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7s World Cup

Rugby: Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier’s cruel omission from North vs South explained

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Lachlan Boshier’s cruel omission from the North squad speaks to New Zealand rugby’s rich loose forward depth and the All Blacks’ desire to harness more physicality from this area of their game.

Impressive Chiefs flanker Boshier was the major causality as the North and South teams were revealed for Saturday’s inter-island match in Wellington.

Halfbacks Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Mitchell Drummond; hookers Kurt Eklund and Andrew Makalio, props Alex Fidow and Daniel Lienert-Brown, Blues wing Mark Telea, Hurricanes flanker Reed Prinsep and Highlanders midfielder Sio Tomkinson also missed the cut.

Of that group, though, Boshier’s absence is the main talking point.

Boshier, often in tandem with All Blacks captain Sam Cane, was one of New Zealand’s form loose forwards this season. He was a constant menace at the breakdown where he frequently won telling turnovers while his defensive work rate was off the charts.

The fact he stood out in a winless Chiefs side that went 0-9 to end their campaign says everything about his efforts.

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Boshier ultimately missed out to Ardie Savea and Akira Ioane who start at seven and six respectively, and Dalton Papalii who will come off the bench for the North side. Hoskins Sotutu also returns from a knee injury to start at No 8. That dynamic quartet should have the advantage over the South’s Shannon Frizell, Tom Christie, Tom Sanders and Dillon Hunt.

New All Blacks selector and North Island head coach John Plumtree admitted leaving Boshier out was one of his most difficult decisions.

“I pulled Lachlan aside and told him he’s not in the 23 and he’s disappointed and rightly so the way he’s consistently played for the Chiefs this year,” Plumtree said of the 25-year-old Taranaki product. “If you look at the group it’s a tough loose forward trio to break into and that can happen.

“He’s got a couple of things he’s going to work on and he has a bit of direction around that. I’m sure he’s going to get many opportunities above Super level in the future.

“Anything can happen in the loose forwards there’s a high rate of injury in that position. Lachlan is in that mix. When we talk about sevens in this country his name is mentioned amongst the selectors all the time and that’s the right place for him to be.

“It’s similar with Du’Plessis Kirifi and Dillon Hunt. In this country we always develop really good sevens through our franchises so it’s a tough position to be in.

“It was a tough call but there were many tough calls there’s many good players not here.”

Lachlan Boshier was one of the standout players for the Chiefs in 2020. Photo / Photosport
Lachlan Boshier was one of the standout players for the Chiefs in 2020. Photo / Photosport

While Plumtree did not want to elaborate on specific elements Boshier has been asked to work on it’s likely to be adding more size and physicality to his repertoire.

England exposed the All Blacks in the World Cup semifinal last year by dominating the physical collisions. That loss, and the manner of it, still stings. Lessons will be absorbed.

In that match the All Blacks were steamrolled up front. To avoid a repeat they recognise the need to harness brutal big men in their loose forwards. With Savea and Cane locked in the likes of Frizell, Sotutu, Ioane and Papalii bring significant bulk and power to their domains.

All are capable of fulfilling the enforcer roles the All Blacks need from their pack.

Sotutu hasn’t played for one month after a knee injury ruled him out of the backend of the Blues season but, prior to that, his form off the back of the scrum turned heads – so much so that England coach Eddie Jones and Fiji counterpart Vern Cotter were keen to lure him into their national set ups.

The match up between Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga at No 10 will continue to hog headlines but for Plumtree, a former hardnosed loose forward, there is no hiding which area he is keen to witness.

“Those boys haven’t played together so I’m looking forward to seeing what that looks like,” Plumtree said of his loose forwards. “Hoskins has got a lot of natural ability. He’s really strong and has a good work rate too. We’ve been really impressed.

“He hasn’t played for a while so he will be a bit rusty. He’s a quiet character but confident as well. I said to him ‘you’ll be right for half a game’ and he said ‘nah I want a bit more than that’. He wants to put his hand up and impress and play a game that’s probably going to be a higher level of intensity than Super Rugby.”

