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Irish Rugby | Ireland Raise The Bar In Training Ahead Of Women’s Six Nations Restart



With just five weeks until the resumption of the Women’s Six Nations campaign, Ireland stepped up their preparations for the return of international rugby with another squad training day at the IRFU High Performance Centre on Saturday.

Adam Griggs‘ squad are building towards the rescheduled Championship fixtures against Italy and France in October and Saturday’s squad get-together was another important step towards a busy Autumn schedule, which will also see Ireland compete in the Rugby World Cup 2021 European Qualifiers in December.

Following on from their return to group training earlier this month, the Ireland squad were back on the training paddock at the IRFU HPC as the group work hard to restore cohesion and momentum in advance of the Round 4 visit of Italy on the weekend of 24th October.

While the suspension of the Championship and subsequent six-month break came at a particularly frustrating time for Ireland following exciting and progressive victories over Scotland and Wales, Head Coach Griggs has been pleased with the application of the players upon their return.

“There is a really good buzz around the group at the moment,” he told “Obviously Covid stopped our Six Nations campaign back in March and we felt like we were building some really good momentum. It’s good to now be back and continue that process again.

“The girls have a really good understanding of how we want to play and the steps we need to make going forward. We want to start well and have our preparation at a very high standard, we have standards we set ourselves and we are continually look to raise the bar. It has been a really encouraging return to training for us and we’re motivated to build on that each week.”

With the two Six Nations fixtures in the diary, and the Rugby World Cup 2021 European Qualifiers to be played as a single round-robin tournament on the weekends of 5th, 12th and 19th December, there is now a clear picture for the squad to work towards in the coming months, providing real clarity and positivity for the group.

A series of two-day camps, the first of which takes place at the IRFU HPC on the weekend of 26th September, will be invaluable for Ireland as they look to put the foundations in place for a busy international window, starting with that Test match against Italy.

“A lot of planning goes on behind the scenes throughout a season so having those dates locked in is certainly something that helps us work towards,” Griggs says of the fixture list. “It allows us to plan, ensure our structures are right and that we’re building up to the games in October in the best possible way.

“We’ll have our full squad back together for our two-day camp on Saturday week and that’ll be really important for us. There are four camps leading into the Six Nations and getting the bodies ready for the contact and intensity that a Test match brings will be a priority. The intensity in training is important and we’ll be making sure we’re ready to go against Italy.”

The Head Coach adds: “There will be no excuses – we want to make sure that we go out there and play to the best of our ability. We want consistency in our performance and we want to make sure we’re heading in the right direction for December and the World Cup Qualifiers which ultimately is what our season will be judged on.”

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World Cup

Rugby club World Cup plans ‘progressing nicely’



Plans for a club World Cup, every four years but not before 2024, are “progressing very nicely”, according to Vincent Gaillard, head of the body that organises European Cup rugby.

“The project is progressing really very nicely, even if the political environment is never simple,” Gaillard, CEO of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), told AFP on Monday.

“It is moving forward in consultation with all interested stakeholders, including the southern hemisphere countries and World Rugby.”

Gaillard added: “It’s advancing, still on the principle that the EPCR represents the interests of the northern hemisphere, based on a four-yearly format and with a date for the first tournament yet to be decided but not before 2024.”

Launched by Bernard Laporte, president of the French rugby federation, during his successful campaign to be named World Rugby vice-president, the club World Cup aims to bring together the eight best teams from the two hemispheres.

Gaillard added that a new deal had been signed between EPCR and federations guaranteeing European Cups through until at least 2030.

“It’s very good news,” Gaillard said, adding that next season’s format for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will likely be 24 teams divided into two pools of 12.

But he warned that South African franchises would not be part of the elite competition.

“There will be no South African clubs in the European Cup next season, that’s for sure,” Gaillard said.

“In the Challenge Cup, theoretically, it is possible. We are looking at the possibility, but it is quite unlikely. There are details to settle, especially at the Pro 16 level.”

Source: News24

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The Telegraph’s 10 young England players to watch from 2015 seems cursed



Following the disastrous World Cup campaign in 2015 and the appointment of Eddie Jones, the Telegraph’s writers selected the untried or under-used young players available.

To be frank, their selection didn’t turn out great with only Maro Itoje and Elliot Daly really establishing themselves as regular internationals since.

If anything, it seems like their list was cursed with two players now retired with five others failing to win a cap since then…

1. Maro Itoje 

They wrote: “The 21-year-old degree-studying lock has already shown that he has the maturity, the skill and the presence to make an impact at international level. All he needs is the opportunity.”

Where he is now:  In the time since, he’s won four Premiership titles, three European Rugby Champions Cup titles, and three Six Nations Championship titles, playing in a Rugby World Cup final and winning 48 caps in the process. He also won three caps for the Lions in New Zealand in 2017.

Itoje was also selected for the British and Irish Lions for their tour of New Zealand, being the youngest player named in the 41-man squad, aged 22. He was one of the standout players on the tour, scoring one try against the Maori All Blacks and appearing in all three tests against the All Blacks.

2. Jack Clifford

They wrote: “The 22-year-old back-row forward has already seen four of his 2013 England Under 20s World Championship side graduate to full honours and as captain of that victorious side he has every right to be itching to emulate them. Comfortable in all three back-row positions.”

