Conor O'Shea says he "loved every minute" of being Italy head coach after deciding to step away from the role.

The Irishman had a contract through to May 2020 but has opted to resign with immediate effect.

O'Shea, a former London Irish and Harlequins coach, took over the Azzurri in March 2016, but Italy failed to make it out of the group stages of the recent Rugby World Cup.

"I loved every minute I spent in Italy and I really believe in what we have done and how it can be achieved in the years to come," O'Shea, who has been tipped to take up a position with the English Rugby Football Union, said via a statement on the Italian Rugby Federation's official website.

"We have started a process and generated a new, well-founded hope, but I also believe that the end of the Rugby World Cup represents the best time for everyone to make changes in view of the new cycle.

"I built friendships and made experiences that I will never forget. I sincerely hope to have left Italian rugby in a better position."

O'Shea's last match was the World Cup clash with South Africa, which ended in a 49-3 defeat to the eventual champions.

Italy needed to produce an unlikely victory over New Zealand in their final pool match in order to qualify – a fixture abandoned due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Scottish Rugby has expressed its regret over threatening to take legal action against World Rugby during the World Cup and agreed to pay a £70,000 fine.

Chief executive Mark Dodson said Scottish Rugby had received legal opinion for a potential case against the world governing body if Scotland's clash with Japan was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The decisive Pool A showdown between the hosts and Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama was in doubt with one of the most destructive typhoons in decades approaching.

Japan reached the quarter-finals and knocked Gregor Townsend's side out when the match went ahead as scheduled last month.

Scottish Rugby stated that it would "consider all options, which may include arbitration" after World Rugby ordered the organisation to apologise and pay a fine.

The matter is now closed, though, after Scottish Rugby opted against taking further action.

"World Rugby can confirm that the Scottish Rugby Union has expressed its regret and has confirmed it will not challenge World Rugby further on this matter.

"The Scottish Rugby Union has agreed to pay a donation of £70,000 to World Rugby and the matter is now closed. There will be no further comment from either party."

World Rugby stated last week that the fine will be donated to the ChildFund Pass it Back programme to assist with the ongoing relief effort in areas affected by Typhoon Hagibis.

Scottish Rugby has expressed its regret over threatening to take legal action against World Rugby during the World Cup and agreed to pay a £70,000 fine.

Chief executive Mark Dodson said Scottish Rugby had received legal opinion for a potential case against the world governing body if Scotland's clash with Japan was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The decisive Pool A showdown between the hosts and Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama was in doubt with one of the most destructive typhoons in decades approaching.

Japan reached the quarter-finals and knocked Gregor Townsend's side out when the match went ahead as scheduled last month.

Scottish Rugby stated that it would "consider all options, which may include arbitration" after World Rugby ordered the organisation to apologise and pay a fine.

The matter is now closed, though, after Scottish Rugby opted against taking further action.

"World Rugby can confirm that the Scottish Rugby Union has expressed its regret and has confirmed it will not challenge World Rugby further on this matter.

"The Scottish Rugby Union has agreed to pay a donation of £70,000 to World Rugby and the matter is now closed. There will be no further comment from either party."

World Rugby stated last week that the fine will be donated to the ChildFund Pass it Back programme to assist with the ongoing relief effort in areas affected by Typhoon Hagibis.

Wales will be without centre Jonathan Davies for the 2020 Six Nations after he was ruled out for at least six months due to impending knee surgery.

Davies, 31, sustained the injury during a pool game against Fiji at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

He missed the quarter-final against France but returned for the semi-final against eventual winners South Africa, while he also played in the bronze medal match against New Zealand.

The timetable for Davies' recovery means the Six Nations, which begins for Wales with a home fixture against Italy on February 1 and runs until March 14, will come too soon for him in his recovery.

 

Also set for a spell on the sidelines following Wales' return from the tournament in Japan is fly-half Rhys Patchell. Davies' Scarlets team-mate will miss between 12 and 16 weeks due to shoulder surgery.

Wales are defending Six Nations champions having achieved the Grand Slam in the 2019 tournament.

They will be under the leadership of Wayne Pivac following the departure of Warren Gatland, who spent 12 years at the helm.

Jonathan Davies' knee injury sustained at the Rugby World Cup will rule him out of Wales' 2020 Six Nations campaign. 

Eddie Jones is excited to get the chance to return to Japan after it was confirmed Rugby World Cup finalists England will tour there in 2020.

England, who overcame Australia and New Zealand in the knockout stages, lost 32-12 to South Africa in the final last Saturday.

Tournament hosts Japan, meanwhile, impressed many on their run to the quarter-finals, where they eventually went out to the Springboks.

It was announced on Friday that England will go back to Japan next year, with a two-match Test series scheduled for July.