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7s World Cup

Molloy: I wish I had done better, I wish I had been confident and backed myself

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Of all the puzzling decisions that have engulfed Irish women’s rugby in recent times, Claire Molloy’s fall down the pecking order is one of the most difficult to get your head around.

y her own admission, she had struggled with injury, but having her confidence shredded to such an extent that she was racked with self-doubt at a time when she really should have been a key figure in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier campaign is jarring.

After-all, Molloy is one of the finest rugby players this country has produced, which was duly recognised by her induction to the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame.

At 33, she had plenty of miles on the clock, yet there is a nagging sense that she had more to offer before Ireland missed out on World Cup qualification and she later retired from international duty.

For a player who has given so much to her country over the years, not least in juggling her job as a doctor, it was a bitterly disappointing way to sign off on a glittering career.

“I think the last few months for myself have been difficult,” Molloy admits. “Obviously being dropped after the France game, picking up an injury and being probably not as fit as I would have liked in terms of different niggles over the last six months. I suppose it has been the most injury-ridden season I have ever had.

“It’s frustrating and I suppose I began to have a real lack of confidence. When selection is not going your way and you have been so lucky and privileged to wear that number seven shirt and then when it’s taken away, reflecting on it, I would love to have had more confidence in myself and say ‘Look, you’ll get there. You’ll play well again.’

“But I definitely think it played into the last month of my career. I was probably at my lowest confidence I have ever been at as an international player.

“That last 20 minutes against Scotland, I kinda forgot about all that and just played the way I could. I wish that had been my output the entire time but it’s just difficult.

“Don’t underestimate the pressure to perform. I wish I had done better. I wish I had been confident and backed myself. But that wasn’t to be the case.

“Watching the Spain game was probably one of most painful experiences I’ve had on the side of a pitch,” says Molloy (below).

Committing to another World Cup cycle was ultimately asking too much of a woman who is facing the reality that many of her work colleagues are now her boss due to the time she has taken out of her A&E specialist training to focus on rugby.

Like the rest of her team-mates, Molloy, who will continue playing with Wasps, accepted her portion of the blame for Ireland’s poor showing in Italy, but she wants to see that responsibility shared across the board.

“I suppose we, as a player group, have been very accountable to our failures going forward,” the abrasive back-row maintains.

“Obviously we need to look at the broader picture of the women’s game and there is accountability across the board that needs to be sought in terms of how we go from here.

“If we look at the progress in the last eight years of the women’s game, unfortunately it has been on a downwards decline.

“From the success of 2014, Six Nations in 2015, we were in a Grand Slam decider in 2017, and unfortunately we have fallen behind the rest of the pack really.

“So, I think what we would like to see going forward is just accountability that we haven’t let the outcomes of the 2018 review that was proposed and the goals set by the IRFU and the committee, going forward, how does that look in terms of their own internal and independent review and what outcomes will be changed from that, how we will we address this, how will we catch up with teams like France and England in terms of strong domestic league structures.”

Molloy has seen first-hand the progress England have made since pumping resources into their domestic league.

She hopes to see the IRFU follow suit in terms of the Energia
All-Ireland, whilst also addressing the balance between Sevens and 15s rugby.

“Obviously look at results and outcomes, the current approach, has it been successful? No. Based solely on results if you look at where we are in world rankings and not qualifying for the World Cup,” Molloy adds.

“Sevens have come desperately close to qualifying for the Olympics but they haven’t succeeded in the last seven years.

“So, I think whatever we are doing currently hasn’t produced the success we would want in either programme.”

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7s World Cup

The Fiji Times » ‘Best person for the job to start in the Malaga leg’

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The Fiji Rugby Union is expected to announce its new 7s head coach next week to replace Olympics gold medal winner Gareth Baber.

He is expected to lead the Fiji 7s team to the next leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Spain. This was revealed yesterday by union chief executive officer John O’Connor.

“We are in the process now of selecting a coach and hopefully by the end of next week,” O’Connor said.

