Rugby news: ex-England winger Banahan to coach Scotland; D-day for Farrell and Vunipola; Tonga call-up Glasgow forward; France pick injured duo
The 36-year-old, who was capped 16 times, joins as attack coach and takes over from Chris Laidlaw who will now focus solely on his role as performance development coach. Banahan’s appointment was announced as head coach Bryan Easson named an extended training squad for WXV, the new global competition which begins in October. The 32-player squad, comprising 16 forwards and 16 backs, are in camp for a six-week training block ahead of a warm-up fixture against Spain in Edinburgh on September 30. The uncapped Nikki Simpson and Holly McIntyre have been called up while Lisa Cockburn, Jenny Maxwell, Sarah Bonar and Emma Wasssell all return after injury. GB 7s players Lisa Thomson, Rhona Lloyd and Shona Campbell are also back after helping secure Olympic 2024 qualification.
England, meanwhile, will learn on Tuesday the consequences for their World Cup group campaign caused by Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell being summoned to face rugby’s judiciary. Six Nations, the organisers for the warm-up fixtures, has announced Vunipola’s hearing for being sent off for a dangerous tackle against Ireland will take place on Tuesday evening, with former Scotland coach Frank Hadden sitting on the independent judicial committee which will be chaired by Scottish advocate, Roddy Dunlop KC.
Earlier that morning, Farrell faces an independent disciplinary panel for the second time in a week after World Rugby appealed the decision to overturn his red card for a high challenge against Wales. Both players are facing six-week bans that can be reduced for mitigation but with just one match left until the World Cup – against Fiji on Saturday – any suspension will impact England’s quest to qualify from Pool D and most importantly their key opening fixture against Argentina on September 9. Vunipola is the squad’s only specialist No 8 while Farrell is its captain and goalkicker. Each player was shown a yellow card that was upgraded to red by the bunker review system after making similar tackles.
World Rugby, the game’s governing body, has confirmed that the bunker review system will be in operation during the World Cup, as will the shot clock shot which is aimed at reducing time-wasting and shows players the 90 seconds, already set in law, they have to take a conversion and 60 seconds to kick a penalty.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has named co-captains for the World Cup. Gatland has turned to Ospreys forwards Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake to lead a 33-strong squad that includes recent international newcomers in centre Mason Grady, fly-half Sam Costelow and prop Corey Domachowski.
Tonga have also announced their squad for the tournament and have included Glasgow Warriors’ Sione Vailanu. But there is no place for Israel Folau, the former Australia player, who will miss the tournament after failing to recover from a knee injury. Tonga will face Scotland at the World Cup in Nice on September 24.
France have included flanker Anthony Jelonch in their World Cup squad even though he is recovering from a serious knee injury. Jelonch, 27, ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the Six Nations victory over Scotland in February. “He's not fit now but we think he will be back to his best by mid-September,” said Fabien Galthie, the France coach. Prop Cyril Baille is also included despite a calf issue. Galthie also expects him to return by the middle of next month.
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