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Lions Coach for 2021 Verbally Agreed

The British & Irish Lions head coach for the 2021 tour of South Africa

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Warren Gatland has verbally agreed to become head coach for the British and Irish Lions for their tour of South Africa in 2021. 

This will be Gatland’s third successive tour as head coach having led the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013 before securing a series draw in New Zealand in 2017.

The tour will actually be the fourth successive Lions tour that Gatland will be a key part of having been Ian McGeechan’s forwards coach for them in 2009.

A spokesperson for the Lions has declined to comment on the matter as Gatland is yet to sign the contract as he is currently in New Zealand. However, he is expected to be formally announced as the head coach in the near future.

The New Zealand native will leave his post as Wales’ head coach following the World Cup in Japan later this year, having guided them to the Grand Slam in March.

That was Gatland’s third Grand Slam with the Welsh and a fourth Six Nations Championship crown since his arrival in 2007.

During his time as Wales manager he took a sabbatical leave while taking charge of the Lions team.

With that in mind reports linking the 55-year-old with the head coach post at England following the World Cup would appear to be inaccurate as it is expected that he will start Lions duty 10 months prior to the tour.

That would leave him with little time to settle into a head coaching role at the Red Roses or anywhere for that matter and may leave him out of the coaching scene until the 2021 tour.

6 Nations

Pivac names squad for 2021 Six Nations

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Wales have named a 36-man squad for the forthcoming 2021 Guinness Six Nations campaign.

The squad features one uncapped player, Scarlets back-row Josh Macleod, who was named in the autumn squad last year but didn’t feature after picking up an injury before the campaign began.

Four players who made their international debuts in that campaign, Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Johnny Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit are all included.

Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones and Rhodri Jones (last appearance for Wales v South Africa in 2018) are named as the looseheads in the squad with Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias and Ken Owens (who missed the autumn campaign through injury) the hookers. Leon Brown, Tomas Francis and Dillon Lewis are the three named tight-heads.

Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands and Cory Hill are included as the second-rows.

Dan Lydiate returns to the international set-up (last appearance v Australia in 2018) and is named alongside Josh Navidi, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau, Macleod and Justin Tipuric.

Hardy who made his debut back in November is named as one of three scrum-halves along with Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams, who has returned from injury. Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans and Sheedy are the three fly-halves.

Johnny Williams, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin are named as the centres with George North, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Rees-Zammit, Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams named as Wales’ back-three options.

“We are hugely looking forward to meeting up as a squad on Monday and to the forthcoming campaign,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“The Guinness Six Nations is an important tournament and we have selected a squad accordingly.

“As we consistently spoke about, the autumn for us was about opportunity and development, looking ahead to RWC 2023 and it served that purpose for us.

“This campaign is different, it is tournament rugby and we are excited to get going and to play our part.

“We have picked a squad for this tournament based on form and we are excited to meet up on Monday and to get our preparation underway.”

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Scotland name Six Nations squad.

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend has named a 35-man squad for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, which begins with the Calcutta Cup clash vs England on Saturday 6 February.

The group, split between 20 forwards and 15 backs, sees eight new players called up who did not feature in the group that contested the recent 2020 Autumn Nations Cup.

Players who could potentially make their Scotland debuts include Edinburgh hooker, David Cherry, Sale hooker Ewan Ashman, Gloucester forward, Alex Craig and Bath centre, Cameron Redpath.

Returning to the squad are also Newcastle Falcons back rower, Gary Graham, Sale Sharks wing, Byron McGuigan, Glasgow Warriors hooker, Grant Stewart and London Irish prop Alan Dell.

In the pack Glasgow Warriors hooker George Turner is selected and joined in the front row by Zander Fagerson and Oli Kebble from Glasgow Warriors, alongside Edinburgh Rugby representatives WP Nel, Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan.

Glasgow Warriors’ lock pairing Richie Gray and Scott Cummings, Exeter Chief, Jonny Gray are called up, along with Edinburgh’s Grant Gilchrist who left the ANC squad with an injury before the opening match.

Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie, who have both recently re-signed to long-term deals to stay at Edinburgh Rugby, are joined as back-row options by Glasgow Warrior Matt Fagerson and Scarlet’s Blade Thomson.

Gregor Townsend has chosen just two scrum-half’s for this campaign with Glasgow Warriors’ Ali Price and Harlequins’ Scott Steele selected.

Linking up at half-back will be Racing 92’s Finn Russell who returns following an injury sustained in the concluding match of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations vs Wales and Edinburgh’s Jaco Van de Walt who made his Scotland debut in the ANC semi-final against Ireland.

Gloucester’s Chris Harris, Saracen Duncan Taylor, Glasgow Warrior Huw Jones and Harlequins’ James Lang are selected at centre.

In the back three Scotland Captain Stuart Hogg is joined by Edinburgh Rugby trio Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham and Duhan van de Merwe and Saracens’ Sean Maitland.

With an eye to the future three additional players have been invited to train with the squad during the campaign. Edinburgh Rugby back row forward, Rory Darge, Glasgow Warriors pair winger, Rufus MacLean and scrum-half, Jamie Dobie will join up with the squad, which goes into camp on Sunday.

Speaking on the squad selection Gregor Townsend said: “As coaches we have selected a group which we believe can build on the work our players put in throughout the recent Autumn Nations Cup campaign and kick on again in terms of performance levels.

“The depth we have across the squad enables us to bring in some new players who have excelled in recent weeks and others who we believe can perform at Test level.

“Our tournament gets off to a fantastic start with a fixture we look forward to every year against England and the opportunity to win back the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham.

“We are very aware how different this year’s competition will be due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it also provides a huge amount of positivity and enjoyment for millions of supporters and we are looking forward to contesting every match and giving this championship our very best.”

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6 Nations

Paul O’Connell Joins Ireland Coaching Group

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined the Ireland national coaching group as forwards coach with Simon Easterby to focus on defence.

Paul was capped 108 times by Ireland and captained the team to Six Nations success in 2014.  O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British & Ireland Lions across three tours and two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.

Since retiring from playing in 2015, Paul has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.

O’Connell commented:

“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell commented:

“Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.

“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.

“The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed.”

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish Rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”

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