“It is still in due process and it is going through interviews. We received 30 applicants, most were expatriates and we shortlisted seven and the process is still going on.”

The announcement will reveal if a local such as Saiasi Fuli will take over, or an expatriate again.

“We want to appoint the person on merit and being the best person for the job based on the outcome of the interview and experience and so forth. We will not compromise the process. We will appoint the best person the board feels who is right for the job.”

The position comes with loads of targets and responsibilities, O’Connor said. Foremost are wins, and like Ryan and Baber, the peak is the Olympic Games gold medal. It included a medal that had evaded Fiji and the greatest 7s player on Earth, Waisale Serevi.

“We have never won the Commonwealth Games and we had been on silver. That will be next July, the World Cup Sevens in August and the third goal is the Olympics in 2024.”

O’Connor said hopes were high that Serevi’s successor Seremaia ‘Jerry’ Tuwai would be back for the next leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Spain after he got married last weekend.

“We haven’t had discussions with Jerry. He has confirmed that he wants to play on and help in coaching too.”

“He had asked to be excused to plan for his wedding. Hopefully, when the players march back into camp next week, he marches in with them.

“Jerry will make the big difference with these young boys in terms of experience and just by talking to the team. We will be very happy if he is available. He indicated that he wants to be excused for Dubai and will be available for the next two series.”

Meanwhile, the Fuli-led Fiji 7s and Fijiana 7s teams will be released tomorrow after completing quarantine following their return from the Dubai 7s.

“The teams have returned and are in quarantine and will be out on Friday to spend time with their families. The teams gather into camp next week until the Christmas week, break up and back into camp after Christmas. The tournament in Spain is on January 21, so we do not have much time. The learning is that we have to step up.”

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7s World Cup

Samurai launches new brand positioning

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UK-based sportswear brand Samurai has announced a “push forward” all-encompassing rebrand, following the acquisition of a majority equity stake by British investment company Primosole Holdings earlier this year.

The sports apparel producer, founded in 1996 by Terry Sands, a former England rugby sevens manager, is well known in the rugby sector, with partnerships with Premiership Rugby clubs Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers, as well as cricket, netball and hockey.

With Primosole onboard, Samurai is repositioning itself to grow within the rugby community and beyond by focusing on its traditional teamwear business, alongside developing a direct-to-consumer e-commerce strategy offering lifestyle streetwear collections for men and women. Samurai will also be partnering with a small selection of boutique fashion and sports stores.

Image: Samurai

This “push forward” rebrand will take a fresh approach to branding, marketing, and technology, explains Samurai, whilst still retaining its “unique product quality and expertise developed in 25-years of authentic UK sportswear history”.

This new approach will be led by newly appointed chief executive Stefano Schivo, who will work with Sands in his new role as director of commercial relationships and Keeley Theobald as head of operations and production.

Samurai rebrands following majority equity stake by Primosole Holdings

Commenting on the rebrand, Schivo, said in a statement: “Rugby is our origin and where our audience currently is – we want to strengthen and further build our relationship with the community that has supported us for the last 25 years by telling our story, the values we share with the rugby world and by offering new premium product lines.

“Starting from rugby, our vision is to build a trend-setting, tech-savvy and forward-thinking global brand inspiring people to embrace their lives both on and off the sports field by pushing forward our core values of courage, dedication, integrity and purity.”

Image: Samurai

Samurai has been developing premium products and fabrics for 25 years, inspired by the “courage, dedication, integrity and purity” shown by the Japanese team during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, who were defeated in every single game.

The new-look Samurai is looking to channel those qualities into a contemporary high-performance apparel and athleisure brand for consumers while building upon its bespoke teamwear platform.

Image: Samurai

Samurai head of brand marketing, Jack Dyson, added: “Samurai is synonymous with premium product quality, design and reliability in the teamwear industry – our goal is to take this same approach as we move into the direct to consumer space, creating quality products that are both fashionable and functional. Products that can be worn in any environment.”

Image: Samurai

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