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Best Suggests Expanding World Cup Squads

Rory Best has called on World Rugby to consider expanding the current squad size for teams heading into the World Cup

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland captain Rory Best has claimed that having a 31-man squad for the World Cup will limit teams and put pressure on coaches heading into the tournament.

Ireland have named an initial 44-man squad which head coach Joe Schmidt and co must narrow down to just 31 players come September 8th.

Schmidt spoken of his concerns about having such a small squad before and now his captain has had his say.

“We have a six-day turnaround between Scotland and Japan and then five between Japan to Russia. You get an injury that maybe takes you out for two games but not the entire tournament. If you get a couple of those you have to make fairly harsh decisions when it is actually not right as the player could be back for Samoa [Ireland’s fourth pool game],” he said.

Best went on to suggest when speaking with ‘the42‘ that the squads should be increased to 35 players and focused on how injuries can change everything with a smaller squad.

“I’d be more inclined to increase the squad size to 35 players. The problem with 31 is by the time you name three hookers and three nines there are positions you are really short on. There is a back row/second row type player who will have to cover both but at a World Cup you shouldn’t have to have makeshift people in there. It should be: this is our best squad. 35 players would give you that luxury,” he added.

Ireland were unfortunate with injuries during this years Six Nations campaign and are already without Sean O’Brien and Dan Leavy for the tournament in Japan, which Best used as an example of how quickly things can change.

“It’s amazing how you get areas that look really, really strong and you’re going ‘How are you going to leave one of those out? Then you get a couple of injuries. The back row now with Dan [Leavy] and Sean O’Brien, it all of a sudden looks a lot thinner than it maybe it did 12 months. The second row, you were going into the Six Nations saying ‘Oh, which second row are they not going to pick?’ Then going into the Scotland game it was like ‘Well, who do I have left?’,” he continued.

Although Ireland have lost two key men they still have options in the back-row with Josh van der Flier, Jordi Murphy, Tommy O’Donnell, Rhys Ruddock and Peter O’Mahony among those that can be used on the flanks.

However, Best is cautious about the possibility of someone being called up to the squad if there is an injury.

“That’s going to be the scenario and you have just got to hope that there is enough people with experience over the last four years that if you get down to the New Zealand out-half scenario [in 2011 when they lost three out-halves to injury] , that if you’re pulling someone off a boat fishing… at least Stephen Donald had played a bit,” he said.

With that in mind Best has advised players that have not been named in the 44-man squad to stay ready for a call up, especially Ulster teammate Stuart McCloskey.

“Even you take someone like Stuart McCloskey who isn’t in the squad,” Best adds. It’s really important that those guys get their head around the fact that there are five centres in the squad. To get five centres through four games in the summer and whatever games in the World Cup, without getting any injuries, it’s going to be highly unlikely,” he finished.

Ireland are looking to reach at least the semi-final stage for the first time in their history when they head to Japan and they will hope that the squad size and injuries play no part in their performance at the competition.

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

6 Nations

Ireland Host One Day Camp at IRFU HPC

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Andy Farrell and his coaching team have assembled a group of 50 players for a one day camp at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre at the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin.

The Ireland men’s squad have an action packed 12 months ahead with games against  Japan, New Zealand and Argentina at the Aviva Stadium in the Autumn Nations Series in November.

In February and March there are tricky away games against England and France in the 2022 Six Nations Championships while Ireland host Wales, Italy and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.

In July 2022 the team are also due to play a three Test tour against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

Robert Baloucoune scores a try against the USA in the Vodafone Summer Series at the Aviva Stadium

During the summer Ireland recorded victories over Japan (39-31) and the USA (71-10) while capping nine new players – Robert Baloucoune, Caolin Blade, Paul Boyle, Harry Byrne, Gavin Coombes, James Hume, Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney and Fineen Wycherley

Also during this period Jack Conan, Tadgh Furlong and Robbie Henshaw started all three Tests for the British and Irish Lions against South Africa while Conor Murray featured in all three games starting the second Test.  Tadhg Beirne was a replacement in the first two Tests and Bundee Aki started the series decider.

Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series games at the Aviva Stadium will be televised on RTE (ROI) and Channel 4 (NI).  The IRFU will finalise stadium capacity for these games following direction from government in October.

