Nucifora makes ten changes for Fiji clash

first_imgAustralia U20s Starting XVJacob Woodhouse,Damon Anderson,Tom Kingston,Simon Morahan,Kimami Sitauti,Ben Volavola,Ed Bredenhann,Jarrod Butler,Michael Hooper (c),Ted Postal,Luke Jones,Blake Enever,JP Pradaud,Siliva Siliva,Scott Sio.Reserves:Hugh Roach,Paul Alo-Emile,Greg Peterson,Ed Quirk,Matt Lucas,Bill Meakes,Rohan Saifoloi. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 12: David Nucifora watches on during an Australian Wallabies training session at Erskinville Oval on October 12, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images) U20 Coach David NuciforaCoach David Nucifora has made 10 changes for the Australian Under 20s clash with Fiji in their second match of the pool stages at the IRB Junior World Championships in Italy on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST).Following on from their impressive 54-7 win over Tonga on Saturday, Nucifora’s squad will meet a fired up Fijian outfit who went down by 12 points to France in their opening pool encounter.Australia wasted little time against the Tongans, who they beat 67-5 in 2010 when the sides last met, after halfback Matt Lucas crossed in just the eighth minute to set the tone for the day. Australia took a 35 point lead into halftime, with skipper Colby Faingaa crossing just after the side’s returned to the field. Waratahs Academy playmaker Ben Volavola had a top night with the boot, converting five from six attempts, while Lucas also added two conversions for a personal haul of nine points.Nucifora and assistant coach Anthony Eddy are still searching for the right mix in the middle, however, with the Australian front-row the first to undergo a complete overhaul, with experienced campaigners Scott Sio and Siliva Siliva joining JP Pradaud in replacing Tim Metcher, Hugh Roach and Paul Alo-Emile respectively.Blake Enever holds his spot in the second row with Melbourne Rebels lock Luke Jones replacing Waratahs Academy forward Greg Peterson. Jarrad Butler, who started the game against Tonga at blindside flanker, has been shifted to No.8 to replace former Australian Sevens star Ed Quirk, with Western Force flanker Ted Postal named to start at No.6.Skipper Colby Faingaa is the most notable of changes, with the brother of current Qantas Wallabies Ant and Saia making way for fellow Brumbies backrower Michael Hooper on the side of the scrum. Hooper will also captain the side in Faingaa’s absence.Sydney University halfback, Eddie Bredenhann, has replaced Queensland’s Lucas with flyhalf Volavola one of just five retained from the 47-point victory at Stadio Mario Battaglini. Apo Latunipulu will be replaced at inside centre by Simon Morahan, who will make his starting debut in the Australian Under 20s side – a feat he isn’t the first to achieve with the Morahan name, after older brother Luke debuted two seasons ago at the 2009 Championships. The young Reds Academy flyer was last season added to the Australian Sevens extended squad, alongside his big brother; however is yet to appear on the World Circuit. Morahan will partner another Waratahs wing Tom Kingston in the midfield.2011 Super Rugby debutant Kimami Sitauti has been shifted from one wing to the other, replacing 2011 Sevens star Tevita Kuridrani on the left with Waratahs Academy livewire Damon Anderson slotting straight into the starting XV after only having arrived a few days ago as cover for the injured James Ambrosini. Anderson’s NSW Academy team mate Jacob Woodhouse has also been added to the electric Aussie backline after being named to start in the No.15 shirt, coming in for the Melbourne-born Rohan Saifoloi.In the last three years, 26 Australian U20 representatives have gone on to earn Super Rugby contracts, and from that group, 13 have gone on to represent the Qantas Wallabies.The IRB will provide live streaming of 10 matches via LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Daily news from New Zealand – 18 September – Video

first_img Richard Kahui, and other All Blacks inspects the devastation caused in Christchurch by the February 22 earthquakeThe Rugby World Cup 2011 official YouTube channel will be releasing daily videos to give you the chance to be part of the experience no matter where you are in the world. It allows you to follow the progress of the tournament, plus look at other things to do while in New Zealand.We recap on all of the action from Sunday’s matches; England v Georgia, Canada v France and Wales v Samoa (the 250th World Cup match). Plus we follow New Zealand to Christchurch as they visit areas affected by the devastating earthquake. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS New Zealand All Black winger Richard Kahui inspects the devastation caused by the February 22 earthquake as he and other All Blacks tour the affected areas, in Christchurch on September 18, 2011. The All Blacks are in Christchurch preparing for their next 2011 Rugby World Cup match. AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)center_img 17 September | 16 September | 15 September | 14 September | 13 Septemberlast_img read more

