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ScotlandEdinburgh Rugby wing Damien Hoyland is set for his first Scotland, having been named in Vern Cotter’s side to play Japan today at the Toyota City Stadium. (18 June, kick-off 11:20 BST, 12:20 SA Time, 10:20 GMT).The former Boroughmuir flyer – who helped Scotland 7s lift the Cup at Twickenham last month and has scored 8 tries in an impressive season for Edinburgh – joins Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour in the back 3.

Elsewhere, Harlequins-bound Ruaridh Jackson starts at flyhalf for the first time since a replacement appearance against Canada in 2014 while Jonny Gray forms a starting lock-pairing partnership with brother Richie for a 15th time. Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter, said: “The players have adapted well to the conditions and the jet lag since arriving in Japan on Sunday, and have prepared well in a testing environment, in the humidity, rain and heat. We picked a strong squad to travel to Japan, 23 of whom will get the chance to run out this Saturday in a Test match against a Japanese team on a revenge mission, following our win in the Rugby World Cup”.

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ScotlandHead Coach Vern Cotter has named a 27-man Scotland squad for the national team’s 2-Test summer tour of Japan next month.

The Test matches will be played on consecutive Saturdays at J1 League football stadia; the 1st at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota City (18 June), the 2nd at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo (25 June), homes of Nagoya Grampus and FC Tokyo respectively.

Cotter also confirmed that Glasgow centre Mark Bennett has not been named to allow him to be considered for extended GB 7s selection ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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Mike Blair

Mike Blair

Glasgow Warriors scrumhalf Mike Blair has retired from playing with immediate effect and will take up a new coaching role at the club next season.

The 35-year-old will remain with Scottish Rugby as an assistant coach at the Warriors.

Blair joined Glasgow this season and has made 12 appearances for the club and was voted Player of the Month in October.

The 85-capped former Scotland international has had an illustrious career, representing Edinburgh Rugby, Brive, Newcastle Falcons and the Warriors.

Blair enjoyed 10 years with Edinburgh Rugby, playing his first professional game in 2001. Highlights included being runners up in the Magners League in 2009 and reaching the semifinals of the European Cup in 2012.

Scotland’s most capped scrumhalf captained his country on 14 occasions before retiring from international rugby at the start of 2013, aged 31.

He was named Scotland’s Player of the Year in 2008 and was nominated for the IRB World Player of the Year that same season. He toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

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BT PremeirshipA horror misunderstanding cost Currie a shot at their 3rd championship title as Heriots snatched a dramatic last-gasp victory in Saturday’s BT Premiership semifinal at Malleny Park.

A ding-dong battle in which the lead changed a total of 5 times appeared to have swung decisively in the home side’s favour when No 8 Ross Weston finished off a driving maul for his 2nd try of the afternoon to put Currie 22 / 21 up with minutes remaining.

Heriots pushed for a response but, when they knocked on to concede a scrum, it looked like their dreams of a double (or treble if you include the Charity Shield) were over.

Currie kept possession as the clock ticked down but scrumhalf Richard Snedden was premature with the boot out and the Goldenacre side were given a lifeline, which they took superbly by setting up replacement flyhalf Gregor McNeish for his 2nd drop goal with the last kick, to spark wild celebrations in the away camp.

It means Heriots, who 1st face Melrose in the BT Cup final a week on Saturday, will travel to Millbrae to face Ayr on 23 April and look to retain their Premiership crown.

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RBS 6 Nations trophyWho was your standout player of the 2016 RBS 6 Nations? Read the profiles below for a reminder of the achievements of our nominees.

 

Gareth Davies:

The Wales scrumhalf took the opportunity that Rhys Webb’s injury presented and impressed throughout the Championship.

He scored a stunning try in their victory over Scotland in Round 2, was RBS 6 Nations Man of the Match in Round 3 against France and claimed the final score of Wales’ Championship when he came off the bench against Italy on Super Saturday.

