Month: June 2021

Blink and you’ll miss it

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Leicesters’ Ben YoungsIn 2010’s Summer Internationals, England made Sydney their temporary home in June to play Australia. In a game that showed Englands true capabilities, the spotlight fell on a young Leicester Tiger – Ben Youngs, who takes advantage of an overlap to not only stun the Australians but the cameraman heading in the wrong direction. TAGS: Leicester Tigers last_img

ARU pays tribute to retiring Al Baxter

first_img Veteran Prop Al BaxterAustralian Rugby Union managing director and chief executive John O’Neill and Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans have today both paid tribute to the contribution to the game made by Al Baxter.The long-serving NSW Waratahs prop has confirmed that he will not be seeking another contract at any level beyond the expiry of his current deal in December this year, ending a career that will see him depart as Australia’s most capped Test prop.“Al has made a wonderful contribution to both the Waratahs and Qantas Wallabies over a long period of time,” O’Neill said. “His longevity in the most demanding of positions on the Rugby field is testament not only to his ability but his character, persistence and ambition to continually better himself as a prop at the highest levels of our game.“I congratulate him on what he has achieved to date. To be the most capped prop for Australia given the history of the Wallabies and the quality of players to have worn the jersey in the front row is an achievement of which he should be exceptionally proud.”The 34-year-old first appeared for New South Wales in 1999, having been playing only second-grade the year before. He went on to make his Super Rugby debut a year later, in 2000 against the Bulls. This year represents his 13th as a state representative.Baxter played his maiden Test for Australia in the 2003 Bledisloe Cup decider against New Zealand in Auckland, subsequently appearing in two Rugby World Cups during a seven-year Test career which saw him overtake his former state coach Ewen McKenzie for the most matches by a prop in Wallaby gold.“The statistics speak for themselves, in terms of Al’s durability and his overall contribution to the game in Australia,” Deans said. “It’s not just what he has achieved on the field but the input he has offered off it, both to his Test colleagues but also to the younger players coming through at New South Wales.”Deans says Baxter provided a role model element to his younger team-mates, in terms of being able to balance his commitments as an architect in the work force alongside a young family with a supportive wife, Jenny, three children, and his responsibilities as a professional rugby player.“It is an increasingly rare commodity in the modern era but Al managed to maintain balance in his life between his family, his professional career and the game, providing an important example to the younger players around him in the process,” Deans said.While his career as an architect has had to share his working life, alongside his rugby endeavours, up until now, Baxter says fulltime devotion to that occupation could wait no longer.“It is the right time to finish,” he says. “I was always keen to go out of the game on my terms but also keen to be sure that the ‘Tahs were well served with front-rowers, which I think we are, with some good young ones coming through, as are the Wallabies.”Baxter admits he never envisioned becoming a Wallaby, let alone finishing his career as Australia’s most capped prop but says holding the appearance record, which he believes will soon be surpassed, is something he will always treasure. Al Baxter takes you through a pre-season training day at the Waratahs… AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 02: Al Baxter of the Wallabies runs with the ball during the 2008 Tri Nations series Bledisloe Cup match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks held at Eden Park August 2, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images) Baxter during the 2008 Tri-Nations and Bledisloe cup match against the All Blacks“I’ve never been a big one on statistics – that’s not what has motivated me, but it does mean a lot to know that my career was well regarded. You play the game for enjoyment, and that has never changed, but also to be part of a team, and to be respected by your peers.“The appearance record is a nice thing to know that I achieved although I doubt it will last for long, given the amount of Tests that are played these days. I will always have the individual memories though, they’re the things that last: of the times, the moments and, most importantly, the people. I cherished the opportunity to wear the jersey, represent my country, sing the national anthem and do all of the other things that are associated with the honour of being a Wallaby. It’s a special feeling and is something that I never took for granted and will never forget.”Baxter cites his first Test at Eden Park as his proudest moment as a Wallaby followed closely by participation in that year’s Rugby World Cup final, where Australia was pipped in extra time by England at the now ANZ Stadium.“Playing in that Rugby World Cup in Australia was an amazing time. The support we had, especially after we beat the All Blacks and in the lead up to the final was extraordinary. There were messages of good luck coming in from everywhere, from all over the country. It was a very special thing to be a part of.”Baxter went beyond the existing record for appearances by an Australian prop in the opening Test of the 2008 season, playing his 51st match when the Qantas Wallabies beat Ireland 18-12 in Melbourne.He played his most recent Test, as his international career had started, trying to tame the All Blacks, when he earned his 69th cap during the 18-19 loss against New Zealand in the Tri Nations match in Sydney in 2009.“The game has changed significantly over my career. The role of the props has changed. We’re ball carriers as well now, where the job was just to clean out and push when I first started,” Baxter mused. “I can remember being told by coaches in the early days not to seek out the ball! Sizes have also changed. I was considered big amongst the propping ranks when I started. Now, I’m probably only middle of the road. On Saturday night from example, when I prop against [Highlanders’ loosehead prop] Jamie Mackintosh, I’ll be conceding a couple of centre-metres in height but 12 kilograms in weight!”As well as finishing up as Australia’s most capped prop, the 116 kilogram Baxter also carries that mantle for NSW, having become the first Waratahs prop to play 100 Super Rugby matches last year against the Cheetahs at the Sydney Football Stadium.Saturday night’s must win match against the Highlanders at the Sydney Football Stadium in the penultimate round of this year’s Super Rugby competition will be the 120th of Baxter’s career.Only Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh, who is likely to appear in Super Rugby for the 130th time this weekend, has represented NSW on more occasions in the competition. Nathan Sharpe (146), George Gregan & Stirling Mortlock (both 136), Waugh and George Smith (128) are the only Australians to have played on more occasions in the competition than Baxter’s 119 Super Rugby matches. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

