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."

Saracens' back-to-back Premiership title successes will have come via unfair means if their punishment for breaching salary cap rules is upheld, according to Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter. 

The reigning champions of England and Europe have been docked 35 points and fined £5.36million for exceeding the ceiling for payments to players in each of the past three seasons.

Sarries were hit with the sanction following an investigation by Premiership Rugby prompted by revelations several high-profile players had formed investment or property partnerships with club owner Nigel Wray.

The London club are appealing against the verdict and have denied any wrongdoing, but Baxter – whose Chiefs side have lost to Sarries in the final in each of the past two campaigns – believes if that appeal fails, it will tarnish the last two title wins. 

And, while Baxter would "love to" see those Premiership triumphs reassigned to Exeter, he considers that an unlikely outcome. 

"If this is upheld, it's pretty obvious those titles have been won unfairly," Baxter said in Cardiff at the launch of this season's Champions Cup, an event at which Sarries had no representatives. 

"If you're asking me would I like to walk into Sandy Park and see three Premiership trophies there, I would love to.

"In reality do I see that happening? No. There are too many other factors that come into play.

"I believe the way we played in the final last year would have beaten any other team in the Premiership.

"The whole truth is if Saracens had been operating with a different group of players last season they may not have got to the final, and if a different team had been there they might have outperformed us on the day," he continued.

"It would be ridiculous for me to say they were givens. How many results could have been different in the course of a season and the top four could have been created differently.

"Every one of the games, semi-finals and finals would have been different. To sit here and say 'we should have been given the title' is a little bit like a shortcut when the season is what you do as whole."

Chris Robshaw has branded Saracens cheats and says the Premiership and European champions have put rugby union in a "dangerous place" by breaching salary cap regulations.

Sarries were docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million on Tuesday for exceeding the ceiling for payments to players in each of the past three seasons.

The London club were sanctioned after Premiership Rugby launched an investigation following revelations that high-profile players had entered into investment or property partnerships with club owner Nigel Wray.

Sarries will appeal against the verdict and have denied any wrongdoing all along, but former England captain Robshaw says they have tarnished the reputation of the sport.

"It's not great, the game that we loved is in the world eye. The pinnacle of English rugby is illegal," the Harlequins skipper said.

"I think it puts our sport in a very dangerous place. We are a sport that always claimed to be whiter than white, we would look down on football and look down on this and that, we would say how it is, but we are like everyone else.

"Call it what you want. It is cheating. It is not a good situation for our sport to be in. It is not a thing we pride ourselves on.

"When you look at cheating in athletics, when you look at cheating in cycling, when you look at cheating in baseball - for us as a sport, we like to think our sport is cleaner and cleaner than everyone else.

"It is not anymore. It is not. We have to be realistic about that. As a sport we've got to take the damage that comes with that now. I am sure it will be like that for a while. It is not going to be easy for our sport to move forward.

"I know the World Cup didn't finish as we would have liked but look at the high it brought the country. And now we got some damage control to do."

Sarries could also be punished by European Professional Club Rugby after failing to attend a European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup launch in Cardiff on Wednesday.

Beleaguered Saracens could face further sanctions for failing to send a representative to the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup launch on Wednesday.

The European and English champions were on Tuesday docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million for exceeding the ceiling for payments to players in each of the last three seasons.

Sarries were sanctioned after Premiership Rugby launched an investigation following revelations that high-profile players had entered into investment or property partnerships with club owner Nigel Wray.

The London club will appeal against what they described as "heavy-handed sanctions" and may also have to explain to European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) why they were not represented at an event in Cardiff.

An EPCR statement read: "EPCR is disappointed to learn of Saracens' decision to make their club representatives unavailable for today's official 2019/20 season launch of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup in Cardiff.

"EPCR will now consider what action is appropriate in this instance and will be making no further comment at this time."

Exeter were runners-up to Saracens in the last two Premiership seasons and Chiefs chairman Tony Rowe called for the champions to be relegated.

Asked what punishment they should have faced, Rowe told BBC Radio Devon: "Relegation - in professional sport in America, if you're in breach of the salary cap you get thrown out completely."

He added: "We, for a number of years, have suspected they've been infringing the salary cap,

"But I don't think the penalty is severe enough. You take away 35 points this year - they could still be in the semi-finals and could still end up at Twickenham [in the Premiership final]."

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."

Saracens will launch an appeal after the club were left "shocked and disappointed" by being docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million for breaching salary cap regulations.

The Premiership and European champions were ruled to have failed to disclose payments and exceeded the ceiling for payments to players in each of the last three seasons.

An Independent Panel upheld all charges, which were brought following a nine-month Premiership Rugby investigation.

The investigation was launched after it was revealed high-profile Sarries players had entered into investment or property partnerships with club owner Nigel Wray.

The London club, champions of England in four of the last five seasons, have denied any wrongdoing all along and will challenge the sanctions.

A Sarries statement said: "Saracens Rugby club is shocked and disappointed by these heavy-handed sanctions and will launch an appeal against all the disciplinary panel's findings.

"The club is pleased the panel acknowledged it did not deliberately attempt to breach the salary cap and steadfastly maintains that player co-investments do not constitute salary under the regulations.

"This view is supported by independent legal and professional experts.

"The club will continue to vigorously defend this position especially as PRL precedent already exists whereby co-investments have not been deemed part of salary in the regulations.

