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Former Irish Captain takes up role with South Africa Rugby

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Photo APO Group via Getty Images

SA Rugby has re-focused its approach to women’s rugby as a major strategic objective for the organisation, Jurie Roux, CEO, said on Thursday.

The Springbok Women will take part in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in September and will do so with the support of SA Rugby’s first High Performance Manager for Women’s Rugby.

Roux announced that former Ireland captain, Lynne Cantwell, had been lured to South Africa to fill the role in a departmental rejigging.

“If we’re serious about women’s rugby – and we are – we had to make a serious appointment, and we have,” said Roux.

“Lynne comes on board at a time when we have committed to growing the game amongst women – a directive from World Rugby and a South African national imperative – and she will work closely with Rassie Erasmus (Director of Rugby), Charles Wessels (GM: Rugby) and Springbok Women’s head coach Stanley Raubenheimer to improve the women’s game in South Africa.”

Cantwell, who served as an Executive Committee Board member with Sport Ireland, said: “Globally women’s rugby has been recognised as the strategic growth area for the game where it is experiencing rapid transformation as a result of World Rugby’s focus.

“At SA Rugby, we are committed to progress but recognize the work that needs to be done to repair and rebuild in order to move forward.

“I think the women’s rugby community in South Africa has a unique identity and strength, with a bright future. I look forward to working with everyone to design an environment that allows South African women’s talent to thrive,” she added.

Lynne Cantwell is SA Rugby’s new Women’s Rugby High Performance Manager

Cantwell holds a degree in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick in Ireland and has a Masters in Physiotherapy from Southampton University in England. The former outside centre, who amassed 86 Test caps for Ireland, said joining SA Rugby affords her a number of exciting challenges.

“I am excited and naturally a bit nervous about the big move over to South Africa for me and my family, but I feel incredibly comforted by the warm welcome I have been given internally at SA Rugby, by the players and management, and the provincial CEOs,” said Cantwell.

“I am intensely motivated to progress women’s rugby and women’s involvement in rugby, and the backing a leadership level from Jurie, Rassie and Charles was central to my decision to join the team.”

Erasmus said the role and appointment was made after a critical re-evaluation of SA Rugby’s approach to women’s rugby.

“We have a rugby department and had a manager for women’s rugby, and we had done as much as we knew but we realised we lacked expertise and experience in the women’s high performance area,” said Erasmus.

“We re-focused our approach and we’re very glad and excited to be able to bring someone with Lynne’s experience and skills into the South African environment.

“We’re realistic about the fact that the short-term impact might not be all that obvious in results, but I have no doubt that the skills transfer and long-term impact will be a massive benefit to women’s rugby in South Africa.”

Press Release from Springboks Rugby

6 Nations

Women’s Six Nations 2022 schedule revealed

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Photo by Jan Kruger - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Imagesges

  • 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.

Women's Six Nations fixtures

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.”

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Autumn Nations Cup

World Rugby approves birth right amendment for players to transfer unions

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  • 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.” 

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Womens Rugby

Ciara Griffin Announces Decision To Retire From International Rugby

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

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.”

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