list of most-capped Wallabies behind George Gregan (139) and Stephen Moore (129). He’ll combine with hooker David Porecki, who returns to the starting side, and Allan Alaalatoa who is named at tighthead prop.
The versatility of Jed Holloway allows him to start at lock for the first time in his Test career, partnering Rebels vice-captain Matt Philip in the second row.
An all Melbourne-born backrow sees Rob Leota return as the starting blindside flanker, Pete Samu earn his first start of the 2022 campaign at openside and Rob Valetini in the familiar number eight jersey.
The fleet footed Lalakai Foketi gets another opportunity to partner Len Ikitau in the midfield, at inside and outside centre respectively, with Hunter Paisami also unavailable for selection.
Superstar winger Marika Koroibete will bring up his 50th appearance for Australia at Marvel Stadium, named on the right wing, with Tom Wright to line up on the left edge.
Rebels flyer Andrew Kellaway returns to fullback for the clash at Marvel Stadium to round out the starting XV.
Force-bound Folau Fainga’a is the replacement hooker, named alongside loosehead prop Scott Sio and Melbourne local Pone Fa’amausili as the finishing front row.
Darcy Swain and Fraser McReight have also been named on the pine to cover the lock and backrow respectively.
Brumbies number nine Nic White will bring energy and experience as the replacement scrumhalf, while Reece Hodge’s versatility will again be called upon throughout the Test. Melbourne-born Jordan Petaia completes the gameday 23.
Thursday night’s Test will be the first time the Wallabies and New Zealand have met in Melbourne since 2010.
The team currently sits second on the eToro Rugby Championship ladder with two rounds remaining.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “It’s great to have Bernard’s experience and he brings plenty of voice and passion for the gold jersey.”
“New Zealand showed their class in a massive win over Argentina last week and will come to Melbourne full of confidence.
“We’re well aware of the opportunity in front of us over the next fortnight and we’re extremely motivated to make the most of it.”
Every Wallabies Test will be ad-free, live and on-demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport. Every home Wallabies Test will also be live, free-to-air on the Nine Network.
Wallabies team to play New Zealand at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne on Thursday 15 September, 7:45pm AEST
- James Slipper (c) (121 Tests)
- David Porecki (5 Tests)
- Allan Alaalatoa (58 Tests)
- Jed Holloway (4 Tests)
- Matt Philip (26 Tests)
- Rob Leota (12 Tests)
- Pete Samu (26 Tests)
- Rob Valetini (25 Tests)
- Jake Gordon (14 Tests)
- Bernard Foley (71 Tests)
- Marika Koroibete (49 Tests)
- Lalakai Foketi (2 Tests)
- Len Ikitau (19 Tests)
- Tom Wright (16 Tests)
- Andrew Kellaway (16 Tests)
- Folau Fainga’a (31 Tests)
- Scott Sio (73 Tests)
- Pone Fa’amausili (1 Test)
- Darcy Swain (15 Tests)
- Fraser McReight (6 Tests)
- Nic White (54 Tests)
- Reece Hodge (59 Tests)
- Jordan Petaia (20 Tests)
2022 eToro Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Fixtures
Wallabies 41 defeated Argentina 26, Sunday 7 August at Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza
Wallabies 17 defeated by Argentina 48, Sunday 13 August at Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan
Wallabies 25 defeated South Africa 17, Saturday 27 August at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Wallabies 8 defeated by South Africa 24, Saturday 3 September at Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Wallabies v New Zealand, Thursday 15 September, 7:45pm AEST at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
Wallabies v New Zealand, Saturday 24 September, 5:05pm AEST at Eden Park, Auckland
Aki Banned For Eight Weeks
Aki will be unavailable for the westerners’ next five URC games, including the derby clashes with Munster and Leinster, and will also miss at least the first two of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures.
He will definitely be absent for the Tests against South Africa and Fiji, but could return to face Australia on Saturday, November 19 if he ‘successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme’.
After an act of foul play against Stormers winger Seabelo Senatla, referee Gianluca Gnecchi showed Aki a red card in the 60th minute of the game under law 9.20(a).
The particular law states that a player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul.
In his responses to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Pamela Woodman from Scotland), Aki had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card.
She determined that his actions towards Senatla were reckless and took into account, among other things, the speed, force and high degree of danger in his actions.
Ms. Woodman determined that, had it been based on this conduct alone, the offending would have been categorised as mid-range on the scale of seriousness.
However, she also considered Aki’s actions and demeanour towards the referee in connection with the issue of the red card, which she found did not meet the expected standards of conduct or respect.
