Rugby World Cup 2019 – Warren Gatland’s ability to grab best from Wales bodes

The Six Nations trumps the rugby football Championship for preparation. Wales, European country and Ireland have an opportunity of glory in Japan. Before the beginning of the Six Nations this month, Ireland was thought to be Europe’s prime challengers within the Rugby World Cup. Then it had been European country when their emphatic victory in the capital of Ireland and denuding of France at Twickenham, however within the third round the odds on the favorites New Zealand turning into the primary team to win the Webb Elis Trophy for a 3rd consecutive time shrink.

Rugby World Cup 2019 - Warren Gatland's ability to grab best from Wales bodes Tickets
Rugby World Cup 2019 – Warren Gatland’s ability to grab best from Wales bodes

“Wales won by default in Six Nations clash with England,” blared one headline in New Zealand this week. The rubbish remarked to the lack of space either side manufactured with the ball in hand however, matches within the knockout stage of a World Cup can be just as claustrophobic.

Gatland’s ability to squeeze the most effective out of his team has made him the media favorite to interchange Eddie Jones as England’s head coach, whenever which will be with the Australian contracted until 2021. England sounded out Gatland, who had enjoyed a trophy-rich stint with Wasps earlier in the decade, in 2007, a few weeks before Wales called him, however, failed to follow it up.

England, the country everybody likes to beat, would vary, as would its domestic system. Gatland is that the master of Welsh rugby football wherever, as in Ireland and New Zealand, the national team is at the highest of the pyramid. Jones needs to deal with a strong union of clubs who have become emboldened by an infusion of cash from a private equity company. There could be trouble ahead. Jones has largely remained above the politics however, non-interference has not been an approach taken by Gatland.

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World Rugby says World League will not exclude Pacific Nations

World Rugby has clarified that Pacific Islands will not be excluded from the World League. Proposed 12-team tournament is thought to take place from 2020. Teams playing in the Six Nations Championship (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales) and The Rugby Championship (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina) will participate in the new competition. United States and Japan were rumored to the fill the two slots. World Rugby has now revealed that final two positions will be filled on merit through promotion/relegation basis. This means that Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are not locked out of the World League tournament.

CEO of World Rugby Brett Gosper said: “The two-division competition would provide more player opportunities and ensure financial stability for unions. Importantly, participation would be merit-based, based on rankings at an agreed time. Therefore, there is no question of closing out the Pacific Islands as we would be adding two more emerging unions to the top table whilst financing a second tier competition with all the benefits that would bring to the players.”

World Rugby CEO says World League will not force out Pacific nations
World Rugby CEO says World League will not force out Pacific nations

Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby hopes that World League will increase competitiveness of the international sport. He reckons that it will benefit the Rugby World Cup also. He thinks that RWC can be expanded to 24 teams in future. Gosper feels that World Rugby can work as qualification tournament for the Webb Ellis Cup as well. He revealed that World League will be two tier tournament, with inclusion in top division dependent on ranking basis. He iterated that World League will not affect British and Irish Lions tours also.

Brett Gosper further stated: “Analysis confirms a more competitive international game, and therefore Rugby World Cup, would heighten the possibility of expanding the tournament to 24 teams. It certainly would not erode the special and unique atmosphere of a Rugby World Cup and it could also act as a qualification vehicle. Lions tours would not be affected as we plan for a lighter programme in those years; the spotlight would be firmly on the Lions.”

Brett Gosper also took to Twitter to quash rumors about the World League. He addressed concerns raised by players and representative bodies. He particularly denied exclusion of Pacific islands from the lucrative tournament.

