Scottish Rugby has confirmed Glasgow Warriors assistant coach, Shade Munro, will be the new head coach of the Scotland Women’s team.
Munro will move into the role over the summer and is charged with progressing the women’s national side in line with the forthcoming National Strategy for Women & Girls’ Rugby which is being developed by Head of Women & Girls’ Rugby, Sheila Begbie MBE.
The 48-year-old former lock, capped 7 times for Scotland, has worked his way up the coaching ladder since retiring from playing in 1997 and will bring 18 years of coaching experience to the role.
After coaching initially at club level with Glasgow Hawks, Munro moved on to Glasgow Warriors as assistant coach in 2002, was part of the Scotland coaching set-up in 2006 and, as head coach in 2013, helped Scotland A to victory over England for the 1st time south of the border.
In 20 years of the professional rugby age you could probably count the good news stories in the Scottish game on the fingers of 1 hand – or both hands if you were being generous.
This past week has been huge, however. Nobody is extrapolating Test match glory from Glasgow’s PRO12 skilful and clinical victory over Munster in Belfast last Saturday, but it was an uplifting occasion nonetheless.
On Thursday, Mark Dodson, the chief executive of Scottish Rugby, spoke about the union’s latest rugby academy, operating out of Edinburgh Napier University. The Edinburgh programme is run alongside others in Cumbernauld, Aberdeen and the Borders and all are for players age 14 and up.
Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal took aim at the Stade Bordeaux spectators for showing “disrespect” to 1 of the game’s greatest players.
Stade Français stunned triple European champions Toulon 33 / 16 last Friday to reach the French Top 14 Final.
Led by the irrepressible Italian back row forward Sergio Parisse, Stade scored tries through flanks Rapahel Lakafia and Antoine Bourban, before a freak late score from wing Julien Arias gave a flattering skew to the final score – as they reached their 1st Final since defeating Clermont 23 / 18 in 2007.
It was a sad end for a number of veteran stalwarts, whose club careers ended with this defeat – including South Africa’s Bakkies Botha, along with Ali Williams and Carl Hayman of New Zealand.
Outgoing Toulon coach Bernard Laporte took aim at the players, for a lack of commitment, but the club President, Boudjellal, turned anger on the spectators.
Gregor Townsend had the following to say:
If Carlsberg did rugby weekends… well it was very much a Guinness weekend for us and I’m sure our supporters enjoyed some of the sponsor’s product in Belfast and in the many pubs and rugby clubs throughout Scotland after the final whistle last Saturday night.
It was a joy to watch our players perform so well in such an important game and as a coaching group we were immensely proud of their efforts. Even better was the reaction to this performance from our sizeable travelling support. Their constant noise and some new chants made it a great occasion at the Kingspan Stadium – a venue that will now forever have fond memories for Glasgow supporters.
Over the past few weeks I’ve written about the culture of Glasgow Warriors and how this has been the foundation for our success. The on-field development over the past 3 years also tells a story of how the players have improved to become a much stronger team. The following games illustrate this progress.
Guy Noves, the mythical manager of Top 14 giants Toulouse will take over as head coach of France following this year’s World Cup.
The 61-year-old is set to take up the post in November after fighting off competition from Bordeaux-Begles manager Raphael Ibanez amongst others, according to respected sports daily L’Equipe and radio station RMC.
A vote to decide the successor to current coach Philippe Saint-Andre was carried out in a secret ballot at the French Rugby Federation headquarters on Friday.
The FFR have announced they will make the decision official on Sunday following the Top 14 playoff clash between Toulouse and Oyonnax who meet on Saturday.
Toulouse are still in the running for a 20th French championship but must 1st overcome the challenge of Oyonnax if they want to keep their bid alive.
Noves, who has coached Toulouse since 1993 and is the most titled coach in French rugby, is set to be joined by 2 of his former players – current forwards coach Yannick Bru and Stade Francais backs’ coach Jean-Frederic Dubois.
Finn Russell inspired Glasgow Warriors to their maiden Guinness PRO12 title with a solid kicking display and a 2nd-half try to sink Munster in Belfast.
But there was to be no repeat of last year’s defeat to Leinster, as Glasgow showed their superior cutting edge to clinch a 31 / 13 victory and give retiring captain Al Kellock the perfect send-off.
