When is the next British and Irish Lions tour? Warren Gatland confirmed as Head Coach for South Africa tests

12 Jun

Warren Gatland has confirmed he will take charge of his third British and Irish Lions tour when they make the trip to South Africa.

Gatland lead the Lions to a dramatic series draw against New Zealand in 2017 and a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013.

Warren Gatland will take charge of his third British and Irish Lions tour in South Africa in 2021

The Kiwi is now set to do so again when Home Nations team travel to the face the Springboks.

Gatland will relinquish his role as Wales boss after the upcoming World Cup and will then start his official Lions duties in August 2020.

That’ll give him plenty of time to consider his options for the trip to Africa along with new Lions Chairman Jason Leonard and first full-time managing director Ben Calveley.

British and Irish Lions tour: When is it?

The Lions will head to South Africa for their tour in the summer of 2021.

While exact dates have not been confirmed as of yet, the tour will likely take place throughout June and culminate in early July.

The 2021 tour will be shorter than recent editions of the showpiece event.

The Lions have tended to play ten matches during the trips but will compete in a total of eight games this time around.

That will include a three-match test series against South Africa plus five additional games against local teams.

Warren Gatland ‘s Lions drew with New Zealand on their tour in 2017

British and Irish Lions tour: What has Warren Gatland said?

On being confirmed as the Lions Head Coach once again, Gatland said: “I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again.

“It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations.

“The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.

“South Africa is a special place to play rugby.

“They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.

“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.

“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win. I would not be here if I thought differently.

“I’m delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales.”

Wales 25-7 Ireland: Wales claim Six Nations Grand Slam after dominant victory over Ireland

16 Mar

Wales completed their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2012 after thrashing Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.

They needed just one try and several kicks from the excellent Gareth Anscombe to comfortably take the title after the dominant 25-7 win.

Hadleigh Parkes scores Wales’ try

It took Grand Slam-chasing Wales less than two minutes to cross for their first try. Gareth Anscombe’s perfectly-weighted kick over the Ireland defence was taken by Hadleigh Parkes who had the simple task of finishing the move.

The try was converted to give Wales a 7-0 lead and the dream start in Cardiff.

Parkes followed up his early try by pulling off a try-saving tackle on the marauding Jacob Stockdale to cement that early advantage.

Gareth Davies runs away from Conor Murray

George North departed due to injury in a blow to the hosts however, with Dan Biggar joining the fray at fly-half, Anscombe moving to full-back and Liam Williams to the wing.

Anscombe landed a long-range penalty to stretch Wales’ lead to 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Ireland failed to master the conditions, with the driving rain causing the visitors more problems than the composed hosts.

Ireland’s decision to leave the Principality Stadium roof open appeared to backfire significantly therefore, with Gatland’s men never looking likely to relinquish control.

Anscombe’s excellent afternoon continued with two more expertly-struck penalties to put the home side in total control at 16-0 at the break.

Anscombe’s fourth penalty pushed Wales into an even more commanding position to kick-start the second half.

Gareth Anscombe collects a high ball

And when Sexton punted the restart out on the full, it appeared Wales’ glory march was almost nailed on with half an hour to go.

CJ Stander was pinged for not rolling away in yet another poor penalty concession from Ireland, and once again Anscombe booted the points to twist the knife.

Wales’ 22-0 lead on the hour proved fully justified reward for their complete dominance.

Anscombe added another kick to put the result beyond the reach of Ireland.

The visitors did get on the scoreboard late on but it was a mere consolation.

Six Nations 2019 permutations explained: Can England or Ireland win it? Will bonus points come into play?

15 Mar

This season’s Six Nations is set for a thrilling conclusion today with three countries still in title contention.

Wales, England and Ireland can all win silverware with the former currently top of the table with four wins from four.

Wales take on Ireland this weekend while England face Scotland and there are a host of possible ways to where the trophy will end up.

Wales are in pole position in the Six Nations

What are the permutations?

  • Wales will win the Six Nations title and clinch a first Grand Slam for seven years if they beat Ireland in Cardiff.
  • If Wales and England finish level on 20 points, which is quite possible, then Wales will still be crowned champions as Grand Slam winners are automatically awarded three bonus points under Six Nations rules.
  • A draw between Wales and Ireland – and England losing to Scotland at Twickenham – would see Wales win the title without a Grand Slam.
  • A draw between Wales and Ireland – and England beating Scotland – would see England crowned champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and England defeat Scotland, then England will be champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and England fail to beat Scotland, then Ireland will be champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and gain a bonus point and England beat Scotland but don’t gain a bonus point, then England will be champions due to their superior points difference barring an unlikely 65-point swing in Ireland’s favour.

What about the bonus points system?

A bonus point is awarded in the Six Nations if you score four or more tries or if you lose within seven points.

