Former Italy head coach Conor O'Shea will join the Rugby Football Union (RFU) as director of performance in 2020.

O'Shea this month resigned as Italy boss, having failed to guide the Azzurri out of a difficult Rugby World Cup group that included New Zealand and eventual champions South Africa.

The Irishman's impeding arrival was confirmed after the RFU announced director of professional rugby Nigel Melville will leave the organisation in December.

O'Shea is to work closely with Eddie Jones and will be responsible for the leadership, management and strategic direction of the professional game in England.

"I am privileged and honoured and it is an incredible opportunity to join at a really exciting time for English rugby," said O'Shea.

"I've spent the last four years in Italy, six years at Harlequins and before that 10 years at London Irish, so I feel I know the system pretty well. The good times, the bad times, winning things and being competitive, so I can relate to the people and challenges that happen within our system. I have learned a huge amount internationally in the last few years as well.

"There is an exciting vision at the RFU. It is not just about winning tomorrow, but also about sustaining success and winning long into the future. We can really look forward to rejuvenating and re-energising the performance pathway to help, support and push England rugby on."

RFU CEO Bill Sweeney added: "Conor knows Eddie Jones very well and will be able to integrate with what is happening at the highest level on the elite side of our game and making sure we have a seamless approach to player and coach development will be key.

"He will also work closely with Premiership Rugby and the clubs to make sure we have the right relationships with them.

"There is a lot happening. We are just coming off a very successful Rugby World Cup, the youngest-ever team to compete in a World Cup final so it bodes really well for us going forward.

"We are looking forward to the Six Nations coming up now but that is part of a longer journey through to France in 2023. We look at that and the experience of Japan and that is something we can really build on."

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi says he was so stunned meeting Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after their Rugby World Cup triumph that he fell off his chair.

Klopp met up with Springboks stars including Kolisi as well as the country's cricket captain Faf du Plessis while visiting Cape Town during the most recent international break.

Kolisi recalled how Klopp spoke with each of the players in turn to congratulate them on their 32-12 defeat of England in the World Cup final in Yokohama on November 2.

The flanker admits meeting the "amazing" coach allowed him to understand why Liverpool players are thriving under his leadership.

Speaking to Sky Sports about South Africa's post-tournament celebrations, Kolisi said: "This was one of the highlights. He's such an amazing human being and I understand why the boys play so hard for him.

"He came and greeted every single person at the table; he came and spoke to me for 40 minutes.

"When I saw him, I fell off my chair! And everyone around me didn't understand. I've got huge respect for him."

The story of Kolisi's rise from an impoverished childhood in post-apartheid South Africa to winning the World Cup as captain of the national team captured huge interest before and during the tournament.

While he admits he never thought such an experience would be possible, the 28-year-old now wants to give back to his country to help those who continue to live in difficulty.

"I even said it to my team-mates: I never dreamed of this in a million years," he said. "But I'm glad that it happened. We all come from different backgrounds as team-mates and now kids can start dreaming about this moment, because we've done it.

"I'd love to hope [that we've changed perceptions] but there is a bit of work to do.

"I don't think I'll ever understand how big it is. It was really tough. Honestly, I wasn't in the worst of circumstances. People are in far worse circumstances. But I had love, support and time given to me by the people that raised me.

"I know we're all celebrating the story, and it's amazing, but kids shouldn't have to go through that. That's why I'm trying to work as hard as I can with some of my team-mates to give back to as many as we can.

"If I can make a difference in somebody else's life… that's the stuff that you want to be remembered for. I knew how much it could mean if we could win, for us as individuals, for the team and for the country."

Kolisi believes director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was a critical part of the Springboks' success, even down to his message before the final about the importance of doing their country proud.

"He's a special human being – I've learned so much from him," Kolisi added. "I've known him since I was a little kid. He's backed me from the beginning. He had a great plan and we all bought into it.

"That's what he told us [that rugby is a privilege] before we warmed up for the final. We know what pressure is: someone dying, something happened to one of your family members or friends, but we had the privilege of putting smiles on people's faces who are going through all that pressure.