Pacific Islands consider Rugby World Cup boycott over World League plans

World Rugby members in Pacific Islands are thinking about boycott of 2019 Rugby World Cup over proposed plans of World League. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are very critical of World Rugby proposal of 12-team World League. New tournament is likely to include teams participating in the Six Nations Championship and Rugby Championship, joined by Japan and United States, from 2020. World Rugby has come under severe criticism over exclusion of Pacific Islands nations. Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are all part of the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) wants its 600 members to vote whether they should boycott RWC 2019 to protest the plans of revamp in international Rugby tests calendar. PRPW has asked member unions of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to join the protest of Pacific islanders against World League. It has urged other player bodies of the region to join to stop the exclusion of Pacific island nations from the new lucrative tournament.

Pacific islands nations Fiji, Samoa and Tonga may miss World League Rugby tournament
Pacific islands nations Fiji, Samoa and Tonga may miss World League Rugby tournament

Chief executive of PRPW and former Samoa captain said: “Now is the time for the voice of Pacific rugby to be heard through our players. World Cup would lose. I don’t think the competition could go ahead if you took out a quarter of the players. We want to be known as a progressive sport – one that’s inclusive, one that allows sides to be promoted and allows sides to have equal opportunity – but the signs are a bit ominous. This would be a disaster for the Pacific Island nations, and for any nation omitted from the top 12 teams. Even if promotion and relegation were involved, all that would happen would be that the top teams would pull away from the rest. Everyone wants to play against the All Blacks, England, and the top teams. If that is ring-fenced, it becomes a real problem. I don’t think you’d find that it would minimize the number of Pacific Islanders playing in that competition I just think you’d see Pacific Islanders playing for everybody else. Really, there is a lot at stake here.”

Ireland back to winning ways after Scotland lose 13-22 in Six Nations 2019

Ireland have taken victory leap after overcoming Scotland in the 2019 Six Nations Championship match. Scotland were defeated by World number 2 ranked team Ireland by 13-22 on 9th February 2019 at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Ireland have won first match in the Six Nations 2019 after crashing out against England in their opening game. Scotland have lost after a run of seven consecutive home victories. This is first defeat for Scotland at Murrayfield Stadium after 2016 Six Nations. This is largest defeat for Scotland in an international match at Murrayfield, since Ireland subjected them to 10-40 defeat in Six Nations 2015. Rugby union teams hailing from northern hemisphere who are participating in 2019 Six Nations Championship, are getting ample preparation for Rugby World Cup 2019.

Scotland attacked on favourits Ireland in the start of match. Scottish captain Greig Laidlaw opened score with a penalty on 7′. Ireland came charging with scrum-half Conor Murray kicking a try on 10′. Irish winger Jacob Stockdale nailed a try on 17′, that Conor Murray converted on 17′. Scottish centre Sam Johnson smashed a try on 29′, and skipper Greig Laidlaw followed with subsequent conversion on 30′. Scotland were two points behind with 10-12 versus Ireland on half time. Scottish side had displayed strong performance in first half to take Irish team to the breaking point. But then Scotland missed chance in last five minutes before break to take lead.

Ireland make victorious return by defeating Scotland in Six Nations 2019
Ireland make victorious return by defeating Scotland in Six Nations 2019

Ireland dominated second half, attacking Scottish defence after half time. Keith Earls hit a try on 56′, that Joseph Carbery converted on 57′. Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw booted a penalty on 62′. Joseph Carbery hit a penalty on 69′ to seal the game for Ireland. Scotland had lost the steam and could not make another scoring shot. Scoreline read 13-22 with Ireland in front, having nine point lead over Scotland. Match finished with Scotland dejected and Ireland coming out as victorious team by 13-22 on closing time.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: “I think we just muscled our way through it. We restricted them to an intercept try and it was a massive defensive effort. Scotland are a good team who play in a really positive manner.”

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw stated: “Romain Poite picked us up in the middle of the field, Sean O’Brien’s reefed the ball out and he’s given a knock-on right in front of him.He doesn’t seem to like us, Romain. He refereed us against South Africa as well and we don’t seem to see eye-to-eye. We’re not going to blame him, we look at ourselves, and credit to Ireland.”

