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The two surprise Wales stars who make ITV pundits’ Six Nations team of the tournament

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Picking a team of a tournament is a challenge that in normal times most people would enjoy having a crack at down the pub.

Even then, opinion would probably be split on the outcome.

So it’s no surprise that the offering of Tom Shanklin and Dave Flatman, in their podcast for ITV Sport, hasn’t been met with applause from all who’ve come across it.

Some Scottish fans, in particular, are aggrieved over the pair naming just one Scotland player, Rory Sutherland, in their line-up.

But there’ll be less criticism from Wales, with three Welsh players getting the nod.

Leigh Halfpenny is named at full-back, Ken Owens at hooker and Justin Tipuric at openside flanker.

Few can surely argue with Tipuric’s inclusion.

The openside from Trebanos has been operating at such a level he’s in contention to be named player of the tournament. He walked off with the official man-of-the-match award against Italy and was arguably Wales’ best player in their three other games, with his performance against England outstanding.

The selection of Halfpenny and Owens has provoked plenty of online debate.

At full-back, some felt Scotland’s Stuart Hogg should have been the choice. One post on Twitter suggested that apart from his howler against Ireland, when he dropped the ball over the line, the Exeter Chief had been “in a class of his own at 15”.

Halfpenny’s admirers will point out he performed strongly against Italy and largely steadily in the other three matches.

But perhaps the No. 15 who could feel hard done by is France’s Anthony Bouthier, with the Montpellier man running superbly in attack, displaying calm under the high ball and kicking accurately and with distance, never more so than when unleashing a 90-metre hoof upfield against England, an effort that became known as the spiral than went viral after thousands checked it out online.

One or two in Wales were wondering whether Owens had strayed into last-chance saloon territory before the game with England. But the statistics suggest The Sheriff, as the 33-year-old is known, has been performing.

Indeed, Wales have won more line-outs than any other side in the Six Nations so far, with 48, and their hooker has carried the ball more times (32) than any other No. 2 and made 51 successful tackles, missing just one.

Statistically, then, he has been on the money.

The same applies to a Welsh player who didn’t make Shanklin and Flatman’s team.

Nick Tompkins produced largely excellent displays against Italy, France and England. Against the French, he made more ball carries in a single game than any other Wales back in Six Nations history and he triggered Tipuric’s spectacular try against England.

But he loses out to Manu Tuilagi for the No. 13 spot.

Many will tip their hats to the powerful England man, but the facts are that Tompkins has made 43 carries and 297 metres with ball in hand against Tuilagi’s 20 and 143 metres, the Wales centre has made 196 metres with the boot while his rival hasn’t kicked at all, Tompkins has sent out 45 passes compared with Tuilagi’s six, Tompkins has offloaded six times while Tuilagi has done so just once.

You get the idea.

Only in the area of defence has Tuilagi performed noticeably better than the Saracen.

Maybe if a Lions squad were picked tomorrow Wales’ find of the season would be in it.

The team of the tournament : Leigh Halfpenny (Wales); Andrew Conway (Ireland), Manu Tuilagi (England), Owen Farrell (England), Johnny May (England); Romain Ntamack (France), Antoine Dupont (France); Rory Sutherland (Scotland), Ken Owens (Wales),Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Bernard Le Roux (France), Tom Curry (England) Justin Tipuric (Wales), Gregory Alldritt (France).



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Limerick’s Okeke one of three promoted Greencore Munster Rugby Academy

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THREE players join year one of the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy ahead of the 2021/22 season.

After starring for the Irish U20’s in the Six Nations, Limerick’s Daniel Okeke has joined the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.

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The Year One recruits are scrum-half Ethan Coughlan (Shannon RFC), prop Mark Donnelly (Garryowen FC) and back-row forward Okeke (Shannon RFC).

28 May 2021; Daniel Okeke of Ireland U20 during the match between Ireland U20 and Leinster A at Energia Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Limerick’s Okeke started out at Thomond RFC before playing his schools rugby with Ardscoil Rís, producing some standout moments in the 2019 Schools Senior Cup campaign.

Advancing through the National Talent Squad programme Daniel lined out for Munster A in December 2020 and was included in Richie Murphy’s Ireland Squad for the 2021 Six Nations Championship. The 19-year-old scored a try against Wales and made his first start against Italy.

He plays his club rugby with Shannon RFC.

As previously confirmed nine of the Academy group advanced to senior Munster contracts for 2021/22 – Thomas Ahern (Lock/Shannon), Jack Crowley (Out-half/Cork Constitution), Jack Daly (Back-row forward/Garryowen), Jake Flannery (Out-half/Shannon), Ben Healy (Out-half/Garryowen), John Hodnett (Back-row forward/UCC), James French (Prop/UCC), Seán French (Centre/Cork Constitution), Josh Wycherley (Prop/Young Munster).

