Look away Wales fans: Kurtley Beale breaks Welsh hearts with a last minute score in last year’s encounterBy Owain JonesWALES AND Australia face-off tomorrow evening in the last fixture of an intriguing, and sometimes compelling Autumn Series. Here are a few underlying reasons this final Test could turn out to be a classicThe grenades have been launchedEwen McKenzie and Warren Gatland were both at it during this week’s phoney war. Gatland has been ‘lying low’ of late but came out to assuage that the Autumn Tests were were only warm-ups for the Six Nations and his charges were ‘very confident’ of success. McKenzie took the bait, returning the volley with the assertion that Wallabies had the upper-hand psychologically and Wales were ‘worried’ about falling to a ninth consecutive loss.He went on to infer Gatland’s men had deep-seated insecurities over their opponents. The barbs are only to be expected. Both coaches were spiky front row men in their playing days and not given to taking a backward step. Expect more ‘dialogue’ between these two as the World Cup approaches.Improving: McKenzie is settling in as Wallaby coachWobbly Wallabies have a point to proveIt was a gutsy move by McKenzie to reprimand fifteen squad members for an impromptu knees-up in which six players were given a one-game suspension after a late-night jaunt to the Krystle nightclub, Dublin, before the Ireland Test. He took a calculated risk his side would have enough class to down Scotland while the likes of Adam Ashley-Cooper, Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Nick Cummins were on the naughty step .With quartet now reinstalled, you’d expect them to be looking to prove a point to their coach.McKenzie decided to stamp his authority on a squad who had previously erred on a regular basis, with disciplinary problems over booze and brawls. We will find out if the gamble worked just before 7pm on Saturday evening. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 29: George North of the Lions lifts Israel Folau of Wallabies while carrying the ball during game two of the International Test Series between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Etihad Stadium on June 29, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images for HSBC) World Cup dress rehearsalIt’s a moot point whether, if given the chance to wind back the clock, Kurtley Beale would have scored that match-winning try against Wales last December had he known the ramifications. The result dropped Wales down to ninth position, and thus out of the second-tier seedings for the World Cup. As we all know, that led to a genuine ‘group of death’ for 2015 in Pool A, with Australia and England. Australia are only expected to play Wales on one more occasion, next Autumn, before lining up against them on October 10th 2015, at Twickenham, so every possible advantage will be fought for. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS George North v Israel Folau: The rematchAfter an epic duel in the summer with the Lions, Israel Folau and George North are the jumb0-sized darlings of the rugby world. When North wasn’t blazing a trail to the tryline in the first Test or picking up his ‘Folau backpack’ in the second, it was Folau, a relative union novice, who was fast-proving to be the player the ARU could not afford to lose. Now installed at full-back, Folau already has nine tries in 14 Tests, is a devastating broken-field runner, superb operator in the air and a skilled offloader. Wales will do well to avoid kicking to him in space. As for North, he has had a mixed Autumn campaign but his match-winning quality is beyond doubt.Big lift: North and Folau had a titanic battle in the summerWales and Australia have previousThis match-up has turned in some mini-classics in recent years, with Australia invariably having the last laugh. Only five points separate these sides in the last three Tests, and the last, 12 months ago at the Millennium Stadium, will have left deep mental scars for the Welsh players involved on the day, as a late, late Kurtley Beale score with 25 seconds left left them inconsolable.We’ll soon find out if winning the Lions series – seven of the Wales players who featured in the final Test line-up tomorrow evening – will give them the mental edge remains to be seen.
