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Player of the Year Nominations Confirmed

World Rugby have announced the nominees for this year’s Player of the Year award and there are some notable absentees from the shortlist

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World Rugby have announced the nominees for the men and womens 2019 Player of the Year awards, with some big names missing from the mens list.

On the six man shortlist are South African duo Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe, who are joined by the All Blacks’ Ardie Savea, Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones, England’s Tom Curry and the USA’s Joe Taufete’e. 

All players have had an impressive year’s but fans are questions why the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Liam Williams have all been overlooked, with all three claiming a clean sweep with Saracens this year, while the former two could add a World Cup to their names tomorrow, while Williams won the Six Nations Grand Slam earlier in the year. 

It is also interesting that not a single Japanese player has been nominated following their incredible World Cup showing. 

The players were chosen by a panel of former players that included the likes of Richie McCaw, John Smit, George Gregan, Maggie Alphonsi, Melodie Robinson, Fiona Coghlan, Brian O’Driscoll, Fabien Galthié, Agustín Pichot and Seilala Mapusua. While international players have voted for the nominations for the award. 

Meanwhile, the women’s category is dominated by England who have three of the five nominations in Sarah Bern, Katy Daley-Mclean and Emily Scarratt, having all been part of the Red Roses Six Nations Grand Slam triumph earlier in the year. 

With the other two nominations being New Zealand’s Kendra Cocksedge, who claimed the award four years ago and has since gone on to win her 50th cap for the Black Ferns, while France’s Pauline Bourdon makes up the list for the second year in a row having had another impressive year. 

Speaking on the nominations chairman of World Rugby Sir Bill Beaumont congratulated all that have been given the chance to claim the prestigious award. 

“The World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Player of the Year awards are the ultimate accolade for test players and this year there have been an exceptional number of outstanding candidates. I would like to congratulate all 11 players who, deservingly, have been nominated for this year’s award,” he said. 

It will be interesting to see the response to whoever wins the men’s award as there are sure to be fans that are unhappy, but there is a chance that the players that have been omitted could be named among the Team of the Year as a consolation when the awards ceremony takes place in Tokyo on Sunday.

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Springboks Confirm First Tests of 2020

South Africa have announced their opponents for their first games after winning the Rugby World Cup

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The Springboks have announced their first opponents since winning the Rugby World Cup earlier this month.

South Africa have confirmed that they will take on Scotland and Georgia in July of next year in what will be their first games as the Webb Ellis Cup holders. 

All three games will be played in South Africa, as they face the Scottish twice ahead of their clash with Georgia, with the games being played on the 4th, 11th and 18th of July. 

The times and venues of each match are yet to be announced, but it seems as though the Springboks will be hoping for three wins from three in what is part of the Castle Lager Incoming Series schedule. 

The games will also be the first for their incoming new head coach, who will take the reins from World Cup winning coach Rassie Erasmus, who will be focusing on his director of rugby role with the national side. 

South Africa will host the Scots for the first time since 2014, with the hosts running out 55-6 victors on that occasion, while it will only be their second-ever fixture with the Georgians with their only meeting coming in the 2003 World Cup which the Boks won 46-19. 

The Springboks will hope that they can start life as world champions on a positive note and build momentum ahead of next year’s Rugby Championship campaign.

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Henson Hits Out at Wales’ Kiwi Players

Former Wales international Gavin Henson is not one bit pleased about the Wales squad that was announced yesterday as it includes possible debuts for two New Zealand-born players

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Former Wales international Gavin Henson has hit out at Wales’ latest squad selection for including Willis Halaholo and Johnny McNicholl, both of whom qualify through residency rules.

The 37-year-old took to Twitter to make his views on head coach Wayne Pivac’s first squad announcement stating that it is “so wrong” to have the duo involved. 

Pivac’s calls have caused a little stir among fans, however, Henson’s comments seem to have got more of a backlash with fans pointing out that some of his former teammates were not originally from Wales such as Sonny Parker, who like the latest duo was from New Zealand

Henson confirmed that he told them what he thought at the time, but his comments only caused further confusion as people questioned whether players such as George North and Jonathan Davies should be allowed to play as they were born in England but have a Welsh relative. 

