England: Sacking Eddie Jones the ‘right decision’ players tell RFU chief

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Bill Sweeney has claimed that the players were supportive of the governing body’s decision to axe head coach Eddie Jones.

After a disappointing 2022, which saw the Red Rose win just five of their 12 matches, the RFU decided to sack Jones just nine months out from the Rugby World Cup.

Steve Borthwick has since taken charge and oversees his first game when they take on Scotland in the Six Nations next month.

Players have publicly come out in support of Jones since his departure, but privately Sweeney says that they understand why the governing body have taken action.

Supporting the decision

“I spoke to a number [of players], Conor [O’Shea, the RFU’s director of performance rugby] spoke to a number. The conversations I had, without naming players because I don’t think it would be fair or reasonable to do that, were disappointed in terms of the decision of Eddie going but [had] a real understanding and support for the decision being made,” he told The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast.

“The ones that I spoke to said, ‘look we’re disappointed for Eddie, we like Eddie but we understand why the decision was taken’ and without naming players said, ‘we think it’s the right decision’. In terms of changing what needed to be changed to go into 2023 in a stronger position.

“One of them said to me, ‘I was misquoted in the media because what I said was I was disappointed for Eddie but I wasn’t disappointed in the RFU decision but that was reported as I’m disappointed in the decision’. So the ones I spoke to got the overall situation.”

Sweeney also insisted that the fans’ reaction during the recent Autumn Nations Series was not the reason Jones was sacked.

England were booed off following their defeat to South Africa in the final match of the year, a performance and result which showed that the Red Rose were some way behind the world’s best.

Not clicking

“Some things weren’t quite clicking, weren’t working the way we all thought they were going to work, probably the way Eddie thought they were going to work,” the CEO added.

“We reached the situation following the review where we felt some changes had to be made that probably Eddie wasn’t able to put into place just because of the tenure of the job.

“You sense the fans’ frustration. Nobody wants to hear booing at Twickenham after the South Africa match but that wouldn’t be a reason to make a decision to change the head coach, it was other factors.”

Click Here: cheap INTERNATIONAL jersey

Rennes goalkeeper Steve Mandanda out for several weeks

According to L’Équipe, Steve Mandanda is expected to be out of action for up to three weeks with a knee sprain after being injured at half-time at Monaco-Rennes on Saturday (1-1).

Rennes goalkeeper Steve Mandanda (37) sustained an injury during the club’s 1-1 draw against Monaco at the Stade Louis II on Saturday. 

Mandanda had an action-packed half. A clash with Breel Embolo gifted Monaco a penalty, which he then saved, before he also made an impressive stop from Krépin Diatta. 

However, during the clash between Embolo, which Monaco manager Philippe Clement believed warranted a red rather than a yellow card, Mandanda sustained an injury. He was then substituted at half-time

Speaking in the post-match press conference, Bruno Génésio revealed the reason for Mandanda’s substitution. He said, “He hurt his knee in the penalty action, and we’re waiting to know more about the injury.”

Rennes captain Hamari Traoré added, “I hope that it won’t be serious and that we can get him back quickly, but he did take a big hit.” Mandanda joined Rennes for free this summer after his contract at Marseille expired. 

