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Rhys Webb speaks about his future after his family return home to Wales.

Big call from the Webb’s

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Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Wales scrumhalf Rhys Webb is having to say goodbye to his family as they return home after struggling to settle in France.

Webb signed a 3 year contract for French side Toulon in the summer which ultimately ends his international career as he has yet to reach the required caps to play outside of Wales and still represent his country.

The news was confirmed by Webb’s fiancée, Delyth Hewitt  in an emotional blog in which she confirms she will head back to Wales with their three children, Regan, 8, Jesse 3, and baby Remi. Webb will remain in Toulon further highlighting the pressures that players and and their families face when moving abroad.

In her blog she stated:

“Of course, there are moments where I have doubts: is this really a realistic idea? Leaving Rhys here and taking the boys back? But the truth is, I don’t really know what it’s going to be like.

“I know it’s going to be amazing being around family and friends again and it’ll be lovely to not have to stare blankly at someone who speaks rapid French to me in the supermarket or remember ‘passenger to pavement’ whenever I find myself driving on unfamiliar roads and my instinct is to come off the roundabout the wrong way (again). But it’s going to be horrible being away from Rhys.

“Now I’m ok with my own company, I’m a bit of a hermit anyway, and we’re only 7 hours door to door away, but still.. it’s that extra pair of hands around; the company you enjoy sitting in silence with after a long day of finding responses to satisfy Jesse’s constant intrigue; a different (and apparently more authoritative) voice for the boys to hear telling them to “LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE” or him being there take the boys outside to practice rugby drills in the garden. Either way, what we both know is that their happiness and their fulfillment is paramount, and we’re so so proud of the effort they and their friends have put in trying to adapt to their new lifestyle.

“So (in a few weeks) we go again, on another little adventure. Only this time to more familiar territory…..”

But Webb will stay where he is. He is in the first term of a three-year contract on the Cote D’Azur and says his commitment to Toulon will remain full-on.

“We made the decision for Delyth and the kids to go back to Wales because we thought it would be in the boys’ best interest,” said Webb.

“It hasn’t been working out for one of my sons, Regan, in particular, and when that happens you take action to improve the situation.

“I’m under contract with Toulon and I am going to do my best to make the new situation work.

Webb is unavailable to Wales and Warren Gatland under the rule that bars exiled players from featuring for their country unless they have 60 or more caps. But he isn’t thinking about that right now.

“Playing for Wales always meant a huge amount and I still feel sad that particular privilege has been put out of my reach,” he said.

“But it’s not something I can afford to think about at this point.

“Family issues are to the fore now and have to take all my attention.”

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images


International

Savea back at the helm of the Hurricanes

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All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea will captain the Hurricanes again for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

Savea, who will have his 11th season in the side, will mark his first appearance in the competition by playing his 120th game.

The Hurricanes’ season opens against the Reds in round one.

Savea said: “I’m looking forward to the season, especially getting out to the communities, when we play in Levin against the Crusaders for our pre-season game and Palmerston North against the Western Force on Sunday, April 2.

“We’ve just moved into our new facility, and there’s something awesome about change; it’s brought in a lot of energy. It’s refreshing to come in and be in a new space alongside other professional teams. Hopefully, being here can help us move forward and prepare well for our games.”

The facility is part of the New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport at what was the Central Institute of Technology at Trentham and houses, several Wellington-based teams.

Coach Jason Holland was delighted to be able to call on Savea’s leadership ability again.

“Ardie is a special leader. He’s the sort of guy you want to follow in whatever he does. He’s worked hard at his leadership around all the small details, around how to get the best out of the people around him.

“He’s been good at driving us as a group, players and management, about being well-planned and clear in our roles in what we’re leading.

“Ards has a great relationship with all the boys and cares about them and the team and that shows in the way he leads.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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International

Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity

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James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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6 Nations

RTÉ And Virgin Media Confirm Details Of Free-To-Air Six Nations Coverage

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RTÉ and Virgin Media Television today announced details of its joint Guinness Six Nations coverage, where the action will be free-to-air for supporters in the Republic of Ireland.

Kicking off on Friday, 3 February, this year’s Six Nations coverage will include all fixtures from Ireland’s Men’s, Women’s and U20 tournaments.

The partnership will see all games equally aired across both broadcasters again this year.

The 2023 Men’s Six Nations will open with Ireland v Wales on Virgin Media One, followed by England v Scotland on RTÉ2. Ireland will then take on current champions France on Saturday, 11 February.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations will begin on Sunday, 26 March with Wales v Ireland.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the Aviva Stadium, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Joe Molloy were joined on stage by members of their broadcast teams this year including pundits Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television), and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team.

Commenting, Head of RTÉ Sport, Declan McBennett said: “With this being a great year for rugby, there is added excitement about this year’s Six Nations which RTÉ is once again bringing to sports fans all over the country free-to-air along with Virgin Media Ireland as part of our historic partnership which we launched last year.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Irish rugby and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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