Scotland Vs Ireland 13-22
9th February 2019 – Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland
Scotland: 13
Try: Sam Johnson (29′)
Con: Greig Laidlaw (30′)
Pen: Greig Laidlaw (7′, 62′)
Ireland: 22
Try: Conor Murray (10′), Jacob Stockdale (17′), Keith Earls (56′)
Con: Conor Murray (17′), Joseph Carbery (57′)
Pen: Joseph Carbery (69′)

England thrash France 44-8 in 2019 Six Nations

England have continued good run in Six Nations Championship 2019, with 44-8 victory against France on 10th February 2019 at Twickenham Stadium, London. England have won second match in a row in 2019 Six Nations. This is France’s second defeat with largest margin versus England, after their 37-0 loss in 1911. This is second biggest loss for France against any team in Six/Five Nations history since that drubbing. Six Nations Championship offers adequate training for Rugby World Cup 2019 to rugby union teams hailing from northern hemisphere.

England attacked on France right from the start of match. Jonny May opened scoring with a penalty on 2′. English captain Owen Farrell kicked a penalty on 7′. Morgan Parra opened account for France by nailing a penalty on 10′. Farrell smashed his second penalty on 13′. Jonny May booted his second try on 24′. Jonny May completed his hat-trick of penalties on 29′, that Owen Farrell converted on 31′. Damian Penaud registered second and final scoring shot for France with a try on 35′. Henry Slade knocked a try on 40′ that Farrell converted. England were way ahead with 30-8 against France on half time.

England overpowered France in Six Nations 2019
England overpowered France in Six Nations 2019

With a 22 point deficit, chances of revival were bleak for France. A penalty try on 49′ all but sealed the game for England. Owen Farrell hit a penalty on 55′ and did a subsequent conversion himself on 56′. Scoreline read 44-8 in favour of England and remained so till match finish time. France were so devastated that they could not manufacture another scoring shot. Game closed on 44-8 with England emerging as victorious team on the closing time.

England coach Eddie Jones stated: “We weren’t happy at half time; we felt we had gone off the boil a little so I was really pleased with the second half as we shut them out … left a few scoring opportunities out there but certainly our second half was better than our first. It is a difficult game, you get points in front, your natural tendency is to get seduced by the scoreboard and you start doing things you wouldn’t normally do but we kept to our discipline. That’s the way the game is going (the kicking). If teams defend like that (with a high line) then the space is there in the back field and we have the pace. I’m sure teams will start defending us differently and that will create space in other areas.”

France coach Jacques Brunel said: “It was obviously very disappointing, especially the first half. The kicking game created pressure that we were not able to overcome. The same things happened throughout the game. We found ourselves on the line without anyone in behind and we were punished.”

England Vs France 44-8
10th February 2019 – Twickenham Stadium, London
England: 44
Try: Jonny May (2′, 24′, 29′), Henry Slade (40′), Penalty Try (49′), Owen Farrell (55′)
Con: Owen Farrell (31′, 40′, 56′)
Pen: Owen Farrell (7′, 13′)
France: 8
Try: Morgan Parra (10′)
Pen: Damian Penaud (35′)

Italy beaten by Wales 15-26 in Six Nations 2019

Italy have continued their lean run in 2019 Six Nations Championship, with a 15-26 defeat against Wales on 9th February 2019 at Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Wales have won second match of 2019 Six Nations to extend their winning run to eleven matches. Six Nations Championship provides ample preparations of Rugby World Cup 2019 for rugby union teams belonging to northern hemisphere.

Wales played attacking game from the start with Dan Biggar going on penalty spree, scoring four times on 2’, 15’, 19’ and 30’. Visitors were on the roll with scoreline reading 0-12. Italy opened score with a try by Braam Steyn on 34’, that Tommaso Allan converted on 36’ to make score 7-12. Wales had a lead of 5 points over hosts Italy on half time.

