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  • gnfb1234

    gnfb1234 3:53 pm on 29/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
       

      New Zealand Rugby confirm commitment to the Farah Palmer Cup 


      A 13-team Farah Palmer Cup has today been confirmed by New Zealand Rugby, with the season to kick off in August.

      In the wake of the coronavirus shutdown, subsequent financial turmoil and widespread redundancies, NZR had been reviewing the costs associated with the women’s domestic competition but the national body has now committed to a nine-week season that will include Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens stars.

      After collaboration with provincial unions, 13 teams have committed to the competition which will feature 39 matches, kicking off on August 22.

      A revised format will see teams compete in north and south pools, with seven weeks of round robin, before two weeks of playoff matches.

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      NZR head of women’s rugby Cate Sexton said she was delighted that players and fans alike would have an exciting competition to look forward to.

      “We are heading into a celebrated time for women’s rugby, with both the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup taking place next year,” Sexton said. “We believe that the Farah Palmer Cup will provide high-quality rugby for our players in their preparations.

      “Notwithstanding the financial challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic, it was always our intention to make sure we had a quality competition for our female players to compete in and we are really happy with this outcome.

      “The Provincial Unions have been working incredibly hard to establish and develop their women’s high performance programmes and as the game continues to grow, this competition is an exciting showcase of the women’s game.”

      READ MORE:
      Super Rugby Aotearoa: Brodie Retallick reveals why he turned down the Chiefs
      Rugby: Anzac rugby side proposed by Rugby Australia
      Rugby: Dan Carter opens up about one of his big regrets during his All Blacks career
      Chiefs preparation the key to success as Super Rugby Aotearoa approaches

      The 2020 Farah Palmer Cup will be a critical piece of preparation for the Black Ferns as they eye their defence of the Rugby World Cup on home soil in September and October next year.

      It is also expected to feature Black Ferns Sevens players due to the disruption of the World Series schedule.

      NZR board member and former Black Ferns captain Dr Farah Palmer, for whom the competition is named after, said the prospect of having New Zealand’s best women’s players in one competition would be one for fans to cherish.

      “This will be an enthralling competition and just what we need as we build momentum into next year’s World Cup. I have no doubt our players will want to put their best foot forward as they strive to play in the black jersey at a home World Cup,” Palmer said.

      The full draw for the 2020 Farah Palmer Cup will be unveiled in the coming weeks.



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    • gnfb1234

      gnfb1234 1:47 pm on 29/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
         

        Chiefs preparation the key to success as Super Rugby Aotearoa approaches 


        With little over a fortnight until Super Rugby gets back into action, the Chiefs are enjoying a steady progression into familiar territory where solid preparation and making use of the wider squad will be key ingredients to success.

        Assistant coach Neil Barnes has had a difficult time trying to contain the excitement within the playing group as 2020’s second preseason gains momentum.

        It would be foreign to just about anybody in Super Rugby to be putting together a game plan in May, but thanks to COVID-19 putting a halt on what was ultimately a disappointing end to normal proceedings, the Chiefs find themselves with a new opportunity to right some wrongs.

        It is after all another preseason, except this time the entire playing group has been together as one unit from the moment of regrouping a fortnight ago.

        What lies ahead for Barnes and his fellow coaches is a different kind of Super Rugby, eight straight matches against the other four New Zealand franchises starting with the Highlanders on June 13 in Dunedin.

        The excitement from the players being back out on the grass and playing has had to be carefully managed, with a deliberate effort to take things slow.

        “It’s been a progression”, Barnes said. “Last week was about getting back into our rhythm in terms of what we are doing in different parts of the field whereas this week the intensity and the contact has started to ramp up a lot more”.

        For Barnes, a coaching veteran who spent the last seven weeks on his farm away from anything close to rugby, being back in the Chiefs environment has re-ignited his love for the role and he understands the privilege of being a Super Rugby coach.

        But it’s also hard work, perhaps harder now as the new Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks into gear.

        Traditional in their high physicality and intensity which is on par with an All Blacks test, the New Zealand derby matches are gruelling on players and Barnes was quick to throw out the notion of everyone being available to play every week.

        “At the end of the day you can’t be playing the same group week after week with that type of physicality and intensity, that is something we have talked about and it will be down to how well individuals prepare so the guys who have come in well prepared are likely to get the start”.

        Chiefs assistant coach Neil Barnes. Photo / Photosport
        Chiefs assistant coach Neil Barnes. Photo / Photosport

        As the primary forwards coach, Barnes will take on the bulk of the coaching in the scrums and lineouts but it’s perhaps the work of the breakdown that the Chiefs will want to continue from their performances earlier in the year.

        Lachlan Boshier was the biggest shining light for the Chiefs in their 6-2 run before the original season was canned. Making just the right play, often at the breakdown to force a turnover, proved critical in a couple of the big wins and the 25-year old’s absence was noticeable in the occasions he wasn’t there, namely in the upset loss to the Brumbies in week three.

        Couple that with the ever-imposing Canadian international Tyler Ardron, a core part of the lineout these days alongside Michael Allardice, and the always reliable Sam Cane, these names featuring frequently for the Chiefs should hold them in good stead.

        Furthermore, don’t forget about loosie Luke Jacobson. It was at around this time a year ago that he first started to really wow the mainstream rugby public and his versatility is crucial should any of the former names get injured.

        In those five names alone, the Chiefs have a mighty forward pack, but it won’t be enough.

        The trick to conquering this unique challenge for Barnes and his coaches, as it was earlier this year, is to have the proverbial ‘next best’ in this team being up to snuff and ready to perform at the same level.

        There are many in that second rank category when you go down the list of this Chiefs team.

        The good news is that there is still two more weeks for everyone to stick their hand up and make a claim. Those who put in the hardest of yards during lockdown are already ahead in the selection race and it will be fascinating to see just who those men are at the Chiefs.



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      • gnfb1234

        gnfb1234 8:38 am on 29/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
           

          Ex-All Black Sam Tuitupou issues damning Pasifika assessment: ‘Some Island teams go through coaches like rugby jerseys’ 


          By Jamie Lyall of RugbyPass.com

          It upsets Sam Tuitupou, the rugged former All Black and fiercely proud Tongan, that his Pasifika people are being let down by their own, with players neglected and World Rugby funds vanishing across the Islands. During last year’s World Cup, Tongan internationals were given £300 per match, money which frequently arrived late or simply never appeared at all.

          Nasi Manu, their No8, told RugbyPass of how the squad fretted over payments, kit and logistics. At one stage they were even on the brink of mutiny.

          In Fiji, the deeply unsettling Francis Kean affair cast a cloud over the recent World Rugby election. Chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union and head of the nation’s correctional service, Kean was convicted of manslaughter in 2007 and faces accusations of homophobia, discrimination and ordering the beatings of prisoners and prison guards. He is also the brother-in-law of Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama.

          Against this backdrop of flawed authority, Tuitupou yearns to make a difference. He is on the board of the not-for-profit Pacific Rugby Players Welfare organisation, an influential and hugely important group headed up by Dan Leo that advocates for fairness and helps vulnerable Islanders make the most of their talents, avoid exploitation and establish career paths outside of the sport.

