South Africa have claimed their third Rugby World Cup title with a resounding 32-12 victory over England in Japan this morning.
Fly-half Handre Pollard contributed 22-points from the boot to add to tries from wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe to see the Boks sweep aside the English.
The Springboks started the better of the two and had a chance to go ahead as early as the second minute when Pollard misplaced a simple enough penalty kick.
England were handed a massive blow less than a minute later as Kyle Sinckler was taken off after being knocked out cold after hitting his head against teammate Maro Itoje’s elbow.
Things got worse for the men in white when Pollard made no mistake from a penalty in the ninth minute to make it 3-0.
However, despite looking off the pace it was England that hit next as Owen Farrell knocked over a penalty of his own just after the 20 minute mark. While for the Boks both hooker Bongi Mbonambi and lock Lood de Jager went off through injury.
Straight from the restart the Springboks put pressure on the opposition and showed their dominance in the scrum to win a penalty which Pollard kicked over to put them ahead once again.
England hit back again over the next ten minutes and but for some impressive defence from the Boks they would have been in for a try but they had to settle for a penalty kick from the boot of Farrell to level once more.
With just over five minutes remaining before half-time Pollard put South Africa in front again with yet another penalty and things only got better for them on the stroke of half-time as they won another scrum penalty with Pollard smashed over to leave it at 12-6 come the whistle.
The Springboks opened the second period as they ended the first winning a penalty at scrum-time just inside the England half. Pollard sent the kick from the left-hand side flying over to stretch the lead to 15-9.
However, the tables were turned five minutes later as England won a penalty from a scrum this time around and from the penalty Farrell ensured a further three-points to make it a six-point game.
Farrell had a chance to cut further into the lead moments later but sent the penalty wide of the posts and they were punished as Pollard notched up his sixth penalty two minutes later to make it 18-9.
However, England hit back right away as Farrell made up for his miss with an easy penalty kick won from the restart to put them within six once again with just over a quarter of the match remaining.
Pollard had another penalty attempt from almost 60 metres out but couldn’t connect properly with the kick as the score stayed the same.
South Africa were celebrating four minutes on however, as they sent the ball out wide left to winger Mapimpi who chipped over the top for centre Lukanyo Am, who caught the ball before sending a beautiful pass back inside to his No 11 to waltz over for his sixth try of the tournament. Pollard added a further two points to the scoreboard to make it 25-12 with just over ten minutes to go.
England went in search of a score to get within touching distance of the Boks but they were driven back time and time again.
Eventually centre Henry Slade knocked the ball on just inside his own half, Pieter-Steph du Toit picked up the loose ball before sending the ball to Kolbe who darted forward showing incredible dancing feet to charge over for a vital try. Pollard converted to give the Springboks a 20-point lead with six minutes remaining.
South Africa went looking for further scores but couldn’t find a way through the English defence for a third time and as the clock struck 80 minutes Pollard kicked the ball out to the delight of the men in green.
The win now means that the Springboks are level with New Zealand having won three World Cups in their history, and in doing so have become the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup having lost a game earlier in the tournament. For England it is a massive disappointment following last weekend’s brilliant victory over the All Blacks, but for South Africa it is a deserved trophy to add to their Rugby Championship from earlier in the year.
England Starting XV:
Elliot Daly (4), Anthony Watson (5), Manu Tuilagi (6), Owen Farrell (7), Jonny May (5), George Ford (5), Ben Youngs (6), Billy Vunipola (6), Sam Underhill (7), Tom Curry (7), Courtney Lawes (4), Maro Itoje (6), Kyle Sinckler (n/a), Jamie George (5), Mako Vunipola (5)
South Africa XV:
Willie le Roux (7), Cheslin Kolbe (8), Lukanyo Am (8), Damian de Allende (7), Makazole Mapimpi (8), Handre Pollard (9), Faf de Klerk (8), Duane Vermeulen (9), Pieter-Steph du Toit (8), Siya Kolisi (7), Lood de Jager (6), Eben Etzebeth (7), Frans Malherbe (7), Bongi Mbonambi (7), Tendai Mtawarira (7)
World Rugby to introduce contact training restrictions
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.
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:
- 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
- Controlled contact training: maximum of 40 minutes per week
- 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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Match schedule and match officials confirmed for Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier
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.”
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