The SA Rugby magazine team rounds up some of the interesting news snippets making headlines around the world.
Herring to replace Cronin in Ireland squad
Cape Town-born hooker Rob Herring is set to join Ireland’s World Cup squad in Japan as a replacement for Sean Cronin, who was reportedly injured in training this week.
According to The42, Herring – who had short stints with Western Province and London Irish before joining Ulster in 2012 – will arrive in Tokyo on Thursday, two days before Ireland’s quarter-final clash with the All Blacks.
The 29-year-old Herring has eight Test caps for his adopted nation after making his debut in 2014, having qualified for Ireland through his grandfather.
Pools announced for Dubai Sevens
The pools for the first combined men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series event of the 2019-20 season have been confirmed.
According to the World Rugby website, the Dubai Sevens will take place between 5-7 December 2019, and all men’s and women’s matches will be played on the main pitch for the first time in the tournament’s 50-year history. The Dubai leg will now be one of six combined men’s and women’s events alongside Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Hong Kong and Paris.
The Blitzboks have been drawn in Pool D, alongside Spain, England and Kenya. In order to avoid a potential Cup quarter-final against rivals Fiji, the Blitzboks will need to finish top of their pool. The Fijians are set to face France, Argentina and Japan in Pool A.
The USA and Australia are in Pool B alongside Scotland and newcomers to the event Ireland, while Pool C includes Samoa, Canada, Wales and New Zealand.
The Blitzboks finished in fourth place in the overall standings last season, thereby qualifying automatically for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
A youthful Blitzboks squad will be in action this weekend at the Safari Sevens tournament in Kenya, as they continue their preparation for the upcoming World Sevens Series.
Brave Blossoms to honour memory of ‘Mr Rugby’
Japan’s players and coaching staff will have additional motivation to cause another upset at the World Cup when they face off against the Springboks in Sunday’s quarter-final.
Sunday’s date marks the three-year anniversary of the death of Seiji Hirao, a legend of the Japanese game. The former captain and head coach of the Brave Blossoms passed away at the age of 53 from cancer.
Fondly known as ‘Mr Rugby’, Hirao won 35 caps and represented Japan at the first three editions of the World Cup. He then coached the side at the 1999 tournament.
The date holds personal signifiance for several of the Japan players as well as members of the coaching staff.
‘It’s the date he passed away, so there’ll be a game on an important day for me as well,’ said fullback Ryohei Yamanaka, who was managed by Hirao at his club, Kobe Steelers.
‘I’m a bit emotional talking about Hirao,’ said scrum coach Shin Hasegawa. ‘He was the one who picked me for the national team, he was the one who played me. We have a game on a special day. I hope we can pay him back.’
Former England wing calls for Japan to join Six Nations
Ugo Monye wants European rugby bosses to include Japan in a proposed Seven Nations Championship after the heroics shown by the host nation at the World Cup.
Monye, who now works as a pundit for broadcaster ITV, has even suggested a schedule that could address logistical and travel issues during the proposed tournament.
On the back of their performances at the World Cup, having beaten both Ireland and Scotland to top Pool A, there will likely be calls for Japan to join an annual Tier 1 compeition.
‘Japan are no longer causing upsets but producing world-class performances, and they are making a mockery of their tier-two label,’ wrote Monye in his Rugby World Cup blog in The Guardian.
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