England unchanged for Italy match

first_imgNOT FOR FEATURED LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Italy: Andrea Masi; Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Luke McLean; Kristopher Burton, Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lo Cicero, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Bortolami, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri, Sergio Parisse (capt).Replacements: Tommaso D’Apice, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello, Mauro Bergamasco, Fabio Semenzato, Tobias Botes, Luca Morisi.England: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson, Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole , Mouritz Botha, Tom Palmer, Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (capt), Phil Dowson.Replacements: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown. “We have decided to leave the starting team the same to allow them more time to gel together and we are expecting our bench to come on and make an impact as they did last week. Italy will be a very difficult challenge with nearly 700 caps in their starting line-up and it promises to be an outstanding occasion at the sold-out Stadio Olimpico.”Leading man: Italy’s Sergio ParisseITALY v ENGLAND, STADIO OLIMPICO, SATURDAY 11 FEBRUARY, KICK-OFF 4pm Same again: England celebrate with the Calcutta Cup – and the same 22 will play Italy on SaturdaySTUART LANCASTER has named an unchanged England team to take on Italy in Rome in the Six Nations on Saturday afternoon.England secured a narrow 13-6 win over Scotland last weekend to lift the Calcutta Cup and coach Lancaster wants to give the team more time to “gel together” so has picked the same 22 to face an experienced Azzurri side, which lost 30-12 to France in the opening round.Fighting fit: Scrum-half Lee DicksonReplacement scrum-half Lee Dickson was the only injury worry, but he has recovered far quicker than expected from his hand problem to take his place on the bench.“We have had a good week in spite of the weather and reflected on the game, reviewed and learnt from it, and will look to improve the quality of our performance this week,” said Lancaster.last_img read more

RBS 6 Nations match review: England 23-13 France

first_imgLONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Tom Wood of England wins the line out ball during the RBS Six Nations match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium on February 23, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) Force of nature: Manu Tuilagi makes yet another trademark charge through the French midfield at TwickenhamBy Alan Pearey at TwickenhamIn a nutshellWILL CARLING said it this week – forget the form guide, every Six Nations match is a huge hurdle. France finally turned up at this championship and England were made to dig deep to win a game that looked in the balance for an hour. Ultimately, it was Manu Tuilagi’s fortuitous try on 55 minutes that proved decisive. “It was a proper Test match,” said England coach Stuart Lancaster.The pre-match predictions that France would struggle to last the pace proved accurate, England taking control in the last quarter as the French grew increasingly desperate. Two penalties by Toby Flood, on for the injured Owen Farrell, took England clear and France were left to rue the continued shortcomings of Freddie Michalak, who was introduced on 50 minutes for Francois Trinc-Duc because of his goal-kicking prowess. His wild passes merely bolstered English optimism.France, with Thierry Dusatoir imperious once more, edged the battle of the breakdown but England had the telling thrust behind in the shape of Tuilagi. Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood made the carries and Farrell kicked the points on offer, penalty opportunities on two, 26, 32 and 47 minutes keeping the visitors at bay after they scored one of the better individual tries seen at Twickenham.It was scored by Wesley Fofana, who evaded attempted tackles from Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs as he jinked and sped down the left-hand flank on the half-hour. Ironic that the try came so wide out having just reverted to his preferred centre position.Morgan Parra converted for 10-3 but that was as good as it got for France. England clawed them back and, with Italy next up at Twickenham, a near certain Grand Slam decider looms for Lancaster’s team in Cardiff next month.Wrapped up: Flood and Care thwart MichalakKey momentThe try by Tuilagi that took England seven points clear. Alex Goode launched an up and under which was initially claimed by France, but as the ball went to ground Wood swung a boot and the ball ricocheted off Mako Vunipola into the grateful grasp of Tuilagi – in acres of space on the left. The chasing Vincent Clerc had no chance.Star ManChris Robshaw’s 15 carries helped win him the BBC accolade, but there were equally commendable contributors in the pack. However, look no further than the blood-splattered Tuilagi, who won the gain-line collisions with fellow behemoth Mathieu Bastareaud. He made 57 metres and his performance made a mockery of suggestions he should have stayed on the bench. He was still smiling afterwards despite having 20-odd stitches in a wounded ear.Lions watchHotJoe LaunchburyDoes the young lock ever have an ordinary game? Once again, he marauded around the pitch, making tackles (15 in all), soaring to take restarts and flying into the rucks. The case for starting him and Geoff Parling in the Lions engine room is becoming irresistible. Dan ColeSo much more than England’s best scrummaging tighthead. His work in the loose is phenomenal, with his strength over the ball at the breakdown making him one of the best turnover specialists around. Still don’t know why he was sin-binned in the final minute!High rise: Wood put down a Lions markerTom WoodPhil Dowson was the glue that held the England pack together at the start of Lancaster’s reign – now that mantle belongs to his Saints team-mate Wood. He was at his best when the heat was at its most intense, making a dozen tackles to go with his ten carries and a crucial interception as France threatened a comeback try.ColdCourtney LawesMaking his first Six Nations start on his 18th appearance, Lawes looked like he was trying too hard. He tore about the pitch but lacked accuracy in his hits, and England seemed to suffer from a power shortage on his side of the scrum. Brilliant athlete but not the performance he would have hoped for on his 24th birthday. Replaced with half an hour remaining.Chris AshtonStill not doing enough if he wants to stay ahead of the competition for the Lions’ right-wing berth. His double miss in the Fofana try – he was sidestepped too easily and then failed with a last-ditch tackle attempt when giving chase – will concern Warren Gatland.StatsLouis Picamoles made 17 carries and 81 metres – topping the French figures in those areas. France won seven turnovers to England’s two but were hampered by 13 handling errors, as opposed to only four by England.Scorers England: Try: Tuilagi. Pens: Farrell 4, Flood 2.France: Try: Fofana. Con: Parra. Pens: Parra, Michalak. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Lions 2013: O’Driscoll and Roberts, side-step brothers