RW’s Will Macpherson joins the All Blacks on a bus tour of London The Rugby World Cup means something different to us all, and offers each of us something different too; as fans and lovers of the game, that might include the chance to watch new players, to visit new cities and countries or to make new friends, perhaps.That goes for the players, too. Take Beauden Barrett, who is looking pretty chuffed with life as he cruises round London on a vintage Routemaster Bus on a picture perfect September Saturday morning, in the company of a couple of New Zealand team-mates, a few lucky prize winners, a camera crew and a face full of dictaphones. Sponsor events – this one courtesy of AIG – don’t have to be a chore after all, it seems.Barrett is looking quite so satisfied because he’s recalling the last World Cup, since which he’s come a pretty long way. “I’m seeing the other side of the World Cup coin,” he tells Rugby World. “This is the first one I’ve played in, but four years ago I was 20 and travelling around New Zealand in a mini van with a few mates, being a fan and going to loads of games. Now it’s pretty cool to be playing at places like Wembley and the Olympic Stadium, checking out London and going to places I’ve never been before like Newcastle.” Seeing the sites: Keven Mealamu and Sam Whitelock take a snap during AIG’s bus tour Spiritual break: The four players sit on the steps of St Paul’s Beauden Barrett, Keven Mealamu, Waisake Naholo, Sam Whitelock enjoyed some down time in the capital and took in the iconic London views with sponsor AIG. Few people know as more about World Cups than Keven Mealamu. The hooker has been to four across four different countries, tasting success in 2011, heartbreak in 2003 and humiliation in 2007. This one, he reckons, is pretty hot: “The awesome thing about London is that it’s such a crazy big city with so much going on is that a massive event like this can just seem like another day in the life, another thing in the city. We’ve stayed in a different part of town from normal, which is cool. We’ve had some time to explore the city.“The crowds have been enormous, and people are here from all over the world. Every tournament has a different feel and this one is bubbling nicely.” Sam Whitelock has enjoyed the different pace of life on his first overseas World Cup jaunt, too. For these All Blacks, being away from home is relevant. New Zealand is sparsely populated, and they’re the hottest ticket in town wherever they go. As the bus passes through London, it stops a couple of time for photo opportunities – at St Paul’s Cathedral, at the London Eye and so on – and while they are an object of interest – although perhaps more for the camera crew than the individuals – they are hardly mobbed.“At the last World Cup we were at home and we pretty much couldn’t go anywhere because everyone recognises us! We do get recognised here which is cool, because it’s often by people who have travelled across the world to watch us and their countries play. The atmosphere is similar to 2011 in that everyone has got into the tournament and the vibe is awesome. That’s what the World Cup should be about.“The sheer number of people who have watched us in all these massive stadiums is awesome. It’s cool to meet some of them and find out why they love the game, what their story is. Then there’s the stadiums themselves: you’ve got all the footballing history at Wembley, then the 2012 Olympics and all the amazing moments and world records that were broken there too. That’s pretty cool.“We’ve been lucky, I mean we’re going to Cardiff now, and the atmosphere is always incredible there. Then it’s up to Newcastle after that. I’ve never been up there, and I don’t think many of the other boys have too. It’s another different experiences, and a new accent too. I’m not sure we’ll be able to understand them, but they probably don’t understand us either so that’s fine!”Carry hard: Sam Whitlock runs into Argentina LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
TAGS: Highlight One characteristic that should prevail through all of this is Jones’ straight talking. He isn’t afraid to upset the status quo or the establishment if he thinks they are getting in the way of the success of the team he is in charge of. The RFU, the England players and rugby fans are in for a fun ride.I’ll be watching with interest… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS English experience: Eddie Jones spent a turbulent period at Saracens during 2008/09Jones may have slowed down a little since his stroke in 2013 but he is still a man for whom there are not enough hours in the day when it comes to rugby. When asked this week if he could talk about his new role he responded quickly – as he generally does – and said to call him at 5.30 a.m!As with his players he doesn’t suffer fools gladly when it comes to the media and there were a few journalists in Japan who would regularly have their questions torn apart or who would get nothing more than one-word answers.While in intensive care he was particularly upset when one foreign journalist, who had never watched the Brave Blossoms play in person and proffered that the Japan team hadn’t improved and they were just