La Rochelle will face Leinster in the European Champions Cup final after beating Racing 92 20-13 in an almighty battle at Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

A year after losing to Toulouse in the final, La Rochelle will have another chance to be crowned European champions for the first time at Stade Velodrome on May 28 after fighting back to defeat their Top 14 rivals on a hot Sunday in Lens.

A second-half penalty try, which resulted in Racing being reduced to 13 men for around eight minutes, was a key moment in the semi-final as it put La Rochelle in front for the first time.

Ronan O'Gara's side edged out the Ireland legend's former employers to set up a repeat of last year's semi-final in Marseille, Ihaia West making amends for an off day with the boot by sealing it with a try right at the end.

Nolann Le Garrec put Racing in front with an early penalty and West failed to make it 3-3 when he missed a straightforward chance from the tee.

Virimi Vakatawa extended the Paris club's lead with a sharp sidestep to squeeze beyond two defenders and dot down for an opening try, which Le Garrec converted after 25 minutes.

La Rochelle applied sustain pressure and although Raymond Rhule had a try ruled out as the ball was not clearly out of a ruck when he scooped it up, West's penalty got them on the board and Gregory Alldritt powered his way over on the stroke of half-time.

West was unable to add the extras and the La Rochelle fly-half was off target with another penalty early in the second half before the ice cool Le Garrec booted Racing into a 13-8 lead.

Ill-disciplined Racing were rocked when Camille Chat and Cedate Gomes Sa were sent to the sin bin in quick succession, the second offence resulting in a penalty try that put last year's runners-up 15-13 up with just under half an hour go.

A disjointed and sloppy La Rochelle side failed to increase their advantage while Racing were two men down, during which time Le Garrec missed from the tee twice.

Pierre Popelin stepped up to miss a penalty at the other end, but O'Gara's men ended Racing's hopes of winning the Champions Cup for the first time, with West diving over to seal it.

James Lowe scored a try in each half as magnificent Leinster reached the European Champions Cup final with a 40-17 defeat of holders Toulouse at a raucous Aviva Stadium.

Leinster will face La Rochelle or Racing 92 at the Stade Velodrome on May 28 after a hugely impressive win over the Top 14 side in Dublin on Saturday.

Johnny Sexton pulled the strings and scored 15 points in an influential display as Leo Cullen's side, who scored four tries, kept themselves in the hunt to match Toulouse's record tally of being crowned European champions for a fifth time in Marseille. 

Fly-half Sexton's penalty put Leinster in front, but Antoine Dupont raced from deep in his own half to go under the posts to punish Jamison Gibson-Park for a poor grubber kick.

Sexton doubled his tally with the boot and Leinster were rewarded for piling on the pressure with two tries in the space of five minutes, Lowe finishing from close range before Josh van der Flier crashed over after they lost Tadhg Furlong to injury only 16 minutes in.

It was five successful kicks out of five for Sexton when he added another penalty after one from Thomas Ramos at the other end, before Emmanuel Meafou was sin-binned late in the first half.

Leinster failed to increase their 23-10 lead while Meafou was off the field, but Lowe was left with a simple finish after he was picked out by the excellent Sexton, who expertly added the extras.

Selevasio Tolofua gave defiant Toulouse hope when he bundled himself over in the right corner and Ramos converted with 15 minutes to go, but Ross Byrne was on target with a penalty and converted a late Hugo Keenan try as Cullen's men marched into the final.

World Rugby has confirmed Australia and the United States as the next two hosts of the men's Rugby World Cup.

The men's tournament will be held in Australia in 2027, and the women's World Cup will be hosted Down Under two years later. 

Australia has not hosted the men's tournament since 2003, when Jonny Wilkinson's last-gasp drop-goal ensured victory for England over the Wallabies in the final.

The USA, meanwhile, will host the competition for the very first time in 2031, with the women's tournament held there in 2033. The next women's World Cup, in 2025, will take place in England.

