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Former England Ace Forced to Retire

One of England’s longest servants has been forced to retire from rugby earlier than he would have liked due to injury

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

Former England international Dylan Hartley has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect due to injury.

The 33-year-old Northampton Saints legend has been out of injury for most of 2019 with a knee injury and has now decided it is time to call quits on a glittering career. 

Having made 251 appearances for the Saints, including captaining the side for eight of his 15 seasons with the club, and making 97 caps for England, captaining them on 30 occasions, Hartley is grateful for all the rugby he has played. 

“I am extremely proud of my journey, both with Saints and representing England, but now is the right time to hang up my playing boots. The last few months have been difficult for me both mentally and physically as I have come to terms with the fact that I am no longer able to compete, but I have to thank all the staff at Saints who have all invested so much time in helping me with my rehabilitation, in particular S&C coach Eamonn Hyland,” he said. 

He went on to admit that he never thought that he would have been handed the opportunities he has been given and was full of praise for his club. 

“I have loved my journey in rugby. I came to England as a teenager hoping to get a few games of rugby and to see the world. I could have never predicted that one day I would play 14 years for such a special club and go on to represent and captain England. Northampton Saints has been more than just a club to me. It has been a place that has provided me with direction, purpose, a sense of family, home and belonging; and ultimately a community that I was so proud to represent every time I got a chance to play for Northampton,” he added. 

He finished by confessing he didn’t have the perfect professional career but he loved it either way and thanked his nearest and dearest for their support throughout. 

“My career wasn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m privileged to have experienced some amazing highs while there have also been some personal lows, all of which are powerful experiences that will stay with me forever. The final chapter of my career was supposed to go a different way, but that is the nature of professional sport. I would not have been able to achieve what I have without the support of my wife Jo, my family, my friends and my teammates. To them all, I am incredibly grateful for their love and unwavering support,” he concluded. 

Hartley has won the Premiership title during his time with the Saints, as well as two European Challenge Cups and an Anglo-Welsh Cup, as well as reaching Heineken Cup final. 

The injury he sustained meant that he was unavailable for selection for Eddie Jones’ Rugby World Cup squad, but even though he hasn’t played for his country recently Jones took time to acknowledge his former captain. 

“Dylan has had a significant international career playing for his country having played 97 Tests, and was a tough, enduring character for us. He was a foundation captain and we owe him a lot for his contribution to the making of this team. We will be forever indebted to him for his dedication and commitment to the team and his love of English rugby,” he said. 

As well as his domestic triumphs he has Six Nations titles to his name for his country, and had an 85% winning percentage as captain. He divided opinion amongst fans throughout his career, but it is certain that he will be missed within the rugby family.

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Springboks Confirm First Tests of 2020

South Africa have announced their opponents for their first games after winning the Rugby World Cup

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The Springboks have announced their first opponents since winning the Rugby World Cup earlier this month.

South Africa have confirmed that they will take on Scotland and Georgia in July of next year in what will be their first games as the Webb Ellis Cup holders. 

All three games will be played in South Africa, as they face the Scottish twice ahead of their clash with Georgia, with the games being played on the 4th, 11th and 18th of July. 

The times and venues of each match are yet to be announced, but it seems as though the Springboks will be hoping for three wins from three in what is part of the Castle Lager Incoming Series schedule. 

The games will also be the first for their incoming new head coach, who will take the reins from World Cup winning coach Rassie Erasmus, who will be focusing on his director of rugby role with the national side. 

South Africa will host the Scots for the first time since 2014, with the hosts running out 55-6 victors on that occasion, while it will only be their second-ever fixture with the Georgians with their only meeting coming in the 2003 World Cup which the Boks won 46-19. 

The Springboks will hope that they can start life as world champions on a positive note and build momentum ahead of next year’s Rugby Championship campaign.

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Henson Hits Out at Wales’ Kiwi Players

Former Wales international Gavin Henson is not one bit pleased about the Wales squad that was announced yesterday as it includes possible debuts for two New Zealand-born players

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Former Wales international Gavin Henson has hit out at Wales’ latest squad selection for including Willis Halaholo and Johnny McNicholl, both of whom qualify through residency rules.

The 37-year-old took to Twitter to make his views on head coach Wayne Pivac’s first squad announcement stating that it is “so wrong” to have the duo involved. 

