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How Ireland Can Get At the All Blacks

Ireland are hoping to make it to a first ever Rugby World Cup semi-final but face the biggest rugby nation on the planet in New Zealand and here we take a look at a few ways the men in green can unsettle them

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(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

Ireland take on the mighty All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Japan tomorrow as they look to reach a first semi-final in their history.

The task couldn’t be harder but this New Zealand side has its weaknesses and here we take a quick look what Ireland need to do to have any chance of winning. 

Firstly, Ireland need a strong start. As we saw in the Six Nations when the Irish hit the back-foot early on they seem to drop off in their performance. Along with the fact that Ireland seem to struggle with the final minutes of games at the tournament so far and need any sort of advantage to hold on to from an early stage. 

Sticking with timing, and Ireland need to be careful in the ten minute spell before half-time and the ten minutes after. The All Blacks seem to be at their best in that 20 minute section and they love to rack up the points, while deflating their opposition around this time. If Ireland can keep the scores to a minimum here they could unnerve their opponents heading into the final 30 minutes of the game. 

Another key is to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Ireland need to take any penalty opportunity and punish the All Blacks with either three-points from the tee or come away with a try from a kick to the corner. 

They must be clinical when they have any chance in the New Zealand 22-metre line if they are to cause an upset. 

As a team they need to defend with a huge amount of intensity, coming up in a line as a whole, not leaving any gaps as the All Blacks have the players to exploit any weakness. However, they need to be careful of the offside line as they must stay on the right side of referee Nigel Owens. 

In terms of players, Ireland may be wise to tactically kick to the back-three, while chasing up every kick from the boot. Although Beauden Barrett is an outstanding player, if Ireland can kick and chase to him, and force him to second-guess himself they could be on to something. 

The key for any victory is to help fly-half Johnny Sexton produce his best. That means allowing him quick-ball from the rucks, being available for quick one-twos and giving him protection from opposition tacklers. If he has a good game, Ireland have a good game, it’s as simple as that. 

Other key men to give the ball to are James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong and CJ Stander, who can all carry well while bringing in defenders and allowing space out wide. In turn that is going to help the likes of Jacob Stockdale, who could have the beating of Sevu Reece on his wing, if he is given the chance to show his talent. 

If Ireland are to progress they will need a full squad effort and with around 60 minutes on the clock the subs could be vital. The All Blacks scrum does not have the resources of the Irish one and if the starting front-row can cause issues for the All Blacks then the replacements could have a field day. 

Meanwhile Tadhg Beirne and Rhys Ruddock bring such intensity to the game especially at the breakdown, which could be an area to target in the closing stages as bodies tire. With that in mind Jordan Larmour could be key if the game is close near the end as he has been in sensational form so far in Japan and against some tiring New Zealand defenders, he could cause mayhem. 

Ireland will also need to stop players such as Ardie Savea and Codie Taylor breaking the line as they have pace and skill to tear open defences. While in terms of the All Blacks bench Ireland will need to watch out for Sonny Bill Williams, who will be fresh on the field near the end and is a game changer with his offloading and handling skills. 

Overall, Ireland need a near perfect performance to advance to new heights. We have seen them carve up two wins in their last three games against New Zealand but this is different. The World Cup is All Blacks territory and they will be up to the task of knocking out a team that threatens their three in a row ambitions. However, a team that were once invincible now show small signs of weakness, the question remains can Ireland exploit the chinks in their armour? 

6 Nations

World Rugby to introduce contact training restrictions

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World Rugby

World Rugby and International Rugby Players (IRP) have published new contact training load guidance aimed at reducing injury risk and supporting short and long-term player welfare. The guidance is being supported by national players’ associations, national unions, international and domestic competitions, top coaches and clubs.

Earlier this year, World Rugby unveiled a transformational six-point plan aiming to cement rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare. These new best-practice guidelines focus on the intensity and frequency of contact training to which professional rugby players should be exposed and have been shaped by consultation with players and coaches as well as leading medical, conditioning and scientific experts.

