Tonight’s rugby news as Eddie Jones takes new job in U-turn and Louis Rees-Zammit replacement identified

Your evening rugby headlines on Wednesday, December 13.

Eddie Jones confirmed as Japan head coach

Eddie Jones has been confirmed as the new head coach of Japan.

Japan Rugby made the official announcement earlier today, with the simple statement of: “The Japan Rugby Football Union is delighted to announce the appointment of Eddie Jones as the new Head Coach of the Japan National Team, the Brave Blossoms. Eddie Jones will officially commence his duties from 1 January 2024.”

It will be Jones’ second stint as head coach of Japan, having led the national team for three years between 2012 and 2015.

Jones is well remembered for his time there, orchestrating a famous and now iconic 34-32 World Cup victory over the Springboks in 2015.

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The news comes just a few weeks after he categorically denied any interviews with the Japanese Rugby Federation, whilst head coach of the Wallabies during the Rugby World Cup. After Wales’ 40-6 victory over the Australians, Jones was hounded by the press about the supposed interview, to which he simply and frequently responded with: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, mate.”

Dan Biggar back in training

Dan Biggar is back in training for Toulon, according to reports.

In early November, the Wales legend injured himself against Perpignan whilst taking a conversion. He keeled over and clutched his back in pain in quite bizarre circumstances.

Now a Toulon blog reports that Biggar was back in training on Monday morning. The report even said that Biggar could feature against his former club Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup this weekend.

Biggar called time on his Wales career after the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in France, where he bowed out with 112 caps to his name.

Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit replacement

Gloucester Rugby are lining up a replacement for superstar Louis Rees-Zammit, with the Wales winger expected to move on once his contract ends next summer.

GloucestershireLive report that the club have lined up Bath flyer Joe Cokanasiga as a replacement for the 22-year-old Welshman, who has been at the club from the academy stage.

Cokanasiga has been on the international scene for five years, earning 14 caps in the process. Having been with Bath since 2018, Cokanasiga is reportedly also out of contract at the end of the season.

However, with Henry Arundell now opting to stay at Racing 92 for another two seasons, Bath’s options have become very limited, having been linked with the young speedster. This could influence the club’s decision on whether they want to keep Cokanasiga on at the club.

Billy Vunipola red card overturned

Saracens back-rower Billy Vunipola’s red card has been overturned.

The England man was given his marching order in the Champions Cup last weekend against Bulls. It was just shy of the hour mark when Vunipola made direct head contact with Cameron Hanekom in the process of clearing out a ruck.

While it was decidedly a red card offence on the day, a disciplinary panel have ruled the act not worthy of a red. There was “insufficient force” to warrant a sending off.

Vunipola is now free to play in Saracens’ game against Connacht on Saturday, in the second round of the Champions Cup.


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