A blistering 1st half saw Rob Harley, DTH van der Merwe and Henry Pyrgos each cross over for the Warriors, but Andrew Smith’s score just before the break sent Munster in just 11 points off the pace.
That deficit was cut to 8 early in the 2nd half, but Russell flew over on the hour and the Warriors expertly saw out the contest to ensure Munster’s wait for a 4th PRO12 crown goes on for at least another year.
Glasgow were let off when Ian Keatley’s early long-range penalty fell short of the posts but they almost stole a march towards the Munster line soon after, only for a heroic tap-tackle from stand-in captain Denis Hurley to halt van der Merwe’s charge.
Barbarians (5) 12 / 73 (45) England (Final Score)
The Barbarians and an England XV did battle in a Barbarian Celebration
match at Twickenham, London at 16:00 SA Time (15:00 BST, 14:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 5 on TV in SA.
Owen Farrell helped himself to a personal tally of 18 points, as Saracens got their hands back on the Premiership trophy, beating Bath 28 / 16 and becoming the 1st side to finish outside the Top 2 in the regular season and go on to be crowned champions.
Saracens got off to a flying start as flyhalf Farrell touched down after only 6 minutes and England teammate Jamie George followed him over the whitewash shortly after.
And Chris Wyles added a 3rd try as Saracens went into the break 25 / 3 ahead, Bath having just a solitary George Ford penalty on hte board.
But Bath, appearing in their 1st Premiership Final since 2004, came out stronger after the break and Jonathan Joseph’s try and the boot of Ford got them back into the contest as they trailed 16 / 25 with a quarter of the game to go.
However, man-of-the-match Ford stretched Saracens lead with a penalty and from then on Mark McCall’s men never looked like relinquishing their lead as they got their hands back on the trophy for the 1st time since 2011.
Joe Launchbury and Ed Slater will resume their international careers by lining up for an England XV against the Barbarians today (Sunday).
The lock pairing will feature in a side captained by scrum-half Lee Dickson, and with Mathew Tait at fullback.
The squad features 10 players from Stuart Lancaster’s initial World Cup squad, including Danny Cipriani at No 10.
New Zealand’s World Cup-winning forward Brad Thorn skippers an experienced BaaBaas side at Twickenham.
If Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final is being billed as “Beauty against the Beast” – the carefree attacking play of Bath’s young backs against the suffocating Saracens defence – then there is little doubt which individual player represents the latter in this analogy.
When Sarries are at their best – when their defence is at its most intense and brutal – flanker Jacques Burger invariably leads from the front.
Bath are looking to end their 19-year wait for a top-flight title as they face Saracens in the Premiership final.
The Blue, Black and Whites have selected the same team that thumped Leicester in the semi-finals last week.
Saracens, winners in 2011 and beaten finalists last season, have reached the final for the fourth time in six years.
Like Bath, Sarries have also named an unchanged side, meaning 18 of England’s World Cup training squad will be in action at Twickenham on Saturday.
Their only change from the squad that won at Northampton Saints – the team that beat them in last year’s final – comes among the replacements, with hooker Schalk Brits returning after illness.
Big-spending French giants Toulon are finding the going tough in luring Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth to France after this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Reports late last year indicated that Etzebeth could join Toulon as a replacement for compatriot Bakkies Botha, who is set to leave the reigning European champions.
The problem though for Toulon is that Etzebeth is still contracted to Western Province until the end of the 2016 season – and the union is reluctant to let him go.
Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal has confirmed their interest in Etzebeth, but admitted that they are finding the going tough to attain Etzebeth’s services, with Western Province believed to be upset over the matter.
Montpellier, coached by former Springbok and Sharks mentor Jake White, have announced that 19 players will leave the club at the end of the season, including former All Black Rene Ranger and ex-Springbok Wynand Olivier.
Rene Ranger is set to return to New Zealand with the Blues in next season’s Super Rugby.
There is already a large South African contingent at Montpellier.
Shaun Sowerby is White’s assistant coach, while Pat Cilliers (prop) and Robert Ebersohn (centre) already ply their trade there.