 

Guilhem Guirado:

Guy Novès’ France side might have finished with 3 defeats but their captain Guirado led by example throughout.

The hooker was superb, crossing for tries against Wales and Scotland, driving his pack forwards and demonstrating brilliant tackle and breakdown work in every match.

 

Stuart Hogg:

The Scotland fullback’s scorching try in the final Round against Ireland will live long in the memory but Hogg’s influence throughout the Championship was apparent.

He made 2 tries as Vern Cotter’s side ended their winless run in downing Italy, scored 1 and he scored 1 and made 1 in their historic win over France – while also adding a penalty from his own half. All that before his fantastic solo score in Dublin on Super Saturday.

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Scott Cummings

Scott Cummings

Over the past year the flower of Scottish rugby is beginning to come back into bloom.

Last season Glasgow Warriors became the first Scottish side to win the Guinness PRO12, then Scotland were agonizingly close to a Rugby World Cup semifinal place with their last gasp defeat to Australia.

Last weekend in the penultimate Round of the RBS 6 Nations, the Scots broke a decade long hoodoo by beating France at BT Murrayfield.

Their compatriots at Under 20s level had made history of their own by beating “The Auld Enemy” England in the tournament’s opening Round for the 1st time since the inception of the Under 20s Six Nations Championship.

Leading the charge of this new generation of young Scots is Under 20s captain and lock Scott Cummings, who due to commitments with his club side Glasgow Warriors will not be playing against Ireland in the final Round of competition after guiding his side to 2 wins.

However, Cummings’ contribution to Scotland’s Under 20s and the experience he has gained playing in the Guinness PRO12 reflects the current renaissance in Scottish rugby.

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StretcherMore than 70 doctors and academics are calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in UK and Irish schools.

In an open letter to ministers, they say injuries from this “high-impact collision sport” can have lifelong consequences for children.

They argue 2 3rds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles and urge schools to move to touch and non-contact rugby.

Supporters say rugby builds character and other forms are less challenging.

The concerns have been raised as a 7-year programme headed by the Rugby Football Union is on target to introduce rugby to a million children in state schools across England.

The RFU’s programme, which began in 2012 and is running until 2019, has so far reached 400 schools, with 350 to follow.

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RBS 6 NationsAll roads led to Rome, where Scotland changed their RBS 6 Nations fortunes with a hard fought win over Italy (36 / 20).

Two 1st half, and one 2nd half, try interspersed with a succession of Greig Laidlaw penalties gave Scotland their biggest RBS 6 Nations score since the championship expanded in 2000.

The Scotland captain was awarded man of match for his kicking off the tee and calm leadership that saw the away side maintain structure and clarity of thought despite 2 2nd half Yellow Cards – for Finn Russell and WP Nel – and sustained Italian attacks.

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RBS 6 NationsHead Coach Vern Cotter has refined his Scotland squad ahead of this Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Italy in Rome, with the return of 6 players to Glasgow Warriors.

Props Gordon Reid and Zander Fagerson, loose forwards Rob Harley and Josh Strauss and halfbacks Grayson Hart and Duncan Weir, all returned to club training today, ahead of tomorrow night’s (Thursday) Guinness PRO12 game against Dragons in Newport.

Cotter will select and announce a final 23-man team to travel to Rome tomorrow morning (Thursday).

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SIX NationsHead Coach Vern Cotter today named one change to the Scotland team to start against Wales in Cardiff this Saturday (13 February, kick-off 16:50 UK Time, 18:50 SA Time)

Both teams go into the match seeking their 1st win of the 2016 campaign, after the Scot’s home loss to England (15 / 9), and Wales’ 16 / 16 draw with Ireland in Dublin.

The selection of 26-year-old Saracens centre Duncan Taylor in midfield is 1 of 2 changes to the 23-man squad – promoted from the bench to partner Mark Bennett after Matt Scott injured his quad in training yesterday – with Sean Lamont taking the vacated place among the replacements.