first_imgIf Roberts comes through this weekend impressively and injury free he should be the favourite to become O’Driscoll’s side-stepping brother. Having Tuilagi or Davies rolling off the bench is a very strong place to be.Much may come down to how the Lions plan to return kicks, shape their defence and look to get the ball in O’Driscoll’s hands, but Roberts looks like the favourite to share top billing with the Irishman. Brothers in arms: Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts have spoken about having a strong bond on and off the pitchBy Alan DymockTHEY STARTED out as Six Nations enemies, but since the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, centres Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts have been spilling over with man-love for each other.Inseparable: O’Driscoll and Roberts run out together as Lions“You’d like to think we can resume a partnership that’s more effective this time around,” Roberts said of his buddy Drico. “I think his communication on and off the ball is something I learned a lot about in 2009. Every call he makes is 99% the right one, and when he speaks people listen.”If it sounds like Roberts is fawning, so is the rest of the world. Tim Horan, who is the go-to former player turned pundit Down Under, reckons that O’Driscoll is nailed on to start the first Test. In the former Wallaby centre’s eyes, there is a straight fight between Roberts, Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Davies to deputise in the middle.However, O’Driscoll has been vocal about how much he enjoys activities with the burly Welshman who was Man of the Series in 2009.Talking about Roberts, O’Driscoll said: “We played four games together on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa, including the first and second Tests, and gelled straight away. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img “Jamie is a strong ball-carrier, has good offloads and distribution and tremendous defence. As I’ve [also] said about Manu Tuilagi, there are a lot of layers to Jamie’s game so I’m really looking forward to us working together again.”Support cast? Tuilagi and Davies could steal showHe may be acting pragmatically, mentioning Tuilagi, but if O’Driscoll is indeed right 99% of the time, Warren Gatland will be more than willing to listen to him.This weekend Roberts and Davies start in the centres against the Waratahs as part of a team several experts are suggesting is close to a Test side.Perhaps it is an audition, with O’Driscoll now bubble wrapped. Much has been made about Simon Zebo and Sean Maitland running to prove themselves this Saturday with Tommy Bowe out and George North struggling with a gammy hamstring and maybe the centre selection is as open.last_img read more

