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Late change for Boks before physical French Test

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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said physicality and sticking to their structures would be vital when they line up against France in Marseille on Saturday in their second Castle Lager Outgoing Tour Test, while the Boks were forced to make a late change after Jasper Wiese had been withdrawn from the squad.

Erasmus explained that Wiese had a suspected concussion, which means Kwagga Smith has been promoted from the replacements to the No 8 jersey, while Deon Fourie has been called up to the bench.

“We were waiting on Jasper to pass the required concussion protocols, and given the late decision, we though it made sense to select Deon on the bench,” said Erasmus.

“We didn’t foresee Jasper not being available, as we thought he had a very good chance to play. But this is the first time we encountered such a situation and with these concussion protocols I’m sure it will happen more going forward.

“We opted for Kwagga because he is an out-and-out No 8, and when we train, he is our second choice No 8. Over and above that he can cover a few positions.”

Of the challenge France posed, Erasmus said: “They kick a lot, and they have a lot of belief in what they do. They also have a good coach and young team that remains steady when things go well or not, so it is going to be a good test for us.”

Kolisi shared Erasmus’ views: “I think the physicality is going to be the biggest aspect this weekend. Both teams are physical, and France, in particular, know what they are good at, and they do those things well. They also know how to impose their plan on opposition teams.

“We’ll certainly try to match that. The scrums and lineouts are going to be important aspects of this game, so it is going to be a tough match.”

Kwagga Smith will start at No 8 for the Boks in Marseille.

Kwagga Smith will start at No 8 for the Boks in Marseille.

Kolisi added: “France’s game plan has definitely changed over the years. They kick more and they save their energy to play in your half.

“They have strong forwards, so they have good set pieces, and they have everything one wants in a team. That said, we have also evolved as a side, and we are looking forward to testing ourselves against them.”

Kolisi said this match was not only important for the Boks to test themselves, but also to experience playing in Marseille before the Rugby World Cup next year.

“Playing against France on their home patch a year before the World Cup is good for us all because everyone will get a taste of what it will be like next year,” said Kolisi.

“It’s going to be a massive game with the fourth ranked team playing against the second ranked team in the world, and as the Springboks we want to win every game and make the country proud. We may have lost last week’s Test and the SA ‘A’ game, but there is pressure every week, and we need to adapt to it.”

Erasmus adopted a different view to the criticism leveled at the team about their goal kicking and said: “Playing international rugby brings extra pressure, and the only way one can get things right, such as the goal kicking, is to know what to expect and to experience kicking at this level.

“We are going through the same things we experienced as a team as in 2018 and the important thing is that if we reach a stage next year where we lose three goal kickers, we would have been in that situation before and we will be prepared.”

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


6 Nations

Jones officially sacked by RFU

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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.”


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6 Nations

Gatland returns as Pivac is sacked

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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.

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“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


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International

Super Rugby Pacific locked in until 2030

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Super Rugby Pacific’s future has been locked in until 2030 with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Rugby Australia (RA) announcing details of a new joint-venture agreement in Sydney today.

NZR CEO Mark Robinson and RA CEO Andy Marinos each heralded the new partnership, which will extend the existing joint venture from 2024 to 2030, as a significant moment for professional club rugby in the Pacific region. 

Robinson said the agreement represented a unified commitment to the Super Rugby Pacific format. 

“This long-term agreement provides certainty for players, coaches, fans, sponsors and broadcast partners and it solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring Super Rugby Pacific is the most entertaining, innovative, and fan-focused cross-border club competition in the world. We charted a new path with the introduction of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua this year, and having all 91 games played in regional time zones, believe we have entered an exciting new era for rugby in the Pacific region.” 

Marinos said the agreement was a watershed moment for professional rugby across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. 

“Today marks the dawn of a new era of Super Rugby within our region. Securing this long-term partnership provides stability and continuity that the competition and Super Rugby clubs need to enable rugby to grow in stature and importance across the region.” 

The new agreement will usher in a new governance model for Super Rugby Pacific with the establishment of a nine-person board, which will include an independent Chair, four independent Directors, and one representative each from NZR, RA, the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA), Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA). The Board will oversee the competition with the purpose of a clear, unbiased focus on governance, and the creation of a consistent look and feel across the competition.  

Marinos said there were no plans to change the current format, but also a commitment to ensure the competition remained at the forefront of dynamic and innovative rugby. 

“RA and NZR are committed to the development of the most exciting form of rugby in the world, through trialling and implementing new rules, new ways of engaging fans or broadcast innovations with our partners. The partnership will enable our players, clubs and partners to plan ahead with certainty in a competition that we are sure will feature some of the best rugby in the world.” 

The new Board will also have a mandate to explore the creation of a fully integrated women’s competition structure in order to build on the success of Super Rugby W in Australia and Sky Super Rugby Aupiki in New Zealand. 

Robinson said there was a collective commitment to grow the women’s professional competitions alongside Super Rugby Pacific. 

“We saw the quality of women’s rugby throughout the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and while it is not a case of copy and paste with the men’s structure in Super Rugby Pacific, we believe there are enormous opportunities to build a world class cross border professional women’s club competition in the Pacific region.” 

The agreement confirms the current Super Rugby Pacific competition format, however the new board will keep continue to look at options to adapt and adjust over time. 

An agreement has been settled regarding revenue sharing between the parties until the conclusion of the current broadcast deals at the end of 2025 – with further financial agreements to be determined following the finalisation of future broadcast agreements. 

The ongoing partnership also establishes an opportunity for NZR and RA to collaborate on wider commercial initiatives and opportunities – inside and outside of Super Rugby Pacific – to create a stronger presence for the sport in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. 

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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