          READ MORE:
          Rugby: Dan Carter opens up about one of his big regrets during his All Blacks career
          World Rugby scupper extra ‘World Cup’ proposal
          Rugby: Anzac rugby side proposed by Rugby Australia
          Another rugby ‘World Cup’ next year? Rescue plan proposed

          After retiring as a player last year, Tuitupou became a registered agent. He is a powerful voice for change – and there is serious change needed close to home. “We know what the problem is – we are fighting against ourselves,” said the former Blues, Worcester, Munster and Sale centre to RugbyPass. “I don’t like to get into politics, but all that money that World Rugby have put in, you wonder where it’s gone and what it’s been used for.

          “There were talks recently about World Rugby holding back funds because of the misuse of money on the Islands, especially Tonga with the problems they are having. It’s a typical Island thing – old-school, everyone looking out for themselves and their friends instead of the whole. You can understand where World Rugby is coming from, but if they do stop funding, things are not going to improve for Tonga.”

          The problem is the Pacific are unwieldy. Political interference is frequent, greed and corruption common. With no professional infrastructure, players leave so that their skills can deliver food to the mouths of their village. World Rugby supplies financial support and coaching expertise, but perhaps what is really needed are benevolent administrators stationed on the Islands, those who understand the people and the culture, the game and how to run it.

          “Some of the Island teams go through coaches like rugby jerseys [Samoa have had four in eight years],” Tuitupou said. “And you’ve got to consider the funding of wages for those coaches. There are loads of problems, but if we can just get someone in charge that’s got a mindset it’s about the rugby and the future and the players coming through, then things would work out.

          “There’s loads of young talent coming through the Islands but there’s no academy there for them to be able to grow and compete. That’s why a lot of them go to Australia or New Zealand. People say they wouldn’t have made it if not for those countries, which is true, but if we had that sort of system in the Islands, then they would have made it anyway.”

          After Bill Beaumont’s re-election as World Rugby chairman, PRPW are keen to hold him accountable to his manifesto. The ex-England captain pledged to grow the game, to craft a more “representative and diverse international federation”, and has spoken of the need for better and financially viable competition for the emerging Test sides.

          “There were promises that he has mentioned prior to being re-elected and that’s something we need to push on while it’s fresh, to make those promises actually progress,” Tuitupou continued.

          “It would be disappointing if things were said but four years later, little has changed. Maybe a new guy at the top would have been good, but Bill has been voted in so it’s about improving things that we are not happy about and making sure what he offered to tier two teams comes to pass. If we leave it, we’re just going to be brushed over and before we know it, it’s another three years down the line.”

          Sam Tuitupou in action for the Blues in 2003. Photo / Photosport
          Sam Tuitupou in action for the Blues in 2003. Photo / Photosport

          At the age of 37, Tuitupou ended a sparkling innings a year ago, bringing down the curtain after helping Coventry win promotion from England’s third tier and consolidate their place in the Championship. He earned nine New Zealand caps, two NPC titles and a Super Rugby crown, and was thunderously popular at his four clubs in Britain and Ireland.

          In setting up his own agency, ProFifteen, he draws on the trying experience of his transition north back in 2007. Arriving in Worcester from Auckland, he was struck by the weather, the style of rugby and the barbs of the press. “World-class guys come up from the southern hemisphere, they don’t perform, and then they get slated in the media – ‘waste of money’,” reflected Tuitupou.

          “It all comes down to, why is he not performing? If your family is not happy, that’s going to have a massive effect on performance. A lot of boys don’t realise how really tough the rugby is over here – the coaching, the playing conditions, the pitches. It’s a lot different to Super Rugby.

          “All of a sudden, they’re not performing and a lot more pressure is put on them from media, the club, presidents, and it just bubbles up. That’s why guys end up just moving back to New Zealand and coming back to their comfort zone. For me, it’s about having that relationship with the clubs as well, so I can help them identify why Pacific Islanders are not performing, or help them to help the Pacific Islands boys. I’ve been able to help clubs, and I’m happy to answer calls in the middle of the night – especially to boys who are ringing from New Zealand.”

          Playing for Coventry opened Tuitupou’s eyes to the hardships that exist below the riches of the Premiership. ProFifteen represents a dozen players – some Pacific Islanders, some not – at various levels of the English game. Tuitupou does the networking, the research and the negotiations. His wife Liz helps families settle into new areas, schools and jobs. It is his way of helping those who often need it most while forging a new career that he finds enormously rewarding.

          “I believe the lower you go, the more help those players need. The guys lower down are the guys with the real issues. Clubs try and chance it – they put in certain clauses that boys don’t really read or understand, they just look at the dollar sign. Or clubs will say one thing and put another in the contract. There are termination clauses that players don’t really examine – a few have been stung with that.

          “A lot of clubs, I don’t hear from, but it’s important for me to ring them up and chat to them to find out why. For me, it’s not all about the money, I want to help the clubs and most importantly my player – even if we give the agent fee back to the player to help them or support the club. You do the good stuff now and it’ll come back to you later in life – that’s what I believe.”

          This article first appeared on RugbyPass.com and has been republished with permission



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        • gnfb1234

          gnfb1234 7:36 am on 29/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
             

            NRL 2020 | Artificial crowd noise divides NRL fans after Eels win over Broncos 



            In a world with no fans in the stands, broadcasters are trying anything that may work.

            After a round of NRL with no fans earlier in the season, both Fox League and Channel 9 decided to broadcast crowd noises to give the game a bit of atmosphere in lounge rooms.

            Fox Sports’ head of television Steve Crawley said it would add more for fans.

            “The stars of the game are the players, not the audio effects. But having them makes for a better experience,” Crawley said.

            “What we add will be subtle so we can still hear big hits and players communicating.

            “Our audio guys have developed a world-class solution to a unique problem and we think it will be adopted elsewhere during this time.”

            With exclusive rights on the Saturday games, Fox Sports will simulcast the games across two channels, one with the artificial sound and one without.

            The artificial sound has been used in German football’s Bundesliga since it’s returned with many believing it helps the broadcast.

            In the US, NFL play-by play announcer Joe Buck told a SiriusXM show that it was “pretty much a done deal” for the sport.

            “I think FOX and these networks have to put crowd noise under us to make it as normal a viewing experience at home,” Buck said to Cohen. “I think they’ll do it. In fact, I know they’ll do it.”

            Although not on Channel 9, Phil Gould praised the artificial sound.

            I must say that the crowd noise in the background created by @Channel9 is brilliant. It’s been expertly used during the match. After a while it will just sound like a real crowd. Great atmosphere,” he wrote.

            While it didn’t go as far as the South Korean baseball with sex dolls in seats, fans certainly had a strong reaction to the move, with plenty landing on both sides of the initiative.

            While it mostly fell on the pro side, the fake noise has been controversial across the world.

            An informal poll reported by Forbes from Awful Announcingon the Bundesliga crowd noises had 1,500 Twitter users split 37 per cent like it, 33 per cent hate it and 30 per cent undecided.

            There were some strong opinions on the NRL version.

            The NRL are also trying to come up with ideas with the league’s head of marketing Peter Jarman confirming cardboard fans would be used in the stands.

            “Clubs have been really supportive, they’re really behind this,” Peter Jarman said.

            “I think it will be a great thing for fans and players.”

