Peter O’Mahony, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls and Rob Kearney are the only survivors from Ireland’s shock 19-12 loss to Japan on Saturday, with the former two starting their third game in a row at the tournament in 11 days.
However, O’Mahony only played a small part in Ireland’s opening round win over Scotland whereas Ringrose has played a key role in both games so far and it is a risk Schmidt is taking with fellow centres Robbie Henshaw and Chris Farrell forced to sit out this game.
It means that there is an entirely new front-five for the Irish with Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan taking over from Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong respectively. While Tadhg Beirne and Jean Kleyn come into the second-row in what is an all-Munster front-five.
O’Mahony’s inclusion sees him switch to the blindside-flanker position, with Rhys Ruddock on the openside and Jordi Murphy, who only arrived following an injury to Jack Conan, has been thrown straight in at No 8.
It’s a Leinster half-back pairing as Luke McGrath opens at scrum-half with Johnny Sexton captaining the side in Best’s absence from fly-half. Bundee Aki returns to the starting XV after sitting out Saturday’s loss and links up with Ringrose once more.
Earls starts on the right-wing, with Andrew Conway coming in on the right and Kearney completes the starting team from full-back.
There is a vast amount of experience to call upon from the bench if needed with the likes of Sean Cronin, Iain Henderson and CJ Stander among the replacements. While there is also a noticeable selection in the the backs replacements as both Joey Carbery and Jack Carty picked, with Carbery covering the scrum-half position.
Speaking ahead of the game captain Sexton, who did not feature during Saturday’s loss is determined to turn things around and believes that Ireland still have what it takes to win the whole competition.
“At the start of the Six Nations we turned things around. We had a really good performance against France. Things went bad against England [at Twickenham in late August] – we turned it around and beat Wales back to back. So they’re a very good team and we beat them. We started with a bang last week against Scotland – so, yeah, if we can go on a bit of a run now, a five-game winning run would be great. That would do nicely,” he said.
Ireland know a bonus-point win is required if they are to keep the pressure on Japan at the top of Pool A as they hope to finish as the group winners. However, Russia won’t make it easy for them as we have seen from their opening two games, and with a nine days turnaround between this and Ireland’s final pool fixture against Samoa the nation will be expecting the men in green to give their all.
Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.
Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton (c), Luke McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne
Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour
Former Ireland Player Questions Springboks RWC Win
Former Ireland international Neil Francis has suggested that South Africa’s Rugby World Cup win may have been down to players using performance enhancing substances
Former Ireland Rugby international and current rugby pundit Neil Francis has questioned whether an asterix should be placed beside South Africa’s recent Rugby World Cup victory due to the use of steroids in the country.
Francis, who is known for being controversial, has pointed out that many questions are yet to be answered surrounding the use of the illegal substances among the nation in recent years and singled out the story of winger Aphiwe Dyantyi.
The Lions player was found to have multiple anabolic steroids and metabolites in his system earlier this year and Francis wonders whether he is not the only one using the performance enhances among his peers.
“Despite Siya Kolisi’s heart-warming humility and Rassie Erasmus’ astonishing turnaround of not just a team in decline but the sport at every level in that country, questions still have to be asked,” wrote Francis. Let’s get back to the kernel of the issue. Dyantyi is a superstar and if he was based in Europe he would surely be facing a four-year ban. He is, however, based in South Africa, where Chilliboy Ralepele managed to continue playing and finish his career at the Sharks despite being twice caught and suspended for prohibited substances. Dyantyi may well get what is due to him but here is the problem: The scope and the scale of the investigation is purely limited to the player himself,” he said.
The former Irish lock went on to discuss a recent survey among young children in the country which showed that 10% admitted to using steroids.
“In a recent state-sponsored survey conducted by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport, a poll of 12,000 high schoolboys showed that 10 per cent of them took anabolic steroids. The poll was conducted in the KWA Zulu-Natal region of the country. Why would high school boys admit to taking steroids if they had not taken them in the first place? It’s only a sample but 1,200 boys, some as young as 13? Where did these children get this stuff? How could their parents not know? How could the schools and the unions not know?” he added.
He finished up by stating that Dyantyi may have been unlucky enough to get caught whereas others may be getting off the hook, and has raised the debate as to the Springboks World Cup winning campaign.
“Is Dyantyi, a poster boy for the World Cup and winner of World Rugby’s young player of the year, the only one? Or the only one to be caught? The player in my view will go down but the system stays in place. What were we saying about latitude and dispensation? Do we need to put an asterisk beside the winners of the 2019 World Cup?” he concluded.
South Africa claimed their third Webb Ellis Cup with an impressive 32-12 victory over England in the final earlier this month, becoming the most successful side in the competition’s history in the process. The win was celebrated far and wide but Francis has raised question marks which are sure to start debates among fans.
Scottish Rugby Receive World Rugby Punishment
Scottish Rugby have been handed their punishment by World Rugby for comments made during the Rugby World Cup in Japan
As well as having to make the apology the union has been told to pay a £70,000 fine for their comments.
The punishment refers to comments made by Scottish Rugby Union Chief Mark Dodson, who stated that the union would sue World Rugby if Scotland’s final game of the pool stages was called off.
Scotland’s clash with Japan was under threat from Typhoon Hagibis as it looked set to hit the Yokohama Stadium on the day of their vital match. If cancelled the Scots would have been eliminated despite having a chance to progress with a win over the tournament hosts. However, the game was able to be played despite the devastation left in the wake of the typhoon and Scotland were defeated 28-21, leaving them heading home anyway.
However, Dodson’s claim that they would sue World Rugby and his criticism of the running of the tournament were not taken lightly by World Rugby who brought forward two charges against the union.
World Rugby today released a statement to explain the decision that was made.
