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Steve Hansen makes decision on his future

All Blacks head coach has made a decision.

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Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

It’s been an action packed week for New Zealand rugby with Ben Smith announcing he’s off to France and Nehe Milner-Skudder also en-route to Europe. With a press conference called for 9am (NZ Time) was All Blacks coach Steve Hansen about to bring some good news or confirm that he too would be on his way.  

In typical laid back Steve’s fashion, he simply said, 

“I’m going”

The 59 year old whose contract is due to expire at the end of the 2019 World Cup will have been part of the All Blacks coaching ticket for 16 years. Prior to taking the head coach role in 2012 he worked as the assistant coach to Graham Henry.

“I just think that after 16 years it is the right time to move on after the World Cup. It is the right thing for the team. We can have a fresh pair of eyes come into the team,” said Hansen.

Hansen added, “It’s been a huge privilege to be part of the All Blacks for such a long time and I’m really looking forward to, and excited by the challenges, of the next 12 months. We’ll be attempting to do something that has never been done before – to win three consecutive Rugby World Cups. I’m highly motivated by that, as is the whole group, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Embed from Getty Images

Hansen felt it was important to make the announcement about his future now so that New Zealand Rugby had plenty of time to identify his successor.

“This is a critical process which shouldn’t be rushed and shouldn’t be made in the turbulent period that tends to follow a Rugby World Cup campaign.”

Hansen said he hadn’t made any decision on his future at present and his focus was on preparing for the 2019 season.

All Blacks Chairman Brent Impey has lead the tributes to Hansen.

“On behalf of the New Zealand Rugby Board, I’d like to thank Steve for his enormous contribution to our national game. He’s hugely respected, clear in his views, and will leave the job as one of the greatest ever All Blacks coaches.

“His record is unsurpassed. The All Blacks currently hold all the major trophies we play for, he played a critical role in the back-to-back-Rugby World Cup victories in 2011 and 2015, and we wish him and the team all the very best for next year’s campaign.

“Whatever happens next in Steve’s career, his place as a New Zealand rugby legend is guaranteed,” 

All Blacks Chairman Brent Impey

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said Hansen had overseen “one of the richest periods in All Blacks history.”

“On his watch the All Blacks have had a winning rate of close to 90 percent – a remarkable run of sustained success”

“As well as his success on the field, he will also be remembered for his bold selections and the way he and his management team provided the opportunity and environment for the players to achieve their full potential on the international stage.

“He cares deeply about the game and the wider issues facing it and his views are hugely respected not only in New Zealand but internationally.

“On behalf of New Zealand Rugby, we congratulate Steve, his wife Tash and his family on his contribution to New Zealand Rugby – and the contribution he’ll continue to make in 2019 – and we all look forward to what next year will bring.”

Without doubt, there will be a few names bandied about as potential successors with Joe Schmidt, Ian Foster and Scott Robertson already being mentioned. One thing that is for sure is that whoever gets the gig will have a tough act to follow.


6 Nations

England team to face Scotland in Six Nations opener

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Ollie Hassell-Collins will make his England debut at left wing, Max Malins returns to the side at right wing and Freddie Steward is named at full back.

Owen Farrell captains the side from inside centre and is joined in the midfield by Joe Marchant. Marcus Smith is at fly-half with Jack van Poortvliet at scrum half.

The front row is made up of vice-captain Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler with Jamie George at hooker. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum start at lock, while Ben Curry makes his second appearance for England at open-side flanker. Lewis Ludlam and Alex Dombrandt complete the back row.

Jack Walker is in line to make his England debut after being named as a substitute, Anthony Watson could make a first England appearance since March 2021, and if Dan Cole comes off the bench he will earn a 96th Test cap.

Mako Vunipola, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs and Ollie Lawrence make up the remaining replacements.

“There are few fixtures in the rugby calendar that excite both players and supporters alike more than the annual Six Nations meeting of the Auld enemy as they battle for the honour of lifting the Calcutta Cup,” said Borthwick.

“Another packed Twickenham will witness the start of the next chapter of English rugby in one of the most keenly contested tournaments in the world. There is no doubt this England team shares the supporters’ sense of eager anticipation.

“To a man, the players are determined to play with the commitment, fight and desire that is at the very heart of representing England, the sort of passion that our tremendous supporters rightly expect.”

England Match Day Squad

Starting

15. Freddie Steward

14. Max Malins

13. Joe Marchant

12. Owen Farrell (C)

11. Ollie Hassell-Collins

10. Marcus Smith

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge (VC)

2. Jamie George

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Ollie Chessum

6. Lewis Ludlam

7. Ben Curry

8. Alex Dombrandt

Replacements

16. Jack Walker

17. Mako Vunipola

18. Dan Cole

19. Nick Isiekwe

20. Ben Earl

21. Ben Youngs

22. Ollie Lawrence

23. Anthony Watson


Images & Content from England Rugby
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6 Nations

Scotland name team to face England in 2023 Guinness Six Nations Opener

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Head coach Gregor Townsend has named his squad to face England in the opening fixture of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations this Saturday as Scotland bid to retain the Calcutta Cup.

