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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.

International

Rugby Australia Claim Fox Sports Haven’t Walked Away

Last week it was reported that Fox Sports are set to end their 25-year long relationship with Australian Rugby, but Rugby Australia have now said otherwise

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Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has claimed that Fox Sports haven’t walked away from the Wallabies and believes they could continue their relationship into the future.

Last week it was reported that the media organisation were set to end their 25-year relationship with Rugby Australia, but despite not having come to a deal that suits all Castle’s believes they will bid for rights next month. 

“We went through a negotiating process with them (Fox Sports) through their exclusive negotiating period. Unfortunately we couldn’t get to a place we were both comfortable with. So now we’re in tender and we would expect that as a market process they would step into that process,” she said. 

Reports state that Fox Sports had ended their relationship with Rugby Australia after the two bodies failed to find common ground on a deal between 2021 and 2025. 

Rugby Australia and Castle are set to make a historic move next month when they bring the broadcast rights to the market for the first time since the professional era began, but as stated above she is confident of an agreement between the two either way. 

There is a fear among many that Australia’s struggling Super Rugby sides, three of which remain without a win so far this season, will make it harder for the organisation to get a good deal over the line. 

However, all will become clearer by next month and Castle and co will be hoping that they can get the best deal possible.

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Ireland Climb in Latest World Rankings

Ireland have had the biggest boost in the latest World Rugby Rankings ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw later this year

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Ireland have leapfrogged Wales in the latest World Rugby Rankings of the the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw in November of this year.

The boys in green have taken over the No 4 spot in the rankings following their 24-14 win over Wales in the Six Nations over the weekend, with their opponents dropping down to fifth. 

It is a major boost for the Irish and gives them something to hold on to heading into the rest of this year’s fixtures as they are now currently in the top seeds ahead of the draw for the pool stages of France 2023. 

World Rugby announced recently that they will hold the draw later this year meaning that teams will have less time to climb the rankings than last time around when they had 18 months between the previous World Cup and the draw for the next one. 

A total of twelve teams will head into the draw as seeds in three brackets with the top four in the rankings being first seeds, meaning as of now Wales would be second seeds along with France, Australia and Japan. 

While Scotland, Argentina, Italy and Fiji are in the third bracket, with the remainder of the teams to be decided through different qualifiers over the next three years. 

Elsewhere in the rankings Georgia have moved up ahead of Italy, following the former’s latest two defeats in the Six Nations, while the biggest risers have been Portugal, who have moved from 22nd to 20th, but Russia have dived from 20th to 25th. 

Ireland will be hoping to continue their perfect start to the Six Nations campaign when they take on the third-ranked team England away from home, whom they may look to overtake in the rankings before the draw. 

It is certainly heating up between the Six Nations teams as they try to be the best-placed behind South Africa and New Zealand, who take the first and second spots, but won’t play until the summer.

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New Zealand Rugby to Consider Change

New Zealand Rugby are set to consider a change in policy surrounding one of their most controversial rules in recent years

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New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson has admitted that the organisation may consider changes to the rules surrounding All Blacks player’s rest protocols.

The regulations have been in place since 2010 and insist that those playing within the All Blacks structure only play 40 minutes, then 60 and then 80 over the first three rounds of the Super Rugby campaign. While they also have the chance to either spend two weeks during the year to spend away from their respective team or focus on their physical conditioning. 

Since the rules have been in place there have been calls from fans and coaches alike to scrap them as they are devaluing the tournament and having a negative impact on players careers. 

However, Robinson believes that the rules are not causing a problem for the players involved but does hear the criticism that is being swirled around. 

“But the other thing I’ll say is that in recent times, certainly in the last 10 to 15 years, the All Blacks selected players including fringe players and they’ve shown an ability to work alongside players that might’ve lacking form but they respect and trust and bring them into the environment and do get game time. So I accept that there are many examples that can be pointed to the point that you’ve got there. But there’s also a pretty tight relationship between All Blacks coaches, the selectors and the players that you’re referring to there,” he said while speaking to Radio Sport’s Jim Kayes. 

He continued on to state that the decision was made at the time with players in mind and that the players themselves were included in the decision making before the regulations were passed. 

“I think we also need to understand that we’ve built this off a lot of consultation with players. We have used a lot of sports science and research has gone into it and a lot of thought has gone into it. I think it’s also important to understand that most professional teams and leagues now around the world have to manage the workload of players because most seasons across most leagues are simply unsustainable for an athlete to play every minute of every game. I think the other benefit of the policy to date is the fact that it’s made things very clear for all parties in this area of what the expectations are. So it’s taken out the grey,” he added. 

However, the call for change has been growing in recent times with Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown and Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland among the big names to call for change. With the former claiming that in his eyes the policy has actually cost All Black player’s their international career. 

Despite holding the view that the rules are correct Robinson went on to admit that New Zealand Rugby will review them and are open for change if need be. 

“Overall, we think it’s been a very effective policy and a lot of work has gone into it. But like a lot of things we accept that in any organisation, you’re constantly reviewing and looking at things. And so we’re open to that for the future,” he finished up. 

It would be a big shift if they were to revert back to the old rules, but it could just be the thing that helps some players get to their best and stay there consistently due to more game-time.

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