Dan Biggar will captain injury-hit Wales for the first time in the Six Nations in the absence of Alun Wyn Jones.

Jones underwent shoulder surgery after doing damage in a 54-16 thrashing at the hands of New Zealand in October.

The lock will not feature in the Six Nations, so Biggar has the honour of leading his country and the fly-half is set to win his 100th cap if he features in all five matches.

Wayne Pivac has included three uncapped players in his 36-man squad, hooker Dewi Lake getting the nod along with back rows Jac Morgan and James Ratti.

Bradley Roberts and Christ Tshiunza are among five players who are in line to make their Six Nations debuts for the holders.

Jonathan Davies is set to play in his 100th Test when Wales start the defence of their title against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on February 5.

Ken Owens, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, George North and Leigh Halfpenny are among the other players who will not feature in the Six Nations due to injury.

Wales squad:

Forwards:  Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Bradley Roberts, Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Will Rowlands, Christ Tshiunza, Taine Basham, Ellis Jenkins, Jac Morgan, Ross Moriarty, James Ratti, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar (captain), Rhys Priestland, Callum Sheedy, Jonathan Davies, Uilisi Halaholo, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Louis Rees-Zammit, Johnny McNicholl, Liam Williams.

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Eddie Jones has named six uncapped players in England's training camp ahead of the Six Nations.

A group of 36 players will meet in Brighton next Monday for a five-day camp before heading to continue their preparations for the tournament at Pennyhill Park.

Orlando Bailey, Alfie Barbeary, Ollie Chessum, Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Luke Northmore have been called up for the first time.

England face Scotland in their first Six Nations match at Murrayfield on February 5.

Red Rose head coach Jones said: "Selecting this squad has been a difficult task, we've got plenty of good young players coming through and some of our more experienced are rediscovering their best form.

"We think this 36 for the first training week reflects a good balance of that experience and up-and-coming talent.

"In Brighton we’ll focus on getting the fundamentals of our game in play right and developing the cohesion of the team.

"The Six Nations is going to be the most competitive we've ever seen. All the countries performed well in the autumn, so we need to be at our best and improve with every game."

Ben Youngs is poised to become England's most-capped player during the tournament, as the scrum-half is just two appearances away from Jason Leonard's record tally of 114.

England squad:

Forwards: Alfie Barbeary, Jamie Blamire, Ollie Chessum, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Alex Dombrandt, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Joe Heyes, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Bevan Rodd, Sam Simmonds, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart.

Backs: Mark Atkinson, Orlando Bailey, Owen Farrell, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Jonny May, Luke Northmore, Jack Nowell, Raffi Quirke, Harry Randall, Henry Slade, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Ben Youngs.

Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has agreed to replace Grant Fox as an independent New Zealand selector.

Fox will step down from the role after the Steinlager Series next year, having been a selector for a decade.

Schmidt will take up his position with the All Blacks and assist in selecting the squad for the Rugby Championship after finishing his part-time duties working with the Blues in the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said Schmidt is a shrewd appointment.

Foster said: "Joe will bring a wealth of New Zealand and international experience into the role, so we are delighted to have him join us.

"He will work closely with me and ‘Plums’ [ fellow selector John Plumtree] on selections but his insights will be valuable in other areas as well, so we look forward to having him join us."

The experienced Schmidt said: "It's humbling to be involved and I'm looking forward to learning more about the players and the All Blacks environment and helping out as best I can."

Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby have withdrawn their intention to appeal against sanctions imposed and have apologised to match officials for misconduct during the British and Irish Lions series.

South Africa director of rugby Erasmus was last week banned from all rugby activities for two months and suspended from matchday activities until September 30 next year.

Erasmus was in hot water after he accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play in their 22-17 win in the first Test in July and hit out at the standard of refereeing from Nic Berry.

The World Cup-winning coach also made the claims in a 62-minute video clip posted on social media as he highlighted what he felt were a number of calls that went against the world champions.

Erasmus also retweeted clips from an anonymous Twitter user, alleged to be one of his own accounts, highlighting "questionable calls".

World Rugby last week revealed that an independent misconduct committee found the 49-year-old was guilty of all six charges that were brought against him.

The 49-year-old was also warned about his future conduct and told to issue an apology to the relevant match officials, while a fine of £20,000 was issued to SA Rugby along with a warning over the governing body's conduct going forward.

Both Erasmus and SA Rugby stated they would exercise their rights to appeal the verdicts, but both parties have now decided against challenging the sanctions.

A statement released by SA Rugby on Thursday said: "SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus wish to apologise to the match officials appointed to the first Test of the Springboks' Series against the British and Irish Lions.

"We also confirm that SA Rugby and Erasmus have advised World Rugby that they withdraw their Notice of Appeal and will not lodge an appeal against the sanctions imposed by the Judicial Committee.

