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Premiership

Exeter Closing in on England Starlet

Exeter Chiefs are reportedly set to sign one of England’s most exciting young stars as they build towards the future

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Exeter Chiefs are interested in taking exciting back Josh Hodge from the Newcastle Falcons following a number of starring performances in the Championship this season.

Hodge has played a role in the Championship club’s rise to the top of the table, leaving them likely to be promoted back to the Premiership after a one year absence. 

His performances have left Premiership sides looking at his situation and taking him to their club, however, RugbyPass believe that the Chiefs are closing in on a deal for the youngster. 

As well as his fine club form he has featured prominently for the England U20’s side and received a call-up to Eddie Jones’ England senior squad to train with the team during the Six Nations campaign. 

Hodge plays mostly at full-back and Exeter see him as a successor to Stuart Hogg, who they signed from Glasgow Warriors last summer. 

Hogg has been incredible so far this season, but the Chiefs would be able to ease Hodge into the squad while Hogg is on international duty with Scotland over the coming seasons, while he could also lean on the Scottish ace to help him develop as a player. 

The Chiefs have already started building towards the future by snapping up Wales U18 star Christ Tshiunza, and were reported to be chasing the signature of Cameron Redpath before he signed for Bath

Hodge looks set for big things in his future and would be another clever signing for the Chiefs, who hope to capitalise from Saracens relegation by dominating the Premiership over the next couple of seasons and currently sit top of the table with an eight-point cushion to second.

Premiership

Ulster to play Saracens in Pre-Season doubleheader.

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Photo By John Dickson/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster Rugby will get the 2021/22 season underway with home and away pre-season friendlies against Saracens in September. 

The Ulster men will face the five-time Premiership and three-times Champions Cup winners at Kingspan Stadium on Friday 3 September (kick-off 7pm).

The squad will then make the journey to central London for the away clash on Thursday 9 September (kick-off 5pm) at the Honorary Artillery Company. 

This will be the first time the two sides have faced each other since the pool stages of the 2015/2016 Heineken Champions Cup.

Both matches against Sarries, who return to the Gallagher Premiership this season, will act as preparation for Ulster ahead of the newly launched United Rugby Championship, and the challenges they will face in this year’s Heineken Champions Cup.

Admission to the home pre-season friendly on 3 September is included in 2021/22 Season Tickets, as well as access to all home regular season fixtures in the United Rugby Championship and Heineken Champions Cup.

Existing Season Ticket holders have until 5pm this Friday (30 July) to renew their packages, and can do so online at ulsterrugby.com/seasontickets.

New purchasers can ensure they are notified first about new Season Tickets as they become available by registering their interest here.

The availability of match tickets sold individually will be dependent upon available capacity, in-line with government regulations. Further details will be released in due course.

Source – Ulster Rugby

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Premiership

England Coach John Mitchell joins Premiership side

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Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Wasps are delighted to announce that John Mitchell, currently part of England Men’s senior backroom staff, will be joining the Men’s team coaching set up.

The former Head Coach of the All Blacks has signed a contract with the Club that will see him link up with the squad this season.

Mitchell, England’s Forwards Coach under Sir Clive Woodward from 1997 to 2000, re-joins Wasps having spent time with the Club as an Assistant Coach during the 1999/2000 season.

The 57-year-old’s impressive résumé also includes being United States Head Coach from 2016 to 2017 and two stints coaching Sale Sharks. Mitchell has been in charge of England’s Defence since September 2018.

Men’s Head Coach Lee Blackett said: “We are thrilled to add John to the coaching group for this season. He brings a wealth of knowledge and will only improve our playing department.

“Once we knew John was available, we prioritised getting him back to Wasps.

“Finding somebody of John’s calibre at both an international and domestic level is rare. He fits the profile we have been looking for, adding to our talented group of coaches.

“John’s primary role will be to lead the attack, but his breadth of top-level experience will see him assist on a number of levels. He understands Wasps having worked here before and his passion for the club and improving our players shone through from the start.

“The support from the board in making this happen demonstrates the ambition of this club.”

Source – Wasps 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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