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Bullscot

Bulls, Bokke and Scottish supporter, living in the UK.
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The Vodacom Blue Bulls added more silverware to their impressive trophy cabinet with overall victory at the Beachcomber World Club 10s in Mauritius on Sunday.

The Beachcomber 10s trophy will sit proudly alongside three Super Rugby trophies and 23 Currie Cup winners’ medals at Loftus Versfeld after some excellent play from the Blue Bulls.

In the final, the Pretoria based franchise beat the Toyota Cheetahs 26-7, using smothering defence and good options from turnover ball to create opportunities and frustrate their opponents in a hugely physical contest.

Fullback Duncan Matthews opened the scoring in the final when he ran on to a well-weighted grubber by scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl.

After the halftime hooter sounded, it was the Bulls who kept probing. Wing Sibhale Mxwane made a good break from deep and produced a deft offload to the supporting Shaun Adendorff, who went in for the score.

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Springbok coach Allister Coetzee on Tuesday named a 31-man squad for a three-Test series against France in June.

Warren Whiteley was named as the 58th Springbok captain and will get his first opportunity to lead the team when a much-changed squad, which includes eight uncapped players, gets together for the series at a training camp in Plettenberg Bay next week.

The national selectors also recalled six experienced players to the squad. They are Rugby World Cup winner Frans Steyn, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Duane Vermeulen, Coenie Oosthuizen and Chiliboy Ralepelle. They have more than 200 Test caps of experience between them.

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Josh Bassett scored a try two minutes from time as Wasps reached their first Premiership final in nine years with a thrilling victory over Leicester.

Kurtley Beale helped Wasps build a 10-point lead but Peter Betham’s try saw Tigers three points down at half-time.

Leicester led when Telusa Veainu dived over, and Freddie Burns’ kick had them four points up and defending bravely.

Thomas Young spurned a chance as Wasps pressed but Bassett scored in the corner to set up a final with Exeter.

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Munster will take on Scarlets for the 2016-17 Pro12 title in next Saturday’s final after seeing off Ospreys at Thomond Park.

The win denied the lacklustre visitors an all-Welsh final against their closest rivals in Dublin.

But they could have no complaints on a day when only Munster touched down.

Francis Saili, Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway went over for the clinical hosts while Dan Biggar kicked Ospreys’ sole penalty.

Scarlets had stunned Leinster 27-15 in Dublin a day earlier and will meet Munster at the city’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday 27 May (18:15 BST) in the final.

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Gloucester make three changes to the side that won their European Challenge Cup semi-final at La Rochelle as they face Stade Francais in Friday’s final.

Centre Matt Scott, wing Charlie Sharples and back row Lewis Ludlow come in for Henry Trinder, David Halaifonua and Jacob Rowan respectively.

But they change six from Saturday’s loss to Exeter in their final Premiership game of the season.

Victory would see the Cherry and Whites lift the trophy for the third time.

Success at Murrayfield would also keep Gloucester’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup alive, after their ninth-placed finish in the Premiership ruled out automatic qualification.

An English winner of the Challenge Cup would go forward to May’s Champions Cup play-offs instead of the side seventh in the league, Northampton Saints.

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The Springboks have been drawn alongside the All Blacks in Pool B for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan following Tuesday’s draw in Kyoto.

The Boks will also play against Italy in the pool stages, as well as a yet-to-be-determined Africa 1 team and the Repechage winner.

The final eight teams will only be confirmed following the continental qualification process, which will only be fully completed in November 2018.

It will be the first World Cup hosted by Japan and it will be the first time that the All Blacks and the Boks will meet in the pool stages of a World Cup.

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Head Coach Gregor Townsend named three uncapped players in a 34-man Scotland squad for next month’s three-test summer tour, the first under his stewardship.

The national team will face their opponents on consecutive Saturdays, starting with an historic test match against Italy in Singapore (10 June), followed by Australia in Sydney (17 June) and Fiji in Suva (24 June).