England have been at their attacking best at times in this tournament claiming three bonus points in their matches so far.

But Wales have had to make do with collecting just the four points per win and are yet to get any extras.

England take on Scotland in the final weekend of the Six Nations

Yet, if Warren Gatland’s side go onto win all five matches, they are automatically awarded three bonus points for achieving the Grand Slam.

This would ensure they lift the Six Nations title, even if England get maximum points in their final fixture.

England can only get 20 points at most in tournament, while Wales will get a minimum 23 points if they remain undefeated.

What are the remaining Six Nations fixtures?

Saturday, March 16

Italy v France: 12:30pm, Stadio Olimpico

Wales v Ireland: 2:45pm, Millennium Stadium

England v Scotland: 5pm, Twickenham

Ireland can still win the Six Nations

Ireland 26-14 France: Joe Schmidt’s men maintain faint Six Nations hopes with bonus-point victory over hapless French

10 Mar

Three teams are in contention to win this year’s Six Nations after Ireland kept alive their hopes with a 26-14 victory over France at the Aviva Stadium.

Joe Schmidt’s men also secured a bonus-point win after scoring four tries with the French going over twice in the final five minutes.

However, the Irish will need to win against Wales, who are chasing the Grand Slam, in Cardiff and also need England to not beat Scotland at Twickenham.


Ireland vs France: Flanker Sean O’Brien omitted from Joe Schmidt’s squad for Six Nations clash

8 Mar

Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien has been left out the squad for their Six Nations clash against France on Sunday.

The British and Irish Lions man, 32, put in a below-par performance during Ireland’s lacklustre 26-16 victory over Italy in Rome.

O’Brien in action for Ireland against Italy last month

Josh Van Der Flier is starting in his stead at openside, while the fit-again Garry Ringrose will feature at outside centre with Robbie Henshaw still battling a dead leg.

Meanwhile, Iain Henderson returns after finger trouble at lock and CJ Stander at number eight.

Munster star Stander suffered a nasty broken cheekbone in Ireland’s opening-weekend 32-20 loss to England in Dublin, but has recovered quickly to step back into boss Joe Schmidt’s team.

Ireland have restored all available big guns after a mix-and-match line-up to take on the Italians, with captain Rory Best back at hooker and Cian Healy also starting at loosehead prop.

Schmidt confirmed O’Brien’s omission was on form, with the Ireland boss excited by Van Der Flier starting in the back-row.

“With Sean, Jack Conan was going to be given the opportunity against Scotland and he didn’t get that, so we wanted to give him the chance.

“Josh Van Der Flier hasn’t let us down at all. So it’s a perfect opportunity to put him back in there, so he’s very much keen and ready to go.

“This selection is about giving a bit more opportunity, great to have CJ back in there, James Ryan, Rory Best.”

Joe Schmidt has decided to leave O’Brien out of the squad to face France at the Aviva Stadium

Schmidt added: “Jack Conan was initially due to start against Scotland, so we wanted to give him an opportunity to get back in with a foot in the door and demonstrate what he can do off the bench.

“And to spread the opportunity again at hooker and at prop.

“As tempted as we were with Tadhg Beirne, he’s just been a little bit sore this week coming back from injury. He was in the mix but he’s going to get the weekend off, to come back in refreshed and train next week.

“Ultan Dillane has played very well for us, so we wanted to reward his performance in Italy.”

Italy 16-26 Ireland: Defending Six Nations champions labour in Rome as Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton struggle

24 Feb

Ireland tiptoed away from Rome with an unconvincing 26-16 Guinness Six Nations victory, claiming the four-try bonus point but suffering a serious scare from Conor O’Shea’s men.

Quinn Roux, Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls and Conor Murray crossed for an Ireland side who are still struggling for fluency and rhythm.

Stockdale helped Ireland to an unconvincing win against Italy

Edoardo Padovani and Luca Morisi bagged tries for Italy to lead 16-12 at half-time, but Ireland edged home to leave the Azzurri still without a Six Nations win under O’Shea’s stewardship.

Ireland’s niggles were underlined by Johnny Sexton muttering angrily to himself and kicking out in frustration when he was replaced late on for Jack Carty to make his Test debut.

Bundee Aki suffered a head injury and Sexton played through a minor leg problem that led to Murray taking over goal-kicking duties.

Head coach Joe Schmidt wanted Ireland – and chiefly half-backs Murray and Sexton – to rediscover the rhythm which underscored their stellar 2018.

Sexton cut a frustrated figure in Rome

That fluency continues to elude Ireland and their British and Irish Lions playmakers, but Schmidt’s men must at least be credited for emerging unscathed from a tricky situation.

Captain on the day Peter O’Mahony admitted beforehand that Ireland’s 22-15 defeat to Italy in Rome in 2013 still sends shivers down his spine.