"Japan were fantastic Rugby World Cup hosts and we feel humbled to have been a part of it," said Jones.

"The England squad had a fantastic experience of the country and we are excited to return in July next year.

"The Japan national team have shown again how good a side they are with their performances during the World Cup and I know they will provide a great test for us in July."

England have only played against Jones' former team Japan on two occasions, winning 35-15 at Twickenham in November 2018 having previously met in the inaugural World Cup in 1987.

The first Test will be on July 4 at the Showa Denko Dome in Oita, the venue where England knocked out the Wallabies, while the second will be held in Kobe a week later.

Sonny Bill Williams has returned to rugby league by signing a two-year deal with Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack.

The 34-year-old, a two-time Rugby World Cup winner with New Zealand, has switched codes again having signed a contract reportedly worth 9million Canadian dollars that will make him the highest-paid rugby league player in the world.

Williams, who featured for the All Blacks in their run to the World Cup semi-finals last month, began his professional career in the NRL with Canterbury Bulldogs.

After winning a Premiership with the Bulldogs, he switched to union to play for Top 14 club Toulon but returned to the NRL in 2013, winning a second title with Sydney Roosters.

It has been five years since Williams played league and his signing is a coup for a Toronto side that will spend next season in Super League having won promotion in just their third campaign.

Centre Williams, a two-time World Cup-winner with the All Blacks with 58 caps to his name, is ready to play a big role for ambitious Toronto on and off the field.

"Toronto Wolfpack is a club that represents Toronto which is a very multicultural city," he said.

"The club has big ambitions and big goals. I want to be part of all this and do all I can to help reach those lofty goals.

"On the field I'd like to bring high quality play and do all I can for the betterment of the team. Off the field I'd like to use my experience to mentor the young players and be helpful where I am needed.

"Super league will be a new challenge and one I'm looking forward to. It will be a new experience and one I'm ready to embrace."

Scottish Rugby has been fined £70,000 and ordered to apologise after threatening to take legal action if the Rugby World Cup clash with Japan was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The crunch Pool A clash showdown between the hosts and Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama last month was in doubt with one of the most destructive typhoons in decades approaching.

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said the organisation had received legal opinion for a potential case against World Rugby if the match was called off, with Scotland needing a win to reach the quarter-finals.

Japan beat Gregor Townsend's side in a contest that went ahead as scheduled and Scotland have now been sanctioned for Dodson's remarks, though a second charge brought against an unnamed Scottish Rugby spokesperson was dismissed.

A statement from the world governing body said: "World Rugby strongly believed the comments, which suggested an unfair and disorganised treatment of all teams, to be inappropriate and ill-judged at a time when Japan was preparing for the largest and most destructive typhoon in decades. 

"The international federation believed that such comments brought the game into disrepute, not only in relation to World Rugby's handling of an extraordinary situation but also in the message that it sent to the Japanese people. 

"Having considered all the evidence, including submissions by World Rugby and the SRU, the committee determined in respect of the first charge that comments attributed to Mark Dodson amounted to misconduct and brought the game into disrepute. 

"In respect of the second charge, the available evidence was insufficient for the committee to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities as to the source of the offending remarks and therefore it dismissed the charge."

Scottish Rugby said it would reflect on this outcome and further consider all our options, which may include arbitration.

Former England captain Dylan Hartley has retired at the age of 33, his club Northampton Saints have confirmed.

Hartley has not played since December due to a troublesome knee problem and it is that injury that has ultimately ended his career.

The hooker made 97 appearances for England, captaining his country on 30 occasions, and is the nation's second-most capped player behind Jason Leonard.

Hartley made his international debut in 2008 and was named Eddie Jones' captain ahead of the 2016 Six Nations, when England won the Grand Slam.

England also won the Six Nations with Hartley as captain in 2017 but his injury meant he missed the recent Rugby World Cup, with Jones' side reaching last weekend's final before losing to South Africa.

"I am extremely proud of my journey, both with Saints and representing England, but now is the right time to hang up my playing boots," Hartley said in quotes published on Northampton's website.

"I have loved my journey in rugby. I came to England as a teenager hoping to get a few games of rugby and to see the world.

"I could have never predicted that one day I'd play 14 years for such a special club and go on to represent and captain England."

Hartley made 251 appearances for Northampton across 14 seasons and came on when Saints won the Premiership final against Saracens in 2014.

His career was littered with controversies, though, and he was named England captain in 2016 despite serving bans totalling 54 weeks for offences such as gouging, biting and striking.

"My career wasn't perfect, but I wouldn't have had it any other way," Hartley added.

"I'm privileged to have experienced some amazing highs while there have also been some personal lows, all of which are powerful experiences that will stay with me forever.

