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Rugby Writers Of Ireland Honour Van Der Flier And Jones

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Josh van der Flier and Neve Jones have been chosen as the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year respectively.

Praised for their consistent performances throughout the 2021/22 season, the Ireland duo received their awards at this evening’s ceremony at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

Van der Flier was one of the standout players as the Ireland Men’s team claimed the Triple Crown in March, along with a historic series win on the summer tour of New Zealand.

The 29-year-old Wicklow man also turned in some brilliant performances for Leinster, both domestically in the United Rugby Championship and on the European stage.

“I am very proud to have been voted the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year,” said the Leinster and Ireland flanker.

“On a personal and professional level, 2022 has been incredibly special for me and it was wonderful to have our amazing supporters backing us throughout the season.

“All my team-mates at Leinster and Ireland were equally incredible last season and I definitely would not be picking up this award without their help.

“I hope that we can keep all improving over the next 12 months as we look ahead to an exciting year for Irish Rugby.”

Jones also enjoyed a tremendous season with the Ireland Women. Her outstanding Six Nations performances were followed by a superb display when the Gloucester-Hartpury hooker scored a hat-trick of tries against Japan.

“It is a huge honour to be named the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s Player of the Year,” said the 23-year-old from Ballymena.

“There is no doubt that this has been the most enjoyable year of my rugby career so far and to be the recipient of this award just tops that off.

“I was also delighted to be a part of Ireland’s historic tour to Japan and I am really looking forward to the years ahead with this team.”

The Ireland Men’s team was named the Dave Guiney Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Team of the Year in recognition of their first ever series win over New Zealand during their summer tour.

Andy Farrell’s charges also took home silverware from their 2022 Guinness Six Nations campaign by defeating Wales, England and Scotland to claim a first Triple Crown since 2018.

Terry Kennedy was named the Men’s Sevens Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, cementing his reputation as one of the best Sevens players in the world.

Another excellent season for Kennedy saw him pick up the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Top Try Scorer title, having crossed the whitewash 50 times in this year’s series.

The St. Mary’s College speedster was selected on the World Series Dream Team before playing a vital role in Ireland’s bronze medal-winning run at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town.

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe was announced as the Ireland Women’s Sevens Player of the Year, the second time she has won the award in her career.

The lightning-quick Tipperary native reached a century of tries this season while also being named on the World Series Dream Team. She played a pivotal role in helping the Ireland Women qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Murphy Crowe also featured for the Ireland Women’s 15s side in the 2021 November internationals and the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

Also honoured on the night was retiring Leinster Rugby CEO Mick Dawson, who was presented with the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Tom Rooney Award.

Dawson has overseen a period of extraordinary success both on and off the field for Leinster Rugby.

He has been at the helm for Leinster’s most successful period, with the province winning four Champions Cup titles, one European Challenge Cup and eight league crowns during his 21 years as CEO.

Elsewhere, Enniscorthy RFC were voted the Club of the Year on the back of their impressive achievement in winning Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2B last season.

With a largely local-based squad, the Wexford club was competing at this level for the first time after winning the Round Robin Series in 2021, and won 16 of their 18 games to secure promotion.

Finally, former Munster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions lock Mick Galwey and Phillip Matthews, the ex-Ulster, Ireland, Lions and Barbarians flanker, have been inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame.

Galwey won an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medal with Kerry before committing himself to rugby. He went on to win 41 caps for Ireland and was selected for the Lions tour to New Zealand in 1993.

Matthews, meanwhile, made 38 appearances for Ireland, captaining the side on 13 occasions. He was also part of the 1985 Five Nations Championship-winning team and represented Ireland at two Rugby World Cups in 1987 and 1991.

Rory Sheridan, Head of Partnerships for Diageo, said: “Guinness is proud to recognise the outstanding achievements and contributions to Irish Rugby during the 2021/22 season.

“As a long-term partner of both Irish Rugby and the Rugby Writers of Ireland, it has been great to see so much success both on and off the pitch.

“I would like to congratulate all of those who have been honoured today by the Rugby Writers of Ireland, most of all, Josh van der Flier and Neve Jones on their tremendous personal achievements this past season.

“Both players showed tremendous leadership throughout, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them on the pitch last year.

“I would also like to share my heartfelt best wishes to Mick Dawson on his retirement following a hugely successful tenure as Leinster Rugby CEO. On behalf of Guinness, I wish him all the best in the future.