The Munster flanker led his men to avoid any further such trauma at the Stadio Olimpico then, but this was another Ireland performance littered with indiscipline and inaccuracy.

Roux and Stockdale handed the visitors the perfect start with two tries in the first quarter, but Ireland had already wasted several scoring platforms by that point.

Padovani is congratulated by his teammates after scoring for Italy

Connacht lock Roux capped a 19-phase move by ploughing in for Ireland’s first try, with Stockdale then exploiting a cheap Italy knock-on to canter home almost unimpeded.

Both Italy tries came from Ireland errors, first Ireland overthrew a line-out in their own 22 and Italy pounced, Tommaso Allan firing a ball over the top for Padovani to nip home.

Then Tito Tebaldi pinched the ball at the base of an Ireland ruck to spark a field-length counter-attack which ended in centre Morisi powering over the whitewash.

Ireland’s half-time problems could even have been worse, had full-back Rob Kearney been punished for what appeared a deliberate block on Tebaldi.

Conor Murray is struggling to replicate his form from 2018 for Joe Schmidt’s side

The marauding Italy scrum-half chased his chip deep in Ireland territory when Kearney stepped into his path and sent him tumbling.

Referee Glen Jackson ignored the incident entirely though, in a clear let-off for Schmidt’s men.

Ireland improved after the break, though in truth not nearly enough to touch anything like the heights of the 2018 that included the Grand Slam and the November win over New Zealand.

Earls stepped his way over the line to wrestle back Ireland’s lead, before Murray’s sniping finish secured the try bonus.

Munster flyer Earls so nearly claimed the score of the match, only to be dragged down mere metres short. Italy fell for the latest Schmidt special move, with this one seeing Sexton run a wraparound decoy line allowing Earls to blast through midfield.

Hauled down just shy of the line though, his pass fell astray and the move broke down.

Job done for Ireland in the end, but precious little else, leaving Schmidt’s men needing to step up several levels to face France and Grand Slam-chasing Wales.

Scotland 13-22 Ireland: Joe Schmidt’s men get back to winning ways at Murrayfield despite Jonny Sexton injury

9 Feb

Joey Carbery steered Ireland to a redemptive but gritty 22-13 Guinness Six Nations victory over Scotland, as Joe Schmidt’s men got back to winning ways in Edinburgh.

Johnny Sexton suffered a nasty-looking facial injury as the British and Irish Lions talisman was targeted with huge hits from the hosts, leaving Munster fly-half Carbery to pilot Ireland home.

Carbery stepped up in the absence of Sexton

Conor Murray, Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls all crossed for Ireland, while Sam Johnson replied for Scotland with Greig Laidlaw posting eight points from the boot.

Sexton’s understudy Carbery so nearly fluffed his lines when throwing an intercept pass to Finn Russell, who raced on and popped off the ground for Johnson to score.

But the 23-year-old Carbery quickly found his place in the script, wriggling free and lofting out a fine pass for Earls to score the winning try.

Scotland lost Lions full-back Stuart Hogg to a shoulder injury, with Gregor Townsend’s men unable to add enough industry to their impressive finesse.

Conor Murray went over for Ireland to start the scoring

Ireland failed to convince for long stretches in their search for a riposte following last weekend’s punishing 32-20 home loss to England.

Scrum-half Murray again struggled with his kicking out of hand, and Sexton only lasted 24 minutes before being withdrawn, with Scotland constantly targeting him physically.

Schmidt’s men found the route to victory however, and having been so shaken and bullied by England last week, he will take this win any which way.

Ireland tiptoed to half-time with an unconvincing 12-10 lead, somehow fending off strong Scotland pressure.

Sam Johnson replied for Scotland

Murray’s poor kicking and further inaccuracy gifted Scotland plenty of territory and possession, with Russell a constant threat on the ball.

Laidlaw slotted a penalty to put Scotland first on the board, only for Ireland to strike back through huge fortune.

Tommy Seymour should have comfortably dealt with Stockdale’s chip over the top, but instead flung a wild pass that eluded the helpless Sean Maitland.

Murray nipped onto the loose ball and scooted across the line, but curiously the half-back did not dot down under the posts.

Keith Earls crossed later for Schmidt’s men

Sexton duly missed the conversion, but Ireland eased those frustrations with another quick-fire score.

Peter O’Mahony’s midfield switch with Sexton opened the door for an inside ball to Stockdale, and the Ulster winger screamed home in style.

Murray slotted the conversion, as the big hits started to take their toll on Sexton, for Ireland to lead 12-3.

Just when Ireland looked to kick on though, further errors invited Scotland back into the contest.

