first_imgOr perhaps you’d like a digital version of the magazine delivered direct to your PC, MAC or Ipad? If so click here. For Back Issues Contact John Denton Services at 01733-385-170 visit Bullying – This makes the training more relevant to rugby, where you have to do a lot of grappling and driving. The boxer throws a set of punches at the pad-holder, and then has to drive him away before the next set of punches. You then swap, so the pad-holder does the driving. This is incredibly tiring, and good practice for when players have to get defenders off them.Knock down – The boxer throws a set of punches, then quickly gets down on the floor and back up again. This prepares him for the fatigue that can hit you during a game.Bag work – This won’t develop your footwork but it’s still exhausting. Great for anaerobic conditioning.It will be more beneficial if you work on technique as well as punching as hard as you can. It’s skills such as footwork and reaction times that will really make a difference to your rugby.Commonwealth champion George Groves believes boxing can help rugby players because:It’s a different way of practising technique needed for footworkIn drills like 180 you have to get your feet into the correct position before you punch – as in a tackleYou have to think while in a state of exhaustionThis article appeared in the March 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.Find a newsagent that sells Rugby World in the UK George Groves feels the power – or not! – of editor Paul MorganBoxing is a fantastic conditioning tool, writes Roy Headey, the RFU’s Head of Sports Science.It’s physically demanding but because guys love doing it they don’t realise just how hard they’re working, and it can get their heart-rates high for sustained periods.Like tackling in rugby, boxing is all about getting your feet in the right place to punch. It also requires full-body coordination, and your whole body is working while needing to perform explosive movements – as you would in a game.George Groves, the Commonwealth Super-middleweight champion (right), has worked with the RFU to devise boxing techniques to help players.Players can use boxing to get fired up on game day, and it’s useful when you’re coming back from injury and can’t yet take part in full-contact sessions but want to train at intensity.Do low-intensity, low-speed shadow boxing to warm up your trunk, hips and shoulders. Wear wraps to protect the backs of your hands and sparring gloves, where the thumb is stitched to the main part of the glove.Here are some drills you can do at home:180 – Two pad-holders will take it in turns to call out a combination of punches for the boxer, who stands in the middle, and has to spin 180° between them. This is hard physically and requires great concentration.To make it harder, the pad-holders can stop calling out instructions and simply hold the pads out, so the boxer has to recognise which punches to do. To make it harder still, ask him questions about, say, lineout calls or moves at the same time.center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

first_imgThis return walk heads part of the way to Cape Rodney overlooking New Zealand’s oldest and most popular marine reserve. Walk up the Auckland University Marine Laboratory driveway to the start of the track, which passes along the clifftop beyond the marine laboratory through paddocks and fine remnants of coastal forest. Dropkick the hangover – Dome Forest Starting from the Dome tearooms the track leads through forest and follows a ridge to a lookout platform with views across the Mahurangi Peninsula to the Hauraki Gulf. The track starts 7km north of Warkworth on SH1, north of Auckland. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img NORTH SHOREPre-match jaunt – Goat Island Walklast_img read more

first_img Bradley Davies makes a break through Edinburgh’s defence during last week’s Heineken cup clashBaber and Burnell make one change to team following 25-8 win over EdinburghWith Cardiff Blues having recorded their six successive win over Edinburgh last Friday, the Blues make one change for their Round 4 Heineken Cup match against Edinburgh this Friday, 16 December, 8.00pm kick off at Murrayfield.Winger Alex Cuthbert is out with a minor hamstring injury and is replaced by Gavin Evans, with Dafydd Hewitt moving onto the bench.Twenty points from the boot of Dan Parks and a well taken Alex Cuthbert try secured the win for the Blues, who now sit at the top of Pool 2 with 12 points, having recorded three wins from three so far in the tournament. The Blues did the double over Edinburgh in last season’s competition with an 18-17 home win and a 21-14 victory on the road, but Blues backs coach Gareth Baber is taking nothing for granted this Friday.