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Gatland Explains England RWC Final Comments

Warren Gatland has come out to explain his comments around England’s Rugby World Cup final as well as looking back on one vital mistake he made in his career

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has given his reason for predicting England’s fall in the Rugby World Cup final while talking to Off the Ball.

The coaching great, who stepped aside from his 12-year stint with Wales following the conclusion of their World Cup campaign was promoting his new book ‘Pride and Passion’ and explained how the emotional toll of England’s semi-final win over New Zealand was hard to follow up. 

“At the very elite level of sport, it is the emotion that counts. And sometimes when you have a great performance and you are emotionally charged right on the edge, it is difficult to repeat that,” he said. 

It proved to be the case for England as they failed to find another gear in the final, being dominated by South Africa who ran out 32-12 winners. He drew on past experiences in his career to back up his point, including a discussion about the 2013 British and Irish Lions Tour.

“When I look back at my time coaching, there are two examples that really strike out for me. One was in London coaching Wasps, and we played Leicester in the last round. Martin Johnson’s last game and Neil Back’s last game at Welford Road. I completely underestimated the emotion of that. They beat us 45-24 or something like that. Then in the final, I didn’t think they could bring the same level of emotion so we put 40-points on them in the final. It was the same scenario with Australia in the second test in 2013. James Horwill, tears running down his eyes, the effort and energy they put into that, I didn’t think they could bring the same the following week,” he added. 

That Lions tour threw up some major complications for Gatland including a decision to drop Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll for the third test, which caused huge backlash and the Kiwi regrets how he went about the decision that week. 

“The biggest mistake we made was on the Sunday after the second test we put Brian up for media. That was a huge mistake because everyone just assumed with Sam Warburton getting injured that Brian was going to play and going to be captain the following week. So we made the decision and I said to the other coaches ‘there could be a big falling out over this’. I didn’t realise quite the extent,” he finished. 

Gatland’s experience is easy to see and he will take charge of yet another Lions tour in 2021 as he leads his charges to South Africa as he completes the full cycle of tours having also managed them to a series draw with New Zealand in 2017. In the meantime Gatland has taken up a role with Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs as he returns to his homeland looking to add further success to his CV.

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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