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Make Sure These 2024 Six Nations Players Are in Your Fantasy Team!

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Ireland Rugby Union Player James Lowe

The 2024 Six Nations kicks off on February 2 when Ireland takes on France. There’s still time to create your dream fantasy team and compete for prizes, including two tickets to the 2025 Six Nations. How it works is you select a team of players from all different teams, and based on their on-field performance, you earn points.

Each player has a star rating up to 20, and you have a 245-star budget to assemble your team. Whoever’s fantasy team earns the most points throughout the tournament wins. Here are the rugby players with the highest stars in this year’s Six Nations tournament!

James Lowe (Ireland) & Damian Penaud (France) – 20.0 Stars

The top-ranked players in the 2024 Six Nations fantasy game are James Lowe from Ireland and Damian Penaud from France. We’re sure that Antoine Dupont would’ve been a 20-star player, too, but the French star is unavailable. 

James Lowe, originally from New Zealand, is a veteran player with 73 appearances for Leinster and 255 points. As Ireland is a favorite to win the Six Nations tournament, it seems likely that the winger will pick up more than a few tries throughout the campaign. Since debuting for Ireland back in 2020, Lowe has been a dominant force in the squad. He is known for his knack of scoring the corner, running great angles, and having a massive left boot.

Lowe also has a fantastic record against other Six Nations sides. He has a perfect record against Scotland and Italy and won three out of four matches against England. Don’t be surprised if he scores lots of points for Ireland during the tournament.

The other 20-star player is Frenchman Damian Penaud, who has made try-scoring a habit. The 27-year-old winger has some of the best footwork we’ve seen and, in 48 appearances for France, already has 175 points. He’s in his absolute prime and is a nightmare to defend one on one!

Hugo Keenan (Ireland) & Finn Russell (Scotland) – 19.0 Stars

Hugo Keenan and Finn Russell are nipping on the heels of Lowe and Penaud with 19 stars each. Keenan, Ireland’s fullback, is Mister Consistency, who never gives the ball away cheaply and is always calm under pressure.

Keenan is a complete player, thanks to playing Sevens. He knows how to get over the advantage line, rarely misses a tackle, and has a big thumping boot, which he uses to get Ireland out of trouble. He may not be a try-scoring machine like Lowe, but expect him to cross the white line at least a few times for Ireland.

Finn Russell is a living Scottish rugby legend. The incredible fly-half has been playing for Scotland for a decade and is one of the best goalkickers on the planet. In 75 appearances for the national side, he’s scored 327 points. While Scotland isn’t favorites to win the tournament, he’ll still be slotting lots of goals and racking up try assists throughout the 2024 Six Nations. Expect him to have a particularly strong performance against England. Russell tends to play especially well when Scotland takes on England!

Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland) & Thomas Ramos (France) – 18.0 Stars

The next highest-ranked players are the strong ball runner Duhan van der Merwe from Scotland and the silky smooth goal kicker Thomas Ramos from France. We expect these players to be selected in lots of fantasy teams.

Originally from South Africa, Duhan van der Merwe is a force to be reckoned with. Standing at 6ft 4 and weighing over 230 pounds, he’s built more like a flanker than a wing. However, don’t be fooled; he is incredibly fast, and good luck trying to tackle him when he starts sprinting.  He also boasts the Six Nations record for defenders beaten in a single tournament. Expect Finn Russell to deliver some perfect passes to van der Merwe as he rampages across the try line.

Ramos is worth adding to your fantasy team. France is a strong contender to win the Six Nations tournament, and even if they underperform with Ramos on goal-kicking duties, he should score many points.

Unfortunately, with a budget of 245 stars, you won’t be able to select all of the great players above. However, if you want to shoot up the leaderboard, select at least one or two! 

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Rugby Union

Melbourne Rebels Axed From Super Rugby Competition Due to Financial Woes

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Melbourne Rebels playing Rugby

While the Melbourne Rebels are performing well on the pitch, making it to their first playoff in 14 seasons, things in the accounting department have spiralled out of control. The club has been in voluntary administration for the whole season. The Rebels are drowning in debts to the tune of $15.2 million.

The Melbourne club supposedly found a group of private investors who agreed to fund it for the next five years. However, Rugby Australia, who ultimately has the final say, rejected the proposal, and the club won’t be able to compete in the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific.

The entire Rebels’ team and staff were informed of the decision in person by Rugby Australia’s boss and former Wallaby Phil Waugh. The players didn’t take the news well. There was complete silence when Waugh told them that the club would no longer play in the Super Rugby competition.

Rugby Australia Steps In But Refuses to Save Rebels

Rugby Australia paid coaches’ and players’ salaries for the 2024 Super Rugby season, ensuring the club could compete. The Melbourne Rebels’ management team was hoping that Rugby Australia would cover a good chunk of the debt and allow the club to continue to operate.

