RUGBY LEAGUE NEWS SUMMARY AHEAD OF NEW SEASON

Hull Kingston Rovers half back Jamie Ellis is expected to remain at the club this season. Rovers are expected to keep him but would be disappointed with the news that Joe Wardill is sidelined for the next four months.

Hull FC coach Lee Radford would be happy to avoid injury concerns ahead of the season. However, he would not have Chris Green available for selection. He praised his team especially the younger squad members after their trial game victory over Catalans Dragons.
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Ritchie Announces Retirement From RFU

Chief executive of Rugby Football Union (RFU) Ian Ritchie has made the announcement that he will end his tenure and will take retirement at the end of the 2017 summer.

Ritchie is now 63-year-old and he joined the RFU in 2012. During his tenure of five years, he has seen many titles for the team this includes Six Nations Grand Slam men’s teams and in 2014 World Cup title for the women’s team.

According to William Hill, the team are favourites to win the next Six Nations tournament too!

While sharing this news Ritchie said, “Rugby is a sport that is special to me and the one which is really hard to leave. I feel honored and privileged that I have been the part of this wonderful team and got the opportunity to lead the team.”

He further added that, “I am proud to work with many passionate, committed and talented teams at each and every level of the union and of the game.”

Prior to heading RFU, Ritchie was headed the All England Club (AEC).

After the announcement of retirement, RFU intends to find the replacement of Ritchie by the end of the 2017 summer.

Mark McCafferty in an interview shared his feeling on the retirement of Ritchie and said, “He has contributed a lot in the development of team in past five years, he is the person, we feel like doing business with him. During his tenure, he maintained a good balance between country and club.”

“Though, we haven’t met personally for more time, but we have a good amount of sharing and business between us, and this is the way the English system has to work.”

The complete working period of Ritchie with RFU was good and he never let the team face any disappointment except a couple of times. The team will miss his working period surely.

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Falcons Win Against Sharks

Newcastle Falcons started off the new season with a great win. The game that they played with Sale Sharks ended in a win for the Newcastle Falcons.

They played and won with an edge of 19-17 which was the opening game in the Aviva Premiership league. The game was played at Kingston Park.

For those who witnessed the game, the Falcons scored about 19-10 which was a score that they led into the second half. Sale battled with their talents that included heroic efforts by Byron McGuigan, the full back player of Sale.

The lead that Falcons had was cut down to just two points in the second half. With the rain beating down in the second half, it was interesting to see the difference in their passing abilities once the ball was wet. Whilst you could ask how does weather affect basketball and not come up with a plausible answer, the weather can definitley make playing rugby more challenging!

Dan Mugford converted when there was just ten minutes left for the game. Marcus Watson scored a crucial ball when there were three minutes left.

However the TV replay confirmed it to be a knock on. Sale was able to get a penalty kick even when Newcastle turned the ball. Sale was able to win the penalty. When the interval came on the Falcons led with a score of 10-3. They displayed great combat in the overtime that they obtained.

Those who witnessed the match between Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks were excited with the kind of defensive combat styles and techniques that were displayed by the players.

It definitely heralded a great start for the season for the Falcons. With several new players coming on board, they are definitely on a high as the pre season games have revealed as well.

Those who witnessed the game this weekend are sure to look forward to the other games scheduled in the new season. Many would be looking forward to seeing the new players perform and contribute to the team’s performance with their unique skills and talents. Here’s to Newcastle Falcons and hopefully they will have a great season ahead of them.

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PLUMTREE TAKES OVER

John Plumtree has been announced as taking over as the forwards coach for the Ireland rugby team. He has last coached the Natal Sharks in South Africa, and he coached the South African team for five years, during which time he helped them win the Currie Cup, twice, in 2008 and again in 2010.

And what’s more, he was named the Coach of the Year, before he finally left the team. Plumtree has a huge list of teams that he has helped win on several occasions, and his credentials are solid.

So it is good news indeed for the Ireland rugby team to have him as the coach. He has a huge area of experience, which will no doubt prove extremely valuable in training the Ireland team.

When asked how he felt regarding joining the Ireland rugby team, Plumtree stated that he has gone through the recent match footages and videos, and there are quite a few areas which will need looking into. And shaping up the team will indeed be a positive challenge that he is willing to accept. And he is greatly looking forward to joining the coaching team of the Ireland rugby team, and he will do his best to take the team forward, and help them to win more and more games.

