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World Rugby chief executive praises progress made for France 2023 World Cup

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The France 2023 Organising Committee celebrated three years to go until the Rugby World Cup at an event in Paris ©Getty Images

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper claims he “has never seen a nation so well prepared as France” with three years to go until the Rugby World Cup.

The France 2023 Organising Committee announced details of how the tournament aims to be the “most socially responsible and sustainable rugby event ever” at an event in Paris to mark the three-year countdown until the event yesterday.

Claude Atcher, chief executive for France 2023, promised that the World Cup will have “a positive impact on society” by “setting new standards of social inclusion, community engagement and environment protection”.

Gosper applauded the plans as France 2023 looks to repeat the success of Japan 2019, which is claimed to have attracted two million new participants to the sport and delivered a nationwide economic impact of £4.3 billion.

“In a world of change and uncertainty accelerated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that major events are not just a cathedral of sport, a showcase of world-class performance, but a symbol of unity, diversity and change,” Gosper said.

“Rugby World Cup is no different. 

“2023 will define a new era.

“It is no longer simply a case of what France can do for Rugby World Cup, but what the tournament can do for France, its society, sporting infrastructure and economy.

“With three years to go, we are confident that France 2023 will deliver on its pledges. 

“As Claude has highlighted, it is already making excellent progress and I am convinced the tournament will be a strong vehicle for social change.

“Preparations are making excellent progress, thanks to the exceptional work undertaken by the Organising Committee and the outstanding cooperation and support of national and local governments and the French rugby community.”

France last hosted the event in 2007, when South Africa beat England in the final and the hosts finished fourth.

Only five of the nine stadiums planned to host games in 2023 were used in 2007, with many having been built since.

South Africa were victorious when France last hosted the World Cup in 2007 - just as the Springboks were in Japan last year ©Getty Images
South Africa were victorious when France last hosted the World Cup in 2007 – just as the Springboks were in Japan last year ©Getty Images

“There is much to look forward to,” Gosper added 

“I have never seen a nation so well prepared as France with three years to go until a Rugby World Cup.”

The We Love 2023 Tour will visit 24 cities across France in a branded train until October 12 as the Organising Committee bids to “leave a legacy”.

The tour began yesterday.

“France 2023 has embraced a vision: to have a positive impact for rugby, the planet and France by delivering a responsible event that addresses the challenges of today and tomorrow,” Atcher added.

“Rugby World Cup 2023 will be more than a sporting event. 

“It will leave a legacy.”



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Accountability needed for women’s game

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Former Ireland captain Claire Molloy has called for more accountability in women’s rugby, as those running the game pick up the pieces following a disastrous 2021.

Molloy retired from Test rugby in the wake of Ireland’s unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign, which came just a few days after a scandal surrounding the conditions provided for the final round of women’s inter-pro games in Donnybrook.

And last month, Molloy’s Wasps team-mate Cliodhna Moloney publicly called out director of rugby Anthony Eddy over comments he made in a media appearance. Eddy had been defending the resources being put into the women’s game by the IRFU, as well commenting on the reasons for Ireland’s World Cup failure.

“I suppose we, as a player group, have been very accountable to our failures going forward,” said Molloy, who along with Simon Geoghegan was yesterday inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame.

“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 a downward decline.

“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 was inducted to the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame

Molloy retired from Test rugby following the World Cup qualifying tournament, as she looks to further her medical career, which she admits has often played second fiddle to her rugby.

The Galway native, who won two Six Nations titles with Ireland as well as being part of the successful 2014 Rugby World Cup group, had lost her place in Adam Griggs’s first team during the final months of her international career.

And the flanker says her final campaign as a international was the toughest she can remember.

“I think the last few months for myself have been difficult. 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.

“That is obviously difficult as an athlete who relies so much on keeping fit and getting around the field and striving for that high level of performance.

Watching the Spain game was probably one of most painful experiences I’ve had on the side of a pitch

“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 that it has for so many years, I have been lucky 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.

“Watching the Spain game was probably one of most painful experiences I’ve had on the side of a pitch.

“That last 20 minutes against Scotland, I kind of 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,” she added.

With Greg McWilliams set to take over as head coach in 2021, Molloy is confident that the former Ireland assistant can make some short-term gains, even if England look to be pulling further and further clear of the rest of the world.

The strength of the English game, Molloy says, is stemming from the highly competitive Premier 15s competition, which has grown enormously since it’s introduction in 2017.

“What they have seen in the last four years is the investment in the league has built a competitive structure to become a building ground and a pathway for highly successful athletes,” Molloy said.

“You look at the nominees for world player of the year and that’s three English athletes.

“I can only comment on what I have experienced and proper investment in the AIL, creating a competitive high performance environment for that to be the breeding ground of 15s players.”

Molloy captained Ireland at the 2017 Rugby World Cup in Dublin

Molloy is one of a growing Irish contingent playing in England’s Premier 15s competition, with seven of last month’s squad on the books of English sides.

That number became eight last week when second row Nichola Fryday joined Exeter.

The exposure they’re getting to top level players and coaches does come at the cost of the AIL however, which is being drained of its best talent, something Molloy says the IRFU need to be wary of.

“There are talented girls playing the game, we just don’t want them lost to the ether in AIL or having to seek opportunities outside the country to play the game.

“You look at the vast number of Irish players in Prem 15s playing the game to develop themselves best as athletes.

“Well, it would be great to have an AIL that attracted players back.

“We need to build the strength of the league and not continue to have a talent drain going out of the country. The experience that AIL girls are missing out on is playing against the Cliodhna Moloneys, Linda Djougangs, Lauren Delanys, Leah Lyons, Anna Caplices, Nichola Frydays.