"This has been a highly stressful and charged environment with unusual pressures placed on all concerned and we have no wish to prolong that experience for anyone.

"We have drawn a line under the incident and only wish to look forward. We will respect the outcomes of the hearing, allowing our national teams and rugby operations to plan with clarity for the coming months."

A World Rugby statement said: "World Rugby welcomes the public apology from SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus to the match officials involved in the first test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions this year and the matter is closed."

International players will be permitted to change allegiances, subject to meeting certain criteria, following the approval of the World Rugby Council.

The amendment to the sport's regulations governing national team representation will come into effect from January 1, 2022.

Following extensive discussions, the new process has been applied with the aim of benefitting players and the global competitiveness of rugby.

In order to meet the criteria, a player must either be born in the country to which they wish to transfer, or have a parent or grandparent who was born in that country.

Furthermore, a player hoping to make the switch must stand down from international rugby for a period of three years.

Players may only change union once and each case will be subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee in order to preserve integrity.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: "Approval of this landmark regulatory change is the culmination of detailed and widespread modelling and consultation across the game. 

"We have listened to our membership and players and sought to update the regulation recognising the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game.

"Any player who wishes to transfer will need to have a close and credible link to their new union, namely birth right or parent or grandparent birth right while meeting strong criteria, including a 36-month stand-down period. 

"We believe that this is the fairest way to implement progressive change that puts players first while also having the potential to support a growing, increasingly competitive international men's and women’s game."

Ireland coach Andy Farrell was delighted with his side after they hammered Argentina 53-7 to collect their third win from three games in the Autumn Nations series on Sunday.

The visitors caught Ireland cold when Santiago Carreras danced down the right wing to open the scoring at the Aviva Stadium. However, tries from Josh van der Flier, Andrew Porter and Caelan Doris ensured the hosts led 24-7 at half-time.

Van de Flier bundled over for a second time after the break, with Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Beirne all getting in on the act after Tomas Lavanini's dangerous tackle had seen Argentina reduced to 14 men.

Having overcome New Zealand last time out, the hosts are now unbeaten in eight games since a 15-13 loss against France last February and Farrell reflected on a great performance from his whole squad.

"We are delighted with the win," Farrell told Channel 4 after Ireland's 27th win in 29 games at the Aviva Stadium.

"It is a great day for us because we grow as a group, with players out some people got their chances and did pretty well, it is pretty satisfying overall.

"That's how we train, we make sure we're all across our work, anyone who comes into the hotel on Friday or Saturday has to be ready to play."

Asked how his side will prepare for their next clash with Wales in their Six Nations opener in February, Farrell added: "We will meet and review and take the lessons learned.

"We will watch the lads fight against one another for their provinces over the next couple of months and hopefully they grow as players before they come back in and we hit the ground running for our first game of the Six Nations."

New Zealand were beaten for a second week in a row after losing 40-25 to France in an exhilarating final game of the Autumn Nations Series for both teams.

Fabien Galthie's men matched the effort of Ireland, who beat the All Blacks last week 29-20 in Dublin, and once again the visitors did not have an answer to an intense showing against northern hemisphere opposition.

Three converted first-half tries at the Stade de France put the hosts in a commanding position at half-time, and despite a better second-half effort from New Zealand, they were unable to overcome a determined Les Bleus side.

France began with a bang by scoring their first try after just two minutes as a driving maul gave Peato Mauvaka the chance to place the ball down.

Two penalties from Jordie Barrett brought New Zealand back to within one point before 10 minutes had even been played, but just two minutes later France had their second try.

Determined work from Romain Ntamack saw him burst through a wobbly All Blacks defence to cross the line, which Melvyn Jaminet converted with ease.

A French penalty made it 17-6 after 25 mins, before another try from Mauvaka followed. It was the 24-year-old's fifth try in his last three games and meant that France led 24-6 at the break.

The 18-point deficit was the most New Zealand have ever trailed by in a Test, so it was no surprise to see them determined to fight back in the second half.

Barrett managed to work a try for New Zealand in the corner six minutes into the second half, though was unable to convert from out wide, but the comeback looked on four minutes later when Rieko Ioane raced down the right to score closer to the posts, which Barrett this time converted to cut the lead to six points.

Jaminet put another penalty through the posts shortly after to extend the French advantage, but a third All Blacks try from Ardie Savea, also converted by Barrett, brought the game to within two points with 20 minutes still to play.

The drama continued shortly after as Ntamack sensationally began a counter-attack after saving the ball from behind his own try line, leading to another French penalty - which Jaminet converted - and a yellow card for Savea.

France stretched the lead further with 12 minutes to go as a sloppy pass from David Havili was intercepted by Damian Penaud for a simple try under the posts, and a final Jaminet penalty with the final kick of the match to take his total to 20 points rounded off a famous win.