“Obviously it’s good to try to stick to a side that’s winning and keep that momentum going,” said Baber. “Alex Cuthbert had to withdraw with a niggling hamstring injury picked up against Edinburgh last Friday. He trained on Tuesday and had physio on it, but it’s not quite right.” CARDIFF, WALES – DECEMBER 09: Bradley Davies of Cardiff makes a break during the Heineken Cup Pool Two match between Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh at the Cardiff City Stadium on December 9, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) “Last Friday’s win was crucial, but we have to back up that performance in Murrayfield on Friday. They are all big games in the Heineken Cup as we aim at moving to the knockout stages. London Irish picked up a win last weekend against Racing Metro and are still in it, so there’s a long way to go and we are not taking anything for granted.”Starting XV15 Leigh Halfpenny14 Gavin Evans13 Casey Laulala12 Jamie Roberts11 Chris Czekaj10 Dan Parks9 Lloyd Williams8 Xavier Rush7 Sam Warburton6 Michael Paterson5 Paul Tito (c)4 Bradley Davies3 Taufa’ao Filise2 T Rhys Thomas1 Gethin Jenkins LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Replacements:16 Ryan Tyrell17 John Yapp18 Scott Andrews19 Josh Navidi20 Maama Molitika21 Richie Rees22 Ceri Sweeney23 Dafydd HewittNot available due to injuryAlex Cuthbert – hamstringJames Down – ankleAndries Pretorius – kneeDeiniol Jones – shoulderMartyn Williams – armKristian Dacey – shoulderlast_img read more

first_imgLosing Sean O’Brien, last year’s European Player of the Year, is a blow, but Ireland coach Declan Kidney is seeing the positives in bringing in O’Mahony in his place. He said: “The benefit of the change is that Scotland won’t have been able to analyse him as much as if he’d several caps under his belt. You can look at this as a disruption to us, but maybe it’s a disruption to Scotland. Perhaps they’ll have been anticipating a different type of challenge. They may have to adjust to us now.” Furthermore, Donncha Ryan has been pushing hard for a starting place in the second row, even if, admittedly, Kidney may have included him at Donncha O’Callaghan’s expense instead of O’Connell’s had he had a choice.IRELAND v SCOTLAND, AVIVA STADIUM, SATURDAY 10 MARCH, KICK-OFF 5pm. Live on BBC 1. Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Redddan; Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Mike Ross, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donncha Ryan, Stephen Ferris, Peter O’Mahony, Jamie Heaslip.Replacements: Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Mike McCarthy, Shane Jennings, Tomás O’Leary, Ronan O’Gara, Fergus McFadden.Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Lee Jones, 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. not for featured Can the Scots stop Ireland?By Bea Asprey, Rugby World Writer IT’S been a bruising week for Ireland. Their match against France was not only mentally draining, given their disappointment at throwing away an 11-point half-time lead to come away with a draw, but it also cost them their captain and scrum-half. Then no sooner had Rory Best inherited the captain’s armband from Paul O’Connell, and Eoin Reddan filled Conor Murray’s No 9 jersey,  than Sean O’Brien had to withdraw from this weekend’s Scotland clash, to be replaced by Munster youngster Peter O’Mahony. Scotland’s week has been plain sailing in comparison, but I still don’t fancy their chances at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.Feeling the squeeze: Andy RobinsonConfidenceThough Ireland threw away the chance to win in Paris for the first time in 12 years, they played some good rugby throughout the game and especially in the first half. They silenced the French crowd for the majority of the match thanks to their dominance, and coming so close to beating the World Cup runners up won’t have been lost on them. Scotland, in comparison, are scraping the barrel. They haven’t won a game yet this tournament, and have thrown away chances to do so, and questions are starting to be asked about how long the current coaching team can remain at Murrayfield with a run of poor results. Though they overcame Ireland at Croke Park two years ago, their record in Dublin is poor, and they have only beaten them on two other occasions in the last 10 years – both in Edinburgh.Try, try and try again Scotland fans breathed a sigh of relief when Greig Laidlaw scored a try against Wales, and two followed, courtesy of Stuart Hogg and Lee Jones, against France. But Tommy Bowe has scored two more tries than that himself, and in a packed Aviva Stadium Ireland’s backs are capable of doing some serious damage – as Italy found out two weeks ago. It’ll be crucial for Scotland to start strongly if they hope to match Ireland, but it’s questionable whether they’ll have the composure to achieve a lead.Donncha Ryan has big boots to fillElement of surprise LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Replacements: Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Al Kellock, Richie Vernon, Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson, Max Evans.Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ)last_img read more

first_img Try time: The impressive Charlie Sharples crosses the whitewash for England against Fiji at TwickenhamBy Owain Jones, Rugby World EditorIn a nutshellEngland performed a satisfactory, if perfunctory job on an underprepared and underpowered Fiji side. The hosts got off to a sluggish start, failing to find the necessary momentum to hurt the Fijians, but after the break, England improved, and started to go through the phases to exploit gaps in the Fijian’s defence. This led to a braces from both Charlie Sharples and Manu Tuilagi, while Tom Johnson scored a debut try and Ugo Monye crossed the whitewash from a short distance. England finished convincingly, well aware tougher battles would lie ahead.Key momentDanny Care out of the sin bin and restored to the backline started a neat move from the base of the ruck, and slick English hands from Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Alex Goode saw England make headway on the right. Charlie Sharples was fed the ball far out on the touchline. He looked up, showed quick feet and danced inside three Fijian defenders to wriggle and squirm his way over the tryline. It was a moment of individual brilliance that break the visitors resolve and gave England that all-important daylight.Star man: Charlie SharplesIt was seen as a straight shoot-out between Charlie Sharples and Ugo Monye for a wing berth once finisher-in-chief Chris Ashton came back into the side, after a one-match suspension. Both players scored but it was Sharples who retained his spot. The Gloucester Wing, showcased particularly with his first try, his inventiveness and mental attitude to ‘give it a go’ to score. His second try was easier, with a neat step from a short distance but showed his predatory instincts. Sharples took his opportunity and it paid off. Honourable mentions must go to the classy Alex Goode and assured Tom Youngs, who made his England debut.Assured display: Goode was excellentRoom for improvement:The Fijians were patently under-prepared and underpowered to take on a well-drilled England side. That was no surprise, yet Stuart Lancaster will be concerned by England’s sluggish start where they looked rusty and failing to gain momentum. If we’re being harsh, Thomas Waldrom didn’t look to answer to England’s No 8 berth and Danny Care, in an otherwise snappy performance, will be frustrated to have been sin-binned, albeit harshly for a borderline tip-tackle. Against more clinical opposition, England will be punished.  They also butchered try scoring opportunities, which will need to improve against the SANZAR triumvirate.In quotes – winnersEngland coach, Stuart Lancaster: “We were delighted to get the win, we struggled to get foothold early on but the scrum was good and I was particularly delighted for Tom Youngs on his debut. Even though we didn’t convert every opportunity we showed some good shape and intent in attack but we realize we’ll need to step up a few levels next week.In quotes – losersFiji coach, Inoke Male: “The Fijian players are more dangerous when they have the ball in hand. We didn’t have that today and I think that’s why we lost the game.”Top stats:England ran 603 metres with the ball compared to 262 metres from Fiji LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS during the QBE international match between England and Fiji at Twickenham Stadium on November 10, 2012 in London, England. TAGS: Fiji center_img Fiji made 105 tackles, missing 19, a conversion rate of 84.7% while England made 74 and missed 11 with an 87.1% conversion rateManu Tuilagi was England’s top ball carrier with 96 metresChris Robshaw was the only England player to get into double-figures with 12 tacklesClean possession: England functioned wellMatch highlights: http://bbc.in/Z5lzyBEngland: Alex Goode, Charlie Sharples, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Ugo Monye (Mike Brown, 59), Toby Flood (Owen Farrrell, 59), Danny Care (Ben Youngs, 58); Joe Marler (Mako Vunipola, 46), Tom Youngs (David Paice 65), Dan Cole (Dave Wilson, 58), Geoff Parling, Tom Palmer (Joe Launchbury, 50), Tom Johnson (Tom Wood, 59), Chris Robshaw (c), Thomas WaldronTries: Manu Tuilagi (2), Charlie Sharples (2), Tom Johnson, Ugo Monye, Penalty TryPens: Flood (3). Cons:  Flood (4), FarrellSin Bin: Care (10)Fiji: Simeli Koniferedi (Josh Matavesi, 40), Samu Wara (Ravai Fatiaki, 67), Vereniki Goneva, Sireli Naqelevuki, Watisoni Votu, Metuisela Talebula, Nicola Matawalu; Ratu Makutu, Viliame Veikoso (Seremaia Naureure, 47) Deacon Manu (c (Manasa Saulo 67), Leone Nakawara, Apisolame Ratuniyarawa (Sekonaia Kalou 73), Api Naikatani (Iliesa Ratuva 52), Malaki Ravulo, Akapusi Qera.Replacements (not used):  Setafano Samoca, Kelemedi BolaTries: Matawalu, Kalou QaraniqioCons: Matavesi Sin Bin: Manu (29)Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)last_img read more

first_imgWho was your mentor?My first rugby coach at school, Ben Berry, because he made it so enjoyable. Now it’s Jo Yapp at Exeter University. With all her England caps she’s been where I want to get to.You won three England caps in November, what’s your next aim? I would love to play in the Six Nations and it would be awesome to play in the 2014 World Cup. Being involved in the series win against the Black Ferns (3-0) was unreal.RW Verdict: Reed was a latecomer to the 15-a-side game, but this talented centre is progressing fast and is sure to win more caps.This was published in the February 2013 issue of Rugby World. Click here to see what’s in the current edition. Your uncle Andy played at lock for Scotland, so were you always into rugby?I was always interested because my dad and brother played too, but I played football. Then I got into the girls sevens team at my school, Colston’s. I played cricket and hockey too, but when we won the National Schools Sevens at Rosslyn Park in 2007 rugby took over.How did you make the transition from sevens to the 15-a-side game?After Rosslyn Park I was invited into the England U18 talent development group and when I left school I joined Bristol Ladies in the Premiership. I played on the wing at first, then moved to centre.center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