            After 67 days sidelined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parramatta extended their unbeaten start to the NRL season with a convincing win over Brisbane.

            The Eels made it three wins from three in 2020 as they defeated the Broncos 34-6 in a six tries to one romp at Suncorp Stadium.

            The result completed a successful return to action for the NRL, suspended since March 22 due to the coronavirus crisis.

            The Eels who impressed as they went to 3-0 for the first time since 1993, dominated territory, particularly in the second half, with nine players picking up over 100 running metres.





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          • gnfb1234

            gnfb1234 8:15 pm on 28/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
               

              Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes winger Kobus van Wyk reveals lighthearted plan to stop Blues’ Beauden Barrett 


              Hurricanes winger Kobus van Wyk has revealed his side’s cheeky plan to stop Beauden Barrett on his rugby return.

              Barrett will make his debut for the Blues next month in the opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa, going up against his former side when the Blues take on the Hurricanes at Eden Park on June 14.

              Van Wyk wasn’t part of the Hurricanes squads which Barrett marshalled, but revealed that the team was hoping they could “get under his skin” when the two sides return after their enforced break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

              “We just have to stop him apparently – he’s quite quick they say,” joked van Wyk.

              “That’s basically the talk in the camp – just to stop him a little bit, get under his skin.”

              Barrett turned heads in training when he produced a personal best in the ‘bronco’ fitness test at the Blues’ first training session, but van Wyk noted that the Hurricanes are in good shape too.

              “I think most of the boys are up there with their fitness levels, a couple of them did their personal bests with the bronco, so I think everyone did their part in lockdown.

              “I think everyone will be a bit rusty, but we’re in the right direction with the stuff we’re doing so hopefully that gets us on top.”

              Beauden Barrett during a Blues Super Rugby training session. Photo / Photosport
              Beauden Barrett during a Blues Super Rugby training session. Photo / Photosport

              One Hurricane who came in for particular praise from his Hurricanes coaches during fitness training was Beauden’s brother Jordie, who is eager to go up against his older sibling.

              “When I looked to the schedule and saw we had the Blues up there first game, I guess you couldn’t have set the scene any better,” Barrett told Sky TV’s The Breakdown.

              “It’s been a really good week to come back into training. There’s a good buzz in the group and everyone’s excited. I guess we’re grateful to be in a position where we can get back and train and compete again,” he said.

              Jordie Barrett, who has played 54 games for the Hurricanes, said he’s hoping to have a bigger influence on the field across the next eight games.

              “For me it’s bigger picture. I’m always going to be learning but trying to use experiences in the past to make me a better footy player and play in those different positions. Grow in my game to be a leader in the Hurricanes group and try and drive us around the park and have a lot more influence on our results.”



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            • gnfb1234

              gnfb1234 6:10 pm on 28/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                 

                Rugby: Former Wales star Mike Phillips opens up on Justin Marshall rivalry, Dan Carter, and All Blacks referee bias 


                Former Wales halfback Mike Phillips has lifted the lid his fierce rivalry with All Blacks great Justin Marshall, saying their clashes on the field were “never personal”.

                Phillips, who is the most capped No 9 in Welsh history, butted heads with Marshall during their careers before the pair became eventually teammates at Ospreys in 2007.

                Marshall previously revealed that the two were involved in a number of verbal spats, concluding that Phillips didn’t like him.

                However, Phillips said their rivalry “wasn’t like that at all”.

                “The way I looked at it was: He’s Justin Marshall, he’s got 80 caps, he’s been one of the best in the world and I’m going to try and beat him. I want to be the best in the world,” Phillips told Wales Online.

                “He’s arguably one of the best that’s played the game and you want to push yourself to be as good as you can be.

                “It was to spark that competitiveness in me or maybe, at times, I was a bit nervous or edgy.

                “I think I caught him in the face a few times. But he’d be the first person I’d speak to after and I think a few people didn’t really understand that about me.

                “It was never personal with anyone. You just want to win so much you use anything you can.”

                READ MORE:
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                Despite Phillips’ insistence that there was no bad blood between them, he said they weren’t exactly close either when they became teammates.

                “I didn’t really speak to him that often but what I did see was that he was an absolute winner – a competitor,” said Phillips.

                “Even though he was at the end of his career, he wanted to start every game. He wasn’t always great in training on a Tuesday or Wednesday, maybe a bit stiff, but come Saturday he was easily one of the best players on the field.

                “That’s what I took from him really. Tuesday is important but it’s all about Saturday. That’s when it matters.

                “I remember I got picked against Gloucester in the Heineken Cup. As soon as it was announced, he threw his toys out of the pram a little bit and that surprised me. But the era that he came through was ‘dog eat dog’ and that’s what made him so good.

                “I never saw myself as competing against him because we were at different stages in our careers. But what blew me away was just how much he still wanted to win and how good he was on game day.”

                Mike Phillips and Justin Marshall. Photos / Photosport
                Mike Phillips and Justin Marshall. Photos / Photosport

                Phillips, who recently joined sports management company World in Motion as a rugby consultant, also spoke about his interactions with former All Blacks first-five Dan Carter, who he says was excellent both on and off the field.

                “He was exceptional,” said Phillips. “He never made a mistake and always made the game look effortless.

                “He’d nail every kick from the touchline. At times he didn’t even look bothered and suddenly he’d do something extraordinary.”

                Phillips did, however, send a shot at the All Blacks, saying the three time World Cup winners would often get favourable calls from referees.

                “I remember playing in the Paris derby and I was chasing him (Carter) down the touchline and I could see his foot went into touch so I stopped,” Phillips said.

                “But the touch judge didn’t put his flag up. So I’ve stopped and had a go at the touch judge: ‘He was in touch, mun!’

                “The flag didn’t go up just because it was Dan Carter, it did my head in! I used to think they [All Blacks] used to get a lot of decisions.

                “But he was great to play with, comfortable on the ball and very cool in every situation. He was class.”



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              • gnfb1234

                gnfb1234 5:05 pm on 28/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                   

                  Super Rugby Aotearoa: Brodie Retallick reveals why he turned down the Chiefs 


                  All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick has revealed why he turned down a return to the Chiefs for next month’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.

                  Retallick was among the many New Zealand players who returned home from Japan when the Top League season was cancelled due to Covid-19.

                  The 28-year-old is contracted with New Zealand Rugby until 2023, but took a two-year sabbatical to play for the Kobelco Steelers in Japan in 2020 and 2021. Retallick’s situation is similar to other top returning players such as Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Ryan Crotty, all of whom are under contract overseas and would require New Zealand Super Rugby sides to cover insurance costs to enable them to suit up for the Aotearoa campaign.

                  However, the Chiefs still did reach out to Retallick about potentially re-joining the franchise, but he instead opted for an extended break.

                  “The Chiefs did approach me, but one of the reasons I wanted to stay [playing] in Japan and do these couple of seasons was just to have a break – a bit of time with the family with a long offseason, and give the body a bit of a break,” he told The Country.

                  Brodie Retallick is under contract with the Kobelco Steelers in Japan. Photo / Photosport
                  Brodie Retallick is under contract with the Kobelco Steelers in Japan. Photo / Photosport

                  Retallick poked fun at Chiefs coach Warren Gatland for suggesting he was spending his break on a Hawke’s Bay farm, like his international locking partner Sam Whitelock, who stayed on his family’s farm in the region before re-joining the Crusaders.

