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Former England captain brands Louis Lynagh Italy call 'brave'

By Ian Cameron
Louis Lynagh looks on during the England training session held at The Lensbury on September 28, 2021 in Teddington, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England captain Dylan Hartley has described Louis Lynagh’s decision to declare for Italy as a ‘brave and proud’.

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RugbyPass exclusively reveald that Lynagh was making the switch earlier this month and he could yet feature this weekend against France in Round 3 of the Six Nations.

Lynagh, the Treviso-born son of Australia great Michael who also played for the Italian club in the 1990s, quit Harlequins to join Italian club Benetton earlier this moth with the aim of representing the Azzurri.

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The 23-year-old was called up by England under Eddie Jones but failed to win a cap and has been overlooked completely by Steve Borthwick since he took over in December 2022.

While Hartley didn’t go as far as saying it was a missed opportunity for England, he backed the Lynagh for making the decision. Hartley, who left New Zealand at 16, followed a not dissimilar path to his international career.

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“It’s tough to say [Whether it’s a loss for England],” said Hartley. “Those who’ve seen him play week in, week out for Quins will be better qualified to say because I don’t watch Premiership rugby every single week, but I did see him score an absolute wonder try not so long ago. He does some great things.

“Here’s a kid with an opportunity to go and play international rugby. Does he wait (for an England or Australia call) or go for it? He’s absolutely going for it. Wing is a pretty difficult position. There’s not many guys that sit in a wing position internationally for years. It’s a highly competitive position and, these guys are so finely tuned, so the slightest sort of injury or form can have a massive impact on your international career.

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“I think it’s a pretty bold decision by Louis and a proud decision as well. He’s proud to be half Italian. Good on him. Go for it. He is exactly what Italian rugby needs. If you look at the rest of the rugby world – your Bundee Aki’s or Duhan van der Merwe – it’s pretty common in international rugby.

“I think it’s good for the international rugby community. He takes his Premiership experience to the Italian side, which is only going to benefit the game. He’ll add to that environment and I’m sure he’ll learn a lot there too. I think it’s a great moment for him.”

Hartley’s full conversation with Gambling Zone can be found here. 

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Poorfour 10 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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