France finally beat New Zealand on home soil

Les Bleus had lost their last 14 games against New Zealand – only against Wales had they lost more consecutive Tests (15 between 1908 and 1927), and this was their first home win against the All Blacks since November 2000.

The French were fully deserving of their win, with fewer bad passes (3-8) and handling errors (5-10).

All Blacks defence all over the place

New Zealand have now lost three games in 2021, and it is the first time they have lost to three different nations (South Africa, Ireland and France) in a calendar year since 2000 (Australia, South Africa and France).

They have conceded 69 points in their two defeats to Ireland and France, leaving their often devastating attack far too much to do at the other end.

A last-gasp penalty from Rhys Priestland denied 14-man Australia a memorable comeback against Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Smarting from a 32-15 defeat to England last time out, the Wallabies were up against it when Rob Valetini's red card and a 10-point deficit left them staring at a potentially heavy defeat.

However, Wales – who survived a scare against Fiji after despite Eroni Sau's red card – were pegged back and it required steely nerves from Priestland beyond the 80-minute mark to secure a 29-28 win.

Australia began in brilliant fashion as Andrew Kellaway collected a grubber and touched down, although Dan Biggar quickly reduced the deficit with a penalty, but the match swung firmly Wales' way when Valetini was shown red for a dangerous high tackle that left Adam Beard bleeding, Biggar then kicking a further three points.

Although James O'Connor's penalty put the 14 men ahead, Kurtley Beale was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on and Ryan Elias scored Wales' first try after good work at the resulting lineout.

O'Connor and Biggar exchanged further penalties and the latter converted after Nick Tomkins intercepted a pass and scored a simple try, with a TMO check allowing it to stand.

Then came the threat of a late surprise. Nic White finished a fine move involving Beale, and although Biggar's boot stretched Wales' lead again, Filipo Daugunu touched down in the corner with O'Connor's kick striking the post to spare the hosts.

Beale's kick then put Australia ahead with two minutes to play, but after winning a penalty inside the visitors' 22 in the 81st minute, Priestland kept his nerve to send Cardiff into raptures.

England captain Owen Farrell is a major doubt for the start of the Six Nations after it was revealed he must undergo ankle surgery.

Farrell limped off during England's 32-15 victory over Australia at Twickenham last Saturday.

Saracens on Thursday revealed the England skipper will be out for 10 to 12 weeks, with an operation required.

The versatile Farrell faces a battle to be fit for the Red Rose's opening game of the 2022 Six Nations against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 5.

Sarries also confirmed in a fitness bulletin that their England hooker Jamie George will be sidelined for eight to 10 weeks due to the knee damage he sustained in the win over the Wallabies.

The Premiership club were able to offer positive news of Elliot Daly, who is back in full training and available to return after recovering from a leg injury.

England head coach Eddie Jones has named Courtney Lawes as captain for the clash with South Africa on Saturday in the absence of Farrell.

Manu Tuilagi moves to inside centre to fill the void left by Farrell, with Joe Marchant starting on the right wing.

Rookie duo Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire will start in the front row, while hooker Nic Dolly could make his debut off the bench against the world champions.

Rookie duo Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire will start in the front row for England when they face world champions South Africa on Saturday.

Blamire, who has scored four tries in five games for his country, gets his chance from the start with Jamie George ruled out due to a knee injury and prop Rodd comes into the team alongside Kyle Sinckler.

Flanker Courtney Lawes captains the Red Rose for the second time in the absence of Owen Farrell, who suffered an ankle injury in the win over Australia last weekend.

Hooker Nic Dolly could make his debut off the bench as Eddie Jones' side go in search of revenge for the 2019 World Cup final defeat.

Joe Marchant gets the nod to start on the right wing, with Manu Tuilagi moving to inside centre.

Prop Joe Marler is among the replacements, having missed the defeat of the 32-16 of the Wallabies after testing positive for coronavirus.

England have not lost to the Springboks at Twickenham since 2014, when they were edged out 31-18.

 

England team: Freddie Steward, Joe Marchant, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Bevan Rodd, Jamie Blamire, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes (captain), Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Nic Dolly, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Sam Simmonds, Alex Dombrandt, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.

Josh Adams has been passed fit to start for Wales and Pete Samu replaces Michael Hooper in the Australia team for Saturday's Test at the at Principality Stadium.

Adams missed the 38-23 defeat of Fiji last weekend due to a calf injury, but the winger will face the Wallabies.

Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins are Wayne Pivac's centre pairing, while the fit-again Aaron Wainwright is back at number eight.

Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis return to the starting line-up for what will be the final Test of the year for both sides.

Samu comes into the Australia team in the absence of Hooper, who suffered a foot injury in the loss to England at Twickenham last Saturday.