Jacob Stockdale raced away to extend their first half lead

Sexton was forced to admit defeat in his battle to stay in the game, trotting off with a bloodied nose and facial injury.

His replacement Carbery looked to have settled quickly, but then threw a wild interception pass that Russell gobbled up and hared towards the line.

Earls hunted down Russell in style, but the Racing 92 fly-half kept his cool and popped off the ground to the onrushing Johnson, who finished neatly.

Laidlaw’s conversion had Scotland trailing by just two points, and Ireland’s panic set in.

Sexton’s injury will be concern for the Irish

Another poor Murray box kick gifted the hosts the ball, Carbery fumbled rather than collected and Earls had to sweep and roll into touch just five metres out.

Ireland disrupted the line-out but Rory Best had to touch down over his own line under pressure from Stuart McInally.

Scotland twice fended off the visitors to open the second half, only to concede a poor score.

Carbery wriggled through heavy midfield traffic, arced wide and floated a fine pass out to Earls, who nipped home.

Munster pivot Carbery slotted the conversion for Ireland to lead 19-10 approaching the hour.

Laidlaw and Carbery exchanged penalties as Ireland maintained that nine-point advantage, and so it stayed, leaving Ireland mightily relieved to head home with the win.

Six Nations 2019: Full squad lists for England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy ahead of third round games

24 Jan

Wales can win the 2019 Six Nations Championship this weekend and claim Grand Slam glory.

Here’s the full squad list of every country ahead of the final round of action.

Owen Farrell and England will be hoping for Six Nations glory this year

England squad

Daly, Nowell, Slade, Tuilagi, May, Farrell, Youngs, Moon, George, Sinckler, Launchbury, Kruis, Wilson, Curry, B Vunipola

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Cole, Shields, Hughes, Spencer, Ford, Te’o

Scotland beat England to win the Calcutta Cup last year

Scotland squad

Maitland, Graham, Grigg, Johnson, McGuigan, Russell, Price, Dell, McInally, Nel, Toolis, Gilchrist, Skinner, Watson, Bradbury

Replacements: Brown, Reid, Berghan, J Gray, Strauss, Laidlaw, Hastings, Harris.

Wales take on France to kick off the 2019 Six Nations

Wales squad

L. Williams, North, J. Davies, Parkes, Adams, Anscombe, G. Davies, R. Evans, Owens, Francis, Beard, A. Jones, Navidi, Tipuric, Moriarty.

Replacements: Dee, Smith, Lewis, Ball, Wainwright, A. Davies, Biggar, Watkin.

Ireland won the Six Nations last year

Ireland squad

Kearney, Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Best, Furlong, Beirne, J. Ryan, O’Mahony, O’Brien, Stander.

Replacements: Scannell, Kilcoyne, Porter, Roux, Conan, Marmion, Carty, Larmour.

Can France win the Six Nations this season?

France squad

Medard, Penaud, Bastareaud, Fofana, Huget, Ntamack, Dupont, Falgoux, Guirado, Bamba, Lambey, Willemse, Alldritt, Camara, Picamoles.
Replacements: Chat, Priso, Aldegheri, Gabrillagues, Iturria, Serin, Lopez, Ramos.

Italy star Sergio Parisse

Italy squad

Hayward, Padovani, Zanon, Morisi, Esposito, Allan, Tebaldi, Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Pasquali, Sisi, Ruzza, Steyn, Polledri, Parisse.
Replacements: Bigi, Traore, Ferrari, Zanni, Negri, Palazzani, McKinley, Sperandio.

Andy Farrell to succeed Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach after 2019 World Cup

26 Nov

Andy Farrell will succeed Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach after the 2019 World Cup with the New Zealander set to finish coaching.

Schmidt had been regarded as a future All Blacks coach, but he has announced that he will step back from the game following next autumn’s tournament in Japan.

Schmidt is leaving coaching to focus on family commitments

“I have decided to finish coaching and will prioritise family commitments after the Rugby World Cup in 2019,” Schmidt told the official Irish Rugby Football Union website.

“I feel that Irish rugby is in good hands. The management and players have been incredible to work with and the tremendous support we have had, particularly at home in the Aviva, but wherever we have travelled has been uplifting.”

Schmidt, 53, was appointed in 2013 and has overseen the most successful period in Ireland’s history.

Ireland have won three Six Nations titles during his reign, including a Grand Slam in 2018, and have risen to number two spot in the world rankings.

Farrell will take charge of Ireland after the 2019 World Cup

“Thank you to the IRFU for their support and patience and thanks also to so many people who have adopted my family and me, making us feel part of the community here in Ireland,” said Schmidt, whose side recently beat world champions New Zealand for the second time in three years.

“There are some inspiring challenges over the next 11 months so there’s plenty of motivation for me to continue working hard, alongside the other management staff, so that the team can be as competitive as possible.”