Unfortunately for Victorian rugby fans, Rugby Australia has decided to let the club fall on its sword. There’s now no Super Rugby club in the whole of Victoria, and professional rugby union is looking on thin ice in a state that’s obsessed with Australian Rules.

Despite Victorians not being particularly interested in rugby union, Waugh is convinced that the sport can still thrive in the state. He said that Rugby Australia has a plan to develop the infrastructure and the systems of the sport in Victoria. He added that Rugby Australia is actively looking for investment opportunities in the state.

Currently, there’s no word on the Melbourne Rebels women’s team. We also don’t know if the club will shut down completely or compete in another competition. Super Rugby is the only professional league in Australia, so the club would have to become an amateur team.

The Melbourne Rebels were scheduled to play the British Lions in 2025. However, that has been cancelled, and it remains to be seen if the club will play another game after the 2024 Super Rugby season finishes.

Why Was The Investment Consortium’s Bid Rejected?

Rugby Australia said that the group of investors didn’t provide enough evidence for their plan. Waugh said that the revenue projections were way too generous, and he didn’t believe the club would be able to effectively cut costs.

Ultimately, if the Melbourne Rebels were going to continue competing in the Super Rugby competition, they’d need a large injection of funds from Rugby Australia. The governing body was unwilling to continue pouring money into professional rugby in Victoria.

You can hardly blame them, under 5,000 people were showing up to watch the Rebels this season. The club’s meagre sponsorship revenue wasn’t enough to pay for the use of AAMI Park, and the Rebels were unable to cover players’ and coaches’ salaries. 

Even if Rugby Australia and investors managed to cover the $15.2 million debt, it was only going to build up again. Rugby union is struggling as a professional sport in Queensland and New South Wales, which are traditionally rugby heartlands. If the sport can barely scrape by in those states, then it’s got no chance of being viable in Victoria.

The Rebels Are Going Down Fighting

Despite the financial woes and the uncertain future at the club, the Rebels are having one of their best seasons ever. The team ended up finishing in 8th place, racking up five wins and eight losses. Despite the losing record, they managed to sneak into the playoffs. The Rebels finished above the NSW Waratahs and the Christchurch Crusaders.

On Saturday, June 8, the Rebels will take on the Wellington Hurricanes in a do-or-die quarterfinal match. The Hurricanes are the strong favorite, finishing at the top of the table and losing just two games throughout the entire season.

However, don’t count out the Rebels just yet. The team will be fired up to keep their final campaign going. This is the last time many of the players will ever taste Super Rugby!

Read more: Rugby World Cup 2023 Was a Massive Success

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Eddie Jones Is Betting on Youth As Japan Prepares For England

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Japan vs England Rugby

Japan is taking on England on June 22 at Tokyo’s National Stadium. The Cherry Blossoms are currently in training camp in southwestern Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Japan’s head coach, Eddie Jones, has selected a 35-man squad, which includes 12 uncapped players and two who are still studying at university.

The Australian will be looking to make a statement in his first game as head coach since retaking the job following the Rugby World Cup. Jones was previously the head coach of the Cherry Blossoms from 2012 to 2015. During his tenure, Japan beat South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport.

Jones is well-suited for the job as, despite being born in Australia, he has a Japanese mother and a wife. He is fluent in Japanese and first worked in the country in 1995 as an assistant coach for Tokai University. 

Jones is highly respected by the players, and his old-school coaching methods go over much better with the Japanese, who are used to a hierarchical structure. The Australian rugby legend is famous for getting into conflict with players during his tenure as head coach of Australia and England. 

Jones is famous for his very harsh criticism of players and for not mincing his words. Many modern players aren’t used to this kind of treatment, and it led to conflicts.

Jones Looking Revenge Against His Former Team

Jones coached England from 2015 to 2022. During his time as head coach, he had a 73% win rate. He led England to their first Grand Slam in 13 years. Jones also took England to the 2019 Rugby World Cup final where they went down to South Africa.

However, England and Jones parted on unhappy terms. The Australian was fired in 2022 after England struggled, winning just five out of their last 12 games. Despite ending his tenure on a sour note, Jones still has the highest winning percentage of any England coach.

Japan and Jones will be fired up for this big match against England. The Australian coach would love nothing more than to prove England wrong. Japan will be big underdogs against the reigning 2023 Rugby World Cup third-place finishers. However, the home crowd advantage may play a big role in the match.

The two teams were actually in the same group at the last Rugby World Cup. England ultimately triumphed over the Cherry Blossoms, 34-12. The game is expected to be a lot closer this time around. England won’t have the luxury of playing on a European pitch. 

Jones Also Picked Young Players When He Was in Charge of Australia

After being booted from England, Jones took over as the head coach of Australia in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup. However, things didn’t go according to plan. He made the controversial decision to dump highly experienced players like Michael Hooper and instead select a very young side.