World Cup travel ideas – Dunedin

first_imgDUNEDINPre-match jaunt – Otago Rail TrailA unique walking, cycling and horse riding track following the route of an historic railway line. It’s 150km long in total but you can go for as short or long as you like. Highlights include Taieri Gorge, art deco buildings at Ranfurly, ‘big sky’ vistas and several country pubs serving local brews. 90 minute drive from Dunedin.Dropkick the hangover – Leith Saddle Track LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS An exhilarating (that means steep!) walk up for panoramic views across the city and beyond. It’s a 20-minute drive from the city centre.Cool Campsite – Purakaunui BayRugged camping below cliffs and near a stunning waterfall. There’s good surfing and a nature reserve nearby too. It’s two hours south of Dunedin – but worth the trip!center_img Back to natureDunedin is wildlife central, with the nearby Otago Peninsula home to seals, sealions, penguins and the only mainland albatross colony anywhere in the world. To get a glimpse of some of NZ’s unique land birds, head to Orokonui Ecosanctuary, which is a 30-minute drive/train journey.last_img read more

Italy v Scotland: The Preview

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Scotland will have to produce a performance streets ahead of last weekend’s effort in Dublin, where they lost 32-14, if they are to win in Rome. They haven’t beaten Italy there since 2006, when they squeaked home 13-10. Italy come into this match on the back of two heavy losses, 24-3 to Wales last weekend and 42-10 to Ireland in the game before, but both those were away from home and the Italians have always been tough to defeat in Rome – as England discovered when they managed to edge out the hosts 19-15 last month.Fresh lookItaly have a new coach this season, Jaques Brunel, and as he seeks his first win he has made six changes to the squad which lost in Cardiff. Happily for Italy, Leicester Tigers prop Martin Castrogiovanni has recovered from a fractured rib he suffered last month and is restored to the starting line-up, although they had to replace hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini with Fabio Ongaro less than 24 hours before kick-off, thanks to a shoulder injury. Former Gloucester lock Marco Bortolami comes in for Cornelius Van Zyl to earn his 93rd cap and the changes in the backs see Giovambattista Venditti replacing Luke McLean on the right wing while Tommaso Benvenuti starts at centre.Scotland have made just one change to the side which floundered in Dublin, with Nick De Luca returning from injury at outside-centre, allowing Max Evans to switch to the wing in place of Lee Jones, who was hospitalised with concussion following the Ireland game.David Denton has been in terrific formStrong stuffFor all the doom and gloom, Scotland have played some good rugby during this tournament. David Denton has been a great find in the back row, where Ross Rennie has also starred, Stuart Hogg has the fearlessness of youth and Greig Laidlaw has got the back line moving a bit more fluently. As always against Italy, the scrum needs to be good and Richie Gray and co need a massive game in the lineout.VerdictScotland must start well, otherwise the Italian fans will give their side the momentum they need to get on top and the Wooden Spoon wobbles will set in for the visitors. Scotland should have enough class to win, but half the battle will be about mental strength and coolness under pressure. I am going for a Scotland win by eight points, but I am expecting a nail-biter. NOT FOR FEATURED. EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – FEBRUARY 04: Number eight David Denton of Scotland runs with the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and England at Murrayfield Stadium on February 4, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) by Katie Field, Rugby World writerIf Italy can beat Scotland in Rome this weekend, there will doubtless be joyous scenes inside the Stadio Olimpico, but if Scotland triumph I have the feeling their players’ reaction will be more muted – more about relief than ecstasy. There might be fireworks during the match, but Scotland know they have under-performed over the last six weeks and so should not get carried away with their celebrations if they finally achieve their first win of the 2012 RBS Six Nations.Unfulfilled potentialFor the past few years, Scotland have promised much and failed to deliver, to the great frustration of everyone involved with their set-up. There’s been the odd glorious victory, and a number of players of undoubted talent have emerged onto the Test stage in dark blue, but they still haven’t finished above fifth in the Six Nations table since 2006.But this year they are in serious danger of being whitewashed for the first time since 2004 and their lack of victories – on the back of their failure to get out of their pool at the World Cup – has proved to be a catalyst for change at the Scottish Rugby Union. Head coach Andy Robinson has survived calls for his head, so far, but his assistant coaches Graham Steadman and Gregor Townsend are both moving on at the end of the tournament. It is the players who have been making mistakes on the pitch, but the coaches are paying the price and the Scotland team are desperate to win this last game for them, and avoid slumping to a seventh straight loss for the first time since 1998.Unhappy hunting ground SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg; Max Evans, Nick De Luca, Graeme Morrison, Sean Lamont; Greig Laidlaw, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford (capt), Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, John Barclay, Ross Rennie, David Denton. Reps: Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Alastair Kellock,  Richie Vernon, Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson, Jack Cuthbert.Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland). Will Scotland’s fans be smiling in Rome? ITALY: Andrea Masi; Giovambattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Mirco Bergamasco; Kris Burton, Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lo Cicero, Fabio Ongaro, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Bortolami, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri, Sergio Parisse (capt). Reps: Tommaso D’Apice, Lorenzo Cittadini, Joshua Furno, Simone Favaro, Manoa Vosawai, Tobias Botes, Giulio Toniolatti, Michele Rizzo, Alberto Sgarbi.last_img read more

