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International

Harlequin & Former Wallaby announces retirement.

#BigKev

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Harlequins Co-Captain, former Wallabies and Queensland Reds Captain James Horwill has announced that he plans to retire at the end of the current Gallagher Premiership season.

Horwill, a stalwart of the Australian rugby scene, joined the London Club at the start of the 2015/16 season. With his wealth of experience and natural leadership, Horwill was named Club captain after two seasons.

On announcing his retirement, Horwill said

“I have given this great game everything I have, and I feel I can no longer give what is needed to play at this elite level.

“Rugby has been a big part of my life for many years; never in my wildest dreams would I have envisaged the incredible journey it has taken me on.

“I’ve had the privilege and honour to not only play, but captain my State, Country and Club, Harlequins, on a number of occasions over my 14-year career.

“Winning the Super Rugby title at the Queensland Reds and being asked to captain my Country are just some of the moments I will look back and cherish for a lifetime.

“I want to thank all the coaches and staff I’ve worked with over my career; you have all made an impact and shaped me into the player and person I am today.

“Special thanks must go to the physios, doctors and surgeons, who have put me back together. We probably spent more time together than we would have liked, but without your expertise and continued care, I wouldn’t have been able to play for as long.

“To the fans all over the world, who have supported me throughout my career, thank you. My job wouldn’t have existed without you; you are what makes this game so special. I will never be able to replicate the feeling I get from running out to a full stadium of support. It has been my honour to represent you and a role I will forever miss.

“Finally, to all the players I have had the pleasure to play with (and against), you are why I have loved my career so much. We have made some unforgettable memories and I know I have friends for life.

“I’m completely committed to leading Harlequins to success this season, and then I’ll turn my attention to the next chapter of my life.”

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Paul Gustard, Harlequins Head of Rugby added:

“James is a true warrior of our great game; the ultimate professional and someone you always want on your side.

“It’s been an honour and a pleasure to work alongside him at Harlequins. His resilience and character have made him the role model he is today and will continue to be long after his retirement. Every week he puts his body on the line and stands up to be counted alongside his teammates; he is a very popular member of the squad, whom we will all miss.

“From everyone at Harlequins we would like to wish him and his young family all the very best in the future and he will always be welcome at his second home, The Stoop.”

A modern-day champion, Horwill made his professional debut in 2006 for the Queensland Reds and was quickly called up to the Wallabies side the following season.

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Despite his youth, Horwill was handed the Reds captaincy in 2008 and the second-row led the franchise to its first professional title, beating the Crusaders in the 2011 Super 15 final.

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Later that season Horwill was named captain of the Wallabies ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. He would go on to lead the side out on 16 occasions across his 62-match international career, including against the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

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Horwill joined Harlequins in 2015 and was named club Captain ahead of the 2017/18 season. In the same season, Horwill made his 50th appearance for the Club in the win over Saracens at The Stoop.

Horwill’s final game at The Stoop will be against Leicester on Friday 3rd May.

6 Nations

World Rugby Gives Deadline for Nations Championship

World Rugby have given the 10 unions from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship a final deadline to decide on the Nations Championship

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World Rugby have confirmed that global rugby chiefs will have until Friday to decide whether or not the Nations Championship plans will be backed

The governing body has given the unions of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship nations until the closing of business on Friday of this week to provide a yes or no answer towards their new plans.

For their plans to be progressed World Rugby needs a unanimous decision from the 10 unions.

If that is to happen, they plan to launch their new format in 2022, with winners of the Six Nations and an expanded six-team Rugby Championship going head to head.

The final proposals of the Nations Championship will have to be passed by a vote of the full World Rugby council, however none of this will go ahead unless there is backing from the 10 nations.

Proposals have included creating two-tier tournaments for the Six Nations and Rugby Championship which would include the possibility of relegation or promotion.

A format which Six Nations unions appear to dislike.

As well as this there is the issue of the Pacific Islands, who believe that the creation of such tournaments would mean that they would be less likely to face the top nations in November and therefore be unable to develop as they currently are.

