The Rugby World Cup may be over, but there is still plenty going on in the sport.
Here are your morning headlines.
Japan lined up for shock Six Nations invite
Japan are reportedly being lined up for a shock Six Nations invite following their World Cup success.
According to MailOnline , the idea has been floated in private after it emerged that the Rugby Championship were proposing a delay of four or five years before sanctioning their involvement.
No formal discussions are understood to have taken place, but World Rugby are aware that key figures in the Six Nations have expressed interest – although it is unlikely that the six nations themselves have been presented with this proposal yet.
Rassie Erasmus nearly quit Springboks job last year
South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus has revealed he nearly walked out of the job last year after a string of bad results.
Having taken over from Allister Coetzee, Erasmus had a lot of work to do to turn the Boks around. However, defeats to Australia and Argentina left him considering resignation if they didn’t beat New Zealand in Wellngton.
“I have never lost three games in a row as a coach and if I did that I don’t deserve to be a Springbok coach. We played New Zealand in Wellington and that was important, as if we lost it I wouldn’t be here,” he said after the final.
They won in Wellington, going on to win 13 of their next 18 matches and make history in Japan.
Agustin Pichot not giving up on nations championship idea
World Rugby vice chairman Agustin Pichot says he will not give up on the introduction of a nations championship and has urged the Six Nations to reconsider the idea.
Pichot had been the driving force behind a new competition between the top 12 teams in the northern and southern hemispheres – only for the proposal to be scrapped in June.
But Pichot is convinced his idea is still the right way forward.
“To be honest, I understand the Six Nations. They have a very successful tournament, and it’s very commercially sustainable,” Pichot is quoted as saying in the Irish Examiner .
“What we have to try to do is convince them we all have to be together — north and south — for the better of the game.
“Hopefully, something will come out of the project and I’m confident something will happen. The day I stop trying I won’t be here, so I’m very positive.
“The Six Nations has some logic, but we have to be more magnanimous and try to make something better for the game. The Nations Championship would have been put in place as a pathway for teams to be in the top 12 in the world. The idea is to give structure.
“It didn’t happen, unfortunately, and now we have a good challenge to see what is going to be next.”
Beauden Barrett backing Ian Foster for All Blacks job
All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has backed New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster as the man to fill Steve Hansen’s boots.
Hansen ended his 16-year spell with the All Blacks last Friday with a win over Wales in the World Cup bronze match and Barrett hopes for some continuity heading into the next era.
“He’s a very intelligent coach. A great team man and hopefully we can have some continuity going forward,” the 28-year-old told the New Zealand Herald.
Kieran Read, however, managed to swerve the question on the next coach, saying: “I’m not going to get into that.”
Johnny Sexton’s World Cup dreams not over yet
It was yet more World Cup heartbreak for Johnny Sexton in Japan. A third tournament for the 34-year-old ended in a third quarter-final exit.
But former Leinster team-mate and current attack coach at the province, Felipe Contepomi, believes that Sexton can have one more shot at World Cup glory – despite the prospect of being 38 when France 2023 comes around.
“You’ve touched on a guy who’s the best example in terms of resilience and learning,” said Contepomi. “Even at 34, he’s still learning. He’s always wanting to learn.
“Definitely if he’s frustrated, he’ll always bounce back and get the best out of himself.
“I haven’t spoken personally with him, but I’m pretty sure he’s not ruling himself out of the next World Cup. He needs to keep fit, definitely, and age is something you can’t move backwards.”
Former England captain in retirement talks with club
Northampton Saints are reportedly in talks with former England captain Dylan Hartley to call time on his career, reports The Rugby Paper.
The hooker hasn’t played since last December due to knee issues but reports claim it is the 33-year-old’s concussion issues that are ‘placing his career in doubt’.
World Cup winner calls time on Springbok career
Finally, Francois Louw has called time on his Test career after winning the World Cup with South Africa.
“It does cap my career. It was officially my final game for South Africa – 76 games‚ 10 years‚ I couldn’t have asked for anything bigger‚ anything more special‚” the 34-year-old told Sunday Times Live (South Africa).
He added: “We’ve had two very dark years in Springbok rugby history and to come back the way we did‚ to form a united team the way we did – a team that fully represents South Africa and win a World Cup with that is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
This content was originally published here.