Where he is now: He was included in Eddie Jones first ever squad, making his debut during the 2016 Six Nations, but just wasn’t able to stay fit. He did win 10 caps, under Jones but was forced to retire earlier in 2020.


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Rugby morning headlines as Lions players set to jump Covid-19 jabs queue and Wales star reveals depth of gambling problem



Here are your rugby morning headlines for Monday, May 17.

Lions players to move up jabs list

The British and Irish Lions squad are set to be moved up the list to receive their full Covid-19 vaccinations before travelling to South Africa.

Many of the players are yet to have even their first jabs due to the age-based schedule being rolled out across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

But the Times report UK cabinet ministers have urged Boris Johnson to move the players, as well as Team GB’s Olympians to the top of the list to receive their jabs.

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, is understood to be convinced of the case for giving jabs to the squad.

The Lions’ first match in South Africa will be held on July 3.

Do agree with the Lions players moving to the top of the vaccination list? Have your say in the comments below

Welsh international opens up on gambling addiction

Former Wales international Scott Baldwin has candidly opened up on the extent of his gambling struggles.

Baldwin, who earned the last of his 34 Wales caps back in 2017, has lifted the lid on how a crippling betting addiction impacted his career both on and off the pitch.

It started to become a real issue when the hooker was loaned to a team in Milan from the Ospreys a decade ago and he became addicted to online roulette.

It progressed to such an extent that on the day of the biggest game of his career, the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against South Africa, he was gambling until just 10 minutes before he got on the team bus for Twickenham.

“I remember the morning of the World Cup quarter-final,” he told RugbyPass.

“Looking back now it [gambling] was an excuse to take my mind off the game, to take my mind off my stresses and it would be a release for me. I just remember the morning of the quarter-final I was on my phone gambling literally up until 10 minutes before we left on the bus thinking ‘oh this is keeping me relaxed’ but actually it was probably the worst thing I could have been doing because consciously or subconsciously I’d be thinking about it 24/7.

“In the end, I had a moment where I won a lot and then lost a lot and I had a chat with my wife about it. Then I got approached by the BBC, someone I know in Wales who knew a little about my issues. He didn’t know much depth about it because I kept it quite personal, but he asked me would I be willing to do a podcast on it because he thought it would help other people so I agreed.

“I never intended to be as honest as I was in that conversation but when I was in there I felt it was the right thing to do and I thought if it helps one person it’s worth doing, but I hadn’t actually told my father-in-law about my addiction. As soon as I got off the pod I phoned my wife and said I needed to speak to your dad and I was thinking the worst.

“I was thinking he was going to disown me, that he is not going to be happy. He had never given me any reason to think this, this was just my thoughts, but he listened to the podcast, phoned me up and said how proud he was of me for doing that.”

Dean Ryan fires warning at PRO14 bosses

Dean Ryan has issued a warning to Guinness PRO14 chiefs who have introduced new law trials for the Rainbow Cup.

‘Be careful’ was the message from the Dragons boss after his side’s 42-26 defeat to the Ospreys on Sunday afternoon.

During the match, Ollie Griffiths – playing for the first time since March after overcoming a bicep injury – was penalised following a captain’s challenge from the Ospreys’ Justin Tipuric.

The polarising law trial was brought in for this competition and resulted in Griffiths being pinged for a high tackle on Owen Watkin in the first half of the match.

It’s a trial that has been a huge source of debate and been scrapped in the southern hemisphere after it was trialled in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Ryan seemed to suggest he wanted the same to happen in the north.

“It’s difficult for referees but those who have imposed a trial on us need to be very careful what they’re after,” said Ryan.

“We’ve got people asking for high shots to be reviewed and ultimately somebody could get sent off. Is that really what we want our game to be?

“We’ve just got to work it out. Ollie Griffiths hasn’t played for a number of weeks. We had one last week as well.

“It’s a trial and it’s great learning. Please learn from it and do something with it.

“You’ve got to look at its unintended consequences. I understand why it was introduced but I think elaborating on what the TMO can come in for might solve it.

“We certainly don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where professionals [players] are looking at things like foul play. I don’t think that’s where the game needs to go.”

You can read everything the Dragons boss had to say here.

The Gallagher Premiership rumour mill

England international Denny Solomona has held talks with Bristol Bears boss Pat Lam over a move from Sale Sharks, according to The Rugby Paper.

Solomona, who hails from Auckland just like Lam, is under contract up at Sale next season, but the Sharks have seemingly allowed the winger to speak with their Premiership rivals over a potential move.

The prolific try-scorer has scored 47 tries in 92 games for the AJ Bell outfit.

Also, fellow England international Henry Thomas is a target for La Rochelle, according to the same outlet.

The tighthead, who has seven Test caps to his name. has been with Bath for seven seasons but is out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronan O’Gara is thought to be eyeing up a move for the prop ahead of next season.

And, finally, Perpignon are reportedly interested in landing Harlequins flyer Nathan Earle.

The French outfit have just won the Pro D2 and, according to The Rugby Paper, are interested in signing the former Saracens winger to bolster their squad ahead of next season’s Top 14 campaign.

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