Glasgow Warriors’ centre Nick Grigg, prop D’Arcy Rae and Edinburgh Rugby hooker George Turner are the uncapped men to tour and will look to add international honours to their senior club careers.

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Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus was named Pro12′ Coach of the Season after guiding Munster to the semifinals of the Celtic League.

Erasmus, who is in his first season in charge of the Irish province, also had six of his Munster players named in the Pro12 Dream Team during the Pro12 Awards, which took place in Dublin on Sunday.

Erasmus recently confirmed that he will see out his contract with Munster after rumours circulated earlier this this year that he was going to return to South Africa to link up with the Springboks.

Meanwhile, Fellow South Africans Jaco Taute and Ruan Pienaar were included in the Dream Team.
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England scrum-half Ben Youngs has withdrawn from the Lions tour to New Zealand after the wife of his brother Tom learned that she is terminally ill.

Ben, 27, is a team-mate of hooker and captain Tom, 30, at Leicester Tigers and the pair will play in the remainder of the Premiership season for the club.

Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw replaces Ben Youngs on the Lions tour.

“We are a very close family and, as I am sure everyone can respect, time is now precious together,” said Ben.

“The most important thing for me at this difficult time is to be able to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.”

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Ulster gave club legend Ruan Pienaar a winning send off at Kingspan with a 17-13 victory over Leinster but it wasn’t enough for them to sneak into the Guinness PRO12 semi-finals.

The home side needed a bonus point victory at least but were unable to get the four-tries against a Leinster side who slipped to second after Munster’s victory.

Roger Wilson, on his 221nd and last Ulster appearance, and Andrew Trimble got the vital scores for Ulster while Leinster responded with a penalty try.

An emotional Pienaar led out the Ulster side with his son Jean Luc at the Kingspan Stadium in what was in final appearance for the club.

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Ian McKinley

Irish-born Ian McKinley has been called into Italy’s squad for their summer Tests six years after losing his sight in his left eye.

McKinley, now 27, was on Leinster’s books when he suffered the serious injury after sustaining an accidental boot to his eye.

The Dubliner was forced to retire but made a playing return in Italy thanks to special protective goggles.

McKinley has played 21 Treviso games in this season’s Pro12 and Challenge Cup.

His form has led Italy coach, former Ireland international Conor O’Shea, to name the fly-half in a 44-man squad for the Tests against Scotland, Fiji and Australia.

Ireland Under-20 international McKinley now qualifies for the Azzurri under the residency rule.

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Premiership Rugby is investigating the possibility of introducing South African teams into the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The competition currently features the 12 English Premiership clubs and the 4 Welsh regions.

But changes to rugby’s calendar post-2019 would offer English rugby bosses the chance to invite Currie Cup teams into the developmental tournament.

The prospective competition would run during the international windows in November and February / March.

The Currie Cup is the second tier of professional rugby in South Africa.

Currently, club tournaments are split into hemispheres but it is understood there is now a more open-minded approach to arranging them by time-zones.

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Lock Joe Launchbury and centre Jonathan Joseph are set to lead a list of shock English exclusions from the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.  Both men, who starred in England’s Six Nations triumph, face being left out of Warren Gatland’s squad, which will be named at 12:00 BST (13:00 SA Time) on Wednesday.

About 14 Englishmen are expected to be in the 37-39-man party, including prop Kyle Sinckler and centre Ben Te’o.

But England captain Dylan Hartley’s chances are rated as 50-50.

Other stalwarts of Eddie Jones’ side, such as flankers James Haskell and Chris Robshaw, and fly-half George Ford, are also thought to be unlikely to force their way into Gatland’s plans at this stage.

Despite finishing fifth in the Six Nations, Wales are still set for a strong contingent of up to 11 players, with the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, prospective captain Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau, Rhys Webb, Jonathan Davies and George North among those highly likely to be included.

Conversely, winning three of their five matches in the Championship seems unlikely to have helped Scotland’s representatives, with full-back Stuart Hogg the only selection certainty.

