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

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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 IrishRugby.ie. “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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Clive Sullivan: Trailblazing Great Britain captain to be honoured at 2021 Rugby League World Cup | Rugby League News

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Welsh winger Clive Sullivan was the first Black athlete to captain a British national team and skippered Great Britain to glory in the 1972 World Cup; The ‘Sully Ball’ will be used in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions the postponed 2021 tournament

Last Updated: 08/12/21 12:50pm

Former Great Britain captain Clive Sullivan's name will adorn the official ball of the postponed Rugby league World Cup

Former Great Britain captain Clive Sullivan’s name will adorn the official ball of the postponed Rugby league World Cup

Clive Sullivan MBE will be remembered at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup after organisers announced the official ball of the tournament will be named in his honour.

Sullivan, who was the first Black sportsman to captain a British national team, skippered Great Britain to World Cup glory in 1972 and scored an iconic try in the final against Australia.

With the postponed tournament now taking place in what will be 50 years on from that historic success, the Welsh winger’s impact on the sport and wider society will be recognised with the ‘Sully Ball’, which will be used in all 61 matches across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions.

“Clive Sullivan is a true British sporting icon – a pioneer in our sport and the captain of the last British Rugby League World Cup-winning team,” RLWC2021 chief executive Jon Dutton said.

“It is important to celebrate the rich and vibrant heritage that the sport has, and this is a wonderful opportunity to bring to life a key moment from past history.

“What Clive achieved in rugby league is phenomenal and the wider impact he had in sport and society will always be remembered.”

Clive Sullivan: Great Britain’s first black sports team captain

Rugby league legend Clive Sullivan featured in our Hidden Figures online series, running in Black History Month.

Sullivan enjoyed a stellar career of over two decades in the 13-man code after making the switch from rugby union aged 17, in particular starring for Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers and remaining revered by fans on each side of the city’s rugby league divide to this day.

He made his Great Britain debut in 1967 and scored 13 tries in 17 international appearances, as well as helping them to World Cup glory in France as captain. Sadly, however, his life was cut short at the age of 42 after dying of cancer in 1985.

His legacy lives on though and the ball has been designed in conjunction with manufacturers Steeden and the Sullivan family. Indeed, his son Anthony, who also represented Great Britain and was a dual-code Wales international, is delighted to see his father honoured in this way.

For all of the family it will be very special to see him appreciated in this way and for his name to positively impact future generations within the sport.

Clive Sullivan’s son Anthony

“My father would be both honoured and humbled to see his achievements recognised in this manner,” Sullivan, who won both the Super League title and Challenge Cup as a winger with St Helens, said.

“He would, I am sure, take this opportunity to pay tribute to his team-mates and the staff involved in that inspirational World Cup victory.

“For all of the family it will be very special to see him appreciated in this way and for his name to positively impact future generations within the sport.”

Wigan joins RLWC2021 venues as fixtures confirmed

The DW Stadium will host a quarter-final in the revised 2021 Rugby League World Cup schedule in place of Anfield.

The move to honour Sullivan in this manner has been roundly welcomed by his Great Britain team-mate and former Sky Sports pundit Mike Stephenson, who played at hooker in that World Cup-winning team.

“It came down to team spirit and the captaincy of Clive because we bonded very quickly,” Stephenson said, reflecting on Sullivan’s impact on the team in that successful campaign. “Clive was a fantastic team-mate and continues to be a great ambassador for our game.

“Through this initiative, we have the opportunity to educate the next generation of fans on the journey of our sport and the positive role Clive played in its success.”



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‘Small tweaks’ can propel All Blacks to World Cup glory

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All Blacks flanker Sam Cane believes that they can use the “hurt” of their disappointing end to 2021 to drive them to World Cup success in two years’ time.

New Zealand faltered towards the latter part of the season, succumbing to the Springboks, Ireland and France to leave head coach Ian Foster under pressure going into 2022.

The three-time world champions will be among the favourites for the global title in 2023 but they appear to have slipped behind some of their competitors.

They will need to reassess over the next few months ahead of their July Tests against Ireland and Cane, who recently signed a new deal with New Zealand Rugby, insists they will find those answers as the All Blacks look to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time.

Winning the gain line

“Hopefully in two years’ time, when we are exactly where we want to be holding a World Cup, we can look back at this point and say it was one of the better things that happened for this group, even though it hurt at the time,” Cane told reporters.

“We are still up there with the best in the world when we get front-foot ball. It only needs to be two or three quick phases and we have got guys who can exploit that. But when we get drilled behind the gain line, we become like every other team and have to resort to contestable kicks, or kicks not on our terms.

“So it is about making small tweaks to our attack structure. We have identified we need to be better at creating two or three rucks of quick go-forward ball.

“If one of us makes an error each game, all of a sudden that is 15 errors. We can all be better at minimising those … and we had a chat around game-management, particularly after the Ireland loss.”

Despite having their worst season since 2009 Cane refuses to believe that mass changes are needed, both in terms of personnel and playing style.

“When things don’t go as planned a couple of times, you feel like you need to break down every component and change lots of different things but often it is only two or three small tweaks which can make a big difference,” he added.

“While we were in MIQ there were a lot of zoom calls, meetings, reviews, and a lot of time to think as well. We felt like we turned over every rock and had every conversation we could have, between coaches, leadership meetings and player-driven stuff.”



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Help for team and fans to watch the Rugby League World Cup

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The Fiji Bati team’s preparation to the Rugby League World Cup in England next year has been boosted with a renewed Fiji National Rugby League and FMF Foods Ltd partnership.

The company is sponsoring the team to the RLWC and the sport’s community and elite pathway programs.

FNRL chairman Viliame Naupoto said FMF was a household Fijian brand that resonated with Fijian communities.

“I am delighted to announce for the first time, FMF Foods Ltd as an official major sponsor of the Vodafone Fiji Bati team and official partner of the FNRL community and pathways programs,” Naupoto said.

“It is an exciting time to be working with new partners for the Rugby League World Cup journey to the United Kingdom and I thank FMF Foods Ltd for coming onboard as our newest partner with full confidence in the Fiji Bati brand.”

The company has promised quality support for the team and fans who intend to be part of the RLWC in the UK from October 15 to November 19, next year.

“Rugby is a sport that motivates all of us Fijians to come together as one,” said FMF managing director Sanjay Punja.

“FMF is playing a vital part in this with the sponsorship of the Fiji Bati and rugby league in Fiji.

“We are no strangers in sponsoring sports and rugby league in this case. Over a decade ago, we sponsored the Fiji Bati to perform at the international stage. This belief and faith has continued and remains.

“We have been involved with players such as Noa Nadruku, Lote Tuqiri, Joeli Vidiri and more individuals in the past.

This time around we are supporting Fiji National Rugby League as a team. It is a substantial amount and if all goes well, we can do more.

“This partnership is for a long term which is also beyond the Rugby League World Cup.

“Leading to the world cup, there are many exciting promotions with FMF which includes fully paid trip, accommodation and expenses to watch the Fiji Bati live in England. I wish the Fiji Bati the best in their coming games at the world cup.”

Fiji is pooled with Australia, Scotland and Italy in Group B. Fiji meets Australia on October 15 after the opening ceremony.

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