Click Here: cheap puma shoes

Tom the Wright option as Rennie weighs up fullback, flyhalf options

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has backed Tom Wright to step up at fullback with the position wide open heading into next year's World Cup.Wright will start at the back for the third time in 2022, selected alongside Mark Nawaqanitawase and Jordan Petaia to face Wales on Sunday morning (Australian time).Rennie believes his communication was the deciding factor over Jock Campbell, with the Red returning via the bench as one of several changes from Ireland.“We definitely discussed playing Jock (at fullback) but we just felt that if we played Jock, Mark (Nawaqanitawase) and Jordy (Petaia), there’s not a lot of voice there and that’s going to be really important," Rennie explained to reporters.“We could have Tom the wing and then left one of the other guys out, but they were both excellent last week and we wanted to give them a chance to start together.“Jock’s very much in the mix. It’s the modern game, he’ll make a contribution, but it’ll be off the bench.”Wright slots in for Andrew Kellaway, who has returned to Australia with a foot injury as the 15 jersey remains a poisoned chalice of sorts for the Wallabies.It started in the first 20 minutes of the International season with Tom Banks broke his arm against England, joined by Kellaway after he injured his hamstring in between the first two TestsJordan Petaia lasted four minutes in Brisbane before suffering a concussion whilst Wright and Reece Hodge filled in at the position throughout the Rugby Championship.Rennie was very open about his assessment of the position. Whilst there are plenty of options, a true first-choice is yet to step up in his eyes.“No,” he responded when asked if he knew his preferred fullback. “I think what we’ve found out this year because we’ve used a lot of 15s is we’ve got some genuine strong options here now. “We’ve played Andrew Kellaway there, we’ve played Tom Banks and Tom Wright. Jordy was down to play there at one stage. We’ve used (Reece) Hodgie back there, we’ve used Jock Campbell. “I think we’ve genuinely developed some really strong options back there, but as to who’s got the nod from a World Cup point of view, it’s pretty tight.”It's a different scenario at flyhalf, with Rennie admitting he has a clear idea of who leads that race even if for now, he'll keep who it is close to his chest.It comes as Ben Donaldson prepares to be the fifth flyhalf to start for the Wallabies this year (Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, James O'Connor, Noah Lolesio), preferred over Lolesio after the Brumby was an unused sub against the Irish.Donaldson came on in the last five minutes of his debut against Italy, providing some nice touches before missing a tough game-winning conversion after the siren.Rennie and the Wallabies are keen to get a further look at the Waratah, who has impressed with his speed and command of the backline.As for Lolesio, consistency remains key for the young playmaker in Rennie's eyes. “(Noah) wants to start…We talk about earning the right to start and earning the right to play. He’s played a lot of good footy for us in some big games but you’ve got to back that up consistently,” Rennie notes.“He played well against South Africa, he got a head knock, couldn’t play the first Test against the All Blacks. Bernard (Foley) played really well and he gives a lot of voice and a lot of experience and that’s helped.“So they’re areas where Noah is trying to develop: his game awareness, his ability to implement and run a game. It was not easy for him against Italy, we didn’t go that well in front of him.“We could easily have started Noah but want to find out a bit more about ‘Donno.’ He’s training really well, he’s got points of difference and we want to see what that’s like under the blow torch."Click Here: mens wallabies jersey

Sassuolo closing in on Lorient’s Armand Laurienté

Foot Mercato are reporting that Serie A side Sassuolo are close to completing the signing of Lorient winger Armand Laurienté (23). 

The Italian side look set to beat league rivals Torino to the signature of the France U21 international. Sassuolo have been attempting to sign the forward since the beginning of the month, and there remains only a few small details to be sorted before he becomes a Sassuolo player. 

Laurienté was a mainstay in a Lorient side that avoided relegation last season. He made 35 Ligue 1 appearances for the Breton club, scoring six times and registering two assists. He has already opened his campaign this season with a sumptuous freekick during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Toulouse. 

Click Here: cheap warriors rugby jersey

Whilst the fee for the player has not yet been revealed, Loïc Tanzi revealed back in July that Torino had submitted a €9m bid for the Frenchman, who came through the ranks at Rennes.

