Henry Hutchison returns for Australia ahead of 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens

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Henry Hutchison in action for Australia

The Australian Men’s Sevens team have secured the signature of speedster Henry Hutchison ahead of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens.

The 2016 World Rugby Sevens Rookie of the Year has been lured back to the Sevens fold by coach Tim Walsh after being granted an early release from his contract by the Melbourne Rebels.

The 21-year old has an amazing strike rate in Rugby Sevens having scored 52 tries in 91 games over two seasons, that included selection at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Hutchison played for the Australian Schoolboys in 2013 before earning selection in the Australian U20s the following season. His rapid rise continued after starring for Randwick in Sydney’s Shute Shield, before making his debut for the Australian Men’s Sevens team in their Olympic Qualifiers in July 2015 under the tutelage of then-interim coach Tim Walsh.

Australian Men’s Sevens signing Henry Hutchison said: “I’m really excited to be back with the Sevens team, especially so close to a Sevens World Cup.

“I had a really good time down in Melbourne and learned a lot from the Rebels players and coaching staff so hopefully I can apply a bit of that to my game in Sevens.

“I have to thank the Rebels and Walshy for sorting it all out to get me here before the World Cup as they knew that was important to me,” Hutchison said.

Australian Men’s Sevens coach Tim Walsh said: “To attract talent such as Henry back into the Sevens program fortifies the strength and attractiveness of the Sevens game.

“Henry is a proven performer on the Sevens World Series and really compliments the squad by providing finishing speed, ruthless intent over the ball as well as being a jack-of-all trades master of some.

“Dave (Wessels) and Baden (Stephenson) at the Rebels were fantastic to deal with after we expressed interest in getting Henry back into the program. We have the new purpose-built High Performance Sevens headquarters at Rugby Australia as well as a collaborative approach with the Wallabies, Super and Club Rugby.

“The World Cup in San Francisco is the final stop for the season and the format is uniquely knockout.  Every game simulates a final and everything is on the line from the first kick off.

“The teams who do not melt in the pressure moments will finish on the podium,” Walsh said.

Hutchison playing for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby

Hutchison playing for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby

Australia will play the winner of France and Jamaica in their first match of the Rugby World Cup Sevens at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Friday July 20, with the winner progressing through to the Championship Quarter-Finals.

Henry Hutchison (FACT FILE)

DOB: 12/02/1997

Club: Randwick NSW

Australian Sevens debut: Cape Town 2015

Australian Sevens caps: 17

Australian Sevens points: 260 (52 tries)

Representative honours: Australian Schoolboys (2013), Australian U20s (2014 and 2017)

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Tunisian Rugby Union hits back at allegations of mis-treatment by Zimbabwe in African RWC Qualifiers

Alex Broun 4/07/2018
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Peter de Villiers and the Zimbabwe team after the defeat against Kenya

The Tunisian Rugby Union (TRU) have hit back at claims of mis-treatment levelled at them by the Zimbabwean Rugby Union and given a different version of events that led up to the Zimbabwe team spending a very uncomfortable night on the streets on Monday evening.

According to the team they were forced to sleep on the streets after the accommodation provided by the TRU leading up to their Rugby World Cup qualifier with Tunisia this Saturday in Beja was totally unacceptable.

The incident became an international scandal causing deep embarrassment to the Tunisians after photos of the team sleeping on the street went viral on Tuesday.

But according to the TRU the Zimbabwe team, coached by former Springbok head coach Peter de Villiers, “started complaining as soon as they arrived at the Tunis Carthage airport.”

“The head of the delegation refused to pay the entry visa fees on Tunisian territories (60 dinars per person),” the TRU said in a statement on Wednesday, “explaining that he did not have the amount requested knowing that the Tunisian union had previously informed Rugby Africa by mail on all the procedures that go beyond the prerogatives of the union.

“This caused a long delay for the members of the delegation. It is important to note that these visa procedures are common between African countries.