canon fodder for the top teams.Despite having his computer taken away by hospital staff, Jones wrote his response on three pieces of paper, photographed them on his mobile phone and sent it to the UK where Japan were on tour so they could be edited for his column.Lively affairs: Eddie Jones holding court at a press conference during the World CupHis general relationship with the press was positive and his press conferences were generally good humoured affairs, though his interpreter would often struggle with the cricket references peppered in.During the World Cup, Jones’ pressers were one of the must-attend events to attend and it will be interesting to see how long the relaxed nature lasts under the intense media scrutiny he will surely now be under. By Rich FreemanIf any of the England players want to know what their new boss is like then they could do a lot worse than contact Toshiaki Hirose. The former Japan captain knows only too well the two sides of Eddie Jones.Back in 2012 following a game against the French Barbarians, Hirose, as is the Japan way, tried to laugh off a particularly poor performance. Jones’ reaction was caught on video and went viral as he tore into the captain, the team and offered his resignation on the spot. It was a sign that nothing less than perfect is good enough for Jones. He has little time for people not doing their jobs properly.The two eventually patched things up and when Hirose was no longer assured of a place in the squad, Jones showed the fiercely loyal side of his character by taking the Toshiba player to the Rugby World Cup on the grounds he was an invaluable member of the squad off the field in terms of his leadership role.Deep thinker: Eddie Jones has a sharp tactical rugby brain, inspiring JapanThat loyalty as well as his recognition of talent will almost certainly see Jones reunite with Steve Borthwick – new employers, Bristol permitting – who was Japan’s forwards coach for the last few years. However, whether the two will be able to do what they did with Japan in terms of the training regime is a different matter.Jones’ long-time association with Japan meant he knew exactly what needed to be done to get the team ready for a World Cup and the camps were not for the feint-hearted. Up every day at the crack of dawn, the team put in at least three sessions a day, with Jones cracking the whip at every opportunity.“Only in Japan could that have been done,” said one of the other coaches, while most of the players I talked to admitted they had at some stage harboured thoughts of quitting.But on that memorable day in September in Brighton, Jones, proved he knew exactly what had to be done – the long term goals being more far important than winning a popularity award. Easy smile: Eddie Jones can be light-hearted but has been known to let rip With England’s new head coach Eddie Jones about to start a four-year contract, we offer some insight into what the RFU, England players and fans should expect
TAGS: Highlight LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Kruis, quickly joined by the tireless Robshaw, hurls himself into the melee of bodies. This brings Scott Fardy and Mako Vunipola to ground:By Poite’s reckoning, the ruck is now formed. Remember, this situation – carriers being forced to ground by a conjoining teammate – is exactly what Pocock asked the official about earlier.His question, of whether he could compete in this instance, was not answered in the affirmative (or indeed at all). So when Pocock does delve for the ball, Poite tells him to leave it……and, with Youngs screaming his view, the referee makes up his mind:Now, this will not sit well with some, but Youngs’ subsequent reminder to Poite – stressing the fact that Australia have now infringed at three defensive breakdowns in their own 22 – is a canny piece of game management:After dismissing the protestations of a bemused Pocock, who starts to ask if a ruck was actually formed……Poite beckons Moore and runs through the catalogue of recent offences, inferring that another will glean a yellow card:England coerced these lapses of discipline from Australia. At this point, the penalty count stood at eight to one in the visitors’ favour. From the next restart, Joseph scored England’s first try for a 16-10 lead.But, just before half-time, Hooper offered a reminder of how his explosiveness can alter the course of any breakdown skirmish.Beating the breakdownAhead 16-13 because of a Foley penalty, England are going through their punchy phase-play with Billy Vunipola coming around the corner:Youngs feeds him……and he pirouettes past Holmes, although Hooper holds on to complete the tackle:The Waratahs talisman is straight back on to his feet, before a player from either side has formed