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Rugby World Cup

All Blacks Confirm World Cup Squad

The All Blacks have announced their 31-man squad as they seek a third World Cup in a row and some star names have been left out

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has confirmed his team for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan and there are some notable absentees.

The most obvious omission is that of 108-cap prop Owen Franks who was preparing for a third successive World Cup. However, he has been overlooked for young prop Atu Moli as the All Blacks seek a more mobile front-three for the tournament.

Despite reports claiming that back-rower Liam Squire was back in contention to feature at the competition, Hansen has left him behind and has chosen instead to bring Luke Jacobson, who only has a single cap to his name.

Elsewhere, Ngani Laumape has been the centre to miss out as expected with Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown being preferred to him.

While in the forwards there is no place for either Jackson Hemopo or Vaea Fifita.

Hansen congratulated all those selected and sympathised with the players he was forced to exclude.

“The All Blacks selectors would like to congratulate all those selected for Rugby World Cup 2019.  It’s a special moment being named in any All Blacks squad but especially when it’s the Rugby World Cup and they and their families can be incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved. As always, we’d also like to take a moment to respect the effort and disappointment of those who’ve missed out. It’s a tough time in anyone’s career,” he said.

He went on to discuss how his team’s goal is to lift the Webb Ellis Cup once again but thinks this could be the most challenging World Cup there has ever been.

“Now we are finally in a position to put all our time, effort and thinking into what is going to be an awesome challenge to try and do something that’s never been done before – win three Rugby World Cups in a row. Yes, it will come with massive expectation and therefore pressure.  We’re looking forward to tackling that pressure head on and enjoying everything that comes with it. We know it’ll be tough and that we’ll need to earn the right, every time we play, to continue throughout the Tournament.  However, that’s exciting and knowing we’ve faced that pressure before gives us confidence. There are no guarantees in sport. However, with talent, hard work and mental fortitude, we’ll give ourselves a chance. This Rugby World Cup looks like being the most fiercely-contested yet with a large number of teams all believing they can win.  This will bring possibly more pressure and expectation on them than ever before and it will be interesting to see who can and who can’t cope with it,” he added.

Kieran Read will lead the squad in Japan as he participates in his third global tournament alongside Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Whitelock. While Ben Smith will act as Read’s deputy.

Despite being out of action due to a dislocated shoulder Brodie Retallick has also been included in the squad and will more than likely only be available following the pool stages of the competition.

The reigning back-to-back champions open up their title defence with a huge clash against this year’s Rugby Championship winners South Africa on September 21st, with the most recent game between the two rivals ending in a 16-16 draw.

Following that match they will go on to play Canada, Namibia and Italy in what should be a comfortable route to the quarter-finals for the team.

Check Out the Full 31-Man Squad Below.

Forwards:

Dane Coles (32, Hurricanes / Wellington, 64)

Liam Coltman (29, Highlanders / Otago, 5)

Codie Taylor (28, Crusaders / Canterbury, 44

Nepo Laulala (27, Chiefs / Counties Manukau, 19)

Joe Moody (30, Crusaders /Canterbury, 40)

Atu Moli (24, Chiefs / Tasman, 2)

Angus Ta’avao (29, Chiefs / Taranaki, 7)

Ofa Tuungafasi (27, Blues / Auckland, 29)

Scott Barrett (25, Crusaders / Taranaki, 30)

Brodie Retallick (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 77)

Patrick Tuipulotu (26, Blues / Auckland, 24)

Samuel Whitelock (30, Crusaders / Canterbury, 111)

Sam Cane (27, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, 63)

Luke Jacobson (22, Chiefs / Waikato, 1)

Kieran Read (33, Crusaders / Counties Manukau, 121) – Captain

Ardie Savea (25, Hurricanes / Wellington, 38)

Matt Todd (31, Crusaders / Canterbury, 20)

Backs:

TJ Perenara (27, Hurricanes / Wellington, 58)

Aaron Smith (30, Highlanders / Manawatu, 86)

Brad Weber (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 2)

Beauden Barrett (28, Blues / Taranaki, 77)

Richie Mo’unga (25, Crusaders / Canterbury, 12)

Ryan Crotty (30, Crusaders / Canterbury, 44)

Jack Goodhue (24, Crusaders / Northland, 9)

Anton Lienert-Brown (24, Chiefs / Waikato, 37)

Sonny Bill Williams (33, Blues / Counties Manukau, 53)

Jordie Barrett (22, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 11)

George Bridge (24, Crusaders / Canterbury, 4)

Rieko Ioane (22, Blues / Auckland, 26)

Sevu Reece (22, Crusaders / Waikato, 2)

Ben Smith (33, Highlanders /Otago, 79)

International

Ireland Climb in Latest World Rankings

Ireland have had the biggest boost in the latest World Rugby Rankings ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw later this year

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ireland have leapfrogged Wales in the latest World Rugby Rankings of the the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw in November of this year.