Other South Africans soon to join include Jacobie Adriaanse (Llanelli Scarlets, prop), Schalk van der Merwe (Lions, prop), Demetri Catrakilis (Stormers, flyhalf), Jacques du Plessis (Bulls, loose forward / lock), Cameron Wright (Sharks, scrumhalf / flyhalf) and Wiaan Liebenberg (Bulls, loose forward).
Leinster’s Shane Jennings will captain the Barbarians against Ireland at Thomond Park on Thursday.
The Leinster and Ireland flank retires from the professional game in June after a distinguished career in which he has won 13 caps for Ireland, Pro12 and European Cup titles for Leinster and a Premiership title with Leicester Tigers.
He captains a starting side containing 9 different nationalities with 466 international appearances between them for the game in Limerick on 28 May.
It includes his Leinster teammates Zane Kirchner and Jimmy Gopperth with Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar also starting for the famous invitation club celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has named 10 players from his World Cup training group in a squad of 24 to play the Barbarians next Sunday Twickenham.
The England side will be captained by experienced scrumhalf Lee Dickson, who has 18 international caps to his name, and who also led the England Saxons team to victory against the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork earlier this year.
The other World Cup training squad members named are Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers) and Marland Yarde (Harlequins).
The fixture will provide an opportunity for those who narrowly missed out on initial selection for the 50-man training squad to press their claims as well as allowing a number of up-and-coming players to work with Lancaster and his senior coaching group.
The latest news from the Barbarians camp is that both Zane Kirchner and Ruan Pienaar have been called up to join the Barbarians for the matches against Ireland and England.
The Barbarians face Ireland at Thomond Park (28 May) and an England XV at Twickenham (31 May).
They will line up alongside the likes of Joe Rokocoko, George Smith, Adam Jones, Alex Cuthbert, Gio Aplon and Thomas Waldrom for the famous invitation club that celebrates the 125th anniversary of its foundation this year.
World Cup-winning Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar has also been called up to complete the Barbarians squad to face Ireland and England this week.
Apart from Pienaar, who became available after his Irish province Ulster suffered a dramatic 14 / 16 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12 semifinals at the weekend, Barbarians head coach Robbie Deans also added other high-profile names like England international wing Ugo Monye, also with All Blacks forwards Brad Thorn and Jason Eaton.
Australian legend George Smith will get a taste of Champions Cup next season after agreeing a switch from Lyon to Wasps.
The 34-year-old flank, part of the Wallabies side that beat the British & Irish Lions in 2001 and reached the 2003 World Cup final, retired from international rugby with 111 caps after 1 final appearance against the Lions in 2013.
He played for the Brumbies for 11 years before switching to Europe and then Japan. He played for Toulon in the old Heineken Cup in 2010 / 2011, helping them reach the quarterfinals, and the following season played for Stade Francais Paris in the Challenge Cup, reaching the semifinals.
He made 24 appearances for Lyon last season, but couldn’t stop them from losing their Top 14 status. He will join a Wasps team that retained its Champions Cup place and will get his 1st taste of Premiership rugby, battling for a place with James Haskell, Ashley Johnson, Nathan Hughes, Guy Thompson, Sam Jones and Thomas Young.
Munster will face Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12 final in Ravenhill after an incredible 21 / 18 win over Ospreys at Thomond Park.
Josh Matavesi crossed at the death for what would have been the winning try for the Ospreys but a knock-on in the build-up meant the try was ruled out and Munster progressed to the final.
Bath reached their 1st Premiership final since 2004 with a comfortable play-off semi-final win over Leicester.
A brace from Matt Banahan and a Kyle Eastmond try put the hosts in control, but they ended the 1st half with 13 men as Tom Youngs replied.
2Nd-half tries from Peter Stringer, George Ford and Anthony Watson sealed Bath’s passage to Twickenham as Banahan completed his hat-trick late on.
The Blue, Black and Whites will face Saracens in the final on 30 May.
Owen Farrell produced a nerveless kicking display as Saracens avenged last year’s extra-time defeat to Northampton Saints by booking their place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final once more.
David Strettle got Sarries off to a flying start but Northampton’s pack responded to win a Penalty Try, before the 2 sides traded scores early in the 2nd half through Jamie George and Tom Wood.
But it was the battle between England flyhalves Farrell and Stephen Myler that ultimately settled this semi-final, with the Sarries man besting his counterpart by 19 points to 14 from the tee – including an ice-cool 77th minute penalty to take the game out of the defending champions’ reach.
