It’s time for our Monday round-up of who has their name in lights and who is making headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.
THEY ARE BURNING!
Jake Polledri regains full form: After being sidelined since November 2020, Gloucester announced that the Italy international had returned to training and also signed a new deal in good measure. Polledri suffered a horrific injury that left him with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament and collateral ligament, as well as a broken leg, torn calf and torn hamstring from the leg – all from a harmless slip. It was career-threatening, but luckily Polledri has recovered and is back in training. It is so good to see the powerful ball carrier back and hopefully he will wreak havoc soon.
RG Snyman nears return: It was good news for Munster and Springboks supporters after the Irish province revealed last week that the big second row is close to full fitness after a long spell on the sidelines. The 2019 Rugby World Cup winner joined Munster in 2020 but suffered an ACL injury on his debut against Leinster. He was then sidelined due to burns sustained during a fire accident and finally returned to action last October. It was a brief comeback when Snyman tore the same ligaments again in his next game – against the Scarlets – but is now close to a full recovery as he has been part of Munster’s pre-season training programme.
South Africa Sevens: The Blitzboks were in excellent form at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games as they went unbeaten all weekend in the tournament held at Coventry Stadium. Neil Powell’s charges were in dominant mood from the outset and got off to a fantastic start as they cruised to pool wins over Malaysia (46-0), Tonga (36-5) and Scotland (34-0). They then sealed another comfortable 33-0 win over Canada in the quarter-finals before working hard for a 24-12 triumph over Australia in the semi-finals. That meant they had to face Fiji in the final, but South Africa had too much firepower for the Pacific Islanders and secured another deserved 31-7 victory to claim their second Commonwealth Games Sevens title after their previous one in Glasgow in 2014.
Hong Kong Sevens is back: The crown jewel of the World Rugby Sevens Series returns after the Hong Kong Rugby Union received the green light from the government to stage the tournament later this year. It hasn’t taken place since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, but luckily they’ve been given the go-ahead to bring it back in November. Although there will be a limitation on capacity and fan numbers, it is a significant boost to the Sevens game as their biggest tournament returns.
Correct decision made over trans participation: It’s an emotional topic and one that’s been an incredibly divisive issue, but it’s hard to argue with the science that’s been given. On Friday, the RFU voted to ban trans women from competing in the women’s category at all levels, which has seen quite a few people take to social media to criticize the decision. However, extensive research has concluded that there is both a justice and safety issue if trans women continue to participate in women’s rugby. They retain significant physical benefits, even after treatment to suppress testosterone levels, and as a result, it is the right decision.
COLD AS ICE!
George Ford injury: When the England fly-half picked up an ankle injury during Leicester’s Premier League final victory over Saracens, things looked bad and Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson confirmed last week that he will spend a significant period on the sidelines. That means Sale will be without the star signing until December at the earliest, but it’s particularly frustrating for Ford, who won’t be able to show his qualities until the November tests. With Marcus Smith settling in well at international level and Owen Farrell an ever-present for the Red Rose, the 29-year-old has slipped down the pecking order. However, he was the best fly-half in the Premier League last season and deserves another shot in a white shirt.
SANZAAR doubles on 20-minute red cards: When World Rugby thankfully rejected a global lawsuit, we thought it would be, but no, the Southern Hemisphere decided to reinstate it in the Rugby Championship. It is a terrible decision and does not help the sport. We understand why players and coaches like the law, because it means there is less consequence for a sending off, but it is ultimately why rugby needs tougher penalties for red cards. It’s pretty simple really; if you don’t want to get a red card, improve your technique. SAZNAAR effectively excuses the dangerous and reckless, which can lead to serious consequences for the recipient of these hits. In the week the licensing action against rugby’s governing bodies continues apace (more on that below), things are looking very bad.
Concussion lawsuits set before the courts: Rugby union is set for turbulent times after it was revealed that a group of former professional and semi-professional players are suing World Rugby, the Welsh Rugby Union and the Rugby Football Union over permanent injuries caused by brain damage from playing the game. In what is set to be a landmark for the game, proceedings will take place on Monday. Players diagnosed with early onset dementia and other irreversible neurological impairments include England 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Steve Thompson and former Wales skipper Ryan Jones, and they argue that rugby’s governing bodies were negligent in failing to take reasonable steps to protect players against permanent damage caused by repeated concussive and subconcussive blows. If the courts rule against the governing bodies, the financial consequences will be massive.
More All Blacks fallout: It was pretty bad in the immediate aftermath of New Zealand’s defeat to Ireland, but it has arguably gone up another gear in the last seven days. Current and former All Blacks have both had their say, but ex-head coach Steve Hansen and former chief executive David Moffett were arguably the most intimidating. While Ian Foster was the man in the firing line after the Irish result, the Irish have turned to New Zealand Rugby and their chief executive Mark Robinson. It is quite unconstructive and increases the pressure on the double header against the Springboks. Lose those games and it will get even worse, which is a scary thought.
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The article Who’s hot and who’s not: Jake Polledri’s return, the Blitzboks’ Commonwealth Games win and George Ford’s injury appeared first on Planetrugby.com.