Here are the latest rugby headlines on Thursday, December 9.

John Mitchell breaks silence on England exit

Former England assistant coach John Mitchell has addressed why he quit Eddie Jones’ coaching roster to join Wasps just a few months after signing a contract extension leading to the 2023 World Cup.

Another departure from Jones’ revolving door coaching team prompted much scrutiny of his working methods amid a high turnover.

Wasps attack coach Mitchell says it was in April – two months after his contract extension – that he decided he wanted to leave the England role he had occupied since September 2018.

Speaking ahead of Wasps’ Champions Cup clash with Munster on Sunday, Mitchell said: “I woke up one day in April, having been thinking about it for a month at least, and just thought ‘at the end of the day I’ve got to make sure I live by what I value the most’.

“I thought it’s time to make the right decision. It was an easy decision actually in the end. I had a normal chat and at the end said, ‘Eddie, I’m done, mate, thanks very much. You have now got the opportunity to find someone else. You have got two years to do that’.

“It’s amazing the older you get you are certainly less ambitious for yourself. You learn in this game to take the good with the bad.”

As for his current rapport with Jones, Mitchell added: “Eddie texts me and we have chats. I invited him around to my home for a meal when Hiroko’s been away. That will continue. Eddie has a selection process with his assistant coaches and I’m sure there will be a visit before the Six Nations.”

O’Gara claims rugby back to its best before ‘juicy’ Six Nations

Ronan O’Gara believes rugby is back to its best after the Lions tour to South Africa which he says was a “massive disappointment”.

Covid, empty stadiums, one-sided warm-up games bar one and defence-focused Tests meant the tour wasn’t quite what fans had been hoping for, casting pessimism over the direction of international rugby in the modern era.

However, O’Gara is of the view that there is plenty to be excited about again.

He told BBC 5 Live : “I think the rugby played on that tour wasn’t a representation of what we stand for on this side of the world.

“It was a massive disappointment to see the best of our players playing like that.

“But [during the autumn] the skill level, the tempo with which a lot of teams were playing, the mindset – everyone seems to be completely refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated, with a juicy Six Nations coming up, but before that four rounds of Europe which will, I think, get people even more excited again.

“So it’s probably gone a complete 360°, with crowds back, the best of rugby back, and the best of competitions with the European Cup and the Six Nations.”

Rory Best questions anthem

Irish rugby legend Rory Best has questioned the Northern Ireland football team’s use of ‘God Save the Queen’ as their pre-match anthem.

The Ulster and Ireland stalwart and Lions tourist, who has previously said he identifies as both British and Irish, puts forward the argument that the anthem’s use lacks inclusivity for squad members of a nationalist persuasion, Irish Mirror reports.

“You could liken it to the way Irish rugby was pre-Ireland’s Call,” he told the UTV documentary ‘Game of Two Halves’.

“For me, it’s potentially not the way an anthem should be. I understand that God Save The Queen is Northern Ireland’s anthem because we’re part of the United Kingdom.

“It also always strikes a chord with me, that’s what you hear when you’re in Twickenham, and you’re getting ready to play England.

“You don’t want to say that you find it strange because it is the anthem of Northern Ireland, but in terms of everything that I’ve done in sport, it’s been about including people. It’s not very inclusive.”

While the Irish rugby team do sing the national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, before games, they also sing Ireland’s Call which is representative of players with a northern unionist background.

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