The match will be Taylor’s 5th start in 14 caps for Scotland, and his 1st since the 2014 summer tour win over USA (24 / 6), with an untimely succession of injuries curtailing his involvement for the national team over the past 2 seasons.

Despite missing out on international opportunities, Taylor has excelled for his club side, building on their English Premiership title success last season with stirring performances in the current campaign.

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SIX NationsThe Under 20 SIX Nations, not as glamorous as the SIX Nations for the senior teams, is intensely contested.

Last year England were the unbeaten winners followed, in order, by France, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Italy.

Like their senior team, England’s Under 20 captain is a hooker – Jack Walker, whose brother Chris captained the 2012 side which retained the championship.

Coach John Callard said: “The 1st game of any Championship is always tough, especially playing away in Scotland, but the players are excited about getting started.

“We’ re looking for them to use this competition to continue developing their all-round game.  For example, we want functionally fit forwards who, as well as having a strong set piece, are ball handlers and good decision makers right across the field.

“You can always come back to a tighter game but we want players to see this as an opportunity to express themselves and enjoy playing for their country.”

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Women's 6 Nations 2016

Women’s 6 Nations Team Captains

It will be a campaign brimming with sub-plots. New talent will emerge, reputations will need to be restored and everyone will need to put on a show as the 15-a-side game fights for attention in an Olympic year.

With the gaps between teams ever decreasing, this year’s Women’s 6 Nations is expected to be the most open we have seen.

Defending champions Ireland will fight to retain their title, although France and England will severely test their grit.

Last season the Red Roses faltered, with the world champions finishing 4th, and the combination of retirements and a number of their players focusing on the Sevens for Rio 2016 means they will have much to prove.

But it is not only England who must adjust and discover new talent, because most nations have withdrawn their Sevens players to focus on this summer’s Olympics.

Amid such uncertainty, who will prevail?

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John Hardie

John Hardie in World Cup action for Scotland

He doesn’t know what possessed him to visit the old Lockhart Hotel that day, but it was an experience John Hardie is never likely to forget.

“The most scared I’ve ever been,” says Scotland’s openside flanker.

The setting is a building in Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island – a holiday resort about an hour and a half from Dipton, the farming country where Hardie was born and reared.

Legend has it that there was a fire in Lockhart’s place in the late 1800’s. Three generations of the family perished.

Only a girl called Mary survived – and she haunts the place to this day. Many Kiwis have gone there over the years and many talk of the sense of foreboding that exists behind that main door.

Hardie’s now one of them. Chilled to the bone, he says. “Never going back. Never ever.”

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Richie Gray, new Scotland Contact Specialist coach

Richie Gray, new Scotland defensive contact specialist coach

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has appointed defensive contact specialist Richie Gray on a consultancy basis for the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Gray joins the Scotland set-up following a 3-season spell as South Africa’s specialist breakdown coach during Heyneke Meyer’s tenure, which culminated in their bronze medal finish at 2015 World Cup.

Gray’s contract with the South African Rugby Union was not renewed after Meyer’s resignation late last year.

Gray also assisted the Springbok Sevens side.

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Sergio Parisse, Sam Warburton, Rory Best, Dylan Hartley, Greg Laidlaw and Guilhem Guirado (from left to right)

Sergio Parisse, Sam Warburton, Rory Best, Dylan Hartley, Greg Laidlaw and Guilhem Guirado (from left to right) at yesterday’s RBS 6 Nations 2016 launch

The 2016 RBS 6 Nations launched in style on Wednesday morning at the Hurlingham Club and the 6 captains present an intriguing mix of the old and the new.

There are 3 brand new skippers for this year’s Championship, which gets underway in 10 days’ time on Saturday 6 February when France welcome Italy to the Stade de France – and they are all hookers.