"That's what he made us understand before we stepped on that field. We weren't playing for ourselves anymore; we were playing for a nation. Without even knowing it, we touched so many people. When we walked on that field, we knew what we had to do.

"I didn't have to speak – coach spoke, that was it. If that wasn't going to make you ready for the game, you were never going to be ready."

Bath will seek specialist help to aid Joe Cokanasiga's recovery after the England international returned from the Rugby World Cup with a knee injury.

The Premiership club released a statement on Friday that said Cokanasiga will be "unable to begin a competitive campaign for the club", with no scheduled time announced for the wing's return to action.

"In order to provide Joe the best possible management plan and rehabilitation process, Bath's medical department are enlisting the services of world-leading specialists to ensure expert opinion is considered to deliver an optimal pathway to recovery," the statement read.

"The club's priority is to maximise his chances to perform at the very highest level."

The 22-year-old has won nine caps for England and played once at the World Cup, scoring two tries in the 45-7 win over the United States.

As well as Cokanasiga, Bath will also send Zach Mercer to see a specialist to discover the extent of the knee issue he suffered during the European Champions Cup game against Ulster.

Henry Thomas, meanwhile, will miss the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

"Joe is a phenomenal talent and a powerful athlete, and we must manage him very carefully in the coming months to allow for the issues he has come back from Japan with to begin to be resolved," Stuart Hooper, the club's director of rugby, said.

"We have no doubt that Henry, Zach and Joe can come back stronger and our performance department will support them in every possible way to ensure they have the best rehabilitation and return to performance."

Rugby World Cup champions South Africa will face Scotland twice and play a one-off match with Georgia in July next year.

The Springboks secured a famous victory over England in a surprisingly one-sided final in Japan last month, Rassie Erasmus' side running out 32-12 winners. 

By contrast, Scotland failed to qualify from their pool after losing to Ireland and Japan.

The European nation will head to South Africa for a pair of fixtures on July 4 and 11, with the Springboks also scheduled to host Georgia the following week.

While South Africa and Scotland have met many times, the Boks have faced Georgia only once – in a pool match at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Georgia won one of their four games in Japan, beating Uruguay 33-7.

The venues and kick-off times for all three games will be confirmed at a later date. 

New Zealand-born duo Johnny McNicholl and Willis Halaholo have been included in the Wales squad for Wayne Pivac's first game in charge against the Barbarians a week on Saturday.

Versatile Scarlets back McNicholl and Cardiff Blues centre Halaholo are among five uncapped players selected by new head coach Pivac for the clash at the Principality Stadium.

Taine Basham, Shane Lewis-Hughes and Ashton Hewitt will also be hoping to don the red shirt for the first time against a Baa-baas side coached by former Wales boss Warren Gatland.

Captain Alun-Wyn Jones is among the absentees due to injury, while England-based duo Dan Biggar and Rhys Carre are unavailable as the game falls outside the Test window.

Pivac said: "It is great to get the squad announced and get the ball rolling on our first meet-up and first fixture next week.

"This Barbarians game is a great chance for us as a new squad and management to get together and to set the scene for what we are looking to do. Having this opportunity ahead of tournament rugby in the Six Nations is ideal for us.

"It is also a great chance for some players to really put their hand up and show what they are about and take to the field in front of a big crowd at home.

"We will be bringing a few additional players in to train with the squad during the week, just to see them in the environment and will also be bringing some of the injured players in for some of the scene setting style sessions."

 

Wales squad:

Forwards: Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Samson Lee, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Seb Davies, Taine Basham, Ollie Griffiths, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ross Moriarty, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams, Sam Davies, Jarrod Evans, Willis Halaholo, Hadleigh Parkes, Owen Watkin, Owen Lane, Josh Adams, Steff Evans, Ashton Hewitt, Johnny McNicholl, Hallam Amos, Leigh Halfpenny.

England coach Eddie Jones does not want to see Japan introduced to the Six Nations at this stage but would be open to the Brave Blossoms playing Northern Hemisphere sides on bye-weeks.

Hosts Japan reached the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup for the first time this year, stunning both Ireland and Scotland in the process.

However, Jamie Joseph's side are not involved in annual international competitions either in Europe, with the Six Nations, or in the Southern Hemisphere, with the Rugby Championship.

