Today’s rugby headlines as Six Nations face new chaos with anti-vax players effectively ‘kicked out’
Here are some of the stories that made the headlines on Saturday, January 8th.
The Six Nations face a new threat
The Six Nations face a new threat from Covid amid reports that players who refuse to be vaccinated could indeed be excluded from some matches.
The Telegraph reports that a rule change is being pushed by British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, which would end the special exemption currently granted to elite sports stars.
At present, non-stung athletes returning to the UK from abroad can break 10 days of isolation to train with their team and play matches.
But according to the newspaper, Dorries is seeking to put an end to it and to ensure that athletes are treated like any other member of the public.
The news will send shockwaves across a plethora of sports, including top Premier League football clubs playing in the Champions League and Europa League. They would be unable to select unvaccinated players within days of returning to the UK.
Rugby would also be affected, according to the Telegraph, with “Six Nations matches and European club matches the first affected by any rule change.”
They cite the case of England star Henry Slade who revealed last year that he had not been vaccinated.
Players could be forced to miss training, thus excluding them from upcoming matches.
It is unclear exactly how this would affect Wales, or which players, if any, would be affected.
Wales sets its own health policy, but has generally followed UK government rules on travel restrictions throughout the pandemic.
Wales will kick off their title defense on February 5 against Ireland in Dublin, before hosting Scotland the following weekend.
France have three home matches and Italy two in the tournament. There is also the ripple effect that the rule change would have for players returning from trial matches abroad who then partner up with their club or regional teams.
The newspaper quotes a UK government source familiar with the talks: âIf you want special treatment you have to do your part. Getting the vaccine isn’t just about you, it’s about others.
The news comes just after Australian authorities bar world number one tennis star Novak Djokovic, who is not vaccinated, from entering the country to defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne.
The Six Nations are already facing unrest, with Wales not allowed to have fans at the Principality Stadium and Scotland only 500 at Murrayfield for their matches.
The WRU has explored the possibility of bringing across the bridge to its home games in England, where supporters are allowed. Eddie Jones’ England will have more than 80,000 sold-out sales for their Twickenham matches.
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Drakeford understands Wales considering England option
Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has said he has no problem with Wales looking at all of their options ahead of the Six Nations.
The WRU has explored the possibility of hosting home games across the bridge in England with the aim of generating income if the exclusion of large crowds continues here in Wales.
The integrity of the 2022 tournament is threatened by significant restrictions in place in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France, while England and Italy are able to accommodate full crowds in one of the most partisan sports events.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been suggested as a possible venue for Wales matches, if the fan ban continues into February and March, while Sir Ian McGeechan says WRU should head to Ricoh Arena in Coventry , home of the Wasps.
Insisting that the restrictions must remain in place for the time being, Drakeford said: âI am not criticizing the WRU for exploring all the options available to them.
âIt’s a business and as a responsible business it seems to me that they have to look at all the different possibilities that are available to them.
âWhether they choose to go ahead and play games elsewhere with the indisputable risks that would entail, if we were still in the eye of the coronavirus storm, I think that’s a very questionable question. questionable.
“But if I have a problem with them looking at the options available to them, no, I don’t.”
Alun Wyn fights with Dupont for a prize
Wales and Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones is on the shortlist for a world rugby award.
The Vertan lock is among the Rugby Union Writers’ Club’s Personality of the Year nominees for 2021.
Among his rivals is French star Antoine Dupont, the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year.
He has become one of the most exciting talents in the game, redefining the role of a scrum half with his electric run, tough defense and impeccable decision making.
However, Alun Wyn will also have his backs after leading Wales to the Six Nations title and then showing remarkable recovery powers to come back from a shoulder injury and captain the Lions in South Africa.
Also on the shortlist are Pacific Islander rugby activist Dan Leo and rising England star Marcus Smith.
Second row Zoe Aldcroft and head coach Simon Middleton, who helped England Women compile an 18-game winning streak, represent the Red Roses on the six-man roster.
The winner will be announced later this month.
Folau is back – and as good as before
Controversial former Wallabies star Israel Folau is back in rugby union after a three-year hiatus.
Folau was due to make his Shining Arcs Tokyo-Bay Urayasu debut in Japan’s renowned Rugby League One.
He was named at age 15 for the clash with Kobe Steelers.
Once dubbed one of the world’s best players, Folau’s image was tarnished in 2019 when he broadcast homophobic views and was sacked by Rugby Australia.
After stints in the rugby league with the Catalan Dragons and Southport Tigers in the Queensland Cup, Folau returns to the game at 15 – and we’re told his talent hasn’t diminished by an iota.
Former Aussie teammate Liam Gill, who also plays for Shining Arcs, reportedly said in the Mirror: âIzzy has just picked up where he left off. I dare say that once he plays this season of the Japanese Ligue 1, he ‘I will again be considered one of the best in the world.
“He really didn’t leave anything behind in his spare time.”
There is also the possibility that Folau will compete in the World Cup next year, but in the colors of Tonga under new rugby eligibility laws.
He signed a two-year contract to play for the Shining Arcs, which would take him through to the 2023 tournament.