Rory Best takes the armband for 2-time defending champions Ireland after Paul O’Connell’s retirement, Eddie Jones’ England have Dylan Hartley at the helm and France under Guy Noves will be led by Guilhem Guirado.

Those 3 were joined by Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw, Wales’ Sam Warburton and Italy’s Sergio Parisse on Wednesday – 3 captains that have led their country with great distinction for many years.

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ScotlandHead Coach Vern Cotter  named uncapped props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland in a 35-man Scotland squad for the 2016 RBS 6 Nations.

Glasgow Warriors’ tighthead prop Fagerson turned 20 yesterday (Tuesday 19 January) meaning he could become the 4th youngest prop in Scottish history, and the youngest to represent Scotland for more than half a century (since Bill Black debuted against France at Murrayfield 1948).

Fellow propping prospect Sutherland (23) plies his trade at the opposite end of the M8 and earns selection through his increasingly impressive showings for Edinburgh since signing from Gala last season.

The young pair are among 4 changes to Scotland’s front row options originally named for Rugby World Cup 2015, with 29-times capped Exeter Chiefs tighthead, Moray Low, and 6-times capped Glasgow Warriors hooker, Pat MacArthur, earning selection for the 1st time since the summer of 2014.

Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter, said: “We’ve selected a mixture of experience with some exciting young players coming through, some of whom have experienced the Rugby World Cup and are eager to move forward, take the RBS 6 Nations head on and show that we can develop our game and be competitive.”

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Roddy Grant

Roddy Grant

Experienced Edinburgh flanker Roddy Grant has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a knee injury suffered at the end of last season.

The 28-year-old played 138 times for the club and represented Scotland Sevens between 2006 and 2014, including last year’s Commonwealth Games.

“A difficult time has been made easier as it’s not been a decision,” said Grant.

“You just have to get on with it, accept things and move on.”

Grant joined Edinburgh in 2009 after beginning his Scottish rugby career as an apprentice with Border Reivers.

A recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship in 2008, he broadened his experience playing with Auckland University in New Zealand, having played through Scotland’s age grades, and went on to be part of the Scotland A team that secured a 35 / 0 victory over England Saxons in 2012.

“It’s been a pretty emotional time, having to come to terms with the fact I have to stop playing due to injury but I have no regrets,” added Grant.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved and what I’ve contributed.”

Head coach Alan Solomons said: “Roddy’s retirement is a sad day for both the club and Scottish rugby.

“I’ve been fortunate, over the years, to coach some terrific young men; Roddy is right up there with the best of the best. His contribution to the club has been immense, both on and off the field. He is a leader of men and the ultimate pro.

“He has the heart of a lion, an unbelievable work-rate and he knew our systems and his role within them to perfection. Roddy never had a bad game. He is certainly one of the most consistent players I have ever coached.

“We will miss him – he is one of a kind.”

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Ash Jones

Ash Jones – Head of Strength and Conditioning at Edinburgh

Ash Jones, Edinburgh’s head of strength and conditioning, has just been named Professional Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year by the discipline’s world leading membership organisation, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

He said: “It is a worldwide award but the organisation is based in the USA which is why I didn’t really think I had a chance of winning, although I was honoured to receive the nomination.

As the 1st coach from outside the the USA and the 1st rugby S & C coach to win the accolade, Jones admits the honour came out of the blue.

“With the number of S & C coaches across all sports in the United States, someone in America would have a much better chance of winning it but it shows the outward looking focus of the organisation.”

Strength and conditioning is now an integral part of the coaching team and Jones, who joined Edinburgh 12 months ago, has now worked in 3 professional sports (basketball, rugby league and rugby union) across 4 countries (New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Scotland).

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Magnus Bradbury

Edinburgh’s Magnus Bradbury one of Scotland 7s newcomers

Scotland 7s Head Coach Calum MacRae has named 3 new caps in his 12-man squad to compete in the opening leg of the 2015 / 2016 World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series, in Dubai (Friday 4 & Saturday 5 December).

