Jefferson Poirot quit international rugby at the age of 27 on Sunday in a decision he admits will leave some people "surprised and perhaps disappointed".

The France prop has retired from duty with Les Bleus and stressed his decision was "not a whim" but had been carefully considered.

Poirot, who won 36 caps for his country, said he took the decision to allow him to better focus on his club career and fatherhood.

He played at last year's Rugby World Cup and made his final France appearance in the shock defeat to Scotland on March 8, a Six Nations jolt after wins over England and Italy.

In a statement on Instagram, Poirot said: "It's time for me to tell you about the difficult decision that I took a few months ago.

"That of taking a step back from this grail that is the France team, this wonderful team that makes you dream so much, which is so hard to reach but which is also sometimes testing."

He said playing for France "has always filled me with joy" but that it was time "to devote myself fully to other personal goals".

"This decision will allow me to no longer feel like I am 50 per cent on all fronts, and to focus on a 100 per cent goal," Poirot said. "The goal that keeps me obsessing about winning club titles, achieving a milestone in my career, and being a full-time dad.

"Those who do not know me will be surprised, perhaps disappointed, those who know me will be able to understand.

"My loved ones support me, and this decision has been carefully considered, in any case it is not a whim: it is for me the right decision. The upright man, the father, is the one who makes the right decisions, at the right time, to be as tall as possible."

Poirot said he was sure the current France team "have a bright future", describing emerging talent as an "exceptional generation".

England prop Joe Marler has signed a new long-term contract with Premiership club Harlequins.

The 29-year-old has made over 200 appearances for Quins since making his debut in 2009 and there should be many more to come.

One-club man Marler has earned 71 England caps and toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions three years ago after making his presence felt at The Stoop before he was a teenager.

Marler said: "I am a Harlequin, and I love the club. Growing up with Harlequins as my boyhood team.

"I remember getting thrown out of The Stoop as a fan when I was 12 because I had tried to run on the pitch. Now I get the chance to continue my journey with great friends, team-mates, coaches, and fans, without getting thrown out... yet!

"I'm immensely proud to have played for Quins over 200 times so far, I even managed to convince one of the previous bosses [Conor O'Shea] to make me captain once. 

"Even more so during this [coronavirus] pandemic affecting every single one of us, I cannot wait for my next opportunity to pull on the jersey, run out at The Stoop and welcome back the Quins family."

News of Marler's new deal on Friday came after it was announced that the Premiership Rugby are planning for the season to resume on August 15, five months after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Marler was banned for 10 weeks for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during England's Six Nations win over Wales in March, but that suspension has now been wiped as a result of the hiatus.

New Australia coach Dave Rennie has volunteered to take a 30 per cent pay cut ahead of starting his job with the Wallabies next month.

Rugby Australia (RA) reported a provisional deficit of 9.4 million Australian dollars for 2019 back in March, and the impact of the coronavirus has further impacted their finances.

All July internationals have already been scrapped because of the ongoing pandemic and both Australia players and RA staff members have had to take significant pay cuts while the sport is on hold.

Rennie has now followed suit with a pay cut that will last until the end of September, in line with the rest of RA's executive team.

The 56-year-old's appointment as Australia's new coach was confirmed back in November 2019 shortly after the Rugby World Cup concluded.

It is hoped he could be in charge for the first time in October, when international fixtures are set to return.

The 2019-20 Premiership season is set to return on August 15, five months after it was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week Premiership and Championship clubs were given permission to return to non-contact training, provided they observe social distancing measures.

While no further information was given regarding the format for the remainder of the campaign, Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs stressed it was vital that clubs had a target return date to work towards.

"Nothing will happen until it is safe to do so but we will do everything we can to resume the 2019-20 Premiership Rugby campaign on Saturday 15 August," Childs said.

“We won't take risks with people's health, and rugby has unique challenges due to levels of proximity and impact, but with a number of clubs moving to Stage 1, it is important for us to give players, coaches and clubs clarity on when they can look to return.

"Bearing that in mind, we look forward to the restart of the season."

Each of the 12 Premiership clubs had played 13 fixtures prior to the campaign being halted, meaning they all had nine matches remaining.

Exeter Chiefs were top of the table, five points clear of Sale Sharks, while Saracens were bottom of the table and have already been relegated following a points deduction due to salary cap breaches.

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Bill Sweeney is hopeful England will not have to play autumn internationals behind closed doors at Twickenham.

England are due to host New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia in November but there are doubts over whether fans will be allowed in due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sweeney stressed the importance of supporters being able to attend for financial reasons and, with lockdown measures being gradually eased, he is optimistic Eddie Jones' side will not have to run out in an empty stadium.

