Here’s the latest rugby news for Thursday 2nd February.

Gatland’s message to the team meeting

Footage of Warren Gatland’s message to the Wales players has been released after he announced the team would face Ireland earlier this week.

Gatland can be seen addressing the players, telling those who have lost the importance of their roles now.

The Wales manager chose an experienced squad when he announced his squad earlier this week, but 14 members of the 37-man squad will not play this weekend. Gatland has made it clear what he expects now.

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“The guys that got lost, whether they’re on the bench or not, I hope they’re disappointed,” says Gatland in the WRU video.

“Some guys came here, younger players, and learned from that experience, but after that disappointment, it’s how you react.

“I hope you’re disappointed, but that’s how you react to that disappointment, because our job is to make the 23 in the field perform at their best. His role towards the end of the week will be very, very important to us.”

Ireland rejected Gatland’s claim

Ireland have rejected Warren Gatland’s claims that opening the Six Nations this weekend is a “free” for Wales against the No. 1 team in the world.

Gatland urged Ireland to become world number one and Wales’ disappointing autumn campaign meant that Welsh players were able to play without the burden of high expectations.

It’s an assessment that Johnny Sexton categorically rejected.

“Maybe that’s what he’s saying, but he certainly didn’t pick a team that he would assume was a free kick because he picked a team with a lot of experience,” said Sexton, who is fit and ready to play after his recent facial injury. .

“He’s come back with some older guys, which suggests he’s got his eye on this game.

“If I was looking for a free kick I would take all the youngsters, hit them and see if they can make it to the World Cup.

“We definitely didn’t prepare like that. We’re gearing up for a full Test match at Principality Stadium, which is an incredibly difficult place to beat. That’s what we talk about and prepare for.”

Gatland said: “I think the free kick for us is that they (Ireland) are expected and pressured to win as favourites.

“The secret, and I’m sure Andy will talk about this, is you don’t run away, you want to embrace the expectation of being the number one team in the world.

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Warburton calls for WRU workers to be fired if found guilty

Sam Warburton believes anyone at the WRU found guilty of any of the allegations made in last week’s scandalous BBC documentary should be sacked “without remorse”.

An employee, who continues to work at the WRU, allegedly said that he wanted to rape a colleague. Another allegedly used a racist term in a staff meeting, while others made nasty jokes about child molestation.

Warburton, speaking to the BBC, did not mince words.

“I’m passionate about the WRU and what you think can happen to it. I want it to be good, you’re proud of it and it’s part of our identity as a nation.

“It’s hard to see. There are a lot of great people working at WRU and unfortunately a minority have created this negativity through bad conversations.

“Don’t get me wrong, they are completely unacceptable. Once they find out who it is, I’ll get rid of them without regret, you can’t have someone like that around you.

“It needs a review from day one and an ongoing process to make sure it never gets to that level. It hurts and it’s inconvenient.”

Fiji coach resigns

Another international coach left after Vern Cotter stepped down as Fiji manager eight months after the Rugby World Cup.

That means Fiji, Wales and Australia, who met in the group stage, changed coaches less than a year after the tournament ended.

Fiji Rugby President Humphrey Tawake told a news conference in Suva on Thursday that Cotter had resigned for personal reasons, but did not elaborate.

In a statement, Cotter lamented his sudden departure.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the players and coaches I worked with during my time with the team,” he said.

“I feel that the team has improved a lot in recent years, on and off the field.

“I think we’ve built a great culture that is a testament to some good people who work hard and enjoy each other’s company, and I’m disappointed to be leaving now.”

WRU accused of integrity signaling

The Welsh Rugby Union have been accused of “signaling virtue” over their decision to remove the song Delilah from the Principality Stadium choir’s playlist.

The move comes after a week of disastrous headlines for the union, which has been accused of a toxic culture of sexism and misogyny following a series of devastating allegations.

But the decision for the Sir Tom Jones classic did not go down well with many, although others praised the move.

Conservative Welsh sports minister Tom Giffard MS said: “This decision is wrong, it is a simple sign of virtue designed to alleviate the pressure the WRU is currently under. Calls to ban the song have been going on for at least the last decade, but the WRU has decided to act now.

“People are calling for institutional changes, better working practices and a better complaints process for the WRU, but instead they choose to ban a much-loved Tom Jones song. This action will not solve anything.”

Delilah lyrics, why the song is controversial and what Sir Tom Jones said about it

Jonny Sexton reveals he was offended by Gatland decision, Shaun Edwards warns players about Wales

Louis Rees-Zammit issued a scathing message after the WRU ejected Delilah from the stadium

Rumors about Justin Tipuric became clarification of the contractual situation

The WRU will be completely overhauled as clubs will now vote on complete master plans.