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Italy Become Latest Country to Scrap Domestic Season

Italy have joined a number of top-tier nations today by announcing that their domestic rugby season will go no further

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(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Italy are the latest country to call off the remainder of their domestic season due to coronavirus the Italian Rugby Federation has confirmed.

The only competition that Italian teams are involved in that is yet to be scrapped is the PRO14, which Benetton and Zebre are hoping can continue come the end of the pandemic.

However, that is seeming less and less likely as the days pass by, with less time to play the games ahead of the opening of next season.

“The governing body of Italian rugby has approved the definitive suspension of the 2019/2020 season. The decision implies the non-assignment of the Italian champion titles and of all the promotion and retrocession processes. In taking a decision that is unprecedented in the history of Italian rugby since the Second World War to date, the Council has taken the utmost consideration of the founding values of Italian rugby and their active impact on civil society and clubs,” a statement from the federation read.

There are four tiers of Italian rugby that are most noticeably affected by the decision made today with the Top 12, and Serie A, B and C all having their seasons cut short and classed as null and void meaning there are no champions, promotions or relegations from any of the leagues.

It follows a similar trend to that of Ireland and England, who have both cancelled the rest of their domestic seasons due to the outbreak of the virus which is causing major issues among the sporting calendar.

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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