"Playing behind closed doors - for us - is not much different to the games being cancelled," he told BBC Sport.

"By the time you fire up the stadium, pay for the players and the costs associated with preparation time and camps, when you play behind closed doors for us, there is not a huge difference between that and the games not taking place.

"Having attendance and having fans turning up is key."

Sweeney added: "If things progress as they seem to be progressing now, hopefully we will see crowds at Twickenham in October and November."

RFU boss Sweeney says alternative options are being explored if southern hemisphere teams are unable to head north.

"The preference from both the north and the south is that the original programme will go ahead," he said.

"But there are two or three different options that feature more northern hemisphere competition around that autumn window.

"One of them is you'd play a Six Nations tournament in that autumn that would combine with fixtures next year and for the first time ever you'd have home and away.

"Every [plan] has pros and cons to it and those are being evaluated."

Former England rugby union international Ben Te'o has switched codes to return to Brisbane Broncos in the NRL.

Te'o first made his name in rugby league, representing Wests Tigers, the Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs, along with Queensland in the State of Origin.

The forward won the 2014 NRL Grand Final with the Rabbitohs but then turned his focus to union, linking up with Leinster.

Te'o subsequently turned out for Worcester Warriors, Toulon and the Sunwolves, while he earned international recognition for England and the British and Irish Lions, touring New Zealand in 2017.

However, Te'o was not selected for last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan following an altercation with England team-mate Mike Brown.

And the 33-year-old has now made the decision to head back to Brisbane and league, with the Sunwolves' final campaign in Super Rugby cut short this week due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's crazy how things work out but I'm just excited to get back playing rugby league and rip in with the boys and really work hard," Te'o said.

"Brisbane is home to me and the Broncos have always looked after me and I feel welcome here - this is the perfect place to let me play.

"The club had a spot open and need some boys and I'm ready to come and help out and play my role for the Broncos."

Sam Burgess has accused his former Bath coach Mike Ford of behaving like "a snake" and being a disruptive influence on England during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Burgess crossed codes from rugby league to rugby union in 2014, signing for Bath, and was fast-tracked into the England squad by Stuart Lancaster.

But the World Cup experience turned sour, with hosts England knocked out in the pool stage after losing to Wales and Australia.

Burgess was chosen at centre for the Wales game, England's second pool fixture, and has claimed George Ford, named as a substitute, was "upset" with the decision.

Mike Ford, who is George Ford's father, was "doing his thing in the press" in the build-up to the Wales game as the situation became "a bit murky", according to Burgess.

And Burgess alleged Mike Ford was looking to "sabotage Lancaster" because he wanted the England job for himself.

"With George being his son, he [Mike Ford] kind of infiltrated the camp - that is my take on it," said Burgess, speaking to the House of Rugby podcast.

"After me starting against Wales, my relationship with George completely changed. He wouldn't talk to me, he was a bit sulky."

Burgess was replaced by George Ford with 10 minutes to play against Wales, and England went on to surrender their lead after the change.

"Knowing what I know now, I see the politics," Burgess said. "George came on with 10 minutes to go to please Mike, to keep Mike happy and to keep George happy. We didn't need him on, we had the team to finish the game."

Burgess has "so many fond memories" of his time at Bath, and friends from his time with the club.

But he said he struggled to see the right level of commitment from certain members of the squad, and Burgess became increasingly disenfranchised with union when it came to the World Cup with England, saying he had to ask Mike Ford to stop talking about him in the media.

"Obviously the politics went through the roof," Burgess said of the World Cup experience.

"The politics of - you can all read between the lines - I think Mike Ford wanted the England job, then George playing 10, and Owen [Farrell] 10 and me 12. There was a lot going on behind the scenes that I think people probably don't quite understand which influenced a lot of outside opinions."

When Burgess went back to Bath, he found it impossible to get on with Mike Ford.

"I couldn't sit in the same room as Mike. I had to tell him I couldn't play for him anymore, I'd lost respect for him. It was pretty hot if I'm honest," said Burgess.

"I came back from the World Cup and literally went straight into his office and said, 'Hey Mike, I don't trust you, I think you've been playing games behind my back, you have used me as a bit of a pawn in your game of chess, I can't put my boots on and play for you every week'."

Burgess said he was sent away on holiday but returned with the same view and soon returned to rugby league with South Sydney Rabbitohs.

He said: "I will never forget Mike's face when I said to him, 'Mike, I don't respect you anymore, I really don't, I think you are a bit of a snake'. I'll never forget the little quiver that I got from him."

Stats Perform News has approached Leicester Tigers, where Mike Ford is now a coach, for a reply to the accusations from Burgess.

