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Coach and Team of the Year Nominees Announced

World Rugby have confirmed the nominations for coach and team of the year for 2019

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

World Rugby have confirmed the five-strong shortlists for coach and team of the year for the 2019 edition of the awards.

The coaching nominations are all from the respective nominations for the team of the year, with this year’s Rugby World Cup finalists England and South Africa among the contenders. 

With that in mind Eddie Jones and Rassie Erasmus are up for the individual accolade, along with New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen, Wales’ Warren Gatland and Japan’s Jamie Joseph, with their respective nations up for team of the year. 

The contenders were picked by a panel comprising of former coaches Nick Mallet and Clive Woodward, along with former players Brian O’Driscoll, Maggie Alphonsi and Agustin Pichot, with the winners being announced this Sunday in Tokyo. 

To go through the nominations Jones has lead England to a first World Cup final in 12 years, beating Argentina, Australia and New Zealand along the way in what has been an impressive year for both coach and team seeing them reach the top of the World Rankings since 2004.

For fellow finalists South Africa Erasmus and his troops have won the Rugby Championship, showing huge improvements over the past 18-months and are in with a chance of becoming the first team to lift the World Cup after losing a game. 

Japan and Jamie Joseph wowed the world with their incredible brand of rugby throughout the tournament. Reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history following a 100% record in the pool stages where they defeated last year’s team of the year Ireland and a brave Scottish side, while also claiming the Pacific Nations Cup earlier in the year. 

Warren Gatland and Wales fell short in their quest to win a first-ever Webb Ellis Cup with defeat to the Boks last weekend but they have been almost flawless all year, lifting the Six Nations Grand Slam and reaching first in the rankings along their journey to Japan for the first time in their history. They could also match their best-ever World Cup finish if they can claim a bronze medal tomorrow. 

New Zealand and Steve Hansen will be their competition for the bronze medal tomorrow having fallen short in their attempt to win a third-successive World Cup. They also failed to retain their Rugby Championship title, but did win their 17th successive Bledisloe Cup. 

Depending on who wins the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday, it could determine who is also victorious at Sunday’s awards ceremony. 

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Springboks Confirm First Tests of 2020

South Africa have announced their opponents for their first games after winning the Rugby World Cup

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(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The Springboks have announced their first opponents since winning the Rugby World Cup earlier this month.

South Africa have confirmed that they will take on Scotland and Georgia in July of next year in what will be their first games as the Webb Ellis Cup holders. 

All three games will be played in South Africa, as they face the Scottish twice ahead of their clash with Georgia, with the games being played on the 4th, 11th and 18th of July. 

The times and venues of each match are yet to be announced, but it seems as though the Springboks will be hoping for three wins from three in what is part of the Castle Lager Incoming Series schedule. 

The games will also be the first for their incoming new head coach, who will take the reins from World Cup winning coach Rassie Erasmus, who will be focusing on his director of rugby role with the national side. 

South Africa will host the Scots for the first time since 2014, with the hosts running out 55-6 victors on that occasion, while it will only be their second-ever fixture with the Georgians with their only meeting coming in the 2003 World Cup which the Boks won 46-19. 

The Springboks will hope that they can start life as world champions on a positive note and build momentum ahead of next year’s Rugby Championship campaign.

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Henson Hits Out at Wales’ Kiwi Players

Former Wales international Gavin Henson is not one bit pleased about the Wales squad that was announced yesterday as it includes possible debuts for two New Zealand-born players

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Former Wales international Gavin Henson has hit out at Wales’ latest squad selection for including Willis Halaholo and Johnny McNicholl, both of whom qualify through residency rules.

The 37-year-old took to Twitter to make his views on head coach Wayne Pivac’s first squad announcement stating that it is “so wrong” to have the duo involved. 

Pivac’s calls have caused a little stir among fans, however, Henson’s comments seem to have got more of a backlash with fans pointing out that some of his former teammates were not originally from Wales such as Sonny Parker, who like the latest duo was from New Zealand

Henson confirmed that he told them what he thought at the time, but his comments only caused further confusion as people questioned whether players such as George North and Jonathan Davies should be allowed to play as they were born in England but have a Welsh relative. 