In other Ireland rugby team news, Paul O’Connell will be the next captain for the team, and the way ahead of him is clear it seems. Rumours are rife right now, regarding that Joe Schmidt is surely going to hand over the captaincy of the Ireland rugby team to O’Connell. And since O’Connell right now does not have any responsibilities that he needs to tend to at the club level of the game, it seems almost certain that he will be crowned the next team captain.

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DISAPPOINTING SEASON FOR SCOTLAND

Last Thursday saw the Scottish review of the Six Nations campaign. Andy Robinson has overseen the worst season in recent history for Scottish Rugby.

Their dismal Six Nations performance and resulting wooden spoon followed on from the worst World Cup performance Scotland have ever had with a failure to get out of their group for the first time ever.

Having spoken to Robinson, SRU chief Mark Dodson confirmed that the Englishman would stay in his post. There was no real opposition to this decision within Murrayfield due in no small part to the lucrative deal in place to keep Robinson in his job until after the 2015 World Cup. The mess Scotland have got themselves into with large portions of Robinson’s staff also tied down to long contracts and two new faces arriving in the next month make Robinson almost unsackable.

Prior to Dodson’s arrival at the SRU it was Gordon McKie who gave Robinson the contract extension that has tied the two together for the foreseeable future. At the time Robinson and Scotland were seemingly making progress, so much so that there was seemingly a real threat that an English Premiership side may be interested in prising the Englishman away from Murrayfield.

At the time the long contract seemed to be the best option on the table but it has seemingly bound the two together regardless of how dark days seem for Scotland. By the time it becomes financially viable to sack Robinson it will be too close to 2015 to do so. And so it seems that the set up will be in place for another three and a half years.

At a time when England are again improving, Wales are looking a good rugby bet for any tournament they enter, Italy are continuing to improve, France are looking better than they have in a long time and Ireland are rebuilding for 2015 it seems Scotland run the risk of being left behind all of their Six Nations rivals.

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SCOTLAND READY FOR SEVENS BATTLE

Scotland Rugby is going through exciting times as the Scotland 7s face Australia, Fiji and France in the sixth leg of the much prestigious HSBC Sevens World Series which will be held in Hong Kong.

Scotland Rugby has not been going through the best of times as they faced a disappointing defeat in Las Vegas as they failed to clinch the championship and returned home as the runners up.

The HSBC Sevens World Series will be an important and tough task for the Scotland 7s as they face great competition and serious opposition. They have faced France and Australia only once so far during this year and have unfortunately lost on both the occasions.

The loss to Australia came in Dubai in the pool stages as they lost the match 24 to 12. While the loss against France at Las Vegas shattered their hopes of winning for the second consecutive time the Shield trophy. The French beat the Scotland Rugby team twenty two points to seven.

Scotland Rugby team is yet to have faced Fiji who are a mighty strong opposition and are ranked as the second best team in the tournament rankings. The draw has been described by the Scot’s coach ass Tough and a new challenge.

He commented saying that Fiji is one of the best teams in the world and they haven’t faced them at all this year and admitted the fact that the road to their first Cup quarter final will be a very tough and challenging one.

Andrew Turnbull of the Scotland Rugby team said that they have to restore their faith in themselves and in the team and put in the hard effort in the training to see the desired results in the tournament. The draw is pretty tough for the Scotland rugby team and it remains to be seen if they can step up to the challenge.

Whilst the Sevens team are playing in Hong Kong, the full side will be making a start to their Six Nations campaign. The latest 6 Nations odds places Scotland as third-favourites, with the crucial tie being the match against England at Murrayfield. Good luck Scotland!

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SWALLOW DIVE IS ALLOWED

Stuart Lancaster has told England’s wing sensation Chris Ashton that his ‘swallow dive’ celebration will not be banned. He told the winger that he can continue to use his trademark dive so long as it is not used to wind up England’s opponents.

Lancaster has given his team a stern talking to as to how he expects them to behave in the fall out from their embarrassing World Cup campaign.

Lancaster is said to have had a one on one meeting with Ashton ahead of the Six Nations, instructing him to respect opponents and to go about the game in the right way, whilst still permitting him the enjoyment of his swallow diving.

During the World Cup Martin Johnson forbade Ashton from doing his trademark celebration for fear of injury, but Lancaster clearly feels the risk is minimal enough to permit Ashton this particular bit of fun.

Lancaster’s decision to speak to his team about their on-field attitude comes in light of former England boss, now Scotland head coach, Andy Robinson’s comments regarding English “arrogance”. Robinson’s comments will add fuel to the fire of what is no doubt setting up to be a ferocious encounter between the two arch rivals.