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Nick Evans

Former All-Blacks fly-half Nick Evans is to retire at the end of the season, once his commitments with Premiership side Harlequins come to an end.

Evans, 36, won 16 caps for New Zealand and has been one of the most successful overseas imports to the Premiership since moving to the Stoop in 2008.

He won a Premiership title in 2011-12 and holds Quins’ scoring record, having amassed 2,217 points in 206 games.

“I couldn’t think of a better place to finish my career,” Evans said.

“This game has taught me everything, showed me things I could never imagine and introduced me to people that are not team-mates but family.

“I need to thank the clubs I have represented, the coaches – who have helped shape the player I am today – and the fans, both in New Zealand where it all started, and here in the UK, for their support and cheers.”

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Grayson Hart

Grayson Hart is set to become the second player to join Ealing Trailfinders from Glasgow Warriors this year when the international scrum-half signs on in time for pre-season.

Hart has won three caps for Scotland and follows the route paved by fly-half Rory Clegg who arrived from Glasgow Warriors in February.

“It is such an exciting time to be joining the Ealing Trailfinders as they are playing some excellent rugby and I want to help the club continue to grow.

“I want to contribute to the club on and off the field as best as I possibly can and keep developing as a player and a person.”

The 28-year-old Hart hails from Kaitaia in New Zealand and helped their U20 side win the 2008 U20 World Championship with a 38-3 win over England in the final.

However, he qualified to play for Scotland through his maternal grandmother and won his first cap away to Canada on Scotland’s 2016 summer tour. He then won a further two against Argentina and South Africa.

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Oli Kebble

Oli Kebble will join the Warriors next season and the South African-born prop says he has ambitions to play international rugby for Scotland.

Oli will join Glasgow Warriors from the Cape Town-based Stormers after his Super Rugby commitments and will qualify for Scotland honours after completing three years of residency under World Rugby’s eligibility criteria.

He could follow in the footsteps of fellow-prop WP Nel who qualified for Scotland during his time with Edinburgh.

Oli said: “That’s definitely a goal of mine. I’d love to play international rugby and to play for Scotland would be a great honour. I know there’s a three-year waiting period and we’ll see how far I come, but it would definitely be a great thing if I could represent Scotland one day.

“For any rugby player, the ultimate goal would be to play international rugby, so I definitely considered that when talking to the Scottish Rugby Union, and that’s why I chose Glasgow in the end.”
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Lewis Carmichael

Edinburgh Rugby lock Lewis Carmichael has joined Australian Super Rugby outfit Western Force on a short-term loan as part of his personal player development plan.

Carmichael – a first year pro who also plays for Melrose in the BT Premiership –  will be available for the Perth based side until the end of the current Super Rugby campaign.

The agreement was brokered by Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson, and Edinburgh Rugby’s Managing Director, Jonny Petrie, and is designed to help players gain experience in a different training and cultural environment.

Carmichael, who progressed through the Scotland age-grade system, said: “I’m really excited to get out to Australia and it was an offer that I jumped to take.

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Friction burns to Merthyr players from Pontypridd 3G pitch

A Welsh rugby coach has posted photographs on social media of burns his players received playing on an artificial pitch.

Merthyr RFC coach Lee Jarvis said seven players suffered the friction burns to their legs and arms after their match at Sardis Road, Pontypridd.

Merthyr were playing RGC 1404 in the National Cup semi-final on Sunday.

A spokesman for Pontypridd RFC said the club had no comment to make.

Merthyr RFC posted photos of the injuries on Twitter.

Mr Jarvis said: “The pitch was a little bit dry on the weekend and the boys came away with some nasty burns.

“With the weather being dry, they do say you need to water the pitch.”

He said the players would be assessed later to see if they are fit to play their fixture against Pontypridd on Saturday.

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WP Nel

Edinburgh Rugby today announced the re-signing of Scotland international tighthead prop Willem ‘WP’ Nel on a three-year deal.