The squad, which will travel to South Africa for the 2nd leg of the Series following proceedings in Dubai, will include Edinburgh’s Magnus Bradbury; his capital club-mate Nick McLennan; and Scotland Under 20 wing Robbie Nairn.

MacRae said: “The extended Sevens off season, due to the Rugby World Cup, has afforded us time to develop aspects of our play and make gains in our strength and conditioning.  The players application has been excellent throughout.

“The mindset has been to improve and build on last years performances, not rest on them.  In addition to the core squad members, we have also targeted developing young, Scottish talent who have a lot of potential and a big future ahead in both the abbreviated game and in the 15-a-side set-up.

“The exposure they will have to the international stage, will hopefully provide the platform they need to continue their development and progression in the game, as it has with so many players previously.”

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AustraliaAustralia will embark on their 10th ‘Grand Slam’ tour in 2016, aiming to beat the Home Nations in 1 trip for the 1st time in 30 years.

After falling to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham Stadium in London earlier this month, the Wallabies will return to the northern hemisphere next year for a 7-match, 5-Test tour, including France.

“The ‘Grand Slam’ is 1 of the rarest achievements in the game and has been a notoriously difficult one for the Wallabies over time, with only 1 successful attempt out of 9,” Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said.

The last time the Wallabies pulled off the feat was in 1984. In their most recent attempt, in 2013, Australia opened with a loss to England before defeating Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as Italy.

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ScotlandWhen he took to the field as Scotland cap number 1 073, Josh Strauss became the 50th player to make his debut for the national side since the last Rugby World Cup in 2011. This is by far the highest number of new players for Scotland in any Rugby World Cup cycle – more, in fact, than the previous 2 combined (48 new caps). It requires going back to the 1950s to find a greater number of 1st caps in a 4 year period.

Despite having the smallest player base of any of the Six Nations, Scotland has had more debutants than any of their rivals:

  • England – 41
  • France – 40
  • Ireland – 37
  • Italy – 31
  • Wales – 37

In fact only 1 side who competed at this year’s Rugby World Cup awarded more new caps in the last 4 years. By a quirk of the global calendar Argentina didn’t have access to many of their 1st (or even 2nd) choice players when the South American Championship takes place and 54 of their 67 new caps (including 24 in the space of 5 days in 2013, the last year they appeared in it!) debuted in the annual iterations of this tournament.

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MikeBlair

Mike Blair

With Mike Blair taking the McCrea Financial Services Warrior of the Month Award for October, we take a look at the former Scotland skipper’s impact since joining up at Scotstoun.

There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Mike Blair, a man with 157 games under his belt for the Warriors great rivals Edinburgh, was announced as Glasgow’s latest signing.

Various mutterings about “a coaching role” and “SRU pension plan” did the rounds but Mike’s performances on the pitch have won over the notoriously hard to please Glasgow faithful as he’s demonstrated the advantages of having a steadying influence in what is a key decision-making position. His quick thinking and desire to play the game at pace have also been a good fit for the Warriors’ philosophy of moving the point of attack and manipulating defences into mismatches.

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Andy Nicol

Pundit Andy Nicol during his playing days

Former captain Andy Nicol believes it is “inevitable” that some of Scotland’s Rugby World Cup squad will join Dave Denton in moving from the country.

Denton has joined Bath from Edinburgh after the English Premiership club paid a transfer fee for the 25-year-old.

“That’s what happens at a World Cup,” said Nicol, the former scrumhalf who captained Bath. “You perform well and the big cheque books may open for you. That’s what happens to the Georgians and the Japanese.”

Nicol says Scotland’s run to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals will have alerted clubs to Scottish players.

“You could get somebody here much cheaper than somebody who is established,” he said.

“It’s inevitable that we lose a few players and Dave Denton is the first.”

