The World Rugby Sevens Series is expanding next season with a 10th tournament confirmed for Vancouver, Canada.
World Rugby announced the new tournament today, with the 60,000 seat BC Place Stadium in Vancouver set to host the Canadian leg of the world series.
Sevens has enjoyed remarkable growth in the past few years with the addition of the sport to the Olympic programme.
Canada are one of the teams that have seen rapid improvement in their performances on the field, and hosting a home tournament is just reward for their passion for the game.
Rugby Canada’s successful bid came through a competitive tender process involving 25 destinations.
Ireland have called in loose forward Roger Wilson and lock Billy Holland to their training squad ahead of the game against England at the Aviva Stadium.
The Ulster and Munster players complete Joe Schmidt’s 36-man group that will prepare for Sunday’s critical Six Nations Championship showdown in Dublin.
Only prop James Cronin, flank Robbie Diack, scrumhalf Kieran Marmion and prop Nathan White are unavailable due to injury as Ireland prepare for Sunday.
Wales have recalled wing George North in place of Alex Cuthbert for the Six Nations match against France.
North missed the 26 / 23 win over Scotland on 15 February after suffering concussion in the opening defeat by England.
Lock Luke Charteris, prop Samson Lee and hooker Scott Baldwin were also named in the team for the game in Paris on Saturday as coach Warren Gatland made 4 changes.
Charteris replaced Jake Ball who started in the win over Scotland at Murrayfield.
England fullback Mike Brown is unlikely to return to action in time for the crucial Six Nations clash against Ireland following a setback in his recovery from concussion.
The 29-year-old felt a recurrence of his symptoms on Friday after being knocked unconscious in the 47 / 17 victory over Italy and having completed a weekend of rest has restarted the return to play protocols.
The earliest the Harlequins star will be able to resume contact training is Friday, the day head coach Stuart Lancaster announces his starting line-up for Sunday’s showdown between the Championship’s only remaining unbeaten teams in Dublin.
It leaves Brown – who had an outstanding tournament last year scoring 4 tries – with a race against time to prove his fitness knowing any further flare-up in symptoms will force him to start the protocols again and rule him out of contention.
Head coach Vern Cotter today (Monday) added 5 capped internationalists to Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations squad, 5 days out from the Round 3 Test against Italy this Saturday at BT Murrayfield (28 February, kick-off 14:30 GMT, 16:30 SA Time).
Scrum-half Chris Cusiter and prop Moray Low have been called up from English Premiership clubs Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs, along with Glasgow Warriors duo Adam Ashe (No 8) and Alex Allan (prop), and Edinburgh No 8 David Denton.
Cusiter (knee) and Ashe (neck) were absent from Cotter’s initial squad selection due to injury, but have recovered to earn the recall, while Denton has recovered from the calf tear sustained in the national team’s pre-Championship camp in Glasgow last month.
The New Zealand Rugby Union said they had contracted a specialist monitoring service to ensure match-fixing does not taint All Blacks, Super Rugby or domestic matches.
It said the Swiss-based company would use its fraud detection system to monitor betting around New Zealand fixtures for the next 2 years.
NZRU general manager Neil Sorensen said there was no suggestion match-fixing was a problem in New Zealand, but there was no room for complacency.
All Black skipper Richie McCaw on Thursday dropped the strongest hint yet he will retire after this year’s World Cup in England and bring his glittering career to an end.
The 34-year-old captain of New Zealand, the reigning World Cup champions, admitted he was considering hanging up his boots, but was not yet ready to make a definitive announcement, preferring to focus on the ongoing Super Rugby season with the Crusaders.
“Honestly, I haven’t made any final decision, but probably the likelihood is I’m not going to be playing next year,” McCaw said at a Crusaders training session, in comments published on New Zealand Rugby’s official website.
The Barbarians will make London’s Olympic Stadium their home for the first rugby match to be played at the iconic venue ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The world famous invitation side have a number of high profile international matches throughout the year in celebration of their 125th anniversary, including this fixture against Samoa on Saturday 29 August (15:00 BST) at the Olympic Stadium.
The match will be delivered in partnership between the Barbarians, E20 Stadium LLP (a joint venture between the London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council), and England Rugby 2015, Tournament Organisers for Rugby World Cup 2015.
The match is also part of England Rugby 2015’s testing programme and will allow the organisers to trial aspects of match day delivery ahead of the venue hosting five Rugby World Cup matches, including the Bronze Final, later this year.
Following his 2014 breakout season for the Highlanders and All Blacks, Malakai Fekitoa has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby for 2 years, extending his contract until at least the end of 2017.
Fekitoa’s commitment is a major coup for both New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders and he joins a growing list of current All Blacks who have recommitted beyond this year.