The boys in green have taken over the No 4 spot in the rankings following their 24-14 win over Wales in the Six Nations over the weekend, with their opponents dropping down to fifth. 

It is a major boost for the Irish and gives them something to hold on to heading into the rest of this year’s fixtures as they are now currently in the top seeds ahead of the draw for the pool stages of France 2023. 

World Rugby announced recently that they will hold the draw later this year meaning that teams will have less time to climb the rankings than last time around when they had 18 months between the previous World Cup and the draw for the next one. 

A total of twelve teams will head into the draw as seeds in three brackets with the top four in the rankings being first seeds, meaning as of now Wales would be second seeds along with France, Australia and Japan. 

While Scotland, Argentina, Italy and Fiji are in the third bracket, with the remainder of the teams to be decided through different qualifiers over the next three years. 

Elsewhere in the rankings Georgia have moved up ahead of Italy, following the former’s latest two defeats in the Six Nations, while the biggest risers have been Portugal, who have moved from 22nd to 20th, but Russia have dived from 20th to 25th. 

Ireland will be hoping to continue their perfect start to the Six Nations campaign when they take on the third-ranked team England away from home, whom they may look to overtake in the rankings before the draw. 

It is certainly heating up between the Six Nations teams as they try to be the best-placed behind South Africa and New Zealand, who take the first and second spots, but won’t play until the summer.

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Rugby World Cup

World Rugby Confirm Timing of 2023 RWC Draw

World Rugby have confirmed when they will be hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw and it has put pressure on teams to get positive results this year

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(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

World Rugby has announced that it will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw in November of this year.

The tournament will take place in France with the draw being held in Paris following the November internationals. 

That means that teams only have between now and then to better their current rankings and move into a different drawing band, whereas for the previous draw they had 18 months to improve. 

Speaking on the announcement World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont is excited to discover the fate of the teams and has put the pressure on teams to do well this year. 

“The pool draw is an important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as it really drives excitement and momentum both in the host nation and throughout the global rugby family – it is the moment teams and fans can start to plan. With the World Rugby rankings determining the bands for the RWC 2023 pool draw, it promises to be a fascinating year of men’s international rugby with every match counting towards seeding at the end of the November Test series,” he said. 

Twelve of the 20 participating teams from last year’s World Cup in Japan have automatically qualified, with the other eight to be decided in the qualifiers that will begin later this year. 

However, the twelve teams that are already involved will have to be at their best to move up a band in the current rankings or fear dropping down in which case they could get a harder draw. 

As of this moment the first band contains the World Cup semi-finalists from last year in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Wales, with the remaining quarter-finalists making up band two in Ireland, Australia, Japan and France. 

While in band three Scotland and Argentina are joined by Italy and Fiji. 

It will be a tough task for teams to improve their current standings with the Six Nations teams only having one edition of the tournament to improve compared to the two editions they had last time around, but it does add some extra competition to this year’s fixtures.

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International

Fans Player of the Decade Confirmed

World Rugby have announced the winner of their Fans Player of the Decade vote and there’s no surprise who’s won

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(Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Former All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter has been named World Rugby’s Fans Player of the Decade following their polls over the past couple of weeks.

The organisation narrowed the competition down to 16 players, as they split them into a last-16 style format, with backs on one side and forwards on the other. With two players going head-to-head in the polls to make it through to each respective round. 

Last week it was brought down to the final four, with all of them being New Zealand internationals as Carter was pitted up against Beauden Barrett, with Richie McCaw facing Kieran Read. 

McCaw and Carter were victorious and now Carter has come out as the overall winner as the best player over the past 10-years. 

It is not hard to see why fans have gone for the 112-cap All Black, who finished up his international career in 2015, having guided his country to historic back-to-back Rugby World Cup crowns. 

As well as that he holds the title for the most points scored at test-level rugby with an incredible 1598 to his name. 

On the international stage he was impressive, but he has been equally so at club-level, winning domestic crowns in both France with Racing 92 and in Japan with the Kobelco Steelers. 

The 37-year-old is still under contract with the Japanese outfit, but has been unable to play for them for the majority of the year, having suffered a major injury, which also prevented him from a brief return to Racing 92 for the latter-half of last season. 

However, he is poised to return to the playing field shortly and will be hoping to guide his team to further success and will have the aid of another All Black great joining him in the form of Brodie Retallick, who is linking up with the side for the season during his year sabbatical.  

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