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Rugby

Leinster & Glasgow name sides for RDS battle.

Sean O’Brien set to lead Leinster.

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Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster:

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to take on Glasgow Warriors tomorrow in the Guinness PRO14 has been named by head Coach Leo Cullen (KO: 3.00pm – live on Eir Sport).

It is the last regular season home game to be played by Leinster in the Guinness PRO14 and sees them take on a Glasgow team that are also top of their Conference.

Séan O’Brien will lead out the team and there is also a welcome return from injury for a number of players.

In the back three, Rob Kearney is joined by Jordan Larmour and Dave Kearney, with the returning Robbie Henshaw paired with Joe Tomane in the centre.

Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne are the half backs.

Ed Byrne, James Tracy and Michael Bent start in the front row, with Devin Toner back from injury to take his place in the second row alongside Academy forward Jack Dunne. It will be a first Leinster start for 20 year old Dunne.

The back row sees Josh Murphy, captain Seán O’Brien and Caelan Doris pack down.

On the bench there is the potential for a seasonal debut for Will Connors. Connors injured his ACL against Newcastle Falcons in the pre-season friendly back in August and has been out injured since. Should he come on he will become the 56th player used by Cullen this season.

Glasgow:

Dave Rennie has made two changes to his starting side for their trip to face the reigning Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup Champions, Leinster in Dublin this weekend.

Glasgow beat Ulster 30-7 at Scotstoun last Friday to earn maximum points and name an unchanged backline, including try-scorers that night Adam Hastings and Tommy Seymour.

Up front Scott Cummings comes into the second-row with Rob Harley shifting to six and Jamie Bhatti starting at loose-head.

Huw Jones has been named amongst the replacements and will play his first game since picking up a knee injury whilst playing for Scotland against Ireland in this year’s Guinness Six Nations in February.

Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Dave Rennie said: “We’re looking forward to testing ourselves against the best team in Europe.

“It’s an exciting challenge and exactly the kind of game we need as we gear towards knock out footy.

“We’ve prepared well and 1-23 expect to see the same levels of desperation and brutality that we saw against Ulster on Friday night.”

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Premiership

New ‘British League’ to Begin Within Two Years

A club chairman has claimed that a ‘British League’ will be made within the next two years merging two major leagues together according to reports

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

An anonymous leading club chairman has told The Rugby Paper that a British League could be created in the next two years.

It is believed that the CVC group, whom are looking to secure a 27 percent share in the PRO14 following a similar deal with the English Premiership earlier this year, are looking to make a major change to the leagues.

The former owners of Formula One and Moto GP are apparently looking to merge the two competitions if they claim a stake in the PRO14.

With a deal sealed to buy into the Premiership during last season, the 13 clubs that own Premier Rugby Ltd will be receiving around £13.5m a piece following the completion of a deal worth around £275m.

It is thought that a similar deal would be on the cards for the PRO14 side’s if they claim their stake in the competition.

The merging of the competitions is of the best interest of the CVC group according to the source and they believe that the Welsh clubs would be very encouraged by the idea.

“A British League will happen in two years’ time. It will happen because it is the best outcome for the game in the four home countries and for CVC. It will appeal to the Welsh regions in particular and the Premiership clubs. Not one is profitable with the exception of Exeter and a British League will go along way towards providing stability,” they said.

The source went on to further discuss how the move could be a real boost for the Welsh regions especially.

“In Wales, it will be seen as the only opportunity to be sustainable Their regions lost between £5m-£6m last year. They have been kept going by the generosity of a few backers and the danger is they will get even fewer unless something radical is done. Fixtures like Cardiff Blues against Bristol, Dragons versus Gloucester, Ospreys against Bath and Scarlets against Saracens will stop the downward spiral of attendances in Wales,” they continued.

Although the Welsh regions appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of the potential merger, it seems as though the Irish provinces are not guaranteed to be involved and the league could go ahead without them.

“Commercially, they could be as much as 50 per cent better off. It will be important to have all four Irish provinces on board but, if necessary, we will go ahead and do it without them,” they finished.

The league is an interesting possibility, but it could cause potential problems by undermining the Champions and Challenge Cups, as well as they question of what happens to the Irish teams if they don’t sign up? All is up in the air at the moment and we will have to wait and see if this project becomes a reality.