He was 1 of only 4 players to play in all 17 Highlanders’ games last year, staking his claim on the No 13 jersey early with his eye-catching performance in the opening round of the 2014 Super Rugby Competition against his old team, the Blues.
He was also 1 of 2 players to play every possible minute for their team last season (1360 across 17 appearances), the other being Michael Hooper who played 1440, including the Final.
Finn Russell, the Scotland outside half, appeared today before an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee at Heathrow, having been cited under Law 10.4 (e) and (i) for an alleged dangerous tackle of an opponent in the air in the 31st minute of the RBS 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales on Sunday 15 February 2015.
The Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Mike Hamlin (England) along with Jean-Philippe Lachaume (France) and Pat Barriscale (Ireland), having heard from the player and his representative and viewed various TV angles of the incident, determined that Finn Russell had committed an act of foul play which merited a Red Card rather than the on-field Yellow Card given by the Match Officials.
Castres scrumhalf Rory Kockott has been ruled out of Saturday’s crucial Top 14 game with Oyonnax, after suffering a quadriceps injury in France’s Six Nations defeat against Ireland.
The injury update came via the club’s scrum coach and recently appointed consultant Maurico Reggiardo.
The 28-year-old South Africa-born player – who became eligible to play for the French last year – may not be fit enough either to be named in the Six Nations squad for the game with Wales on Saturday week.
We are just 1 week into the Super Rugby season and there is already a lengthy list of Springboks sidelined by injury.
With captain Jean de Villiers a non-starter thanks to a knee injury which has put a question mark over his availability for the World Cup, he has been joined by Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lodewyk de Jager amd Julian Redelinghuys.
Etzebeth hurt his chest in a warm-up game against the Cheetahs at Newlands, and is only expected back in the 3rd round – the 3rd consecutive year he has missed the start of the competition.
Irish No 8 Jamie Heaslip has 3 fractured vertebrae and will miss at least 4 weeks including the potential Grand Slam decider between Six Nations champions Ireland and England in a fortnight it was announced by the IRFU on Monday.
The 31-year-old British and Irish Lions star suffered the injury after being kneed in the back by France lock Pascal Pape in Ireland’s 18 / 11 victory over the French on Saturday.
“Scans have revealed fractures of the transverse process of 3 vertebrae in Jamie’s back,” read a statement from the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Rory Kockott may be dropped after France coach Philippe Saint-Andre promised changes for their next Six Nations game against Wales.
Saint-Andre, speaking on Sunday, the day after his side lost 18 / 11 to defending Six Nations champions Ireland at Lansdowne Road, said several players had not performed at the level required for Test rugby.
While the 47-year-old, who has just 3 away wins (2 against Scotland and 1 against Argentina) to his credit since taking over at the helm after the 2011 World Cup Final, initially refused to name names he gave a curt response when asked about Kockott’s performance.
“He can do better,” said Saint-Andre.
Scotland (10) 23 / 26 (16) Wales
Where do we begin in analysing a game full of movement, liberally spiced with controversy, which ended with Wales the victors at BT Murrayfield, thus extending their unbeaten record against Scotland to 8 games?
Scotland, who contributed so much to the contest, remain pointless in the RBS 6 Nations Championship as Wales bounced back from their opening round defeat by England.
Scotland will now welcome Italy to BT Murrayfield at the end of this month, which captain Greig Laidlaw cites as a “massive” game.
“We’re getting better as a team, becoming stronger but we need to get a result,” he said.
“Small margins,” has been the mantra in international rugby for many a year but we saw it so painfully from a Scottish perspective this afternoon.
It has become a familiar refrain, a cliché. However, it will never be boring, as the Olympic dream is as much a driving force as overall victory in the Sevens World Series.
New Zealand, who recorded their first Cup win of the season by beating England in the Final in Wellington last week, gave notice yet again of their class and determination to be among the top four (automatic qualifiers) when the Olympic dream is realised in May.
Fiji However won the Las Vegas Sevens, with New Zealand ending 2nd, South Africa;s Blitzbokke 3rd and USA 4th.
Many had put a question mark on whether the All Blacks would be able to defend their title in Wellington, especially after the late withdrawal of former Sevens player of the year Tim Mikkelson, and the result even exceeded coach Gordon Tietjens’ expectations.
South Africa and Zimbabwe battled each other in their opening game of the Cricket World Cup, at Seddon Park, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field and bowl first.
South Africa was initially in early trouble, losing 4 rather quick wickets, till David Miller and JP Duminy pulled them out of the fire with good tons each, Miller not out for 138 and Duminy not out for 115… when the 50 overs concluded.
Zimbabwe seemed to be going steadily towards the target, only 2 wickets down at the 25 over mark.
Wickets kept falling at regular intervals though and at 44 overs Zimbabwe were reeling at 8 wickets down.
Zimbabwe were all out after 48.2 overs, South Africa winning by 62 runs.