the ruck:Here, it is worth looking at the official definition of a ruck……and the law that stipulates that a tackler can approach the ball if they are back on their feet before a ruck has formed:Hooper knows these laws and has the spatial awareness to realise that a steal is on the cards. As Hartley tears past Hooper, desperate to clear out a gold jersey, the Wallaby number seven looks for the ball:Meanwhile, Hartley hits James Horwill. Holmes arcs around the back foot and Mako Vunipola arrives:In the event, Hooper misses the ball. However, the effort clearly distracts England. Both Youngs and Haskell expostulate with Poite and though Mako Vunipola reacts well to pick it up:An opportunistic tackle from Holmes forces a knock-on:With the forwards gathering for the consequent scrum, Poite delineates why Hooper was legal:Three amigosAs hinted earlier, the make-up of England’s back-row for last Saturday was doubted by many. Certainly, it was inferior in terms of raw pace and pilfering prowess. But Robshaw, Haskell and Billy Vunipola have become a mightily effective, complementary unit.The breakdown aptitude of Itoje, Cole and Mako Vunipola bring balance, and England’s restraint – identifying a lost ruck and leaving it alone so as not to concede a penalty – has improved out of sight in the wake of the World Cup.This trait was pivotal at the weekend and one passage in particular summed up how the qualities of Robshaw, Haskell and Billy Vunipola combine. We start as Australia scrum-half Phipps looks towards the blindside to see brawny wing Dane Haylett-Petty facing two half-backs. Robshaw is the openside guard……but swings around the corner……and helps wrap up Haylett-Petty, holding the debutant above the ground:England’s former captain, set for a 50th cap in Melbourne, compels Poite to call a maul as four supporting Wallabies pile in:Though England do not succeed in forcing a maul turnover, they do sap the speed of this phase. When Phipps passes left, carrier Rory Arnold is faced with a well-organised, proactive line.England’s back-rowers are all circled……and Haskell, as he has licence to do, shoots up to cut down Arnold:This provides Robshaw with a chance to jackal amid the attentions of Harlequins clubmate Horwill:Horwill’s clear serves its purpose and removes Robshaw, who resists temptation to dive back into the ruck and simply backs away……joining a circled Billy Vunipola in the defensive line as Phipps finds Foley:Foley takes the ball to the gain-line and bypasses an unconvincing decoy line from Holmes to hit Christian Lealiifano out the back. Vunipola presses……creeping into the eyeline of Lealiifano as the Brumbies playmaker tries to locate Israel Folau:Billy Vunipola rushes up at this point and the ball goes to deck:Though Lealiifano recovers, Hartley dives at his feet……and trips him into the lap of a welcoming party:Now, England could easily get overexcited here. Test matches do not offer better chances for a turnover. However, they remain composed.Itoje rolls past the ball and out of the way, Billy Vunipola goes through the gate and latches on to the ball, with Cole sneakily supporting his number eight from the side:When Australia support does arrive from Tevita Kuridrani, it cannot budge Billy Vunipola, who receives additional fortification from Mako. Hartley is in Poite’s ear……and the penalty comes:Moore queries the technique of Billy Vunipola, but an irritated Poite shuts the Australia hooker down:Farrell hit the post, but Robshaw’s follow-up forced the Wallabies to rush their clearance. From the next lineout, Haskell burst away and Yarde scored in the corner. At 26-10 to the good, England were in dreamland. When Australia inevitably fought back, the breakdown was fundamental to survival.Racing the ruckAround the hour mark, England needed to repel wave after wave of gold. It took an exceptional piece of nous from Haskell to quell the pressure. Australia are around 10 metres out here, with Haskell curving round to assume body guard responsibilities:Phipps snipes before playing in replacement Dean Mumm. Haskell has slightly over-chased……but doubles back to fell Mumm:Now, as Haskell bounces up and has a sniff at the ball, Wallabies replacement Tatafu Polotu-Nau and Hartley are the critical protagonists.Polotu-Nau first makes contact with Hartley well past the ball. Therefore, certainly in the eyes of Poite, there is no ruck:Haskell, as the tackler, is entitled to pounce for the the ball……and he does, circling away. By this point, Itoje and Horwill are in contact over the ball. The ruck is formed now, but Haskell is already away:As he was all game, Poite is open with his decision-making process. Just as he did with Hooper, he proclaims Haskell as the tackler and allows play to go on: We examine the finer details of how England just about ousted Australia at the breakdown during their 39-28 win in Brisbane Crowded house: England’s forwards swamp Australia centre Christian Lealiifano during England’s 39-28 win in Brisbane When Eddie Jones announced his selection, the script was written. For all the ‘Bodyline’ bluster, Australia were going to tear apart England’s back-row. Despite Six Nations success, the trio of Chris Robshaw, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola would be too sluggish and insipid at the breakdown.Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper and David Pocock, superior in athleticism and rugby intellect, need only turn up and terrorise the ruck area to hand the Wallabies a first Test win. That was the general consensus. How wrong it was.Below is the chronicle of an absorbing tussle that demonstrated how pivotal the following nuances can be:Awareness of the lawsResponse to the referee’s interpretationCommunication with officialsCohesion and teamwork at the breakdownIndividual skills in contactAll five of these shaped a thrilling series opener at Suncorp Stadium.Reactions and working off the floorWe join the game after Maro Itoje and Robshaw have already won turnovers on the floor. Even so, due to rapid phase-play and razor finishing, Australia lead 10-0. It was the breakdown that helped to haul England back into the match.Around 20 minutes in, with the tourists pressing just outside the opposition 22, the ball comes loose from a ruck. Note Robshaw and Itoje circling around to make themselves available as carriers while Pocock and Hooper fill the defensive line:Youngs circles backwards, retrieves possession and finds Robshaw:The Harlequin puts his head down and trucks forward, Itoje latching on in contact to force through the tackle of Exeter Chiefs-bound Greg Holmes:Robshaw and Itoje go to ground close to the fringe of the ruck. Holmes rolls clear and, ominously, all three members of Australia’s starting back-row are on hand to contest.In full view of referee Romain Poite, Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole launch into the breakdown. The situation looks lost for England, but the saving grace is that carrier Robshaw is lying parallel to the touchline:Crucially, this decreases the width of the ‘gate’ that players must use to join the ruck and, as Cole and Hartley clear out Fardy and Hooper, Poite tells Pocock that he must release:England recycle and Youngs passes to Owen Farrell, who is flanked by fellow Saracens Mako and Billy Vunipola:The younger sibling takes it into contact, and although Rob Horne makes a solid tackle and Nick Phipps steals in……to flick the ball backwards on to Australia’s side……Mako Vunipola dives through to recover the ball for England.Poite explains the situation well – no offence has been committed, so the sides can play on. England’s loosehead prop is enveloped immediately by Rob Simmons and an unbalanced Fardy. Pocock swoops in as well.But Hartley is following up and careers into the tackle area. Meanwhile, Billy Vunipola drags himself up and follows his captain:Hartley and Billy Vunipola arrive before Fardy, trapped in the ruck as indicated by the yellow dashes below, can roll clear:This is enough for Poite to give England a penalty, which he explains to Australia skipper Stephen Moore succinctly:Interestingly, in a short break before Farrell lines up the ensuing kick at goal, Pocock comes forward to engage Poite in a detailed discussion about the breakdown that occurred one phase prior to the penalty.He wants clarification that, when England latch on to one another before contact and both go to ground, there is no ruck and he can compete for the ball as the first arriving player. Poite contends that the narrow ‘gate’ meant he had come in at the side.Note that Pocock does not get an answer to his question. This becomes important later.Isolation stationOf course, England did not have it all their own way. Enjoying more pressure at the start of the second quarter, still 10-3 down, scrum-half Youngs elects to bounce back against the grain and attack the blindside.Look at Hooper being held by his boot at the ruck. That is Mako Vunipola, concealed by Luther Burrel in this screenshot. He is cynically stalling one of the Wallabies’ most destructive defenders:In the event, this intervention makes no difference. Youngs passes left, where Pocock and Fardy are deployed:Jonathan Joseph is at first-receiver, and attempts to round Holmes, suck in Bernard Foley and free Anthony Watson on the outside. However, Watson cuts in……so Joseph holds on, and is stopped by Holmes and Foley. Pocock stalks……and pounces, getting lower than Watson as Holmes rolls clear:Itoje joins the ruck next and his