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6 Nations

Sexton reveals how he lost his voice at the World Rugby Awards

The reason behind Rory Best having to deliver Johnny Sexton’s acceptance speech was…

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YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/Getty Images

World Player of the year 2018 Johnny Sexton has revealed what caused his ill-timed lost of speech at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco last week.

The Leinster and Ireland Out-Half was awarded the accolade after being instrumental for both club and country over the last 12 months helping Ireland win a famous Grand Slam, a June Test series to Australia and of course that game against the All Blacks. His form and class also helped Leinster to be crowned Guinness Pro14 and European Champions Cup Champions in the same season.

When Sexton was announced as the winner in Monaco, he made his way to the stage with Irish Captain Rory Best. The reason being Sexton was unable to properly speak and Rory Best had the honour of reading out his acceptance speech from Sexton’s buzzing mobile phone (Video Below)

Sexton was speaking on the BBC 5 Live Rugby Union Weekley podcast, Sexton and revealed he picked up a chest infection following that famous win at the Aviva Stadium.

“I was sick after the New Zealand game; I had a bit of a chest infection or whatever,” Sexton explained

“I went down to do a bit of media before it and voice was fine but then we went into that drinks reception and there was a lot of people in a confined space where everyone was speaking over each other.”

“The longer that drinks reception went on, the more and more hoarse I was getting. During the dinner it was quite loud as well.”

“About two hours before the award was due to be announced, my voice went totally. I was trying everything possible to get it back: I was drinking hot whiskey, lemon and boiling water, salt water, anti-inflammatories – nothing was working. I literally could not get it back.”

“It was more the fear of if I won because we didn’t have a clue – none of the guys nominated had no idea if we’d won. I was just sitting there stressing that if I had to go up on stage that I’m not going to be able to say a word.”

“Five minutes before the award, it still wasn’t back so I just jotted down a few words and asked Rory to come up and say them for me. He thought I was taking the piss out of him. I wasn’t, unfortunately, and it was quite embarrassing.”

Sexton even jokingly told Beauden Barrett he hoped he would win because he was unable to speak.

“I whispered to Beauden Barrett about 10 minutes before [they named the winner], ‘I hope you win because I can’t speak.’” Sexton added.

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“That’s why I shook his hand as I was walking up to the stage, I’d been talking to him briefly. He couldn’t hear a word I’d been saying but we caught up after the game in the Aviva.”

6 Nations

Alun Wyn Jones Announces Future Plans

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has confirmed his long-awaited decision for the future

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(Photo credit PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Image)

Alun Wyn Jones has announced that he has signed a contract extension with both the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys until June 2021.

The second-row, who had been rumoured to be heading overseas come the end of the season has committed his future to his hometown region and confirmed the news on social media.

“I have some news I would like to share with you. I’m happy to announce that I have signed a contract extension to June 2021 with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys and will be playing at the Liberty Stadium for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The Welsh captain who has gone on to make 134 caps at test level (125 with Wales and 9 for the British & Irish Lions), admitted he considered all options available to him but decided to stay put.

“After serious consideration and taking stock of all options, it is the right decision for my career at this point in time, along with my personal ambitions on and off the field, my welfare, and needs of my family. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to tell you directly, in particular to the Ospreys supporters and all those who have supported me during my career to date. Thanks, Alun Wyn,” he added.

Jones is set to head to Switzerland this week for Wales’ first overseas training camp ahead of the Rugby World Cup, and WRU CEO Martyn Phillips is delighted that Jones will be remaining in the country after the tournament in Japan.

“This announcement is a huge boost for Welsh rugby. Alun Wyn is hugely respected across the game and I’m delighted he has committed his future here in Wales and that he will be continuing to play for his hometown region. It is a boost for the game both on and off the field and I’m sure the news will delight both Wales and Ospreys supporters alike as he continues to inspire the next generation. The extension allows the WRU and the Ospreys to continue working together with Alun Wyn to ensure he has the very best of environments to thrive in,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke is also excited to have the clubs most capped player (238 caps) still in his squad and believes it is brilliant news for everyone in the region.

“Today’s announcement is fantastic news for us as a club and all Ospreys and Wales supporters. Alun Wyn is a man I have the upmost respect for; he is greatly admired not just because of what he has achieved and what he represents as a local boy playing for his home region and country but importantly because of the ambition and level of performance he consistently displays. He’s a tremendous individual and a winner with a deep hunger for the Ospreys to be successful on and off the field. Alun Wyn has spent his entire career with the Ospreys and I expect him to continue his legacy as a player and well beyond his playing days,” he said.

Jones’ announcement will be a massive boost for all Welsh Rugby supporters and will also be a motivation for the national team heading into the World Cup later this year as they look to add more silverware to their Six Nations Grand Slam from earlier in the year.

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6 Nations

Ireland Add Final Piece to Backroom Puzzle

Ireland have confirmed their final addition to Andy Farrell’s coaching staff

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(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

Former England coach Mike Catt has been announced as Ireland’s new attack coach come the end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

Catt is currently coaching the Italian national side however; he will leave his post following the conclusion of the World Cup and take up the role of Ireland’s attack coach until 2023.

He is the last of the coaches to be named as a part of Andy Farrell’s backroom staff, with Farrell set to take over from Joe Schmidt once the tournament in Japan is completed.

Catt is delighted to be moving on to work with the Irish side but insists that he is solely focused on his current task with Italy.

“I am looking forward to the Rugby World Cup in Japan and seeing the group of players we have here in Italy fulfil their potential and achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves. Obviously, it is an honour to be given this future opportunity with Ireland, but I will focus on that challenge only after I have given my all for Italy and this group of players,” he said.

Farrell and Catt previously worked together while part of England’s coaching set-up for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and has plenty of experience which is appealing to IRFU performance director David Nucifora.

“Mike brings a wealth of experience to the coaching group and has been operating at the highest level of the international game for some time. He was a smart and innovative player, and he brings those attributes and much more besides in his approach to coaching and player development. We feel that we have secured a talented practitioner who will add significant value to the group and to the wider Irish system,” he said.

Along with Catt, Farrell has added John Fogarty as the side’s new scrum coach, while Simon Easterby and Richie Murphy will continue on as forwards specialist and kicking and skills coaches respectively.

Farrell will be hoping that he will take over the reigns following a successful World Cup campaign and will want to hit the ground running having put together a top-quality backroom set-up.

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6 Nations

World Rugby Gives Deadline for Nations Championship

World Rugby have given the 10 unions from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship a final deadline to decide on the Nations Championship

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World Rugby have confirmed that global rugby chiefs will have until Friday to decide whether or not the Nations Championship plans will be backed

The governing body has given the unions of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship nations until the closing of business on Friday of this week to provide a yes or no answer towards their new plans.

For their plans to be progressed World Rugby needs a unanimous decision from the 10 unions.

If that is to happen, they plan to launch their new format in 2022, with winners of the Six Nations and an expanded six-team Rugby Championship going head to head.

The final proposals of the Nations Championship will have to be passed by a vote of the full World Rugby council, however none of this will go ahead unless there is backing from the 10 nations.

Proposals have included creating two-tier tournaments for the Six Nations and Rugby Championship which would include the possibility of relegation or promotion.

A format which Six Nations unions appear to dislike.

As well as this there is the issue of the Pacific Islands, who believe that the creation of such tournaments would mean that they would be less likely to face the top nations in November and therefore be unable to develop as they currently are.

Whatever is to happen will become clearer in the next couple of days and it could be the start of a new era for international rugby.

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