Australia given little hope ahead of final Bledisloe Test

first_imgAn Australian win is not impossible however. Ensuring quick possession at the breakdown is a must to avoid McCaw and Kieran Read’s skill at turning over the ball. By playing with width and holding their own in the set-piece, the Wallabies will create enough opportunities to threaten the scoreboard, particularly through the boot of the impressive Mike Harris.Scoring against New Zealand though is never easy, and stopping them can appear impossible. Their offloading game has reached new heights and Australia will be constantly drained trying to stop their rhythm, after missing 16 tackles in the 1st Test and 29 in the 2nd. Pride will be on the line for the Wallabies, but chances of victory appear desperately slim.Australia v New ZealandSaturday, 20th October 2012 at Suncorp Stadium, BrisbaneKick-off: 10:55 BST live on Sky Sports 1Australia: Mike Harris; Nick Cummins, Ben Tapuai, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper; Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps; Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Sitaleki Timani, Nathan Sharpe (captain), Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Radike Samo.Replacements: James Hanson, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Drew MitchellNew Zealand: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear; Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumaina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read. Replacements: Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben SmithFollow Ben Coles on Twitter @bencoles_ New Zealand’s Keven Mealamu is tackled by Argentina’s Thomas Leonardi during the New Zealand vs Argentina Test match at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on September 8, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Marty Melville (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/GettyImages) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Centurion: Keven Mealamu will become on the third All Black to reach 100 caps against Australiaby Ben ColesAFTER A tough summer, Australia are available at unprecedented odds of 8/1 ahead of this weekend’s test against New Zealand at home in Brisbane.The odds reflect not only the troubles of the Wallabies throughout the inaugural Rugby Championship, but also the supreme dominance of the All Blacks against their Southern Hemisphere rivals. A horrendous list of injuries only got worse for Robbie Deans this week following the withdrawal of Ben Alexander yesterday, meaning the Brumbies prop joins Will Genia, David Pocock, James Horwill and many more in the treatment room.Despite the pressure on Deans during The Rugby Championship, Australia finished in second place behind the All Blacks and won their final match away against Argentina in Rosario. The victory was seen a landmark for a handful of the young Wallabies out on the field, with the likes of Michael Hooper excelling under huge pressure. Returning home to face the All Blacks though, without their alarming list of star names, is the most daunting of prospects.Fears of New Zealand losing their edge after their Rugby World Cup success have proved to be misplaced. Using their never-ending conveyor belt of talent, new names continue to pull on the black jersey and perform like seasoned veterans. Replacing Brad Thorn has been a perfect example of this, with Luke Romano and Brodie Retallick excelling at Test level.Saturday’s clash however will be a celebration for a couple of veterans. Nathan Sharpe will be making his final appearance on home soil in Wallaby colours before he retires after the November tour, whilst hooker Keven Mealamu runs out for the 100th time.Mealamu will become only the third All Black in history to reach a century, following in the footsteps of team-mates Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina. Still regarded as one of the best in the world in his position, Mealamu will be an integral part of a New Zealand scrum looking to dominante their Tasman rivals.The All Black spine of Mealamu, Sam Whitelock, McCaw, Dan Carter and Conrad Smith remains intact and simply gives the world champions the edge when it comes to talent and experience. Brisbane and Suncorp Stadium have proven to be an unhappy hunting ground for New Zealand in recent years, so to win at one of the few remaining Australian fortresses would underline their dominance.last_img read more