impact does shift Pocock, but the Australia number eight is quickly back on the ball. Fardy effectively doubles Pocock’s weight by leaning in from the back foot of the breakdown. Foley appeals……and Poite obliges with the whistle. Youngs is not convinced, arguing that Pocock detached before clamping on again:To underline just how much a referee must listen to at each stoppage, a frustrated Hooper tells Moore to ask Poite to watch out for England holding Australia back.Poite is not clear on the point Moore is politely making at first, but eventually takes it on board: Preservation and patienceNow to the attack that reduced England’s deficit to 10-6. We join the action following a scrappy lineout. After a slow ruck, Hooper looks to line up an England carrier, shoot out of the line and cut him down – much in the same manner that Haskell does in Paul Gustard’s defensive system.With Pocock inside him, Hooper targets Mako Vunipola……but the speed of Youngs’ pass beats his one-man charge. Billy Vunipola is in fact the intended receiver……and can carry on to Hooper’s outside shoulder:The burly 23 year-old reaches the 22, where Hooper brings him down with a judo-style hip-toss. Mako Vunipola and Robshaw approach as Pocock is poised:Hooper gets up and rolls towards England, trying to impede any supporting players. Pocock gets in a strong position with Samu Kerevi in the same anchor role that Fardy performed earlier. Meanwhile, Robshaw is calculated about where to clear out:This instant encapsulates how far England’s ball retention has come since the World Cup.Another unpromising scenario is rescued. Billy Vunipola works extremely hard to roll on the floor, making the ball a moving target and therefore more difficult for Pocock to secure.Robshaw targets Pocock and makes good contact:As Pocock pushes Robshaw back the other way, Poite tells the Australian to leave the ball alone:England can recycle, albeit against a well set defence:A handful of phases later, they are still slugging away. Marland Yarde comes off his wing to take a shoulder ball from Youngs.Once more, Hooper, Fardy and Pocock are in close proximity:So when Yarde takes contact, aiming at Pocock – perhaps on purpose to lessen his influence as a breakdown threat – Haskell and George Kruis must be quick:Fortunately for Jones’ team, they are. Haskell’s entry is questionable, and quite possibly from the side, but he disposes of Pocock while Kruis collides with Fardy and stays strong over the ball. The ruck is formed……but Fardy and Hooper roll around the side:Poite’s view looks something like this……and the Frenchman blows up as Hooper kicks the ball clear……before justifying the call to Moore:At the same time, an English voice – almost definitely that of Youngs – is heard to announce “every time” in relation to the Wallabies’ offending.Strike threeEngland bring themselves to within a single point after using a lineout strike move they introduced during the recent defeat of Wales at Twickenham, a play we drew attention to in an analysis piece last week.Billy Vunipola starts at the scrum-half position in a shortened, five-man lineout. Hartley throws to Robshaw. Circled is tighthead Holmes at the tail of the Australia lineout. This is the man England are looking to exploit:Feigning to establish a maul, Billy Vunipola tears the ball away and passes to Youngs. Holmes, sucked in, must now change direction:With Watson steaming up as an option for an inside pass, Youngs attacks Holmes outside shoulder and throws a dummy……wriggles past the tackle of Scott Sio and slips the ball to Mako Vunipola:Foley and a retreating Fardy do well to slow Mako Vunipola and hold him above ground. While this gives Pocock time to arrive on the scene, it also allows Kruis – the key player in this sequence – to reach his colleague: Pocock’s fractured eye-socket means a new starter will join the Wallabies back-row for the second Test. Michael Cheika is mulling over a change in dynamic, loading another ball-carrier.More significantly, a southern hemisphere referee takes charge in South Africa’s Craig Joubert. For England to seal the series, they need to adapt and be even more accurate than they were in Brisbane. Another epic is in store.