While the incidence of training injuries is low relative to that of matches, the volume of training performed means that a relatively high proportion (35-40 per cent) of all injuries during a season occur during training, with the majority of these being soft tissue injuries. Since the training environment is highly controllable, the guidelines have been developed to reduce injury risk and cumulative contact load to the lowest possible levels that still allow for adequate player conditioning and technical preparation.

Global study

The guidelines are based on a global study undertaken by IRP of almost 600 players participating across 18 elite men’s and women’s competitions, and a comprehensive review of the latest injury data. This reveals that training patterns vary across competitions, with an average of 21 minutes per week of full contact training and an average total contact load of 118 minutes per week. A more measured and consistent approach to training will help manage the contact load for players, especially those moving between club and national training environments. The research supports minimising contact load in training, in order that players can be prepared to perform but avoid an elevated injury risk at the same time. The guidelines aim to help strike that balance.

New ‘best practice’ training contact guidelines

World Rugby and International Rugby Players’ new framework [https://www.world.rugby/the-game/player-welfare/medical/contact-load] sets out clear and acceptable contact guidelines for training sessions, aiming to further inform coaches – and players – of best practice for reducing injury risk and optimising match preparation in season. The guidance covers the whole spectrum of contact training types, considering volume, intensity, frequency and predictability of contact, as well as the optimal structure of sessions across the typical training week, including crucial recovery and rest periods.

Recommended contact training limits for the professional game are:

  1. Full contact training: maximum of 15 minutes per week across a maximum of two days per week with Mondays and Fridays comprising zero full contact training to allow for recovery and preparation
  2. Controlled contact training: maximum of 40 minutes per week 
  3. Live set piece training: maximum of 30 minutes set piece training per week is advised

The guidelines, which also consider reducing the overall load for players of particular age, maturity and injury profile (in line with the risk factors and load guidance published in 2019), will feature in the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup player welfare standards.

Instrumented mouthguard research programme to inform effectiveness

World Rugby is partnering with elite teams to measure the ‘real life’ effect of these guidelines (in training and matches) and assess the mechanism, incidence and intensity of head impact events using the Prevent Biometics market-leading instrumented mouthguard technology and video analysis to monitor implementation and measure outcomes.

The technology, the same employed in the ground-breaking Otago Rugby Head Impact Detection Study, will deliver the biggest ever comparable bank of head impact data in the sport with more than 1,000 participants across the men’s and women’s elite, community and age-grade levels. The teams that have signed up so far are multiple Champions Cup winners Leinster, French powerhouse Clermont Auvergne and Benetton Treviso while discussions are ongoing with several other men’s and women’s teams across a range of competitions.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “This important body of work reflects our ambition to advance welfare for players at all levels of the game. Designed by experts, these guidelines are based on the largest study of contact training in the sport, developed by some of the best rugby, performance and medical minds in the game. We believe that by moderating overall training load on an individualised basis, including contact in season, it is possible to enhance both injury-prevention and performance outcomes, which is good for players, coaches and fans.”

World Rugby Director of Rugby and High Performance and former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt added: “Training has increasingly played an important role in injury-prevention as well as performance. While there is a lot less full contact training than many people might imagine, it is our hope that having a central set of guidelines will further inform players and coaches of key considerations for any contact that is done during training.

“These new guidelines, developed by leading experts and supported by the game, are by necessity a work in progress and will be monitored and further researched to understand the positive impact on player welfare. We are encouraged by the response that we have received so far.

“We recognise that community level rugby can be an almost entirely different sport in terms of fitness levels, resources and how players can be expected to train, but the guidelines can be applied at many levels, especially the planning, purpose and monitoring of any contact in training.”

International Rugby Players Chief Executive Omar Hassanein said the guidelines are being welcomed by players: “From an International Rugby Players’ perspective, this project represents a significant and very relevant piece of work relating to contact load. We’ve worked closely with our member bodies in gathering approximately 600 responses from across the globe, allowing us to have sufficient data to then be assessed by industry experts. The processing of this data has led to some quite specific recommendations which are designed to protect our players from injuries relating to excessive contact load. We will continue to work with World Rugby as we monitor the progress of these recommendations and undertake further research in this area.”