                  “Warren Gatland chucked it out there that I wasn’t going to play Super Rugby and that I was spending some time on my Hawke’s Bay farm, but I can clarify that – I own a property in Hawke’s Bay, where we are at the moment, but it’s only about 1500 square metres, so it’s no farm, that’s for sure,” laughed Retallick.

                  “I’m sure the footy is going to be good viewing with Super Rugby Aotearoa, it’s going to be tough, but living in the Hawke’s Bay at the moment I decided not to chuck the boots on for the Chiefs this season and just enjoy a bit of a longer break that we’ve got now.”

                  Retallick is also open about changes to test rugby in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it could be a good opportunity to trial new ideas.

                  “I’m not sure how test rugby is going to look over the next year or so with all these restrictions and where different countries are at.

                  “One thing that opened my eyes playing in Japan is how good a bit of a change of scenery and change in competition was – it brings some excitement and some unknown.”



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                • gnfb1234

                  gnfb1234 9:43 am on 28/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                     

                    World Rugby scupper extra ‘World Cup’ proposal 



                    World Rugby won’t pursue a proposal to stage an international tournament next year that could raise up to $500m for a financially beleaguered game.

                    The Telegraph reported yesterday the idea is the brainchild of Francis Baron, a former chief executive of the England Rugby Union. The idea has been put before England bosses and World Rugby.

                    Staged over six weeks in June and July, 16 invited teams would play 31 matches under a plan that has apparently been given the title of “Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby”.

                    However World Rugby released a statement shutting it down.

                    “World Rugby notes a proposal by former RFU CEO Francis Baron suggesting the organisation of a major international rugby event in the UK in 2021 to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on global rugby,” the statement said.

                    “World Rugby does not intend to pursue such a proposal. All stakeholders continue to progress productive discussions regarding the immediate global COVID-19 financial relief strategy and international rugby calendar optimisation, both of which will further the success of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”

                    Under Baron’s plan, all profits from the proposed 2021 tournament would have been spread around the participating unions, and a support fund started for rugby families who had lost members to COVID-19.

                    Baron told the Telegraph: “The key will be winning the support of the southern hemisphere unions but with everyone facing horrendous financial challenges, this is a bold and ambitious plan to raise large amounts of new cash from which they will be major beneficiaries.”

                    Baron helped England win hosting rights for the 2015 World Cup and said that tournament generated profits around $800m.

                    “The RFU (England) should take a leadership position and propose to other major unions and World Rugby that a special one-off tournament be held,” Baron said.

                    “Its key selling point is that all the money raised would be for keeping the game of rugby alive around the world.

                    “I have talked to one or two senior colleagues and they all think the country would get right behind it.”

                    England predicts it will lose more than $200m in revenue if this year’s autumn internationals are cancelled. World Rugby has already created a $160m rescue package.



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                  • gnfb1234

                    gnfb1234 5:46 pm on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                       

                      Rugby: ‘I was so embarrassed’ – Former All Blacks first-five Dan Carter reveals the first time he met England star Maro Itoje 


                      Dan Carter, who always seems down for a good time, has revealed the one night he “embarrassed” himself in front of England lock Maro Itoje during a night out.

                      Itoje was the latest guest on the All Black great’s ‘Kickin It’ video series on his Facebook page where he speaks to rugby players from around the world.

                      During their conversation, along with Scottish journalist Lee McKenzie, Itoje mentioned the first time he met Carter after the 2016 European Rugby Champions Cup final, where they had a few post-tournament drinks.

                      “The first time I met him (Carter) was when I played against him in the 2016 Champions Cup final which was pretty cool,” said Itoje, who went on to claim a man of the match performance with Saracens to defeat Carter’s Racing 92.

                      “The best part – apart from winning obviously – was when we saw each other after the game and we both had one or two drinks in us.”

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                      Another rugby ‘World Cup’ next year? Rescue plan proposed

                      Carter then shared his embarrassment about how he acted around the young rugby star, after perhaps one or two too many drinks.

                      “I woke the next day and I was so embarrassed because like you mention, I probably had too many lemonades and I just remember at the bar I had my hand around you.

                      “I’ve never met the guy before but it obviously followed the amazing Six Nations that you had that season and your Champions Cup success, man of the match. I had my arm around him and I was like, you’re awesome.

                      “I was giving him advice like he was my own son: ‘Now you got to keep your feet on the ground, make sure you stay humble, you work hard.’ I woke up and was like ‘man this guy is going to think that I was an absolute idiot’. Probably thought I was fanboying him.”

                      Itoje laughingly responded: “It was a great day. It was all solid, very good advice.”

                      The 25-year-old lock was one of the best players at last year’s Rugby World Cup and played a big part in England’s semifinal win over the All Blacks.

                      However, his first time facing the All Blacks was for the Lions in 2017.

                      Dan Carter and Maro Itoje. Photos / Photosport
                      Dan Carter and Maro Itoje. Photos / Photosport

                      When asked about his experience facing the All Blacks haka, Itoje recalled his experience during the Lions tour.

                      “The first time I faced the haka was in 2017. Obviously we were there for the Lions tour. So we got off the plane, we had a haka as our welcome … then a couple games later we had the first game and we had the haka. Then we’ll go to another place and we would have a different haka. So as you can imagine, by the end of the tour I was all haka’d out.”

                      Itoje said he still respected the haka and grew up watching it.

                      “I remember growing up [watching] the haka of the New Zealand players – and not only the haka but also the Pacific Island warrior dances – before games and I’m thinking ‘this is so cool’.

                      “But in terms of my strategy, I just try to remain focused on the game. I don’t think too much into it. It’s interesting because you’ve seen numerous teams do different things against the haka. You’ve seen guys like beating their chest or marching towards it or you’ve seen guys with different symbols or whatever. But a lot of the times, people do different things and they get whooped.

                      “So the most important thing is making sure you’re ready to go out there and play some good rugby. That’s my focus.”

                      Itoje also said one of the players he grew up idolising was All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu.

                      “I was pretty late to rugby,” he said in response to a fan question asking about who inspired him to play rugby. “I started playing rugby when I was 11 years old. So between 11 and 13, 14, my interest in rugby was growing at an exponential rate.

                      “Then I was like logging on to YouTube and watching all these highlight reels and all these players. And one player which made me want to completely change positions straightaway was Jonah Lomu. I watched him and I was like ‘Wow this guy’s doing this? This guy is so strong and so powerful’.”

                      Ep. 5: Kickin’ It: Maro Itoje

                      Had a great chat with the talented Maro Itoje last week. Lots of inspiration speaking with the next generation of Rugby. Excited to see what’s next for him.

                      Posted by Dan Carter on Sunday, 24 May 2020





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                      gnfb1234 3:43 pm on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                         

                        Rugby: Dan Carter opens up about one of his big regrets during his All Blacks career 


                        Dan Carter has opened up on one of the biggest mistakes he made during his career which may have contributed to the All Blacks’ heartbreaking World Cup loss in 2007.

                        In the latest episode of his Facebook video series Kickin It, the All Blacks great discussed World Cup losses with England star lock Maro Itoje, who was part of the side that dominated New Zealand in last year’s semifinal in Japan but would go on to lose in the final to the Springboks.

