Sport Umaga set for England debut in Six Nations rugby finale
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Jacob Umaga is set to become the latest member of his star-studded rugby-playing family to earn senior international honors after being selected in England’s squad for the match against Italy on the final weekend of the pandemic-extended Six Nations.
The nephew of former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga and the son of ex-Samoa international Mike Umaga, Jacob was rewarded for his breakthrough season with Wasps in the English Premiership by being one of just two flyhalves picked in the 36-man squad alongside captain Owen Farrell.
World champion Springboks withdraw from Rugby Championship
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — World Cup champion South Africa has withdrawn from the Rugby Championship in Australia, leaving Argentina, Australia and New Zealand to contest a tournament much diminished by its absence. Tournament organizer, SANZAAR, which had given South Africa an additional 48 hours to confirm its intentions, announced the anticipated decision on Friday. South Africa cited player welfare concerns because of the delayed start to its domestic competition and uncertainty over government travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic for players in South Africa and in Europe.The Springboks had been scheduled to play Argentina in Sydney on Nov.
And with the other No. 10, George Ford, unavailable for the match in Rome as he recovers from an Achilles injury, the 22-year-old Umaga is likely to feature in the match in Rome — most likely from the bench but potentially in the starting XV if Farrell is selected in the centers.
England could win the Six Nations tournament for the first time since 2017 with a bonus-point victory, though the result of the France-Ireland match being played later Saturday will have a bearing on where the title goes.
Umaga, whose father’s cousin is the late New Zealand flanker Jerry Collins, was called up to the senior England camp in January for the start of the tournament after just four starts in his first season in the English Premiership. He didn’t make any of England’s first four matchday squads before the Six Nations was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak, but has remained on coach Eddie Jones’ radar and shone since the restart of domestic competition in August.
Wasps cleared to play in English rugby Premiership final
Wasps will play Exeter in the English Premiership rugby union final after they were given a coronavirus all-clear, organisers announced Wednesday. Their place in English domestic rugby's showpiece event at Twickenham on Saturday had been in doubt after 11 positive tests, including players and backroom staff, since last week. Wasps had also suspended training. However, Premiership Rugby gave them the all clear on Wednesday which means they -- rather than Bristol Bears, the team they beat in the semi-final play-offs -- will face newly-crowned European champions Exeter.
Umaga, who has played for England Under-18s and Under-20s, scored a try for Wasps in their loss to Exeter in the Premiership final on Saturday.
“Jacob is a young guy at 10 who attacks the line and has plenty of courage in the way he plays,” Jones said in a video call on Monday. “He’s a solid defender and is one of the reasons why Wasps did so well.
“We had him in camp earlier in this Six Nations and we were impressed by what he did, so we’re looking forward to working with him again.”
Jones confirmed Ford is out for “a couple of weeks,” creating the opportunity for Umaga.
Jones eager to see if 'apprentice sushi chef' Umaga makes the grade
Eddie Jones likened England newcomer Jacob Umaga to a trainee sushi chef ahead of the Wasps fly-half's possible Test debut against Italy in Rome this weekend. "No 10s (fly-halves) are like sushi chefs," he said.England could be crowned Six Nations champions if they win in the coronavirus-delayed final round on Saturday and the result of a match between title rivals France and Ireland falls in their favour.
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Umaga’s Wasps teammate, flanker Jack Willis, was also selected and could start against Italy after emerging as English rugby’s foremost breakdown specialist.
Jones will name his team on Thursday.
England hasn’t played a competitive match since March and was supposed to get a run-out before the Italy game by taking on the Barbarians on Sunday.
However, the fixture was called off after a number of the invitational club’s players, including former England captain Chris Robshaw, broke coronavirus protocols.
Jones said he didn’t get angry when he heard the match against the Barbarians was canceled. Instead, he went up to his hotel room and “worked out a Plan B” with Farrell.
“We quickly had a plan in place about an hour after the cancellation of the game and we were on to the next thing,” Jones said.
“We are pretty good at these things — we had the same situation with the typhoon in Japan,” he added, referring to the time when England’s Rugby World Cup pool match against France was called off last year. “This time it was just a bit of a different typhoon.”
England is a point behind Ireland going into the final round. Ireland has a superior points difference of 23 compared to England.
France is tied for points with second-place England but has an inferior points difference of 2.
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Springboks to stick with Rugby Championship and SANZAAR .
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