Glasgow Warriors left it late but eventually overcame a huge challenge from Ulster to clinch a PRO12 Grand Final place.
The Irish province had much the better of the opening exchanges and took control midway through the opening period with Chris Henry’s try.
But Glasgow came out fired up for the 2nd half and kept themselves in touch before DTH van der Merwe levelled the scores on his final Scotstoun appearance 5 minutes from time.
The score sent the 10 000 sell-out crowd into ecstasy but there was still work to be done as Finn Russell lined up the decisive conversion.
New Zealand’s Crusaders announced on Wednesday they will play English Premiership club Saracens in New Orleans on 1 August, in a fixture designed to capitalise on growing US interest in rugby.
The Crusaders, 7-time Super Rugby champions, said they will field their development side for the 1-off fixture at the 70 000 capacity SuperDome.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said the match, to be called The Hemispheres Cup, was a rare north-south club clash.
Charles Piutau has been told by the New Zealand Rugby Union that he cannot play for the Blues next year.
The 23-year-old, has accepted a deal with Pro12 club Ulster midway through the 2016 year, and he wanted to play for the Blues before he left.
If Piutau was allowed to continue playing in Auckland next year he would be available for more than 10 of the Blues Super Rugby games in the 2016 season before his obligations at Ulster began.
However NZRU has denied the opportunity for the 23-year-old to continue playing for the Blues next year, applying its regulation that Super Rugby players must available for All Blacks Test duty.
Former Springbok coach Jake White was being linked as a possible successor to France coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
Saint-Andre, who has won only 15 of 37 Tests in charge of France, will step down after this year’s Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.
According to Britain’s Telegraph, there is no shortage of top coaches eager to replace him, with White and former England coach Clive Woodward believed to be in the running.
Woodward, England’s 2003 World Cup winning mentor, has reportedly been involved in discussions with French bosses and it is alleged as many as 66 names were presented and they have been whittled down to a shortlist of 8.
Stuart Lancaster has announced England’s extended training squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The 50-man group will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Monday 22 June to begin preparing for the tournament, which starts against Fiji, at Twickenham, on Friday 18 September.
England will also face France home and away and Ireland at Twickenham as part of the QBE Internationals as they build towards the World Cup.
Five eye-catching inclusions are Luke Cowan-Dickie, Maro Itoje, Sam Burgess, Elliot Daly and Henry Slade, all of whom featured in an 18 / 9 victory for England Saxons over Ireland Wolfhounds back in January.
Calum Clark and Ed Slater bring the tally of uncapped players to 7. Each of them will be vying for a Test debut.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has favoured experience as he named Montpellier flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and Toulon veteran Frederic Michalak in his 36-man squad for the World Cup.
Trinh-Duc, 28, and Michalak, 32, were given the nod ahead of Clermont flyhalf Camille Lopez, 26, for the 18 September to 31 October tournament in England.
“We really chose experience,” said Saint-Andre, whose side bid to overturn a record of just 15 wins for 2 draws and 20 defeats in the past 3 years.
“Both in terms of Francois Trinh-Duc, who has returned to form for his club and knows a World Cup (2011) as has Remi Tales, who knows our systems well and the France team,” the France coach continued.
Springbok loose forward Francois Louw is backing his Bath teammate Sam Burgess to make his debut for England on the flank.
Rugby League convert Burgess has impressed since moving to the back row from the centres, and is widely tipped to be included in England’s pre-World Cup training squad – which will be named on Wednesday.
“I don’t think Sam will struggle at international level,” said Louw. “He will hold his own.”
“Stuart Lancaster has his hands full with loose forwards, but it’s not going to be too long before Sam makes his international debut on the flank.”
“Maybe it will be at this year’s World Cup and I’ll see him there.”
England’s Rugby World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward is in the hunt to succeed Philippe Saint-Andre as France manager, L’Equipe reported on Monday.
The sports daily says the 59-year-old’s name is 1 of the 8 candidates on the French rugby federation’s shortlist to take over Les Bleus after this year’s World Cup.
The federation, which has not identified any of the finalists, will name Saint-Andre’s successor by the end of May after the 8 remaining candidates are interviewed by the federation’s selection panel.
