With just five months to go until the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off in Great Britain on 18th September, national rugby teams around the world are doing their utmost to make sure they walk away victorious in October.
Rugby fever is in the air as we kiss goodbye to the Six Nations for another year.
This year’s champions, Ireland, went on to retain their title once again from 2015, and as such are hot contenders to take the Rugby World Cup title in their neighbouring land. However, if they are to be victorious this September, they will need to overcome a few obstacles to make sure they emerge triumphant.
For one player, Neilus Keogh, media attention is the last thing he will want in the forthcoming months. The 28-year-old was recently prosecuted for assaulting a fellow poker player during an altercation at The Sporting Emporium in Dublin.
He was charged ｣10,000 in compensation, and has now ceased to renew his contract with Nottingham Rugby Football Club, choosing instead to play at an amateur level for London Irish. Indeed, had Keogh chosen to follow the example of South African team Springbok, he may have fared better.
Recently, in an interview with Union Sports Magazine, the team admitted to playing online poker to let off steam. With renewed legislation in South Africa, not to mention the added incentive of casino bonus codes, it’s no wonder that players are turning to this method, and it could just spur South Africa to win the World Cup.
Ireland will have to keep an eye out for South Africa, who became the first team beat the All Blacks in almost two years back in October. With the sterling young talents of Handre Pollard, they will be a force to be reckoned with come September time.
What’s more, it’s recently been announced that the Springboks will be changing their resting breaks to allow their best players to have rests lasting between two and four matches. Of course, five months is a long time and Ireland certainly have history on their side.
With morale at an all-time high after winning the Six Nations, the national team will have to put the Neilus Keogh setback behind them and use the next few months to practise harder than ever before in order to walk away victorious once again.
Referee Panel Announced
World Rugby has announced the 12-member panel that will referee at Rugby World Cup 2015 as well as the seven assistant referees and four television match officials who will also officiate in matches at the game’s showcase tournament, which starts on 18 September.
Sydney’s Angus Gardner has been appointed as an Assistant Referee with the experienced George Ayoub announced as a Television Match Official (TMO). The full list of referees with their union and number of tests in brackets is:
Wayne Barnes (RFU, 57), George Clancy (IRFU, 38), JP Doyle (RFU, 12), Jérôme Garcès (FFR, 22), Pascal Gauzere (FFR, 17), Glen Jackson (NZR, 10), Craig Joubert (SARU, 55), John Lacey (IRFU, 13), Nigel Owens (WRU, 60), Jaco Peyper (SARU, 20), Romain Poite (FFR, 39) and Chris Pollock (NZR, 18).
In addition, the full list of assistant referees with their union and number of tests as AR in brackets is: Federico Anselmi (UAR, five), Stuart Berry (SARU, 15), Mike Fraser (NZR, 10), Angus Gardner (ARU, two), Leighton Hodges (WRU, 19), Marius Mitrea (FIR, 13), Mathieu Raynal (FFR, nine).
The TMO’s for the six-week tournament are: George Ayoub (ARU, 33), Graham Hughes (RFU, 60) Ben Skeen (NZR, 11) and Shaun Veldsman (SARU, 50). The selection was made after a comprehensive review of refereeing performances by the World Rugby Match Official Selection Committee.
Chairman of the selection panel John Jeffrey said: “I want to congratulate all 12 referees, the seven ARs and four TMOs, who through very hard work and determination, have made it onto the panel for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
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The Rugby World Cup will take place in England in September and October this year, with Twickenham hosting the final on 31 October.