"The final chapter of my career was supposed to go a different way, but that is the nature of professional sport."

Tendai Mtawarira has retired from international rugby just four days after helping South Africa to Rugby World Cup glory in Japan.

The 34-year-old prop put in an all-action performance as the Springboks dominated England 32-12 in Yokohama to win the Webb Ellis Cup for a record-equalling third time.

Mtawarira, nicknamed 'The Beast', steps away from South Africa duty having amassed 117 caps, during which time he also won a Tri Nations and a Rugby Championship with his country.

"I've been privileged to play this great game and achieve many career goals over the last 12 years of playing senior rugby," Mtawarira said.

"I've been blessed to have been part of teams that achieved so much success over the years, and I have many memories to cherish forever, but I can honestly say that winning the Rugby World Cup is the perfect ending and cherry on top.

"I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by many top coaches at the Springboks and the Sharks, and grateful to my numerous team mates in green and gold, and black and white, over the years."

After making his Sharks debut in 2006, Mtawarira received his first Springboks cap two years later and only Victor Mayfield and Bryan Habana have appeared more times in a South Africa jersey.

South Africa Rugby president Mark Alexander added in a statement: "'Beast' is someone who never complained, always put in the hard work and simply got on with his job in his typically unassuming way.

"When he first got an opportunity at the Sharks, he rode a bicycle to training, which perfectly sums up not only his humbleness, but his desire to make it to the top. He worked very hard to achieve what he has and we’re all very proud of him.

"'Beast', thank you for what you've done for South African rugby, to show that Springboks can indeed be gentle giants, and for never putting your own interests above that of the team. We salute you and will miss you in green and gold."

Siya Kolisi was left "humbled and overawed" by the incredible reception South Africa received on their return from winning the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Springboks made their way home on Tuesday and arrived to remarkable scenes at a Johannesburg airport, where thousands of fans gathered to celebrate their triumph.

It was a lot for captain Kolisi to take in and he thanked the nation for getting behind his side, who claimed glory by thrashing England 32-12 in the final.

"In Japan, we got a glimpse of the support back home, but this reception is something else – we can't begin to thank everyone for backing us throughout this journey," said Kolisi.

"We did this for all South Africans – ordinary people who work tirelessly all day long to care for their families and friends and ultimately make our wonderful country an even better place.

"Winning the World Cup on foreign soil was very special – and arriving home to this wonderful support is the cherry on top. We are tired but grateful, humbled and overawed – thank you."

Head coach Rassie Erasmus, who won the tactical battle of wits against opposite number Eddie Jones in Yokohama, echoed Kolisi's sentiments ahead of a trophy tour that begins in Gauteng on Thursday.

"We brought the Webb Ellis Cup home for all South Africans and we really wish we could go everywhere to thank our supporters, but unfortunately logistics and time constraints doesn't allow for that to happen this time," said Erasmus.

"I would like to agree with Siya – the support here at the airport made all the hard work and sacrifices over the last two months worth it. Thank you to everyone who came out to greet us."

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced the launch of its recruitment process to replace All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, with an appointment to be made in December. 

Hansen's eight-year tenure at the New Zealand helm ended following the Rugby World Cup bronze final win over Wales, a semi-final defeat to England having denied him a shot at a second title.

NZR confirmed the search for his successor was under way in a statement released on Wednesday, in which the organisation said it had invited "applications from a small group of coaches familiar with New Zealand's professional rugby environment".

Chairman Brent Impey revealed the process – conducted by a five-strong panel – would take place throughout November and next month, with a head coach announced prior to Christmas.

"This is a hugely exciting time for New Zealand Rugby," said Impey. "We know that the All Blacks and New Zealand have been served well by exceptional coaches, so we are well aware of the importance of the task ahead.

"We believe we have an excellent group of people on the panel, balancing the experience of winning, high-performance teams and leadership with external perspective and experience."

South Africa were crowned champions of the world with the best player on the planet this weekend but not even Pieter-Steph du Toit could make the Opta team of the Rugby World Cup.

The Springboks overpowered England at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday and lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time after a commanding 32-12 victory.

Outstanding lock Du Toit was crowned World Rugby Player of the Year the following day and Rassie Erasmus was named the top coach in the world at a ceremony in Tokyo.

Yet there were no Springboks in the Opta team of the tournament, with Japan's South Africa-born back-row Pieter Labuschagne in at number seven ahead of Du Toit.

There were four New Zealand players and as many from the host nation Japan in the Opta XV.

Players had to have been on the field for at least 320 minutes, or 240 for props, to be eligible for selection, with tries, carries, metres carried, offloads, turnovers assists and tackle success contributing to earn points.

