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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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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

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. 

International

PREVIEW: All Blacks v Fiji

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Steinlager Series ends on a high in Hamilton as the All Blacks face an incredibly physical and skillful Fijian side who will be eager to improve on the 57-23 score line from Dunedin last week.

Match details: All Blacks v Fiji, Saturday 17 July, 7.05pm (NZT), FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

Played: 6

First game: All Blacks 74, Fiji 13 (27 May 1987)

Last game: All Blacks 57, Fiji 23 (10 July 2021)

Referee: Damon Murphy

FIJI NO SURPRISE PACKAGE

While Fiji’s strong performance in the first Test came as a surprise to some fans, it wasn’t to the All Blacks according to first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga. “We knew what we were going to get and for those who didn’t know, the New Zealand public who don’t watch European rugby, these guys are rock stars over there,” Mo’unga said. Despite a hampered build-up to the first Test with some players not coming out of MIQ until the week of the Test, Fiji pressured the All Blacks in many facets of the game and trailed by just eight points with 20 minutes to go. Fiji Head Coach Vern Cotter believes his side can get even better with another week of preparation under their belt. “The ingredients are there, a brave performance…you can build something from that,” Cotter said.

ARDIE AND ANTON MILESTONES

It will be a night to remember for Ardie Savea and Anton Lienert-Brown who both bring up 50 Tests for the All Blacks. Both players debuted in 2016 as youngsters and have quickly become regular starters and leaders in the All Blacks. Lienert-Brown said it was even more special for him to celebrate the milestone in Hamilton. “This region is probably the reason I am here. It has given a lot to me so to do it at FMG Waikato Stadium is special so I am very grateful.”

BREAKDOWN CHALLENGE

Fiji excelled at the breakdown last week in Dunedin and will be looking to edge the All Blacks again in this crucial area. It’s no secret that the All Blacks have been working hard during the week to improve their work at the breakdown and the addition of Ardie Savea to the starting line-up for the first time in 2021 will no doubt boost the All Blacks ability to compete in the tackle zone. Assistant Coach Brad Mooar outlined a simple formula to success at the breakdown: “I think it’s more about just winning the race, beating the opposition to the breakdown, making good decisions and execution as a ball carrier, supporters’ anticipation, and getting into that breakdown,” Mooar said.

STATCHAT

This will be the All Blacks 600th Test in the team’s rich history. The first All Blacks Test match was against Australia way back in 1903.

COACH’S CHAT

Hear from All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster on the 23 players named to face Fiji in Hamilton.

WATCH

Watch the action live on Sky Sport in New Zealand and click HERE for international broadcast details.

TEAMS

 

All Blacks (caps in brackets):

1: George Bower (2) 2: Codie Taylor (57) 3: Nepo Laulala (30) 4: Scott Barrett (41) 5: Samuel Whitelock – captain (124) 6: Akira Ioane (3) 7: Ardie Savea (49) 8: Luke Jacobson (4) 9: Aaron Smith (98) 10: Richie Mo’unga (23) 11: Sevu Reece (9) 12: David Havili (4) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (49) 14: Will Jordan (4) 15: Damian McKenzei (29)

Reserves: 16: Dane Coles (76) 17: Ethan de Groot (1) 18: Angus Ta’avao (15) 19: Brodie Retallick (82) 20: Shannon Frizell (13) 21: Brad Weber (8) 22: Beauden Barrett (90) 23: Rieko Ioane (35)

Fiji:

1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa (C), 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Peceli Yato, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Eneriko Buliruarua, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Setareki Tuicuvu, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Albert Tuisue, 20. Kitione Kamikamica, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Teti Tela, 23. Manasa Mataele.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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6 Nations

World Rugby applies 50/22 law trial globally, bolster concussion protocol

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World Rugby announced on Wednesday five law trials which will start next month, including a so-called “50/22” kicking adaptation.

The 50/22 change allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half.

The rule was used in recent Super Rugby tournaments and its primary intention is to “encourage the defensive team to put more players in the backfield, thereby creating more attacking space and reducing defensive line speed”, according to the sport’s governing body.

The other laws to come into force on a temporary basis from August 1 include a goal-line drop-out if the ball is held up in the in-goal area, if there is a knock-on from an attacking player in the same area or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal.

There are also restrictions on attacking players latching onto team-mates from a ruck and clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs at the breakdown.

Michael Hooper with a textbook tackle close out a certain try

The final trial allows for a one-player latch before contact, but the individual must “observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet”.

World Rugby has also moved to strengthen concussion protocols, with independent specialists set to review cases when Test players return to action after a head injury.

They will launch a panel of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) to provide expert opinion on whether players are ready to return to action after head knocks.

The global governing body will fully fund the process for Test-level competitions, with ICCs asked to rule when players look to return to action 10 days or fewer after a concussion or on players deemed higher risk due to previous head-injury history.

Source – Australia Rugby

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International

Ireland Name Squad For Final Game Of Vodafone Summer Series

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Andy Farrell and his coaching team have named the Ireland side to face the USA at the Aviva Stadium in the final fixture of the Vodafone Summer Series. There are four new caps in the starting XV and a further four uncapped players in the replacements.

James Ryan wears the captain’s armband and is partnered in the second row by Ryan Baird who wins his 5th cap in his first start for Ireland. In the backrow Caelan Doris switches to the blindside flank to accommodate Gavin Coombes at No.8 with the uncapped Nick Timoney lining out at openside.

In the front row Tom O’Toole is set to make his international debut alongside Ronan Kelleher and Dave Kilcoyne.

Craig Casey will make his first start for Ireland and will partner his provincial colleague Joey Carbery at half-back. Stuart McCloskey retains the inside centre berth and is joined by fellow Ulsterman, debutant James Hume (pictured above).  Hugo Keenan starts his 13th consecutive game for Ireland and is supported in the back field by Andrew Conway and the uncapped Robert Baloucoune.Ireland

The replacements include Dave Heffernan, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Will Addison and the uncapped quartet Fineen Wycherley, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade and Harry Byrne. 

The match will be televised by RTE (ROI) and on Channel 4’s YouTube channel (UK & NI) and kicks off at 7.15pm.

Ireland Team & Replacements (v USA, Vodafone Summer Series, Saturday, July 10, 7:15 pm)

15. Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster) 12 caps
14. Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ulster) uncapped
13. James Hume (Banbridge/Ulster) uncapped
12. Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster) 5 caps
11. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 24 caps
10. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 23 caps
9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster) 2 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 44 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 12 caps
3. Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster) uncapped
4. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster) 4 caps
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 36 caps captain
6. Caelan Doris (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 8 caps
7. Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster) uncapped
8. Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster) 1 cap

Replacements
16. Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht) 5 caps
17. Ed Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 5 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 15 caps
19. Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster) uncapped
20. Paul Boyle (Buccaneers/Connacht) uncapped
21. Caolin Blade (Galwegians/Connacht) uncapped
22. Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster) uncapped
23. Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 4 caps

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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