Today’s rugby news as World Cup set to be moved to summer and Wales nearly-man signs for England’s best team

Here are your rugby morning headlines for Friday, May 13.

Rugby World Cup set to move

The Rugby World Cup is likely to move from its traditional autumn slot and become a summer tournament when it is hosted in the US in 2031, according to reports.

Several UK national media outlets report the competition is set to break from tradition in order for matches to be staged at top NFL stadiums. There are more than 20 NFL stadiums included as part of the proposal for hosting both the men’s 2031 and women’s 2033 World Cups, as well as Major League Soccer venues.

The NFL season and the World Cup normally both start in September, and organisers are keen for there to be no clash. The Daily Mail report holding the tournament in summer in sweltering temperatures experienced by some parts of the US raises “serious player welfare concerns”.

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Any shift would also have a knock-on effect on domestic rugby dates with preparation and recovery times factored in for a summer tournament.

“The US would ideally be slightly earlier,” said World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin. “That will involve some sort of grown-up discussions with professional leagues around the world and the impacts that could have on their seasons. We’re not going to do a Qatar and just plonk it in the middle of a lot of other competitions.

“If we can harness a little bit of a partnership with NFL franchises around hosting, the ability that gives us to really make this thing come alive quickly will be will be fantastic.”

“The USA is the golden nugget everyone wants to get a hold of. It’s the world’s biggest sporting market,” said Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman.

Cracknell signs for Tigers

Former Wales under-20s international Olly Cracknell has signed for Leicester Tigers, the Welford Road outfit have confirmed.

The back-rower, who was born in Leeds but played for Wales’ youth side in 2014, will move to the current league leaders from Gallagher Premiership rivals London Irish ahead of next season.

Cracknell spent seven season with the Ospreys and produced a number of impressive performances which earned him a call-up to Warren Gatland’s Wales squad in 2017, however his maiden senior cap still alludes him.

He joined Irish at the start of the season, but after just one season with the club he will link up with the Tigers and their head coach Steve Borthwick was effusive in his praise of the player.

“Olly is a tough, uncompromising, physical and abrasive player who can play across the back row,” Borthwick said. “Each time we have spoken, I have been hugely impressed with how much he wants to be part of what we are building at Leicester Tigers.

“Olly is a competitor, who wants to be successful, and we feel he is the type of player and person that we want representing Leicester Tigers.”

Cracknell himself said: “I was flattered when I had the interest from the club and, after meeting with Steve Borthwick and Aled Walters, I was so impressed.

“It is an environment where people improve and that is where I want to be. Knowing I will be somewhere I can improve and learn is a big thing for me.

“The fanbase Leicester Tigers has is incredible and the history around the club enormous. Tigers is a massive rugby club, you can see that, and I am really excited to be a part of it.”

On a big day for the Tigers, they also announced the signings of Anthony Watson, Jimmy Gopperth, Phil Cokanasiga and James Cronin. Chris Ashton and Richard Wigglesworth also signed new deals.

World Rugby pledge 10-year plan to deliver a ‘global game’

World Rugby chief Alan Gilpin has vowed to improve the game on a wider scale over the course of the next 10 years, increasing focus on teams who are not in the Six Nations or Rugby Championship.

Given just how well the likes of Japan and Fiji have performed on a consistent basis for a number of years now, there have been calls for a levelling up, of sorts, to grant these types of nations better quality competitions more regularly to improve the standard of the game the world over.

It comes after talks were held in Dublin this week at World Rugby council level over potentially establishing a Nations Championship, to boost the game outside of Six Nations, Rugby Championship and World Cup windows. There appears to be increasing hope that the tournament might just get off the ground this time after it failed three years ago.

But whether or not that does come to fruition, World Rugby chief Gilpin said he is committed to ensuring a better quality in the game across the globe over the next decade.

“There is huge amount of work going on in the men’s 15s about how do we make not only the content we have in the international windows more meaningful for everybody and engage more fans and get people excited about that, but how do we make sure that the USAs, the Japans, the Fijis, the Uruguays and that next group of emerging nations get the competition that they need and deserve to make them more competitive in the big moments.,” he said.

“That is a massive focus for us. There are a lot of positive conversations continuing, there is great momentum behind that. There is recognition of the need for that across the game and from the World Rugby perspective, we look at a ten-year plus plan which is all about driving investment towards that.

“This is all about making sure we do what we say on the tin, that we deliver a global game for everybody. That is why we are making the decision we are making.”

Sinckler: I was awestruck by Adam Jones, he taught me everything

England and Lions prop Kyle Sinckler has revealed how Wales legend Adam Jones left him awestruck during their time together at Harlequins.

Jones, affectionately known as ‘Bomb’, joined the Gallagher Premiership side as a player in 2015 before transitioning to the coaching staff in 2018. During his time there, Sinckler was sprouting through the ranks and saw himself pushed down the pecking order when the former Ospreys and Cardiff man arrived.

But Sinckler, who in 2020 moved to Bristol Bears, spoke of his eternal gratitude towards 95-times Wales cap Jones during their five years together at the Stoop, opening up about how he used to follow him around the club and grew almost obsessed with how the Welshman went about his game.

“Adam Jones is someone I am eternally grateful for,” Sinckler, 29, told JOE. “At that time, I was like, ‘I can’t play when he’s not here’ and then [Harlequins] signed him! I remember the first time Bomb came to the club he said, ‘Look, I’m here to help you. I’m an open book.’ And from that moment on I was in absolute awe of him. I just followed him around the club saying, ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that? What time are you in tomorrow morning?’

“For me, I like to feel, I like to see, that’s the best way I learn. And being in his presence for however many years was invaluable. Being a tighthead prop, I don’t think people understand how unique the position is.

“He would just say little things like, ‘This scrum here, take a half an inch to your left and use your head here and bind here and make sure you point that out to the referee. Or make sure your openside flanker says something to you while the referee is on your side so, subconsciously, he’s thinking about it.’

“He was sick of me! He was probably glad I left by the end of it! But in terms of my scrummaging and my professionalism, he really shaped it.”


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