Lions 2013 squad options: Locks

first_imgThe set piece is a point where not only attack matters, but against-the-head counter attack, too. Gatland needs to know that he has personnel who will not wither without the ball, and so he needs to know that the seasoned battler like Hamilton could keep his head and perform when tired and up against it, and he needs to know that the likes of Ryan and the excellent Parling will rise to the occasion.For this reason Joe Launchbury must sparkle in the Amlin Cup against Leinster. He needs to show he can continue to rise, particularly after being overawed at the Millenium Stadium in the 6 Nations decider. He then needs to continue improving in the Aviva Premiership. Gatland needs to know he can continue coping because he will not pick simply because of a bright and loud flash in a very big pan.Enforcer: Jim Hamilton had a strong campaign This is where faith comes in. It is tough to put your trust in someone’s hands. Richie Gray could keep chugging at a high level, but he is hamstrung. For all his shaggy-haired brio around the paddock, crocked, he falls back into the ranks with the other youngsters that need a punt taken on them.So the talk turns to people you can trust when up against it, and you can turn to two immovable objects from yesteryear, Paul O’Connell and Nathan Hines. With all the empty talk of Lions legacy and the future of the home nations chucked away like a hissing cat in a wheelie bin, a Lions tour is judged by whether it was successful. O’Connell and Hines are uglier and meaner than they would openly admit, and that’s a good thing, which is why they are asked to absorb the thumps and shepherd others into play. Gatland has to decide whether those unknown quantities that he cannot ignore need some shepherding.Either way, the selectors need to show the faith, be it in the old, or the new. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Scotland’s lock Jim Hamilton wins a line out during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on February 24, 2013. Scotland won 12 – 8. AFP PHOTO / IAN MACNICOL (Photo credit should read Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images) Leading from the front: Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones, tackled by Geoff Parling, is one of the favourites for a Test place By Alan DymockIN THE aftermath of the 6 Nations and with time running out we are all confronted with the starkest of choices: who are our Lions?An obvious point of conjecture, there were at least some standouts in recents weeks. So in the interest of making clear what Warren Gatland, Graham Rowntree, Rob Howley and Andy Farrell face before the squad announcement on April 30, Rugby World will sift through the runners and riders in each key position.So it comes to the second-rows, the boys in the boiler house making those meaty props look good and leaping skywards for their supper so the backs can play about for a bit. They are a misunderstood bunch, the locks, free to be praised for their grit but dropped because someone else has a few inches on them.Abrasive: Donnacha Ryan is in with a shoutMuch like the case of Andrew Coombs, who at the start of the Six Nations was being touted as a Lions bolter. Then he was replaced, with a less than golden handshake by Alun Wyn Jones who is now nailed on to tour, and potentially as captain? Well the man himself would never be drawn into a discussion, but his credentials are sure-footed while he takes a back seat on the media front. Alongside him for region and country, is Ian Evans, ‘the most naturally gifted athlete ever to come out of Aberdare’, in his own humble words. Evans had a sterling Six Nations and still has the motivation of reaching the play-offs, making it back-to-back victories in the Pro 12.The Ospreys pair made easy work of the lineout, a place which has been somewhat of a lottery during the Championship. The funny thing about this is that on the back of such an instant impression and sound displays, they will not be competing in Europe, while the three most impressive lineout performers of the Six Nations, Donnacha Ryan, Geoff Parling and Jim Hamilton will all be in knockout games in the coming days with Munster, Leicester Tigers and Gloucester respectively.All three are in the mix, but herein lies the problem. With the second-rows so much depends on performance right up to the last weekend.last_img read more

England announce team to face Argentina

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “Christian Wade was in contention for a start but his hamstring tightened up in training and unfortunately he hasn’t recovered sufficiently in time to be considered for Saturday. Marland Yarde failed a fitness test on a hip injury sustained last weekend this morning so Ben Foden gets his chance with Alex Goode on the bench. Ben has had a full week’s training on the wing, he is a great finisher and in form so it’s a great option for us.” Winging in: Ben Foden comes in on the wing after Marland Yarde failed a fitness test and Christian Wade pulled upENGLAND HAVE announced their team to face the Pumas at Twickenham this weekend.Ben Foden comes in on the wing for Marland Yarde after the London Irish flyer failed a late fitness test and Christian Wade was a late faller in the race for a starting jersey when he pulled up with a hamstring complaint. Chris Ashton therefor keeps his place in the team.In the pack there are major shifts, with the entire front-row being swapped for Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley and David Wilson. Tom Youngs, Alex Corbisiero and Dan Cole sit on the bench while Mako Vunipola misses out completely. The rest of the pack is the same as that which narrowly saw off Australia last Saturday, while Geoff Parling is back from his concussion to be a replacement.Speaking of his selection, Stuart Lancaster said: “Joe Marler was excellent off the bench against Australia and merits his opportunity, as does David Wilson, who has been pushing hard for selection. Dylan gets a deserved chance at hooker with Tom Youngs on the bench after the safe arrival of his first child this morning. Rob Webber remains on standby.center_img England XV versus Argentina: Mike Brown; Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Ben Foden; Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, David Wilson, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (c), Billy VunipolaSubs: Tom Youngs, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Alex Goodelast_img read more

