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IrelandIreland 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.

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Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip

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.

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Jonathan Sexton

Jonathan Sexton

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.

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FranceProp 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.

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World RugbyA 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.

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SIX Nations 2015 Launch

The World Cup countdown is officially on, as the Six Nations sides get the first opportunity in the spotlight.

xThe Northern Hemisphere teams will look to sharpen up on their game plans, test out combinations and look to see who to cut from their World Cup plans.

With England hosting the global showpiece this year, the onus is on the Northern Hemisphere sides to fully challenge and grab the opportunity of a World Cup on their turf.

The conditions, referees and schedule seems to favour them.

The Six Nations in 2014 saw a tournament only decided on the final day – with three teams still able to win it. Eventually Ireland won it, a perfect swan song for arguably the greatest No.13 in the modern era – Brian O’Driscoll.

England won the triple crown, beating all the other Home Nations, but failed to win the Six Nations. Italy was also in the record books for the most tackles in a Test match as they made 208!

What do we expect in the 2015 edition of the Six Nations?

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IrelandSix Nations champions Ireland on Sunday trimmed their squad to 38 players for the opening two games against Italy and France.

Joe Schmidt’s side open their campaign in Rome on Saturday, before hosting France in Dublin the following weekend.

“Jack Conan and Michael Bent did well (on Friday night for the Wolfhounds) against the Saxons but will return to Leinster, as will Noel Reid who was restricted to a brief cameo as he was covering a number of positions,” said Schmidt.

“Rob Herring returns to Ulster and will look forward to having an opportunity for further game-time.

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IrelandLeinster loose forward Jack Conan and Connacht prop Nathan White were the only uncapped players picked in Ireland’s 46-man training squad for the Six Nations on Thursday.

Conan has impressed for his region in the absence of the injured Sean O’Brien and the rested Jamie Heaslip.

The New Zealand-born White was set to become Ireland’s fourth-oldest debutant at 33 in the November tests, but ruptured an arm tendon in camp. He’s expected to make his comeback to action on Saturday for his province in the European Challenge Cup.

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Rugby World Cup 2015 - EnglandThe Wales squad will face temperatures ranging from 42 degrees to minus 150 degrees, will sleep in normobaric hypoxic chambers and will train in surroundings ranging from the deserts of Qatar to the peaks of the Swiss Alps as part of their gruelling preparation for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Wales’ full schedule for 2015 will see Warren Gatland’s squad undergo intensive training camps in Switzerland, Qatar and Poland as well as face home and away ties against Ireland before concluding their preparations against Italy at the Millennium Stadium.

The rigorous schedule has left no stone unturned in order to ensure Wales arrive at the world’s showpiece tournament in peak condition with leading facilities at home in Wales and across the world utilized.

The programme is the culmination of months of research and planning and WRU head of physical performance, Adam Beard, who also designed the 2011 schedule, is delighted to formally announce the squad’s plans.

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IrelandBoth parts of Ireland have united to bid for the World Cup in 2023, promising on Friday to rally Catholics and Protestants behind the event.

The Irish Rugby Football Union made the announcement alongside leaders of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom where only the Protestant majority plays rugby.

Underscoring the all-Ireland appeal of their plans, they spoke at a mainly Protestant school in the Northern Ireland city of Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of the island.

World Rugby plans to unveil the winner in mid-2017, with South Africa considered the early favourite.

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End Of Year ToursOnce again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.

Ireland beat both South Africa and Australia, Wales downed the former and England the latter, and Scotland defeated Argentina.

Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union’s traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.

Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about  during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides.

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All BlacksReigning champions New Zealand remained the team to beat less than a year out from the World Cup in England after yet another successful November campaign in Europe.

There’s nothing new in the All Blacks being the yardstick for the global game and their rivals will take some comfort in knowing New Zealand have yet to win the World Cup on foreign soil.

So the fact they were pushed close by both England (24-21) and Wales (34-16) this month before emerging victorious won’t have done the All Blacks any harm, nor will the success of a virtual second-choice side in preserving their unbeaten record against Scotland.

However, all these matches demonstrated how no team goes for the full 80 minutes quite like New Zealand, who have enviable depth.

England found themselves needing two scores in the closing stages against the All Blacks and managed one while Wales conceded 24 points in the final 17 minutes.

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Chris Henry

Chris Henry

Ireland flank Chris Henry has had an operation to repair a defect on his heart wall after a temporary blockage was discovered in a small blood vessel in his brain.

The defect was found to be related to the blockage, which was discovered before Ireland’s victory over South Africa on 8 November.

Henry was withdrawn from the starting lineup on the morning of the South Africa match with a suspected viral illness that was initially diagnosed as a severe migraine.

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AustraliaAustralia have slipped another place to fifth in the latest World Rugby Rankings with France, Japan, Tonga, Canada and Namibia also falling after defeats.