Robinson commented that England had disrespected not only Scotland in the recent World Cup, but also many of their other opponents throughout the tournament. Ashton’s swallow dive could be seen as a boast or a sign of not taking the opposition seriously, but he will no doubt continue to use it as and when he wants.

Lancaster appears to be aiming for a respectful England side, but no doubt a successful one. He will love the thought of seeing Ashton crossing to score with a swallow dive several times in next week’s encounter and he will love the chance to get back at Robinson with a dominant, yet respectful victory. The latest 6 Nations betting online odds show that England are favourites.

It seems England are heading back to the mantra of Rugby being a sport played in the right way, respectful but full blooded.

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SECOND NEW ZEALANDER IN RUNNING

New Zealand have already produced one key part of Australia’s current test side and in the form of Quade Cooper.

Now that Cooper has picked up an injury an opportunity has arisen for another New Zealand born player to make an impact on Australian Rugby.

Cooper’s team mate at the Queensland Reds is Mike Harris and he is hoping to thrive in the absence of Cooper from the sides opening games in this year’s Super Rugby tournament. Harris was born in Auckland but like Cooper, Harris has pledged himself to Australia for whom he qualifies to play through his Australian grandmother.

Harris is hoping he can make enough of an impact for the Reds in Cooper’s absence to give himself a chance of a call up to the Wallabies squad in the near future. He was tipped for a call up in the Australian’s short tour of Europe in the Autumn, but was unable to after twice having to go under the knife for “frustrating” operations on his knee.

Cooper will no doubt be a massive miss for the Reds but they are not short of cover in the number 10 department. Harris has been named as one of six potential stand offs for the opening stages of the Super Rugby campaign.

The absence of a name such as Cooper gives the squad players a chance to step up and prove how good they are. Harris himself said “Quade is a big loss to the team but other guys will step up” he describes it as personally “a big opportunity”.

Cooper was subject to a poor reception from New Zealand crowds during the World Cup. They took it as a major insult that a player would choose to play for the Wallabies over the All Blacks, the team of both players birth.

Cooper also turned down the chance to play for England, on his grandmother’s side – the team with best Six Nations betting odds contacted him back in March but were informed that a decision had already been made.

It is likely that any success for Harris is likely to be met by an equally negative response from their neighbours. But Harris will no doubt take the stick if given the chance to represent his adopted homeland.

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VAUGHAN CONFIDENT ON ENGLAND 2015

Paul Vaughan, organiser of the 2015 Rugby World Cup is confident the tournament will be the best ever and has set the target for all involved to ensure it is.

The planning of the tournament was officially launched at Twickenham this week and the venue, which has been central to recent turmoil at the RFU, which has resulted in a major shake-up in the organisation, is according to Vaughan going to be the hub for the most successful World Cup in the events 28 year history(by 2015).

Vaughan is confident the recent problems within the RFU have been solved and they are capable of overseeing a fantastic spectacle come 2015. He has not only commented on the ability of the England Rugby 2015 (ER2015) group to produce the best tournament to date, but he is also confident the host nation will be able to produce a team capable of competing at the business end of the tournament (not that the Rugby Betting markets back him on this one!)

He wants a successful England team between now and the tournament, he believes the more successful England are, the more tickets will be sold and the higher the excitement levels will be for the tournament.

ER2015 are targeting selling 3 million tickets for the tournament (nearly three times the number sold at last year’s tournament in New Zealand) with some pool match tickets costing less than £10.

A more successful England team, a wide spread of stadia and cheap tickets being available mean that the target of selling 3 million tickets is very much an achievable one. Vaughan believes there are 9 million Rugby fans in the UK and up to 350,000 coming from abroad to watch games.

His target will be to get non Rugby fans interested in the tournament and to make as many tickets as possible available to the widest range of people possible. The Rugby Union betting exchanges believe that England can host a great tournament, and if the plan of producing the best tournament yet pays off, Rugby fans in England are in for a real treat.

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SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY STARS TRAIN

The South African Rugby stars got to train in a resort in Queensland. Springboks including locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, flanker Pierre Spies, halfback Fourie du Preez and first-five Morne Steyn are in town with the South African Bulls side.

The Bulls, who won the last two Super rugby competitions, flew to Queenstown on Sunday from Napier, where they beat the Hurricanes 26-14.

They’re in town till Friday, when they travel to Timaru for a much-anticipated clash against the Crusaders.

Much was made of the fact that the team’s Rugby Boots somehow got lost en route to Queensland, but such a stunning win sets them off on the right foot anyway!

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