The highly sought-after front-row’s contract extension will keep him at the capital club until at least May 2020.

Nel joined Edinburgh Rugby in 2012 on a three-year deal, which was subsequently extended, and has made 102 appearances in the black and red since debuting against Munster the same year.

Renowned primarily for his world-class scrummaging, Nel has many strings to his bow and has crossed the whitewash on 15 occasions, scoring 75 points for the capital club.

Nel qualified to play for Scotland through residency in 2015 and went on to make his international debut later that year against Italy in Turin.

He has since been awarded 15 Scotland caps – including appearances in all of the national side’s Rugby World Cup 2015 and 2016 RBS 6 Nations matches – scoring two tries in the process.

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British Lions

Eddie Jones says the British and Irish Lions should name four captains for the tour of New Zealand – one from each of their four national teams.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has said “half-a-dozen players are in contention” to lead his squad.

England’s Dylan Hartley, Ireland’s Rory Best, Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones and Greig Laidlaw of Scotland are among those.

“I would take those four captains and make that the leadership group,” England coach Jones said.

“Then after the warm-up games, whoever was the leading player I would make captain for the first Test,” added the Australian.

“You look at the last Lions tour and Sam Warburton captained the first two and Alun Wyn Jones captained the third, so I think you can separate it.

“It would be different but I would reckon you would get a great result, with those four captains running the team for you and making sure they set the standards on and off the field.”

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Cornell du Preez

Head Coach Vern Cotter has made one change to the starting Scotland side to face England at Twickenham Stadium this Saturday in the RBS 6 Nations (kick-off 4pm UK time, 6pm SA time).

Edinburgh Rugby back-row Hamish Watson returns to the front-line having started the opening two rounds of the Championship. He takes the place of the injured John Hardie (knee), whom he replaced in the 25th minute of the last round’s win over Wales.

Uncapped clubmate Cornell Du Preez takes Watson’s vacated place on the bench and will make his debut if called upon.

The Scots are seeking a first win in English headquarters since 1983 and a first Triple Crown since 1990, while England aim to equal New Zealand’s record of 18-straight Test wins for a tier-one nation.

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Owen Farrell should be fit for England’s Calcutta Cup meeting with Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday despite injuring his leg in training.

The 25-year-old centre left training early on Thursday, but is expected to feature in Friday’s captains’ run.

“He ran into someone at training, simple as that,” said head coach Eddie Jones, who initially joked Farrell had collided with the Australian’s dog.

“He’s in doubt but we will see. He should be right.”

Victory for England over Scotland would give the defending Six Nations champions a record-equalling 18th consecutive win and put them one win away from a second straight Grand Slam.

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Grayson Hart

Scrumhalf Grayson Hart currently plies his trade with Glasgow Warriors after starting his rugby life in Scotland in the eastern side of the Central Belt at Edinburgh Rugby. The man born in Kaitai, New Zealand, played for New Zealand U20s back in 2008 and by virtue of heritage has also represented Scotland. He has Super Rugby experience having played for the Blues and Waratahs.

In between his rugby commitments Grayson spends some time working on his blog and doing podcasts. He draws on the many lessons he has learned in his life thus far and aims to provide help and inspiration to others to function better in life through his material.

Grayon’s most recent piece of work follows the tragic events surrounding the passing of Daniel Vickerman and while it may be a sombre read at times it also provides motivation and a very insightful look into life for some as professional sports people. One that I thought well worth sharing on our platform.

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Josh Strauss

Sale Sharks are delighted to announce the signing of Scottish International Back Row Forward Josh Strauss on a three year deal.

Josh is currently playing for Glasgow Warriors who he joined in 2012 from The Lions and Golden Lions where he was captain.

He made his Currie Cup debut in 2010 and became a cult figure with his style of play and distinctive full length beard.

Josh has been capped eleven times by Scotland after making his international debut against Japan in the 2015 World Cup at Kingsholm.

Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said: ” Josh is a world class ball carrying forward. He has been performing well for both Glasgow and Scotland over the past five years and will compliment the squad in the ball carrying department. He is a leader and a very powerful athlete.