Summer tours: Australia v Ireland Preview for Match One

first_imgLeading man: Joey Carbery has been named at fly-half for IReland LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: “One of the challenges we set for Joey is that he’s got to boss it. He’s in that pivotal link for most of what we’re doing so he’s got to boss that.“At the same time we’ve challenged Robbie and Bundee to help him as best they can because if they can do a little bit of that work for him and take a little bit of that pressure off him, I think it’s going to be advantageous for Joey. It’ll free him up to act rather than to think all the time.”Big talker: Wallabies head coach Michael CheikaAny interesting statistics?Ireland are on a 12-match winning streak, with their last win against England. Their last loss was against Wales.The Wallabies win percentage at the Suncorp (also known as Lang Park) is 73%. Their last match there was a Bledisloe Cup win over the All Blacks.12 of Ireland’s match-day squad were part of Leinster’s double-winning side.Although Israel Folau has 12 tries in his last ten games, he has not scored a try against Ireland in three attempts.When does it kick off and is it on TV?The game is being played at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane which has a capacity of around 52, 500. It will be shown on Sky Sports Main Event from 10.45am, with an 11am kick-off.What are the line-ups?AUSTRALIA: Israel Folau; Marika Koroibete, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Pett; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, adam Coleman, David Pocock, Michael Hooper (captain), Caleb Timu.Replacements: Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Reece Hodge. Summer tours: Australia v Ireland Preview for Match OneIt’s the dawn of the new International season for the southern hemisphere sides and the Wallabies have the arduous task of welcoming Six Nations Grand Slammers Ireland.The last time Australia faced Ireland the lost 27-24 at the Aviva Stadium. Of more concern for them is their 2017 form – they won only 50% of their Tests last season.Ireland come in with serious form, however Leinster’s heroics at the end of the club season – they won an unprecedented double of the Champions Cup and the Guinness Pro14 – means that some changes have been wrung by boss Joe Schmidt.Ready for the Irish: Samu Kerevi speaks in an Irish barWhat’s the big team news?Ireland have made some surprising changes. Joey Carbery is entrusted at ten, with Johnny Sexton on the bench. With the young man running the back-line, Robbie Henshaw comes in at centre in place of the 13-cap Garry Ringrose.Rob Herring is picked at hooker ahead of Sean Cronin and John Ryan is selected at tighthead. With the absence of Rory Best, Peter O’Mahony has been chosen to captain the side from the back row.Australia have named three debutants for the Test. Hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, No 8 Caleb Timu start (with Timu’s selection moving David Pocock to six) while back-row breakaway Pete Samu is on the bench – the Crusaders star was part of a tug of war between the Australian and New Zealander unions, but has now been cleared to play.Try machine: Can Jacob Stockdale keep scoring?What have the coaches said?Australia head coach Michael Cheika said: “They’re the best team Ireland’s had since the start of their rugby history.“They’re coming down here as number two in the world. They can claim they’re underdogs as much as they like but they’re certainly going to be the favourites when they go off the back of the season they’ve had.” IRELAND: Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, John Ryan, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony (captain), Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander.Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Johnny Sexton, Jordan Larmour.last_img read more