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Shalva Mamukashvili

Georgian Hooker Shalva Mamukashvili joins Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors have signed Georgian international Shalva Mamukashvili on a deal until the end of the season.

The 25-year-old has 35 caps for his country and featured in all 4 of Georgia’s Rugby World Cup pool games in England.

He played 11 matches for Sale Sharks last season, including 3 European Rugby Champions Cup games.

The experienced hooker goes straight into the Warriors 41-man European squad, replacing Kevin Bryce. Glasgow visit Racing 92 on Saturday and then host Northampton Saints the following weekend, in front of a capacity crowd at Scotstoun.

Mamukashvili joins as cover at hooker, with both Kevin Bryce and Fergus Scott set for lengthy spells on the sidelines, while Fraser Brown is currently recovering from foot surgery.

Bryce and Scott have both undergone shoulder operations, following scans at BMI Ross Hall Hospital, and are expected to remain on the sidelines for several months.

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Jonny Gray

Jonny Gray

Jonny Gray has been named the new club captain of Glasgow Warriors. He takes over from Al Kellock, who retired from rugby at the end of last season.

The news follows yesterday’s announcement that the 21-year-old has penned a new 3-year contract, keeping him in Glasgow until at least May 2018.

Gray captained the club for the 1st time in the win over Connacht at The Sportsground last season, on the way to the club winning the Guinness PRO12 title in May.

The Glasgow-born lock has made 40 appearances for the Warriors and has 19 caps for Scotland.

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Jonny Gray

Jonny Gray

Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby have been handed a further boost today after announcing one of Scotland’s established young players has signed a new long-term contract.

Jonny Gray has committed to Glasgow Warriors for a further 3 years, meaning he’ll be staying at Scotstoun until at least May 2018.

Last week the club announced that Finn Russell had signed a new 3 year contract, which along with Jonny’s extension and other new signings, reflects the increased investment from Scottish Rugby.

Gray came through the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy system and was heavily involved last season when the club won the Guinness PRO12 for the 1st time.

The lock played in 4 of Scotland’s 5 Rugby World Cup matches in England last month.

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World RugbyAs well as winning a host of new admirers for their adventurous approach throughout Rugby World Cup 2015, beaten semifinalists Argentina and headline-grabbing Japan have also enjoyed the biggest rise of all the competing nations in the World Rugby Rankings. Both are ranked 3 places higher than where they were when Rugby World Cup 2015 began at Twickenham Stadium on Friday 18 September.Los Pumas have moved up from 8th to 5th thanks to their 2nd place finish behind New Zealand in Pool C and the way that they effortlessly brushed Ireland aside in the quarterfinals.

A disappointing World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup campaign this summer left Japan languishing 13th in the rankings, and at that stage few people would have predicted what they would go on to achieve in England: 3 wins from 4 and a place in tournament folklore.

The Brave Blossoms’ historic 34 / 32 win over South Africa in Brighton may not have been enough to book them a place in the knockout stages but it did help them return to the world’s Top 10.

With points exchanges doubled to reflect the importance Rugby World Cup matches no-one fared better than Japan, going from 72.06 rating points pre-tournament to 77.05 at its conclusion.

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Finn Russell

Finn Russell in action for Scotland

Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby have secured the talents of one of Scotland’s most exciting young players for the next 3 years.

Finn Russell has signed a new long-term contract with the Warriors, meaning the Scotland international will be staying at Scotstoun until at least May 2018.

The news follows the announcement earlier today that Scottish Power has agreed a 3-year, 6-figure sponsorship deal with the club, which will see their logo displayed on the back of the home and alternate playing shirts.

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scotpowerGlasgow-based utility, ScottishPower has today announced a 6-figure sponsorship deal with defending Guinness PRO12 champions Glasgow Warriors.

The 3-year partnership will see ScottishPower represented through prominent back of shirt branding above the number on the Warriors home and away playing kit. The company will also work with the Warriors to develop a community youth programme in the West of Scotland.