Henson replied to fans saying that he has no problem with such players as they have spent time growing up in Wales. 

“Parent or grandparent is totally fine. Residency should only count if they’ve spent a certain amount of time in that country in their childhood,” he said online. 

Henson’s comments have certainly caused controversy on social media, but his views are shared by many, who feel that certain players are being lost through the home-grown system due to players that become eligible through residency rules. 

Earlier this year there was backlash to the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad when Jean Kleyn was picked ahead of stalwart Devin Toner and it seems as though not everyone agrees with the chance being given to such players. 

Although some may become more pleased with the rule in the next couple of years as World Rugby has announced that players will only be eligible through residency rules after five years in the country, up from the current three years. The new regulations come into place come the end of 2020.

However, for now Henson will have to continue to complain as these players get ready to take on the Barbarians in a couple of weeks time.

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Wales Name Squad for Barbarians Clash

New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has confirmed a 35-man squad for their game with the Barbarians next Saturday

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New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has announced a 35-man strong squad ahead of his first game in charge of the national side against the Barbarians on Saturday November 30th at the Principality Stadium.

In what will be part of a double-header of games with the Welsh Women’s side also playing in on the day, Pivac will hope to make a winning start to life at the helm, naming a total of 22 players that featured in the recent Rugby World Cup along with five uncapped players. 

The likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric and Aaron Wainwright are among the forwards to be within the squad, while Gareth Davies, Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny are the star names to feature among the backs. 

Taine Basham, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Willis Halaholo, Ashton Hewitt and Johnny McNicholl are the five uncapped players hoping to make an impact while in the squad. However, the game does not officially count as a cap on the international stage. 

Speaking on the announcement Pivac admitted he is happy to have time with the team ahead of the upcoming Six Nations campaign next year. 

“It is great to get the squad announced and get the ball rolling on our first meet-up and first fixture next week. This Barbarians game is a great chance for us as a new squad and management to get together and to set the scene for what we are looking to do. Having this opportunity ahead of tournament rugby in the Six Nations is ideal for us. It is also a great chance for some players to really put their hand up and show what they are about and take to the field in front of a big crowd at home. We will be bringing a few additional players in to train with the squad during the week, just to see them in the environment and will also be bringing some of the injured players in for some of the scene-setting style sessions,” he said. 

It will be the first game in twelve years without Warren Gatland holding the reigns, however, he will be at the match as he takes control of the Barbarians side. 

Pivac will be looking for a positive result, with an eye on selection for the Six Nations as he already seems to be heading into the competition without the likes of Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams and Rhys Patchell, who are among a growing injury list for the Welsh team. 

Check Out the Full 35-Man Squad Below.

Forwards:

Elliot Dee (Dragons) (29 Caps)

Ryan Elias (Scarlets) (9 Caps)

Ken Owens (Scarlets) (73 Caps)

Rob Evans (Scarlets) (36 Caps)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (22 Caps)

Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (35 Caps)

Leon Brown (Dragons) (6 Caps)

Samson Lee (Scarlets) (41 Caps) 

Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps)

Jake Ball (Scarlets) (42 Caps)

Adam Beard (Ospreys) (20 Caps)

Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (66 Caps)

Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues) (7 Caps)

Taine Basham (Dragons) (Uncapped)

Ollie Griffiths (Dragons) (1 Cap)

Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped)

Ross Moriarty (Dragons) (41 Caps)

Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (26 Caps)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (72 Caps)

Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (18 Caps)

Backs: 

Aled Davies (Ospreys) (20 Caps)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (51 Caps)

Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues) (16 Caps)

Sam Davies (Dragons) (8 Caps)

Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues) (3 Caps)

Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped)

Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (25 Caps)

Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (22 Caps)

Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues) (2 Caps)

Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (21 Caps)

Steff Evans (Scarlets) (13 Caps)

Ashton Hewitt (Dragons) (Uncapped)

Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) (Uncapped)

Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps)

Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (85 Caps)

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