Italy defeated by Wales 15-26 in Six Nations 2019
Italy defeated by Wales 15-26 in Six Nations 2019

Tommaso Allan nailed a penalty on 44’ to take Ireland close with 10-12. But then Wales went on to take game out of the reach of Italy. Josh Adams kicked a try on 54’, that Dan Biggar converted on 55’. Owen Watkin hit a try on 70’, with a conversion by Gareth Anscombe on 71’. Scorecard read 10-26 in Wales favour at that point. Edoardo Padovani slotted over a penalty for Italy on 75’ to take hosts to 15 points. Italian side could not score more points, and match finished on 15-26 with Wales turning victorious on the close.

This was Wales’ 11th consecutive win, international men’s rugby union competitions. It equaled their longest winning run, set between 1907 and 1910. Italy have been defeated for record 19 times in Six Nations. Italy had last won versus Scotland in February 2015. Josh Navidi was judged man of the match. Wait of Italy rugby team and coach Conor O’Shea for a victory in Six Nations continues.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said: “There’s definitely things we need to work on. Our lineouts were poor again, and if we play like that against England, it could be embarrassing. We won’t play like that, though. There were a few guys out there that hadn’t played a lot of rugby so we weren’t as tight in the front five as we would have liked. We made those changes because we are trying to look ahead to the World Cup. We didn’t have as much momentum and tempo as we would have liked, but we’re looking at the Six Nations and trying to build for the World Cup.”

Italy Vs Wales 15-26
9th February 2019 – Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Italy: 15
Try: Braam Steyn (34’), Edoardo Padovani (75’)
Con: Tommaso Allan (36’)
Pen: Tommaso Allan (44’)
Wales: 26
Try: Josh Adams (54’), Owen Watkin (70’)
Con: Dan Biggar (55’), Gareth Anscombe (71’)
Pen: Dan Biggar (2’, 15’, 19’, 30’)

Australia remove assistant coach Stephen Larkham before Rugby World Cup 2019

Rugby Australia has removed Stephen Larkham from assistant coach job. He had strong differences with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. He is appointed as national performance national high-performance coach adviser. The decision to axe Stephen Larkham from attack coach post was made by head coach Michael Cheika. His removal is surprising because there are just little over seven months are left in the Rugby World Cup 2019.

Rugby Australia (RA) issued a statement: “Larkham will move into the new role with immediate effect after a decision was made by head coach Michael Cheika that Larkham should no longer continue in the role of assistant coach of the Wallabies”.

Australia remove assistant coach Stephen Larkham on head coach Michael Cheika's demand
Australia remove assistant coach Stephen Larkham on head coach Michael Cheika’s demand

Stephen Larkham had been attack coach since 27th October 2015. Michael Cheika had chosen him for assistant coach role after joining wallabies as head coach in 22nd October 2014. Michael Cheika and Stephen Larkham guided Australia to final of 2015 Rugby World Cup, where they eventually lost to New Zealand. Relationship between the two coaches deteriorated. They were not on same page regarding strategy and game philosophy. Stephen Larkham will focus on coach mentoring, coaching and skills development across Rugby Australia’s national programmes, including Australian sevens program, Junior Wallabies, state under-20s academies and Wallaroos.

Stephen Larkham said: “Ultimately Michael is responsible for the performance of the team. We have differences in attacking strategy and overall game philosophy. We couldn’t agree on these key points and it is in the best interest of the team that they receive clear and consistent messages from their coaches. I am obviously disappointed with this outcome as I had chosen to pursue the experience of taking the Wallabies through to the World Cup, however I am pleased to be able to continue coaching and contributing to Australian Rugby in this new role.”

Australia gone through worst season in 2018, winning just 4 out of 13 matches. This was worst win-loss record for Wallabies in 60 years. Rugby Australia reviewed dismal performance, but shown faith in coaching of Michael Cheika. RA though have roped in Scot Johnson for newly created post of Director of Rugby. Shuffling in team management has also resulted in resignation of Haydn Masters from head of athletic preparation job.