                        Carter advised the 25-year-old Itoje to make sure he learned from the pain of the defeat, something the former first-five said he regrets he didn’t do.

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                        After losing to the Wallabies in his first World Cup in 2003, Carter said he quickly got over it and failed to take the lessons from that defeat, which he says contributed to the All Blacks’ quarter-final shock loss to France in the next tournament.

                        “In a funny way, I’m glad that Maro is hurting a little bit because my first World Cup in 2003 I got over in four or five days,” Carter said.

                        “Then I had a lot of success after that and got to 2007 and wasn’t hurting as much as I should have from 2003.

                        “We got dealt with by the French in the quarterfinals and that one really hurt for a good six months.

                        “Through that hurt, you do digest what went wrong as a team and admitted we weren’t a good team when it came to pressure. I’m not saying England were the same as us but there has to be something in there that they will learn from and become stronger.”

                        A dejected Dan Carter during his All Blacks career. Photo / Photosport
                        A dejected Dan Carter during his All Blacks career. Photo / Photosport

                        Carter said he finally learned to build upon the disappointment of the 2007 World Cup, which ultimately helped towards the All Blacks’ back-to-back triumphs in 2011 and 2015.

                        “We learnt from 2007 and that was the platform for us to be successful in 2011 and 2015.

                        “England now have a lot of guys who have experience and know what it took to get all the way to the final but not quite get there and that will hurt. It will feed their hunger come four years’ time.”

                        READ MORE:
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                        Rugby: Anzac rugby side proposed by Rugby Australia
                        Rugby: World Rugby considering dropping scrums, mauls to hasten return
                        Super Rugby Aotearoa: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reveals which team she supports – and more good news for sports fans

                        Itoje, who was one of the best players in last year’s tournament, said he only recently watched the replay of England’s loss to South Africa in the final, admitting that it is “still painful to watch”.

                        “The final was extremely disappointing and it took me a long while to be able to watch the final. It was too painful,” Itoje said to Carter.

                        “The first time I watched it back was during the lockdown and I wanted to take lessons from it. There are always lessons in victory and defeat and allowing my emotions to watch the game will make me a better player.

                        “It was still painful to watch, but I’m more optimistic about the future than the past and we have a lot of good years left in us.”

                        England's Maro Itoje tackles the All Blacks' Anton Lienert-Brown in the 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal. Photo / Photosport
                        England’s Maro Itoje tackles the All Blacks’ Anton Lienert-Brown in the 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal. Photo / Photosport

                        Apart from revisiting old scars, Itoje has been taking the positives out of lockdown and the ability to wind down from the usually intense workload of a professional rugby player.

                        Carter offered the young star some final advice about using the current moment as a time to ponder things outside of rugby.

                        “There is only so much training you can do in lockdown and that is a little blessing in disguise and it forces you to think about interests outside rugby and what is my life going to look like for me when rugby has finished,” Carter told Itoje.

                        “It has been a great experience for players to go through this process which they might not have thought too much about leading into this.”

                        Ep. 5: Kickin’ It: Maro Itoje

                        Had a great chat with the talented Maro Itoje last week. Lots of inspiration speaking with the next generation of Rugby. Excited to see what’s next for him.

                        Posted by Dan Carter on Sunday, 24 May 2020





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                        gnfb1234 2:39 pm on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                           

                          Rugby: Former All Blacks winger Nehe Milner-Skudder opens up about tough times ahead of Highlanders comeback 


                          Returning former All Blacks star Nehe Milner-Skudder has opened up about his desperate struggle since bursting onto the test scene in 2015 – revealing a string of injuries forced him to “some dark places” and made him consider giving up the game.

                          In a open-hearted interview with former teammate Ardie Savea, Milner-Skudder credits his wife Hannah for his resurgence and admits that he came close to quitting.

                          Milner-Skudder has not played rugby in 18 months, with his last appearance coming for the All Blacks against Japan in November 2018, but recently announced that he would join the Highlanders for Super Rugby Aotearoa, set to start next month.

                          READ MORE:
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                          New Zealand Rugby confirm details for ‘Super Rugby Aotearoa’ at alert level 2
                          Former All Black Colin Slade explains why the Top 14 is on a completely different level to Super Rugby

                          The 29-year-old first hit the headlines with his dazzling feet and strong running with Manawatu and the Hurricanes; and scored twice on test debut against the Wallabies in 2015.

                          He scored ten more times in 12 tests, starring at the 2015 World Cup, before frequent injury troubles hampered his progress. Milner-Skudder signed a lucrative three-year deal with Toulon in 2018 but a shoulder injury kept him from featuring for the French giants.

                          “It’s been a long, long time working my way back from that. I had my first shoulder [injury] back in 2016, so the last four years have been up and down with injuries – getting back from rehab, getting out on the field with setback after setback,” Milner-Skudder told Savea on his self-titled podcast.

                          Nehe Milner-Skudder. Photo / Photosport
                          Nehe Milner-Skudder. Photo / Photosport

                          “At the same time, as a lot of people say, the adversity you go through in those struggles allows you to grow as a person. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck and I didn’t go to some dark places.

                          “I felt the weight and the heaviness of not being able to get out there with the brothers, but I feel like I have come out of these tough times with a better understanding of myself and it’s put things into perspective.”

                          Milner-Skudder admits feelings of self-doubt and anxiety nearly brought his career to a premature end.

                          “There were so many times I was crying on my bedroom floor. I was talking to my wife: ‘Babe, I’ve had enough. I’m going to chuck it all in.’

                          “She was like: ‘Nah. Get up. Get on with things’. There was a balance between that and reminding me why I do what I do.”

                          Nehe Milner-Skudder. Photo / Photosport
                          Nehe Milner-Skudder. Photo / Photosport

                          In his prolonged absence, Rieko Ioane, and more recently George Bridge and Sevu Reece, have made the All Blacks’ wing positions their own and while a return to the black jersey is unlikely – the possibility of a stint with Aaron Mauger’s Highlanders has left fans frothing.

                          The franchise is playing it safe, however, saying earlier this week that while the fullback spot could be Milner-Skudder’s he “continues to rehabilitate with a view to getting back on the field this year”.

                          The Highlanders face the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium on June 13, in the first match of the 10-week Kiwi-only competition, with Beauden Barrett’s Blues hosting the Hurricanes the following day.



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                            Rugby league: Sonny Bill Williams opens up about fasting during lockdown 



                            Sonny Bill Williams has opened up about fasting while in lockdown in the UK.

                            Williams’ return to rugby league with the Toronto Wolfpack has been on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s given the former All Black more time plan his training schedule during Ramadan – when Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours.

                            He says not having regular team training has enabled him to adjust his training routine around breaking his fast.

                            “When I was playing I was having to train a lot during the day back in New Zealand,” Williams told Treated.com.

                            “So I couldn’t really structure my day around Iftar (time each day when the fast is broken). So what I’m doing now is one or two hours, depending on how hard the session is, before Iftar.”

                            The 34-year-old said he has gotten a lot more relaxed about his fasting, which has come with experience.

                            “I’ll get asked by athletes a lot, what should I eat, what time should I eat, what type of food, when or if I should eat carbs, that type of stuff. When I first started getting into Ramadan from an athlete’s point of view I was really scientific.