Saracens have been assured they will be able to complete their European Champions Cup defence even if they are relegated to the Championship first.

The reigning English and European champions will be demoted from the Premiership to the second tier for next term following salary-cap breaches.

The club were deducted 105 points, guaranteeing their relegation, but have continued to progress in the Champions Cup.

The season's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic throws up some difficulties, however, as sport is set to return behind closed doors in England before some other European countries.

The Champions Cup may therefore not be concluded until after the next domestic campaign has started in England, with Saracens by then in the Championship.

But European Professional Club Rugby chairman Simon Halliday insists the team's European challenge will not be impacted.

"Saracens have qualified for the quarter-finals and I'll defend their right to complete the Champions Cup campaign no matter what," Halliday said, quoted in the Mirror.

"As long as we can complete the tournament, they should be allowed to participate for as long as they keep on winning."

Saracens have won the Champions Cup in three of the past four seasons and defeated Leinster in the 2018-19 final.

They will face the Irish province again in the last eight of this term's competition.

Dan Carter decided he needed another rugby fix while locked down during the coronavirus pandemic but said joining the Blues was still "a tough decision".

The New Zealand great has joined the Auckland outfit for the Super Rugby Aotearoa, a domestic alternative to the Super Rugby season that could not be finished due to the COVID-19 crisis.

At the age of 38, three-time World Rugby player of the year Carter admits it will take him some time to get up to speed, but he hopes to make an impact with the team.

He previously played 13 seasons with the Crusaders, before heading overseas for lucrative spells with Racing 92 and Kobelco Steelers, having also had a brief earlier stint at Perpignan.

Carter, the all-time leading points-scorer in international rugby, is relishing teaming up with Blues head coach Leon MacDonald and a new set of players.

He told the Blues website: "Two things from the lockdown that I realised was that I really enjoyed spending more time with my family and that I miss rugby.

"Leon is a good mate and we spoke about me helping out. For me, it is a chance to mentor some young players and to give back to New Zealand Rugby.

"I have not played for several months so it will take me a little bit of time to get game-ready.

"It's an exciting opportunity to train in the same city that my kids go to school in and my family are currently living. It will also be nice to share my experience with some of the young talent they have here at the Blues."

In a separate Instagram note, Carter said he was "back doing what I love".

"When Leon called me with an opportunity to join the Blues squad as a replacement player, it was a tough decision," he added.

The Blues open their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign against the Hurricanes at Eden Park in Auckland on June 14, and it remains to be seen whether Carter is ready to start that game.

He comes into the squad as a replacement for utility back Stephen Perofeta, who is sidelined with a broken foot.

MacDonald could include Carter in the same team as Beauden Barrett, a two-time world player of the year, but the coach is being cautious.

What is clear is that Carter is unlikely to feature in an accustomed fly-half role, but he could find a place elsewhere within the backs.

"We have two designated 10s in Beauden and Otere [Black], and Dan will be there to help them and our other young backs," MacDonald said.

"If he gets back into playing form that warrants selection, then he could help us as a utility back in midfield or fullback.

"For Dan, it is not about the money. He is here as a favour, with a desire to give back to the sport. We are only a few minutes from his home so it works out perfectly for everyone and we are thrilled."

Shane Warne made an indelible mark on the Ashes on this day in 1993.

New Zealand legend Dan Carter has completed a sensational move to the Blues at the age of 38, it was announced on Thursday.

The three-time World Rugby Player of the Year has joined the Auckland franchise for the Super Rugby Aotearoa, a domestic alternative to a Super Rugby season that could not be finished due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dual Rugby World Cup winner Carter had been plying his trade with Japanese side Kobelco Steelers since 2018 but has now returned to his homeland.

Carter spent 13 seasons playing for the Crusaders, winning three Super Rugby titles and amassing over 140 appearances before leaving in 2015.

He went on to play for Perpignan and Racing 92 – claiming titles with both French teams – prior to completing a two-season deal with the Steelers, where he led Japan's Top League outfit to silverware in 2018.

Carter, set to team up with All Blacks star Beauden Barrett, is now set to play his first rugby match on New Zealand soil in five years.

The Blues will open their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign against the Hurricanes at Eden Park in Auckland on June 14.

Golden-point tie-breakers and red-card replacements are among the innovations set to be used when Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced the rules will come into play for its domestic version of Super Rugby, which is taking place in lieu of the proper competition that was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the changes is the introduction of a golden point, a format used in NRL where the first team to score  – either by try, drop goal or penalty – in the event of a draw in an additional 10-minute period wins the game.