Six Nations Round One Talking Points

first_img Expand Yoann Huget howler gifts George North a try in Wales’ comeback win Ireland’s slow starts a worry for World CupIreland were on a run of 12 successive wins and hadn’t lost a Six Nations game at the Aviva Stadium under Joe Schmidt, but England taught the defending champions a harsh lesson in this year’s first round.Schmidt pointed to the power England brought to Dublin, saying: “It was the simmering physical intensity they collectively delivered made the pitch a fairly suffocating place.”The visitors dominated the gain-line and out-thought Ireland aerially, meaning the defending champions couldn’t get any momentum.CATCH UP ON THE GOINGS-ON OF ROUND ONE OF THE SIX NATIONS… Opening defeat: A dejected Johnny Sexton after England’s win (Getty Images) If you’ve got any interesting fans’ tales or photos from the Six Nations, let us know by emailing [email protected] Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Expand Wales trailed 16-0 at half-time but came back… From stalling Ireland to super Slade – and a game of two halves, we reflect on the opening round of the 2019 championship Blair Kinghorn scores hat-trick in Six Nations try-fest… Blair Kinghorn scores hat-trick in Six Nations try-fest Yoann Huget howler gifts George North a try in Wales’ comeback win Henry Slade scores brace as England beat defending champions Ireland LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS What is most significant going forward, however, is the fact Ireland continue to start campaigns slowly. It was something mentioned in the build-up to this match as people pointed to the last-gasp drop-goal needed to win in Paris last year, the defeat by Scotland the season before and the draw with Wales in 2016.So it came to pass again against England – and it raises big concerns ahead of the World Cup. Ireland face Scotland in their opening game and cannot stall in the blocks in Yokohama if they are to fulfill their ambitions of topping the pool.Schmidt said: “I’m frustrated because we do tend to start slow and we can’t afford to. Looking to the World Cup, we’ve got to hit the ground running. We’ve tended to finish the Six Nations strongly. But we have to be able to start better.”England centre Henry Slade slays self-doubtEddie Jones said it almost as an aside in his post-match press conference, but he provided a telling insight into Henry Slade’s mindset.The outside-centre’s two tries in Dublin were key to England’s win over Ireland, but Jones believes the Exeter Chief has not always had the requisite self-belief at international level.“Every game he’s getting better,” said England’s head coach. “At first I think he thought he wasn’t good enough to play for England. Now he’s thinking about how good he can be.”Double time: Henry Slade celebrates his second try at the Aviva Stadium (Getty Images)Slade didn’t look like he was beset by self-doubt at the Aviva Stadium. His two tries were significant but his all-round game impressed too.He’s been moved around positionally by club and country, playing at ten, 12, 13 and even 15. He now seems to have found his niche at outside-centre, where his distribution and vision are able to come to the fore without the time pressures players face when further infield. He’s a decent defender, too, and offers another kicking option.And could the combination of Owen Farrell-Manu Tuilagi-Henry Slade be the midfield to take England through to the World Cup? It certainly proved effective against Ireland and if the trio replicate that form throughout the championship it could solve an selection issue that has existed since the end of the Mike Tindall-Will Greenwood era in 2004.Should Dan Biggar start for Wales?Gareth Anscombe’s performances in the Wales No 10 shirt in November saw him given the nod to continue at fly-half in the opening Six Nations match against France – but he struggled in Paris.Warren Gatland didn’t ‘do an Eddie Jones’ and replace him after 30 minutes, but he did bring Dan Biggar on in the 53rd minute. In fact, the coach replaced both half-backs at that time, with Gareth Davies coming on for Tomos Williams.Sub’s way: Dan Biggar came on at fly-half in the second half against France (Getty Images)It’s true the miserable weather did not work in Anscombe’s favour, but you felt the more experienced and pragmatic Biggar would have dealt with the slippery ball