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Premiership

Vunipola Sets Out Future Plans

There has been plenty of speculation regarding the future of Billy Vunipola since Saracens relegation was confirmed, but now the man himself has set the record straight on his plans for the future

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England ace Billy Vunipola has confirmed that he hopes to remain with Saracens beyond this season despite their relegation to the Championship.

The No 8 is one of the stars of English rugby and the Saracens side that has dominated club rugby in recent seasons. However, there were questions raised about his future with Sarries, when the club were relegated from the Premiership for breaching salary cap rules. 

Although contrary to many reports Vunipola has admitted that he wants to stay with Saracens for the foreseeable future, while speaking to Jim Hamilton for RugbyPass and is even taking positives from the situation. 

“There way I see, it’s part of the journey of the club. Some boys have had to try and further their careers, as they are at the start of their careers. I’m kind of in the middle of it. Boys are in different situations, and I can understand that. They’ve got families and things to look after. From my point of view, I’m just trying to sit still and play it out, see where we end up next year,” he said. 

At 130kgs, Vunipola is one of the most powerful and explosive back-rowers in the game, but has had his fair share of injuries in recent months and years and believes that time in the Championship could actually benefit his body in the long run. 

“I can’t see a negative in it. I’ve haven’t spoken directly to the powers at the top, when it comes to England or at Sarries, as to what will happen in terms of international recognition but if there’s one positive to take out of it, is I hope that my body will take less of a battering. With no disrespect to the Championship, it will give my body a chance to heal. I don’t think they play as many games in the Championship. They don’t have Champions Cup or those big games. You (Jim Hamilton) know what it’s like, they just keep coming. I’m excited for next year. I reckon I’ll play as much as I can, try to help the team as much as possible and hopefully we’ll come straight back up,” he added. 

It remains to be seen how time in the Championship will affect his international career as he mentioned above, but when pushed on his club career he was very clear to state that he will be at Sarries next season. 

“All the reports coming out, the club have looked after me, and not just me, my family. It’s time for me to dig my heels in and scrap with the boys and hopefully come up next year. There lots of examples of clubs going down, like Northampton going down and coming up and doing well, same thing goes for Quins, so, it’s kind of a good point in our journey as a club to reset some of our goals and accelerate. Yes, I’m definitely staying,” he continued. 

It is a major boost for Saracens to know that their key man will remain loyal to their cause despite recent set-backs within the club. However, with the British and Irish Lions tour around the corner next year the hope will be that time in the second-tier doesn’t impact his chances of making the trip to South Africa

Although reports have claimed that the club are trying to set-up high profile sides such as the Springboks themselves in order to allow their test-level players to compete against the best of the best.

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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Premiership

Huw Jones signs for Premiership side after French move called off.

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Harlequins are delighted to announce the signing of Scotland international Huw Jones ahead of the 2021/22 season

Born in Edinburgh and raised in Kent, Jones, 27, has represented Scotland on 31 occasions to date. A versatile player able to cover multiple positions across the backline, Jones made his international debut in 2016 against Japan in Tokyo, with his most recent cap coming during the 2021 Six Nations against France at the Stade de France in Paris.

After moving to Cape Town, South Africa, during a gap year Jones earned his breakthrough within the professional game playing for the Stormers in Super Rugby, where he played alongside current Quins prop Wilco Louw and against centre Andre Esterhuizen and Club Captain Stephan Lewies.

Jones subsequently signed for Glasgow Warriors as his Test career took off, playing for the Scottish side for four years, scoring 12 tries in 49 appearances.

Excited to begin his new chapter, Jones said: “I’m thrilled to sign for Harlequins. To be able to join the reigning Premiership champions and a side that plays such an attractive brand of rugby is a rare opportunity and one that I couldn’t turn down.

“The Quins way of playing was an attractive prospect, but there’s also something unique building here with a special team. There’s a great playing group here and some fantastic coaches and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

“Quins are looking to build upon their trophy win this season, and I’m looking forward to playing my part in that journey.”

Commenting on Jones’ arrival, Attack and Backs Coach Nick Evans said: “It’s great to have Huw signed on with us here at Quins. Huw made a big impact when he burst onto the scene a few years ago and has fantastic instincts for the game.

“Huw is an attack-minded player, and we believe he will fit into the Harlequins way well. We look for players who will suit the Harlequins DNA, and we see that in Huw. We’re excited to see him link up with the squad this summer as we look to build upon last season’s success.”

Source – Harlequins Rugby

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