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O’Connor at flyhalf, Arnold to start in San Juan

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Reds playmaker James O’Connor will start for the Wallabies for the first time this year when the side take on Argentina in San Juan on Saturday afternoon (local time; 5:10am Sunday AEST). 

O’Connor will wear the number 10 jersey and partner Nic White in the halves as the side look for back-to-back wins against Los Pumas to start their 2022 eToro Rugby Championship campaign.

Towering lock Rory Arnold will make his first appearance in the gold jersey this year, named in the starting second row alongside former Brumbies teammate Darcy Swain for the first time at Test level.

NSW Waratahs midfielder Lalakai Foketi has earned his first run-on at International level, where he’ll start at inside centre, partnering the fleet-footed Len Ikitau in the centres. 

There’s also a change in the front row with Taniela Tupou set to start at tighthead prop, joining hooker Folau Fainga’a who had a notable outing in the side’s 41-25 win in Mendoza.  Test centurion James Slipper will lead the side as the loosehead prop in the absence of Michael Hooper. 

The backrow remains unchanged with last week’s debutant Jed Holloway to start at blindside flanker alongside Reds stalwart Fraser McReight at openside and Rob Valetini at number eight. 

The ever-improving Jordan Petaia will again line up on the right wing, with powerhouse Marika Koroibete on the left edge.  Tom Wright’s impressive first start at fullback rewarded with a second straight week in the number 15 jersey.

Rebels talent Pone Fa’amausili has been named to make his potential Test debut off the pine as the finishing tighthead prop, alongside club teammate Matt Gibbon as the reserve loosehead.  The athletic Lachlan Lonergan has been named as replacement hooker.

Nick Frost’s Test career continues to grow, again named to cover the second row with the versatile Pete Samu able to provide support across the backrow. 

Queensland captain Tate McDermott has been recalled and will bring energy as the finishing scrumhalf, while Irae Simone will be looking to add to his two Test caps, named in the Wallabies side for the first time since 2020.  After an outstanding cameo at flyhalf last week Reece Hodge has again been named in the number 23 jersey.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “After a tough, physical game last week it’s great to be able to call on the experience of guys like James and Rory and also see the team’s excitement for La and Irae who get to wear the Wallaby gold again on Saturday.”

“It’s going to be a proud occasion for Pone and his family and it’s a testament to him for the hard work and obstacles he’s had to overcome to earn his first Test cap. 

“Argentina and their supporters will be expecting a response this weekend and we’ll need to increase our physicality and accuracy to get another positive result in San Juan.”

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 Argentina at the Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan on Saturday 13 August, 4:10pm ART

  1. James Slipper (c) (118 Tests)
  2. Folau Fainga’a (29 Tests)
  3. Taniela Tupou (41 Tests)
  4. Rory Arnold (29 Tests)
  5. Darcy Swain (12 Tests)
  6. Jed Holloway (1 Test)
  7. Fraser McReight (3 Tests)
  8. Rob Valetini (22 Tests)
  9. Nic White (51 Tests)
  10. James O’Connor (63 Tests)
  11. Marika Koroibete (46 Tests)
  12. Lalakai Foketi (1 Test)
  13. Len Ikitau (16 Tests)
  14. Jordan Petaia (19 Tests)
  15. Tom Wright (13 Tests)
    Replacements
  16. Lachlan Lonergan (5 Tests)
  17. Matt Gibbon (1 Test)
  18. Pone Fa’amausili*
  19. Nick Frost (3 Tests)
  20. Pete Samu (23 Tests)
  21. Tate McDermott (16 Tests)
  22. Irae Simone (2 Tests)
  23. Reece Hodge (56 Tests)
    *denotes uncapped

2022 eToro Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Fixtures

Wallabies 41 defeated Argentina 26, Sunday 7 August  at Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza

Wallabies v Argentina, Sunday 13 August, 5:10am AEST at Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan

Wallabies v South Africa, Saturday 27 August, 3:00pm ACST at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Wallabies v South Africa, Saturday 3 September, 7:30pm AEST 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

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


6 Nations

Aki Banned For Eight Weeks

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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


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6 Nations

Jones names squad for training camp

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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.”

Training Squad

FORWARDS

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)

BACKS

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.


Images & Content from England Rugby
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6 Nations

New governance structure agreed for rugby in Scotland

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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


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