first_img Unbeatable Betham: The Leicester centre makes a break v Gloucester. (Photo: Getty Images) Red card, black humourMarcus Watson offered some classic sibling “support” when his brother Anthony was sent off during Friday evening’s Bath v Saracens match. While Twitter lit up with people either agreeing or disagreeing with the decision to wield the red card, Marcus tweeted: “Get him off, he’s rubbish anyway!” There was something of a try-fest in the Aviva Premiership this weekend, while the battle for the top four places in the Guinness Pro12 shows every sign of going right to the wire. Who were the heroes for the teams who triumphed, and who were the villains? Dragon’s double double Dragons wing Hallam Amos scored two tries for the second week in a row, but again ended up on the losing side in the Guinness Pro12 as the Ospreys won 26-20 in Newport.Amos benefited from a scorching break from Tyler Morgan for his first try, then produced a great individual score later in the game with a wonderful chip and chase up the left.The 21-year-old got just the one start during the recent Six Nations, but he is in top form for his region.Two good: Hallam Amos gets set to score in the corner. (Photo: Huw Evans Agency) Wait a minuteReferees have a lot to think about during a game and it is understandable that they might sometimes allow goal-kickers more than the requisite 60 seconds to take their penalties. However, Ian Davies should have taken a tougher line on Johnny Sexton when the Leinster No 10 lined up what turned out to be the winning penalty in their 16-13 victory over Munster.Davies appeared to warn Sexton he was in the last ten seconds of his minute, but then let a much longer amount of time elapse before the ball was kicked. Having given the warning, Davies should have whistled and stopped Sexton when the time was up. Absolute zero Zebre’s players should be taking a long, hard look at themselves as they failed to score a single point for the third Pro12 match in succession. This time the Italians went down 29-0 at Edinburgh, having also failed to register against Munster and Ulster in the previous two rounds. In fact, they haven’t scored a Pro12 point since the closing ten minutes of their 27-10 loss to Leinster on 28 February. The Italian jobHats off to Glasgow Warriors, not only for picking up the almost inevitable bonus-point win at Benetton Treviso in the Pro12 on Saturday, but for then staying on to spend the following day seeing the sights of Venice, instead of jetting home at the first opportunity. Too often professional players fly in and out of some of the world’s most amazing cities without seeing much more than a hotel, a training ground and a stadium. Several Warriors players posted their Venetian “holiday” snaps on Twitter and it looked like they had a great time. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Off you go: Watson gets his marching orders, triggering some bad reactions. (Photo: Getty Images)The SinnersWrong reactionThe Anthony Watson red card for a tip tackle on Alex Goode was a real 50-50 call for me. Watson was off balance when he clattered into Goode, so not entirely in control of his actions, but the collision did result in the Saracens man falling head and arm first to the ground. By the letter of the law, the red card was the right punishment. I don’t know whether to make Watson a Sinner or not, but I do know I would not like to be a referee in those situations.What I am sure of is that rugby fans should never, ever, do what one Bath supporter may have done at the Recreation Ground on Friday evening and that is enter the officials’ changing room after the game to remonstrate with Greg Garner about his night’s work. The RFU and Bath have both said they are investigating reports that this happened. If it is found to be true, the person concerned needs to be banned from attending rugby matches for a long, long time.Another reaction I did not like was that of Will Fraser when Garner got his red card out of his pocket. The Saracens openside applauded and, considering he was just a few feet from Watson, I thought it was a totally unnecessary piece of gloating and set a poor example to children watching the game on TV.center_img The SaintsBrilliant BethamLeicester’s Peter Betham put in a magnificent individual performance in his side’s thrilling 35-30 win over Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.With 11 minutes gone, the first piece of brilliance from the No 13 created a try for his centre partner, Manu Tuilagi. Ben Youngs sent a high, looping pass out to the right flank, where Betham leapt up to catch the ball then, knowing he would land in touch, immediately passed it back inside to Tuilagi, who just had to step over the line to score.In the second half Tuilagi returned the compliment when a superb back-of-the-hand offload out of a tackle created a try for Betham which brought Leicester back to 30-28 down, having trailed 27-13 at half-time.Betham landed two more telling blows, one in attack and one in defence. He sent out a superb long pass to Niki Goneva, creating the try which finally put Leicester back in the lead with seven minutes to go, then as Gloucester went in search of a match-winning try at the death, it was Betham who got his hands on the ball when Elliott Stooke hit the floor at close range, forcing the penalty which enabled the Tigers to hang on for a win.It wasn’t a perfect game from Betham as his risky offload went straight to James Hook and allowed