Ireland Captain Ciara Griffin will retire from international rugby following Saturday’s Autumn Test against Japan at the RDS.
Griffin, who has captained Ireland since 2018, will win her 41st cap this weekend.
The 27-year-old has been a totemic figure for Ireland in the back row, demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities through her on-field performances and, off the pitch, in inspiring a new generation of players.
A natural leader, Griffin’s passion for the green jersey has been evident since her Test debut against Wales in the 2016 Women’s Six Nations, and since then the Kerry native has become a standard bearer on and off the field, driving others around her and producing some memorable performances for Ireland.
Commenting on her decision, Griffin said: “It has been a childhood dream come true to play for my country. Being afforded the opportunity to captain the National Team has been the highest honour. It has been an incredible journey filled with many highs and lows and I am very grateful for all the life skills I have developed through my involvement in High Performance sport.
“It is a decision I have not come to lightly and after discussing it with my family ahead of the Autumn Tests, it is now time for me to turn my focus to my life outside of rugby and begin a new chapter. I would like to thank everyone for their unwavering support, and I look forward to supporting the team going forward.”
Ireland Head Coach, Adam Griggs, commented: “Ciara stood out to me right from our first training session as a genuine leader and someone that players respect and listen to. She wears her heart on her sleeve and it is that leadership style along with her passion and dedication to making people and the team better that has always been so effective.
“Ciara has led the way with her standards and what it takes to be a first class international, and I know in doing this has inspired so many young players to take up rugby and try to emulate her own journey. Irish Rugby will miss her, and we wish her all the best in retirement and the next chapter of her life.”
Women’s Six Nations 2022 schedule revealed
- All matches to be shown in the UK, Ireland and Italy
- The Women’s Six Nations remains in its own dedicated window in the calendar in March and April
- The introduction of ‘Super Saturday’ on April 30 is set to become a key highlight of the women’s rugby calendar
Fans are set to enjoy a greatly enhanced Women’s Six Nations in 2022 thanks to a massive increase in coverage on broadcast networks in the UK, Ireland and Italy and a confirmed stand-alone slot in the calendar.
The 2022 Championship will see all 15 matches broadcast on BBC in the UK, RTÉ and Virgin Media in Ireland and Sky Italia for the Italian market. Details for France will be communicated in due course.
Matches will be shown on a mix of terrestrial and Player services with broadcasters across territories significantly increasing their commitment to the women’s game.
Changes to the Women’s Six Nations window in 2021 proved a major success with high viewing figures and increased digital engagement indicating confirming that a new slot in the calendar can play a significant role in driving the growth of the women’s game.
The 2022 matches will also be played in a six-week window in late March and April, breaking the traditional link to the men’s calendar.
Scotland will open the Championship against 2021 champions England at DAM Health Stadium on 26th March, while Ireland will take on Wales at the RDS Arena on the same day.
Round 2 will take place on 2nd and 3rd April with Wales hosting Scotland at the Cardiff Arms Park while Ireland will travel to France on Saturday 2nd April. Meanwhile, England will travel to Italy for their game on Sunday 3rd April.
The third round will see England host Wales on Saturday 9th April with the other two matches taking place on Sunday 10th April when Scotland will host France and Italy will travel to Cork.
After a break weekend, Round 4 will start on Friday 22nd April in Cardiff with Wales v France. Italy v Scotland will be on Saturday 23rd and England will host Ireland on Sunday 24th April.
The Championship will end with a Super Saturday as Wales v Italy, Ireland v Scotland and France v England take place on the same day.
Six Nations CEO Ben Morel commented: “Increased visibility is key for the growth of the women’s game. We are delighted to have enhanced broadcast partnerships in place along with a continuation of the dedicated window from which we saw such success last year.
“These two key developments along with continued investment in many other areas including performance, commercial and marketing will enhance the Women’s Six Nations for fans and players alike.”
World Rugby approves birth right amendment for players to transfer unions
- New process can benefit players and the global competitiveness of rugby
- Fairness and integrity key principles that underpin the framework
- Approval follows extensive discussion and collaboration across the game
- Revised Regulation will apply from 1 January 2022
The World Rugby Council has approved an amendment to the sport’s regulations governing national team representation that will now permit an international player to transfer once from one union to another subject to demonstrating a close and credible link to that union via birth right.
From 1 January, 2022, in order to transfer from one union to another under the revised Regulation 8 (eligibility), a player will need to achieve the below criteria:
- The player must stand-down from international rugby for 36 months
- The player must either be born in the country to which they wish to transfer or have a parent or grandparent born in that country
- Under the revised Regulation 8 criteria, a player may only change union once and each case will be subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee to preserve integrity
After 1 January 2022, any player who meets the above criteria can apply immediately for a transfer.