Australia’s 26-23 loss to Ireland on Saturday has seen the Wallabies slip another place to fifth – equalling their lowest ever position since the World Rugby Rankings were introduced in October 2003.

The Wallabies headed into the match in Dublin sitting just one hundredth of a rating point above England, but will now travel to Twickenham to face Stuart Lancaster’s men this weekend behind two northern hemisphere nations with Ireland strengthening their hold on third place with the win.

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BarbariansThe Irish Rugby Football Union and The Barbarian Football Club have confirmed on Monday that they will play a match at Thomond Park, Limerick on Thursday 28 May 2015.

The fixture forms part of the Barbarians’ Summer Tour, which also features a game against England at Twickenham on Sunday 31 May.

The year 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Barbarian rugby, making its Summer Tour fixtures against Ireland and England even more special.

Irish Rugby Football Union President Louis Magee said: “This promises to be a truly memorable occasion as both the IRFU and Munster welcome the Barbarians back to Ireland again. The celebrated Barbarians brand of rugby will bring an entertaining game to Thomond Park and one which I am sure Ireland and rugby fans will look forward to seeing.”

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Paul O'Connell

Paul O’Connell

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell insists that past, bitter experiences mean that their first double over South Africa and Australia since 2006 does not necessarily guarantee a successful World Cup.

The 35-year-old lock, named man of the match after the thrilling 26-23 victory over the Wallabies, was part of the 2007 team that lost the Six Nations title on points difference, and then experienced a nightmare World Cup campaign, having been considered dark horses for the title.

“We’ve been here before and it didn’t serve us well,” said O’Connell.

“All we are trying to do is improve game by game. We will go into the Six Nations and try to improve on what we have done in November.

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Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt may have spent the night in hospital recovering from appendix surgery but if he needed anything to raise his spirits then Sunday’s press would do the trick.

‘Ireland have the world’s best coach’ read the headline in the (Irish) Sunday Independent following the epic and courageous 26-23 victory over Australia on Saturday ensuring the Six Nations champions completed their first double over South Africa and the Wallabies since 2006.

Former Ireland lock Neil Francis opined that after both sides had played like the Harlem Globetrotters in the first-half – the Irish roared into a 17-0 lead only for Australia to score 20 points before Jonathan Sexton levelled to make it 20-20 at halftime – Schmidt’s call at the interval secured victory.

“Joe Schmidt realised that if he did not cool the pace of this game, Ireland would lose it hands down,” wrote Francis.

“Quite often, the race goes to the slow and Ireland were quite the more measured side and chose to kick and play territory far more intelligently than they had in the first half.”

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Gilbert Rugby BallOnly one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!

Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.

The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.

The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:

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Four International Tests overlapped or at least partly overlapped one another between 18:30 to almost midnight on Saturday 22 November 2014, SA Time.
Seeing as all 4 matches were broadcast LIVE on TV in South Africa… although on 2 different SuperSport channels, we hosted all FOUR in one GLOBAL ARTICLE!

 

IrelandAustraliaIreland (20) 26 / 23 (20) Wallabies (Final Score)

Ireland and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 BST & GMT, 03:30 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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WalesNew ZealandWales (3) 16 / 34 (3) All Blacks (Final Score)

Wales and the New Zealand All Blacks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 19:30 SA Time (17:30 BST & GMT, 06:30 Sunday NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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EnglandSamoaEngland (13) 28 / 9 (6) Samoa (Final Score)

England and Samoa did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Twickenham, London, England at 21:00 SA Time (19:00 BST & GMT, 09:00 Sunday Samoa Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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FranceArgentinaFrance (3) 13 / 18 (15) Los Pumas (Final Score)

France and the Argentinian Pumas did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT, 17:00 Arg Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Wing Henry Speight will finally make his Test debut for Australia, against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

His inclusion is one of four changes to the Wallabies’ starting line-up, following their three-point loss to France last weekend.

The 26-year-old Speight will be the third player to make his debut for Australia on the team’s European tour, joining Sean McMahon and Tetera Faulkner.

In the three other changes, lock Sam Carter, back row forward Luke Jones and centre Matt Toomua will join a starting XV that has 488 games of Test experience.

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IrelandSix Nations champions, Ireland have made two changes to their starting line-up for their match against Australia at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Veterans Gordon D’Arcy and Rory Best are the only two changes from the team that beat South Africa a fortnight ago.

D’Arcy, who will win his 81st cap, comes in at centre for the injured Jared Payne while Best, who will make his 78th appearance for Ireland, has recovered from injury to take his place at hooker, dropping Sean Cronin to the bench.

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Chris Henry

Chris Henry

Ireland’s Chris Henry missed the recent win over South Africa with a brain injury, rather than a migraine, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced Monday.

Team medical staff initially diagnosed a virus on the morning of the 8 November match, against the Springboks, before suspecting a severe migraine.