the Gloucester fly-half to turn defence into attack and create a try for Steve McColl just before the half-hour mark, but he was still a worthy Man of the Match. All-round excellenceA Man-of-the-Match performance from Jared Payne in attack and defence helped Ulster to an 18-10 win over Connacht, who were top of the Guinness Pro12 before this match.Ulster had built up an 11-0 lead, which was narrowed slightly to 11-3 before half-time, and a try-saving tackle by Payne on John Cooney kept Connacht at arms’ length for longer. An expert offload to Craig Gilroy by the full-back after half-time took Ulster’s lead out to 18-3 and they were not going to give up that advantage.Winning smile: Jared Payne receives his Man of the Match award. (Photo: Inpho)There is also a tip of the hat this week to Johnny Sexton, who scored all of Leinster’s points in their 16-13 win over Munster, which enabled the Dubliners to overtake Connacht at the top of the Pro12 table. Sexton managed to hang onto the ball when he crashed into the posts as he dived over for his side’s only try, and he kicked three penalties and a conversion. Out of my way: Olly Woodburn heads for the try-line v Worcester. (Photo: Getty Images)Woodburn on fire Exeter Chiefs put 50 points on Worcester Warriors, thanks in no small part to hat-tricks from wing Olly Woodburn and No 8 Thomas Waldrom.The Tank’s tries were his trade-mark, close-range efforts, but Woodburn’s were that bit more spectacular. His first score was created by his wing partner, the excellent Jack Nowell, who made a break from his own 22 to past half way then put in a superb kick up field which Woodburn collected deftly. The second came when Woodburn scooped up a loose ball about 43 metres out and the third was scored after he took an inside pass from Dave Lewis and ran in from outside his own 22. Happy days for the Blues Cardiff Blues completed a Pro12 double over the Scarlets for the first time in six years, winning 28-22 at Parc y Scarlets and while Sam Warburton was named Man of the Match and tighthead Taufa’ao Filise had a monumental game, especially in defence, the champagne moment of the match was provided by Blues No 10 Gareth Anscombe. He took a pass from Tom James, sprinted into the Scarlets’ 22 and then, with Warburton running a support line, Anscombe sold the most outrageous of dummies to DTH van der Merwe and strode in unopposed for a try. But ref: Munster plead with Ian Davies as he awards the crucial last scrum. (Photo: Inpho)Munster mess upThat same game included a poor decision from Munster at the death. Trailing 16-13, they were on the attack at the Aviva Stadium when Davies awarded them a close-range penalty. The sensible option was to take the kick and claim the two points for the draw, which would have been useful for the men in red in a tight Guinness Pro12 table, as well as denying their rivals a win. However, Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne got a case of white line fever and tapped and went in search of the winning try. A couple of phases later Munster knocked on and Leinster had the win in the bag. OopsGoal-kickers often end up among the Sinners for missing the target at crucial times and both Leicester’s Owen Williams – for his three missed conversions – and Gloucester’s James Hook – for hitting the upright with a close-range drop-goal – were at fault this weekend. However, the prize for the most extraordinary miss goes to London Irish fly-half Greig Tonks who managed to hit the upright with his attempted conversion of Sean Maitland’s try, even though it was in the shadow of the posts.Tonks added a certain comedy value to the miss by catching the ball on the rebound! Goode man Saracens were no fools on 1 April as they beat Bath 30-10 at the Recreation Ground and are now guaranteed a place in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals.Alex Goode was the star of the show and picked up the Man of the Match award. His outstanding contributions included a superb flat pass which set up Saracens’ third try, scored by Mike Ellery and a longer pass to Will Fraser, who then fed Chris Ashton for the wing to claim his second try.Goode even found the time to calm Brad Barritt down when he was losing his cool over something at the death and he was the one Saracens player who recognised the wisdom of putting the ball dead when they were awarded a penalty after time was up, rather than trying to go for another, unnecessary try.last_img read more

first_imgPRO Rugby’s director of operations Steve Lewis reviews the inaugural season of America’s first professional league Read former England coach Stuart Lancaster talk about PRO Rugby chief executive Doug Schoninger in the September 2016 issue of Rugby World – on sale now.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. “Then there was Ohio winger Spike Davis. He had played sevens but this was the first time he had played 15s on a consistent basis and he went on to be the league’s highest try-scorer.”Such success will surely be welcomed by USA Rugby and new chief executive Dan Payne, who was among the 3,400 fans present in Obetz.“He was pleased with what he saw,” Lewis said of Payne, who has not only played for the Eagles but served on the coaching staff.“I’ve known him a long time, he knows most of the coaches and he’s a well-known guy in the American rugby community, so we are looking forward to nurturing that relationship.”But did the general standard of play impress as many of the players did?