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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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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.

Rugby

Cross-Fit filling the ‘rugby void’ for Curtis following tumour diagnosis.

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A young player who found out he had a brain tumour after getting knocked out in a rugby match has resigned himself to the fact he might never play the sport again.

However, Curtis has found a new physical programme to fill the void and is calling on his friends from the world of rugby to help support it.

Around a year ago Curtis, 24, got involved with Crossfit through Clic Sargent, a UK charity for children and young people battling cancer.

He said:

“Crossfit is functional fitness. It’s basically competitive exercise, gymnastics movements, weightlifting movements and cardio where you’re scored on how many reps you can do in a certain amount of time.”

“I found out about Clic Sargent’s Move Forward exercise programme last November after a chance meeting in a burrito bar.

“The programme was set up by Simon Darby who is my social worker through Clic Sargent.

“A couple of us excelled at the programme and now we’re involved in competition. I’m onto my fourth competition now.”

The head injury Curtis sustained in a match for Instonians alerted doctors to the fact that he had a potentially life-threatening brain tumour.

If his cancer had gone undetected and untreated, Curtis could have suffered a massive seizure and possibly even died.

Curtis, who grew up in Newtownabbey and now lives in south Belfast, said getting knocked out during that rugby match undoubtedly saved his life, but he knows his cancer could return at some point in the future.

He has a tattoo as a permanent reminder of those life-changing events.

Asked if he had given up on playing rugby, he said:

“I went back to rugby training but I couldn’t play rugby anymore. I was just doing the training and standing out when it came to contact.”

“The possibilities are very unlikely that I’ll play rugby again.

“Crossfit keeps me happy. You get the deep sweat on. When I’m with my team, it’s very like rugby. You have to dig deep for your team.”

The fundraising event Curtis has organised at Crossfit HQ at Weaver’s Court in Belfast on November 24 is for rugby clubs in NI to compete and raise money for Clic Sergeant to promote the Move Forward programme.

Check out the event poster and get in touch for more details! Support the rugby family.

Article seen first on the Newsletter

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Rugby

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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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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Jones Looking into Coaching Code Switch

England head coach Eddie Jones has been a part of some of the biggest teams in Rugby Union history, but it seems as though he might want to make a name for himself in Rugby League now according to reports

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England head coach Eddie Jones is eyeing a coaching career in Rugby League at some point in the future according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.

Jones, who guided England to the Rugby World Cup final in Japan earlier this month, only to fall at the final hurdle 32-12 to South Africa, is apparently hoping to change codes, moving from union to league, and wants to take over the South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

The Australian rugby league side are currently under the management of Wayne Bennent, former star in the sport. However, Jones would like to replace him in his position once his time in the role comes to an end the report claims. 

“The noise around Eddie Jones had him in line for the Wallabies coaching job — but the truth is there is another gig that he really covets. NRL clubs take note, Jones would like a crack at rugby league at some point in his career. Even though he has one of the highest-profile and highest-paying positions in world rugby, there is a part of Jones that wants to test himself. As far as tests go, taking on an NRL job is a big one. From what I can gather, he has told mates that taking over from Wayne Bennett when he finishes at Souths appeals. He has a soft spot for the club. It’s doubtful the Rabbitohs would be aware of his ambitions because he has only shared his league thoughts with a select few,” the piece in the Herald reads. 

Having been a part of international set-ups such as Australia, South Africa, Japan and now England it would be a huge call if he decided to move as it would see him leave one of the biggest jobs in union to shift to a less luxurious club-based job in league. 

However, it is thought that Jones wants a new challenge and this could be it. His current contract with the English national side is set to expire come 2021, with many expecting him to be offered an extension following their World Cup campaign and lead them to the 2023 edition of the tournament, but this urge for a new challenge could make that a little more complicated. 

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