"As previously stated, the club made administrative errors relating to the non-disclosure of some transactions to PRL and for this we apologise. We are pleased to confirm we now have a robust governance framework in place and this will be overseen by an external counsel to ensure the club follows best practice.

"Furthermore, it is the club’s belief that the panel's narrow interpretation of the regulations is detrimental to player welfare across the league and is damaging the development of elite level rugby in the UK.

"Saracens is proud of its pioneering, innovative approach to player welfare, developing their talents and supporting their entrepreneurial spirit for life beyond rugby."

Owner Wray added in a separate statement: "This is absolutely devastating for everyone associated with this amazing group of players, staff, partners and fans. 

"It has been acknowledged by the Panel that we never deliberately sought to mislead anyone or breach the cap and that's why it feels like the rug is being completely pulled out from under our feet. We will appeal all the findings."

Saracens have been docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million for breaching salary cap regulations.

The Premiership and European champions were ruled to have exceeded the ceiling for payments to players in each of the last three seasons.

Premiership Rugby launched an investigation in March after it was revealed that high-profile Sarries players had entered into investment or property partnerships with club owner Nigel Wray.

The London club, champions of England in four of the last five seasons, have insisted all along they are in compliance with rules and salary regulations but now face a huge fine and a battle to avoid relegation.

Saracens have the right to appeal against the sanctions, which will be suspended if they mount a challenge. 

Eddie Jones will coach a Barbarians side including four of South Africa's Rugby World Cup winners against Fiji just two weeks after they beat his England side in the Rugby World Cup final.

Makazole Mapimpi, Tendai Mtawarira and Lukhanyo Am were in the Springboks starting line-up for their 32-12 victory over the Red Rose at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.

The trio are set to play under Jones at Twickenham on November 16 along with Herschel Jantjies, who was among the replacements as South Africa claimed the Webb Ellis Cup for a record-equalling third time.

Mapimpi scored his sixth try of the tournament in the final and fell just one short of Wales wing Josh Adams' tournament-leading tally in Japan.

Retiring Ireland captain Rory Best and France centre Mathieu Bastareaud have also been named in the Baa-baas squad for the Killik Cup clash with the Pacific Islanders along

The Barbarians will also face Brazil in Sao Paolo on November 20 and Wales at the Principality Stadium 10 days later.

Beauden Barrett would welcome the appointment of Ian Foster as head coach to provide "continuity" for New Zealand.

Steve Hansen's trophy-laden reign came to an end after the All Blacks failed to win an unprecedented third successive Rugby World Cup.

Assistant coach Foster is reportedly among the leading contenders to step up and replace Hansen.

Two-time World Rugby Player of the Year Barrett believes Foster fits the bill for the top job.

"He's a very intelligent coach. A great team man and hopefully we can have some continuity going forward," he told the New Zealand Herald.

"Steve's legacy is a very strong one. His win percentage speaks for itself. I think the biggest thing with Steve is the way he makes his players feel. Trust and confidence.

"We know he 100 per cent has our back. As a player that's all you can really ask for. He's taught me a lot along the way and I'm very lucky for that."

Barrett says New Zealand were happy to see South Africa lift the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday with a defeat of an England side that dethroned them at the semi-final stage.

"To be fair we were probably supporting them. It's nice to see a Southern Hemisphere team and players that we are so familiar with and have friendships with lift the trophy," he added.

"If it couldn't be us, we were encouraging them to win."

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."

Exeter Chiefs roared back from 17-3 down to stun Worcester Warriors and claim a thrilling Premiership triumph on Sunday.

The Chiefs were indebted to Harry Williams as the prop's late converted try sealed a dramatic 24-20 victory at Sixways. 

A very different story appeared to be unfolding when Perry Humphreys touched down twice in the first half for the hosts, with Duncan Weir adding the extras both times and kicking a penalty.

But the Chiefs, beaten in the final last season after topping the table, cut the deficit courtesy of Jack Maunder's score.

And the second half belonged to the visitors, who ramped up the pressure when Matt Kvesic dotted down against his former club.

Another Weir penalty looked to have earned the Warriors some breathing space but Williams had other ideas and powered over to win it for his side. 

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.

Pieter-Steph du Toit has won World Rugby's Player of the Year award and Rassie Erasmus took the Coach of the Year accolade, a day after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup.

Du Toit played a huge part in the Springboks becoming the first team to win the Rugby Championship and lift the Webb Ellis Cup in the same year.

The lock was presented with the gong on Sunday after being shortlisted along with team-mate Cheslin Kolbe, England flanker Tom Curry, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, New Zealand flanker Ardie Savea and United States hooker Joe Taufete'e.

Erasmus was named the best coach in the world after working wonders in a short space of time for the newly-crowned world champions, having only taken over in March 2018.

Former Springbok player Erasmus said: "As everybody knows I'm finishing up as head coach. I will definitely be involved as director of rugby. We are all trying to be like the All Blacks, we all know what New Zealand has done over the last 12 years - they have set the bar right up there.

"We have enjoyed the last 24 hours and we are going to enjoy the next two weeks and then start working and try to be like New Zealand, be consistent and stay number one or two in the world."

South Africa inevitably claimed the World Rugby Team of the Year award after matching the All Blacks' tally of three World Cup triumphs.

England centre Emily Scarratt received the women's World Player of the Year award at the ceremony in Tokyo.

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