Henson replied to fans saying that he has no problem with such players as they have spent time growing up in Wales. 

“Parent or grandparent is totally fine. Residency should only count if they’ve spent a certain amount of time in that country in their childhood,” he said online. 

Henson’s comments have certainly caused controversy on social media, but his views are shared by many, who feel that certain players are being lost through the home-grown system due to players that become eligible through residency rules. 

Earlier this year there was backlash to the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad when Jean Kleyn was picked ahead of stalwart Devin Toner and it seems as though not everyone agrees with the chance being given to such players. 

Although some may become more pleased with the rule in the next couple of years as World Rugby has announced that players will only be eligible through residency rules after five years in the country, up from the current three years. The new regulations come into place come the end of 2020.

However, for now Henson will have to continue to complain as these players get ready to take on the Barbarians in a couple of weeks time.

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Wales Name Squad for Barbarians Clash

New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has confirmed a 35-man squad for their game with the Barbarians next Saturday

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New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has announced a 35-man strong squad ahead of his first game in charge of the national side against the Barbarians on Saturday November 30th at the Principality Stadium.

In what will be part of a double-header of games with the Welsh Women’s side also playing in on the day, Pivac will hope to make a winning start to life at the helm, naming a total of 22 players that featured in the recent Rugby World Cup along with five uncapped players. 

The likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric and Aaron Wainwright are among the forwards to be within the squad, while Gareth Davies, Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny are the star names to feature among the backs. 

Taine Basham, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Willis Halaholo, Ashton Hewitt and Johnny McNicholl are the five uncapped players hoping to make an impact while in the squad. However, the game does not officially count as a cap on the international stage. 

Speaking on the announcement Pivac admitted he is happy to have time with the team ahead of the upcoming Six Nations campaign next year. 

“It is great to get the squad announced and get the ball rolling on our first meet-up and first fixture next week. This Barbarians game is a great chance for us as a new squad and management to get together and to set the scene for what we are looking to do. Having this opportunity ahead of tournament rugby in the Six Nations is ideal for us. It is also a great chance for some players to really put their hand up and show what they are about and take to the field in front of a big crowd at home. We will be bringing a few additional players in to train with the squad during the week, just to see them in the environment and will also be bringing some of the injured players in for some of the scene-setting style sessions,” he said. 

It will be the first game in twelve years without Warren Gatland holding the reigns, however, he will be at the match as he takes control of the Barbarians side. 

Pivac will be looking for a positive result, with an eye on selection for the Six Nations as he already seems to be heading into the competition without the likes of Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams and Rhys Patchell, who are among a growing injury list for the Welsh team. 

Check Out the Full 35-Man Squad Below.

Forwards:

Elliot Dee (Dragons) (29 Caps)

Ryan Elias (Scarlets) (9 Caps)

Ken Owens (Scarlets) (73 Caps)

Rob Evans (Scarlets) (36 Caps)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (22 Caps)

Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (35 Caps)

Leon Brown (Dragons) (6 Caps)

Samson Lee (Scarlets) (41 Caps) 

Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps)

Jake Ball (Scarlets) (42 Caps)

Adam Beard (Ospreys) (20 Caps)

Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (66 Caps)

Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues) (7 Caps)

Taine Basham (Dragons) (Uncapped)

Ollie Griffiths (Dragons) (1 Cap)

Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped)

Ross Moriarty (Dragons) (41 Caps)

Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (26 Caps)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (72 Caps)

Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (18 Caps)

Backs: 

Aled Davies (Ospreys) (20 Caps)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (51 Caps)

Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues) (16 Caps)

Sam Davies (Dragons) (8 Caps)

Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues) (3 Caps)

Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped)

Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (25 Caps)

Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (22 Caps)

Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues) (2 Caps)

Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (21 Caps)

Steff Evans (Scarlets) (13 Caps)

Ashton Hewitt (Dragons) (Uncapped)

Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) (Uncapped)

Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps)

Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (85 Caps)

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