World Rugby confirmed the news at its annual meeting in Dublin on Thursday, promising to deliver "a golden decade for the sport".

Bill Beaumont, chairman of World Rugby, said: "We have approved three exceptional Rugby World Cup host nations – England, Australia and the USA – providing unprecedented certainty and an unparalleled opportunity to accelerate the growth and impact of rugby globally. It is great for rugby, for fans and for the host nations.

"Today is a landmark moment for the sport, and an exciting development for fans. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making this dream a reality as we look to deliver a truly global sport for all."

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan labelled it as "an historic day for rugby in Australia", while USA Rugby chief executive Ross Young said: "I speak for the rugby community and fans across the United States when I express our sincere gratitude to World Rugby for their trust and endorsement of our vision to grow this incredible sport exponentially across our country."

The next men's World Cup will be held in France in 2023, with South Africa the reigning champions following their triumph over England in 2019 in Japan.

Eben Etzebeth is open to the idea of South Africa playing in the Six Nations in future, saying he would "love" to participate in the competition.

The Springboks are committed to playing in The Rugby Championship with Argentina, Australia and New Zealand until 2025, but it has been rumoured that the organisers of the Six Nations are considering inviting them to join beyond that.

South African club sides now take part in the United Rugby Championship, also involving teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

While Etzebeth plays for Toulon in France, he has signed on to play for the Cell C Sharks from the 2022-23 season.

Speaking to the Rugby Roots programme, the lock said: "I think the Six Nations would be good for us.

"Obviously, it just makes sense with us playing in the URC at the moment against the same competition."

The 30-year-old – who has 97 caps for South Africa – would still like to be able to play against the other Southern Hemisphere sides, and hopes a balance can be found.

"Maybe we could have a full June series against New Zealand, play in the Six Nations and then have an end-of-year tour in Australia or Argentina," he added.

"I would love to join the Six Nations, but I would also love to still play those other teams as well. Maybe they (World Rugby) can get a good balance.

"At the end of the day, for me, it's just about playing for South Africa."

Spain have been disqualified from the 2023 Rugby World Cup after being found to have fielded an ineligible player in two preliminary matches.

South African Gavin Van den Berg played twice for Spain, but his eligibility was questioned by rivals Romania, with World Rugby deciding he did not fit the criteria.

To qualify on residency rules, players involved in qualifying needed to have lived in their chosen country for 36 consecutive months.

Spain have pinned the blame on an alleged forgery of Van den Berg's passport.

World Rugby said in a statement that it had imposed a 10-point deduction from Spain's qualifying points total in European qualifying, also imposing a £25,000 fine and triggering a suspended £50,000 punishment that dated back to the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers and related to another ineligibility case.

Spain can appeal against the punishment, but barring a successful challenge their place at the tournament in France will go to Romania, who will face South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and an Asia/Pacific qualifying team.

The Spanish Rugby Federation said in a statement: "As this very harsh sanction occurs as a result of an alleged forgery of the aforementioned player's passport, the Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) continues with the extraordinary disciplinary procedure initiated at the time and will shortly call a press conference to offer all the explanations that are required."

Former England international and British and Irish Lion Tom Youngs has announced his retirement from rugby.

The hooker had not appeared for Leicester Tigers this season after taking an indefinite period of leave at the start of the campaign to care for his ill wife.

Now, Youngs – the brother of Ben, England's most capped player, and the son of Nick, another ex-international – is calling time on his career.

The 35-year-old appeared 28 times for his country and in three Lions Tests during the 2013 tour of Australia.

"I had always planned around this season being my last and I am comfortable with the timing of it now," Youngs said.

He added: "I want to thank my family for all that they have done to help me achieve what I have been able to do throughout my career.

"My mum, my dad, my brother and all of my extended family, I am so lucky to have them.

"Finally, to my wife Tiff and daughter Maisie, I am lucky to have you alongside me and would not be where I am without you. Thank you both."

New Zealand centre Anton Lienert-Brown will be out for around six months after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The midfielder was injured during the Chiefs' 25-0 Super Rugby Pacific defeat to the Blues on Saturday.