                            “Last year I just left it up to Allah and said to myself I’m going to eat when I’m going to eat.”

                            Keeping Up With The Pack Episode 8 | Sonny Bill Williams Talks Fasting, Training and Lockdown

                            We caught up with Toronto Wolfpack star Sonny Bill Williams to chat about how he’s been staying in shape and observing Ramadan while in lockdown. #coronaviru…

                            Williams said one of the lessons he’s learned is not to eat too much before a big game.

                            “Funny story – last year I actually fell asleep on the team bus going to the game. I broke fast just before I hopped on the bus to go to the game, and I had a bit too much.

                            “Your energy is zapped after you eat too much, so I fell asleep heading into Eden Park before the big game. So I learned [that lesson] early.”

                            Williams admits he does miss some of the food back home, his favourite of which is “island food”.

                            “The raw fish, we call it oka. We have a dish called chop suey, we have a potato called taro that I don’t really eat that much. But the meal I probably miss the most is oka with chop suey.”

                            The second rower thanked fans for their support and insisted the team will be ready when the league is able to restart.

                            “The competition will come back soon. And, God willing, we can carry on our form from the last game.

                            “We’re training hard. We’re working hard. Even though I’m enjoying myself at home with my family, I’m still training every day besides one day a week, and still looking forward to getting back out there and playing some good footy. I know all the other lads are in the same boat.”



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                            gnfb1234 12:32 pm on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                               

                              Super Rugby Aotearoa: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reveals which team she supports – and more good news for sports fans 


                              Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed where her Super Rugby loyalties lie and given sports fans some good news as the country slowly moves back towards normality.

                              With Super Rugby Aotearoa – and sport in general – returning to screens and fields across New Zealand very soon, Ardern made a surprise appearance on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown, where she discussed rugby, the re-opening of community sport and the person in parliament she would love to give a good walloping on the footy field.

                              When asked what team she’ll be supporting for the new domestic Super Rugby season starting on June 13, the Prime Minister didn’t blink and proclaimed her support for the Chiefs.

                              “I’ve always been clear. My loyalty has always been with the Chiefs,” Ardern said. “I was born and raised in Morrinsville so it’s pretty hard to really take the Mooloo country out of me. I was born with bells in my ears.”

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                              The Government this week announced plans to allow gatherings of up to 100 from midday this Friday, which is a huge boost for the re-opening of community sport in New Zealand.

                              Ardern said she was pleased that restrictions were able to be lifted for many New Zealanders and that the return of community sport is a big sign of a return to normality.

                              “We kept talking about that phase when things will feel like they’re getting back to normal. And for me a real sign of that sense of normality is people being able to get back to their clubs, to get back to Saturday mornings of taking the kids to sport.

                              “That’s such a huge part of who we are that the return to that is a sign that things are coming back. It’s also for me a big part of it is just being able to gather again together, that sense of community, and mental health and wellbeing. Physical exercise and activity is such an important part of that, really important.”

                              Prim Minister Jacinda Ardern and former All Blacks captain Kieran Read. Photo / Photosport
                              Prim Minister Jacinda Ardern and former All Blacks captain Kieran Read. Photo / Photosport

                              With professional sport also returning next month, Ardern also gave fans some hope that watching live sport at stadiums and arenas – in some shape or form – could be allowed in the not too distant future.

                              “One of the things that we’re still giving ourselves some time to work through is when you’ve got much larger events and places, when you’ve got convention centres and so on. Can we do a little bit of thinking about how we manage in those environments.

                              “We haven’t quite finished our thinking around that but that is one of the issues I think is fair to raise. For now though, it’s obviously not too far for us to wait before the fans can see their favourite teams back on the field or back on the court. And just the ability even if they’re watching from home. I think that’ll make a really big difference.”

                              Before returning back to running the country, the Prime Minister left one last final playful jab at Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard in response to being asked by former All Black Mils Muliaina about the one person in parliament she would like to “smash” on the rugby field.

                              “Let’s just say that I’m not sure it would be great for parliament if I was in the opposing team with the speaker. Trevor Mallard would attract a lot of attention.”



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                              gnfb1234 11:31 am on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                                 

                                Another rugby ‘World Cup’ next year? Rescue plan proposed 



                                An unofficial Rugby World Cup is being proposed next year, with claims it could raise up to $500m for a financially beleaguered game.

                                New Zealand and other top nations would square off, just two years after South Africa dethroned the All Blacks in Japan.

                                The matches would be staged in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and force the Lions tour of South Africa to be postponed.

                                The Telegraph reports that the idea is the brainchild of Francis Baron, a former chief executive of the England Rugby Union. The idea has been put before England bosses and World Rugby.

                                Staged over six weeks in June and July, 16 invited teams would play 31 matches under a plan that has apparently been given the title of “Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby”.

                                Baron told the Telegraph: “The key will be winning the support of the southern hemisphere unions but with everyone facing horrendous financial challenges, this is a bold and ambitious plan to raise large amounts of new cash from which they will be major beneficiaries.”

                                Baron helped England win hosting rights for the 2015 World Cup and said that tournament generated profits around $800m.

                                All profits from the proposed 2021 tournament would be spread around the participating unions, and a support fund started for rugby families who had lost members to COVID-19.

                                “The RFU (England) should take a leadership position and propose to other major unions and World Rugby that a special one-off tournament be held,” Baron said.

                                “Its key selling point is that all the money raised would be for keeping the game of rugby alive around the world.

                                “I have talked to one or two senior colleagues and they all think the country would get right behind it.”

                                England predicts it will lose more than $200m in revenue if this year’s autumn internationals are cancelled. World Rugby has already created a $160m rescue package.

                                The British and Irish Lions’ eighty-match tour of South Africa starting in early July would need to be postponed, to protect the professional club competitions around the world.



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                                gnfb1234 10:28 am on 27/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                                   

                                  Super Rugby Aotearoa: New Zealand Rugby confirm rules will remain the same 



                                  New Zealand Rugby has confirmed they won’t be following World Rugby’s proposal to ban scrum resets, team huddles and upright tackles when Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off next month.

                                  World Rugby announced yesterday it was considering the moves to reduce the transmission risk of Covid-19 but will ultimately leave any final decision up to national bodies.

                                  World Rugby’s influential medical group proposed team huddles and spitting would also be scrapped while players would be required to change their kit and headgear at halftime.

                                  Scrums were the highest risk event, making up 50 per cent of high exposure time during a match, according to the report.

                                  NZR chief executive Mark Robinson told Radio New Zealand that those rules won’t apply to the new New Zealand-based competition which begins on June 13.

                                  “There don’t appear to be any signs of community transmission in New Zealand so our circumstances are quite different and we don’t anticipate the need to adopt the law proposals,” he said.

                                  READ MORE:
                                  NZ Rugby under pressure to sort out Super Rugby after Pro14 deal signed off
                                  Rugby: Super Rugby Aotearoa set for June kick-off
                                  Super Rugby Aotearoa: Jordie Barrett on facing Beauden and the Blues – ‘Couldn’t have set the scene any better’
                                  Super Rugby Aotearoa: Sam Whitelock on new role at Crusaders and missing out on All Blacks captaincy

                                  “We have been open with World Rugby about this and they understand our unique situation.”

