James Lowe is set to make his Ireland debut in the Autumn Nations Cup after being included in Andy Farrell's 34-man squad.

New Zealand-born Lowe is eligible for Ireland having played for Leinster since 2017 and is one of three uncapped players in the group.

The 28-year-old versatile back has scored more Pro14 tries than any other player since his Leinster debut three years ago. He also ranks in the top three for clean breaks (52) and offloads (53).

Munster centre Shane Daly was brought in due to Garry Ringrose's broken jaw sustained against Italy in the Six Nations, while former England youth international Billy Burns replaced Jack Carty.

Keith Earles has returned from a back problem and Iain Henderson is included after serving a suspension, though Jack Conan has gone back to Leinster to recover from injury.

Ireland will face Wales at home next Friday before matches against England and Georgia. Their final game of the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup will be on December 5 against either Fiji, France, Italy or Scotland.

Farrell's team will be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing loss to France last weekend that handed England the Six Nations title.

 

Ireland squad:

Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Ed Byrne, Will Connors, Ultan Dillane, Caelan Doris, Cian Healy, Dave Heffernan, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Peter O'Mahony, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, John Ryan, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier.

Backs: Bundee Aki, Billy Burns, Ross Byrne, Andrew Conway, Shane Daly, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Jamison Gibson-Park, Robbie Henshaw, Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, Kieran Marmion, Stuart McCloskey, Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.

Scotland fly-halves Finn Russell and Adam Hastings have been ruled out of the Autumn Nations Cup.

Russell limped out of the Six Nations win over Wales last weekend with a groin injury and will not be available for the games against Italy, France and Fiji this month.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is optimistic the Racing 92 playmaker will be available for the 2021 Six Nations.

Hastings is expected to miss the tournament next year after doing damage to his shoulder following his introduction as a replacement for Russell at Parc y Scarlets

Townsend told BBC Scotland: "Finn we hope will be back in time for the Six Nations, but it's unlikely Adam will be back before the end of that tournament.

"At the very best he'll come back at the end, but that will depend on how things go."

Scotland face champions England in their first game of the Six Nations at Twickenham on February 6.

World champions South Africa are set to remain in the Rugby Championship until at least 2030 despite the suggestion they could join the Six Nations. 

Speculation around the future of the Springboks in the international tournament has increased in recent months. 

Holders South Africa withdrew from this year's Rugby Championship amid complications linked to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Australia, New Zealand and Argentina to play a three-team tournament. 

This followed South Africa's vote to withdraw domestic clubs from Super Rugby and begin talks over a move to Europe's Pro14. 

But SANZAAR, which organises both the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby, said on Wednesday all four of its nations - including South Africa - had "committed to an international rugby future through to 2030". 

The Rugby Championship will change from a six-match to 12-match structure, allowing all four teams to play each other home and away through the new mini-tour match schedule.

The move would appear to end any imminent Springboks move to link up with England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy. 

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said: "We welcome the changes announced to the Rugby Championship with our SANZAAR partners and we are looking forward to seeing what the new strategic plan for the competition entails, with possible international expansion on the cards. 

"Although we had to change our domestic focus, we still have a long history with the All Blacks and Wallabies as well as a long-standing friendship with the Pumas and we look forward to more world class Test rugby. 

"Ever since the Tri-Nations was first contested in 1996, and more recently the Rugby Championship from 2012, a team from the Southern Hemisphere has won the Rugby World Cup five out of six times - which is testimony to the high quality of Test rugby played on this side of the equator."

Ireland full-back Jordan Larmour will miss the conclusion of the Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup after suffering a dislocated shoulder.

Larmour will undergo surgery this week, having sustained the injury in Leinster's Pro14 win at Benetton Rugby on Saturday.

The versatile 23-year-old will not be available to Andy Farrell for the Six Nations encounter with Italy at the Aviva Stadium on October 24 nor the final match of the tournament against France at Stade de France seven days later.

Larmour has also been ruled out of the internationals against Wales, England and Georgia next month.

Leinster on Monday stated that no timeframe had been put on a potential return for the influential Larmour.

Ryan Baird will be assessed this week after the lock suffered an adductor strain in the victory at the weekend.

Leinster beat Ulster 27-5 to claim a third successive Pro14 title in emphatic fashion on Saturday.

Heading into Saturday's clash in Dublin looking to extend their undefeated run, Leinster fell behind after four minutes.

James Hume ran in a fantastic opener for Ulster, who were in the hunt for their first trophy since 2005-06.

However, James Lowe quickly got Leinster on track, with any hopes of an Ulster comeback swiftly extinguished after the break.

Billy Burns' pass – which seemed to have been aimed at Marcell Coetzee – was gathered in by Robbie Henshaw, who burst over for Leinster's second, with Caelan Doris' score swinging the match firmly in the holders' favour.

It was enough to secure a 17th straight Pro14 win, with Leinster becoming the first side in the competition's history to take the title seven times and on three consecutive occasions.

With one piece of silverware secured, Leinster's focus will now switch to next weekend's Champions Cup quarter-final tie with Saracens.

