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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
David Kelly Twitter Email

David Kelly’s Six Nations diary: England’s coaching turnover, return of Jones, and Laporte’s unexpected visit

Welsh rugby legend Alun Wyn Jones. Photo: Getty Images

England’s coaching churn continued today so time for a deep breath. Ready?

Richard Cockerill, the man appointed by Eddie Jones to replace Steve Borthwick before Eddie Jones was replaced by Steve Borthwick, will step down before the World Cup.

It means the English will be on the search for their second forwards coach in this World Cup cycle, impressively keeping up with their recycling of attack and defence coaches – they have had two of each since the 2019 World Cup.

Saracens forwards coach Ian Peel is expected to replace the 52-year-old Cockerill; the former Edinburgh and Toulon coach returning to what must seem like the relative serenity of the Top 14 to link up with reigning champions Montpellier.

Cockerill, a former England hooker, was the only remaining assistant coach from Jones' reign after Borthwick’s arrival prompted another flurry of activity in the RFU’s HR department.

Peel is no stranger to the set-up either as he was the first scrum coach under Eddie Jones in 2016. Of course he was.

Quote of the day

“I giggle when I watch it, but obviously for me personally, it’s my best try I’ve ever scored. Looking back at it, just absolutely buzzing.”

Duhan van der Merwe on THAT try

On this day . . .

In 1988, Ireland pulverised England in Lansdowne Road, tries from Mick Kiernan, Phillip Matthews and Keith Crossan contributing to a humbling 17-0 rout.

Also, in 1998, the Stade De France hosted its first international, a record 80,000 watching the hosts defeat England.

Head scratcher

Not for the first time, Wales are embroiled in a brain storm after captain Alun Wyn Jones suddenly became available despite showing signs of concussion against the Irish.

He has now been passed fit for the Six Nations trip to Scotland on Saturday after initially being ruled out by Warren Gatland after the 34-10 romp against his former charges.

Gatland said Jones (37), failed a head injury assessment (HIA), but apparently the medics say he can play this weekend and, lo-and-behold, Wyn Jones is now officially a neck injury victim.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said Jones had an abnormal result to an HIA conducted during the game against Ireland, so did not return to the field.

More detailed HIA assessments produced results considered normal and Wales said Jones has shown no signs of concussion.

The WRU says the medical team has been in contact with World Rugby and the Six Nations about the issue.

Nothing to see here so!

Great Scot Scott

Glasgow lock Scott Cummings has joined up with the Scotland squad this week as he closes in on a return from injury.

The 26-year-old has been sidelined since picking up a foot injury just before the Autumn Tests and has not played since turning out for his club in a United Rugby Championship match away to Sharks in mid-October.

Cummings – who has 23 caps, the most recent of which came in last summer’s tour of Argentina – is now back in contention and will train with the squad ahead of Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match against Wales at BT Murrayfield.

Saracens flanker Andy Christie has dropped out of the Scotland squad due to injury.


7000 – Ireland’s U-20s played some scintillating rugby and the public seems to have taken them to their hearts as Musgrave Park has already sold 7,000 tickets for their clash with France this Friday.

French lair

France continue their build-up to their crunch clash in Dublin – or rather they didn’t as it seems they have taken two days off in Rome after the exertions of Sunday’s heart-stopping win against Kieran Crowley’s gutsy Italians.

They will travel to Dublin on Thursday, continuing a road trip which kicked off on January 25 when they set up base in Capbreton, a sailing village north of Biarritz in the south of France.

Our sources have also informed us that a certain Bernard Laporte popped in to see his old mucker Fabien Galthie for lunch last week.

Laporte accepted an invite to France’s training camp at Marcoussis last Thursday, five years after it was raided by police who were investigating him.

France coach Galthie and manager Raphael Ibanez played under Laporte, who coached Les Bleus to four Six Nations titles in the early part of this century.

“Our mission is a purely sporting one. We invited Bernard because France is organizing the World Cup thanks to him,” Ibanez said.

Galthie has previously claimed that French rugby is shining despite the scandal which saw Laporte resign his role as union president.

If they become the number one team in the world this Saturday, in the year of a World Cup hosting – however dubious Laporte’s role in securing it – Galthie’s view will gain much more traction at home.

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