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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.

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All Blacks announce new Captain

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

All Blacks Press Release:

All Blacks loose forward and Chiefs Captain Sam Cane has been named as the new Captain of the All Blacks.

The news was announced on SKY Sport’s The Breakdown show tonight, with Cane succeeding Kieran Read who retired from the All Blacks after Rugby World Cup 2019.

A natural leader, 28-year-old Cane has played 68 Tests, including 48 starts, since making his debut against Ireland in 2012, aged just 20.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said he was delighted to name Cane as the new captain.

“Sam is an experienced All Black with eight years in the team now and is a ‘follow me’ type of leader and a very good thinker in the game. He has a natural ability to connect with everyone in the team and is straightforward and direct when he needs to be.

“There’s massive respect for Sam amongst the players and management, and he’s perfectly placed to lead the All Blacks into the future.”

Foster said while the All Blacks’ plans for this year were still being worked through due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an important role for the captain.

“We wanted to confirm Sam now because he’ll play a key role helping us plan for whatever the future looks like and will be working behind the scenes with the other leaders,” Foster said.

Cane said it was a “massive honour” to be given the captaincy.

“It’s a pretty exciting challenge really and as I’ve spent more time in the All Blacks and grown as a player, I’ve become a lot more comfortable being a leader in the team.

“The great thing about the All Blacks is that the leadership group is full of captains and experienced players already, so I’m just really looking forward to working closely with that group and doing my best to lead them and the rest of the squad.”

Cane has already captained the All Blacks on three occasions. He became the 67th Test captain and fifth youngest ever when he captained the team against Namibia at RWC2015 at the age of 23. He also captained the team against Italy in 2016 and against Argentina in Buenos Aires last year.

“My style as captain will be to not really change the way I do things. I’m just myself and will continue to be. I already work on building relationships, especially with the younger guys in the squad, and everyone else connected with the team, so that will continue,” Cane added.

“While we don’t know yet what the rest of the year looks like for the All Blacks, I’m looking forward to catching up with the coaches and other senior players as we firm up our plans.”

Mini biography – Sam Cane

Raised in the small rural Bay of Plenty community of Reporoa, Sam Cane has had an exceptional career since breaking into professional rugby as a teenager. He made his provincial debut for Bay of Plenty in 2010 at just 18 years old and his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs the following year. In 2011, Cane was also part of the Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 side, was the New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year and was also nominated for International Age Grade Player award. He helped the Chiefs to the first of their back-to-back Investec Super Rugby titles in 2012 before making his All Blacks debut in June that year aged 20. A devastating tackler and scavenger, he has continued to take his game to new levels in recent seasons. He was co-Captain of the Chiefs for four years taking sole charge this year and has played 116 games for the club. In 2018 Cane fractured his neck during a Test against South Africa and faced months of recovery post-surgery before making a much-anticipated return to the Chiefs in 2019, helping the team through to the Quarter Finals. A Rugby World Cup 2015 champion with the All Blacks, Cane was also part of the RWC2019 squad.

Samuel Jordan Cane

Born: 13 January 1992 in Rotorua
Physical: 1.89m, 106kg
Position: Loose forward
Province: Bay of Plenty
Investec Super Rugby team: Chiefs
Investec Super Rugby appearances: 116
All Blacks Debut: 16 June 2012, vs Ireland in Christchurch, aged 20.
All Blacks Tests: 68 (Three as Captain)
All Blacks Test Points: 65pts (13 tries)
All Black Number: 1113

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Rugby Australia Make Significant Cuts

Following the coronavirus pandemic rugby has been hit hard with no way of playing games and now Rugby Australia have been forced into making cuts in order to retain staff in the long-run

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia have confirmed that they will be standing down 75% of their staff in a bid to combat the growing struggles that the coronavirus pandemic is causing.

The workers will be released from tomorrow until the 30th of June due to the lack of finances available to Rugby Australia with the Super Rugby season currently on hold and a strong possibility of the Wallabies summer tests being called off. 

In the worst case possible the organisation are predicting a loss of $120 million due to the virus and speaking on the latest developments the organisation’s chief executive Raelane Castle admitted this was the toughest decision she and her colleagues had ever had to make. 

“Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis. Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season. Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies test matches at some point this year. The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period,” she said. 

Castle’s has already taken a 50% pay cut since the crisis began and the rest of Rugby Australia’s executives will have a 30% reduction in pay. 

It is a tough call to make in order to preserve rugby in Australia and the fear is that things may get worse with a fear that not all four of the country’s Super Rugby franchises will make it through to next season due to the financial losses.

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Jones Set for Pay Cut

England head coach Eddie Jones is set to be asked to take a pay cut during the current coronavirus outbreak according to reports

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones will be asked to take a 25% pay cut due to the coronavirus outbreak according to the PA news agency.

The Rugby Football Union have already cut the wages of their executive team by the same amount and the organisation are expecting revenue losses of up to £50 million over the next 18 months due to the virus. 

Jones has the highest salary of all international coaches with a yearly wage of around £750,000 and it is believed that talks are to be held with him and his coaching staff in the coming days to reduce that. 

The former Japan head coach is currently heading into the final year of his contract which runs out come July 2021 and it remains to be seen whether he will be asked to lead England into the 2023 French Rugby World Cup

Meanwhile, a number of Jones’ English stars have already taken pay cuts at their respective clubs following the outbreak. However, some reports claim that players will be taking legal action against their clubs over these cuts. 

With the timeline of recovery from the overall virus unknown rugby is heading into the future with no return date and as such it is unclear how long or far these reductions will have to go to keep organisations afloat.

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