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Munster Rugby: Incoming Player Profiles

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Images from Munster Rugby

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players Craig Casey, Gavin Coombes, Shane Daly and Seán O’Connor will be promoted to the senior squad ahead of the 2019/20 campaign with Nick McCarthy joining from Leinster Rugby.

All four Academy players have already made their debuts for the province, find out more about the five new additions to the senior squad below.

Craig Casey

Scrum-half Craig Casey spent two years in the Munster Rugby Academy and was named 2018/19 Academy Player of the Year in April.

The 20-year-old Limerick native was vice-captain of this season’s Grand Slam-winning Ireland U20s side and will resume that role for the upcoming U20 World Championships in Argentina.

A former Ardscoil Rís pupil, Casey made his All Ireland League debut with Shannon RFC earlier this season and made his Munster bow against Connacht at Thomond Park in April 2019.

Craig Casey in action for the Ireland U20s against Italy in February.

Craig Casey in action for the Ireland U20s against Italy in February.

Gavin Coombes

Gavin Coombes is a product of Skibbereen RFC and Bandon Grammar and spent three years in the Munster Rugby Academy.

The 21-year-old Young Munster back-row forward/lock made his Munster debut in the opening game of the 2018/19 season against the Cheetahs and went on to make eight Guinness PRO14 appearances over the campaign.

Coombes represented the Ireland U20s in the 2017 Six Nations and U20s World Championship and has scored six tries in 16 Munster A appearances.

Gavin Coombes in action for Munster A last September.

Gavin Coombes in action for Munster A last September.

Shane Daly

Shane Daly is a product of Highfield RFC, PBC and Cork Constitution and spent three years in the Munster Rugby Academy.

The 22-year-old starred for the Ireland U20s in the 2016 6 Nations and U20s World Championship and has also represented the Ireland 7s side.

The Cork native has won a number of senior honours with Cork Con and made his Guinness PRO14 debut against Cheetahs at Thomond Park in September 2018, going on to make six PRO14 appearances over the season.

Nick McCarthy

Scrum-half Nick McCarthy joins Munster this summer having scored four tries in 36 appearances for Leinster.

McCarthy made 18 appearances for the Ireland U20s and captained the side at the 2014 World Championship.

The 24-year-old is a former pupil of St Michael’s College and made his senior debut against Toulon in December 2015.

Nick McCarthy at Leinster training in April.

Nick McCarthy at Leinster training in April.

Seán O’Connor

Seán O’Connor made his senior debut against the Maori All Blacks in November 2016 and has made nine appearances for the province.

The 22-year-old represents Garryowen FC in the All Ireland League and is a product of Cashel RFC and Rockwell College.

In 2016 he helped the Ireland U20s to their best-ever finish as runners-up at the World Championship.

O’Connor can play in the second row and the back row, scored two tries in 19 Munster A appearances and spent three years in the Munster Rugby Academy.

Sean O’Connor in Guinness PRO14 action against the Ospreys in September 2017.

Sean O’Connor in Guinness PRO14 action against the Ospreys in September 2017.

The post Incoming Player Profiles appeared first on Munster.

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Pro14

Edinburgh Rugby appoint new Head Coach

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Edinburgh Rugby have appointed Scotland Assistant Coach Mike Blair as the club’s new Head Coach.

The former Edinburgh and Scotland captain made over 150 appearances for the club (2001-2012) and returns from a five-year term with the national team, where he was recruited by Head Coach Gregor Townsend to occupy a dual role with Glasgow Warriors in 2017.

He joined Glasgow as Assistant Coach in 2016 and operated in that capacity for club and country until 2019 – helping the club reach the PRO14 semi-final and Grand Final (2018 and 2019) and two Champions Cup quarter-finals (2017 and 2019) – before focussing fully on national team matters for the past two years.

Blair’s contribution was recognised recently with his appointment as Interim Scotland Head Coach, only for the matches to be abandoned as coronavirus affected the camp and that of their opponents.