better, particularly in territorial terms with his boot.In the build-up to Louis Picamoles’ try, Anscombe overran in defence, opening up the gap for the France No 8 to run through, while the fly-half’s kicking and general game management were below par.Next up for Wales are Italy in Rome. In reality, whether Anscombe or Biggar start at No 10, Wales should win comfortably. However, that selection could be crucial in terms of the England game in round three. Henry Slade scores brace as England beat defending champions Ireland Blair Kinghorn scores hat-trick in Six Nations try-fest Two tries from Henry Slade in last quarter… Does Gatland give Anscombe another go? Or does he revert to Biggar? Whoever he thinks should start against England, should start against Italy.The best and worst of France – in one matchWe all try to avoid using clichés but the one about not knowing what France team will turn up rang true on Friday night in the opening game of the 2019 championship. In fact, two French teams showed up – a smart, skillful one in the first half; a mentally fallible, error-strewn one in the second.Wales may have been favourites before the game but they were poor in those first 40 minutes in Paris while France dominated the breakdown and showed slick handling despite the wet conditions. The hosts’ reward? A 16-0 lead – and it probably should have been more.Yet that composure deserted France in the second half as their own errors delivered two tries on a silver platter for George North and Wales secured a historic 24-19 comeback win.On the ball: George North intercepts a France pass to score in Paris (Getty Images)So it may be a cliché to say you don’t know what sort of performance France will produce – but it is an accurate one. In this first round they showed both the good and the bad. If they can maintain the good for a full 80 minutes, expect them to upset the odds later in this championship.Scotland switch off in defenceScotland produced some exceptional attacking rugby to secure a bonus-point win against Italy at BT Murrayfield, but poor discipline in the final ten minutes allowed the visitors to score three tries themselves.We all know Scotland have dangerous players, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg pulling the strings and, on Saturday at least, Blair Kinghorn scoring the tries, but they need to maintain their focus for a whole game and stay patient when they don’t have the ball.Leading the attack: Finn Russell in action against Italy (Getty Images)A repeat against a better team – Ireland this coming weekend for instance – could cost them the match rather than a few stern words from the defence coaches.Gap in Women’s Six Nations growingEven before the Women’s Six Nations kicked off in Dublin on Friday evening, the general consensus was that the England v France match at Doncaster on Sunday 10 February would determine this year’s winners.Related: Women’s Six Nations fixturesHowever, what the first round of matches has shown is just how far ahead those two sides are from the rest of the chasing pack. England and France both notched more than 50 points in beating Ireland and Wales respectively – and such one-sided scorelines are not good for the competition.Breaking away: Romane Menager sprints clear to score a try against Wales (Getty Images)The RFU have supported the women’s team by giving the players professional contracts while French players are semi-pro. Until that investment is matched by the other countries and they are able to better develop their women’s programmes, England and France will continue to stride ahead while the other teams challenge each other for third place in the Six Nations table.And finally… the fans’ championshipIt’s the supporters who make the Six Nations so special, whether they’re in the stadium, down the pub or on their sofa – and a new Guinness advert celebrates that fact.‘The Purse’ tells the story of brothers David and Gareth, who were instructed by their late mother to use her inheritance to follow Wales in the championship. Watch it here…It was disappointing to see empty seats at the Stade de France for the opening game – the snow meaning some Welsh fans couldn’t make it and recent French apathy to rugby also affecting sales – but BT Murrayfield and the Aviva Stadium were full. And we can expect more buzzing stadia throughout the rest of the tournament. Collapselast_img read more

