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6 Nations

Opportunity Knocks For Nash And Frawley

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Of that U-20 squad from five years ago, Jordan Larmour, Ronan Kelleher, Caelan Doris, Gavin Coombes, Fineen Wycherley and Paul Boyle have gone on to play for the senior national team.

It has certainly been an eventful few weeks for Nash, from his try-scoring contribution to Emerging Ireland’s successful tour to South Africa, to his first Ireland call-up and the announcement of his Munster contract extension.

Back in a green jersey for the first time since his Ireland U-20 days, the national coaches liked what they saw from Nash in Bloemfontein but he was admittedly ‘shocked’ to be promoted to the senior squad.

He will always remember the time he found out he had made the cut for the November Tests. He was in a shop getting fitted for his Munster suit when one of his team-mates told him to check his email.

“I was shocked, to be honest,” he explained. “I saw I was selected in the main squad and I was just delighted. I told my girlfriend (Ciara) straight away and she was actually crying in the store.

“I was telling her to relax! But it was great. My family are very proud of me, so I’m delighted now to just get going.”

Those closest to the 25-year-old Limerick native know how hard he has worked for this opportunity. He has toiled away through injury lay-offs and times when Munster selection has not gone his way with Keith Earls and Andrew Conway proving tough to budge.

He admits it was ‘kind of frustrating’ to not be able to put a run of games together under the previous Munster coaching ticket, although he did start against three of the South African sides and Leinster last season.

Ireland A Tickets On Sale

A dead leg prevented him from lining out against Leo Cullen’s men last Saturday, but he has been reintegrated into Ireland training this week and is clearly raring to go.

Commenting on how it has been at Munster and how beneficial the Emerging Ireland tour was for him, the Young Munster flyer said: “I felt like sometimes I was getting a bit of momentum and then I’d pick up a knock and it would set me back a bit or it would be a big game, so ‘Earlsie’ and ‘Bomber’ (Conway) would be picked.

“You’re trying to keep that momentum with you, even though I might have only played every four weeks. I wouldn’t get that much of a string of games.

“This year the lads have been out (injured) and, with Emerging Ireland as well, I’ve had a lot of games. Beside the two pre-season games, I have three or four games already which is real good.

I feel like I’ve been able to have a flow to my game and stay in it that way. I did have a good bit of self-belief that I did have the potential to get to Ireland.

“I just wondered when it would be or would I get the opportunity to represent Ireland or even get up to camp. With Emerging Ireland happening just a few weeks ago, my main thought was to just get into main camp.

“Try to make that a routine and then get your first cap. It came quicker than I thought it would but I am delighted.”

His rewarding experience with Emerging Ireland, and familiarity with seven of his Munster colleagues in camp and a number of former Ireland Under-20 team-mates, has helped Nash to quickly acclimatise.

For skilful Leinster back Frawley, this is his third senior camp. He was first involved for last November’s Autumn Nations Series and really made his mark during the summer tour, playing a key role in the final week win over the Māori All Blacks.

Having a close-up view for the historic series win in New Zealand has made him even hungrier for a Test debut, with the Skerries man possibly set to play for Ireland ‘A’ on Friday week before earning that coveted first cap against Fiji.

“We were only watching a video this morning of our time over in New Zealand and just all the special moments we had off the pitch after the Tests,” said Frawley, speaking on media day on Tuesday.

“I suppose when you’re part of it, and playing the Tests and winning the series it’s incredible and it just gives you that bit of hunger to be a part of it.

“I know, obviously, I played in two Māori games, but the Test games are the big ones that you want to throw the jersey on for. Hopefully this time around, third time lucky, we might put on the jersey for a Test game.”

Frawley’s ability to play at out-half, centre and full-back makes him a valuable asset. He has laughed off the nickname of ‘Swiss Army Frawley’, while being mindful that the utility back berth is a good fit for a player of his talents.

“Just do my best, whether it is playing the Ireland ‘A’ game and go from there, play well in that and maybe look at one of the Test games, Fiji or Australia (later next month).

“If the body is feeling good, back to Leinster, a few big games with them, European Cup and there’s also a Six Nations before that World Cup. There’s a lot of games coming up so it would be hard to pinpoint one position.

“It’s kind of the best of both worlds, isn’t it? It’s nice to have a position but also in the back of your mind you have a World Cup coming up and the versatility card can always benefit you in terms of selection for that.

“Look, I suppose I can’t be – I don’t know if too greedy is the word – but I’m happy to play minutes and that’s the main thing for me at the moment, I haven’t played a lot this season so far.

“It’s just about getting the minutes, whether that be at 10, 12 or 15, which are the three positions I’ve been playing over the last season or two.”

Frawley has praised the influence that Jonathan Sexton has on both Leinster and Ireland as the 37-year-old talisman begins his final twelve months as a professional player.

At 6ft 3in and over 15 stone, Frawley is certainly a player in the mould of Sexton. He is very much a contender to replace Sexton at out-half for province and country in the long-term, and is clearly enjoying learning from one of the best in the business.

“Johnny’s unreal. We’re so lucky to have him in Leinster and here (with Ireland), speaking for all the lads. Without knowing it, we’re actually learning a lot off him, you can see the way lads are playing is very similar to Johnny,” noted the 24-year-old.

“Picking up little things like holding the ball at the line, that last second that he does so well. But then he’ll also give you a lot of constructive criticism. He wants to get the best out of you.

“When lads are playing with Johnny they always bring their game to the next level because they understand the standard they are playing with as well. He’s brilliant to have.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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.”


Images & Content from England Rugby
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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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6 Nations

Ireland’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations Home Games To Be Played At Musgrave Park

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Ireland’s home matches in the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations will be played at Musgrave Park.

The Cork venue has been the home of the Ireland U20s since 2019 and has become a real fortress in recent seasons, with Ireland Women also enjoying huge support there when they defeated Italy at Musgrave Park in last year’s Six Nations.

Greg McWilliams‘ side open their 2023 Championship against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, 25th March (2.15pm) before welcoming France to Cork in Round 2 on Saturday, 1st April (3.15pm). After a rest weekend, Ireland will be on the road again, going head-to-head with Italy in Parma on Saturday, 15th April (4.45pm).

World Cup finalists England will visit Musgrave Park in Round 4 on Saturday, 22nd April (2.15pm) and the Championship will conclude with a trip to Edinburgh to take on Scotland at the DAM Health Stadium on Saturday, 29th April (7.30pm).

“We received huge home support during last year’s Six Nations and we’re excited to make Cork our home base for the 2023 Championship,” McWilliams said. “We enjoyed a good day out against Italy last year, with the people of Cork coming out to support the team and we will be hoping for more of the same in 2023, as two of the best teams in women’s rugby come to visit.”

Ticket details for Ireland’s home matches at Musgrave Park will be announced in due course.

TikTok Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2023:

  • Wales v Ireland, Saturday 25 March, Cardiff Arms Park, 2.15pm
  • Ireland v France, Saturday 1 April, Musgrave Park, 3.15pm
  • Italy v Ireland, Saturday 15 April, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 4.45pm
  • Ireland v England, Saturday 22 April, Musgrave Park, 2.15pm
  • Scotland v Ireland, Saturday 29 April, DAM Health Stadium, 7.30pm.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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