Backs (23)
Will Addison (Ulster/Enniskillen) 5 caps
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 31 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 1 cap
Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians) 1 cap
Billy Burns (Ulster) 7 caps
Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 24 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 25 caps
Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Constitution) 2 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 93 caps
Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 15 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 10 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 52 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 6 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 5 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 89 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 99 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 35 caps

Forwards (27)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 5 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 16 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 22 caps
Paul Boyle (Connacht/Buccaneers) 1 cap
Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 6 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 20 caps
Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) 9 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 19 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 49 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 109 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 6 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 63 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 22 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 76 caps
Eric O’Sullivan (Ulster/ Banbridge) 1 cap
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 1 cap
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Rhys Ruddock (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 27 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 24 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps
Fineen Wycherley (Munster/Young Munster) 1 cap

Autumn Nations Series

IRELAND v Japan
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 6th November, 2021

IRELAND v New Zealand
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 13th November, 2021

IRELAND v Argentina
Aviva Stadium, Sunday 21st November, 2021

2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship

IRELAND v Wales
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 5th February, 2022

France v IRELAND
Stade de France, Saturday 12th February, 2022

IRELAND v Italy
Aviva Stadium, Sunday 27th February, 2022

England v IRELAND
Twickenham Stadium, Saturday 12th March, 2022

IRELAND v Scotland
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 19th March, 2022

2022 Summer Tour

New Zealand v IRELAND
TBC

New Zealand v IRELAND
TBC

New Zealand v IRELAND
TBC

Source –  Irish Rugby

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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International

Hooper to break Wallabies captaincy record

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Andrew Phan/Wallabies Media

Michael Hooper will surpass George Gregan for the most Tests as Wallabies captain when he leads the side out in Saturday’s eToro Rugby Championship clash with South Africa at Suncorp Stadium.

The 29-year-old will skipper the side for the 60th time in Brisbane after first captaining Australia as a 22-year-old in 2014, which made Hooper the third youngest Wallabies leader of all time.

Since making his International debut in 2012, Hooper has gone on to play 112 Tests for his country and will start in a settled back row alongside Lachlan Swinton at blindside flanker and no.8 Rob Valetini.

Fellow centurion James Slipper returns to the run-on side alongside Taniela Tupou who earns a second start in 2021 at his home ground, with Folau Fainga’a finalising the front row at hooker.

Izack Rodda will continue his impressive return to the Test arena, again partnering Matt Philip in the second row at Suncorp Stadium. 

Brumbies number nine Nic White is the only change to the backline, earning his first start for the year and reigniting his partnership with last week’s match-winner Quade Cooper in the halves.

The damaging midfield duo of Samu Kerevi and Len Ikitau will get another chance to build their combination at inside and outside centre respectively.

Tom Banks has again been named at fullback with the 27-year-old having worn the number 15 jersey in every game for the Wallabies this year. He’s joined in the back three by Marika Koroibete and the in-form Andrew Kellaway.

Western Force regular Feleti Kaitu’u will get another opportunity after an impressive Test debut in last weekend’s win, while club teammate Tom Robertson returns to the Wallabies side for the first time since 2018. Angus Bell is the other replacement prop.

Darcy Swain has recovered from a foot injury to reclaim his spot in the match day 23 as the second row replacement with his Brumbies teammate Pete Samu the remaining forward cover.

Tate McDermott will provide his trademark spark as the finishing scrumhalf with Reece Hodge also set to add his versatility from the pine. Brisbane local Jordan Petaia rounds out the matchday 23.  

Suncorp Stadium has proven a happy hunting ground for the Wallabies in recent years, with Australia having won eight straight Tests at the venue since 2016.

A victory against the reigning world champions on Saturday night would also secure the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate for the Wallabies.

Last weekend’s victory over the world’s number one side has helped Australia rise in the rankings, with the Wallabies now fifth.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “It’s an incredible milestone for Hoops on Saturday evening in Brisbane and it’s a testament to him as a person and a player.”

“I’ve been so impressed with his leadership both on and off the field and his drive to be better every day.

“We were really proud of the effort from our men last Sunday and we’re well aware of the ferocity that a wounded Springboks outfit will bring to Suncorp Stadium.”

Every Wallabies Test will be ad-free, live and on-demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport. Every home Wallabies Test will also be live, free-to-air on the Nine Network.

Tickets for the eToro Rugby Championship are available via wallabies.rugby.

Hospitality packages are on sale now. Private suites, corporate boxes and functions are available for fans who want to enhance their Test match experience.