Japan 2019 Travel Guide: Saga

first_imgTake a trip off the beaten track to discover a prefecture full of nature LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Japan Mud bath: There’s fun to be had on the tidal flats of Saga Advertising FeatureJapan 2019 Travel Guide: SagaSaga is one of Japan’s more unknown destinations – but that doesn’t make the Kyushu destination any less attractive…The Culture Vulture Ever wanted to be a ninja? Well, the Ninja Village Hizen Yumekaido gives you the chance. Not only can you rent ninja costumes but you can try out different skills in this park themed around ninjas. Plus, there is a ninja show performed every day.You might want a drink after that! The Saga Prefecture is Japan’s leading rice producer and thus its sake has a distinct flavour. There are 30 sake breweries in the area, so give it a try at local bars.Art attack: There are lots of china-painting workshops in SagaThe region is also known for its ceramics, notably Imari-yaki and Arita-yaki pottery, which have 400 years of history in Japan. There are numerous places around the prefecture when you can see pottery exhibits and designs, while there are also many china-painting workshops available if you’re feeling creative.The Foodie Saga is famous for Takezaki crab, a blue crab that grows to more than 25cm wide, as well as Saga beef, high-quality marbled meat.Somen noodles are another local speciality and are served hot or cold. Tasty treat: Somen noodles are a local specialityThe AdventurerGo for a hike around Kyoseki Park – a mysterious place full of amazing huge rocks – and try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) in the calm waves and beautiful sea around ​​Karatsu. Or if you’re experienced at SUP, head to Nanatsugama for an adventure tour.For a unique experience, head to the tidal flats of the Ariake Sea where you can get stuck into the mud when the tide is out – showers are available but you’ll want to take a change of clothes!The Party Animal Enjoy restaurants, bars, clubs and karaoke in the Aikei area of Saga – you’ll find them less expensive than in many of Japan’s big cities.For more travel information…[email protected]_trip_genius on Instagram How to get thereYou can reach Saga by express train in just 45 minutes from Fukuoka’s Hakata station. Kyushu-Saga International Airport is 35 minutes from Saga by bus. There are also regular buses from Fukuoka to the Saga Prefecture.last_img read more