Aviva Premiership One to Watch: Tom Varndell

first_img“It’s fantastic to be back on the radar and know that I’m in Stuart’s mind. To see the red rose on my chest again has definitely filled me with a hunger and desire to get back into the set up.Looking rosy: Varndell back on England duty“I’m not blind to the fact there’s a lot of quality players in my position. It’s not plain sailing but I’ve been given an opportunity and I’m going to work my butt off.“Wasps are definitely a different team this year. Last year there were only just enough players to fill each position. Now me and Wadey are looking over our shoulders thinking who is going to be taking our place.“To drop off the way we did last season was really disappointing and that’s one of the reasons why we came in [to pre-season] so early to work on our fitness.“Hopefully we will do a lot better than eighth. We’re definitely looking up and not down this season.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS This weekend’s match should be just as tight, with both teams almost at full strength and coming into the game after winning two out of their three pre-season friendlies. I will pick Wasps to come out as winners, but only just!Watch Varndell and London Wasps take on Harlequins at Twickenham on Saturday 7 September, kick-off 4.30pm. LOUGHBOROUGH, ENGLAND – AUGUST 12: Tom Varndell runs with the ball during the England training session held at Loughborough University on August 12, 2013 in Loughborough, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) TAGS: Wasps Off the mark: Varndell scores the first of last season’s 13 Premiership tries, as he crashes over against HarlequinsBy Katie FieldWho is the man of the moment?Tom Varndell, the fleet-footed wing who will be turning out for London Wasps against Harlequins at Twickenham in the London Double-header on Saturday, 7 September (kick-off 4.30pm).Why is he in the spotlight?Varndell finished last season as the joint top try-scorer in the Aviva Premiership, sharing the honour with his team-mate Christian Wade. He ran in 13 tries in 20 league appearances and the first of them came in the same fixture on the opening day of last season.It was Varndell’s best season for five years as he had not taken his try tally into double figures since 2007-08, when he scored 14 for Leicester Tigers in 22 matches.Sharing the spoils: Varndell and Christian Wade strike a poseLast season’s total could have been even higher if Wasps had not hit the skids in the last couple of months of the season and lost their last seven outings. Varndell scored 11 tries in his first 12 Premiership outings but managed only two more from mid-February.With his 28th birthday coming up later this month and newcomers like Wade hot-stepping into the limelight, Varndell is super-motivated to start this season well and prove his best days are not behind him.A little more powder was added to the keg when Stuart Lancaster invited Varndell to train with England this summer. He is not in the Senior EPS or Saxons squad, but the electric form he showed last season has given him the slightest of chances of adding to the four caps he won between 2005 and 2008.What’s Varndell got to say about it? Will he end up whooping or weeping this week?When Wasps and Quins clashed at Twickenham last season Varndell’s side blasted out of the blocks and were 40-13 up during the second half but ended up losing 42-40 as Quins shredded their defence with four tries in ten minutes and Nick Evans kicked the winning penalty in the last five minutes.last_img read more

World Cup watch: France can thrive with English style

first_imgForward power: France may well have found a style that works, based on the efforts of their pack Thumbs up: Louis Picamoles is back to his finest form at No 8But the France squad are now in an unusual position – they are fit, fresh and invigorated. The first-choice pack is also vastly experienced with an average of 30, one year more than the England ‘Dad’s Army’ pack that won the 2003 World Cup.It’s taken Saint-Andre four years to work out his best pack, although he hasn’t been helped in the last 12 months by a combination of illness (Picamoles), suspension (Pape) and injury (Dusautoir and Ben Arous) . But suddenly PSA’s plans are coming together, and this most Anglophone of French coaches is increasingly confident he can win a World Cup on English soil playing in the old English style. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS All smiles: Philippe Saint-Andre has seen his side play powerfullyPSA has assembled a pack to do a similar job. Nicolas Mas is his Jeff Probyn, a grizzled tight-head happiest with his head in the scrum. Eddy Ben Arous will play the role of Jason Leonard, a young loose-head still learning his craft but possessed of strength, energy and aggression. Guilhem Guirado has much in common with Brian Moore: not the biggest hooker but mobile, precise and a leader of men.Pascal Pape and Yoann Maestri are every bit as bruising as Wade Dooley and Paul Ackford, big, hard men who enjoy combat and perform their second-row duties with grim efficiency.PSA’s likely first-choice back-row will be Louis Picamoles at No8 with Damien Chouly and Thierry Dusautoir on the flanks. Not the most creative but then neither was England’s 1991 loose forward trio of Mike Teague, Mick Skinner and Peter Winterbottom. They were more destructive than constructive, using their muscle to out-ruck and out-maul the opposition, and tackle them into the ground with a bone-shuddering intensity.Over the years France have illuminated the World Cup with moments of exquisite panache – their 1987 semi-final defeat of Australia, coming back to beat New Zealand in the 1999 World Cup and stunning the All Blacks again eight years later. But despite their bouts of brilliance the Webb Ellis Cup has remained out of reach. PSA is carrying on the work of Bernard Laporte, the first France coach to understand that the old French way was incompatible with professional rugby. Sides were fitter, defences tighter and the days of playing by thrilling instinct were over. Laporte began the transformation following France’s ignominious defeat to England in the 2003 World Cup semi-final. For many seasons he was criticised and told France would never beat England at their own game, and over the last decade England have had the best of the encounters. But England have been steadily moving away from their traditional game, a transition facilitated by the expansive style of the Aviva Premiership. The Top 14 in contrast is still set-piece dominated; the season is also longer and matches more physically draining with players given little time to recover for Test matches – hence why France’s results have suffered in recent seasons. Scotland will present an awkward challenge to France on Saturday evening. Awkward because only a dominant victory will do for the French public, who are still on a high after Les Bleus‘ battering of England last month. They want more of the same, and they’ll expect it against a Scottish side who last won in Paris in 1999.They’ll expect to see a similarly bullying display in the scrum, more pilfering of opposition ball at the line-out and Freddie Michalak will be expected to kick his goals and orchestrate his backline. If France do despatch the Scots with the same clinical confidence they showed against England then they’ll head into the World Cup on a high, and that should worry their rivals.The draw has been favourable to the French. They kick-off their campaign at Twickenham on September 19 against Italy, who, judging by their sorry display against Scotland on Saturday, won’t present much of a problem to Philippe Saint-Andre’s side. Then it’s Romania and Canada, tough opponents but unlikely to mount a serious challenge to France. Their final group game is against Ireland on Sunday October 11.Struggling: Italy were easily beaten by Scotland last weekendFrance haven’t beaten Ireland during Saint-Andre’s reign but if they are unbeaten when they meet in six weeks, the French will be favourites to progress to a likely quarter-final against Argentina.There was little flamboyance in France’s two performances against England last month (they scored two tries to England’s five) but if Saint-Andre learned one thing during his 69-cap Test career, it was that flamboyance doesn’t win titles. Yes, it wins you admiration – too many people have asked him about his try against England in 1991 or his part in the ‘Try from the End of the World’ against New Zealand three years later – but you can’t display flamboyance on the mantelpiece.PSA’s Test career ran from 1990 to 1997, an era of unprecedented English dominance in northern hemisphere rugby. Will Carling’s side won three Grand Slam titles and reached a World Cup final, while France were busy running the ball from inside their own 22. PSA played against England six times in the Five Nations and won just once. He also played in the 1991 World Cup quarter-final, a match of chilling ferocity, in which England’s victory was built on the indomitability of their pack. England reached the final that year playing rugby that could hardly be called captivating, despite the presence of Jeremy Guscott and Rory Underwood, two of the most creative threequarters of their generation. Instead England bludgeoned their way to the final, scoring just two tries in the quarter-, semi- and final.last_img read more