ANALYSIS: How the Wallabies pulled off the impossible against Wales

There might not be a more important 25 minutes period for the Wallabies in 2022 than Sunday's remarkable 39-34 comeback victory over Wales.The visitors' fate looked sealed when the rampaging Welsh scored their fourth try of the game to take a 34-13 lead after 50 minutes, exposing a brutally understrength side.CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR EARLY BIRD AND HOSPITALITY TICKETS FOR THE HSBC SYDNEY SEVENSWayne Pivac's men dominated possession and territory up to this point (62/38 in each stat), whilst recording nearly twice as many carries (75 v 45) and metres (276 v 159).However, the defining characteristic of the Wallabies under Dave Rennie has been their fight.They found themselves in almost the exact same situation against the All Blacks in Melbourne, getting themselves in front after trailing 31-13 before Jordie Barrett's last-minute try broke the hearts of fans and players alike.There are similarities between the two performances, largely the influence of Pete Samu as the backrower continues to cement his standing within the team.Samu had an instant impact from the bench, putting pressure on fullback Josh Adams, who was playing out of position, to force the mistake from Tom Wright's bomb in the 54th minute as Lachlan Lonergan dragged Rhys Priestland into his in-goal.12 minutes later, Samu reads the pass of Priestland perfectly as Wales struggled after the loss of Gareth Anscombe to a shoulder injury. This forced captain Justin Tipuric into a desperate act, tripping the Brumby, earning the yellow card and completely shifting the momentum of the game.Along with this, a new-found clinical edge proved the difference.In their past two defeats to Italy and Ireland, the Wallabies recorded points in just seven of their 24 entries inside the 22.The influence of Mark Nawaqanitawase is evident in improving this area.The Waratah has a unique ability to beat his man and showcases it in the 57th minute, catching the defender drifting in before a shimmer and step provides enough space to dive over in the corner.He then is used as a battering ram off the lineout in the 68th minute, breaking through some soft Wales defence to spark the comeback for the visitors.In the last 30 minutes, the Wallabies finish the game 4/4 from their 22 entries as they perfectly pick apart a fractured Welsh defence after two yellow cards.Whilst the attacking surge naturally takes centre stage, the roles of Fraser McReight and Tom Robertson go largely unnoticed in keeping the Wallabies in the game.McReight, as always, led the way for tackles with 16, five clear of centre duo Reece Hodge and Len Ikitau.However, it might be his work in the 64th minute in shutting down Wales' imposing rolling maul that might be his most crucial involvement in the game.The Welsh had battered the visitors via the maul throughout the contest, with Jac Morgan crossing for his second shortly after the break. The hosts then proceeded to collect the kick-off and rumble 20 metres with little resistance as the Wallabies struggled with Jake Gordon and Tom Robertson in the bin.With the Wallabies' comeback in its infancy, Wales had a chance to respond in the 64th minute after an Adams grubber left Wright no chance but to take it into touch 5 metres out from his line.They cleverly took several defenders out of play with a two-pod system, leaving McReight isolated with three attackers.This is where the 23-year-old's Rugby IQ shines, swimming past the first man to get to the ball carrier and force it down.The threat he possesses at breakdown time means Wales has to play it fast and this leads to the mistake (even if it takes the referee several plays to call it).Meanwhile, Robertson stepped up at scrum time after a tough night for the Wallabies.The Force front-rower was forced into action early after James Slipper's HIA, eventually coming on after the break permanently.It came at a difficult time for the visitors, conceding three straight before the break and on a warning from Matthew Carley.Robertson ends up being the man to go to the bin in the 43rd minute but makes up for it on his return as the Wallabies brutalise Wales on their goal line, nearly pushing their way over the line.He backs this up with five minutes remaining after Tom Wright's drop puts the hosts on the attack, getting the better of the tight-head to force him straight to ground and earn the clearing scrum penalty.As mentioned, there are distinct similarities between the Bledisloe heartbreaker, only this time the Wallabies found a way to close it out.Lachlan Lonergan is the leading man behind this.The hooker finds himself floating on the wing and in the perfect position to snatch up a loose ball after the visitors are forced to go for the intercept thanks to the three-on-one overlap created by opposite number Ryan Elias heading to the bin for collapsing the maul.It almost backfires when he was pinged for going off his feet as the Wallabies looked to close the game, just one phase away from sealing it.The young Brumby remains calm and his energy to make up for it is on display with a nice tackle to stop Wales on the attack, quickly scrambling onto his feet to re-join the line.The Wallabies found themselves short for numbers against the All Blacks but refuse to let it happen once again as they continue to hold strong and fan out.This allows Lonergan to step up and make a dominant one-on-one tackle, winning the collision battle that provides the chance to secure the vital steal to secure the victory.A win like that is crucial for any team, but the timing of it is near-perfect ahead of a huge 2023.After a winless 2021 Spring Tour, the victory is vital for building momentum heading into the Rugby World Cup against the team that will arguably be Australia's biggest test in Pool D.It also relieves the pressure on Rennie after a tough season, who will be praying they have better injury luck with the likes of Kerevi, Cooper, Bell, Rodda and Tupou set to return in time for September's hallmark event.Click Here: Colombia soccer tracksuit

Qatari side Al Arabi are confident in signing PSG’s Rafinha

According to Foot Mercato, Qatari Stars League side Al Arabi SC are confident in securing the services of PSG midfielder Rafinha, who have been lobbying the player for several days. 