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy 2021/22

As always there may be further additions over the coming months.

Year Three: Paddy Kelly (Lock/Garryowen), Eoin O’Connor (Lock/Young Munster), Paddy Patterson (Scrum-half/UCD), Jonathan Wren (Back three/Cork Constitution).

Year Two: Scott Buckley (Hooker/UCC), Cian Hurley (Lock/Garryowen), Alex Kendellen (Back-row forward/UCC), Conor Phillips (Winger/Young Munster)

Year One: Ethan Coughlan (Scrum-half/Shannon), Mark Donnelly (Prop/Garryowen), Daniel Okeke (Back-row forward/Shannon)

The post Limerick’s Okeke one of three promoted Greencore Munster Rugby Academy appeared first on Sporting Limerick.

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Duchess Kate to be handed Prince Harry’s former role by the Queen

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Duchess Kate is reportedly going to be handed various sporting patronages by the Queen, these were roles that were previously held by the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.


Duchess Kate will be the new patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Football League (RFL), reports The Sunday Times.

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Munster Rugby | Trio Join Greencore Munster Rugby Academy

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Three players join year one of the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The Year One recruits are scrum-half Ethan Coughlan (Shannon RFC), prop Mark Donnelly (Garryowen FC) and back-row forward Daniel Okeke (Shannon RFC).

As previously confirmed nine of the Academy group advanced to senior Munster contracts for 2021/22 – Thomas Ahern (Lock/Shannon), Jack Crowley (Out-half/Cork Constitution), Jack Daly (Back-row forward/Garryowen), Jake Flannery (Out-half/Shannon), Ben Healy (Out-half/Garryowen), John Hodnett (Back-row forward/UCC), James French (Prop/UCC), Seán French (Centre/Cork Constitution), Josh Wycherley (Prop/Young Munster).

In April it was also confirmed that Academy hooker Eoghan Clarke made the move to English Championship club Jersey Reds.

After completing his third year, Jonathan Wren extends his time in the Academy after a hamstring injury hampered his development last season, while Paddy Patterson links up with the Academy group after extending his stay with the province.

The former Leinster Academy scrum-half made the move on a short-term deal in January but his involvement was curtailed due to an ankle injury sustained in March.

See player bios of the new Academy recruits, and the full listing of the group below.

Ethan Coughlan – Scrum-half

From Clare, Coughlan won the U16 Munster title in 2018 and shared the U18 Cup title honours in 2020 with his club side Ennis RFC as his progression from club and regional development squads saw him feature for Munster and Ireland at U18 Clubs level.

He captained the Ireland U18 Clubs in Italy in 2019 under Head Coach Fiach O’Loughlin before signing up with All Ireland League side Shannon RFC.

For the 2020/21 season he joined several Munster senior training sessions providing cover at 9 and featured for the Munster A side.

A member of the National Talent Squad, the 19-year-old was included in the Ireland U20s Talent Camp in May.

Mark Donnelly – Prop

Mark Donnelly won a Munster Schools Senior Cup with CBC in 2019 and has represented Ireland at U18 and U20 level.

At the beginning of the 2020/21 season, the Garryowen tighthead was involved for Munster 7s in the IRFU’s inaugural HPC Sevens Series and represented Munster A in interprovincial clashes with Ulster A and Leinster A.

Most recently the 20-year-old featured for Ireland in the 2021 U20 Six Nations and lined out against Scotland, Wales and England.

Daniel Okeke – Back-row forward

Limerick’s Daniel Okeke started out at Thomond RFC before playing his schools rugby with Ardscoil Rís, producing some standout moments in the 2019 Schools Senior Cup campaign.

Advancing through the National Talent Squad programme Daniel lined out for Munster A in December 2020 and was included in Richie Murphy’s Ireland Squad for the 2021 Six Nations Championship. The 19-year-old scored a try against Wales and made his first start against Italy.

He plays his club rugby with Shannon RFC.

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy 2021/22

As always there may be further additions over the coming months.

Year Three: Paddy Kelly (Lock/Garryowen), Eoin O’Connor (Lock/Young Munster), Paddy Patterson (Scrum-half/UCD), Jonathan Wren (Back three/Cork Constitution).

Year Two: Scott Buckley (Hooker/UCC), Cian Hurley (Lock/Garryowen), Alex Kendellen (Back-row forward/UCC), Conor Phillips (Winger/Young Munster)

Year One: Ethan Coughlan (Scrum-half/Shannon), Mark Donnelly (Prop/Garryowen), Daniel Okeke (Back-row forward/Shannon)

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