The Regulation 8 revisions will also align the “age of majority” across 15s and sevens. All players will now be ‘captured’ at 18 years of age to simplify the Regulation and improve union understanding and compliance.
Approval of the amended regulation follows requests by emerging nations and a subsequent wide-ranging consultation process with member unions, regions and International Rugby Players examining the possibility of amending the principle within Regulation that stipulates that a player may only represent one union at international level, save for specific circumstances relating to participation in the Olympic Games.
The benefits of the amendment include:
- Simplicity and alignment: transfers are currently permitted in the context of participation in the Olympics in the sevens game. This amendment will create one aligned, simplified process across the game
- Development of emerging nations: the player depth of emerging nations may be improved by permitting players, who have close and credible links to the “emerging union” through birth or ancestry, to “return” to those unions having previously represented another union
- Player-focused approach: the process recognised the modern rugby environment, including global player movement, the current ability to capture players by selecting them on the bench, and the desire of some players to transfer having been selected a limited number of times for one union. It also examined the impact of any change on the integrity of the international competition landscape.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Approval of this landmark regulatory change is the culmination of detailed and widespread modelling and consultation across the game. We have listened to our membership and players and sought to update the regulation recognising the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game.
“Any player who wishes to transfer will need to have a close and credible link to their new union, namely birth right or parent or grandparent birth right while meeting strong criteria, including a 36-month stand down period. We believe that this is the fairest way to implement progressive change that puts players first while also having the potential to support a growing, increasingly competitive international men’s and women’s game.”
World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte added: “We have listened to our membership and honoured our pledge to undertake wide-ranging review of this important regulation. We have consulted, sought feedback from our unions, regions and most importantly to players’ representatives, before making a recommendation to the Council. This change to how international rugby operates will provide transformational opportunities to players with dual backgrounds, providing they meet the key criteria sets out in the Regulation 8.”
International Rugby Players CEO, Omar Hassanein said:“The proposal to change the rules around player eligibility is something that we have worked on over many years with our member associations. Many players across the world will now benefit from the chance to represent the country of their or their ancestors’ birth, serving as a real boost to the competitiveness of emerging nations, which in turn, will benefit the game as a whole.”
World Player of the Year nominees revealed
The rugby family can now cast their vote for six of the prestigious World Rugby Awards 2021 categories after the nominations selected by the star-studded panel were revealed on Monday.
Fans will be able to select their winners for the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year in sevens and 15s, as well as the International Rugby Players Men’s and Women’s Try of the Year scorers on the Awards’ voting website and join the conversation using #WorldRugbyAwards.
Voting will be open from 10:00 GMT on Monday, 15 November until 23:59 GMT on Sunday, 21 November.
The remaining six categories will be voted by the World Rugby Awards panel, a stellar team of rugby legends who will have the hard task of selecting winners for the World Rugby Breakthrough, Coach and Referee awards as well as the newly created Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of 2021.
To maintain the integrity of the outcome, the panel will have the opportunity to review the public voting to ensure the recipients are fitting winners in their respective category.
Nine countries are represented among the nominees in Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Wales, with France having the most representatives with eight, two more than England and New Zealand. Fiji are also rewarded for their teams’ performances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with four nominees in the Men’s and Women’s Sevens Player of the Year categories.
WORLD RUGBY AWARDS 2021 NOMINEES
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard (fan vote)
Antoine Dupont (France)
Michael Hooper (Australia)
Maro Itoje (England/British and Irish Lions)
Samu Kerevi (Australia)
Australia captain Michael Hooper – who became his country’s most-capped captain in September – and England’s Maro Itoje have both previously been nominated for the Award, but lively scrum-half Antoine Dupont becomes the first Frenchman to be nominated since 2012 while Samu Kerevi is rewarded for his impactful return to the Wallabies midfield in 2021 which saw them win five tests, their best run outside of a Rugby World Cup year since 2008.
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard (fan vote)
Zoe Aldcroft (England)
Caroline Boujard (France)
Poppy Cleall (England)
Laure Sansus (France)
Four first-time nominees in this category representing the two teams that have led the way in women’s rugby in 2021. Poppy Cleall and Zoe Aldcroft are two powerhouses of the England pack, both comfortable in either the second row and back row, while Caroline Boujard scored what is believed to be the joint-fastest hat-trick in Women’s Six Nations history against Wales in April. Laure Sansus’ selection, meanwhile, make it three years in a row that a French scrum-half has been nominated for the prestigious award.
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with Tudor (panel vote)
Will Jordan (New Zealand)
Andrew Kellaway (Australia)
Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
Marcus Smith (England)
Three flying wingers and an exciting talent at fly-half who have all lit up the international stage over the last year. Will Jordan is the second-fastest All Black to 15 test tries and has only failed to score in two of his 12 tests, while Andrew Kellaway is closing in on the Australian record for most tries in a debut season with eight in 12 tests in 2021. Louis Rees-Zammit became the youngest British and Irish Lion player for more than 50 years after impressing for Wales, while Marcus Smith has looked like a veteran in the England No.10 jersey since his debut in July.