Ulster staged a thrilling late comeback to deny Edinburgh and book a Pro14 final against defending champions Leinster.

Trailing by 12 heading into the closing stages at Murrayfield, the visitors scored 15 unanswered points to win 22-19 and reach their first final for seven years.

Ian Madigan – who had previously scored a clutch conversion – put a last-minute penalty through the posts after Michael Willemse was penalised for a deliberate knock-on.

That capped the fightback after tries from Rob Herring and John Andrew had hauled Ulster level.

Prior to the late drama, it appeared Ulster would fall at the last-four stage against Scottish opposition for the second straight season, having failed to get the better of Glasgow Warriors in last year's semi-finals.

Stuart McInally forced his way over to give Edinburgh a five-point half-time lead, before scores from Darcy Graham and Chris Dean extended their advantage despite an impressive try from Ulster wing Rob Lyttle.

But Edinburgh folded late in the contest and their wait to win the competition continues, having lost their only appearance in the final 11 years ago.

The dramatic match on Saturday came after Leinster defeated Munster 13-3 on Friday to remain on course for a third consecutive title and seventh overall.

Munster will face rivals Leinster in the Pro14 semi-finals on Friday after thrashing 13-man Connacht 49-12 on the final day of the regular season.

Connacht had debutant Abraham Papali'i and Shane Delahunt sent off in the first half at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, making life much easier for Munster as they sealed second place in Conference B ahead of the Scarlets.

Johann van Graan's side were already 14 points to the good courtesy of a Chris Cloete score and a penalty try when Papali'i was dismissed for a dangerous tackle on Conor Murray.

Connacht were two men down when Delahunt was given his marching orders for catching CJ Stander on the neck, and Jeremy Loughman added a third try soon after.

Bundee Aki dotted down on the stroke of half-time to get Connacht on the board after Tadhg Beirne was sent to the sin bin, but Munster ran away with it after the break.

The in-form Andrew Conway grabbed a quickfire double after the impressive Beirne returned to score, and James Cronin also went over the whitewash, with JJ Hanrahan successfully converting five of the seven tries.

The Scarlets face a nervous wait to see if they qualify for the Pro14 play-offs after an impressive 41-20 win over the much-changed Dragons on Saturday kept them in contention.

In a thrilling contest at Rodney Parade, Scarlets enjoyed a significant advantage in the scrums and had Dan Jones produce a fine display at fly-half, but it was not all plain-sailing for the visitors.

Scarlets held a slender four-point advantage at the break, with Samson Lee, Steff Evans and Jamie Davies touching down, while Jared Rosser and Taine Basham scored at the other end.

But Scarlets charged ahead after the interval, with Johnny McNicholl, Tom Rogers and Dane Blacker getting in on the act, while Jones' kicks were on the money five times.

The six-try victory secured Scarlets a bonus point, which moves them second in Conference B, but they need Connacht to do them a favour against Munster on Sunday otherwise their season will be over.

In Conference A, Leinster and Ulster have already made sure of their places in the play-offs, though the latter will be concerned about their chances in the next stage after disappointing in the two teams' meeting on Saturday.

Leinster, who gave many fringe players the opportunity to impress, claimed a brilliant 28-10 win at the Aviva Stadium.

Ed Byrne's early try sent them on their way, with the boot of Ross Byrne giving them a 13-0 lead at half-time.

Ulster were a little more threatening in the second 40, with Rob Herring getting them back in contention by finishing in the 53rd minute, but Scott Penny and Harry Byrne went over late on to wrap up a superb victory.

Glasgow Warriors got revenge on Edinburgh for last week's loss as they claimed a 15-3 derby victory at Murrayfield on Friday, securing new head coach Danny Wilson a first Pro14 win.

Quality was lacking in an unspectacular contest, but the Warriors' defensive work meant two tries were enough to claim victory in their final match of the season.

Fraser Brown touched down in the first half to give Warriors a 7-3 lead at the interval, and ultimately that would have been enough for the win, as Edinburgh failed to register a single point in the second half.

Ratu Tagive got the match's second try in a real display of brilliance as he rounded off a fine move, but that was by no means a sign of things to come, as the contest again became sloppy.

Edinburgh will likely require an improvement next weekend in their Pro14 semi-final against Ulster.

South Africa international RG Snyman faces a long spell on the sidelines after Munster confirmed the Rugby World Cup-winning lock has torn his anterior-cruciate ligament.

Snyman only made his debut for the province on Saturday against Leinster and landed awkwardly having stolen a lineout in the early stages of the Pro14 fixture.

Munster have confirmed that the 25-year-old has torn his ACL and will now meet with a specialist to discuss surgery.

Snyman has won 23 caps for the Springboks and was part of the squad which won the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Southern Kings have withdrawn from all rugby competitions in 2020 amid growing financial difficulties.

The South African club made the decision at an urgent board meeting on Monday and informed players and staff the following day.

It means the Pro14 side will not compete as one of eight teams in a domestic competition planned to begin in September.

Kings chairman Andre Rademan said it was the only viable option after a failed takeover bid which left the club in the hands of South African Rugby (SA Rugby).

