The last few months of 2022 couldn’t have gone much worse for Joe Launchbury. After Wasps, the club he captained went bust and the England lock moved to Japan in search of work, he broke his hand playing for new club Toyota Verblitz on Christmas Day.
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Launchbury is hoping for better luck this year. A return to Test rugby and a place back in new England head coach Steve Borthwick’s squad for the World Cup is the target. The desire to play international rugby is something you don’t ever really lose. It’s still there for me,’ Launchbury told Sportsmail from the Far East. I understand that being over here now is making it harder for me and I’m missing the Six Nations but for sure it (England) is something I’m passionate about. I’ve been in conversation with Steve.
Like all the players at Wasps and Worcester, Launchbury lost his job when the two clubs fell out of existence in what amounted to an unprecedented financial crisis for the English game. The experienced lock subsequently upped sticks for a short-term move to Japan’s Rugby League One. He will return to England with Harlequins for next season and hopes to feature in the World Cup.
Launchbury remains eligible to play for England because his decision to move abroad was forced by the demise of his club. But his hand injury means he isn’t part of the Six Nations squad. Christmas Day was a bad day for me, he said. It was very different compared to Christmas back home and then I broke my hand in my first involvement during the game. It wasn’t the best start to my time over here and certainly not the best Christmas present. The plan wasn’t to get injured so early on, but I can’t speak highly enough of my experience.
From where I was a few months ago to where I am now, I’m just so grateful. Launchbury is still only 31 and with 70 Test caps, has a wealth of England experience that Borthwick will surely find hard to ignore once he is back on home shores. My experience of Steve is that he’s a very experienced coach and very knowledgeable around the forwards, Launchbury told.
I imagine he’ll get that forward pack back being feared by some other teams which maybe they haven’t been over the last period. There will be a bit of a reaction from them in the Six Nations which is a hugely challenging tournament. I expect England to compete much more than they have over the past few games. England opens their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Twickenham on February 4 for what will be Borthwick’s first game since in charge since he succeeded Eddie Jones.
Launchbury, for now, will be limited to a role of an interested observer. He also wants to see a change in English rugby in the wake of the demise of his old club. I don’t know how it was allowed to get to that situation said Launchbury. I still firmly believe there’s no way a professional sport as big as ours could allow two of the top 12 teams in the country to go as they did. I think clearly, it’s got to force change.
It’s too little, too late for two clubs but the fact there are more conversations around it is only good moving forward. The RFU have a lot in their in-tray now, but hopefully working out a path forward for the game is something they must do. Worldwide Tickets and Hospitality offers Rugby World Cup tickets for the France Rugby World Cup 2023 at the best prices. Rugby fans can buy England Rugby World Cup Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.
Richard Cockerill is the latest England coach to depart.
Richard Cockerill, the last assistant remaining from the Eddie Jones regime, is set to leave the England coaching staff after the Six Nations and take up a new role as head coach of French club Montpellier. The 52-year-old, who was recruited as a director of rugby by Leicester in September 2021, will depart as new head coach Steve Borthwick completes his overhaul of the coaching staff for the Red Rose team.
According to the Mail Online, Cockerill’s successor appears to have identified the man he wants to lead the set-piece salvage operation going forward Saracens coach Ian Peel. Eel has a long history with Saracens, having joined the club in 2015. Before that, he held the position of head coach for the England Under-20 team and also had a role within the senior national set-up.
The daughter of the all-time Premier League top goal scorer and England legend Alan confirmed she is dating Harlequins and England centre earlier this year. The 25-year-old singer has shared numerous shots with the popular speedster, who has represented his country four times. Photos shared across social media suggest Hollie’s relationship with the 26-year-old is still in its early stages.
Argentina Rugby team to play in final World Cup warm-up before England Rugby team opener.
England’s opening Rugby World Cup 2023 opponents Argentina Rugby team will finalize their arrangements by facing Spain in Madrid two weeks earlier than the two sides clash in Marseille. The Pumas beat England 30-29 at Twickenham in last year’s Autumn Nations Series, which was to be the final campaign of Eddie Jones’s time in charge, and the two sides will kick off their Rugby World Cups against one another at the Stade Velodrome on 9 September.
Michael Cheika’s side will be in the Spanish capital on August 26 for a clash against Los Leones, who was barred from the tournament after taking South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg in qualifying, who was later considered to be an ineligible player. The match is taking place as part of Spanish rugby’s centenary festivities and will be played at the Civitas Metropolitano, the home of football side Atletico Madrid which has a capability of over 68,000.
This fixture marks the second episode of ‘The Match’ after Spain lost to an All Blacks XV at the same venue in front of 40,000 spectators in May 2022. Argentina currently sits eighth in the world rankings but, after winning away in New Zealand and England last year, are many people’s dark horses to go deep in the Rugby World Cup in France later this year. The Spanish Rugby Federation believes the deal will help strengthen the bond between the rugby nations, with President Juan Carlos Martin Hansen saying: We are convinced that the Civitas Metropolitano will have great success and will lay the foundations to put Los Leones and Spain in the first line of international rugby.
The Argentine Rugby Union president Gabriel Travaglini added: It is a real pleasure to be able to play a test match again with the Spanish national team and participate in the centenary celebration of the Spanish Federation. Since that match in Madrid in 1982, in which the two teams played evenly, an excellent relationship began between the two nations, and many Argentine players have even gone to Spain to continue playing rugby.
This year we will meet again with Los Leones in a friendly that has transcendent value because it will help us improve our performance before competing in the World Cup in France. Argentina Rugby World Cup team will also face South Africa in a friendly warm-up match in Buenos Aires on 5 August, a fixture that falls outside of the streamlined 2023 Rugby Championship.
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