“We had some blowouts in the middle of the season but if you look at the last four or five weeks we had exciting and tight games.On a roll: Standards in the PRO Rugby league should improve each year. Photo: Getty Images“So from my perspective we got the parity part right, we also got excitement and all the data in terms of ball in play, clean ball from scrums etc looks pretty good too.”GROWING THE GAMEFor that, Lewis is grateful to the input of the coaches. “That has been an underappreciated part of the competition. This has not just been an opportunity for players but also coaches, referees, broadcasters, the whole rugby eco system.“Sean O’Leary and Paule Barford have done particularly well in Denver and Ohio respectively in establishing a culture which was a huge factor in their success.”There is little time to dwell on that success with planning already well underway for next year, with an expansion in the pipeline – most likely north of the border into Canada.Yet the East and North-East of the country remain the key battlegrounds with 40% of the country’s senior rugby players living around the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC.Big business: There are large merchandising opportunities for PRO Rugby in the USA. Photo: Getty Images“We want to expand from a sponsorship and broadcast point of view but we do not want to dilute the quality,” said Lewis, aware of the limited home-grown talent pool available to the league.The season has taken its toll on Lewis but he is understandably proud of what the league has achieved.“There were a lot of naysayers at the beginning. This kind of project has been talked about many times before, people had said they were going to do this, do that – the difference is that we did it.“I took quite a lot of personal satisfaction from proving certain people wrong.“When it became clear early on that we were delivering then those voices went away, so I think those people have now accepted it is a job well done now.” By Graham Jenkins“It’s been a wild ride,” said Steve Lewis, PRO Rugby’s director of rugby operations, as he reflected on the battle for the United States’ first professional league title.Ohio Aviators claimed a 32-25 victory over Denver Stampede in the final dramatic act of the season – but it was not quite enough to deny their title rivals the glory, with Stampede claiming top spot in the final standings by a solitary point.It was a roller coaster of a contest, echoing the fledging league’s first frantic few months as teams, players and coaches fell into place. The venues proved troublesome but also provided one of the stars of the competition – ‘The Village of Obetz’ in Ohio – that played host to the de facto decider.“It really was a ’Field of Dreams’,” said Lewis in reference to the famous baseball movie of the same title and its ‘build it and they will come’ mantra.“It literally was just a grass field,” he added. “We had to put all the infrastructure in but fortunately the people of Obetz were extremely cooperative and very welcoming. They did a great job and took the game and the team to their hearts.”Lewis knows that the long-term success of the league – both on and off the field – rests largely on replicating that across the country.“We’re aware that our ability to attract non-rugby people will be the barometer of our success and the exciting thing is that in places like Obetz we started to reach out and attract people who were not rugby fans.”FAMILIAR FACESStampede were led to victory by former Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg, who was one of group of high-profile players that also included the likes of ex-All Blacks Jamie Mackintosh and Mils Muliaina. They were recruited by the league to ensure both experience and exposure.Leading man: Pedrie Wannenburg was a key figure for eventual champions Denver Stampede. Photo: Getty Images“Wannenburg and Mackintosh, in particular, were real leaders in their respective teams,” said Lewis. “They all enjoyed being part of rugby history and pretty much all of them are interested in coming back.”And they may not be the only instantly recognisable names lining up next year with agents set to ensure Lewis enjoys little downtime in the off-season.“The amount of daily interest from agents of players and coaches has been significant. These guys are thinking both import and export. They are hoping to discover the next diamond in the rough, the next Samu Manoa-type of player.“But they are also looking at where they can place their players because there is this belief that our schedule works well for South Africa, New Zealand and Japan, although not so much Europe.”NEW NAMESHowever, the big names did not take all the headlines.“This year we also unearthed some good players that no one was aware of and they were certainly not on (USA head coach) John Mitchell’s radar.“For example, in Sacramento there was Langilangi Haupeakui, who came out of nowhere. We picked him up after the start of the season from a local club and put him in a professional environment for the first time. He was then drafted into the USA squad and earned his first cap against Russia – all this within a couple of months.Star name: PRO Rugby hope to unearth gems like Samu Manoa for the USA team. Photo: Getty Images“In San Diego, there was Cecil Garber. No one knew who he was and he ended up with the highest tackle count in the league. Breaking new ground: Denver and Ohio play in the first season of PRO Rugby. Photo: Getty Images TAGS: USA LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