The recent departure of Richard Cockerill then presented a timely opportunity for Blair to take on the reins of the club he represented over a decade, having been born and bred in the capital city and schooled at Edinburgh Academy.

Mike Blair, said: “The first emotion is one of pride. I’ve lived in Edinburgh most of my life, played 11 seasons at the club and still live in the city, so having that attachment combine with the opportunity to lead the squad is really special for me.

“I’ve learned a lot from working with quality coaches like Dave Rennie, Jason O’Halloran and Gregor Townsend, in particular and over the years, and have been able to develop and adapt a philosophy that I feel should benefit the talent we have at the club.

“It’s a really exciting squad. There’s a good balance of experience and backgrounds and I’m looking forward to getting to know the players and their strengths better so we can mould that into making Edinburgh both good to watch and successful.

“It’s also a really good time to come in with all the excitement around the launch of the new stadium this summer. It’s a massive, watershed moment for the club. We all want to get that packed out with supporters from the outset and build an atmosphere the players deserve and the fans can be proud of.”

Edinburgh Rugby Managing Director, Douglas Struth, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Mike back to the club as our Head Coach, having watched his development into a first-rate coach over the past six years.

“Not only does he bring that expertise, but Mike is also a local man, a club centurion, and somebody who became a home-grown legend in an Edinburgh Rugby jersey.

“That’s really important to us and is a fantastic illustration of our ambition to promote and develop local stars of the future.

“It’s a new era for the club, with a new stadium and new tournament formats, and we believe Mike is the right man to continue the development of our tactical approach and winning mentality on the field, and our culture and connection to the wider rugby community off it.”

Prior to coaching, Blair was a player of worldwide repute.

He earned 85 caps for his country and toured with the British & Irish Lions in 2009 – the same year Edinburgh Rugby finished as runners-up in the then Magners League – and played a major role in the club’s storied run to the Heineken Cup semi-final in 2012.

He also played professional club rugby in England for Newcastle Falcons and in France with Brive, all experiences which contribute significantly to his depth of knowledge and understanding of the sport.

Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson, said: “We’re really pleased to see Mike take this next step on his coaching journey with Edinburgh Rugby, recognising the excellent contribution he’s made at both Glasgow and Scotland over the past six years.

“He’s an exceptional Scottish coach who is hungry to deliver success for a club he cares a great deal about.

“He’s done a fantastic job of developing players in all of his roles, many of whom have shone on the biggest stage for Scotland and, more recently, the British & Irish Lions.

“We’re looking forward to watching him and the club develop further, together, as the beginning of this new era for Edinburgh Rugby, targeting a regular return to the knockout rounds of domestic and European Cup competitions and competing for silverware in the seasons ahead.

“His existing knowledge of the player group and lasting affinity with the club’s fanbase make this an excellent and exciting appointment.”

Source – Scotland 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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Pro14

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Rugby ball - Pixabay

Connacht Rugby regret to announce that flanker Sean O’Brien has been advised to retire from rugby on medical grounds following a concussion injury.

A Galway native, O’Brien came through the Connacht Academy having represented Ireland at U18, U19 and U20 level. He was also named captain of the Ireland U20s for the 2014 Junior World Championships.

He made his pro Connacht debut away to Enisey-STM during the 2015/16 Challenge Cup, and came off the bench in the Guinness PRO12 Grand Final that same year. A first senior contract soon followed and in total he has made 60 appearances for his home province.

Sean O’Brien has released the following statement:

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Connacht Rugby for making a young boy’s dream come true. The memories and friendships made will last a lifetime.

I’d also like to thank all those in Wegians, Roscrea and Calasanctius who played their part in making it possible, and in particular my Dad Iain who coached me throughout my youth.

Not everyone gets a fairytale ending but I will never forget just how lucky I was to be a part of this club.

I am looking forward to cheering in the stands.

Sean”

Source – Connacht Rugby

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