“The new owners Simon Orange and Ged Mason are keen to help Sale Sharks to become one of the leading clubs and signings like Josh will help our cause.”

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A first win over Wales in 11 years has seen Scotland climb to their highest ever position of fifth in the World Rugby Rankings.

Vern Cotter has achieved what none of his predecessors as head coach could do by steering Scotland to an all-time high of fifth place in the World Rugby Rankings.

Following their first win over Wales since 2006 Scotland have moved above Saturday’s vanquished opponents and South Africa in the rankings, which were first introduced in October 2003, after gaining 1.28 rating points.

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England coach Eddie Jones said an unexpected Italy tactic “wasn’t rugby” as they frustrated the Six Nations champions before finally losing 36-15.

Italy led 10-5 at half-time as they chose not to compete at the breakdown, allowing them to step into the England line without going offside.

But the hosts found a way through with five tries in the second period.

 “Well done Italy, very smart. We knew they’d come with something,” Jones said.

“But it wasn’t rugby. We haven’t played a game of rugby yet.

“I’m not critical of Italy, they did what they needed to do to stay in the game.”

Italy coach Conor O’Shea defended the tactic, saying: “Everything we did was completely legal; I was incredibly proud of what the players put out there.”

At one stage, England captain Dylan Hartley and team-mate James Haskell asked referee Romain Poite to clarify the law, but the Frenchman replied: “I am a referee, not a coach.”

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Richard Cockerill

Richard Cockerill has been appointed Head Coach of Edinburgh Rugby with effect from the start of next season.

The three-time Premiership winning coach has signed a two-year deal and will relocate to Scotland for the new role after his recent spell with Toulon.

Edinburgh Acting Head Coach Duncan Hodge will remain in his current role until the end of the season and then return to his previous position as backs coach with the club.

Edinburgh Rugby’s assistant coaches Stevie Scott and Pete Wilkins remain in post.

After two spells playing for Leicester and two years at Montferrand Cockerill spent 12 years in coaching roles at Leicester Tigers, rising through the ranks to become Head Coach in 2009 and then Director of Rugby in 2010.

He led the team to Premiership semi-finals every season he was in charge and won back to back titles in 2009, 2010 and a subsequent title in 2013.

During his time with the club he also reached the Heineken Cup Final in Edinburgh in 2009 and won the LV Cup in 2012.

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BrandonThomson

Glasgow Warriors have signed fly-half Brandon Thomson on a short-term deal from the Stormers in South Africa.

He has started training with his new teammates at Scotstoun, after arriving in Glasgow from Cape Town.

The 21-year-old will be at the club for the next two months, with Finn Russell away with Scotland and Peter Horne currently sidelined with an ankle injury.

Thomson has played six times in Super Rugby for the Stormers and has scored 26 points.

He has also represented South Africa U20s at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship and has played for Western Province in the Provincial Cup and Currie Cup.

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Sale winger Tom Arscott has been sacked after he allegedly leaked confidential team information to Bristol before their Premiership game on 1 January.

The 29-year-old met with brother and Bristol back Luke when he visited their team hotel the night before the match, which the West Country side won 24-23.

Sale suspended Arscott on 4 January and carried out an internal investigation.

 Bristol boss Mark Tainton had said “nothing of any sporting value” had been passed on to his coaches.

However, Sale complained to the Rugby Football Union before suspending Arscott.

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The Rugby Football Union (RFU) may impose a five-year residency rule on England if World Rugby fails to increase the existing eligibility level.

A player currently becomes eligible when they have lived in a country for three years.

But a campaign led by World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot is seeking to raise the level by a further 24 months.

 RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie says it is “absolutely the route to go down”.

He added: “In an ideal world there would be universality of regulation and there’s a helpful way of dealing with this, and that’s by moving the World Rugby regulation from three to five years.”