South Africa: 339 / 4 (50 Overs)
Zimbabwe: 277 All Out (48.2 Overs)
Head Coach Vern Cotter has made 2 enforced changes to the starting Scotland side to face Wales at BT Murrayfield Stadium this Sunday (kick-off 15:00 BST & GMT, 17:00 SA Time).
Glasgow Warriors wing Sean Lamont – the most capped player in Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations squad with 91 appearances – has made a timely return from the calf injury that ruled him out of the nation’s opening championship match against France, as a direct replacement for club-mate Tommy Seymour, who has not yet recovered fully from the hip injury sustained in Paris.
The 2nd change sees London Irish tight-head prop Geoff Cross promoted from the bench in place of Euan Murray, who is unavailable on the Sabbath due to his religious beliefs, with Jon Welsh taking the substitute spot vacated by Cross.
Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen was honoured for his contribution to South African sport at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Van der Westhuizen, who suffers from Motor Neuron Disease, received an award for his Outstanding Contribution to South African Sport at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards held at Sandton Convention Centre.
Van der Westhuizen received a standing ovation when he received his award from former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis. Several well-known sports personalities attended the event.
Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton will play his first game in 12 weeks, after coach Joe Schmidt took a gamble to start him in the defending champion’s Six Nations clash with France at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The 29-year-old – who has not played since the victory over Australia on 22 November after suffering a third concussion in a calendar year – replaces Ian Keatley, who played in the opening 26 / 3 victory over Italy last Saturday.
Fellow veterans, No 8 Jamie Heaslip and flank Sean O’Brien, also return to the starting fifteen – the former after recovering from shoulder and knee injuries and the latter will play his first Test since the heroic loss to world champions New Zealand in November 2013.
Cell C Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie feels that SARU’s initiative to rest Springboks during the Super Rugby campaign will benefit both the national team and the bigger franchises.
SARU announced Monday that they would manage the game time of a number of key Springboks throughout the Super Rugby series following an agreement between the national board and the franchises.
It stated that players’ game time will be handled on an individual basis depending on their work load in the last year as well as injuries, in an effort to ensure the Springboks are managed as well as possible in the build-up to the World Cup in September and October.
Although not focusing on the World Cup directly, Lambie feels that enforced rest and subsequent squad rotation will benefit a bigger union such as the Sharks.
After an improved performance, though unable to turn possession into points, Scotland Women look ahead to their first home game at the new base of Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld. The team announced to take on Wales (Saturday 14 February, kick-off 17: BST & GMT) sees 4 changes to the line-up that started against France at La-Roche-sur-Yon last Saturday.
All the changes come in the backs, scrumhalf Mhairi Grieve – who will be securing her 3rd cap – moves up from the bench while Hannah Sloan comes in at wing. Injury to Gillian Inglis during the game against France sees Chloe Rollie move from centre to fullback and Hannah Smith – winning her 2nd cap – takes the No 13 jersey.
Worcester prop Tracy Balmer captains the squad again, lining up in the front-row alongside the most experienced member of the team, 72-times capped Heather Lockhart.
Mauro Bergamasco on Wednesday earned a recall to the Italian Six Nations side to take on England at Twickenham on Saturday.
The 35-year-old Zebre stalwart will win his 101st cap when he takes over at flank from Alessandro Zanni, who was injured in last weekend’s 3 / 26 loss to Ireland in the tournament’s opener.
Another veteran brought back into the starting 15 is 34-year-old Marco Bortolami, who will win his 111th cap in the second row alongside George Biagi following an injury to Quintin Geldenhuys.
Prop Eddy Ben Arous’s inclusion in place of injured Alexandre Menini is France’s only change from the win over Scotland for Saturday’s Six Nations game against Ireland in Dublin.
Menini was replaced by Racing Metro’s Ben Arous early in the second half in Saturday’s game in Paris after sustaining a foot injury.
Ben Arous, 24, will be making his 1st start after winning 2 previous caps.
Camille Lopez’s 5 penalties helped France edge out Scotland 15 / 8.
With Brice Dulin still hampered by an arm injury, Scott Spedding will again start at fullback.
Wales have made 1 change to their side to face Scotland on Sunday, with Liam Williams coming into the starting 15.
Scarlets back Williams will win his 20th cap at Murrayfield and replaces George North.
North is currently symptom free and whilst nearing the conclusion of the graduated return to play protocol the decision has been taken to allow him an elongated recovery period in light of his recent concussive episode in the autumn period.
The 1 change results in the same starting backline that beat South Africa, in the final autumn international, taking to the field this weekend.
The Australian Rugby Union and former employee Di Patston looks set for another round of ‘airing dirty laundry in public’.