“You learn more about yourself playing against those players and you get challenged. We need to breed homegrown players and create a competitive league that’s desirable.”

With Molloy and Ciara Griffin – who succeeded Molloy as captain – retiring in recent months, one of the first jobs Greg McWilliams faces will be who the new leader of the team is.

And while it’s a decision Molloy believes will be made by the coach rather than the playing group, she believes her Wasps team-mate Moloney is one of the standout candidates.

“I think the likes of Cliodhna Moloney is one of your most experienced players, and your automatic starter. Greg needs to look at a player that will be one of the first on the team sheet.

“Kathryn Dane’s developed in game management and really thrived in the last three years, she’s a potential.

“Nichola Fryday has moved to Exeter to develop her game, a second row, lineout leader, player of the match in Ireland against USA, so I think there are some strong leaders with experience behind them that could be considered,” Molloy added.



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The Fiji Times » Commodore Humphery Tawake appointed as FRU Chairperson

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Fiji Rugby Union has today confirmed that the term of the former Fiji Rugby Union Board Chairperson Conway Beg had expired after the Annual General Meeting which was held on the November  20, 2021.

FRU chief executive officer, John O’Connor also confirmed that two new Directors were endorsed at the AGM replacing the former Directors namely Dr Berlin Kafoa and Mr Naimawi (Accountant Director).

The two new Directors endorsed at the AGM were Muni Ratna and Trevor Nainoca (Accountant Director).

O’Connor also confirmed that Commodore Humphery Tawake had been nominated to the Fiji Rugby Board by the Prime Minister as per the provisions of the Fiji Rugby Union Constitution.

O’Connor also confirmed that the Fiji Rugby Union Board in its first meeting held after the Annual General Meeting on the November 6, 2021 had confirmed the election and appointment of Commodore Tawake as the new Board Chairperson for the Fiji Rugby Union for the next 4 years replacing former Chairman Beg.

“Commodore Tawake will further the legacy of the Board and I am certain that under his chairmanship, we will continue to strive to move Rugby in Fiji forward from where we are at the moment and aspire for world standards, both on and off the field,” said O’Connor.

The CEO of FRU also congratulated and welcomed Directors Trevor Nainoca as the Accountant Director and Muni Ratna.

“I want to acknowledge and sincerely thank Directors Naimawi and Dr. Kafoa for their immense contribution in the transformation of Fiji Rugby but more importantly in their leadership through the tough two years due to COVID 19. Their valuable contribution is greatly appreciated

In accepting the challenge, Commodore Tawake said that he is fortunate to lead Fiji’s biggest sporting organization.

“I’m happy to take up the appointment within the FRU Board and I’m glad that the nomination has come through from the Honorable Prime Minister,” said Commodore Tawake.

He added, “I have been involved with rugby for the last decade at various capacities and I know the feeling and how passionate the Fijian community is in-regards to rugby.”

Commodore Tawake added “I must take this time to acknowledge the previous two Chairmen for their effort and their strategic leadership that has enabled FRU to achieve great milestone and be where it is today.

I think the involvement of the Fijian Drua in the Super Rugby Pacific is a huge milestone for all of us and I must thank the leadership within FRU and those involved, including NZ Rugby and World Rugby for allowing Fiji to participate at that level.”

He further added that he has full confidence in his Directors who will assist him in formulating the strategies and direction for the next four years.

“I also want to acknowledge the former Chairperson, Commander Kean, for the vision he had for Fiji Rugby and for leading our transformation journey.

“I would also like to show my appreciation to the FRU CEO Mr. John O’Connor for operationalizing all the strategies and liaising with member unions and keeping them informed which I believe is very important because member unions play a critical part in driving Fiji Rugby forward” said Commodore Tawake.

Commodore Tawake’s rugby involvements is as follows:

1993 – 1995:           Appointed Manager for the Fiji Navy Rugby Team and                                         Manager for the RFMF Sukuna Bowl team.

2013:                      Appointed Manager for RFMF Rugby Team Defence Force                                 that played for the World Cup in Japan

2014:                     Appointed Chairman for the Suva Rugby Union.

2015:                      Appointed Manager for the Flying Fijians for the Rugby                                       World Cup in England in 2015.

2019:                      Appointed President of the Suva Rugby Union

2014 – 2021            Member of the Fiji Rugby Union Council

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Tappe Henning made URC head of match officals

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South African Tappe Henning has been appointed head of match officials for the United Rugby Championship, it was announced on Thursday.

Henning, 60, succeeds Greg Garner, who has been in the role for this and the tournament predecessor since 2017 and will be responsible for overseeing match official selections for URC fixtures, and leading the review and analysis process alongside the five union referee managers, as well as identifying new talent.

He had previously been the Scottish Rugby Union’s Referee Commissioner having previously held a similar position at SA Rugby prior to 2013.

Distinguished

He officiated 14 Test matches in a distinguished active career and was named to the match officials panel for the 1999 Rugby World Cup. At the age of 34 he became the youngest referee of a Currie Cup Final in 1995 and went on to whistle the 1997 Super Rugby Final between the Blues and the Brumbies.

“After a very thorough process we very pleased to have appointed Tappe Henning as our Head of Match Officials,” said David Jordan, Tournament Director, United Rugby Championship.

“Tappe’s CV provides him with a balance of experience that is very unique and well catered to the United Rugby Championship, given that he has refereed at the highest levels in South Africa and in Super Rugby and due to his eight years with Scottish Rugby he has a full knowledge of our landscape in the north and how our match official process functions.

“This is a very challenging role and we know Tappe is very eager to build upon the foundations laid in place by his predecessors Ed Morrison and, most recently, Greg Garner.”



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