first_img Wales would support George North’s early return according to Warren GatlandWales head coach Warren Gatland has said the Welsh Rugby Union will offer George North support if he decides to leave his club, Northampton Saints, ahead of the off-season.The giant wing is set to move back to Wales on a national dual contract next season. North – who starts on the wing against Italy on Sunday – was left out for Saints’ loss to Sale at the weekend.After that match, Saints director of rugby Alan Gaffney was asked by BBC Northampton why North did not feature. Gaffney responded: “You’d better ask George that. We picked a side who actually wanted to be out on the pitch and the best side for the game.”Related: Wales team to face ItalyWales announced their squad today and Gatland took the opportunity to say: “The message I have said to George is if he wants to come home quicker than next season, we will look after him.”Pressed on whether he thought a quicker return was actually on the cards, Gatland replied: “I’ve just said, we’re here for him. He is comfortable in our environment and we’ll support him and the union will support him 100% whatever happens to him.” Man management: Warren Gatland is looking out for his player“It’s a great club and I know any conversations I’ve had with George he’s always talked hugely positively about his time at Northampton and just how great the club’s been and the fans have been.”Asked by BBC Northampton today on whether North was done as a Saint, Saints stand-in head coach Alan Dickens said: “That’s a pretty direct question. That’s a question I can’t really answer. George is contracted to the club and when he comes back we’ll need to talk.” Running hard: George North in action against England (Getty Images) Try time: George North scores for Saints against London IrishWales have made ten changes to their team following the loss to Ireland in round three of the Six Nations. It is North’s first start for Wales since the Six Nations loss to France in March last year. He has not scored a Test try since his brace against Ireland in last year’s competition.Talking further on North, Gatland said: “I think he is just focused on getting on the field and starting on (Sunday) and then looking to get back to Northampton.“I understand from Northampton’s perspective, they are under their own pressure in terms of trying to get things back on track.Related: Shane Williams tries sumo wrestling“George has given a huge amount of commitment to them in the first place by leaving Wales to go up there and he’s enjoyed his time up there. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

first_imgLawrence 210 minutes for England = 1 kick / 2 passes / 9 runs for 5m / 20 tackles Lawrence 160 minutes for Worcester this season = 3 kicks / 9 passes / 17 runs for 94m / 2 clean breaks / 7 defenders beaten / 4 offloads / 18 tackles— Russ Petty (@rpetty80) February 11, 2021The coach has reverted to the 10-12-13 combination of George Ford, Owen Farrell and Henry Slade, while Courtney Lawes replaces Wilson at blindside flanker.Jones has also changed his entire front row. Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler return from injury and suspension respectively while Luke Cowan-Dickie starts at hooker with Jamie George dropping to the bench.Italy have made two personnel changes to their team after losing 50-10 to France last week – both injury-enforced.Carlo Canna comes in at inside-centre, with Juan Ignacio Brex shifting to 13. The two playmaker combination favoured by England also worked well for Italy last autumn with Canna partnering fly-half Paolo Garbisi, so the pair have been reunited following an injury to Marco Zanon.Up front, prop Andrea Lovotti will play his first Test in almost a year after being named at loosehead. Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. England need to win and to win in style against Italy after their Calcutta Cup defeat What have the coaches said?England head coach Eddie Jones: “As always, we’ve picked what we think is our strongest 23 to try and win the game.“We’ve trained very well this week, I’ve been very pleased with the players’ attitudes and work-rate.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img England captain Owen Farrell moves to inside-centre for the Italy match (NurPhoto/Getty Images) Anyone else underwhelmed by Eddie Jones latest selection? Same faces. Same style. Same results. Why no fresh faces v Italy? @EnglandRugby pic.twitter.com/PUlwn6u3mr— Kyran Bracken (@KyranBracken) February 11, 2021Italy head coach Franco Smith told the Telegraph: “Our main opponents are not England but ourselves. That is who we must focus on.“We must also not be worried about getting the monkey off our back, looking to get one win in the championship at any cost. If that is all we work towards then it will be another five or six years before the next victory. It is time for new faces, new icons in Italian rugby.”What are the odds?England are overwhelming favourites for this match, with odds of 1-500 on Bet365. If you think Eddie Jones’s side are going to win comfortably, you can get 13-8 odds with a -43.5 handicap. An Italy win is 33-1 while a draw is 66-1.If you fancy putting some money on the fixture, Bet365 have a welcome bonus of up to £100 in Bet Credits.Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.Over-18s only. BeGambleAware.Any interesting statistics?England are the only team not to have lost to Italy in the Six Nations and they have won all 27 matches in all competitions against the Azzurri. They have also scored 109 tries against Italy in the championship – no other team has scored more than 100 tries against a single opponent.Both teams paid for their ill-discipline last weekend, England conceding 15 penalties – the most of any team in round one – and Italy 12.England didn’t make any line breaks in their opening match against Scotland while Italy made seven against France.Italy have scored at least two tries on their last three championship visits to Twickenham.England have a scrum success rate of 98% in the championship since 2018, winning 80 of 82 scrums on their own feed to top that stats chart.Italy’s Monty Ioane (137) and Juan Ignacio Brex (132) made more metres in round one than any player bar James Lowe (155).Italy’s Monty Ioane made 137 metres against France (LightRocket/Getty Images)If Jonny May scores a try against Italy, he will become England men’s standalone second highest try-scorer behind Rory Underwood (49). He is currently level with Will Greenwood and Ben Cohen.What time does it kick off and what are the TV details?England v Italy, Saturday 13 February, TwickenhamThe match kicks off at 2.15pm (UK & Ireland time) and will be broadcast live on ITV1 in the UK and Virgin Media One in Ireland. You can also listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.Former Scotland sevens player Mike Adamson is refereeing his first Six Nations match and he will be assisted by France’s Romain Poite and fellow Scot Ben Blain. Another former international, Ireland’s Joy Neville, is the Television Match Official.What are the line-ups?England: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.Replacements: Jamie George, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Jack Willis, Dan Robson, Max Malins.Italy: Jacopo Trulla; Luca Sperandio, Juan Ignacio Brex, Carlo Canna, Monatanna Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi (captain), Marco Riccioni, Marco Lazzaroni, David Sisi, Sebastian Negri, Johan Meyer, Michele Lamaro.Replacements: Gianmarco Lucchesi, Danilo Fischetti, Giosuè Zilocchi, Niccolò Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tommaso Allan, Federico Mori. Six Nations England v Italy PreviewEngland haven’t lost back-to-back matches at home in the championship since 1983 but if Italy were to end a 38-year run in the way Scotland did last weekend when they come to Twickenham on Saturday it would be the biggest shock in Six Nations history.The Azzurri are on a 28-match losing run in the Six Nations that dates back to 2015, have never beaten England and are an inexperienced team as Franco Smith puts his faith in youth.There may have been glimpses of improvement in their attacking game, but Italy do not look capable of ending that losing streak, even against an England team that has just produced the worst performance of the Eddie Jones era.Scotland may have dominated in all facets in winning the Calcutta Cup last Saturday, but even when England did have ball with which to attack Owen Farrell and his cohorts looked devoid of inspiration.Surely this fixture against Italy represents a prime opportunity to try something new, perhaps see if Harry Randall and/or Paolo Odogwu can recreate their Premiership form on the Test stage. Or give Max Malins a chance to show his talents from the first whistle.Instead, Jones has returned to familiar territory and picked an all-too predictable line-up, a line-up that upon reflection has been underperforming for a while but has previously been able to mask that with results.Only three-and-a-half months have passed since these two sides last met, England’s 34-5 win in Rome ultimately enough to see them lift the Six Nations trophy in 2020.England kicked more than 18% of their possession that day, just as they did against Scotland. So practically one in every five times they get the ball, they kick it away.Yes, Scotland kicked more against England – 43 times to 39 – but they had more ball to kick with as they had a 62% share of possession. They were kicking one in every seven times they had the ball.And it’s not just about how many times you kick, but the effectiveness of those kicks. England need to show more intensity in the chase to put pressure on the opposition back three, to find space with the boot like Stuart Hogg did so masterfully and to recognise when it is better to keep the ball in hand.Defeat is unfathomable for England this weekend but this match is not solely about the result. A comfortable win won’t be enough to silence the critics, they need to win with style. They need to perform.Now the scene is set, here’s what else you need to know in our Six Nations England v Italy Preview…What’s the big team news?Eddie Jones has changed a third of the starting team that lost to Scotland. Mark Wilson and Ollie Lawrence drop out of the match-day 23 all together, which seems particularly harsh on the latter when the centre simply wasn’t given any ball to show what he could do last weekend.Lawrence’s stats for Worcester and England make for an interesting comparison, as Russ Petty shows here…last_img read more