It was reported yesterday that Paris Saint-Germain could be set to part ways with another player on their transfer list for this summer, as Brazilian midfielder Rafinha has attracted interest from Qatari club Al Arabi SC.

The 29-year-old spent the second half of last season out on loan at Real Sociedad, making 17 appearances for the Basques and chipping in with one goal as they finished in sixth place.

The former Barcelona man has been with PSG for the last two years, having turned out 23 times in the league in his first campaign before seeing his playing time dramatically decrease the following year.

Reports earlier this month had indicated that the midfielder had been close to a move to the Middle East, with one year left on his contract in the capital, but had himself pulled out of the deal over personal reasons. It remains to be seen whether Rafinha will be open to this latest potential destination, as his time at PSG looks definitively up.

Click Here: Olympique de Marseille soccer tracksuit

Champions Cup: Andre Esterhuizen expecting a thrilling battle of the centres against the Sharks

Harlequins centre Andre Esterhuizen is relishing the upcoming battle in the midfield when his side faces the Sharks in the Champions Cup this weekend.

The Premiership side will be desperate to grab a win and qualify for the last 16, with the Sharks already having booked their spot in the knockouts.

Battle in the middle of the park

Esterhuizen, formerly of the Sharks, is expecting a massive match-up in the centres this weekend as Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lukhanyo Am are likely to start for the Durban side.

Although the towering centre has played more with Am, he has still faced Janse van Rensburg on several occasions in both South Africa and England. Esterhuizen is under no illusion of the challenge ahead of him.

“Obviously, two great players, I have played a lot more with Lukhanyo and a lot of times against Rohan. Obviously, Rohan is a hard, physical runner and is good in defence. He loves making spot tackles and stuff like that. So I know the challenge coming on that side,” Esterhuizen said to the media.

Click Here: Dani Carvajal jersey sale

“Then there is Lukhanyo who is also a magic player. He can also make something out of nothing is just one of those great players that has a lot of attributes and uses all of them in a game.

“So yeah, he has pace, hands and everything. So we’ll see what it brings this weekend. Hopefully I can climb in his head a little bit and talk him out of the game a bit,” laughed Esterhuizen

Faith in Marchant

When asked how Quins plan to deal with the danger of Am, Esterhuizen claimed the focus is on their team only.

The South African also threw his support behind his centre partner Joe Marchant and predicted an enthralling battle in the 13 channel.

“Obviously this weekend I think we’ve put the focus more on us. We want to get better as a team. We’re not really focusing on the other team,” he said.

“If we get ourselves as ready as possible, then we are on a good track. So yes, Joe (Marchant) will be defending Lukhanyo but in saying that, he is also international, and he has great defence.

“So I think it’s going to be a good battle in the 13 jersey.”

Impressed with the Sharks

The Springbok admits the Sharks have impressed him in getting their high-powered squad to gel as they sit in second spot in Pool A with three wins in as many games in the Champions Cup.

Esterhuizen expects typical South African physicality this weekend in what is sure to be a fascinating game.

“I think they’ve shown everyone that they are playing well as a team. So yeah, they have surprised me a bit. But yeah, it’s going to be an honest, physical battle. We know South African rugby, they’re always up for it. So we need to be up for it as well.”

Rennes enquire for Séko Fofana

L’Équipe report that Rennes have enquired for Ivorian international midfielder Séko Fofana, who remains on the market in the final hours of this window, as he continues to put in phenomenal performances for RC Lens, who sit top of Ligue 1, ahead of tonight’s monster clash between PSG and AS Monaco.

The 27-year-old central midfielder was asked on Saturday night about his future, and affirmed that he had several clubs interested in him.