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Cornell du Preez gets Scotland call up

Head Coach Vern Cotter today named a 37-man Scotland squad for the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Among the group is 37-times capped Gloucester centre Matt Scott who – after missing out on selection in the autumn – has earned a recall thanks to a number of impressive performances for the Kingsholm club, scoring 12 tries in 18 games this season.

Cotter has also named uncapped Edinburgh Rugby forwards Simon Berghan (prop) and Cornell Du Preez (back-row).

Du Preez (25) is a popular figure in the capital, scoring 14 tries in 71 appearances. He became eligible to represent Scotland last year after completing three years of residency in the country.

Berghan (26) joined Edinburgh Rugby in 2013 and is eligible to represent Scotland through his grandfather, Andrew Davidson, from Stirling. The 20st, 6’3” prop has made 24 appearances for the capital club.

Berghan and returning Newcastle Falcons’ tighthead Jon Welsh are among the seven props named in the squad, with the national team awaiting the results of a scan this evening (Wednesday) that will confirm the availability of Edinburgh Rugby’s Willem Nel, who injured his neck in the club’s European Challenge Cup win over Harlequins on Saturday (14 January).

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WP Nel on the rampage against Harlequins

Tighthead prop WP Nel is among four changes to Edinburgh Rugby’s starting XV to face Harlequins in Saturday’s round five European Challenge Cup clash at Twickenham Stoop (kick-off 1500 GMT, 1700 SA Time).

Scotland cap Nel – who has been out of action with a neck injury since October – comes in to take the number three jersey in one of two changes to the starting pack.

The other amendment comes in the back-row where Hamish Watson – who this week signed a new two-year deal with the club – starts on the openside flank.

In the backline, experienced operator Phil Burleigh returns at inside-centre, with club centurion Tom Brown set to start on the left wing.

Acting Head Coach, Duncan Hodge, said: “There’s a lot at stake for both sides tomorrow, which makes for an exciting tie.  Harlequins’ home record speaks for itself, and we have no doubt about the size of task ahead, but there is a good buzz in camp and a belief that we can go down to London and do what is required of us.”

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Eddie Jones has said that Dylan Hartley would continue to captain England if he was fit enough to be selected.

Northampton hooker Hartley is serving a six-week ban for catching Leinster’s Sean O’Brien with a swinging arm in a Champions Cup match in December.

Jones, 56, said last month that the 30-year-old had “let his country down” with the third red card of his career.

But the Australian said on Tuesday that Hartley was “doing everything right” to be England captain for the forthcoming Six Nations.

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Racing 92 are to launch legal proceedings against want-away Springbok utility back Johan Goosen over what they allege is”blatant fraud”.

The Parisian club said the 24-year-old, player of the year last season in France, had not appeared “for the last two days and seems to have vacated his residence,”

Last month the Springboks star said he was quitting rugby to return to South Africa.

“As far as Racing 92 is concerned, Johan Goosen still remains bound to the club by an employment contract lasting four years, while his residence, company car, locker and place in the locker-room all remain at his disposal,” said the club, who play Munster in European action this weekend.

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Stuart Hogg will start at fly-half for Glasgow Warriors for the first time in the Guinness PRO12 match away to Benetton Treviso this afternoon.

Stuart Hogg

Despite having moved to the stand-off position during games and starting there for the British & Irish Lions, it is the first time Hogg will wear the Warriors number 10 shirt.

Rob Harley could make his 150th appearance for the club from the bench and would join an elite group of six other players who have reached that milestone.

With Hogg moving up field, Peter Murchie starts at full-back and will be flanked by Tommy Seymour and Junior Bulumakau, who has scored in both of his appearances for Glasgow so far this season, with the most recent coming in the win over Edinburgh Rugby at BT Murrayfield on Monday.

Nick Grigg starts at outside centre and was named Man of the Match in Glasgow’s previous trip to Italy this season in the win over Zebre. He once again teams up with Sam Johnson in the centres.

Combining with Hogg, Henry Pyrgos will captain the side from scrum-half.

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