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Rugby News: Wallabies legend's son set for Italy Test move, RA want daytime Bledisloe, Force re-sign coach, Super Rugby law change

12th February, 2024
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12th February, 2024
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Louis Lynagh is leaving Harlequins at the end of the English season to join Benetton Rugby, increasing speculation that he will commit his international future to Italy.

Lynagh, a former England Under-20 player and son of Australia legend Michael, was born in Treviso, in Italy, and is eligible to play for England, Australia and Italy.

The 23-year-old wing was called up by England under former head coach Eddie Jones but failed to win a cap and has been overlooked completely by Steve Borthwick since he took over in December 2022. 

“It’s been a difficult decision to leave my boyhood club but I feel the time is right for a new challenge in Italy,” Lynagh said. 

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“I have lived in England since I was four years old, but Italy and Treviso have always been in my heart. 

“My father played a fundamental role not only in my rugby career, but also in my life. He always wanted the best for me and always agreed with every decision I made. 

Harlequins' Louis Lynagh scores their side's third try of the game during the Investec Champions Cup match at Twickenham Stoop, London. Picture date: Saturday January 20, 2024. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

Louis Lynagh scores a try for Harlequins. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

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“He told me that playing in Treviso will be the best for me and my style of rugby.” 

Lynagh has made 58 appearances for Harlequins and scored 27 tries, including two in their 2021 Premiership final victory at Twickenham. 

Benetton, meanwhile, are riding high in the United Rugby Championship with only Irish side Leinster above them in the table.

Lynagh made his senior Quins debut in 2019 and enjoyed his breakout season in 2020/21, making 11 appearances and scoring six tries. He touched down in the Premiership semi-final against Bristol Bears, before scoring twice in the final against Exeter.

Quins director of rugby, Billy Millard, said: “Louis has been a pleasure to work with and we have been proud to see him develop from our Academy to the first-team squad. He has certainly had some great moments in his short career to date and is a popular figure across the Club. 

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“His 2020/21 season in particular showcased his ability and try-scoring strength. We’re excited to watch his career develop further at Benetton, and potentially for Italy. We wish him the very best as he seeks to build his career in Italy.”

RA seeking day time Bledisloe

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh is in talks over holding the Bledisloe Cup game in Sydney in the afternoon to avoid NRL finals later the same night.

Australia and New Zealand are scheduled to face off at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on September 21.

FULL LIST OF WALLABIES FIXTURES FOR 2024

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Waugh told the Sydney Morning Herald – owned by broadcast partners the Nine Network – of the potential move, saying he hoped it meant more families could attend.

“The narrative I have been trying to push is the connection between the professional game and the community, and I think with the more family-friendly Test matches and professional games so that families and young kids can attend, and the more we open it up to more people, the better it is going to be,” Waugh said.

“It is certainly something we are exploring, and we are just working through with our partners to make sure it can work. But there will be no club rugby and there will be schools rugby, so it will be a really good opportunity to get our rugby community in a family-friendly environment, at a massive Test match.”

Waugh confirmed the Wallabies’ clash against Georgia at Allianz Stadium on July 20 is also set to be an afternoon kickoff.

The last daytime Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney was in 1995.

Force re-sign coach ahead of Super season

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The Western Force have backed Simon Cron to continue the franchise’s second coming after handing the second-year coach a new two-year extension deal.

Cron’s Force finished 10th last year after leading the franchise to five wins from 14 matches.

Simon Cron will coach the Force until at least the end of 2026. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

But despite plenty of room to grow, the Force haven’t hesitated in backing in the former Junior Wallabies coach.

“Since his arrival in Perth 18 months ago, Simon and his coaching team have worked hard to put the foundation pieces in place for long-term success for the Force,” new Force CEO Niamh O’Connor said.

“That doesn’t happen overnight but the trajectory of the team under Simon is exciting and while we didn’t make the finals last year, we saw glimpses of the project building and evolving. That’s only been enhanced during the off-season by our recruitment and player buy-in.

“You can feel internally that there’s an elite high performance environment and positive success-focused culture growing within the playing squad which is exactly part of the Club’s vision to be world class.

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“The Force board have every confidence in Simon to take us to that next level, thus we’re thrilled to have him sign a contract extension, keeping him in Perth until at least 2026.”

After the Force’s 21-19 win over Queensland in their opening trial earlier this month, Cron hinted that significant changes were needed at the franchise both on and off the pitch.

“Everyone gets on,” he said pointedly.