New Zealand playmaker Beauden Barrett, twice named the best player in the world, claimed the most points in the competition.

 

Opta's Rugby World Cup team of the tournament: Beauden Barrett (New Zealand), Kotaro Matsushima (Japan), Manu Tuilagi (England), Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand), Semi Radradra (Fiji), Richie Mo'unga (New Zealand), Gareth Davies (Wales); Joe Moody (New Zealand), Shota Horie (Japan), Kyle Sinckler (England), Maro Itoje (England), Kane Le'aupepe (Samoa), Chris Vui (Samoa), Pieter Labuschagne (Japan), Kazuki Himeno (Japan).

Roger Federer has saluted the "amazing" South Africa team and captain Siya Kolisi following their Rugby World Cup final win over England.

The Springboks thrashed favourites England 32-12 in Yokohama on Saturday and tennis superstar Federer sent a video message praising their achievement.

Federer's mother, Lynette, was born in South Africa and the 20-time grand slam champion clearly enjoyed the nation's success in Japan.

"Siya, it's Roger here. Couldn't be more happy for you and the team," he said in a video shared on the Springboks' Twitter account on Sunday.

"What a victory, what an amazing team effort. You guys spent so much time together and you ended up with the big win.

"I was watching it, I was following it. Many, many congratulations and I hope I can meet you soon.

"You're the best. Well done everybody, you guys are amazing."

As South Africa celebrate a record-equalling third Rugby World Cup triumph, the newly-crowned champions are among a host of top international sides heading into a new era.

Rassie Erasmus worked wonders in a short space of time to transform the Springboks from failures into the best side in the world after taking over as head coach last March.

He has now relinquished the role to concentrate solely on his position as director of rugby, having juggled both jobs, and he will be a tough act to follow.

Steve Hansen's glorious New Zealand reign also came to an end in Japan, while Warren Gatland's long Wales tenure is over and Ireland will start life without Joe Schmidt following their quarter-final exit.

Australia are in the market for a new head coach too, and France have moved on from the man who led them in Japan. We take a look at their situations.

 

SOUTH AFRICA

Erasmus only agreed to fill in as head coach when Allister Coetzee's turbulent spell in charge came to an end, but he has ruled out staying on.

The 46-year-old became the first man to oversee a Rugby Championship and World Cup triumph in the same year, but will now focus on a job with a wide-ranging remit.

South Africa are reportedly expected to promote from within to replace Erasmus, with defence coach Jacques Nienaber the leading contender.

Mzwandile Stick and Matt Proudfoot are also members of the current coaching step up who could be in the running.

 

NEW ZEALAND

The All Blacks are likely to opt for continuity as they consider who should be charged with the task of succeeding Hansen.

New Zealand were unable to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third time in a row, but Hansen has left a lasting legacy.

The 60-year-old spent 15 years on the coaching staff and was a huge success in the top job after earning a promotion.

Hansen championed his assistant, Ian Foster, to replace him. Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and Glasgow Warriors chief Dave Rennie are other possibilities.

 

AUSTRALIA

The under-pressure Michael Cheika quit as Wallabies coach after an emphatic quarter-final defeat to England.

Cheika's position had long since been called into question and the new man will take over a side sixth in the rankings and in need of a shake-up.

England head coach Eddie Jones has been linked with a second spell in charge of his country, but said before a defeat to the Springboks in the final that he has not been in contact with Rugby Australia.

Cheika said an Australian should replace him and Stephen Larkham could be in the reckoning, though Rennie may get the nod if they look overseas.

 

WALES

Wayne Pivac was confirmed as Gatland's successor last year - a reward for his success with the Scarlets.

The former policeman will have big shoes to fill, with Gatland having turned Wales into a consistent force and winning the Grand Slam in his final Six Nations.

Gatland parted by stating it would break his heart if Wales returned to the doldrums, as if his compatriot Pivac was not already aware of the standards he would be expected to maintain.

 

IRELAND

Andy Farrell gets his chance to be Ireland's main man after Schmidt decided it was time to take a break.

The experienced Englishman has made a big impact as defence coach and Irish Rugby Football Union chiefs are confident he can be a success.

One of Farrell's first jobs will be to appoint a new captain after Rory Best's retirement and he will take over a strong squad, one smarting from a World Cup quarter-final exit.

 

FRANCE

France are in need of some stability with a World Cup to come on home soil in four years' time and they will be hoping Fabien Galthie is the man to provide it.

Galthie takes over from Jacques Brunel after Les Bleus were knocked out by Wales at the quarter-final stage in Japan.

Former France captain Galthie is contracted until 2023 and could be assisted by Shaun Edwards, who has played such a big part in Wales' success under Gatland.

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