Japanese club Sunwolves play in Super Rugby alongside teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina, yet the Daily Mail reported the Brave Blossoms could be set for a Six Nations invite.

Jones, who led England to the World Cup final, previously coached Japan and wants to see the team develop. However, he believes the international season is long enough already for now.

"I think 10 internationals a year in the Northern Hemisphere is about right," Jones told BBC Sport. "To increase the Six Nations would mean taking away from somewhere else.

"I'd bring Japan in for bye-weeks, so they'd play two games over the next three of four years to prove they are strong enough to compete consistently."

While Japan are still relative newbies at the highest level, Jones believes their World Cup performance can be a lesson to Scotland, who disappointed in missing out on the last eight.

"Gregor [Townsend] has got them back playing how a Scotland side should play," he said. "[Being small] makes it difficult, but you can have one-off success like Japan have had.

"You've got to pool all your resources into being the best 'small' team in the world. That means you look at everything you do, at how you can win ball quickly - particularly from set-pieces.

"You look at how you can win the ball quickly from the breakdown and you need a consistent programme for four years to be at your best to do that.

"You have to play quick, you have to have a varied attack and it takes a lot of cohesion to play that way."

Warren Gatland still harbours ambitions to one day coach his native New Zealand despite having turned down the chance to apply for the role.

The All Blacks are on the hunt for a new head coach following the end of Steve Hansen's reign, which returned two Rugby World Cup triumphs and a run to the semi-finals of this year's tournament in Japan.

Gatland also ended his 12-year reign with Wales after the World Cup and was tipped as potential successor to Hansen.

However, the 56-year-old had already signed a four-year deal with Super Rugby side Chiefs, during which time he will take a year out to coach the British and Irish Lions for a third time.

Gatland said the timing of the All Blacks opportunity was not right but discussions with New Zealand's high performance manager Mark Anthony left the door ajar in future.

Asked if he would still like to coach New Zealand, Gatland told The Guardian: "Absolutely.

"I went back and gave my reasons why I just couldn't apply for the job right now. I've got it on my phone."

Gatland fell agonisingly short of ending his Wales tenure with at least an appearance in the World Cup final as his side went down 19-16 to champions South Africa in a tense last-four clash.

Had Wales found a way past the Springboks, Gatland is convinced Wales could have beaten England in the final.

"I thought if we beat South Africa, even with injuries, I would've gone into the game against England feeling we could win the World Cup," he said. 

"There wasn't that fear factor against England. It would have been different if the All Blacks had won their semi-final. For some of the Welsh players the All Blacks are still on a pedestal because New Zealand’s the one team we haven't beaten. 

"But against England, psychologically, we would have been confident because the guys have had success and we had an effective game plan. 

"The results have been 50-50 and, knowing you're capable of beating them, makes a massive difference."

England's own place in the final was booked with a barnstorming victory over New Zealand, a performance Gatland opined would be difficult to replicate.

That drew a retort from Eddie Jones that Gatland should enjoy the third-place play-off fixture.

But Gatland said the comments from both men were not said with hostility.

"I wasn't actually referring to England," Gatland said. "And Eddie wasn't being malicious in his comment. 

"Eddie and I often laugh about this because it's a game. What I meant is that if you look at previous World Cups the only team that has beaten the All Blacks and gone on to win it is Australia. 

"Emotion plays a massive part in big games. It's very difficult, at the highest level of sport, to be right on the edge emotionally and repeat that the following week."

Scottish Rugby has expressed its regret over threatening to take legal action against World Rugby during the World Cup and agreed to pay a £70,000 fine.

Chief executive Mark Dodson said Scottish Rugby had received legal opinion for a potential case against the world governing body if Scotland's clash with Japan was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The decisive Pool A showdown between the hosts and Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama was in doubt with one of the most destructive typhoons in decades approaching.

Japan reached the quarter-finals and knocked Gregor Townsend's side out when the match went ahead as scheduled last month.

Scottish Rugby stated that it would "consider all options, which may include arbitration" after World Rugby ordered the organisation to apologise and pay a fine.

The matter is now closed, though, after Scottish Rugby opted against taking further action.

