The Offload: Glenn Moore steps down as Black Ferns head coach

Success for national underage sides; Montpellier need just two wins to reach quarters

Glenn Moore, the long-serving coach of the New Zealand women's rugby team, has stepped down from his role while pointing out that he didn't agree with "misleading allegations" made against him by a player, the basis of which sparked a review into the team's culture. New Zealand will host the Women's Rugby World Cup in October.

The investigation was triggered after one of the players, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, said on social media in December that she had suffered a mental breakdown after alleged critical comments from Moore.

The review was conducted by an independent panel who found that some players and management complained of negative experiences within the Black Ferns’ team environment, including instances of body shaming, culturally insensitive comments and favouritism.

The 62-year-old Moore, who has coached the Black Ferns since 2015 and led them to a World Cup triumph two years later, issued a statement in which he said: “I remain concerned that the prolonged Cultural and Environmental Review continues to be distracting at a time when all focus needs to be on maximising performance. I feel it is in the best interests of the team that I step down.”

Ngata-Aerengamate's post came after the world champion Black Ferns, who hadn't played a match in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lost four tests in a row against England and France in November.

Moore’s statement continued: “I didn’t agree with the allegations she made, and they were misleading. The post provided no context and unfairly and inaccurately represented me as a coach and a person. My values and beliefs were called into question, and it was very disappointing not only to me but also to my family.”

His resignation was accepted by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) CEO Mark Robinson who said: “We understand and respect Glenn’s decision to step down and it is a mark of his character that he has chosen to put the team first at this difficult time.” NZR said a further update on the team’s coaching structure will be provided this week.

Underage Success

Ireland signed off the Men's Under-18 Six Nations Festival with a 40-14 victory over Italy at the French rugby training headquarters of Marcoussis, on the outskirts of Paris on Sunday, ending the tournament with two victories over Wales (46-26) and Italy and a narrow defeat (28-23) in their opening match against hosts, France.

The squad, coached by Paul Barr and Andy Kyriacou, capped 26 players, including Tom Briggs, an injury call-up during the festival. This competition was last staged three years ago when players like Ulster scrumhalf Nathan Doak, Leinster's Jamie Osborne (centre) and Alex Soroka (flanker) and Munster's Alex Kendellen (flanker) were involved.

Ireland Under-20 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam winners Reuben Crothers, Ben Carson and Jack Boyle all played in that festival in England in 2019. The current squad includes some famous names, outhalf Jack Murphy, son of Irish-20s coach, Richie, and cousins Jacob Sheahan (number eight) and Danny Sheahan (hooker), who are nephews of former Munster and Ireland hooker, Frankie.

Replacement hooker Danny Sheahan was one of Ireland's six try scorers along with Gonzaga wing Hugo McLaughlin (2), fullback Ben O'Connor (Pres Cork), captain Sam Berman (St Michael's) and Harry Long (Ardscoil Ris). Jack Murphy (Pres Bray) kicked three conversions, Kilkenny College's Sean Naughton, two more.

Meanwhile the Ireland Under-19 team under the coaching baton of Kieran Hallett, Andrew Browne and Mark Butler drew a two-match series, 1-1, against a France Under-20 development squad.

The Irish side, captained by U-20s Grand Slam winner, James McNabney - Diarmuid Mangan also played before picking up an injury - won the first game

26-21 but despite leading at half-time, succumbed to a second half French onslaught to do down 50-21 at Templeville Road over the weekend.

Number: 2

The number of matches that Montpellier have won on the pitch in making the quarterfinals of the Heineken Champions Cup. The French Top 14 leaders profited by a missed conversion by Harlequins and England outhalf Marcus Smith to squeeze through by a single point over the two legs in the round of 16. They will now take on Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle, beaten finalists last year.

Quote

"There was another critical call on James Hume off his feet at a breakdown and that was to me just not a penalty at all." Absolutely agree with Ulster head coach Dan McFarland about this call by referee Mathew Carley, the Toulouse player jumps away from contact and the Ulster player then falls to the ground but doesn't impede an opposition player.

Battle of the Students

Dublin University completed a third consecutive success in the Fraser McMullen final to go with victories in 2018 and 2019, the last time the competition was played out. Trinity beat arch-rivals UCD 28-23 after extra time in a pulsating final at Lakelands.

UCD's matchday 23 contained five of Ireland's Under-20 Six Nations Grand Slam winning side, fullback Dylan O'Grady, centre Fionn Gibbons, secondrow Conor O'Tighearnaigh and the official Six Nations player of the tournament, James Culhane. Mark Morrissey was among the replacements.

It was Trinity though that prevailed with tries from Oisin McCloskey, Conor Booth and Harry Colbert, who also kicked a conversion and a penalty. Hugh O'Kennedy tagged on eight points with the boot. UCD's response came from tries by Michael Moloney, Charlie O'Carroll and Oisin Spain with Moloney kicked two penalties and a conversion.

Trinity will try to add the McCorry Cup when they face Old Belvedere in the final.