Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose and other players Ireland need to start to keep Wallabies series alive

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Ireland will be looking to avenge their first Test defeat when they face the Wallabies for the second of their three match series on Saturday (14:00 UAE time).

Here, we take a look at five players who need to be named in Joe Schmidt’s starting XV to keep the series alive.

JOHNNY SEXTON

The best out-half in the Northern Hemisphere returns to the starting line-up after being named on the bench for the first Test against the Wallabies last week.

Joey Carbery may have produced a consistent display from 10, but the 32-year-old’s addition brings more to the table in terms of game management skills, kicking from hand and an ability to get the back-line moving at pace.

The Leinster man is a model of consistency any time he is in possession and his inclusion is critical to how Ireland perform in the 10-12 axis.

If Sexton does 100 things in a row, it seems to be with perfect execution. He has that ability to dance and always give the ball to someone in a better position, instead of taking it into contact.

GARRY RINGROSE

Robbie Henshaw may be the influential figure in the Leinster midfield, but Ringrose is equally as effective with ball in hand and in defence.

The 24-year-old tends to play first receiver to Sexton, and provides a fresh cutting edge to Ireland’s attack. His slick feet also allows him to evade would-be tacklers and gain extra yardage in a bid to unlock the speed of Jacob Stockdale out wide.

Although Bundee Aki started the first Test and remains a solid option, Ringrose adds more x-factor and variety in attack, with his solid defensive reads key to preventing the Wallabies midfield from gaining any extra yardage.

TADHG FURLONG

The best tighthead in the world.

His huge physicality (6’1 and 126kg) is a menace to any opposition and – coupled with his workrate – he is an outstanding footballer with a phenomenal skill level.

The imposing 25-year-old may have the edge in the scrum, but he’ll need plenty of assistance from his pack to get the upper hand on a dominant Wallabies forward unit.

DAN LEAVY

A rising star still waiting to sparkle.

The Leinster man wasn’t included in the matchday squad for the first Test due to injury, but looks likely to be named at 7 in Melbourne.

A high class operator at the breakdown, the Dublin man will need to cut down the impact of David Pocock and Michael Hooper – with the Aussie duo having a field day against the Irish last Saturday.

The 24-year-old is an instrumental presence for club and country with his strong offloading, solid carrying and smoking footwork all serious threats.

In defence, he can tackle effectively, win his own ball and show serious willingness in the tight areas.

SEAN CRONIN

With captain Rory Best ruled out of the series due to a hamstring injury, the experienced Leinster man will step in to provide the firepower in the front row.

Ulster’s Rob Herring threw well and was mobile around the park in Brisbane, but Schmidt may turn to Cronin in a bid to add some extra zip against a granite-like Wallabies defence.

Dynamic and abrasive with exceptional reading of the breakdown, the 32-year-old battering ram will be central to curtailing the Aussie’s influence up front.

With the reliable Cian Healy and Furlong alongside him in the scrum, the Men in Green have two titans capable of causing serious damage in and out of the set piece.

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Jonny May insists England must improve discipline ahead of second Test against South Africa

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Jonny May has revealed that England have been soul-searching over the recurring indiscipline that has sent results into freefall.

South Africa won the opening instalment of their three-Test series in a 42-39 victory at Ellis Park that exposed all-too familiar flaws in the performance of Eddie Jones’ men that first surfaced during a troubled Six Nations.

A penalty count of 17 played into the Springboks’ hands and while error-prone work at the breakdown also led to their collapse, it is the attention of referees

that is contributing most to their five-match losing run.

May, the Leicester wing who scored a brilliant solo try in Johannesburg, has revealed that Monday’s team meeting was dominated by one subject – how to avoid being whistled out of contention.

“It’s the chaos theory – one small action can have a huge impact later on in the game,” May said.

“You might just think it’s a silly penalty but it can change the game, especially when you give away back-to-back penalties. That’s a killer.

“We have spoken about discipline before, it isn’t like it’s been brushed over. In the Six Nations it killed us. And it was as bad as ever at the weekend.

“Hopefully we have realised – we should have realised by now – the impact one penalty has on the momentum of a game, let along back-to-back penalties.

“It really does have a huge impact. It’s like the ‘butterfly effect’. You think ‘oh one little penalty here’…

“We looked back at the Ireland game in the Six Nations. Owen on a kick chase took Johnny Sexton out. Penalty. Boom, line-out penalty. Boom, high ball, try.

