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Former England Ace Signs New Contract

One of England’s former star men is set to stay with the Newcastle Falcons for another couple of seasons

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England international Toby Flood has signed a new contract extension with the Newcastle Falcons as they look to be promoted to the Premiership once again.

The 34-year-old has agreed a new two-year deal and appears set to lead the Falcons back into the Premiership next season as they are currently top of the Championship table, 12-points clear of second-placed Ealing with only nine games remaining. 

The 60-cap international admitted that he had to think about resigning due to his age, but wants to bring the club back to the top table of English Rugby. 

“It’s not a decision that has been taken lightly. A lot of thought has gone into how my body is, and where I’m at in terms of being able to go again. After what happened last season with our relegation I feel a duty to set the record straight and put a few things right with regards to us competing well again in the Premiership, and I still feel I can make a positive contribution. We’re not in the Premiership yet and of course nothing is being taken for granted about our promotion, but I’m as keen as ever to keep on playing,” he said. 

Having made 129 appearances over two stints with the club and having previously played for Leicester Tigers and Toulouse the back-liner is keen to help the next generation of youngsters come through at the Falcons. 

“It’s also a club that I have a huge amount of love for after coming through the academy here and being from the region, the opportunity to spend another couple of seasons as a Newcastle Falcons player really does mean a lot to me. Everyone has seen this season how much quality we have coming through at the club in terms of the younger players, which really bodes well for our longer-term future. But I think guys like myself, Will Welch and some of the other players who have been around for a little while – we can help those guys to progress and get the most out of their ability,” he added. 

His new deal is a big boost for the club as they bid to not only get back into the Premiership but stay there and they will need experience to do so which is exactly what the three-time Premiership champion has to offer.

6 Nations

World Rugby applies 50/22 law trial globally, bolster concussion protocol

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World Rugby announced on Wednesday five law trials which will start next month, including a so-called “50/22” kicking adaptation.

The 50/22 change allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half.

The rule was used in recent Super Rugby tournaments and its primary intention is to “encourage the defensive team to put more players in the backfield, thereby creating more attacking space and reducing defensive line speed”, according to the sport’s governing body.

The other laws to come into force on a temporary basis from August 1 include a goal-line drop-out if the ball is held up in the in-goal area, if there is a knock-on from an attacking player in the same area or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal.

There are also restrictions on attacking players latching onto team-mates from a ruck and clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs at the breakdown.

Michael Hooper with a textbook tackle close out a certain try

The final trial allows for a one-player latch before contact, but the individual must “observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet”.

World Rugby has also moved to strengthen concussion protocols, with independent specialists set to review cases when Test players return to action after a head injury.

They will launch a panel of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) to provide expert opinion on whether players are ready to return to action after head knocks.

The global governing body will fully fund the process for Test-level competitions, with ICCs asked to rule when players look to return to action 10 days or fewer after a concussion or on players deemed higher risk due to previous head-injury history.

Source – Australia Rugby

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Lions name team to face Sharks

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Photo By Ian Rutherford/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) and Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales) will make their Lions debuts on Wednesday evening when the tourists take on Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park (kick off 6pm BST).

Ireland lock, Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland), will captain the Lions for the first time, while Tour Captain, Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland), is named amongst the replacements.

The game, which will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports, is the second of eight Tour matches in the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series which culminates with three Tests against World Champions, the Springboks.

“It’s a quick turnaround from Saturday, but we’ll be ready to go by Wednesday night,” said Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland.

“I’m pleased we managed to come through the weekend’s game unscathed, and the boys have rested and recovered well. We feel like we’re slowly building, but, as ever, there’s still room for improvement in all facets of our game.

“Wednesday night is another chance for us to have a look at a few more combinations. I’m looking forward to seeing how the back row goes; it’s an exciting mixture and one that we hope will offer something a bit different.

“We expect another physical test against a side who are known for their power play and ambition.

“My congratulations to Tom, Josh and Adam ahead of their first starts in a Lions jersey.”

The Lions opened their 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series with an eight-try victory over Sigma Lions.

CELL C SHARKS v THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833

14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816

13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822

12. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) #837

11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841

10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821

9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850

1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851

3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #848

4. Iain Henderson – Captain (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808

5. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales)

6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales)

7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England)

8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849

Replacements:

16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829

17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840

18. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818

19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838

20. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839

21. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790

22. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783

23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844

Wednesday 7 July 2021. Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg, Kick-off: 6pm (BST)

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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London Irish announce Springbok Prop

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(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

Marcel van der Merwe has signed on the dotted line with London Irish!

The experienced prop has put pen to paper on a deal with Declan Kidney’s side and will join up with his new team-mates ahead of the start of the 2021/22 season.

The 30 year-old South African international – who has seven Springbok caps to his name – joins from La Rochelle, whom he joined on a short-term deal earlier this year.

Previously, van der Merwe enjoyed successful stints back home in his homeland with the Cheetahs and the Bulls, before making just shy of 100 appearances at French Top 14 side Toulon.

Speaking about his arrival at the Exiles, van der Merwe expressed his delight, commenting: “I’m very excited – it’s a new chapter in my career.

“London Irish are a Club that are moving in the right direction, so it’s an exciting opportunity for me. The timing feels right.

“I’ve played English teams quite a lot throughout my time in France, so I know what to expect of the league and everything it throws up. I can’t wait to get going with London Irish.” 

Director of Rugby, Declan Kidney, added: “Marcel is a key addition to the squad ahead of the start of the 2021/22 season.

“He will bring great experience and quality to our pack and will complement the existing players we’ve already got in the forwards.

“We’re really pleased that he has decided to join the Club and we’re looking forward to him joining up with us in August for his pre-season.”

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