Lienert-Brown will go under the knife this week and is facing a long spell on the sidelines.

The Chiefs said: "It has been confirmed that Anton will require surgery on his shoulder that was injured last Saturday. He is expected to return to rugby after approximately 6 months.

"The Chiefs Rugby Club wish Anton all the best for a speedy recovery."

Lienert-Brown posted on Instagram: "Shoulder is going to need a bit more work than I was hoping, going under the knife this week which will put me out for 6 months.

"A bump in the road, but the journey continues. I'll be back. Appreciate all the support."

Lienert-Brown damaged the same shoulder during New Zealand's defeat to Ireland in Dublin last November, ruling him out of a loss to France. 

Former Scotland captain and British and Irish Lion Tom Smith has died at the age of 50.

Smith was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer in 2019 and sadly passed away on Wednesday.

Capped 61 times by his country, the inspirational ex-prop was inducted into the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame last year.

Smith played a big part in the 1997 Lions series win in South Africa and toured Australia four years later, becoming the only Scottish player to have played in six consecutive Lions Tests.

Ian McGeechan, who coached Smith along with Jim Telfer in the Lions win over the Springboks, described him as "the greatest Scotland player of the professional era."

Smith played his club rugby for Glasgow Caledonia – now Glasgow Warriors – and Brive before joining Northampton Saints in 2001.

Eddie Jones declared England's Test series against Australia a "vital" staging post on the road to the World Cup, as it was revealed the Sydney Cricket Ground will host the potential tour decider.

England trailed home a distant third in the recent Six Nations, winning just two of five matches for the second successive year, and the progress the Rugby Football Union (RFU) would have hoped to witness was difficult to detect.

With the 2023 Rugby World Cup now less than 18 months away, England will be hoping to show significant improvement when they tackle the Wallabies in three July Tests.

The dates and venues for those fixtures were confirmed on Tuesday, with Perth's Optus Stadium hosting the first game on July 2, before the teams battle at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium seven days later.

Sydney's SCG will then put on the third game on July 16, with international rugby returning to the famous cricket venue for the first time since 1986.

England last toured Australia in 2016, when Jones' then Six Nations grand slam winners got up and running with a 39-28 victory at Suncorp Stadium, on their way to a 3-0 series clean sweep.

Jones, England's Australian head coach, must know there will be pressure on his shoulders if his team fail to perform Down Under this time.

For now, the RFU has his back, with chief executive Bill Sweeney continuing to endorse the 62-year-old's leadership.

Jones said: "The Australia tour is a great opportunity for growth for this team and a good challenge at the end of the season.

"It will be the first time many of the younger players have toured abroad with England and it will be vital practice and experience ahead of the World Cup, along with the 2023 Six Nations. We last went there in 2016 and had a very successful tour.

"Australia will be a good challenge for this team. They have rebuilt strongly and they are well coached by Dave Rennie. We're looking forward to getting out there and continuing the development and journey of this England side."

Wallabies boss Rennie, whose side lost to Scotland, England and Wales on tour last November, is also looking to show that Australia can build momentum for the World Cup in France.

Rennie said: "We talk a lot about wanting to challenge ourselves against the best teams in the world and three Test matches in a row against England is the perfect opportunity to do that."

Eddie Jones' successor as England head coach will be appointed ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) targeting an Englishman for the job.

Australian boss Jones has spent six and a half years in charge of England and is under contract until after next year's showpiece event in France.

The 62-year-old had been under increasing pressure following another disappointing Six Nations showing for England, who finished with two wins from five matches.

However, the RFU this week assured Jones that his job is safe for now, though the former Japan coach was warned that nobody is "bulletproof".

Providing a further update on the position on Saturday, RFU performance director Conor O'Shea suggested a new coach could work alongside Jones at the World Cup before taking over.

"The plan for us will be to appoint that coach before summer 2023," O'Shea said. "Whether that's embedding them into the programme or taking a helicopter view, that's a discussion to be had. 