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Rugby

Jones Adds Five More to England Training Squad

Eddie Jones has brought in five more players for this week’s World Cup training preparations, while three others have been sent away

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has named a 40-man squad for this week’s training camp in Bristol.

That means that Jones has added a further five players to the squad that trained last week, with Mike Brown, Alex Dombrandt, Marcus Smith, Tom Dunn and Ollie Thornley all coming in for a chance to impress.

However, Danny Cipriani, Sam Underhill and Anthony Watson have been sent off site to do specialised strength and conditioning training.

Jones has explained that the rotation of player’s duties is to keep the squad fresh and allow others to impress.

“Our preparation is about making sure the players peak for the World Cup. It’s not about being ready now for it. Some players we feel will benefit now from being away from the camp for a little bit and will do specialised strength and conditioning work. We want to keep the squad fresh and alive which is important and we want to make sure there is a little bit of cooperative competition for selection and edge around,” he said.

The head coach also spoke of how the workload will continue to increase for the squad this coming week while they train in Bristol.

“We are in Bristol this week as a bit of a change of scenery and pace. We have got good facilities and will continue to work very hard on particularly our physical conditioning but also our ability to implement our game plan under those physical conditions. The ante goes up again in this week. The players who have come in from the Premiership final will increase their contribution and the other guys are in their fourth week and are starting to get near good physical condition,” he added.

All of this work is in preparation for the World Cup however, England will play four warm-up games before the tournament itself. They face Wales on August 11th and 17th, before playing Ireland on August 24th and then Italy on September 6th.

The five players added to the squad will be hoping to impress over the next week and by bringing them in it shows Jones is still not certain of his final 31-man squad for Japan meaning places are up for grabs.

Check out the full 40-man training squad below.

Forwards

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 85 caps)

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 11 caps)

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 10 caps)

Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, uncapped)

Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby, uncapped)

Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)

Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)

Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps)

Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps)

George Kruis (Saracens, 32 caps)

Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 58 caps)

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 71 caps)

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Joe Marler (Harlequins, 59 caps)

Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 8 caps)

Brad Shields (Wasps, 8 caps)

Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps)

Jack Singleton (Saracens, uncapped)

Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 41 caps)

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 53 caps)

Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 17 caps)

Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons / Sale Sharks, 13 caps)

Backs

Mike Brown (Harlequins, 72 caps)

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)

Elliot Daly (Saracens, 30 caps)

Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps)

George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 55 caps)

Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 4 caps)

Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)

Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 40 caps)

Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 45 caps)

Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped)

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 33 caps)

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps)

Marcus Smith (Harlequins, upcapped)

Ben Spencer (Saracens, 3 caps)

Ben Te’o (unattached, 18 caps)

Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)

Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 32 caps)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 85 caps)

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Rugby

World Cup Winning Springbok James Small Passes Away

Legendary Springbok wing James Small has passed away at the age of 50

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Former South African World Cup winning winger James Small has sadly passed away at the age of 50 following a suspected heart attack. 

The 1995 World Cup winner was rushed to hospital on Tuesday night having suffered a suspected heart attack and has since passed on.

South African Rugby president Mark Alexander paid his respect to the former Springbok and talked about the impact he had.

“As a member of the triumphant World Cup squad from 1995, James will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of the South African public and we were devastated to hear of his passing. He always played with the type of passion and courage that encapsulate what Springbok rugby stands for, and he lived his life in the same way. At 50 years old, James Small died too young. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this very sad time,” he said.

Small scored 20 tries in 47 appearances for the Springboks between 1992 and 1997 and was a vital member of the World Cup winning squad.

He is also the fourth member of that South African winning squad to have passed away since their success. Coach Kitch Christie passed on in 1998 following a battle against leukaemia, flanker Ruben Kruger died of brain cancer in 2010 and scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen passed away from motor neuron disease in 2017.

Small also won the Currie Cup with the Sharks and Western Province, while also representing the Golden Lions in his provincial career.

He recently started a coaching career as Robert du Preez at NWU-Pukke and the Leopards before joining the Pirates as an assistant once more.

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