Leading his side in the championship for the first time, blindside flanker Jamie Ritchie is joined at openside by Luke Crosbie, whose excellent recent form is rewarded with a second start for Scotland, with Matt Fagerson completing the back row.

In the second row, the experienced Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist, who is named as Vice Captain, resume a partnership that impressed during last year’s Autumn Nations Series.

Pierre Schoeman starts at loosehead prop in what is a 17th consecutive international since his 2021 debut, with the evergreen WP Nel – who reached 50 caps in November – selected at tighthead and George Turner named at hooker.

In the back division, scrum-half Ben White will link up with stand-off Finn Russell, a year on from his try-scoring debut in the Calcutta Cup at BT Murrayfield.

Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones are named as a centre pairing, the former having scored his first tries for Scotland in November’s win over Argentina, with the latter having notched no fewer than four tries against England in as many games against them.

In the back three, Scotland’s record try-scorer Stuart Hogg continues at full-back, with Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn lining up on the wings.

Townsend has selected a bench with a 5-3 split between forwards and backs, with Glasgow Warriors clubmates Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan and Jack Dempsey, alongside Jonny Gray, listed as pack replacements. George Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Harris complete the matchday squad as substitute options.

Scotland team to face England in the Guinness Six Nations opener on Saturday, 4 February at Twickenham, kick-off 4.45pm, live on STV and ITV

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps

14. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
12. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps

10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
9. Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 30 caps
3. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
4. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – Vice Captain – 59 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – Captain – 36 caps
7. Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps

Replacements

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
19. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
20. Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
22. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps

Tickets for Scotland’s match against Italy at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 18 March are still available HERE

Images & Content – Scotland Rugby


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Springboks’ 2023 fixture list locked in

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

The Springboks will kick off a bumper 2023 season against Australia in Pretoria in July in the opening round of the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship and will face Argentina in Johannesburg in their final match on home soil before the build-up to their Rugby World Cup defence starts.

In August, the Boks will travel to Argentina to take on the Pumas before facing Wales and the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in Cardiff and London in the final build-up to the global showpiece in France, which kicks off on the second weekend in September.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s charges will kick off the international season on Saturday, 8 July, with their opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, before travelling to New Zealand to face the All Blacks on Saturday, 17 July.

They will return to South Africa to wrap up their campaign against the Pumas at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg two weeks later, on Saturday, 29 July.

This will mark the first time since 2016 that the Boks host Australia in Pretoria, and the first time since 2013 that they take on Argentina in in Johannesburg, with South Africa having won both those fixtures, by 18-10 and 73-13 respectively.

The away match against Argentina is scheduled for Saturday, 5 August before they take on Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, 19 August, and a second Test against New Zealand at Twickenham on Friday, 25 August.

South Africa will launch their Rugby World Cup title defence on Sunday, 10 September, against Scotland in Marseille, which will be followed by pool matches against Romania in Bordeaux (17 September), Ireland in Paris (23 September) and Tonga in Marseille (1 October).

The Rugby World Cup quarter-finals will be played on the weekend of 14/15 October, with the semi-finals on 20/21 October and the final on Saturday, 28 October.

“Loftus Versfeld and Emirates Airline Park are iconic stadiums, and we thoroughly enjoy the fanatic support from the home crowds at these venues, so we are thrilled to start off what is a vital season for the team at these stadiums,” said Nienaber.

“These Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches are going to be crucial as we look to get our Rugby World Cup season off to a good start and playing against New Zealand away and Australia and Argentina on the highveld will be ideal for our preparation.

“All three sides will enter the international spectacle in France among a handful of teams that will be considered potential contenders for the title, so we are expecting a thorough test throughout the campaign.”

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus added that the match against the Pumas in Argentina ties in nicely with their RWC preparations: “Playing against Argentina in South America is unique as they have a very passionate home crowd that brings the best out of their team, so that environment will serve as good preparation for our team with an eye on the Rugby World Cup, especially after getting a taste of the atmosphere we can expect at the international extravaganza in our match against France in Marseille last November.”

Nienaber said the national coaches have been hard at work with their planning for the international season where they will look to build on an encouraging 2022 season: “The coaches have hit the ground running this year and we’ll continue to put in the hard yards as we attempt to ensure that we leave no stone unturned before the World Cup.

“We are on course in terms of finalising our planning for the season and we are excited about returning to the training field,” added the Springbok coach.

An announcement on the venues of the Tests in New Zealand and Argentina, as well as the Boks’ training camps will be made in due course.

Springbok 2023 fixtures:

Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
Saturday, 8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 17 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (venue TBC)
Saturday, 29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

RWC warm-up fixtures:
Saturday, 5 August – Springboks v Argentina (venue TBC)
Saturday, 19 August – Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August – SA vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)

RWC pool fixtures:
Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September – Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September – Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October – Springboks v Tonga (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)

Weekend of 14/15 October – Quarter-finals
Weekend of 21/22 October – Semi-finals
Saturday, 28 October – Final

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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