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Six Nations

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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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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says England made a mistake by not appointing him and New Zealander Wayne Smith as coaches 3 years ago.

Mallett, 58, was in line for the England head coaching job but lost out to Stuart Lancaster.

In an interview with The Times, Mallett said he would have appointed Smith as his assistant coach had he got the England job.

Smith was the All Blacks’ assistant coach when they won the 2011 Rugby World Cup and also helped the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

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Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown and Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter (right)

Kelly Brown is determined to work his way back into the Scotland squad after being overlooked for the Six Nations.

The 32-year-old former captain failed to make Vern Cotter’s 32-man pool but is convinced he can still add to his 64 caps.

“It’s clearly disappointing, but selection is a funny thing,” Brown said.

“I want to play for Scotland and I certainly feel I can play for Scotland. I don’t feel over the hill yet.”

Saracens flanker Brown began last season’s Six Nations campaign as captain, although he was dropped later in the tournament. Since then Cotter has replaced Scott Johnson as head coach and Brown believes he has plenty still to offer, with the World Cup later in the year.

Brown has played once under Cotter, in a 19-17 win over Canada in June, but was not selected for the Autumn internationals.

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We have 4 NEW SuperBru Pools for all to join!

  • The RBS SIX Nations 2015 starts on 6 February 2015, so hurry up and do not delay to register for it!
  • The FNB Varsity Cup 2015 starts on 9 February 2015, register for it too, whilst the iron is hot!
  • The Vodacom Super Rugby 2015 starts on 13 February 2015 and the first warm-up games in preparation of the season start this weekend… can’t wait… you HAVE TO register for this SuperBru Pool!
  • The Cricket World Cup 2015 starts on 14 February 2015 and although Rugby-Talk.com is primarily about rugby, we dabble a bit in the devious art of cricket too… join us!

As is usual, Rugby-Talk.com’s SuperBru Pools are open for ALL REGISTERED SUBSCRIBERS of Rugby-Talk.com, so if you are not yet registered here on Rugby-Talk.com, do so without delay! It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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ScotlandThe Scotland Women squad for the 2015 RBS 6 Nations includes a mix of experience and relatively newer faces, with a number of players having worked their way through the age grades and progressed from Scotland Women Under 20.

Worcester prop Tracy Balmer captains the squad again, lining up in the front row alongside 71-times capped Heather Lockhart while back row Rachael Cook – who hails from Larbert Academy and was part of the Scotland Women under-20 side who defeated Finland two years ago – will be looking to add to her five caps won last season.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe has been included at flyhalf in Warren Gatland’s 34-man Wales squad to contest the Six Nations.

Apart from Anscombe there are 3 other debutants in Scarlets prop Rob Evans, Cardiff Blues Kristian Dacey and Newport Gwent Dragon, Tyler Morgan.

Scott Andrews and Gareth Davies are recalled and join 28 players who were involved in the recent End Of Year tour.

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Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter and Sale Sharks flyhalf Danny Cipriani have been named in Stuart Lancaster’s England training squad for the forthcoming Six Nations championship.

The 34-man group will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Monday 26 January, to prepare for their tournament-opening match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Friday 6 February.

There are also places for 5 British and Irish Lions – as Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs (all Leicester Tigers) and Mako Vunipola (Saracens) return from respective injuries.

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ScotlandHugh Blake has become the latest player to join the Kilted Kiwi brigade, joining his fellow countrymen Blair Cowan and Sean Maitland in the Scotland squad. It came as a big surprise to see Blake’s name on the team sheet as the Junior All Black and Highlander, now getting his first call up to a Scotland squad, only joined Edinburgh in December last year.

He played in an ‘A’ team fixture for Edinburgh against Glasgow Warriors on 22 December and had to leave the field injured, suffering from concussion following a knock to his head which knocked him out for a bit. Flanker Blake (1.87m and 102kg) has yet to appear for the senior Edinburgh team and what makes his inclusion even more baffling is that he was introduced as being recruited for a trial period on his arrival in Edinburgh.

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Courtney Lawes

Courtney Lawes

Courtney Lawes, one of England’s key forwards, will miss the start of the SIX Nations Championship after he undergoes surgery on an injured ankle on Monday.

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said the 25-year-old Saints lock was set to miss the “first few weeks” of the tournament, which could mean Lawes being sidelined not just for England’s opening game with Wales on 6 February but also the Italy match on 14 February.

