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6 Nations

Opportunity Knocks For Nash And Frawley



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

Munster Confirm Three New Signings



Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.

Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.

Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.

Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.

Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.

Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.

Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.

The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Farrell Named Coach Of The Year As Five Irish Players Make Dream Team



Andy Farrell has been named Coach of the Year and five Irish players included in the Men’s Dream Team at a star studded World Rugby Awards Ceremony tonight. Former International Referee David McHugh was also honoured on the night with the World Rugby Referee Award.

Just hours after South Africa defeated the All Blacks to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an historic fourth time at Stade de France, the victorious team reunited to open the spectacular 90-minute show, held at the breathtaking Opéra Garnier in the heart of Paris.

Farrell was named World Rugby Coach of the Year, recognising his achievement in leading Ireland’s to a Six Nations Grand Slam and top spot in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini for 15 months.

Andy Farrell and Dan Sheehan celebrate after the game 18/3/2023

Head Coach Andy Farrell and Dan Sheehan – Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Speaking about the award Andy Farrell said, “I would like to thank World Rugby for this recognition and congratulate the other nominees for their efforts this year. Coaching is a demanding and hugely rewarding profession, with many highs and lows, and in accepting this award, I would like to pay tribute to the players and wider coaching and support staff who work tirelessly to bring success to Irish rugby.

I am incredibly proud to work with such a talented and committed group. This award is recognition for all those involved in Irish rugby and our incredible supporters who travel near and far to support us. I am honoured to accept this award on their behalf.”

Four nations are represented in the Dream Team with Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts France and Ireland claiming five players apiece, New Zealand four and World Champions South Africa one.

Three Irish forwards made the team with Dan Sheehan, Tadgh Furlong and Caelan Doris included. In the backline Bundee Aki, who was shortlisted for Player of the Year, and his centre partner Garry Ringrose were named.

Ireland’s Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki – Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

McHugh was given the World Rugby Referee award in recognition of his dedication and contribution to the game of rugby which spans more than 20 years, from his decade as an international referee taking charge of 28 tests. He officiated at three Rugby World Cups between 1995 and 2003, and has acted as a mentor for the next generations of match officials, including the likes of Joy Neville and John Lacey in Ireland and Nika Amashukeli in Georgia.

Of the 11 awards presented in Paris, nine were selected by the star-studded World Rugby Awards panels, while the International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year was decided by a fan vote on social media.

Nominees and winners in a further four women’s categories will be announced and celebrated separately, at the conclusion of the ongoing WXV tournament.

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong and Caelan Doris and Italy’s Michele Lamaro – Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

World Rugby Men’s XVs Dream Team

1. Cyril Baille (France) 2. Dan Sheehan (Ireland) 3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) 4. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) 5. Scott Barrett (New Zealand) 6. Caelan Doris (Ireland) 7. Charles Ollivon (France) 8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand) 9. Antoine Dupont (France) 10. Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand) 11. Will Jordan (New Zealand) 12. Bundee Aki (Ireland) 13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland) 14. Damian Penaud (France) 15. Thomas Ramos (France).

World Rugby Award Winners

World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard – Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

World Rugby Coach of the Year – Andy Farrell (Ireland)

World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor – Mark Tele’a (New Zealand)

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Rodrigo Isgro (Argentina)

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand)

World Rugby Referee Award – David McHugh (Ireland)

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – George Nijaradze (Georgia)

Rugby for All Award – SOS Kit Aid

International Rugby Players Special Merit Award – John Smit (South Africa)

International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year – Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)

World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees: Daniel Carter (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), George Smith (Australia), Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina), Bryan Habana (South Africa).

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Historic Rugby Calendar Reform To Supercharge Reach And Competitiveness



The World Rugby Council has approved transformational reform of the global men’s and women’s rugby calendars, a seminal moment for the sport that marks a new era of opportunity, certainty and growth for the game, a fitting finale to its 200th birthday year.

Reform of Regulation 9 governing international player release has paved the way for the global club and international game to complement each other with clearly defined windows of release for international duties, as well as enhanced player welfare outcomes in the form of Player Load Guidelines.

Shaped through close collaboration with the players and stakeholders from across the whole sport, including domestic and international competitions, regions, unions, the adjustments have been driven by a game-wide commitment to prioritise player welfare while supporting desired competitiveness increases across performance unions.

In the women’s game, the decision means clearly defined global and regional player release periods for the first time with no domestic competition overlap, opening the way to a harmonious structure that promotes opportunity and growth ahead of an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup in 2025.

In the men’s game, new competition structures coupled with an increased level of cross-over fixtures between the high performance and performance unions, will deliver long-term certainty of content for the first time, supporting increases in competitiveness, interest and value ahead of a landmark Rugby World Cup in the USA in 2031.

Together, these developments crucially allow for better management of player load and overall welfare in the game, with the development of new Player Load Guidelines and ongoing expert input to oversee the development and evolution of the guidelines working with all stakeholders.

First-ever global calendar for women’s rugby with dedicated release windows

  • First-ever dedicated international release windows (regional release window of seven weeks and global release window of eight weeks) from 2025.
  • Clarity of release periods for club/league and cross-border competitions, to allow certainty of planning and investment.
  • A commitment to more effectively manage player load and welfare in the fast-evolving women’s game, working with all stakeholders
  • A framework to review the women’s global calendar and international competition structures on an ongoing basis to recognise that fast-evolving environment and opportunity.

First-ever global calendar for men’s rugby with new competitions and increased opportunity

  • Establishment of an enhanced global calendar for men’s rugby with clearer international windows, including confirmation of the release window for Rugby World Cup 2027 (Australia).
  • Expansion of Rugby World Cup to 24 teams in 2027, providing more qualification opportunities for more teams and regional competitions.
  • Launch of a bi-annual new international competition from 2026, comprising a top division of 12 teams (Six Nations unions, SANZAAR unions and two further unions to be selected via a process run by SANZAAR), and a second division run by World Rugby of 12 teams with promotion and relegation commencing from 2030. Played in the July and November international release windows, it will provide crucial opportunities (and certainty of fixtures) for unions currently outside of the existing annual competitions, and in turn provide opportunities for unions and regional associations through to the second division.
  • The competition provides players and fans with compelling matches, to build audiences and value for all.
  • A significant uplift in the number of cross-over matches between unions in the respective divisions are included in the global calendar in the two other years, providing performance nations with annual competition certainty against high performance unions.
  • Launch of new annual expanded Pacific Nations Cup competition in 2024, featuring Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and USA with home fixtures and Japan and USA alternating as finals hosts, guaranteeing a minimum of three additional matches a year in addition to the new international competition and cross-over fixtures.
  • The global men’s calendar provides additional clarity for elite league and cross-border club competitions, supporting value growth investment opportunities for all.

The reform follows extensive consultation with the professional game, including regions, unions, domestic and international competitions, and detailed evaluation of the playing, commercial and fan landscape. Implementation of the agreed package will continue to involve dialogue with all parties.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “It is fitting that we finish Rugby World Cup 2023, the sport’s greatest celebration of togetherness, with the sport’s greatest feat of togetherness. Agreement on the men’s and women’s global calendars and their content is the most significant development in the sport since the game went professional. An historic moment for our sport that sets us up collectively for success.

“We now look forward to an exciting new era for our sport commencing in 2025 (women) and 2026 (men). An era that will bring certainty and opportunity for all. An era that will support the many, not the few, and an era that will supercharge the development of the sport beyond its traditional and often self-imposed boundaries. I would like to thank all my colleagues for their spirit of collaboration. Today, we have achieved something special.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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