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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.

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England v Barbarians: CANCELLED

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The RFU has today cancelled the Quilter Cup England v Barbarians fixture scheduled for Sunday 25 October.
 
As part of its ongoing investigation into a breach of the Covid code of conduct that took place on 21 October, the RFU has today discovered there was an earlier undisclosed breach that took place on 20 October when a number of Barbarians players left the hotel bubble without permission and without informing organisers about their whereabouts.
 
The RFU has concluded that the players leaving their Covid-secure environment on 20 October without then isolating from the rest of the group on their return has resulted in the bubble environment being compromised, with the potential risk of Covid transmission from individuals outside the bubble to everyone in the Barbarians team and management.
 

The RFU is therefore left with no alternative but to cancel the game.

Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “We are incredibly disappointed to be calling a halt to this fixture, we know how much fans were looking forward to seeing the teams play.  However, our priority is to protect the health and safety of the England squad and the other international teams they will go up against this Autumn.  There has been a great deal of effort put into Covid codes of conduct and planning for games, including cooperation with Premiership Clubs to release additional players to fulfil the fixture safely, and we are all incredibly frustrated and disappointed that the actions of a number of Barbarians players mean we no longer feel it is safe for the game to go ahead.”

The RFU investigation is ongoing and no details on individuals or numbers of players involved will be confirmed until the investigation is concluded.

STATEMENT FROM RFU ENDS

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Ireland name 4 debutants in squad for Italy Test

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Image from IRFU

The Ireland Coaching Team have named the matchday squad for the rescheduled 2020 Guinness Six Nations Championships fixture against Italy which will take place at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 24th October.

There are four uncapped players included in the squad with Will Connors and Hugo Keenan named in the starting XV. Ed Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park are in line for their international debuts off the bench.

Captain, Johnny Sexton is joined in the half backs by Conor Murray with Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose paired in the midfield.

Jacob Stockdale is named at fullback with Andrew Conway and the uncapped Keenan, who has been capped at Ireland 7s level, on the wings.

In the front row Cian Healy edges closer to a century of caps as he makes his 99th appearance. He is joined by Rob Herring and Andrew Porter  while James Ryan and Tadgh Beirne fill the second row berths

In the back row Caelan Doris is named at blindside, Will Connors makes his debut at openside and CJ Stander is at No.8.

In the replacement forwards Byrne is joined by Dave Heffernan, who will be hoping to add the cap he won against the USA in 2017, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane and Peter O’Mahony.

Ross Byrne and Robbie Henshaw are the replacement backs alongside the uncapped Gibson-Park
Kick-off at the Aviva Stadium is 3.30pm on Saturday 24th October and the game is being televised by Virgin Media and ITV and is live in RTÉ radio.

Press Release from IRFU

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Scotland name team to face Georgia

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland’s opening game of the autumn campaign will mark a series of firsts as Head Coach Gregor Townsend’s side play Georgia at BT Murrayfield on Friday 23 October (kick-off 7:30pm)

Scotland’s opening game of the autumn campaign will mark a series of firsts as Head Coach Gregor Townsend’s side play Georgia at BT Murrayfield on Friday 23 October (kick-off 7:30pm).

Glasgow Warriors hooker Fraser Brown will captain his country for the first time, winning his 51st cap, while Edinburgh winger Duhan van der Merwe starts and will make his debut for Scotland, as will Glasgow Warriors prop Oli Kebble, who is among the replacements.Townsend has also named scrum-half, Ali Price and back-row, Jamie Ritchie as vice-captains.

The team features some returning faces with Glasgow Warrior Matt Fagerson making his first start since facing the Georgian’s at home in Tblisi in August 2019 and Harlequins’ James Lang lining up at inside centre to win his 3rd cap, having last featured in the 2018 summer tour, playing against Canada and Argentina.Captain Fraser Brown packs down in the front row with Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland, with Ben Toolis and Scott Cummings pairing at lock.

Matt Fagerson starts at number 8 with Edinburgh backrows Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson on the flanks.Glasgow Warriors provide the half-back pairing of Ali Price and Adam Hastings who partnered during the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, with Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell poised to win his 50th Scotland cap as a replacement, following his Heineken Champions Cup Final appearance last Saturday.

James Lang lines up alongside Gloucester’s Chris Harris in the centres and the starting XV is completed with an all Edinburgh back three of Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe on the wings and Blair Kinghorn at full back.

“It’s been great to have the players back in camp and as coaches, we’ve really enjoyed working with them again after the enforced break due to Covid-19.
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend.

“As we start our autumn series the game against Georgia provides a real test as a first up match and we have taken the opportunity to select a side that reflects where our players are in terms of their game time this season, their current form, as well as the contributions they made during the Six Nations at the start of the year.”

“It is a testament to the professionalism and hard work Fraser has given to Scotland in recent years that we have selected him as the captain and he will be well supported by Jamie and Ali, who have grown as leaders over the past couple of seasons.”“Georgia have a new coaching group in place and will want to put down a marker for their own campaign so we have picked as strong a squad as possible to go up against what will be a very physical and motivated opponent.”

Scotland team to play Georgia at BT Murrayfield

Friday 23 October (kick-off 7:30pm) – live on ITV4

Edinburgh players Grant Gilchrist and Damien Hoyland left the Autumn Series squad this week due to injury, with Sale hooker Ewan Ashman being added to the training squad.

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