"Following several weeks of interrogation of the Kings' financial state of affairs we were left with a straightforward choice," said Rademan.

"We could opt to field the Kings in the domestic competitions mooted by SA Rugby for the sport's post-lockdown resumption if we so wished.

"If we did so, it would require additional loans to the Kings or extra investment from the shareholders to the tune of R6.5m, which would add to the organisation's existing substantial debt.

"However, as there was no contractual requirement for the Kings to resume short-term participation in the Guinness PRO14 competition, because of air travel restrictions, and as the Kings had no other commercial commitments to honour, the most prudent decision was to withdraw.

"This may not be a popular decision but in the current circumstances it is the right decision."

The Kings had endured a miserable Pro14 campaign, managing just one win from 13 matches. 

Ashton Hewitt salvaged a 20-20 Pro14 draw for the Dragons against the Ospreys after George North was sent off.

Wales wing North scored the opening try but saw red after only 14 minutes for taking Hewitt out in the air at the Liberty Stadium.

Yet still the Ospreys looked set to hold on for only a third victory of the season.

They led 20-15 at the break after Sam Perry also went over and Stephen Myler scored 10 points with the boot, Hewitt and Leon Brown touching down at the other end.

The Dragons could not find a way through a resolute Ospreys defence until Hewitt slid over in the corner right at the end, Sam Davies missing a chance to win it when his conversion attempt sailed wide.

Connacht got the better of Irish rivals Ulster 26-20 in their penultimate match of the regular season at the Aviva Stadium.

John Porch and Kieran Marmion finished to give Connacht a 14-6 advantage at the interval, with Bundee Aki – making his 100th appearance for the club – and Jack Aungier dotting down in the second half.

Jacob Stockdale and Nick Timoney scored the Ulster tries but they slumped to a defeat ahead of a clash with leaders Leinster before the Final Series.

JJ Hanrahan missed a vital conversion as Munster slipped to a 27-25 defeat to Conference A leaders Leinster in the Pro14.

Having trailed 17-13 at the break, Munster looked to be staring down a heavy defeat when Leinster – who are already sure of their place in the Final Series – went a further seven points clear early in the second half.

However, Devin Toner's sin-binning handed Munster the initiative, and the visitors rallied through Keith Earls' superb try.

Ross Byrne's penalty nudged Leinster further ahead, but Andrew Conway's second try appeared to have saved Munster, only for Hanrahan to send his kick narrowly wide.

Edinburgh booked their place in the Final Series with a 30-15 victory over Scottish rivals Glasgow Warriors, with Duhan van der Merwe's moment of brilliance the inspiration.

Glasgow held a slender 15-13 advantage heading into the final 20 minutes on Saturday, but Van der Merwe's superb run and offload teed up Nic Groom for his second try of the game.

Charlie Shiel's try sealed the win and Edinburgh will finish top of Conference B should they defeat the Warriors again next time out.

In the first Pro14 match back since the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, Scarlets – under the tutelage of new coach Glenn Delaney – turned on the style to run in five tries in a 32-12 hammering of Cardiff Blues in south Wales, boosting their Final Series hopes in the process.

Zebre defeated Italian rivals Benetton Treviso 17-13 in the first Pro14 game in almost six months at the Stadio Comunale Di Monigo on Friday.

The league was placed on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic after the Dragons beat Benetton on March 6, and Zebre triumphed as the long wait for rugby's return ended behind closed doors.

Tommaso Boni got the first try in the 20th minute and Jimmy Tuivaiti crossed after Paolo Garbisi reduced the deficit to four points early in the second half with Marco Lazzaroni in the sin bin following a series of infringements.

Joaquin Riera touched down a consolation for Benetton beyond the 80th minute as Zebre claimed just their third win of the season and first on the road since November.

Former Scotland captain John Barclay has announced his retirement at the age of 33. 

The back-rower won 76 caps for his country and played in three Rugby World Cups during an illustrious 16-year professional career. 

Barclay played for Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh either side of a spell with the Scarlets, winning the Pro14 title with the Welsh region in 2017. 

Edinburgh announced in April that Barclay would be leaving the club and he has now decided to hang up his boots.

Barclay told Scottishrugby.org: "After much thought I've decided to call time on my career. When you know, you know and whilst COVID-19 has left a frustrating finish, the end isn't about the fairytale. The whole story has been a fairytale. 

"The opportunity to get to do the thing I loved as a job for 16 years has provided me with enough memories to last a lifetime. 

"Whilst there are games that were particularly memorable, and undoubtedly I will miss the physical brutality of the game, what I'll miss more than anything is the camaraderie and sense of fulfilment after a game, that comes from sharing a joint goal and purpose with friends. The memories off the pitch were as remarkable as the ones on it. 

"To get capped was beyond my wildest dream as a child growing up. To be able to captain my country will be something I will be eternally proud of beyond anything else. 

"To know I will never run out at Murrayfield does leave me with a tinge of sadness, but I was a supporter before I played for the team and I will be there as the team's most fervent supporter."

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