Autumn Internationals: England v New Zealand preview

first_imgEngaging: hooker Codie Taylor signs autographs during an All Blacks visit to the Twickenham Stoop (Getty)“However, for us it’s about making our own statement. To do that, we’ll need to bring our own intensity and accuracy to an even higher level throughout the game. It’s a great opportunity to assess where our game is at.“Having two playmakers (Barrett and McKenzie) makes it a lot harder for England to shut us down. It also takes away the frustration of that person who is shut down, because you have someone else taking a bit of the heat.”The game falls on the centenary remembrance of Armistice Day (see details below) and Hansen added: “Whenever we play with the poppy the stories of why it’s there are talked about. It does give it an extra emotional hit. When you get these big Test matches you don’t need too much of a wind-up to be ready, but it is significant.”Any interesting statistics?* England have lost all but one of their previous 15 meetings with New Zealand, the exception being the stirring 38-21 victory of 2012.* The countries have played each other 40 times, with 32 wins to the All Blacks, seven to England and one draw. The most recent Test was in November 2014 at Twickenham, which the All Blacks won 24-21. George Kruis made his England debut that day.* Locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock will be playing their 49th Test together, equalling the All Blacks’ starting locks partnership record set by Robin Brooke and Ian Jones.* The teams will be contesting the Hillary Shield for the tenth time. The trophy, named in honour of Sir Edmund Hillary, was introduced in 2008.What time does it kick off and is it on TV?The match at Twickenham kicks off at 3pm UK time on Saturday and is live on Sky Sports. There will also be live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and online.The referee is Frenchman Jérôme Garcès, who sent off Sonny Bill Williams during the second Test of the 2017 New Zealand-Lions series.His assistant referees for this match are Jaco Peyper (South Africa) and Marius Mitrea (Italy), with South Africa’s Marius Jonker fulfilling TMO duties.In charge: Jerome Garces (centre) during the England-Wales match at Twickenham in February (Getty)What are the line-ups?ENGLAND Elliot Daly; Chris Ashton, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (co-capt), Ben Youngs; Ben Moon, Dylan Hartley (co-capt), Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Brad Shields, Sam Underhill, Mark Wilson.Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell.NEW ZEALAND Damian McKenzie; Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Karl Tu’inukuafe, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read (capt).Replacements 16 Dane Coles 17 Ofa Tuungafasi 18 Nepo Laulala 19 Scott Barrett 20 Matt Todd 21 TJ Perenara 22 Richie Mo’unga 23 Ryan Crotty.Armistice centenaryThis weekend marks the centenary of the end of World War One. The 131 international rugby players who lost their lives in the Great War included 27 England and 13 New Zealand players and they will be remembered on Saturday.The teams will wear poppies on their shirts and, as they take the field, they will cross the spot where soil from former England captain and centre Ronnie Poulton’s grave at the Royal Berkshire Cemetery in Belgium was buried before the Army v Navy match in May. The spot is now permanently marked and is unveiled this week to coincide with the centenary.Paying tribute: the Rose and Poppy Gate at Twickenham in 2016. This weekend will be even more poignantThe official match-day charity is the Royal British Legion (RBL). During the day England Rugby will be supporting the RBL ‘Thank you’ campaign which will appear on the LEDs and big screens, with a video shown at half-time. Poppies will be on sale around the ground.New Zealand’s Reserve Bank has minted an Armistice Day edition of the 50-cent piece, one of which will be used in Saturday’s coin toss.A Moment’s Silence, remembering all who served and died for their countries, will be introduced before kick-off by Lewis Moody, the RFU’s Great War Commemoration Ambassador, and The Last Post will be sounded by a Rifleman from The Band and Bugles of The Rifles.Two of the England mascots on Saturday are descendants of players who died during the war: Max Garnett (age ten), whose father, James, is a descendant of Ronnie Poulton, and Jack Davis (nine), whose grandfather, Richard Slocock, is the grandson of Lancelot (Noel) Slocock, the lock who captained England against Scotland in 1908. High shot: Brodie Retallick tackles Jonny May during New Zealand’s 24-21 victory in 2014 (Corbis/Getty) All you need to know about the Test between England and New Zealand at Twickenham Autumn Internationals: England v New Zealand previewIt’s four years since England met New Zealand, and for much of the intervening period the two sides have occupied the top two places in the world rankings.The long delay for Eddie Jones’s first crack at the All Blacks as England boss is down to financial wrangling, with a bid to put the fixture on last year stalling because the RFU were unwilling to offer the NZRU half of the revenue.Ireland, now No 2 in the world, tackle New Zealand next week but the sides met twice in 2016. For England, this weekend’s match ends the longest wait to face the Kiwis since 1991, when their World Cup pool meeting followed a six-year hiatus. It’s why this is the hottest ticket of the autumn.After the captivating 12-11 defeat of South Africa last weekend, the pressure on England has eased. Few