Many pundits were confused by the decision. Hooper may not be in his prime anymore, but his experience would’ve been invaluable at the Rugby World Cup. Australia ended up with its worst performance of all time. For the first time in history, Australia didn’t progress to the knockout stage. The Wallabies lost to Fiji and Wales and were sent back home with their tails between their legs.

It looks like Jones is following the same strategy by selecting a very young team featuring 12 uncapped players. However, this time around, the Australian can focus on the long game. Jones will coach the Cherry Blossoms until 2028, including during the 2027 Rugby World Cup. He can take his time developing young players who’ll be in their prime in 2027.

Jones is obviously an incredibly talented rugby coach and has tasted success on the highest level. However, this is his last chance at coaching a top national side. His last year as England coach was poor, and he has to take responsibility for Australia’s incredibly poor performance at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The writing is on the wall for Jones. Tune in on June 22 to see how Japan looks against England and get a glimpse of some fresh faces in the Cherry Blossoms’ lineup!

Read more: Ireland Will Take on the All Blacks & Wallabies in Autumn Series

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Rugby Union

Ireland Will Take on the All Blacks & Wallabies in Autumn Series

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All Blacks & Wallabies playing rugby

Ireland dominated this year’s Six Nations competition, claiming their 16th title. They won four out of five games, with their sole loss coming against England by the slimmest of margins, 22-23. 

While Ireland proved they’re the best team in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re yet to find out how they stack up against the Southern Hemisphere sides. That’s all about to change in autumn when New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, and Fiji all gear up for a shot against the Six Nations champions.

All of the games will be played in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium. The first clash will be against the All Blacks on November 8, followed by a showdown against Argentina on November 15. Then, the Flying Fijians will attempt to storm Dublin on November 23. In the final match of the series, the Wallabies will be looking to make up for their poor World Cup showing and will play Ireland on November 30.

This a grueling schedule as Ireland will take on four world-class teams in one month. The notable exception from the Southern Hemisphere teams is the Springboks. Ireland is traveling to South Africa in July for a two-test series.

Pundits Tip Ireland to Beat the All Blacks

New Zealand broke Ireland’s World Cup dreams in the quarterfinals, defeating them 28-24. The Men in Green are keen to get revenge, and this time, they’ll have home-field advantage. History is not on Ireland’s side, having beaten New Zealand just five times while the All Blacks have racked up 31 victories.

Dublin hasn’t been much of a fortress for the Shamrocks. 18 matches have been played in the Emerald Isle, Ireland has won two games, New Zealand has won 15, and one match ended in a draw. However, trends are meant to be broken, and the All Blacks have looked human in recent years, losing a lot more frequently than usual.

If Ireland is going to beat the All Blacks, they need to take their attacking opportunities with both hands. While New Zealand are unbelievable in attack, at times, they get lazy in defense. Unlike other teams, they give teams a lot of time on the ball and the space to run.

Ireland will need to take advantage of this space to consistently gain ground. Then, when the moment is right, spin the ball wide and look to make a line break. Ireland will no doubt find chinks in the All Black’s armor, but the question remains if they then turn these opportunities into points.

Ireland Should Be Too Strong for Argentina and Fiji

Argentina are no pushovers, but the South American team doesn’t travel well. In fact, they’ve never beaten Ireland in Ireland despite having 10 cracks at the Shamrocks. It’d be a major upset if the Pumas can down Ireland in Dublin. 

However, you can’t completely write off Argentina. The Pumas have defeated Ireland six times, three times in Argentina and three times at a neutral venue. The secret to Ireland’s victory will be punishing Argentina during set pieces, controlling the ball, and well-placed kicks for touch.

Fiji hasn’t fared well against Ireland in the past, losing all seven encounters. The Fijians will struggle to compete with Ireland for the full 80 minutes, but don’t be surprised if they score a few exciting tries. Ireland needs to take advantage of lazy defenders and Fiji’s weak scrum. This game has the potential to be a blowout and be over before half-time.

The Wallabies Are an Interesting Challenge

The Wallabies were dreadful at the 2023 Rugby Union World Cup, being eliminated prior to the knockout stage. Australia is still in the rebuilding phase, and they have a lot of young and untested players. 

Ireland will be the clear favorite, but Australia is catching Ireland at the end of the series. The fresh Aussies have a solid chance to cause an upset. The Wallabies have a winning record against Ireland, winning 22 of 37 matches. Of the games played in Ireland, Australia has won 11, while Ireland has only tasted victory on eight occasions.

Despite Australia’s impressive record against Ireland, the Men in Green should still get the job done. In fact, we’re backing Ireland to complete a clean sweep of the autumn series and send all of the Southern Hemisphere teams back home nursing losses!

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