Wallabies team to play South Africa at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on Saturday 18 September, 5:05pm AEST
1. James Slipper (107 Tests)
2. Folau Fainga’a (18 Tests)
3. Taniela Tupou (32Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (27 Tests)
5. Matt Philip (16 Tests)
6. Lachlan Swinton (5 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (112 Tests)
8. Rob Valetini (11 Tests)
9. Nic White (40 Tests)
10. Quade Cooper (71 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (40 Tests)
12. Samu Kerevi (35 Tests)
13. Len Ikitau (6 Tests)
14. Andrew Kellaway (6 Tests)
15. Tom Banks (18 Tests)
Replacements
16. Feleti Kaitu’u (1 Test)
17. Angus Bell (9 Tests)
18. Tom Robertson (24 Tests)
19. Darcy Swain (6 Tests)
20. Pete Samu (12 Tests)
21. Tate McDermott (9 Tests)
22. Reece Hodge (50 Tests)
23. Jordan Petaia (11 Tests)

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6 Nations

TG4 And RTÉ Partner To Show Over 150 Hours Of URC Coverage

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
As the brand new United Rugby Championship was officially launched yesterday, RTÉ and TG4 have confirmed that together they will deliver over 150 hours of URC action to Irish audiences free-to-air.

RTÉ and TG4‘s live free-to-air coverage of the new United Rugby Championship begins with Connacht live on TG4 on Friday, September 24, followed by an action-packed Saturday (September 25) as Leinster are live on TG4, and Munster live on RTÉ.

RTÉ will broadcast live television, radio and online coverage of 26 games featuring the provinces in the league, plus additional knockout matches. There will also be extensive highlights and analysis each week on Against the Head on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player.

TG4’s Rugbaí Beo will continue to be the station’s flagship rugby programme and will broadcast 26 games involving the Irish teams, and an additional 16 games featuring international club sides.

Spórt TG4 will also have exclusive behind-the-scenes action from the competition across its social media channels.

The United Rugby Championship final will also be delivered free-to-air with RTÉ and TG4 broadcasting it live on alternate years.

The RTÉ/TG4 joint broadcast output contract has been awarded to Iris Productions. The Galway-based production company spearheaded many innovations in their previous rugby coverage on TG4, including behind-the-scenes referee briefings and audio-snoops on coaches and players. NEP Ireland will provide OB facilities.

Rónán O Coisdealbha, TG4’s Head of Sport, commented: “TG4 has been bringing interprovincial rugby to Irish audiences since the first days of the Celtic League in 2001, and we are looking forward to taking this next step with the URC and to see the South Africa ‘Super’ teams become part of our Rugbaí Beo line-up.

“This partnership with RTÉ galvanises TG4’s commitment to provide the best of sporting action to our audiences, and to making that coverage free-to-air and accessible to all fans.”

RTÉ’s Group Head of Sport, Declan McBennett, said: “Being in a position to provide free-to-air coverage of the provinces to our audience in the newly reconstituted URC allows us to ensure our best rugby players are seen, and seen to inspire future generations who want to one day wear their provincial and national jersey.”

Martin Anayi, the United Rugby Championship’s CEO, added: “The widespread return of URC and the provinces to free-to-air television in Ireland is a real cause for excitement.

“We can’t wait for that energy to be unleashed on the opening weekend with some cracking games on RTÉ and TG4 involving Leinster and Munster against two of South Africa’s heavyweights in the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks.

“We have talked about the potential of our new partnership with RTÉ and TG4 and now we get to see if come to life in a week’s time.”

TG4’s Rugbaí Beo

TG4’s Rugbai Beo, led by presenter Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, will feature expert analysis from Eimear Consideine, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Niamh Ní Dhroma, Marcus Horan, Ronan Loughney, Eoghan Ó Neachtain and Eamonn Molloy along with a host of others.

Match commentary will be provided by Garry Mac Donncha, Gemma Ní Choinnaith will take over presenting duties from Máire Treasa while she is on maternity leave later in the year.

URC coverage will get underway on TG4 with a bumper weekend of action. On Friday, September 24,,Connacht travel to Wales to take on Cardiff Rugby (kick-off 7.35pm, TG4 & TG4 Player).

On Saturday, September 25, Leinster take on the Vodacom Bulls at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, TG4 & TG4 Player).

RTÉ URC Live

RTÉ’s URC Live will be presented by Jacqui Hurley and Daire O’Brien with a top-class line-up of panellists.

RTÉ’s URC Live kicks off on Saturday, September 25 on RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Player with Jacqui Hurley live from Thomond Park as Munster begin their campaign against the Cell C Sharks. Donal Lenihan will be alongside Hugh Cahill on commentary.

RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ 2fm will have full live commentary on the key games involving the provinces as well as reports, analysis, and interviews throughout the season.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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