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Vodacom Stats AppSouth Africa may have squeaked through in their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match against Wales but the statistics suggest a more dominant performance by the Springboks.

Statistics taken from the Vodacom Rugby App demonstrate how Wales had to defend South Africa’s relentless attacks on the advantage line.

The Springboks topped the carries stats in the quarterfinals with 157, forcing the Welsh to make 197 tackles in their encounter.

Influential flanker Schalk Burger was South Africa’s main strike runner taking the ball up 26 times in the match.

Burger led the carries statistics over the weekend with compatriot Duane Vermeulen behind him with 15.

The wave after wave of attack by the South Africans is also reflected in the fact that 5 Springbok players feature among the Top 5 in the carries category.

Springbok centre Damian de Allende (14), Eben Etzebeth (13) and Handré Pollard (12) followed behind Burger and Vermeulen in the stats.

Argentina, who upset Ireland to book a semifinal clash against Australia made the 2nd most carries with 122, with the Wallabies following in 3rd with 112.

The 4 Southern Hemisphere teams that will feature in the semifinals topped the Carries statistics with Argentina (122), Australia (112) and New Zealand (109) following behind the Springboks.

South Africa did not only test the Welsh defence but were also made to work hard to keep the opposition off the line by making 123 tackles – the 2nd most of the weekend.

Wales and South Africa kicked the most of all the quarterfinal matches, with the Springboks making 46 kicks from hand and the Red Dragons 2 less.

The Welsh’s desperate defence on the day is reflected in the individual tackles stats with 4 of their players among the Top tacklers.

Loose forward Dan Lydiate tops the stats with 24, with Alun Wyn Jones (19), Taulupe Faletau (18) and Sam Warburton (17) following behind him.

Scotland’s Jonny Gray with 18 and Burger with 16 were the only players among the Top 5 from other countries.

While the weekend produced its fair share of nail-biting moments it was not the case in the match between New Zealand and France.

The All Blacks were in sensational form as they stepped up a gear as they set a new Rugby World Cup quarterfinal victory margin beating the French by 49 points.

Running in 9 tries it is no surprise they dominate the Metres run and Clean breaks categories, as they ran the French rampant.

They ran 732 metres, which was 142 metres more than their nearest rivals, Argentina, while they made 19 clean breaks – more than double as many as Australia who ranked 2nd with 9.

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World RugbyThe Top 4 spots on the current world rankings are all taken up by Southern Hemisphere teams, with Argentina moving up to 4th.

The Pumas and South Africa were the biggest climbers after their wins over Ireland and Wales respectively in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.

Los Pumas moved up 2 places on the rankings – overtaking Ireland and Wales. South Africa improved their position from 5th to 3rd after a tough 23 / 19 win over Wales.

Ireland plummeted from 3rd to 6th on the rankings, while Wales also fell from 4th to 5th.

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A lot has been made about Scotland’s early exit from the Rugby World Cup under a cloud of anger about the way referee Craig Joubert refereed the match… specially that last penalty, which when converted ultimately sunk a very, very brave and deserving Scotland.

We raked the web for an article which takes all the emotion and anger out of the equation and gives probably the best clinical and sensible discussion on the matter.

At the time the game was played, I thought the penalty was justly awarded, whereas many thought it was’nt the case!

Well, let’s first off say, that last penalty and everything around it happened so quickly, that anybody who can now unequivocally say that they saw everything clear as day at the time it happened, is bullshitting everybody. Of course now all of us have had the luxury of hindsight and have had repeated and even more repeated replays of that insident at hand… and still the judgment call is not easy.

But, I digress… let’s have a look at the ARTICLE I dug up… Paul Dobson the Author…

 

Then after that, have a good look at World Rugby’s Statement on the Match official’s performance review (Australia vs Scotland), it is right at the end of the article!

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