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Rugby World Cup

Injured Duo Return for England Against the Pumas

England have been handed a major boost for the remainder of the Rugby World Cup with two star men set to return to action this weekend

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(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has named a powerful team to take on Argentina at the Rugby World Cup in Japan this Saturday, with the biggest boost coming on the bench.

For the first time since the tournament started England have been able to call upon both Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell following lengthy injuries to the pair pre-tournament. 

It is especially pleasing for English fans to see the versatile back return to the fold as he has been out of the picture since the Premiership final at the start of June, where he injured his ankle, and has been recovering ever since. 

If the duo can come on and gain some much-needed match fitness ahead of the knock-out stages of the tournament it would be a huge plus for an England side bidding to win the whole competition. 

In the starting line-up there is a front-three of Joe Marler, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler, while Maro Itoje and George Kruis make up a formidable second-row pairing. 

The back-row is even more daunting for the Pumas as Tom Curry comes in as openside-flanker, with Sam Underhill on the blindside and Billy Vunipola completing the pack from No 8. 

Ben Youngs is set to become England’s third most capped player when he makes his 92nd appearance at scrum-half and is joined in the half-backs by George Ford. 

Owen Farrell once again leads the side from inside-centre with the ever-impressive Manu Tuilagi alongside him at outside-centre. 

The back-three is made up of Jonny May on the left-wing, Anthony Watson on the right, and Elliot Daly at full-back in what is a starting line-up to be reckoned with. 

As well as Nowell and Vunipola, there is a return to action for Henry Slade among the replacements, with Jones having plenty of experience to call upon. 

With England having won their opening two games of the tournament Jones knows that Argentina will be a tough team to beat if they want to keep their winning streak going. 

“We are in Tokyo for the first time and the players are excited to be here and have had a good week’s preparation so far. We know Argentina are a very good team and our players will be ready for the game. Argentina is a completely different team from others we have played so far in the pool stages and are always about the physical contest. This week it’s about getting our game right, our set piece in a good place and making sure defensively we are organised and ready to find ways to score points against them,” he said. 

England know that a win against the Pumas will put them into the last eight of the competition before they even play their final pool fixture against France. However, Argentina know that only a win will be enough for them to have any hopes of progressing to the knock-out stages and will go all out to try and upset an England side that is currently full of confidence. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (c), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Joe Marler

Replacements:

Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell

6 Nations

Official. Eddie Jones signs new England Deal.

Official.

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England men’s head coach Eddie Jones and the RFU have agreed a contract extension which will see him continue his role until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
 
Jones joined England Rugby at the end of 2015 and has coached the men’s national side on 54 occasions winning 42, drawing one and losing 11 – giving him a win ratio of 78%, the highest in the history of England coaches.
 
Under Jones, England has won two Six Nations titles including a Grand Slam in 2016, a 3-0 away Test series win against Australia in the same year, an unbeaten run of 18 matches equalling New Zealand’s record and were finalists at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. 
 
Jones said: “The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing.  We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together. I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right. Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that.
 
“I am excited about raising the standards again. We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes. Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It’s a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it. We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward.”
 
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news.  We are delighted that Eddie will continue as head coach to run England’s campaign to take us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby. The progress shown by England since 2015 has been indisputable and having fielded the youngest-ever team to play in a World Cup final, we know even more growth is possible. We are all excited by what this squad can do and having Eddie leading the team is very important to us. 
 
“We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides. We have announced Eddie’s contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time, we are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that.”
 
Ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Jones confirmed Simon Amor and Matt Proudfoot would join Steve Borthwick and John Mitchell as his assistant coaches. Jason Ryles will join later in the year as skills coach following Borthwick’s departure towards the end of the season.

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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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