Media reports in Australia revealed the highly-publicised Kurtley Beale sage – which resulted in an emotional Patston returning home prematurely from the Wallaby tour of Argentina and later resigning her position – could result in a protracted legal battle.
The ARU are expected to fight a discrimination claim brought by the former Wallaby business manager, Patston, but – according to the reports – it will result in a protracted and potentially embarrassing pubic hearing for the ARU.
Patston has engaged a well-known personal injury law firm on the New South Wales north coast to act on her behalf in a claim of ‘adverse action’ under the Fair Work Act over her employment and subsequent resignation from the ARU last October.
Teenage star Akira Ioane and 17-year old teenage brother Rieko who was outstanding in the recent Wellington Sevens for New Zealand, have both been signed by the Blues.
Akira, the loose forward, a star of Sir Gordon Tiejens’ All Black Sevens team last year, could make his debut in Saturday’s opening game of the Super Rugby for the Blues who are at home against the Chiefs.
Ioane, who has been a trainee with the Blues for the past few weeks, was named as the fulltime replacement for Peter Saili who is now playing in Europe.
Akira, who was born in Japan, has rugby in his blood with his father Eddie a former Samoan international while mother Sandra played for the Black Ferns.
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Wales will have instant video replays available to their medical staff for the remainder of the Six Nations tournament to avoid a repeat of an incident where one of their players continued playing after losing consciousness on the field.
Wales have come under criticism after winger George North played on following a clash of heads with a teammate in the second half of the 21 / 16 loss to England in Cardiff on Friday. He did not undergo a mandatory test for concussion.
In an interview posted on the Welsh Rugby Union’s website on Monday, the national medical officer, Prav Mathema, said team doctors did not see the incident involving North and that he was lucid when they arrived to treat him.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen was the star of the annual South African Rugby Union Player of the Year Awards when he walked off with 3 awards, including the main award of the season.
Vermeulen was named SARU Rugby Player of the Year after an extensive voting process, which included the country’s rugby media and the public through SARU’s online and social media platforms.
The 28-year-old Vermeulen, who will captain the DHL Stormers this year, also won the coveted SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year Awards for 2014.
“Duane has been outstanding in 2014 and these awards are just reward for the excellent form he showed last year, as one of the Springboks’ key performers and for the DHL Stormers,” said SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins.
Hot on Vermeulen’s heels, with two awards, was young Springbok flyhalf and Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard.
The game time of a number of key Springboks will be managed throughout the Vodacom Super Rugby series in the coming months, following an agreement between the South African Rugby Union and the franchises.
These players’ game time will be handled on an individual basis depending on their work load in the last year as well as injuries, in an effort to ensure the Springboks are managed as well as possible in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup in September and October.
“We are extremely grateful to the Vodacom Super Rugby franchises for agreeing to assist in ensuring our key players’ game time is managed in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
“It’s wonderful to know we have the support and cooperation of the franchises as the Springboks prepare for the Rugby World Cup and we’d like to wish them all the best for the forthcoming months of Vodacom Super Rugby.
The 2015 edition of the South African Rugby Annul goes on sale nationwide today after being launched at Sunday’s South African Rugby Union Awards in Johannesburg.
In keeping with tradition, the 44th edition of the ‘bible’ of the game once again features South Africa’s player of the year on the cover, with the newly-crowned Duane Vermeulen following in the footsteps of the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger in recent years.
“Even in this digital age, it’s vitally important to retain a physical document of record for future generations,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “SARU strives to be a world leader in the game both on and off the field and when it comes to the Annual, we are immensely proud of the quality of the book we continue to produce year in and year out.
“We like to believe that we have an outstanding yearbook but that hasn’t stopped us from raising the bar even further with this new-look, Rugby World Cup-themed edition. We’ve made it a more user-friendly size, refreshed the layout and added a depth to the statistical records that surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Roux added.
The Springbok Sevens have called up wing Rosko Specman in place of the injured Justin Geduld for the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas.
The 3-day USA rugby event kicks off this coming Friday and South Africa are the defending champions.
Geduld suffered a hamstring injury over the weekend at the Wellington Sevens, where the Springbok Sevens claimed 3rd spot after a strong finish in their playoff match against Scotland. Specman (Steval Pumas) has 1 World Series tournament under his belt.
South Africa head the log with 76 points halfway through the 9-tournament World Series and are 7 points clear of New Zealand, who moved into 2nd place. The top 4 sides on the final standings in May will gain automatic entry into the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed that the Springboks will get their season underway against a World XV in Cape Town on 11 July, a week after the Super Rugby final.
The match was initially scheduled for late August.
The Springboks also got their 2014 season under way with a clash against the World XV at Newlands, with the South Africans running out 47 / 13 victors on that occasion.
A strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21 / 16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to 3rd in the latest World Rugby rankings.
According to the World Rugby (previously IRB), the victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26 / 3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.