Teams can also bring on a replacement for a player who receives a red card 20 minutes after they have been sent off. The punished player will still be subject to SANZAAR's existing judicial process and cannot return to the field.

NZR head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said: "We want this competition to look and feel different. 

"We've had great support from our coaches, players and referees to make Super Rugby Aotearoa faster, safer and more exciting than ever before.

"Draws can often leave everyone feeling a little empty and after feedback from our coaches and players we have added the golden point rule. We've seen the excitement it can generate in other codes and we think adds a real edge.

"While players should, and still will be, punished for foul play, red cards can sometimes have too much of an effect on a match. 

"There are no winners when a player is red carded, but paying rugby fans, players and coaches want to see a fair contest. Replacing a player after 20 minutes strikes the right balance."

NZR also said referees will enforce rules at the breakdown more strictly in a bid to create more attacking rugby.

The Highlanders versus the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, will kick off Super Rugby Aotearoa on June 13.

Premiership and Championship rugby sides have been given permission to return to non-contact training.

The Professional Game Board (PGB) confirmed on Tuesday that teams are now allowed to hold individual conditioning sessions provided social distancing measures are maintained.

The top flight in England was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is hoped the season can be resumed, despite all levels from the Championship and below seeing their campaigns cancelled.

"The clubs will need to satisfy a number of requirements to start Stage 1 as we continue the huge amount of work being undertaken to enable a safe return to training," Chris Booy, PGB Chair, said in a statement.

"The welfare of the players, management and staff is our only priority, and we look forward to the season resuming when it is safe to do so."

Premiership clubs have also given unanimous backing to an overhaul of salary-cap regulations.

A review led by Lord Myners put forward 52 recommendations last month as part of a comprehensive assessment of the cap rules.

Although neither the level of the salary cap nor the issue around marquee player allowances have yet been addressed, all 52 recommendations put forward have won the support of clubs.

The suggested changes include increasing the severity of sporting sanctions on clubs in breach of the rules to include relegation, suspension, stripping of titles and the return of prize money.

The review followed the decision to relegate reigning champions Saracens at the end of 2019-20 due to repeated breaches of the salary cap.

The 2019-20 Top 14 season has been cancelled with no champions crowned or teams relegated, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) announced on Tuesday.

France's domestic professional rugby campaign, which has been on hiatus since March, has been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An LNR statement read: "Faced with the exceptional circumstances linked to COVID-19, on a proposal from the Bureau, and at the end of the consultation process carried out within the framework of the organisation set up in the context of the health crisis, the steering committee adopted the resolution providing for the permanent cessation of the professional championships of first division (Top 14) and second division (Pro D2)."

The Top 14 and Pro D2 will return for the 2020-21 campaign with the same teams after promotion and relegation was abandoned.

Qualification for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will be determined by the LNR once guidance is received from European Professional Club Rugby.

Bordeaux-Begles were first in the Top 14, eight points clear of Lyon. Stade Francais were last and in danger of dropping into the second division.

The LNR's steering committee will propose at an extraordinary general assembly on June 11 that a state-guaranteed loan be taken out in order to maintain payments assigned to clubs for the 2019-20 campaign.

While professional football has returned in Germany and will soon be back under way in England, Spain and Italy too, the LNR's decision falls in line with the cancellation of Ligue 1.

However, in that case, Paris Saint-Germain were awarded the title and Toulouse and Amiens were relegated to the second tier.

Rugby Australia (RA) is to cut a third of its full-time staff in the coming months as the organisation attempts to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

RA has been hit hard by the suspension of rugby, with the organisation having previously had to stand three-quarters of their workforce down, while players have taken pay cuts.

Last month RA claimed a World Rugby bailout would provide "certainty for the next 12 months", but on Monday it announced it would be making 47 of its 142 full-time staff redundant.

The redundancies will not come into immediate effect but will take place over the months to come, while senior staff who have been retained have been asked to take a five per cent pay cut.

With all international tours scheduled for July having been cancelled, it is unclear if the Rugby Championship will be able to take place later in the year.

It is expected that the redundancies and pay cuts will reduce RA's wage bill by $5.5million.

"Today was an incredibly difficult day for the organisation with many people affected by changes that are necessary to ensure the viability and sustainability of the organisation as a result of the devastating impacts of the pandemic," interim chief executive Rob Clarke said in a statement.

"We have delivered the news to staff this morning and told them that Rugby Australia values the contribution of each and every one of them, some of whom have given significant service to Rugby Australia and to the game over many years.

"This is a difficult time for a lot of very passionate, hard-working rugby people and we are committed to helping those people find their next opportunity, whether it be within the game or elsewhere."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.