Wallabies hooker Folau Fainga’a has confirmed his move from the Brumbies to the Force, signing with the club from Super Rugby and Rugby Australia until the end of 2024.
Fainga’a has 25 Test caps since his debut in 2018 and was a member of the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad.
“I am super excited to re-sign with Australian Rugby and join Western Force from next year,” the 27-year-old said in a statement.
“They’re a team that from the outside seem to be going in a really positive direction and I’m looking forward to working with the coaching staff there in 2023.
“At the moment I am concentrating here with the Wallabies and preparing for what is going to be a very tough series against England which starts this weekend.”
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “Folau’s recommitment to Australian rugby is positive.
“A solid scrambler and excellent pitcher, Folau has been a consistent feature of our team over the past two seasons.
“He’s a popular member of the squad and the most experienced rake in the country, which makes him an important part of our squad going forward.”
Bobby ready for battle
Rob Valetini is set to start against England in Perth on Saturday, but in which position Dave Rennie’s call will depend on his forward balance.
For what it’s worth, Valetini suggests he slightly prefers No.6, where he has excelled for the Brumbies this season.
Rennie appears to have two major options – Rob Leota at 6 and Valetini at 8, or Harry Wilson at the back of the scrum and Valetini at the blind flank.
“I don’t really have a preference. I guess I play different roles,” Valetini told reporters. “At Brums, I’m quite happy to be at 6 and to have the ball in the second phase.”
No matter where he plays, Valetini knows dominance from set pieces will be key in the series and he’s confident in the power of the Wallabies pack.
“I think for us it’s part of our Wallabies DNA,” Valetini said.
“We’ve talked about it over the last two weeks during our camp that we want to win this physical battle and that goes a long way to winning the game, so I guess for this series we have to be physical and we know that if we win this physical battle, it will go a long way in winning the series.
He said the peloton focused on “things we can control. Especially on set pieces, through lineouts and scrums. I guess, just trying to be physically there through our strikers, eight against eight and delivering a good ball in the back.
There are 15 Brumbies in the Wallabies squad and coach Dan McKellar on board full-time, and a titanic battle is brewing against a strong group of England forwards.
“We know they have a good free kick and they thrive out the back of that, so for us it’s about playing up there, especially in scrums and lineouts and with the maul as well,” Valetini said.
Cooper back in Japan
Quade Cooper says his immediate plan is to stay in Japanese rugby but he is delighted to be back with the Wallabies and is set to resume his partnership with damaging center Samu Kerevi.
“At this point, Japan is where I will be. I didn’t have conversations otherwise. I am looking forward to this opportunity with my club, we have won the promotion-relegation games so we are going to move up to the first division this year so it will be an exciting challenge,” Cooper said.
“It’s been a tough couple of years for us to be able to get there, with Covid and things like that. With our competition, where there is promotion-relegation, it meant a lot to everyone involved at our club to finally get back to Division One and they have a plan for the next four years to be able to compete for the Division One title. ”
He said he wasn’t sure when his contract expired, but believes it will be early next year.
Regarding reuniting with Kerevi, Cooper said, “It will be exciting if we have the opportunity to play together again.
“It was great to build this partnership last season. But, again, there are players who are in hot form between the guys playing in Australia and us playing in Japan.
“I know last week it was all very hotly contested, the coaches keep everyone on their toes by swapping and changing bibs and who is paired with which person.
“When the team is announced, everyone hopes your name will be called. But, saying that, we all want to support each other and push each other to do our best to have the best opportunity. There are no guarantees in any of this, so we have to do our best to make sure we are ready no matter who is called.
Cooper, who has opened up about his relationship, forged on Instagram, with young England gunman Marcus Smith, expects Owen Farrell to return to No.12 for England to relieve the youngster.
“It shouldn’t change the way it works too much,” Cooper said. “They are both extremely talented players. Having a guy like Owen Farrell outside of Marcus would take a lot of the pressure off him in terms of play.
“Being his eyes and ears and how we call it, we have a first five-eight and a second five-eight, having these two who are true No. 10s able to work together, it’s hard to try to work out where the main source of ball play will come from. They’ll get through it, so we’ll try to do it ourselves.
Fiji gold medalist swaps rugby for football
Brentford have appointed former England and Fiji rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan to the club’s new position as elite performance manager.
Former Nottingham half-back Ryan, 50, who guided Fiji to seven-man Olympic gold at Rio 2016, will work alongside head coach Thomas Frank.
Brentford director of football Phil Giles told the club’s official website: “I believe the role of elite performance director will help us achieve even higher levels of performance for players and staff. .
“After a thorough recruitment process, Ben has established himself as the candidate par excellence.
“He brings huge experience of how to reach elite level in a range of sports and has coaching experience that will help him work effectively with Thomas.”
Ryan, who studied at Cambridge and Loughborough universities, was England sevens head coach for six years before taking on the same role with Fiji when rugby sevens was first introduced to the Olympic Games in Rio.
He also received Fiji’s highest honor – Companion of the Order of Fiji – for his role in helping the country win its first ever Olympic medal and his face also appears on coins and banknotes in the archipelago in the South Pacific.
Spain’s decision is confirmed
Spain’s appeal against their disqualification from next year’s Rugby World Cup in France for fielding an ineligible player in the 2021-22 European Rugby Championship has been dismissed.
“The Independent Appeal Panel has reviewed the initial decision of the Independent Judicial Panel based on the evidence available to it,” World Rugby said in a statement.
“After reviewing the detailed submissions from the Spanish Union and World Rugby, the Independent Appeal Panel has rejected the appeal.
The committee said that regarding qualification for the World Cup, the deduction of 10 points applied to the European qualification table by the independent judicial commission is maintained, which means that Romania qualifies as European 2 in Pool B replacing Spain.
Portugal replace Romania in the final qualifying tournament in November 2022.
The board of directors of the Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) said in April that three members of Alcobendas Rugby Club had falsified a copy of the passport of South African-born Gavin Van den Berg in order to make him eligible to play.
Spain secured a World Cup spot for the first time since 1999 after finishing runners-up in the European Rugby Championship (REP), but were disqualified from next year’s tournament in France for fielding Van den Berg in two qualifying matches.
World Rugby, the sport’s governing body, has launched an investigation after a complaint over Van den Berg’s eligibility was lodged by Romania, who missed out on automatic qualification after finishing just behind Spain.
FER vice-chairman Jose Maria Epalza says Romania gave World Rugby a photo of Van den Berg at a wedding in South Africa in 2019 two weeks before he supposedly left for Spain, according to the date on the copy of the player’s passport provided to the federation.
To be eligible, Van den Berg would have had to spend 36 months residing in Spain, including at least 10 months each year.
Van den Berg, however, had spent more than two months outside Spain in 2019. He did not comment on the allegations, but an independent judicial committee said his travel stamps had been tampered with without the knowledge of the Spain or player.