"World Rugby can confirm that the Scottish Rugby Union has expressed its regret and has confirmed it will not challenge World Rugby further on this matter.

"The Scottish Rugby Union has agreed to pay a donation of £70,000 to World Rugby and the matter is now closed. There will be no further comment from either party."

World Rugby stated last week that the fine will be donated to the ChildFund Pass it Back programme to assist with the ongoing relief effort in areas affected by Typhoon Hagibis.

Scottish Rugby has expressed its regret over threatening to take legal action against World Rugby during the World Cup and agreed to pay a £70,000 fine.

Chief executive Mark Dodson said Scottish Rugby had received legal opinion for a potential case against the world governing body if Scotland's clash with Japan was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The decisive Pool A showdown between the hosts and Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama was in doubt with one of the most destructive typhoons in decades approaching.

Japan reached the quarter-finals and knocked Gregor Townsend's side out when the match went ahead as scheduled last month.

Scottish Rugby stated that it would "consider all options, which may include arbitration" after World Rugby ordered the organisation to apologise and pay a fine.

The matter is now closed, though, after Scottish Rugby opted against taking further action.

"World Rugby can confirm that the Scottish Rugby Union has expressed its regret and has confirmed it will not challenge World Rugby further on this matter.

"The Scottish Rugby Union has agreed to pay a donation of £70,000 to World Rugby and the matter is now closed. There will be no further comment from either party."

World Rugby stated last week that the fine will be donated to the ChildFund Pass it Back programme to assist with the ongoing relief effort in areas affected by Typhoon Hagibis.

Guilhem Guirado will miss the Six Nations after the France captain was ruled out for five months with a ruptured bicep.

Guirado suffered the injury just before the hour-mark on his Montpellier debut in a 19-19 Top 14 draw against his former club Toulon at Stade Mayol on Saturday.

Montpellier revealed on Tuesday that the hooker is to undergo surgery and will not be available until April.

The 33-year-old will play no part in Les Bleus' Six Nations campaign under Fabien Galthie, who replaced Jacques Brunel after the Rugby World Cup.

Montpellier have also lost wing Jim Nagusa for 10 weeks due to a knee injury.

Two-time Top 14 champions Montpellier travel to Connacht for their first European Champions Cup Pool 5 fixture on Sunday.

Eddie Jones fended off reports he interested in an NRL coaching role but is unsure how long he will remain England boss.

Jones has been linked with a switch to rugby league to take over at South Sydney Rabbitohs following England's Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa.

Rugby Australia expressed an interest in appointing Jones for a second spell as Wallabies head coach, but it was told he is unavailable.

Jones is contracted to England until 2021 but the canny Australian gave little away when asked about his future as he prepares to coach the Barbarians against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.

Asked about a potential move to the NRL, he told Sky Sports News: "There's all sorts of stories at the moment.

"I saw a story about me going to France, stories about going to Fiji - which is definitely a lot warmer than it is here."

Quizzed whether he would stay in his current role for the 2023 World Cup in France, he replied: "It's not really my decision. As you know, coaches are contracted by either a club or a union and we've got to perform. That's the only thing I'm worried about."

Jones also stated that, in hindsight, he picked the wrong team to face the Springboks.

"To a large degree, it was just one of those games. Some games you get caught. They started the game well. Things came off for them, things didn't go well for us." he added.

"We got on the back foot and couldn't get back on the front foot. If there's one thing I could have done now that I would have done, I would have changed the selection a little bit.

"I continually in the World Cup changed selection from game to game - in hindsight, I probably should have refreshed the squad a little bit.

"I'm not going to talk about individuals now. I just should have maybe changed the order of the 23."

Warren Gatland said he "politely declined" the chance to put his name forward for the New Zealand job as he had already committed to the Chiefs and the British and Irish Lions.

Gatland's long tenure as Wales head coach came to an end after the reigning Six Nations champions were beaten by the All Blacks in a Rugby World Cup third-place play-off in Japan at the start of this month.

The New Zealander signed a four-year deal to return to his homeland as Chiefs boss in June, during which time he will take a year away from the Super Rugby franchise to coach the Lions in South Africa in 2021.

