Premiership Rugby

Rugby Round-Up - All Black's Exodus, Six Nations Selections, Transfers News

Rugby Round-Up - All Black's Exodus, Six Nations Selections, Transfers News

FloRugby Weekly Rugby Round-Up, Guinness Six Nations News, Rugby Transfers, All Blacks and Springbok legends announce retirement post the Rugby World Cup.

Feb 10, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Rugby Round-Up - All Black's Exodus, Six Nations Selections, Transfers News

International windows are always the best months for Rugby fans. Whether it is huddling at your local pub in the depths of winter or waking up early in those summer months to catch the latest action, international rugby is a special occasion. 

Yet whilst the game’s biggest stars get set for battle each weekend, the wider world of rugby does not stop turning. 

Here are some of the biggest stories from the world of rugby this week. 

Warriors No More 

Fans of the financially stricken English Premiership club Worcester Warriors were dealt the devastating blow this week that the club is no more. 

Having reportedly been bought out of administration by a conglomerate led by former CEO Jim O’Toole, plans for Worcester to play in the Championship next season have been scrapped. 

Instead, the club will rebrand as Sixways Rugby with fellow financially stricken club Wasps RFC set to play their home games at Sixways from next season. 

When discussing why the Warriors had not been revived, O’Toole said the decision was the result of, "a number of key clauses in the contract that we and the investors couldn't accept". 

"It would have given the RFU control over decisions that we as a business will have to take," he said.

"This decision will clearly upset and annoy a number of people. The sad fact of life is that the Worcester Warriors brand and the Worcester Warriors business is gone. 

"We didn't want to go down to the 10th tier as Worcester Warriors, so the name sadly will disappear. We are rebranding as Sixways Rugby. We're starting afresh. We believe it's time for a new start. The church has closed down." 

Six Nations Team News 

Round two of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations gets underway in Dublin at 2.15pm tomorrow afternoon local time with two of the competition’s undefeated sides doing battle. 

Ireland, France and Scotland will each be looking to hang onto their undefeated status whilst Wales, England and Italy will each be looking to get off the mark with a victory. 

Ireland and France enter their crunch clash each with a number of injuries. For the hosts Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Jamison Gibson-Park and Robbie Henshaw headline the injury report. Whilst for the French, Jonathan Danty, Cameron Woki and Peato Mauvaka all remain on the sides. 

For the full Ireland vs France match preview click here. 

Elsewhere in Edinburgh, Wales head coach Warren Gatland has taken the major decision of dropping a number of experienced veterans for his side’s clash with Scotland. 

Starting with the backrow, the dynamic duo of Tommy Reffell and Christ Tshiunza take over from Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau respectively. 

In the secondrow 20-year-old Daffyd Jenkins replaces Wales’s most capped player in Alun Wyn Jones who remains in concussion protocol. 

For the full Scotland vs Wales match preview click here. 

Finally, England will look to get their first win under new head coach Steve Borthwick as they welcome Italy to Twickenham. 

Borthwick will announce the full England team at 3pm local time, however information coming out of camp are that flyhlaf Marcus Smith has been dropped to the bench. The move will see captain Owen Farrell revert back to his preferred position of flyhalf. 

Team news will be confirmed post the announcement so stay tuned for updates. 

Legends Set To Retire At The End Of The Season 

As is the way with World Cup years, a number of veteran players have announced their intentions to retire from the game at the end of the season. 

Some of the very biggest names in the game have begun to release statements confirming their intention to retire. 

This week All Blacks Hooker Dane Coles has confirmed he will hang up his boots at the end of the season. 

The World Cup winner will depart New Zealand rugby with 82 test caps to his name should he not break into the international squad this season. At 36 years old, the dynamic Hooker has been a stalwart of New Zealand Rugby since making his debut in 2012 and was a starter in the All Blacks 2015 Rugby World Cup triumph. 

Joining Coles is two-time World Cup Champion Francois Steyn. Now 35-years-old, Steyn who made his debut as a 19-year-old in 2006 will go down as one of the best players in the game’s history. Sitting on 76 test caps, Steyn’s four-year absence from test rugby combined with a number meant he did not crack the 100 test mark. 

Yet he will leave the game as only one of two Springboks to have two World Cup winner’s medals to his name alongside the great Os Du Randt. 

Elsewhere fellow legends of the game, Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy, Alun Wyn Jones, Leigh Halfpenny and Ken Owens headline a long list of players who look set to confirm their retirements in the coming months.

Transfer News & Rumours 

David Ribbans – Northampton Saints and England international secondrow David Ribbans will leave the midlands club at the end of the season. Reported to be on his way to France to join Toulon at the end of the season, Ribbans leaves having made 115 appearances for the Saints since his arrival in 2017. 

Sean Everitt – Former Sharks head coach Sean Everitt will join arch-rivals the Vodacom Bulls on a short-term deal. Having mutually parted ways with the Sharks last November, Everitt will work as a consultant for the Pretoria-based side for the remainder of the season. 

Joe Simmonds – Exeter Chiefs and England flyhalf Joe Simmonds has confirmed his move away from the Premiership powerhouse at the end of the season. Having spent his full career at Exeter, Simmonds joins his brother Sam and a host of other Exeter players in departing for France next season. Simmonds will join Pau whilst his brother and Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie have confirmed they will play for Montpellier. 

Dan Robson – Locking in another English player, Pau have confirmed that former Wasps RFC scrumhalf Dan Robson has extended his stay with the club. He will now partner Simmonds in a dynamic looking halfback partnership that should boost the Top 14 strugglers.  

Brodie Retallick – All Black stalwart has confirmed that he will depart New Zealand Rugby post the World Cup. 31-year-old has agreed a deal with Japanese club Kobelco Kobe Steelers. For full details click here.

Richie Mo’unga – All Black flyhalf Mo’unga has agreed to leave New Zealand to join Japanese club Toshiba Brave Lupus post the World Cup. For full details click here.  

Beauden Barrett – All Black centurion Barrett becomes the latest in experienced All Blacks to leave New Zealand Rugby post the World Cup. 31-year-old Barrett will go down as one of the greatest players to don the famous black Jersey and will likely leave with over 120 test caps and at least one World Cup winner’s medal. Barrett will leave for the Japanese top league side Toyota Verblitz. For full details click here.

Aaron Smith – Finally closing out the run of All Blacks legends to depart for the Japanese Top League. Smith will continue his long-standing partnership with Barrett as he joins him at the Toyota Verblitz, currently sitting on 113 test caps, Smith too is likely to leave New Zealand shores with over 120 test caps. For full details click here.

Dave Ewers – Yet another Exeter Chief has confirmed their departure from Devon at season’s end. Giant secondrow Ewers has agreed to join URC side Ulster as they look to add bulk to their pack for next season. 

Written by Philip Bendon