"We would like to think we will be appointing them in the lead up to 2023. We have so many top English coaches who are in a great position.
 
"Eddie has worked with Steve [Borthwick], Neal [Hatley], Gussy [Paul Gustard]. You look across the Premiership and then you see the quality of people overseas. I want them to be English and I believe [they] should be."

He added: "The rationale is we need to appoint so we have got time to embed the new coaching team and allow them to hit the ground running. Eddie is fully aware and knows what we want to do. 

"There will be some people who say that will disturb the World Cup prep because people will be looking over their shoulder.

"[Fabien] Galthie was appointed before the 2019 World Cup and it's the right thing to do because we need to get ready for the 2024 Six Nations."

The RFU's focus on a homegrown coach would rule the likes of Warren Gatland, Steve Hansen and Rassie Erasmus out of the running, but chief executive Bill Sweeney is confident the right approach is being taken.

"We believe we've got such a wealth of English coaches in the game," he said. "As a leading rugby nation we should be developing English coaches and an English style of play. 

"That should be long-term and therefore the preference would be to have an English setup as far as I'm concerned. 

"We've got a war room that's got every English coach you can imagine – based here and based internationally. We've got an advanced succession plan in place."

England's Six Nations performance has been labelled "incredibly disappointing" by Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney.

Eddie Jones' side backed up a poor 2021 championship campaign with just two wins from five again, as their third-place finish lagged far behind France and Ireland.

A year-and-a-half out from the 2023 World Cup across the channel, England look unlikely to contend for the crown as they did in Japan in 2019.

"We are all, as an organisation, incredibly disappointed with what happened this year in the Six Nations," Sweeney told the media. "You'd expect more.

"To come away with fifth-place last year and two wins, and then going into this year's Six Nations feeling in good shape and expecting more, to only have a further two wins out of 2022 and come third was incredibly disappointing for us.

"We demand more in terms of our results and performances. Emotions have been running very high, it still feels quite raw. There is a great deal of frustration and disappointment."

Sweeney paid tribute to England supporters for their contributions, while stressing the team has still made progress under Jones in the last year.

"We saw a fantastic response from the fans during the Ireland game, one of the best examples of connecting with the team," he added.

"We understand why they're expecting more and feel not in a great place at the moment.

"We do feel there's been some real positive developments. We do feel we're on a path to the right direction. If you look at where we were 12 months ago: we're in a better place.

"It's a very tight-knit squad. There is a strong spirit. The players believe in [Jones] and believe he's taking them in the right direction.

"We're very excited by developments despite the fact we're coming out of a very difficult period. We know we're going to get better."

The Rugby Football Union's (RFU) claim England made progress during a tough Six Nations campaign has been criticised by ex-international Ugo Monye, who called their statement "dishonest".

Eddie Jones' side finished a distant third behind Ireland and Grand Slam winners France, managing just two wins from their five games.

It marked a second successive dismal Six Nations, far removed from reaching the final of the 2019 World Cup that marked the high point of the Australian's tenure in charge.

Now, a year-and-a-half out from the 2023 World Cup in France, the RFU has sought to frame their results as stepping stones, but Monye – a 14-time England international – believes such claims are untruthful.

"I want to know who in the RFU thinks that signifies progress and are happy with how things are," Monye told BBC Sport's Rugby Union Daily podcast.

"Fundamentally it's just dishonest. There isn't progress. With the financial backing, the player pool and the coaching staff they have you cannot be winning two out of five games two years in a row.

Eddie Jones has been assured his job as England head coach is safe for now.

A disappointing Six Nations performance does not appear to have substantially altered the Rugby Football Union's stance on the former Australia and Japan coach.

It means Jones is set to lead England on their tour when they face the Wallabies three times in July, and increases the likelihood he will remain in charge heading into a World Cup year. Jones has a contract that runs to the end of the 2023 World Cup in France, and the 62-year-old intends to step away from the job after that tournament.