Whatever is to happen will become clearer in the next couple of days and it could be the start of a new era for international rugby.

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International

Offer Kerevi Turned Down was “very, very good”

Wallabies’ director of rugby Scott Johnson rues the loss of one of the nation’s star players

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Wallabies’ director of rugby Scott Johnson has admitted that Rugby Australia did all they could to secure the services of Samu Kerevi.

The 25-year-old centre has starred for both club and country but turned down a contract extension with both and will move to Japan following the conclusion of the World Cup later this year.

Johnson, who was speaking at a Melbourne Rebels function ahead of their final regular season game of this year’s Super Rugby, is disappointed that Australia has lost a key player in their prime.

“Let’s get it straight, the offer was good. I’ve seen the offer that Samu was given and it was a very, very good offer that would have put him in the higher echelons of our country,” he said.

The decision to leave by the 23-capped Aussie is also due to off-field matters and Johnson knows that it is complicated.

“It’s not perfect for him and for us and we understand there are issues away from the game for him. It opens the door for other players who we may be talking about in a different light in 12 months’ time,” he added.

Kerevi becomes that latest player to head overseas to play their trade, and he is well below the 60-cap requirement needed for such players to represent the Wallabies, but Johnson stands by the law.

“I think the key component is that we have a responsibility to make sure our competition is the best in the world. It’s great to be able to control the player – their strength and conditioning and their skill development. We understand there are challenges but at the moment we think there’s a nice mix of rewarding longevity,” he finished.

However, former-Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock, who was also at the function, believes that Rugby Australia needs a serious change, or it will face massive problems in the future.

“It’s a massive challenge and if we don’t get our house in order in four years’ time, we will have to change the eligibility rule because you might have a lot of players not in Super Rugby. It baffles me that we still haven’t got our house in order with everyone pulling in the same direction. We’ve got still different factions in different areas looking after their own backyard and that’s what’s stifling us. The New Zealand model is all about creating great All Blacks and everyone club and player knows that, but it doesn’t happen in this country,” he said.

Wallabies fans are certainly not pleased by the loss of Kerevi and Rugby Australia will need to do something soon to ensure that key players stay with them in the future.

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International

Jones to Stay with England Post 2021?

Eddie Jones has committed his future to the England national team but how long will he stay for?

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New RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has admitted that England head coach Eddie Jones could stay beyond his contract which runs out in 2021.

Along with this Sweeney announced that assistant coach John Mitchell has signed a contract until 2021 also, which had been reported earlier by the Telegraph.

The move for Mitchell is to coincide with Jones’ contract according to Sweeney.

“We have extended John Mitchell’s contract through to be consistent with Eddie’s, so it goes through to June of 2021. That was in full consultation with Eddie. He and I spoke about it about five, six weeks ago maybe. It is part of Eddie’s long-term coaching structure plans. So we entered into negotiations with John, he is keen to stay and we concluded the agreement about three weeks ago. He is contracted now through to June 2021,” he said.

Mitchell joined Jones’ set-up just before the Red Roses Autumn internationals and has overseen a positive turn in results since.

Sweeney continued on to say that Jones could potentially remain at the helm after his current contract runs out.

“It is possible, we are not looking at that at this stage. The focus now is really on the World Cup and then making sure we get our plans in place post World Cup. Eddie has reconfirmed his commitment through to 2021. We have lots of conversations on that and he has said he wants to stay through to the end of that contracted period. So, from that perspective we’ve already started conversations around what will the structure and look of that coaching team be coming back from Japan,” he added.

Although Mitchell has extended his contract there are several others in the coaching set-up of England that are yet to commit, and Jones is looking at candidates to sign up according to Sweeney.

“He has got a number of names in the frame. We haven’t approached them yet. We wouldn’t contract anyone pre-World Cup. But he has got in mind how he would like to structure that as soon as we get back. We would confirm it immediately as soon as we got back,” he continued.

If speculation is to be believed then Mitchell’s extension could be part of a plan for him to eventually replace Jones as head coach of the English team, however, for now Jones will stay in charge.

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