Pivac’s calls have caused a little stir among fans, however, Henson’s comments seem to have got more of a backlash with fans pointing out that some of his former teammates were not originally from Wales such as Sonny Parker, who like the latest duo was from New Zealand

Henson confirmed that he told them what he thought at the time, but his comments only caused further confusion as people questioned whether players such as George North and Jonathan Davies should be allowed to play as they were born in England but have a Welsh relative. 

Henson replied to fans saying that he has no problem with such players as they have spent time growing up in Wales. 

“Parent or grandparent is totally fine. Residency should only count if they’ve spent a certain amount of time in that country in their childhood,” he said online. 

Henson’s comments have certainly caused controversy on social media, but his views are shared by many, who feel that certain players are being lost through the home-grown system due to players that become eligible through residency rules. 

Earlier this year there was backlash to the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad when Jean Kleyn was picked ahead of stalwart Devin Toner and it seems as though not everyone agrees with the chance being given to such players. 

Although some may become more pleased with the rule in the next couple of years as World Rugby has announced that players will only be eligible through residency rules after five years in the country, up from the current three years. The new regulations come into place come the end of 2020.

However, for now Henson will have to continue to complain as these players get ready to take on the Barbarians in a couple of weeks time.

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Wales Name Squad for Barbarians Clash

New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has confirmed a 35-man squad for their game with the Barbarians next Saturday

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New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has announced a 35-man strong squad ahead of his first game in charge of the national side against the Barbarians on Saturday November 30th at the Principality Stadium.

In what will be part of a double-header of games with the Welsh Women’s side also playing in on the day, Pivac will hope to make a winning start to life at the helm, naming a total of 22 players that featured in the recent Rugby World Cup along with five uncapped players. 

The likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric and Aaron Wainwright are among the forwards to be within the squad, while Gareth Davies, Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny are the star names to feature among the backs. 

Taine Basham, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Willis Halaholo, Ashton Hewitt and Johnny McNicholl are the five uncapped players hoping to make an impact while in the squad. However, the game does not officially count as a cap on the international stage. 

Speaking on the announcement Pivac admitted he is happy to have time with the team ahead of the upcoming Six Nations campaign next year. 

“It is great to get the squad announced and get the ball rolling on our first meet-up and first fixture next week. This Barbarians game is a great chance for us as a new squad and management to get together and to set the scene for what we are looking to do. Having this opportunity ahead of tournament rugby in the Six Nations is ideal for us. It is also a great chance for some players to really put their hand up and show what they are about and take to the field in front of a big crowd at home. We will be bringing a few additional players in to train with the squad during the week, just to see them in the environment and will also be bringing some of the injured players in for some of the scene-setting style sessions,” he said. 

It will be the first game in twelve years without Warren Gatland holding the reigns, however, he will be at the match as he takes control of the Barbarians side. 

Pivac will be looking for a positive result, with an eye on selection for the Six Nations as he already seems to be heading into the competition without the likes of Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams and Rhys Patchell, who are among a growing injury list for the Welsh team. 

Check Out the Full 35-Man Squad Below.

Forwards:

Elliot Dee (Dragons) (29 Caps)

Ryan Elias (Scarlets) (9 Caps)

Ken Owens (Scarlets) (73 Caps)

Rob Evans (Scarlets) (36 Caps)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (22 Caps)

Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (35 Caps)

Leon Brown (Dragons) (6 Caps)

Samson Lee (Scarlets) (41 Caps) 

Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps)

Jake Ball (Scarlets) (42 Caps)

Adam Beard (Ospreys) (20 Caps)

Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (66 Caps)

Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues) (7 Caps)

Taine Basham (Dragons) (Uncapped)

Ollie Griffiths (Dragons) (1 Cap)

Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped)

Ross Moriarty (Dragons) (41 Caps)

Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (26 Caps)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (72 Caps)

Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (18 Caps)

Backs: 

Aled Davies (Ospreys) (20 Caps)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (51 Caps)

Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues) (16 Caps)

Sam Davies (Dragons) (8 Caps)

Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues) (3 Caps)

Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped)

Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (25 Caps)

Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (22 Caps)

Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues) (2 Caps)

Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (21 Caps)

Steff Evans (Scarlets) (13 Caps)

Ashton Hewitt (Dragons) (Uncapped)

Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) (Uncapped)

Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps)

Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (85 Caps)

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