It is a blow for England to lose their 36-times capped powerhouse, as they are already without Wasps lock Joe Launchbury for the whole tournament as he continues his rehabilitation from neck surgery.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

Scott Spedding

Scott Spedding

Bernard le Roux

Bernard le Roux

South African-born trio Rory Kockott, Scott Spedding and Bernard le Roux all maintained their places in France’s initial 31-man squad ahead of the Six Nations.

Kockott and Spedding made their debuts during the November Tests with differing levels of success.

While Spedding has been embraced by the French public following a string of good performances, Kockott has endured a tough start to his international career, with many questioning his inclusion at the expense of French-born scrumhalves.

Meanwhile, coach Philippe Saint-Andre also called up Fijian wing Noa Nakaitaci. The 24-year-old has played his senior club rugby in France since moving to Clermont from the Nadroga academy in his homeland in 2010.

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Ben Morgan

Ben Morgan

England No 8 Ben Morgan is likely to miss the entire SIX Nations campaign after fracturing his left leg in Gloucester’s 24-23 win over Saracens in the Premiership last Friday.

The 25-year-old Morgan, who was carried off in the second half and given oxygen, had surgery on Saturday with Gloucester confirming the player had fractured his lower left leg.

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Duncan Weir

Duncan Weir

Duncan Weir has been ruled out of this year’s Six Nations tournament with the 23-year-old set to undergo surgery on his arm.

The Glasgow Warriors flyhalf, who gave Scotland a last-gasp victory over Italy in last year’s competition, took a knock on his arm during the 1872 Cup clash with Edinburgh at Scotstoun last month, with subsequent examination showing that he had severely damaged his bicep.

Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said that the injury suggested that Weir would be out of international action for the next three months.

Townsend added: “I would like to think it won’t be the end of his season, but I think it rules out the Six Nations.

“With a bicep injury you are talking months rather than weeks.”

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England centre Manu Tuilagi could miss the Six Nations opener against Wales next month as he continues his recovery from a groin injury, his Leicester Tigers club boss said on Sunday.

The powerful 23-year-old, widely regarded as key to England’s hopes in the annual European tournament and September’s home World Cup, has not played since last October.

“It may well come too soon, we’ll see,” Leiceister’s Richard Cockerill told reporters when asked about the 6 February date in Cardiff.

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WhistleIt has been a year for referees much as any other year – a year of highs and lows where the best they can hope for is no complaints from players on the field and no complaints from watchers off the field.

Referee abuse remains a universal problem for referees. Glen Jackson, once a great player and now a great referee, said that there was a difference between playing and refereeing, for you could make 5 mistakes as a player and then get cheered for doing something well. In refereeing you are jeered for doing something perceived to be wrong and after that nothing that you do can rehabilitate you in the eyes of the beholders.

Much of the abuse is a repeat of what commentators have to say, regardless of whether what they say is wrong.

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WhistleSouth African referees Jaco Peyper, Craig Joubert, Stuart Berry and television match official (TMO) Shaun Veldsman will all officiate in the 2015 Six Nations competition, World Rugby has announced.

Peyper will take charge of the match between France and Wales on 28 February at Stade de France in Paris, while Joubert will officiate the clash between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 1 March, with Veldsman in the role of TMO.

Berry, meanwhile, was named as an assistant referee for the matches between Italy and Ireland at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on 7 February and Ireland and France in Dublin on 14 February respectively.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Cardiff Blues’ new signing Gareth Anscombe is keen to impress Wales coach Warren Gatland and force his way into the Welsh Six Nations squad.

The Welsh qualified junior All Black made his debut for the Blues last weekend and was the shining light in their 28-13 defeat to Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

The utlity back is determined to muscle his way into the Wales fold for the Six Nations by steering his new side to victories against European Cup Pool One qualification rivals London Irish in their back-to-back clashes next month.

“I’m a pretty driven guy and now that I’m over here it’s the goal to play for Wales. So, I guess the next step may be the Six Nations.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

South Africa meet England for the first time in two years in a suddenly critical Test match at Twickenham on Saturday … but respected New Zealand-born critic and coach John Mitchell advocates more regular, guaranteed annual clashes between the two in a reworked Six Nations.