“One penalty can really get a team going. It’s such a frustrating one because we don’t want to be giving away penalties. We know better than that. But at the moment hands up, it’s on us, because it’s not good enough.

“We are guilty of the same things, it’s frustrating sitting here saying the same things again, but we didn’t adapt and learn quick enough on the pitch.”

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Record numbers Get Into Rugby in 2017 according to World Rugby report

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Young players enjoying Get Into Rugby at the West Kids Rugby Festival in Nadi, Fiji

A record number of girls and boys were introduced to rugby in 2017, according to the World Rugby Year in Review 2017 released Tuesday, as the sport continues its unprecedented growth with 9.1 million men, women and children playing the sport in member unions worldwide.

Reaching new territories and expanding its global reach, World Rugby’s development programme Get Into Rugby has been a major catalyst behind the global rise in participation numbers, acting as a gateway for young people to try, play and stay in rugby.

In 2017, more than two million (2,139,300) girls and boys across 133 active unions took part in the programme, an increase of 7.5 per cent compared to 2016.

Rugby is now played in more countries than ever before with Get Into Rugby even reaching the tiny island of Nauru, north-east of Australia, with the first-ever women’s tag rugby tournament taking place on its beautiful white, sandy beaches in February 2017.

Meanwhile, Kiribati became the latest union to register for the programme, joining in December.

Significantly Oceania Rugby trained a further 1,900 coaches in 2017 to deliver Get Into Rugby activities across the region. This has more than doubled since 2016 (112 per cent) and marks the biggest regional growth in trained personnel worldwide.

Overall, Oceania Rugby recorded 81,500 new participants.

In addition, Get Into Rugby is now part of the PE curriculum in Fiji, a landmark development that will ensure even more young people are exposed to the sport.

A new online Get Into Rugby database is also being piloted in Fiji to help deal with the interest generated by the programme within the last 12 months.

Pleasingly, in a Women’s Rugby World Cup year, 39 per cent of all Get Into Rugby participants globally were female as World Rugby continues to prioritise the acceleration of the women’s game through its landmark 2017-25 Women’s Plan.

In total 2.4 million women and girls are playing rugby at all levels, accounting for more than a quarter (26 per cent) of players globally and an increase in player numbers of 60 per cent since 2013.

In an important step towards gender equality in the region, Oceania Rugby and the UN signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2017.

The partnership has seen both organisations use their shared mandates and influence to work together on activities that promote gender balance and challenge social norms through sport.

As part of its commitment to promoting an equal playing field, Oceania Rugby oversaw an increase in mixed-gender Get Into Rugby festivals in 2017, driving forward rugby’s message of a game for all.

The Malaita Festival in the Solomon Islands recorded close to 800 participants, while 3,000 children were involved in the Crest West Kids festival in Fiji.

The latest figures also further demonstrate the youth appeal of a sport that is increasingly attracting new players and fans due to its character-building and inclusive values.

Coupled with record growth of its fan base to 338 million worldwide and a social media following of eight million across all World Rugby social and digital platforms, 2017 has been a ground-breaking year.

And with more than US$1 million earmarked for rugby projects in more than 40 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in this first year of new Olympic Solidarity cycle, almost matching in one year the results over four years of the previous cycle, this growth looks set to continue.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “2017 was a fantastic year for Oceania Rugby on and off the field. It was particularly pleasing to see Get Into Rugby reaching even more young people in new territories in the region and seeing rugby adopted as part of the national PE curriculum in all schools in Fiji.

“In a record-breaking Women’s Rugby World Cup year, women and girls accounted for more than a quarter of players globally and 39 per cent of Get Into Rugby participants.

“Oceania Rugby’s partnership with the UN is a hugely significant step in encouraging and securing the increasing female participation in the region.”

Bruce Cook, General Manager – Oceania Rugby, said “Oceania Rugby is excited about the evolvement of the Get Into Rugby programme in our region. The Get Into Rugby programme is the major contributor to the continuous growth of rugby population through players, coaches, volunteers and fans.

“It creates opportunities for everyone and anyone to enjoy the game and also create pathways for everyone to achieve their dream of playing rugby at club, national or international level.”

Get Into Rugby promotes the character-building values of the game and allows children to experience rugby in a safe and progressive environment. Launched in 2013, a total of 5,948,556 participants have progressed through the programme.

The dedicated Get Into Rugby website – getintorugby.worldrugby.org – is now available in 15 languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Brazilian, Portuguese, Arabic, Indonesian, Japanese, Dutch, German, Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, Korean and Russian.

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