people really expect them to win this one.Scrum dancing: England’s nail-biting win over South Africa gave the Quilter series a flying start (Getty)England’s back-to-back successes against the Kiwis in 2002-03 are a distant memory as the world’s greatest rugby nation has reasserted itself in the fixture. Even the one blip, in 2012, occurred after a debilitating virus had swept through the All Blacks camp.When Jones received his World Rugby Coach of the Year award in Monte Carlo in 2017, he said: “I must admit I feel a bit embarrassed. We’re not the number one team in the world. Steve Hansen should be up here but someone has judged it another way. Until we’re number one we’ve got nothing to crow about.”Hansen’s men head to Twickenham on the back of a sixth Rugby Championship title in seven years and last weekend’s ten-try saunter against Japan in Tokyo. The last time they were at Twickenham for a capped Test was to retain the World Cup.If England can win on Saturday, they will certainly have something to crow about.You’re the man: Eddie Jones has wasted little time installing Chris Ashton in his side (MB Media/Getty)What’s the big team news?Chris Ashton makes his first England start since the 2014 tour to New Zealand. The Sale wing, who returned to the Premiership this season from France in order to be eligible for selection, replaces Jack Nowell and will relish the chance to build on a significant impact off the bench last weekend. Ashton has scored 19 tries in 40 Tests.“You watch that last 15 minutes of the Springboks game,” said Paul Grayson on 5 Live, “and Chris Ashton could have scored a hat-trick if other people had understood where he wants to end up getting the ball. His support lines are a joy to behold. He’s got some frailties but if you’re going to pick a man to score you a try, Ashton is very high on the list.”Ben Moon, also impressive against the Boks, starts ahead of Exeter team-mate Alec Hepburn, while Tom Curry’s ankle injury opens the door for Bath’s Sam Underhill to fill the seven shirt.Underhill’s chop-tackle expertise will be a welcome addition to the mix after England failed to prevent South Africa winning the gain-line battle emphatically.Courtney Lawes has recovered from a back injury and gets a place on the bench at the expense of Zach Mercer, who can consider himself unlucky.Among those with plenty to prove is Elliot Daly, who makes his fifth consecutive start at full-back. He may be a British Lion but he was unconvincing under the high ball last week and made some poor decisions in attack, twice failing to pass to the man in space. An improved performance would be opportune.Bazooka of a boot: full-back Elliot Daly kicks a 49m penalty against the Boks (Visionhaus/Getty Images)Regardless of how Daly fares against Beauden Barrett’s kicking game, the absence of Alex Goode from the squad remains an enigma. Chris Pennell, one of the best 15s of recent years, said on BT’s Rugby Tonight on Tour show: “Alex has been the in-form full-back for the last three seasons. His change of pace, his footwork, is outstanding.“His background as a fly-half earlier in his career means he’s got so much time on the ball and he picks the right option 99 times out of 100. I just think he’s class.”New Zealand make seven changes to the side that beat Australia in Tokyo a fortnight ago. Their only hiccup is the loss of loosehead Joe Moody after he sustained a lacerated eyelid during a lineout lift in training. Karl Tu’inukuafe, the find of the year, deputises.Cause for concern: Steve Hansen looks on anxiously as Joe Moody receives treatment for his eye injuryElsewhere, the gloriously exciting Damian McKenzie gets another opportunity at proving he warrants the No 15 shirt permanently, while Sonny Bill Williams partners Jack Goodhue in midfield for only the second time.That means Ryan Crotty must settle for a place on the bench, where his comrades include hooker Dane Coles, whose run-out in Tokyo last Saturday was his first Test outing for a year following a knee ligament rupture and other issues.What have the coaches said?Eddie Jones said: “The expectation for Saturday is no different to any other Test match. We want to be at our best, better than we were in the previous Test match, and we want to play with pride and passion which ignites the fan.“It’s been a good week; the players have recovered well, trained well on Tuesday, exceptionally well on Wednesday. We don’t think we’re underdogs. We don’t look at the bookmakers. All we know is that we can beat New Zealand.“I think playing against them suits Chris Ashton – it’s just a gut feeling. He can sniff a try. He’s great at running inside support lines and there might be a few opportunities there.”New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said: “There’s huge anticipation at what lies ahead. We know we’ll be up against a very determined and well-coached English side. They’ll have gained a lot of confidence from their win over South Africa and be keen to make a statement in front of their passionate Twickenham home crowd.center_img New Zealand’s military services are represented by All Black mascots Logan and Eva Till, aged nine and five respectively. Their father, Squadron Leader Ben Till, is a serving New Zealand Air Force officer whose forebears served in World War One.Laura Wright will sing Keep the home fires burning at half-time and a special World War One display is running in the refurbished World Rugby Museum in Twickenham’s South Stand. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Face-off: Should Scotland have a third professional team?

