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Weekend’s Rugby Guide to Key Games

There are some key games coming up this weekend so here’s a guide through them, what they mean and how to watch them

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

This weekend sees the start of World Cup warm-ups games for some northern hemisphere teams as well as the conclusion of the Rugby Championship so here’s a small guide to help you through it all. Click on each team to check out their squad for the game. 

Saturday

Australia vs New Zealand (KO 10 45, Sky Sports):

In terms of competition the biggest prize up for grabs is the Rugby Championship title.

Up first in the final round fixtures is the clash of the Wallabies and the All Blacks in Perth. Both teams are still in with a chance of winning the championship depending on South Africa’s result against Argentina.

However, with that game later in the day both teams will be going all out to not only win but score as many points as possible to secure a possibly vital bonus-point.

This could be the game of the weekend and could be high-scoring.

Argentina vs South Africa (KO 20 40, Sky Sports):

The Springboks are going in search of their first Rugby Championship crown in a decade and have it in their own hands knowing a bonus-point victory will be enough to win.

The Pumas are currently on a losing-streak and will want to finish the tournament on a high to build momentum ahead of the World Cup, as well as avoiding the wooden spoon.

Argentina have nothing to lose in front of their home crowd while South Africa have everything to play for so expect a cracker.

Ireland vs Italy (KO 14 00, RTE & Channel 4):

The first of their World Cup warm-up games. Both team’s have given fringe players and youth players a chance to stake a claim for a place on plane to Japan.

Ireland need to put in a performance to banish the demons of their terrible Six Nations campaign earlier in the year, while Italy will look to build some momentum in the first of four warm-up games.

It could be a comfortable afternoon for the Irish, but Italy’s young talent could put in a big performance, one to keep an eye on.

Sunday

England vs Wales (KO 14 00, Sky Sports):

Two old foes come face to face once again. Wales will be going for a 15th win in a row on Sunday, while England will be hoping to upset Warren Gatland’s men.

Both have named reasonably strong teams as they will look to get one over on the opposition before they face again within the next month.

A real clash of the titans, with both teams in with a chance of winning the World Cup this year, this will be a chance to show what they’ve got and lay down a marker. Expect big hits and moments of class in a game not to be missed.

International

Best to Captain Barbarians at Twickenham

The Barbarians have announced their squad for their clash with Fiji on November 16th and Ireland legend Rory Best will captain the invitational side on his final professional appearance

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Barbarians have confirmed their 23-man squad for their match against Fiji on Saturday November 16th at Twickenham, with Rory Best set to captain the side.

The invitational side take on Fiji in the Killik Cup as England head coach takes charge of the team and Irish rugby legend Best will captain the team from hooker in what will be his final professional appearance, having finished his international career with Ireland during the Rugby World Cup

Best is joined by Springbok ace and fellow legend in rugby Tendai Mtawarira in the front-row as the pair are joined by Enrique Pieretto. 

As well as Mtawarira, fellow World Cup winner Makazole Mapimpi starts on the wing, while Boks’ centre Lukhanyo Am is on the bench along with former Springbok Morne Steyn, who joins up in a Barbarians squad with Mtawarira once again, having lined-out together back in 2009 during a 25-19 win over the All Blacks.

Elsewhere, the side contains big names such as Mathieu Bastareaud, who links up with Andre Esterhuizen in the midfield. 

It is the first of three fixtures for the Baa Baas as they follow their game with Fiji, with clashes against Brazil in Sao Paolo and Wales at the Principality Stadium to conclude their November tour for 2019. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15. David Havili

14. Dillyn Leyds

13. Mathieu Bastareaud

12. Andre Esterhuizen

11. Makazole Mapimpi

10. Curwin Bosch

9. Joe Powell

1. Tendai Mtawariria

2. Rory Best ©

3. Enrique Pieretto

4. Luke Jones

5. Tyler Ardron

6. Pete Samu

7. Marco Van Staden 

8. Josh Strauss

Replacements:

Andrew Makalio, Campese Maafu, Hencus Van Wyk, Angus Cottrell, Matt Philip, Jano Vermaak, Lukhanyo Am, Morne Steyn

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6 Nations

Wales Dealt Six Nations Double-Blow

Wales’ Six Nations title defence has been dealt a massive blow already with two stars facing surgery to fix injuries picked up on international duty

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Wales will be without both Jonathan Davies and Rhys Patchell for some part of the 2020 Six Nations campaign due to injury it has been confirmed.

Davies, a key member of the Welsh squad for the past number of seasons sustained a knee injury during Wales’ recent Rugby World Cup campaign, and Scarlets have announced that he will undergo surgery on the injury.

The recovery time for the for the centre is set to be six months, meaning he will miss the entire Six Nations tournament in what could be a critical blow as they look to defend their title. While it also means that he could potentially miss the entire club season for Scarlets.

As for Patchell, things aren’t as severe as Davies, but the fly-half is still set to miss the start of the Six Nations with a shoulder injury, which he too will have surgery on.

He is expected to miss between 12-16 weeks due to the injury in what is a cruel blow for a player that has suffered with injury previously, but had shown some brilliant form in recent times.

It is a far from ideal start to life at the helm for new head coach Wayne Pivac as he heads into his first tournament with the team.

As well as these injuries there are also further concerns regarding the likes of stars Liam Williams and Josh Navidi, who are both currently sidelined through injury, with the former looking likely to miss some part of the Six Nations.

Wales are looking to bounce-back during the tournament following a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, with all players hoping to impress Warren Gatland’s successor.

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International

Why Gatland Turned Down the All Blacks

Warren Gatland has confirmed that he was approached by the All Blacks to fill their vacant head coach position, but has explained why he said no

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Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has confirmed that he turned down the chance to be in the running as the next New Zealand head coach due to his commitment to the Chiefs and the British and Irish Lions.

Gatland, who finished his time with Wales following their Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan earlier this month, has taken the reins at New Zealand Super Rugby side the Chiefs, with a contract that runs until 2023 and allows for a year out to lead the Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa

Speaking to Radio Sport Breakfast the Kiwi admitted that it was great to be in the running for the All Blacks position, however, he could not accept as he is loyal to the teams that he had already agreed deals with but isn’t turning down the possibility of having the role in the future.

 “I was contacted about that…it was nice to be contacted I politely declined putting my name forward. I’m a little bit old school…I’d made the commitment to the Chiefs and I’d made the commitment to the Lions, it was important that I carry on with that…honour the commitment I made to those two sides. Maybe sometime in the future I may get that opportunity again,” he said. 

New Zealand Rugby have confirmed that a total of 26 coaches have been given the opportunity to apply for the position, but Gatland is focused on his new job with the Chiefs and believes that if he is meant to have a role with the All Blacks that it will happen later in his career. 

“I’m not one of those people who plan ahead too much…I’m a great believer in what will be will be. For me having been away a long time there are a lot of different challenges and the challenges are to kind re-integrate myself back into New Zealand rugby. If you are successful other opportunities will come along. It was time for me to make a decision to leave Wales and the northern hemisphere and come back to New Zealand and I’m excited by that,” he added. 

Gatland, who had 12 successful years with Wales until his return to New Zealand is preparing for the 2020 Super Rugby season with his new franchise, who have confirmed the signings of promising backs Kini Naholo and Quinn Tupaea ahead of the campaign. 

As well as those youngsters there is a return to New Zealand rugby for fly-half Aaron Cruden, who signed a one-year contract ahead of a move to Japan and both he and Gatland will hope to make big impacts upon their returns to their home nation. 

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