Ireland stunned by England 20-32 in 2019 Six Nations

Ireland have a dismal start to their 2019 Six Nations Championship campaign, with a 20-32 defeat against England on 2nd February 2019 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin. England under coach Eddie Jones kicked their Six Nations 2019 quest by outclassing 2018 champions Ireland. Six Nations Championship offers important preparation of Rugby World Cup 2019 for rugby union teams from northern hemisphere.

England outclass Ireland in Six Nations 2019
England outclass Ireland in Six Nations 2019

England attacked right from the beginning with Jonathan May scoring a try in 2′, that captain Owen Farrell converted on 3′ to make score 0-7 in visitors favour. Ireland replied with a penalty by Jonathan Sexton on 11′. Irish prop Cian Healy hit a try on 25′, which Jonathan Sexton converted on 26′ to turn scoreline read 10-7. Elliot Daly put England ahead with a try on 30′ and subsequent conversion by Farrell on 31′. Owen Farrell nailed a penalty on 40′ to put England in lead with 10-17 score on half time.

Jonathan Sexton kicked a penalty on 55′ to take Ireland close. But then England went on rampage to take game out of Ireland. Henry Slade smashed a try on 66′, while Owen Farrell connected a penalty on 70′. Henry Slade scored his second try on 76′, with a conversion by Farrell on 77′. John Cooney consoled Ireland with a try on 80′ with a conversion by Jonathan Sexton to make scoreboard read 20-32 with England emerging victorious on match close.

This was first home defeat for Ireland under coach Joe Schmidt in Six Nations Championship. This loss finished Ireland’s 12-match winning streak at home. This was first victory of England against Ireland at Aviva Stadium after their win in 2013 Six Nations, which had also ended the run of 14 unbeaten matches by Ireland at Aviva Stadium. England won the Millennium Trophy for 19th time with Ireland trailing by 13 awards.

Ireland Vs England 20-32
2nd February 2019 – Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Ireland: 20
Try: Cian Healy (25′), John Cooney (80′)
Con: Jonathan Sexton (26′, 80′)
Pen: Jonathan Sexton (11′, 55′)
England: 32
Try: Jonathan May (2′), Elliot Daly (30′), Henry Slade (66′, 76′)
Con: Owen Farrell (3′, 31′, 77′)
Pen: Owen Farrell (40′, 70′)

New Zealand Rugby and Cricket stars to Play in Black Clash Twenty20

Rugby and Cricket players of New Zealand will compete in “Black Clash” Twenty20 match on 25th January 2018 at Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Winners will be awarded with Lomu-Crowe trophy. This cricket trophy is named after late sports legends Martin Crowe and Jonah Lomu. Proceeds from the match will be used for charity.

Jonah Lomu was New Zealand rugby star, who was famous around the world. He had debuted in 1995 at the age of 19, becoming the youngest ever All Black. He ended his international career with 63 caps and 37 tries in 2002. He died in November 2015 at the age of 40 after a heart attack. Martin Crowe was a former New Zealand Cricket captain and one of the finest Kiwi batsman. Crowe was skipper of famed BlackCaps cricket team that was tipped for success in 1992 Cricket World Cup before being eliminated by Pakistan in Semi Final. Martin Crowe died aged 53 in March 2016 after a long battle with cancer.

New Zealand Rugby and Cricket players to Contest in Black Clash Twenty20
New Zealand Rugby and Cricket players to Contest in Black Clash Twenty20

Team Rugby will feature main All Blacks rugby players like Kieran Read, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Israel Dagg, Jordie Barrett, Ofisa Tunu’u, Jason Spice, Richie McCaw, Ali Williams, Kaylum Boshier and Kendra Cocksedge. Team Rugby have selected former Australia cricketer David Hussey as international wildcard. Team Rugby will wear the red and black colours of Canterbury. New Zealand rugby team are currently preparing for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. This contest offers a different kind of preparation for All Blacks as it is uphill task to take on seasoned cricket superstars.