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster, who was involved in reviewing the study and advising the development of the guidelines, said: “We have a responsibility to make the game as safe as possible for all our players. For coaches, optimising training plays a significant role in achieving that objective. It is important that we do not overdo contact load across the week in order that players are fresh, injury-free and ready for match days. These guidelines provide a practical and impactful approach to this central area of player preparation and management.”

Ireland international and IRP Head of Strategic Projects and Research Sene Naoupu said: “While this is the first step of the implementation and monitoring process, it is an incredible outcome that shows just how much players care about this area. It also provides a foundation to review and determine future direction of implementation across the game, within an evidence-based injury-prevention programme for performance and welfare.” 

World Rugby is also progressing a wide-ranging study of the impact of replacements on injury risk in the sport with the University of Bath in England, a ground-breaking study into the frequency and nature of head impacts in community rugby in partnership with the Otago Rugby Union, University of Otago and New Zealand Rugby, and further research specific to the professional women’s game. All of these priority activities will inform the decisions the sport makes to advance welfare for players at all levels and stages.

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Facebook becomes official social media services supplier of Rugby World Cup France 2023

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Source – World Rugby

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6 Nations

Match schedule and match officials confirmed for Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier

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World Rugby has confirmed the match schedule and match officials for the Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe qualifier, which will be hosted in Parma’s Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on 13, 19 and 25 September, 2021.

Scotland kick-off their qualification campaign against Italy on Monday 13 September (kick-off 2pm BST / 3pm local time), before facing Spain on Sunday 19 September (kick-off 5pm BST / 6pm local time). Scotland’s final match of the tournament will see them take on Ireland on Saturday 25 September (kick-off 5pm BST / 6pm local time).

The top team will secure a spot in Pool B at Rugby World Cup 2021, playing in 2022, and the runner-up will enter the Final Qualification Tournament.

An experienced team of match officials have been appointed for the tournament, including Aurelie Groizeleau (FFR), Nikki O´Donnell (RFU), Hollie Davidson (SRU), Clara Munarini (FIR), Maria Beatrice Benvenuti (FIR) and Maria Pacifico (FIR), alongside Television Match Officials Andrea Piardi, Gianluca Gnecchi and Stefano Penne (all FIR).

The opening match day will see Aurelie Groizeleau take charge of Scotland’s meeting with hosts Italy at 15:00 local time, before Nikki O´Donnell oversees Spain against Ireland at 18:00, the first test match between the sides since May 2008.

Hollie Davidson and Aurelie Groizeleau will take charge of day two matches when Italy face Ireland at 15:00, followed by Spain against Scotland at 18:00, respectively. Italy’s only victory in their last 18 meetings with Ireland came at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in February 2019, winning their last meeting on Italian soil 29-27.

While, Hollie Davidson and Clara Munarini will oversee the final match day when hosts Italy face Spain at 15:00, followed by Ireland v Scotland at 18:00 in their first meeting since February 2020. Italy and Spain have not met since Rugby World Cup 2017, Las Leonas winning their pool encounter 22-8 before the Azzurre avenged that defeat by winning their ninth place play-off 20-15.

Nine teams have already confirmed their place at Rugby World Cup 2021, including New Zealand, England, France, Canada, USA, Australia and Wales via their final ranking at Ireland 2017, and South Africa and Fiji who came through the Africa and Oceania regional qualification tournaments respectively.

Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Alison Hughes said: “We are delighted to confirm the match schedule and a highly qualified team of match officials for what promises to be three exciting and hotly contested matchdays in the Europe Qualifier as all four participating teams will be aiming to claim the prize of a place at Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand alongside the best women’s 15s teams in the world. We continue to work in close partnership with the hosts and all participating unions to ensure we deliver a safe and secure event and give the players the opportunity to showcase their talents on the pitch.”

Source – Scotland Rugby

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