first_img Third element: Chris Cusiter passes for Borders Reivers in 2006, a year before they were disbanded (Inpho) Only very recently have the SRU been able to fund two teams to a level where both are challenging for knockout rugby in the Guinness Pro14 and Europe.There are many reasons why a third team would benefit Scotland, but there’s a single big one to explain why it hasn’t happened. The combined playing budgets of Edinburgh and Glasgow account for north of £12m per year and, with myriad other costs, the SRU simply don’t have the resources to start up and then maintain a new outfit to a degree where it wouldn’t become another Border Reivers.Not cheap: Edinburgh and Glasgow cost a lot to run, so could the SRU stretch to another team? (Inpho)Before the plug was pulled in 2007, the Netherdale side’s struggles showed how hard it is to create something meaningful, even in a region with such rich rugby heritage. The SRU’s poor marketing and limited commercial clout didn’t help.While modern Murrayfield scores higher on those counts, investors haven’t been clamouring to build them a new team, new venue or both.Things could change with CVC’s cash, but for now the player pathway focus is on the ‘part-time professional’ Super6. Face-off: Should Scotland have a third professional team?ROB ROBERTSONRugby Correspondent for the Scottish Daily MailThe pathway to the top for young amateur players in Scotland is far too narrow with just two pro teams. Too many have to leave the country for the lower leagues in France or England to find a higher standard. Sadly, some stop playing in their teens due to lack of opportunities.Geographically, it’s a disgrace that Scotland’s only two teams are based in Glasgow and Edinburgh – cities just 47 miles apart. There is huge interest in other parts of Scotland, such as Aberdeen and Dundee. Either one needs to be the base for a third club.Scot abroad: Gloucester lock Alex Craig is one young talent playing outside the country (Getty Images)The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) claim to not have the money for a third professional team and as a halfway house have set up a semi-pro league, the Super6. Three clubs are in Edinburgh and one each in the Borders, Ayr and Stirling. Vast areas are overlooked. Aberdeen and Dundee miss out again.The creation of a third professional team to give young players all over Scotland – especially those outwith the central belt – a better chance of making the grade in their own country first and foremost is long overdue.MARK PALMERScottish Rugby Correspondent for The Sunday Times Scottish rugby has operated with just two pro teams for more than a decade, a situation some argue is hampering player development. This debate ran in our March 2020 issue center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS What do you think? Email your views to [email protected] debate first appeared in the March 2020 issue of Rugby World.last_img read more

