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Premiership

Highlights & Report | Saints topple Saracens in opener.

Huge results for Saints.

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Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images

Northampton Saints kicked off their Gallagher Premiership campaign with their first win at Allianz Park in three years as they defeated reigning champions Saracens in a see-saw season opener.

In a back-and-forth contest that saw the lead switch six times, Saints scored three tries before the break – David Ribbans, Rory Hutchinson and Henry Taylor all crossing the whitewash – with Saracens only able to send Matt Gallagher over in response.

But the boot of Ben Spencer kept the home scoreboard ticking over and though neither side crossed the whitewash in the second forty it was ultimately a James Grayson penalty that secured the win at the death for Saints. 

Saracens wasted no time getting their first points of the Premiership season – with Spencer knocking over a penalty just two minutes in – before the scrum-half added a second on the 15 minute mark.

But Saints responded well and charging runs from Taqele Naiyaravoro, Alex Coles and then Paul Hill got Saints into Saracens’ 22; and after a period of pressure on the tryline, the men in Black, Green and Gold came away with the first try of the game – David Ribbans the man over the line in his 50th appearance in Saints’ colours.

Grayson made no mistake with the conversion to put Saints ahead, but the lead was short-lived as another Spencer penalty swung the scoreline back Saracens’ way. And the home side stretched that lead just a minute later as Ben Earl snuck through a gap and fed Matt Gallagher for the score.

An important turnover from Coles in Saracens’ territory got Saints back on the front foot though and with Northampton working their way up the pitch, Hutchinson spun and stretched over the line for Saints’ second of the match. 

Grayson’s conversion brought the game back within two and Saints were soon back on the scoresheet again. After scooping up loose ball in their own 22, Grayson hacked the ball downfield and with Collins in chase and Taylor on his shoulder, the wing offloaded to see the scrum-half score Saints’ third against his former side – again Grayson converted and the away side entered the changing room five points in front.

Saints were denied a George Furbank try by the TMO after the break though, and Spencer sent another penalty through the posts to close the gap to two points. Spencer and Grayson exchanged another penalty each before the Saracens kicker added another from the tee to see the home side lead again.

But the scrumhalf’s eighth kick came off the post and when the chance came for Grayson to line up for the sticks in the game’s final minute, the 21-year-old sent the ball sailing through the uprights to see Saints secure their first away win over Saracens in three years.

Match Highlights:

Report from Saints

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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