This was also taken into account (in accordance with URC’s disciplinary rules) in determining that his offending was at the top-end on the scale of seriousness, which warranted an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.
The judicial officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that Aki’s acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play (during the off-field disciplinary process), expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his provincial coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors.
These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.
Aki’s previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the judicial officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.
As a result, the Ireland international will be suspended for a period of eight weeks. As previously stated, should he complete the Coaching Intervention programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week.
Fixtures Bundee Aki is unavailable for:
Vodacom Bulls v Connacht, September 30, BKT URC
Connacht v Munster, October 7, BKT URC
Connacht v Leinster, October 14, BKT URC
Connacht v Scarlets, October 21, BKT URC
Ospreys v Connacht, October 29, BKT URC
Ireland v South Africa, November 5, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Fiji, November 12, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Australia, November 19, Autumn Nations Series (substituted if the player successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme)
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Jones names squad for training camp
England will begin preparations for their four home Autumn Nations Series fixtures in November during the camp. The squad will meet in Richmond on Sunday 2 October and train at Twickenham Stadium.
First call-ups for camp include Northampton Saints’ Alex Coles and Saracens’ Hugh Tizard, both players having previously appeared for England U20s.
Manu Tuilagi and Sam Simmonds are back in the squad following injury and there are returns for Ben Youngs, Alex Mitchell, Tom Pearson and David Ribbans.
England face Argentina in the first of their four matches at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday 6 November (2.15pm KO). They will then host Japan on Saturday 12 November (3.15pm KO), followed by New Zealand on Saturday 19 November (5.30pm KO). Their final match is against South Africa on Saturday 26 November (5.30pm KO).
“With a year to go to the Rugby World Cup, this is a big opportunity for players to come in and impress,” said Jones. “We want them to show real energy and enthusiasm and that they want to be a part of this massive year.
“It doesn’t mean that those who have been left out won’t be considered for the Autumn Nations Series matches. We’ll be looking at club games, form and fitness and the door is left open for those players.
“We finished the Australia tour well. It was a fantastic experience, particularly for the younger players. We now have to start again, but we’ll build on what we’ve done there and continue that momentum.”
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 37 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 41 caps)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 39 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 69 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 15 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 14 caps)
Tom Pearson (London Irish, uncapped)
David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)
Patrick Schickerling (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)
Hugh Tizard (Saracens, uncapped)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 64 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 70 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, uncapped)
Jack Willis (Wasps, 4 caps)
Henry Arundell (London Irish, 3 caps)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 97 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)
Will Joseph (London Irish, 1 cap)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 69 caps)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 42 caps)
Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 13 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 46 caps)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 117 caps)
Unavailable for selection due to injury: Alfie Barbeary, Nic Dolly, Alex Dombrandt, Charlie Ewels, George Ford, Sam Jeffries, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Anthony Watson.
New governance structure agreed for rugby in Scotland
Scottish Rugby President Colin Rigby hailed a “significant milestone” for the game in Scotland when member clubs agreed a new governance structure at an online special general meeting last night.
The new structure, based on the recommendations on the Standing Committee on Governance (SCOG), sees the new Scottish Rugby Union (a company limited by guarantee) take on the responsibility for the oversight of the organisation’s main operating vehicle, Scottish Rugby.
It also will provide an oversight function to the organisation’s members.
Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Interim Chair of the new Scottish Rugby Union, pledged to the SGM that “all the promises for a new, well-functioning governance system will absolutely be delivered.”
Professor Crerar also called on the membership to play its part in finding the “very best talent” to serve as “custodians” on the new company’s board.
Colin Rigby thanked members, SCOG, the Scottish Rugby Council and Scottish Rugby’s employees for their patience, while the new structure was arrived at.
He added: “This is a significant milestone in the history of the Scottish Rugby Union where all stakeholders now have clarity around governance, roles and responsibility.”
John Jeffrey remains chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board which will continue to oversee the day-to-day operational, commercial and executive functions of Scottish Rugby.
Earlier tonight, members voted unanimously to receive Scottish Rugby’s financial statements for 2021-22 at the second part of the organisation’s AGM.
During the period, overall revenue returned to within 5% of pre-pandemic levels at £57.9million, a rise of £5.5million from the previous year.
The accounts showed a deficit of £5.3 million on the base business, while the strategic investment from private equity partners CVC drove a gain on disposal of investment of £34.2million, bringing Scottish Rugby’s net surplus after tax to £29million for the year.
Images & Content – Scotland Rugby
Aki Banned For Eight Weeks
Jones names squad for training camp
New governance structure agreed for rugby in Scotland
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