Lions squad fallout: an analysis of the internet reaction

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Most discussed players by NationYou can find out more on the WordNerds website or track their Twitter @word_nerdy Lions chairman Jason Leonard reads out the squad (Inpho) Lions squad fallout: an analysis of the internet reactionWith big sporting moments you can find yourself wondering what fans all over the world really care about – do we sometimes get caught in an echo chamber online? Well as the announcement of the British & Irish Lions squad 2021 unfolded, AI Text Analytics company Wordnerds put their language processing platform to use to see what was being discussed across the spectrum of Lions supporters. Employing their Natural Language Processing engine to develop an overall picture of internet reaction in the UK, they harvested over 10,000 comments from Twitter and media comments sections. From talk of key omissions to highlighting the one player with the most positive feedback, they can paint a fuller picture of the fallout than just cherry-picking a few pundits’ posts.Related: Players react to Lions selectionWordnerds CSO Steve Erdal explains of the process: “Once we get the (thousands of) posts in, Wordnerds runs every sentence through a neural network, which examines thousands of aspects of the sentence (structure, grammar, vocabulary etc). We’ve trained this neural network to do a couple of things – establish sentiment (how the writer was feeling) and group the text by similar concepts (what the writer meant). Once we’ve established that, we compare the different parts of the dataset (over time, by region etc) to get a sense of what’s special about it. “We often find that the fan reaction to events like this is usually boiled down to just a couple of individual social media posts, which isn’t representative of the fanbase as a whole. By using artificial intelligence, we hope to give a sense of the “crowd noise” sadly missing from the stadiums in South Africa.”Presenter Lee McKenzie talks a hologram Alun Wyn Jones (Inpho)Key findingsThe big discussions were about who didn’t go. Six out of the top ten most discussed players were not selected. Johnny Sexton was the most discussed player overall, with the Leinster fly-half appearing in 13% of the online conversations.Sam vs Billy was the most discussed head to head. Sam Simmonds and Billy Vunipola were the two most directly compared players. Fans saw this decision as a key indication of how Warren Gatland is planning to play against the Springboks, and as one of the big surprises. Other regularly compared players included Garry Ringrose with Bundee Aki, and the Exeter locks Jonny Hill and Jonny Gray. The Scots and Welsh fans were happiest. 87% of the overall discussion was positive in Scotland, with 86% positivity registered in Wales. It was then a considerable drop to the Northern Irish fans. Despite having the largest share of the touring party, English fans were the least happy, although 72% of their posts were still positive. Josh Navidi was the biggest disappointment. While Sexton was the most discussed absentee, there was considerable debate on whether a call-up was deserved. The omission that caused the most universal disappointment was that of Josh Navidi.  Stuart Hogg was the most positive player. While the majority of selected players received positive reviews, Stuart Hogg edged the race for approval, with 93% of his comments suggesting positivity. Bundee Aki and Talupe Faletau also received unusually positive comments.A lot of the discussion had nothing to do with rugby (especially with front rowers). Among the most popular non-rugby topics were Rory Sutherland finding it hard not to swear during his interviews, Ken Owens’ son celebrating the news of his dad’s call-up at school, and Jamie George giving a withering review of the announcement ceremony itself. Alun Wyn Jones’s historic achievement will forever be linked to Star Trek. While the decision to make Alun Wyn Jones captain was met with approval, the decision to use CGI to beam him into the ceremony raised a lot of eyebrows. References were made to holograms,  Star Trek, and Tupac amongst others. Overall, this was a positive day. It’s easy to focus on the contentious decisions and national rivalry, but overall, the rugby internet was a positive place to be on announcement day. Messages of celebration and congratulations outnumbered negative or disapproving messages four to one. Here is some more details from their findings:Most discussed players on Announcement Day AI Text Analytics company Wordnerds pored over your tweets and posts Can’t get to the shops? Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet. Subscribe to the print edition for magazine delivery to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more