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New Japanese League to be Set Up

A new Japanese rugby league is in the pipeline which could cause major problems for the Southern Hemisphere’s power countries

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Japanese Rugby Football Union vice-president Katsuyuki Kiyomiya has confirmed that plans are being put in place for a new domestic league in the country to continue the rise of the sport in Japan.

Kiyomiya spoke to Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei and explained how the national team’s rise in the sport, which has seen them reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup, has aided them with their decision to put together a new league come 2021. 

“This World Cup is a big event Japanese rugby has not experienced before and we are tested on how we take the excitement and enthusiasm created by this event to the next level. Now is the chance to start a professional league, which enables Japanese spectators to see star players in the World Cup 2019 playing at first hand, right in front of their eyes,” he said. 

The vice-president confirmed that they would hold a press conference on November the 18th where they will discuss the plans and ambitions for the new competition which they say will run from August to January each year. 

This schedule could cause tensions between the clubs in Japan and the Southern Hemisphere nations as their players could sign on for the season in Japan while also playing Super Rugby but that would mean that they could miss their international games. 

Kiyomiya believes that this new league would bring in annual revenues of around 50 billions yen which would allow the league and its teams to compete with the financial power of European leagues such as the Top 14 in France

The fear for the likes of countries like New Zealand would be that their players may use their contracts, which allow for a move to Japan before returning home, to go play in the new league while missing the international season. 

Worries will be there for the likes of Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick signing new contracts this year will provide for a sabbatical in Japan which could cause major problems.

The new league would replace the current Top League which contains 16 teams with the proposed new league reducing to 12 teams. 

All of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have already faced struggles when it comes to keeping their star names and this would add further complications to that big problem. 

We will have to wait and see what happens over the next couple of months but not only could we see countries finding it hard to get players to play internationally if the league goes ahead but for Super Rugby players it could lead to them becoming burned out as they try to play all year round between the two leagues. However, it would allow the Japanese players to continue to improve as they mix among the world’s best.

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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Rugby

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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Rugby

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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