The names most bandied about as Saint-Andre’s successor are those of Bordeaux-Begles coach Raphael Ibanez, former Montpellier manager Fabien Galthie and veteran Toulouse coach Guy Noves, who turned down the job in 2011.
L’Equipe suggests that while Woodward may be the best qualified for the job “it seems improbable that he’ll become the 1st foreign coach of Les Bleus”.
The Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, are set to sign a deal with French club Montpellier, a report in French media indicates.
Reports surfaced earlier this year that the Springbok brothers would join Montpellier on a 2-year deal after the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but Montpellier denied it at the time.
However, according to RMC Sport, the double signing of the Sharks duo is expected to be announced in the coming days.
The Du Plessis brothers are believed to have respected their earlier commitment despite having some contact with Toulon.
Montpellier are coached by former Springbok coach Jake White, who was quoted as saying after their weekend defeat at Stade Francais: “Big names will be announced in the coming days. To win the Top 14, you need the best players in the world.”
English Premiership organisers have confirmed the teams and venues for the 2015 Aviva Premiership Semi-finals.
Both Semi-finals will be played next Saturday on 23 May 2015 and the kick-off times will be at 14:00 BST (15:00 SA Time) and 17:00 BST (18:00 SA Time) and both will be broadcast on BT Sport in the UK.
Northampton Saints will host Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens in the 1st Semi-final.
In the 2nd Semi-final Bath will host Leicester Tigers at the Recreation Ground.
In the early minutes of the 2nd half at Scotstoun there was a lineout on the main stand side of the pitch, a routine set-piece that wouldn’t have mattered a damn except for the light it shone on Glasgow’s mindset at the time.
Ulster were in position 1st. Organised and buzzing and in the lead by 10 / 6. Glasgow trooped into line sluggishly.
Glasgow’s Jonny Gray stopped en route to take some instruction from the sideline and then assumed his place, slowly. Their mission to bank a home PRO12 semi-final was always going to be mountainous, but now, in these bleak moments, it had taken on the look of Everest.
Al Kellock returns to the Glasgow Warriors side for today’s massive Guinness PRO12 match with Ulster at a sold-out Scotstoun Stadium (kick-off 15:00 BST, 16:00 SA Time).
The Warriors captain, who replaces the injured Tim Swinson in the 2nd-row, could be making his final appearance at Scotstoun, following the announcement that he is to retire from rugby at the end of the season.
2nd-placed Glasgow can still secure a home play-off, but Ulster are also playing for home advantage next weekend.
With an increased capacity of around 10 000 it will be the club’s biggest home crowd for a regular season game and tickets for this match sold out in record time.
Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak has signed a 2-and-a-half-year deal with Western Province Rugby and will be available for selection from 1 July, once he has completed his current club commitments in France.
The 30-year-old will make the move back to South Africa from French giants, Toulouse; joining Nic Groom, Louis Schreuder and Godlen Masimla as the senior scrumhalf options for the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province.
The quicksilver Vermaak has won 3 Test caps for the Springboks, making his debut against Italy on 8 June 2013, before also featuring against the Wallabies and the All Blacks later that season.
England rugby union player Manu Tuilagi will not play in the World Cup after admitting assaulting police officers, head coach Stuart Lancaster has said.
The Leicester Tigers centre, 23, was fined £ 6 205.00 when he appeared before magistrates.
He had been charged with 2 counts of assaulting a police officer, assault by beating and causing criminal damage, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Lancaster said he would not be considered for England until January.
Despite signing a contract to join Clermont next season, New Zealand Rugby is reportedly hopeful of retaining Super Rugby’s top try-scorer, Waisake Naholo.
Quotes attributed to the club’s Sporting Director, Jean-Marc Lhermet, suggest the move is not a foregone conclusion given the form of the Highlanders’ winger, who has a competition-leading 8 tries in his 11 appearances.
“As it stands we have a contract of 2 years with an option that has been signed by the player,” Lhermet told La Montagne – a newspaper based in Clermont.
“It’s true that his agent reassured us initially when there were noises about the NZRU wanting to keep him. Now, his performances in Super Rugby are remarkable and we are under an increasing amount of pressure from the NZRU. And when the All Black machine gets going, it becomes complicated.