“We had to make a lot of changes in the organisation and … a lot of that’s been done now,” he added.

After being appointed to the role in early 2022, Cron has been one one of the most active Super Rugby coaches in trying to grow his roster.

The changes, which have seen Nic White and Ben Donaldson as well as several tight-five forwards come to the club, have added to the Force’s depth.

Cron said he was excited about the direction the franchise were heading.

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“With the high performance changes we’re making within the organization and with Niamh confirmed as our new CEO, it’s important that we keep driving forward, therefore it’s exciting to extend my contract,” Cron said.

“He added: “If you look at the players who take to the field every week, they excite us as coaches. We’re excited about them.

“We love the personalities, we love their drive to succeed, we love seeing them every day on field, pushing each other for success.

“We believe we’ve got the core of something special growing here. That’s what’s excited me about staying here.”

Super Rugby law change

Super Rugby Pacific has announced a law innovation encouraging teams to run the ball back after receiving kicks during the 2024 season – and discouraging territorial kicking duels.

Super Rugby Pacific Chair Kevin Malloy said the change was a response to feedback from fans, coaches and players that they want to see running rugby.

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“We want to create a game that’s exciting for our fans and enjoyable for our players. Part of that is seeing our players running the ball rather than trading multiple kicks in a battle for territory. We’re listening to our fans and with the full support of New Zealand Rugby, Rugby Australia, and our coaches we’ve responded with a small change we think could make a big difference.”

Rugby’s current offside laws include two clauses (under Law 10.7) that state players in front of the kicker can be put onside as soon as the kick receiver has either passed the ball or run five metres with the ball.

Super Rugby Pacific’s Law Innovation will throw out those two clauses, meaning defenders will remain offside until they have been put onside by a teammate who has come from behind the kicker, or the kicker themself. The Law Innovation has been sanctioned by World Rugby as a trial during the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

“Fans have been vocal in recent times about teams exploiting a loophole that’s seen large number of players standing still while kicks go over their heads in what some people have called kick tennis. We don’t believe that’s the spectacle our fans want to see in Super Rugby Pacific. We want to open up the opportunity for teams to counterattack with the ball in hand and we’re confident this tweak to the law will encourage that trend and encourage exciting, attacking rugby.”

The kicking duels have blighted Six Nations this season and the social media post below gives an explanation of the issue.

Malloy noted that Super Rugby Pacific had successfully introduced a number of other Law Innovations in recent years with great success, a decrease in dead time, cleaner clearance from scrums, quicker restarts from set-piece and after tries and less TMO interventions.

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“We were really happy with the spectacle last year and hence we have only made one tweak to the laws for 2024. We want to keep building an exciting, fast moving brand of rugby that our fans want to watch.”

Japan set to continue with Kiwi clashes

Japan Rugby League One chairman Genichi Tamatsuka believes the future of the Cross-Border Rugby initiative between local clubs and their New Zealand counterparts from Super Rugby is secure despite a disappointing turnout for the inaugural series.

“It was a promising start to the concept, with four entertaining games, which featured plenty of running rugby and a healthy return of tries,” Tamatsuka said of the four-game series between the semi-finalists from last season’s Japan Rugby League One, along with two of the top four from Super Rugby.

The highlight for Japan was the historic victory of the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights against last year’s finalists from Super Rugby, the Chiefs.

The Wild Knights’ 38-14 win at Kumagaya represented the first success by a team from a Japanese club league against a New Zealand side from Super Rugby.

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“The effort of the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights in beating the Chiefs was not just a proud achievement for the club, it was also a significant moment for rugby in Japan as a whole,” Tamatsuka noted.

“It was a statement that Japanese club teams can compete with their international counterparts, a further sign of the growth in the playing level that we are achieving through Japan Rugby League One.”

While acknowledging that the timing of the competition, with Japan Rugby League One having to pause to create a window for the matches was – “not ideal” – Mr Tamatsuka said he hoped The Cross-Border Rugby was only the beginning, and that a more suitable moment would be created for a formal series in the future.

“That is our ultimate objective, but everything must start somewhere. We now have something to build on,” Tamatsuka
said.

The crowds were lower than anticipated with fingers pointed at the rushed execution as a reason.


“The simple reality is that there wasn’t a lot of time to put it together,” said League One operations officer Hajime Shoji.

“But, as the chairman has said, it is a starting point. We now have a base of understanding to work from, both as a league, but also for the clubs.”

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(With AAP)

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