England's fortunes have nosedived since winning the 2020 Six Nations, and the Triple Crown in that championship. They have finished with two wins from five Six Nations games in each of the last two campaigns, which in 2021 saw them finish fifth but this time around was good enough for third place.

That was a distant third to second-placed Ireland, however, and England could not prevent France clinching a Grand Slam when the teams met on Saturday evening in Paris.

An RFU spokesperson said: "Eddie Jones is building a new England team and against a clear strategy we are encouraged by the solid progress the team has made during this Six Nations campaign."

England were narrowly beaten by Scotland, before defeating Italy and Wales, raising hopes of a strong finish to the championship.

Yet a 32-15 Twickenham loss to lreland, after Charlie Ewels was sent off in the second minute, ended hopes of a championship challenge, and was followed by England going down 25-13 at the Stade de France.

The spokesperson added: "Eddie and his team of coaches and players will conduct a full review as is normal after each tournament.

"The RFU advisory panel which consists of board and executive members, former players and coaches along with Eddie will also undertake a de-brief to discuss the strong positive steps forward during this campaign and the areas we need to address.

"The advisory group has been in place since 2019, and it meets regularly both during and after each tournament to evaluate clear targets and progression.

"The RFU continues to fully support Eddie, the coaching team and players and we are excited about the summer tour and the progress to rebuild a winning England team."

England head coach Eddie Jones has called upon fans to maintain faith in the team's development after a disappointing Six Nations campaign ended with a 25-13 loss to France.

Saturday's defeat to the Grand Slam champions ensured England finished third in the 2022 standings, after Wales suffered a shock loss to Italy and Ireland beat Scotland in the final round of fixtures.

England have now lost three games in three separate editions of the Six Nations under the Australian, having done so just twice in 16 campaigns prior to his 2015 appointment.

But Jones has called upon supporters to maintain faith in the team, which he says is going through a "rebuilding" process ahead of next year's World Cup in France. 

"They [England fans] have got to have some faith," Jones said on Sunday. "I think I have done a reasonable job for England over the past seven years.

"We are going through a period now where we are rebuilding the team and it takes time. Look at the French team, it took them three years to win the [Six Nations] Championship [after appointing head coach Fabien Galthie in 2019].

"We have rebuilt the side from the last Six Nations [after finishing fifth in 2021]. I think the progress is very positive, [but] the results aren't the results we would like.

"We would all like to be winning tournaments and be top of the table, but we are not quite good enough to do that now.

"But within the next 12 to 14 months when we prepare for the World Cup, we will be."

England head coach Eddie Jones conceded he had not "done a good enough job" after his side suffered a 25-13 loss to France, who secured a long-awaited Six Nations title and Grand Slam on Saturday.

A second-half try from Freddie Steward gave England hope, but Antoine Dupont went over on the hour to secure victory for Les Bleus at the Parc des Princes.

It was England's third defeat of the tournament, and the third time they have lost as many under the Australian, having done so just twice in 16 editions before his appointment in 2015.

Questions have been asked about Jones' position, but following the defeat, the 62-year-old said they were "for other people".

"That is not a question I need to answer," he said. "I just do my job, it is a question for other people to answer. I am not even thinking about that."

"I'm disappointed, disappointed for the fans, for the players, I obviously haven't done a good enough job, I accept that, but we're moving in the right direction. The results aren't good enough. When you rebuild a team it takes time.

"France are deserved champions of the Six Nations, they are the best team, but we had enough chances to win that game, we just didn't put them away, we were not quite clinical enough in doing that.

"That has been a little bit of the story of us in the Six Nations, we have put ourselves in position to win the three games we have lost but not been clinical enough, not been good enough, particularly in some of our clean out work to win those games.

"So that is disappointing, but the spirit we showed is going to make sure this team keeps moving in the right direction."

England finished in third-place after Wales' shock loss to Italy and Ireland's win over Scotland in the final round of matches in the 2022 tournament.

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