Gatland says he has not applied to replace Steve Hansen as New Zealand head coach after already agreeing to take on two alternative roles.

"It was nice to be contacted [but] I politely declined putting my name forward," he told Radio Sport.

"I'm a little bit old school... I'd made the commitment to the Chiefs and I'd made the commitment to the Lions, it was important that I carry on with that ... honour the commitment I made to those two sides.

"Maybe sometime in the future I may get that opportunity again."

Rassie Erasmus hailed Francois Louw as a "warrior" after the South Africa back-row announced his international retirement.

The 34-year-old has called time on his Test career on the back of the Springboks' Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan.

Louw played 76 times for the world champions and Rugby Championship holders after making his debut against Wales in 2010.

South Africa director of rugby Erasmus paid tribute to the forward, who will continue to play for Premiership side Bath.

Erasmus said: "Flo was a real warrior of the back row.

"He was always ready to go where the fire was hottest and was the kind of tough-minded character that you'd always want beside you. He didn't take a step backwards ever.

"He has been a tremendous servant of South African rugby and we're losing a lot with his retirement, not just in how he played, but in the calmness, insight and character that he brought to the group."

Louw said: "I've had an amazing journey in international rugby.

"I've made friends for life in the game and created incredible memories with great people."

Toronto Wolfpack have billed Sonny Bill Williams as "rugby's LeBron James" after he joined the Super League newcomers in a move likened to David Beckham's switch to LA Galaxy.

Williams swapped codes again to sign a lucrative two-year deal with ambitious Toronto after the New Zealand centre added two Rugby World Cup titles to his union CV.

The Wolfpack have pulled off a major coup to land the 34-year-old following their promotion to the top flight in only their third season.

Toronto chairman and chief executive Bob Hunter said the acquisition of Williams can raise the profile of rugby league across the globe.

"The excitement he will bring to the sport of rugby league in this country will be incredible," said Hunter. "Having someone of his talent join the Wolfpack will greatly raise the profile of the club, and also help move the game forward globally.

"Sonny is a phenomenal athlete and we believe he is rugby's LeBron James and his addition to our league is comparable to when David Beckham joined LA Galaxy."

Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott expects Williams to make a big impact in his first stint in Super League.

"We have signed one of the highest profile rugby players, if not sports stars in the world and he will enhance the world of rugby in Toronto and certainly push the brand of the Wolfpack onto another level," said the former Leeds Rhinos boss.

"The main point of excitement for our club is that we are signing a great rugby league player who has the hunger to be successful in Super League much as he was in the NRL and rugby union."

Leicester Tigers issued a hands-off warning after Toronto were linked with Manu Tuilagi, while fellow England centre Ben Te'o is also reportedly on their radar.

Scottish Rugby has been fined £70,000 and ordered to apologise after threatening to take legal action if the Rugby World Cup clash with Japan was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The crunch Pool A clash showdown between the hosts and Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama last month was in doubt with one of the most destructive typhoons in decades approaching.

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said the organisation had received legal opinion for a potential case against World Rugby if the match was called off, with Scotland needing a win to reach the quarter-finals.

Japan beat Gregor Townsend's side in a contest that went ahead as scheduled and Scotland have now been sanctioned for Dodson's remarks, though a second charge brought against an unnamed Scottish Rugby spokesperson was dismissed.

A statement from the world governing body said: "World Rugby strongly believed the comments, which suggested an unfair and disorganised treatment of all teams, to be inappropriate and ill-judged at a time when Japan was preparing for the largest and most destructive typhoon in decades. 

"The international federation believed that such comments brought the game into disrepute, not only in relation to World Rugby's handling of an extraordinary situation but also in the message that it sent to the Japanese people. 

"Having considered all the evidence, including submissions by World Rugby and the SRU, the committee determined in respect of the first charge that comments attributed to Mark Dodson amounted to misconduct and brought the game into disrepute. 

"In respect of the second charge, the available evidence was insufficient for the committee to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities as to the source of the offending remarks and therefore it dismissed the charge."

Scottish Rugby said it would reflect on this outcome and further consider all our options, which may include arbitration.

Page 1 of 11
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.