The Springboks tackle these old enemies while reeling to some extent from a slightly unexpected 29-15 defeat to Ireland in Dublin in the first game of their four-match northern hemisphere agenda, whilst the hosts also enter the fixture on the back foot having been beaten at home by the world champion All Blacks rather more convincingly than the 24-21 score-line suggests.

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Warren Gatland, Wales & British & Irish Lions Coach, awarded the OBE

Warren Gatland, Wales & British & Irish Lions Coach, awarded the OBE

Wales, and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has been awarded an OBE in the Queens Queen’s birthday honours.

Gatland is currently on tour with Wales in South Africa where they lost the opening test of two matches 38-16 but he said that being honoured was a massive honourt.

“I was surprised really,” said Gatland.

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Mike BrownSIX-NationsEngland full-back Mike Brown has been named Six Nations Player of the Championship after securing over 34% of the 68,000 votes cast by fans.

Brown, 28, scored four tries, including two in a man of the match performance against Italy, and was also man of the match against Scotland and Ireland.

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Sam WarburtonWalesWales captain Sam Warburton must undergo immediate surgery after dislocating his right shoulder.

Wales have never faced South Africa in the north-eastern city of Nelspruit, but judging by the blank they have drawn everywhere else in the land of the Springboks, they must already be fearing the worst – especially as Sam Warburton, their captain, has been ruled out of this summer’s two-Test tour.

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SIX-NationsIt has been a fantastic Six Nations and one that had a fairytale ending as Ireland handed Brian O’Driscoll the perfect retirement present by beating France to win the title.

The nail-biting victory in Paris meant Ireland took the championship ahead of England on points difference.

The two teams have been the form sides in the competition and although a few French and Welsh players showed well, it is the top two who naturally provide the bulk of my Team of the Tournament for 2014.

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Stuart HoggScotlandScotland’s Stuart Hogg made a public apology after being sent off during his side’s record Six Nations defeat by Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

The full-back was given his marching orders at the Millennium Stadium by French referee Jerome Garces in the 22nd minute following a late shoulder charge into the face of Wales fly-half Dan Biggar.

Garces intially produced a yellow card but, after viewing replays on the stadium’s giant screen, changed it to a red.

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SIX-NationsWales, France, Ireland, England, Scotland and Italy have named thie teams for the weekend’s Six Nations action.

Wales named 6 changes in their side for the clash against Scotland.

France made 4 changes to their side, including bringing back Gael Fickou, for their clash against Ireland on the weekend.

Ireland made just 1 change to their side to face France.

England made no changes to their starting side and has made only 1 change on the bench, bringing back Manusamoa Tuilagi in the place of Alex Goode, for their clash with Italy in Rome.

After initially only naming the forwards and sweating over the composition of his backline, Scotland coach, Scott Johnson, has named his backline, with Edinburgh winger Dougie Fife winning his first cap.

Italy coach, Jacques Brunel, has made 3 changes to the Italy side, to face England, with Sergio Parisse returning to the fold and leading the team.

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EnglandGloucester No 8 Ben Morgan was the one injury-enforced change to England’s starting line-up announced by coach Stuart Lancaster on Friday for their Six Nations international against Wales at Twickenham this weekend.

Morgan replaces Billy Vunipola, the man he came on for during England’s 13-10 win over Ireland at Twickenham last time out, after his fellow back-row forward was ruled out of the final two rounds of the Six Nations with an ankle injury.

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FranceFrance manager Philippe Saint-Andre has made seven changes to the team that put in a dismal display against Wales as Les Bleus seek to put their Six Nations challenge back on track when they face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Saint-Andre has remained loyal to Jules Plisson at flyhalf for the fourth match in a row, pairing the Stade Français player with Maxime Machenaud and relegating Jean-Marc Doussain to the bench.

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ItalyItaly will be without injured captain Sergio Parisse but will start with a new half-back pairing of Luciano Orquera and Tito Tebaldi for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin.

Parisse, who along with Martin Castrogiovanni picked up a record 104th cap for Italy against Scotland in Rome, is suffering from a calf injury and is just one of several third row players missing from Jacques Brunel’s squad.

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ScotlandScotland have made three changes including recalls for Kelly Brown and Geoff Cross in their Six Nations championship match against France at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Cross has been rewarded for his contribution off the bench in the 21-20 win against Italy, with the starting berth at tight-head and David Denton enlisted for the back-row in place of Ryan Wilson who has been laid low by a tonsillitis bug over the last few days. Brown starts instead of Chris Fusaro.

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