                                  “We will continue to manage all health risks with stringent protocols and be lead by our public health authorities.

                                  “The protocols including daily symptom and temperature checks, stringent hygiene and cleaning, contact tracing practices, and asking anyone who feels unwell to stay away, self-isolate and get tested.”

                                  It echoed the sentiments of Blues coach Leon MacDonald.

                                  “If you’re going to play the game you’ve got to do it properly,” MacDonald said yesterday as the Blues progresses towards their return against the Hurricanes at Eden Park with an internal hit-out set down for the end of next week. “We’re taking good precautions.

                                  “We’ve changed our meeting room so we can have the appropriate spacing and wherever possible we’ll adhere to the safety recommendations but once you get on the grass and start tackling you’ve got to be ready to play. It’s a tough competition we’re going into so we’ve got to be contact ready.

                                  “It’s business as usual for us. We probably would have had a directive by now if there was going to be no scrums. We’re expecting everything to look like rugby when we resume.”



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                                    Super Rugby Aotearoa: Jordie Barrett on facing Beauden and the Blues – ‘Couldn’t have set the scene any better’ 



                                    It may still be a few weeks away but All Blacks and Hurricanes utility back Jordie Barrett has marked on the calendar when he will play his brother and former teammate Beauden.

                                    The two Barretts are expected to face off in the opening weekend when rugby returns following the Covid-19 break to the season.

                                    Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off on June 13 with the Highlanders hosting the Chiefs in Dunedin. The following day the Blues face the Hurricanes in Auckland – in what should be Beauden Barrett’s debut for his new franchise after heading north at the end of last year.

                                    Jordie already seemed to have his game face on for the clash with his older brother when appearing on The Breakdown last night.

                                    “When I looked to the schedule and saw we had the Blues up there first game, I guess you couldn’t have set the scene any better,” Jordie told the Breakdown.

                                    Jordie could then face his other All Blacks brother Scott a week place when the Hurricanes host the Crusaders.

                                    The Blues had a 5-2 record and sat in fourth place when the Super Rugby season was suspended in March, with the Hurricanes five points back having played one less game. The two sides met in Wellington in round six on March 7 where the Blues won 24-15.

                                    Jordie played in that defeat however Beauden has yet to take the field in 2020.

                                    Under the Super Rugby Aotearoa structure, each side will face off twice, home and away, meaning the Blues and Hurricanes will have three shots at each other this year for their final meeting taking place on July 18.

                                    Jordie told The Breakdown that the Hurricanes were grateful to be back on the field as Super Rugby Aotearoa should be the first rugby competition to get underway in a post-Covid times.

                                    “It’s been a really good week to come back into training. There’s a good buzz in the group and everyone’s excited. I guess we’re grateful to be in a position where we can get back and train and compete again,” Jordie said.

                                    The 23-year-old, who had played 54 games for the Wellington franchise, said he’s hoping to have a bigger influence on the field across the next eight games.

                                    “For me it’s bigger picture. I look at my game and I always think I’m taking a lot of learnings each and every time I play. I’m always going to be learning but trying to use experiences in the past to make me a better footy player and play in those different positions. Grow in my game to be a leader in the Hurricanes group and try and drive us around the park and have a lot more influence on our results.”



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                                      Watch: Sky Sport’s The Breakdown brings you the big rugby issues of the week 



                                      New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) and Sky TV have joined forces to bring more of the country’s best sporting content to even more Kiwis.

                                      Sky Sport’s hugely popular weekly rugby magazine show The Breakdown will be livestreamed tonight from 8.30pm on nzherald.co.nz.

                                      This week on The Breakdown, Jordie Barrett talks about his training secrets ahead of the opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa, Dr Ben O’Keeffe shares his COVID19 hospital experience and analyses proposed law changes and Nehe Milner-Skudder reports in from the Deep South.

                                      NZME managing editor Shayne Currie said he was delighted to be teaming up with Sky, to help grow audiences for both businesses – and increase interest in myriad sporting codes.

                                      “NZME and Sky are both proud broadcast and digital businesses, with proven track records of world-class coverage of sport. We’re proud to be teaming up to showcase and expand on the best sports coverage in New Zealand,” Currie said.



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                                        Rugby: World Rugby medics urge banning reset scrums, upright tackles, huddles and spitting 



                                        World Rugby’s influential medical group has proposed banning reset scrums and upright tackling in a huge shake-up of the sport’s laws.

                                        Team huddles and spitting would also be scrapped while players would be required to change their kit and headgear at half-time in a bid to reduce the transmission risk of Covid-19. The report also recommends players wash their hands and face with soap for 20 seconds before a match, at half-time and following the game. Balls should be changed and cleaned frequently during matches.

                                        The recommendations will be put before World Rugby’s executive committee, which is expected to meet in the next 48 hours and will then publish temporary law guidelines. Those will then be adopted by individual nations depending on the country’s rate of Covid-19. The report compiled by leading experts Eanna Falvey, Prav Mathema, Mary Horgan and Martin Raftery was produced with feedback from more than 80 medical officers. It examines the transmission risk via sweat and saliva by match events such as scrums, rucks and tackles and breaks down the positions likely to suffer the greatest exposure.

                                        Scrums were the highest risk event, making up 50 per cent of high exposure time during a match. Unsurprisingly props and second rows were the most vulnerable positions, spending an average of 13.4 minutes in high transmission risk events. Hence the recommendation to remove reset scrums, which are found to take up 3.6 minutes of game-time. That would lead to a 30 per cent reduction in high-risk transmission exposure time. A range of options will be examined by World Rugby’s law review group to replace the scrum, but the award of a free-kick seems the most likely alternative.

                                        Many observers would welcome the permanent removal of reset scrums. Traditionalists, however, will be fearful that this legislation could be a Trojan Horse to attack the bedrock of the game. Re-elected World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont previously told The Telegraph that he was exploring the possibility of limiting contested scrums within the community game.

                                        World Rugby insist all these proposals are temporary to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, it is not hard to envisage the absence of reset scrums becoming permanent, particularly at a time when rugby will be desperate to entice back spectators and television audiences as quickly as possible.

                                        The second main recommendation is to eliminate “upright face to face” tackles. Technically, these are already prohibited by World Rugby’s laws so it is likely that referees will be instructed to further clamp down on high tackles. Choke tackles could also be banned as players are encouraged to avoid any face-to-face contact. The study states that the elimination of face to face tackles would reduce the frequency of high-risk exposure events by 20 per cent.

                                        It is unlikely that the World Rugby ExCo would ignore the recommendations of its own medical experts. However, it will be up to individual unions to apply the law amendments whether that is at elite or community level or both. Countries with a higher level of Covid-19 are more likely to adopt the recommendations wholesale.

                                        Meanwhile Premiership Rugby has confirmed it will continue a policy of testing all players for coronavirus despite the latest Government advice stated that step was not a prerequisite. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published the second stage of its return to training guidance for elite athletes which heralds the start of contact training.

                                        Premiership clubs need only to ensure players complete a questionnaire on possible symptoms to stay within the guidelines. However, Premiership Rugby are adamant they are committed to following through with a testing programme which is likely to cost a minimum of £20,000 a week.

                                        That is a high price to pay in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis, however a testing regime is seen as a prerequisite of the Rugby Players’ Association in their negotiations to safely ensure the return to play of its members.