“All of us at Guinness have been delighted to see the rugby community – players, fans, media and beyond – come together once again and embrace the camaraderie that comes with this rugby occasion, and we are delighted to once again be celebrating days like this together.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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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6 Nations

Leading Rugby Stakeholders Unite To Consider Future Of Rugby

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Rugby’s major stakeholders have united to consider the short and long-term insights and priorities for ensuring the sport is a relevant, accessible and attractive sport for all as it grows over the next decade.

The World Rugby Shape of the Game conference, hosted in London, gathered leading coaching, playing, officiating, medical and event owner minds to consider how to build a better game for all, focusing on safety and spectacle. Underpinning that mission is the ongoing prioritisation of player welfare, while fostering an environment that is simpler, more accessible and more attractive.

It will be followed by similar conferences on the elite women’s 15s and community games as the sport looks to growth opportunities over the next decade. The process will also consider fan views and general sport and entertainment considerations to create a holistic approach to the future of the sport.

Over two days, delegates considered the global welfare landscape, including reinforcing the data regarding the relative safety of the community and age-grade game, global playing trends and the role of match officials, the narrative around the sport with all participants focused on the bigger picture.

The conference identified key areas for further exploration:

• Focus on the fan: Insights from fans and broadcasters to inform the longer-term development of the sport as an entertainment product

• Speed up the game: Focus on interventions and innovations to reduce stoppages, increase continuity and the rhythm of the game

• Support match officials: Provide them with the tools to perform their role to their best ability, consider TMO intervention reductions

• Underpin with player welfare: Continue to implement evidence-based strategies to mitigate head injuries and overall injuries in the sport

• Change the narrative: The community game is the lifeblood of the sport, the risk of injury is much less than that of the elite game, focus on the benefits while managing the risks

World Rugby will take away the considerations and insights for further exploration to prioritise areas that can be implemented in the short term without changing law ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said:

“As a sport, a movement and a family, we must always challenge ourselves to be better. That means taking time to consider what fans and players want the future of our sport to be, a future where more people want to play and support the game, where injury risk is reducing and where all involved in the game have their say.

“This conference was the first step towards a reimagination of our sport. The full and frank contributions from a wide spectrum of disciplines gives us plenty to consider and to move forward with through our structures. I would like to thank all participants for taking time out at a busy time to unite, collaborate and consider our future.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

England side to face Springboks

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England host the Springboks at Twickenham Stadium in their final Autumn Nations Series game on Saturday 26 November (5.30pm KO).

Manu Tuilagi will make his 50th appearance for England at outside centre, having made his debut for England against Wales in August 2011. Owen Farrell will again captain the side at inside centre.

Marcus Smith is at fly half and Jack van Poortvliet is at scrum half. Tommy Freeman comes in at right wing, Jonny May is at left wing and Freddie Steward is full back.

Jamie George (hooker) and Mako Vunipola join fellow prop Kyle Sinckler in two changes to the starting front row. Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill stay at lock. Alex Coles comes in at flanker with Tom Curry, while Billy Vunipola is No.8.

Last weekend’s double-try scorer Will Stuart is named as a finisher along with Luke Cowan-Dickie, David Ribbans, Sam Simmonds, Ben Youngs, Henry Slade and vice-captains Ellis Genge and Jack Nowell.

“This is our last game of the autumn and our chance to continue building on the improvements we have made throughout the matches,” said Jones. “We have made steady progress from game-to-game, culminating in a pulsating draw against New Zealand.

“Now we have the chance to test ourselves against the might of the world champions. We’re going out there to light the crowd up. The support at Twickenham was outstanding last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we have another atmosphere like that again on Saturday.”

Squad

Starters

15. Freddie Steward

14. Tommy Freeman

13. Manu Tuilagi

12. Owen Farrell (C)

11. Jonny May

10. Marcus Smith

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Mako Vunipola

2. Jamie George

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Jonny Hill

6. Alex Coles

7. Tom Curry

8. Billy Vunipola

Finishers

16. Luke Cowan-Dickie

17. Ellis Genge

18. Will Stuart

19. David Ribbans

20. Sam Simmonds

21. Ben Youngs

22. Henry Slade

23. Jack Nowell


Images & Content from England Rugby
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