Props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa return after missing the defeat to the Red Rose due to concussion, while Tolu Latu starts at hooker and Filipo Daugunu gets the nod on the wing alongside Andrew Kellaway.

Centre Lalakai Foketi is set to make his debut off the bench, with James Slipper taking over as skipper.

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Uilisi Halaholo, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Ellis Jenkins (captain), Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Ben Carter, Christ Tshiunza, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Johnny McNicholl.

Australia team: Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, James O'Connor, Nic White; James Slipper (captain), Tolu Latu, Taniela Tupou, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Will Skelton, Lachlan Swinton, Tate McDermott, Lalakai Foketi, Tom Wright.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has been banned from all rugby activities for two months for his conduct towards match officials during a series win over the British and Irish Lions.

Erasmus, head coach of the Springboks for their 2019 World Cup triumph, has also been suspended from all matchday activities with immediate effect until September 30 next year.

World Rugby on Wednesday revealed that an independent misconduct committee found the 49-year-old was guilty of all six charges that were brought against him.

Erasmus accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play in their 22-17 win in the first Test in July and hit out at the standard of refereeing from Nic Berry.

He also made the claims in a 62-minute clip posted on social media as he highlighted what he felt were a number of calls that went against the world champions.

Erasmus also retweeted clips from an anonymous Twitter user, alleged to be one of his own accounts, highlighting "questionable calls".

In summary, World Rugby revealed he had been guilty of threatening a match official that unless a requested meeting took place, he would publish footage containing clips criticising the match official's performance and then making good on that threat; published or permitted to be published the video containing numerous comments that were either abusive, insulting and/or offensive to match officials.

He was also found to have attacked, disparaged and/or denigrated the game and the match officials; did not accept or observe the authority and decisions of match officials; published or caused to be published criticism of the manner in which a match official handled a match.

The committee also deemed Erasmus to have engaged in conduct or activity that may impair public confidence in the integrity and good character of match official(s); and brought the game into disrepute when he published or caused to be published the 'Erasmus Video'.

Erasmus was warned about his future conduct and told to issue an apology to the relevant match officials.

SA Rugby were also charged with not ensuring Erasmus complied with the World Rugby Code of Conduct and/or permitted him to commit acts of misconduct; and/or did not publicly correct any comments or publications by or on behalf of the director of rugby that amounted to misconduct.

A fine of £20,000 was issued to SA Rugby along with a warning as to future conduct. The organisation was told there must be an apology to the relevant match officials.

SA Rugby issued a joint statement along with Erasmus confirming both parties will exercise their rights to appeal the verdicts.

Australia captain Michael Hooper will be absent for the Wallabies' final Autumn Nations Series game against Wales on Saturday. 

Hooper was forced off injured during the second half of Australia's 32-15 loss to England at Twickenham last weekend, which followed a 15-13 defeat to Scotland. 

The Wallabies confirmed on Twitter that scans carried out on the flanker revealed he had suffered a midfoot sprain and would be unavailable to take on Wales at the Principality Stadium. 

The news came after Hooper was revealed to be one of four players in contention for the World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year award. He is up against Antoine Dupont, Maro Itoje and Samu Kerevi in the fan vote. 

Australia have only won two of their past 10 away Tests against European teams, losing eight. However, one of those victories came against Wales in Cardiff in 2017. 

England captain Owen Farrell and hooker Jamie George have been ruled out Saturday's Test against South Africa at Twickenham.

Farrell sustained an ankle injury during the 32-15 victory over Australia last Saturday after his Saracens team-mate George was force off with a knee problem.

Eddie Jones has brought Harry Elrington and Jack Singleton into his squad to face the world champions.

Prop Joe Marler will return for international duty on Friday after completing a 10-day isolation following his positive coronavirus test.

Farrell had missed the thrashing of Tonga after the skipper returned a positive COVID-19 test, but started at inside centre in the defeat of the Wallabies.

Jamie Blamire scored his sixth try in only four Tests after coming on to replace George and is poised to start when England do battle with the Springboks.

 

 

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has been ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering a twisted ankle and knee in the famous 29-20 victory over New Zealand on Saturday.

The Leinster fly-half will miss the final match of the Autumn Nations Series campaign against Argentina on Sunday and faces at least four weeks on the sidelines.

Joey Carbery came on to replace Sexton with 15 minutes to go at the Aviva Stadium and sent three penalties sailing through the posts to consign the All Blacks to defeat.

Sexton will remain with squad, while Connacht number 10 Jack Carty has been called up in the absence of the skipper.

Andy Farrell will also be able to call upon Munster back rower Gavin Coombes against the Pumas after he recovered from illness.

Ireland beat Argentina 28-17 when the two nations last met in Dublin three years ago.

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