However, specialists have since determined that “a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain” forced 30-year-old Ulster flank Henry to miss Ireland’s surprise 29-15 victory over the Springboks.

“Chris Henry suffered some weakness on the morning of the South Africa game and a viral illness was suspected, he recovered quickly and the initial diagnosis was of severe migraine,” read the IRFU statement.

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IRBThe Wallabies 26-29 loss to France in Paris will result in Australia moving to 4th position overall in the IRB rankings.

Meanwhile Ireland, who defeated Georgia 49-7, moves into the top three in the world.

This is despite Joe Schmidt’s men not gaining any rankings points over 15th placed Georgia, and they will jump from fifth to third in the biggest move of the weekend.

Likewise the All Blacks made no difference and remain number one after playing eighth placed Scotland.

The Springboks improved their position by nearly a full ranking point with their 31-28 win over England.

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AustraliaIrelandSix Nations champions Ireland’s hopes of completing a clean sweep of the November tests faces a very tough challenge in the shape of Australia, conceded their coach Joe Schmidt.

The 49-year-old New Zealander – who has turned Ireland’s fortunes round since he replaced Declan Kidney after the 2013 Six Nations – was speaking after a massively revamped Irish side had eventually coasted to a 49-7 victory over Georgia at Lansdowne Road.

The win – the sixth in succession for the hosts – saw Ireland rise to third in the IRB rankings for the first time since November 2006, also coincidentally the last time they beat both South Africa and Australia in the same year.

However, Schmidt, whose side beat South Africa last Saturday, said the Wallabies would pose them all sorts of problems despite having been beaten by France this weekend.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Willie le Roux

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux and No 8 Duane Vermeulen on Wednesday were named among five candidates for the IRB World Rugby Player of the year.

The other nominees were Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick and wing Julian Savea. The winner will be revealed at his team’s final match of the season.

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Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt woke up to headlines singing his praises after he masterminded a superb 29-15 victory over Southern Hemisphere heavyweights South Africa at the weekend.

The 49-year-old New Zealander – who in his maiden Six Nations campaign guided the Irish to the title earlier this year – has proved a master at preparing the team for different challenges, wrote former Ireland lock turned journalist Neil Francis in the Sunday Independent.

“He may have the air of a headmaster but with the conscience of a rattlesnake his team was a personification of their head coach’s mindset,” wrote the 50-year-old Francis, who was capped 36 times.

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Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said that his team’s defeat to Ireland taught them some valuable lessons about what it takes to win in Europe.

Despite dominating the set-pieces, the Boks could not find a way to turn that pressure into points as a stream of basic errors saw them slump to a 29-15 defeat in Dublin on Saturday.

It was their first defeat in the Northern Hemisphere since going down to Scotland in 2010, and although he was disappointed with the result, Meyer said that there were some positives for his team to take from the match a year out from the World Cup.

“We are sorry that we let our country and our supporters down with that performance. Every single defeat hurts.

“However, I’d rather lose one now and see where we’re at for the World Cup next year than it to happen then because now I can see where we can adapt and improve,” he said.

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Gilbert Rugby BallNine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.

Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.

In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.

On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.

It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.

Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.

 

The results of the weekend are as follows:

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SpringboksSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday named the same starting line-up that beat New Zealand a month ago to face Ireland in the opening Test of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour on Dublin on Saturday.

The only change to the match-day squad is at replacement prop, where the injured Marcel van der Merwe is replaced by Coenie Oosthuizen.

“Although Julian Redelinghuys was also considered, he’s still new in the team and not familiar with our patterns of play and especially the line-out calls, while Coenie knows the way we play well,” said Meyer.

“Coenie is also in great shape and we know what he can do, especially if he has to make an impact off the bench. It’s good to have him back.”

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IrelandThe Ireland Coaching team have selected a strong side to face the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for the first game of the 2014 Guinness Series.

There is one new cap in the match day 23, with Ulster’s Jared Payne set to make his debut alongside Robbie Henshaw in an exciting new centre partnership.

Paul O’Connell captains the side and is joined in the engine room by Devin Toner. The backrow is made up of Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry and Peter O’Mahony while the front row sees Jack McGrath and Mike Ross pack down either side of their provincial teammate Sean Cronin.

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are re-united at half-back and Tommy Bowe returns to the back three for the first time since last year’s Guinness Series and lines out alongside Simon Zebo and Rob Kearney.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

With the first game of the Springboks End Of Year Tour (Castle Lager Outgoing Tour as it is also known as) looming large this weekend against the Northern Hemisphere’s SIX Nations champions, Ireland, at 19:30 SA Time on Saturday, the war of words are now surfacing.

Victor Matfield describes Paul O’Connell as his toughest lock opponent out there and says O’Connell knows how Matfield runs the lineouts.

From the Irish side, Ireland’s scrumhalf, Conor Murray, believes the Springboks are better than in previous years and is weary of the threat Handré Pollard and Francois Hougaard presents on the weekend.

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