All Blacks outside back Israel Dagg said: “It’s huge. Look at the trophy, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful. It symbolises New Zealand and, obviously, you’ve got two great, world renowned athletes in Lomu and Crowe. Those names will live on forever.”

Dagg who had tryst with cricket in 2005 echoed: “I’ll try and get it down as fast as I can. Obviously, with rugby you do a lot more upper body weights. I’ll try and do 130, something like that. I live pretty close to [All Blacks captain Kieran] Reado, so I might knock on his door and go and have a net.”

Team Cricket will include Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming, Luke Ronchi, Grant Elliott, Kyle Mills, James Franklin, Hamish Marshall, Nathan Astle, Chris Harris and Liz Perry. Team Cricket will announce the international wildcard next week. Team Cricket will don the blue kit in the competition. Team Cricket comprise of retired cricket players, but proceed from this match will benefit New Zealand Cricket. Experts have termed BlackCaps as favourits for Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.

New Zealand’s hero in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and final Grant Elliott stated: “Absolutely. Everything to lose, nothing to gain but our pride. I think pride is the important thing. I’ve always seen games like this start off with a bit of a smile on the face, but then there’s always a pivotal moment and suddenly that completive spirit takes over.”

Team Rugby: Kieran Read (c), Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Aaron Smith, Jason Spice, Ali Williams, Kendra Cocksedge, Kaylum Boshier, Ofisa Tunu’u, David Hussey (wildcard). Coach: Sir Graham Henry.

Team Cricket: Stephen Fleming (player coach), Brendon McCullum (c), Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi, Kyle Mills, Chris Harris, Nathan Astle, James Franklin, Hamish Marshall, Liz Perry, Wildcard (TBA). Manager/motivator: Scott Robertson.

Beauden Barrett: New Zealand coach Steve Hansen tough to replace

All Blacks player Beauden Barrett has praised outgoing Steve Hansen, as his team prepares for last season with him as head coach. Hansen will step down as New Zealand coach after Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. Beauden stated this during an interview with Stuff.co.nz on January 7, 2019.

Beauden Barrett says New Zealand coach Steve Hansen will be tough to replace
Beauden Barrett says New Zealand coach Steve Hansen will be tough to replace

Beauden Barrett said: “He’ll be a huge loss – but it leaves an opportunity for someone else to step up. He’s done a lot for me and my game and I have to thank him for that. I could only wish him the best. He’s had a fantastic career and obviously the job’s not done yet – We all want to win the World Cup, retain the Bledisloe [Cup] and all the rest of it.”

All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett has reckoned that it will be difficult to best Steve Hansen, as he has set top standards. In his opinion future coaches will have to carry on the legacy. It will definitely be hard for them to fill his shoes.

Beauden Barrett described: “His ability to understand the player and get the best out of the player [is vital]. He knows how every individual in the team ticks, he treats everyone as an individual and I think the way he’s developed that, from when I first made the team to now – it’s obviously been a work-on and that’s why he’s the best coach in my opinion.”

Beauden Barrett who is now 27 years of age, had started his New Zealand career under Steve Hansen in 2012. He went on to become important All Blacks team member under guidance of Hansen. He credited his coach for helping in establishing a prime Rugby Union career for him.

Beauden Barrett continued: “It’s reassuring to know that your head coach goes out to bat for you when perhaps things haven’t gone our way – he has our best interests at heart and he backs us 100 percent.”

Beauden Barrett is on extended break to get more rest like other main All Blacks players, to be ready for 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan. He disclosed that it is the first time he has trained this much in any off season. Beauden has remained active after New Zealand finished northern hemisphere tour with Autumn Internationals 2018 tournament in November. Beauden Barrett has set his eyes on Rugby World Cup as his focus is on enabling All Blacks in their title defense.

Beauden Barrett echoed: “This is probably the most I’ve ever trained over an off-season, because I’ve got an extended break. I’m trying to keep my fitness up and that way you enjoy the break too. You do the work in the morning and then you can have the rest of the day off and really enjoy it.”