Rennes, who Lens beat on Saturday night, are seeking to add an additional midfielder before next week’s deadline, and view Fofana, contracted until 2024 with Lens, as very interesting options.

RCL have however told them, after Rennes enquired, that the player is not for sale. It is likely going to require a XXXL bid from SRFC or anyone for that matter to prise Fofana away with 5 days remaining in the window.

Click Here: rugby jerseys


SA teams tackle European rugby elite

Sporting history will be made this weekend when South African clubs enter European Rugby's Champions Cup for the first time, another sign of the country's push into the Northern Hemisphere market.The Durban-based Sharks will make South Africa's bow when they host English side Harlequins on Saturday afternoon (Sunday AEDT), while in the evening the Bulls from Pretoria welcome French club Lyon. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR EARLY BIRD AND HOSPITALITY TICKETS FOR THE HSBC SYDNEY SEVENSCape Town's Stormers will visit another French side, Clermont.It is not South African Rugby's first foray into the European market – their elite teams are participating in a second season of the United Rugby Championship (URC) that includes clubs from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy – but this will be a step up in opposition and media glare."It has happened earlier than planned, but this has now become reality, which really is great news," SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said."I firmly believe we are on the right track by playing in the northern hemisphere, and we certainly can't wait to get involved in the (European) competitions as it will only further enhance the local game."The Stormers won the URC last season in an all-South African final against the Bulls, whose coach Jake White is under no illusions as to the task the trio face in the Champions Cup."We'll be coming up against teams packed with internationals. European teams don't just draw from the player pool of their country – they have stars from all the top rugby nations," said White, who won the World Cup with South Africa in 2007."I fear South Africans are a little naive about what lies ahead. Champions Cup teams are much stronger than those in the URC."They boast packs that weigh more than a thousand kilograms, they have brilliant backs. I think we are in for a bit of a wake-up call from this weekend." South Africa's Johannesburg-based Lions and the Cheetahs from Bloemfontein will play in the secondary European Rugby Challenge Cup competition that also kicks off this weekend.Click Here: Marco Reus Jersey Sale

All Blacks' Mo'unga, Frizell Japan-bound in 2024

All Blacks playmaker Richie Mo'unga is to join Japanese club Toshiba Brave Lupus from Super Rugby side the Crusaders after next year's Rugby World Cup.Toshiba announced the move, saying Mo'unga would be joined by Highlanders and All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell at the club, who are coached by ex-New Zealand captain Todd Blackadder.CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR EARLY BIRD AND HOSPITALITY TICKETS FOR THE HSBC SYDNEY SEVENSReports in New Zealand media said 28-year-old Mo'unga, who has 44 All Blacks caps, signed a three-year deal with Toshiba.Under New Zealand Rugby rules, Mo'unga and Frizell will not be eligible to play for the All Blacks while in Japan. The duo are set to join the club after the 2023 World Cup in France.Frizell, 28, has made 25 appearances for the All Blacks since making his debut in 2018.Mo'unga, who played 94 games for the Crusaders and scored more than 1000 points, said he was looking forward to experiencing rugby with an overseas team."I'm grateful for this opportunity and to be part of the Lupus family I plan on doing everything I can to make Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo the number one team in Japan," he said in the media release."It's a dream of mine to play rugby overseas and to experience a different culture and I know this will be an amazing experience for my family.“The Crusaders have been my life for ever, even before I joined the team it was my life, dreaming of being part of the family. “Looking back at my time with the team since 2015, it makes me so grateful to be part of such a franchise, part of some really awesome memories, some great achievements and great moments, and to just meet some really special people. “My energy going into this season is no different to any other, I’m here to give my everything. I still want to perform, to do the best for the Crusaders, our members and our fans. There’s still a heck of a job to do before I leave."I am excited to be joining Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo and the opportunity to play Rugby in Japan at the conclusion of 2023," Frizell added."I have heard great things about the Brave Lupus and its proud history through other New Zealanders playing for the Club now and previously. I look forward to immersing my family into the club and meeting all the fans.”Click Here: georgia rugby jersey