“After a lunch offered by the Tunisian Union to its guests, an air-conditioned bus transfer was ensured for the members of the Zimbabwe delegation to the city of Béjà.

“They arrived at the Hotel Aladino around 20:00, checked in at reception and all the members of the delegation of Zimbabwe were entitled to a dinner, until then no problem was reported.

“Around 23:00, the head of the Zimbabwean delegation expressed reservations about the state of the bathroom in one of the rooms, the lack of a swimming pool and the low internet speed.

“So, he started talking about leaving the hotel on the pretext that it is not decent enough for his team.

“The quick intervention of the president and three members of the organizational committee was not enough to calm him down and convince him to spend the rest of the night at the hotel, ensuring that they would find solutions in the next morning with the possibility to change the hotel.

“Instead, he asked all the members of the delegation to take out their luggage, leave the hotel and spend the night outside on the ground.

“Unfortunately, local officials have tried to talk and negotiate with the head of delegation but remained unsuccessful.

“At 6:30 in the morning; and after the efforts and interventions of the organizational committee and members of the Tunisian Union, the Zimbabwe team was transferred to the Alrawabi Hotel in Nefza where they expressed their satisfaction with an apology to the chairman of the organizational committee.”

The statement finished by saying they express “deep regret for this unfortunate event and strongly deplores the anti-sports and unethical actions of the Zimbabwean delegation which do not reflect the strong ties of friendship between the two countries.

“Tunisia is, and will always be, a country of hospitality, always proven and that will make its pride.”

The match is part of the six nation African qualifiers for RWC 2019 in Japan. Six Nations remain in contention – Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya and Uganda.

Namibia are firm favourites to progress automatically on current qualifying form, while the eventual runner-up will go into a qualification repechage later this year.

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Tunisia apologise after Zimbabwe Test rugby team forced to sleep on the streets

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The Zimbabwe rugby team were forced to sleep on the streets

Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby chiefs have offered “sincere apologies” to the Zimbabwe team and management after players slept on streets ahead of a World Cup qualifier.

Pictures posted on social media showed Zimbabwe players on the pavements in Tunisia prior to Saturday’s match against their hosts in Beja.

The Zimbabwe party were left furious at a poor standard of hotel accommodation, while also claiming they had experienced a six-hour airport delay over visa issues after arriving in Tunisia.

Saturday’s game is part of Africa’s Rugby Gold Cup competition, with Rugby Africa responsible for the fixtures.

In a joint statement issued with the Tunisia Rugby Union, Rugby Africa said: “Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables (Zimbabwe) team and management for this unfortunate situation.

“Rugby Africa has been made aware of the difficulties encountered by the Zimbabwean Rugby team with regards to their accommodation in Tunisia.

“We would like to reassure the Zimbabwean Ministry of Sports, Zimbabwe Rugby Union and all partners and fans that the situation was addressed immediately, and an acceptable solution has been found.

“Tunisia Rugby Union took the Sables management to visit another hotel, which was accepted.

“This (situation) does not reflect the standards of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition and we sincerely regret any prejudice caused.

“We pride ourselves in hosting Rugby Africa tournaments every year and make every effort to meet the best international standards.”

World Rugby said in a Twitter post that they had “received firm assurances from Rugby Africa that the issue has been quickly and effectively resolved.”

Rugby Africa president Abdelaziz Bouja added: “Our hosting agreements are signed by the six participating unions in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup and are very clear and strict in terms of accommodation standards.

“We rely on our unions to make sure the requirements are met, and it is unfortunate that it seemed not to be the case with this hotel in Tunisia.

“However, Tunisia Rugby Union has our trust, they are long term partners to Rugby Africa, hosting several matches and tournaments on our behalf every year.

“I know for a fact that hospitality matters to them and they have taken this issue very seriously and are rectifying it.”

Six African countries – Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya and Uganda – remain in the qualifying picture for next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Namibia are firm favourites to progress automatically from current qualifying, while the eventual runner-up will go into a qualification repechage later this year.

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