“World Rugby strongly believed the comments, which suggested an unfair and disorganised treatment of all teams, to be inappropriate and ill-judged at a time when Japan was preparing for the largest and most destructive typhoon in decades. The international federation believed that such comments brought the game into disrepute, not only in relation to World Rugby’s handling of an extraordinary situation, but also in the message that it sent to the Japanese people. Having considered all the evidence, including submissions by World Rugby and the SRU, the committee determined in respect of the first charge that comments attributed to Mark Dodson amounted to misconduct and brought the game into disrepute. In respect of the second charge, the available evidence was insufficient for the committee to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities as to the source of the offending remarks and therefore it dismissed the charge,” the statement read.
The committee confirmed that the fine that it has handed down will be donated to the Childfund Pass it Back programme, assisting in the relief effort ongoing in areas affected by the typhoon.
It will be interesting to see how the union’s apology is given as they previously refused to apologise when provided with the chance to get away with a lighter punishment.
Rugby World Cup Team of the Weekend
The Rugby World Cup came to a brilliant close this weekend with two final games but who impressed the most over the last round
Across the two games there were some standout performances but who makes our last team of the weekend for this year’s World Cup and why did we pick them.
Check out who we picked below and why we chose them.
15) Beauden Barrett –
Put the previous weekend’s defeat behind him to put on another fantastic show from full-back. Had tough competition in the team from Springboks Willie le Roux who saved his best performance of the tournament for the final. However, Barrett showed his dancing feet in for his try, his ability in the air dealing with everything that the Welsh threw at him, just on a different level. No matter who takes over as the new head coach this man will be key to the squad.
14) Ben Smith –
His last performance in an All Blacks jersey and he left fans wondering if he should have started in the semi-finals as he ran the show. Again, was pushed close by the Boks Cheslin Kolbe but the despite a wonderful try for the winger in green he just didn’t see enough of the ball unfortunately. On the other hand, Smith was everywhere, popping up with two wonderful tries before the half-time whistle to take the game beyond Wales. He will leave some big boots to be filled.
13) Sonny Bill Williams –
He started at 12 on what was also his final appearance in a New Zealand jersey but we had to fit him in as he was just simply incredible with his handling game. Age doesn’t seem to affect his skill, producing a wonderful offload for a try assist and unlucky not to set-up another. Splits opinion at times but his talent was on full show on Friday as he ended a glittering international career on a high.
12) Damian de Allende –
An absolute animal! He seems to be able to carry and make metres with every touch of the ball no matter who is in front of him. Part of a brilliant defensive unit as well and capped off a brilliant tournament individually with yet another powerful performance.
11) Makazole Mapimpi –
Josh Adams deserves recognition for his try against the All Blacks which meant he finished top of the try scoring pile with seven. However, Mapimpi was second in the list and this weekend produced a brilliant all-round performance. His try was the highlight, showing great pace and imagination to tear open the England defence and score the Boks first-ever try in a World Cup final. We knew how good he was with the ball in hand but he won his aerial duals as well, in what was just a showing of true class.
10) Handre Pollard –
Once again he was steady from the boot putting an early miss behind him to go on a score 22 of his side’s points and finish top scorer at the tournament. He was brilliant with ball in hand as well and put in some big hits throughout the contest. When he’s in this kind form there aren’t many better than him.
9) Faf de Klerk –
Aaron Smith put in a big shift for the All Blacks but de Klerk continued his rise as a contender to be named the best No 9 on the planet. He ran the show from minute one, passing well and putting up some inch perfect kicks for his teammates. Much like in the semi-finals he showed that he is not afraid to take on a bigger man in a battle, putting in some huge hits on some of the most powerful players in the game. He is just a joy to watch.
1) Tendai Mtawariria –
In the scrum the Springboks dominated and he was at the front of it, putting Mako Vunipola to the sword. He gave his all and made some important hits throughout. Showing exactly why he is nicknamed ‘the Beast’. Possibly his last game for the country and what a servant he has been.
2) Malcolm Marx –
Thrown into action much earlier than expected but stepped up plate with ease. Line-outs were perfect, slotted into the scrum perfectly and carried well. Rose to the occasion when asked and demonstrated his class.
3) Frans Malherbe –
Again, won penalty after penalty for the Boks from the scrum! Impressive from minute one until he was taken off and continued to develop as a top-class prop.
4) Eben Etzebeth –
A massive, massive shift from the Springboks lock! Won his line-outs, carried well, smashed the opposition in the tackle and led throughout. He is vital to the Boks system and showed the world just why on Saturday.
5) Brodie Retallick –
Missed the start of the tournament through injury, only playing 30 minutes before the knock-out stages but managed a full 80 come the final weekend. Moved him to five as he had to be in the team. For such a big unit his handling skills are up there with some of the best backs in the world and dominated this game from the off against some of the best opporaters around.
6) Siya Kolisi –
Captain fantastic! Deserves a spot in the XV for his speech after the game alone! Although on the pitch he was calm, leading his troops from the front-foot throughout and was impossible to get by from an English perspective. There isn’t a player in the world that deserved to lift the trophy more than this man on Saturday.
7) Pieter-Steph du Toit –
Won his title of men’s player of the year 24 hours later and this performance may have swayed the voters. A world-class flanker! He hits opposition attackers with such power and determination, but is equally as effective in attack when his side need to make the hard yards. If he can continue like this he will go down as one of the greatest in his position.
8) Duane Vermeulen –
Some call him ‘Thor’ and on Saturday it was as though a film script was written for him and he grabbed it with both hands! He may not have the cape but he has the power and sheer work-rate of any Avenger! Nobody could get past him and when called upon he took the hard hits himself for his team. Man of the match on the day and rightly so, a monster of a performance from the big man.
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