World Rugby Coach of the Year (panel vote)
Allan Bunting/Cory Sweeney (New Zealand Women’s Sevens)
Ian Foster (New Zealand Men)
Simon Middleton (England Women)
Dave Rennie (Australia Men)
All first-time nominees split across sevens and 15s, Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney led New Zealand to Olympic gold in Tokyo, the one remaining accolade they were missing, while Simon Middleton led England to another Women’s Six Nations title and back-to-back record victories over world champions New Zealand in 2021. Ian Foster coached New Zealand to Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup success in a record-breaking year, while Dave Rennie has injected youth and experience into a Wallabies side that won five matches in a row, two of them against world champions South Africa.
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC (fan vote)
Napolioni Bolaca (Fiji)
Scott Curry (New Zealand)
Marcos Moneta (Argentina)
Jiuta Wainiqolo (Fiji)
The nominees blend the guile and experience of New Zealand’s co-captain and talisman Scott Curry to the fresh exuberance of youth of Argentina’s Marcos Moneta, the top try-scorer with six in Tokyo. Fiji continue their proud record of having at least one player among the nominees from 2013 onwards with two gold medallists in Napolioni Bolaca and Jiuta Wainiqolo, the latter marking his Fiji debut in a global sevens tournament with the opening try of Tokyo 2020 to quickly announce himself to the world.
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC (fan vote)
Anne-Cécile Ciofani (France)
Sarah Hirini (New Zealand)
Alowesi Nakoci (Fiji)
Reapi Ulunisau (Fiji)
New Zealand’s inspirational captain Sarah Hirini led the Black Ferns Sevens to the Olympic gold that had driven them on for the last five years, while Anne-Cécile Ciofani was a standout for France on the way to silver. Two players who helped inspire Fiji become their nation’s first female Olympic medallists are also nominated in Alowesi Nakoci and Reapi Ulunisau, the latter belying the fact it was her debut in a global tournament by finishing as top try-scorer with eight, including a record four against Brazil in the pool stage.
International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year (fan vote)
Lukhanyo Am (South Africa A, v British and Irish Lions on 14 July)
Pierre-Louis Barassi (France, v Australia on 17 July)
Luke Jacobson (New Zealand, v Argentina on 12 September)
Damian Penaud (France, v Scotland on 26 March)
Three tries that began deep in their own 22 from a free-kick or scrum and were quickly turned into tries after free-flowing attacks and the fourth a run back from a clearing kick to halfway. Damian Penaud’s try against Scotland in the Six Nations saw the winger gather his own chip dot down, while France team-mate Pierre-Louis Barassi finished off a move that had begun five metres from their own line against Australia in July. Cheslin Kolbe’s dancing feet and offload released Lukhanyo Am to score for South Africa A against the British and Irish Lions, while an outrageous offload from Beauden Barrett was gratefully received by Luke Jacobson to finish another flowing move from the All Blacks in The Rugby Championship against Argentina.
International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year (fan vote)
Sara Barattin (Italy, v Scotland on 13 September)
Emilie Boulard (France, v Wales on 3 April)
Abby Dow (England, v France on 30 April)
Romane Ménager (France, v Ireland on 17 April)
Two French tries in the Women’s Six Nations, one to round out an impressive debut from Emilie Boulard late on against Wales when she finished off a slick passing move in the corner and the other another run-in from back-row Romane Ménager against Ireland. England swung the ball wide quickly from a lineout to find Abby Dow, the winger running around the outside of the defender to race in against hosts France a week after their Six Nations final triumph. The final nominee comes from the RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier, hosts Italy stealing an overthrown Scottish lineout near halfway to quickly send Sara Barattin over near the posts.
After a special edition in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prestigious World Rugby Awards return in 2021 to celebrate on-field achievements of the calendar year and recognise the teams and individuals who have inspired players and fans around the world. The pandemic has continued to impact the international stage with a number of teams having only returned to test rugby in the last couple of months.
Placed at the end of the November international window, the biggest accolades in rugby union will be virtually handed to their recipients from 6-10 December. The 12 categories will be unveiled on World Rugby social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (@WorldRugby).
The other categories to be awarded next month are the World Rugby Referee Award, the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service and the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of the Year in association with Capgemini.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Awards are the ultimate accolade for rugby, and we are delighted to honour the outstanding players and individuals who have made an impact on our game on and off the field in 2021.
“The pandemic and its consequences have restricted several unions from playing international games this year and we recognise that not all rugby stars have had a chance to shine. Nevertheless, the World Rugby Awards Panel has done an amazing job in selecting suitable candidates in each category and I would like to congratulate all nominees who, deservingly, have been shortlisted for this year’s awards.”