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                                        gnfb1234 11:10 am on 26/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                                           

                                          NZ Rugby under pressure to sort out Super Rugby after Pro14 deal signed off 



                                          Rugby’s move towards a private-equity driven future has gathered pace with reports that CVC Capital Partners’ splurge into the Pro14 will bring the concept of a club world cup closer to reality.

                                          The move has also heightened the contrast and potential divide between the cashed-up Northern Hemisphere professional leagues, and the fragile shell of Sanzaar in the south.

                                          The Luxembourg-based buyout group paid $400 million for a 27 per cent stake in English Premiership Rugby two years ago and added the cross-border Pro14 – a tournament involving clubs from the three Celtic nations (including Northern Ireland), Italy and South Africa – to their portfolio over the weekend.

                                          The deal, which had been put on ice during the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis, sees the equity group tale a 28 per cent stake in the tournament after paying $240m.

                                          “[CVC has] a strong belief in the long-term potential of rugby for the fans, the players and the clubs, and what we can achieve in partnership with Pro14,” said the company in a statement.

                                          While the immediate benefit of the partnership is a massive cash injection into a tournament that will be, like every major professional sports league, affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the ripple effect of the deal is likely to be felt around the rugby world.

                                          South Africa will likely increase their involvement in the competition from two teams – the Cheetahs and Kings – which could expedite their long talked-about exit from Super Rugby, although they have expressed a desire to retain a presence in the south also.

                                          Of greater importance to the hoped-for renovation of rugby’s chaotic global calendar, it is believed CVC will seek alignment between its investments – its $600m deal to buy into the Six Nations is also back on track according to a report in London’s Financial Times – to play a leading role in creating a global club world cup.

                                          That move should prompt New Zealand Rugby to press fast forward on Aratipu, the review into the future of Super Rugby. It is crucial that NZR has a workable, saleable product to take to market with some urgency.

                                          At the moment the contrast is uncomfortable for those charged with keeping the best players in the game in New Zealand: private money is being poured into Europe’s big tournaments; nobody yet knows with any certainty what Super Rugby will look like in 2021.

                                          This month, the Herald revealed that the national body had been wooing global equity partners, including multi-billion dollar US firm Silver Lake, a tech specialist that has also successfully invested in mixed martial arts phenomenon UFC, the Madison Square Garden Company (which owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers), and Manchester City’s parent company.

                                          “You would set up a subsidiary company of NZ Rugby and get investment into that company in some form of partnership,” a senior NZ Rugby source said. “You put commercial assets into that company — whether that’s in combination with Sanzaar partners and something like Super Rugby in its reincarnated form, or the Rugby Championship.”

                                          The source also noted the NZR was “miles away” from signing a deal, but the Pro14 deal and continued uncertainty over Sanzaar’s future should rid the national body of any complacency.

                                          CVC’s massive investment in Northern Hemisphere rugby (and to an extent South African) points to their investment belief that rugby’s reach and commercial opportunities will continue to rise in the wake of the pandemic.

                                          NZR will now be acutely aware they cannot afford to be left behind.



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                                          gnfb1234 9:04 am on 26/05/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved
                                             

                                            Rugby: All Blacks great Zinzan Brooke’s son signs pro deal 


                                            By Chris Jones of RugbyPass.com

                                            As Zinzan Brooke prepares for the 25th anniversary of the most remarkable drop goal ever scored at a Rugby World Cup, the legendary New Zealand No8 finally has some good news for the England team he helped thrash 45-29 with Jonah Lomu grabbing four tries in Cape Town.

                                            That semi-final defeat on June 18, 1995 was a crushing blow for England and the fact Brooke kicked a 45m right foot drop goal from close to the touchline only increased the discomfort being felt by the players who had repeatedly failed to stop the rampaging Lomu.

                                            While it may not redress the balance, Brooke has revealed that Lucas, the eldest of his six children, has signed a two-year academy contract with Gallagher Premiership London Irish and he is fully England qualified with the 18-year-old having already made his mark as a member of the successful Wellington College first XV. “Lucas has signed a two-year contract with London Irish and has gone there with four or five of his mates from Wellington College,” explained Brooke who has lived in England for 23 years.

                                            “Lucas was born here in England and doesn’t know New Zealand at all. My grand-parents were English and my wife’s parents are English and a lot of people have asked me what would I do. This is home and if the kids get the opportunity to play for England that is their choice. It’s a big call but why would you stop your kid just because it’s England – it’s his call.

                                            “The official date for Lucas to start at Irish was mid-July but it may not be until August because of the current situation and he is chomping at the bit. Lucas plays back row and also hooker because I said to him when I was coaching him at Windsor RFC from the age of five to when he went to Wellington, to have this up your sleeve because I don’t know how tall and big you are going to be. I told him not to wipe out the idea of hooker and he was like ” hooker?” and I said that he should look at the modern day hooker as another loose forward with all the skills. He has nice passing so he just needed to work on throwing the ball into the line out so he hooks as well.”

                                            Zinzan and brother Robin Brooke played a record 39 tests together with the All Blacks giving the family a special place in New Zealand rugby folklore while Marty, their other sibling, played for Auckland and Southland.

                                            “Robin’s children are water polo players and swimmers and our parents didn’t push us at anything and we just took up sports:” added Brooke “You find your own pathway and I was quite handy at badminton and I loved playing cricket. Glaringly obvious, rugby was the one I chose through the age groups and then made the Rugby World Cup squad in 1987.

                                            “I try not to mention the Brooke name (in terms of rugby) because I don’t want to put any pressure on Lucas. I told him not to feel any pressure because I played and that he should do his best, cut his own cloth and not worry about anything. I told him if he wants to go all the way then it is a hard journey but when you are on a good run it is very enjoyable. I love watching him.”

                                            Zinzan Brooke. Photo / Photosport
                                            Zinzan Brooke. Photo / Photosport

                                            Brooke, 55, made a try-scoring debut for New Zealand against Argentina in the 1987 World Cup and collected a winners’ medal which he gave to his parents. They also have the medal he collected after losing to South Africa in the 1995 final in Johannesburg made famous by the iconic picture of President Nelson Mandela handing over the trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar with both men wearing green No6 jerseys.

                                            In a special interview for RugbyPass Ed Griffiths, the former SA RFU chief executive, maintains that the sickness that affected a number of the All Blacks before and during the final was to food poisoning from seafood not the actions of an alleged waitress called Suzie who it was claimed had intentionally made the opposition ill. Brooke denies the players had all been eating seafood and revealed there were other problems to deal with including having car alarms going off throughout the night after the All Blacks had been given rooms right next to the hotel car park.

                                            Brooke said: “I didn’t eat a load of seafood before the final and I think it was the Thursday lunch that was the problem after training. I was ill but it wasn’t prawns and crayfish and there were more than five or six who were sick. South Africa were a good side and politically it probably happened for the right reasons. Normally at the hotel we didn’t have rooms near the car park and the car alarms were going off on the hour for three hours during the night – it was nuts. We were put I rooms right next to the car park!

                                            “That was a bloody good All Blacks team but it wasn’t to be on that day.”

                                            This article first appeared on RugbyPass.com and has been republished with permission



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