The eligibility conundrum, Wales’ needs for a ‘hitout’, Saracens’ incredible season and the difficulty of adapting to Sevens all covered TAGS: HighlightSaracens Reverse pass: Sonny Bill Williams is a master of the offload League caps need to be included in union eligibilityMay saw Ben Te’o selected for the England squad. A decision which saw a few rolled eyes when it shouldn’t have, as his mother is English. However, the Te’o issue did highlight the need for rugby league representative caps to be taken into account when assessing union eligibility. Twenty years ago it didn’t matter if you had played league before union, the codes only crossed one way. In fact, if you were a Welsh player who ‘went North’ to play league, you essentially walked in Cersei Lannister’s shameful footsteps as you crossed the border – except you were pelted with pints of Allbright and brick hard Welsh cakes.In demand: Ben Te’o has attracted the attentions of Ireland, Australia and EnglandHowever, with the modern codes closer than ever and ‘code hopping’ becoming a legitimate career option for so many players, the need for the acknowledgement of representative caps between both codes needs is pressing. It does seem wrong that, in the case of Te’o, a player can represent one country in league and another in union. The issue needs sorting before another league convert hops over.Wales needed the England fixture on many levelsWales playing a pre tour fixture against England, in May, received a raft of criticism. Most of it hugely unjust. The playing benefits were obvious. Rolling up in New Zealand for a three-test tour, which is the equivalent of three World Cup finals in a row, without playing a warm-up match would have been stupid beyond belief. However, most of the criticism for organising the fixture focused on the notion that the game was a cynical money spinner.Hard to turn down: Wales’ invitation to Twickenham was difficult to refuseBut so what if it was? Welsh rugby is one of the poorest relations of European top table. The type of relation whose house is full of tatty furniture and desperately looking at a payday loan to buy some new stuff. In case you haven’t noticed, whilst the Top 14 and English clubs are buying new 50-inch LED TV’s and plush Italian leather sofas, Wales is still staring at a 32-inch Hitachi whilst slumped on a fag burned beanbag. If Welsh rugby wants to retain/return their star players and lure some southern hemisphere giants, then it needs as many cynical money spinners as it can get.You can’t just ‘have a go’ at SevensThere are many things in life that you simply can’t ‘have a go at’; brain surgery, air traffic control and controlled demolitions heading the list. However, having watched Jarryd Hayne playing in London, we can now add elite sevens to the list. Hayne had an eye opener, in London, to the point where his eye lashes became his fringe. He was frequently caught out of position, missed simple tackles and struggled enormously handling the twitchy, unstructured passing on which sevens is built. Hayne’s struggle should come as no surprise.In the public eye: Jarryd Hayne’s switch to Sevens has made headlines around the worldIt has taken Sonny Bill Williams months to learn sevens, and SBW had been playing union for the past four seasons – Hayne had been knocking around with American Footballers for 12 months prior. If this build up to the Rio Olympics has taught us one thing, it is that sevens, as a discipline, is hugely different from 15s – and to think that 15s players can merely turn up and dominate devalues both sevens and its players.The miracle ‘reverse’ offload isn’t as dangerous as it looks LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS If you’ve recently watched any rugby, live or in a pub, you’ll be familiar with supporters shrieking at the first sight of a player offloading the ball, using the ‘back of the hand’; a sort of reverse offload if you will. May’s dry weather saw a noticeable increase in this type of offload and its execution immediately makes supporters think that an unnecessary risk is being taken with possession.Big Ben: Racing Metro’s Ben Tameifuna Ben offloads the ball against Saints in the Champions CupBut the reverse one handed offload is far safer than a standard one hand offload, and with Wales, England and Australia playing the big three Southern Hemisphere sides next weekend, it’s a style of offload that you will witness five to ten times a game. Whereas a standard offload has just one contact point – the ball and the players hand (ie the palm of the hand), the reverse offload has three contact points; one between the palm of the hand, the other at the join of the hand and wrist and another on the upper part of the fore arm. For the perfect example keep an eye on Damien McKenzie as he executes that type of offload roughly every 0.45 seconds.Saracens. To be ‘hated’, you have to be awesome.To be generally hated by the masses, in any sport, you have to have reached a certain level of excellence and domination. Few supporters ‘hate’ average teams. For instance, generally, no one hates London Irish, or Watford FC, they simply haven’t won the amount of trophies required to whip up the necessary levels of negativity that ring the hatred bell. However, in May, Saracens reached that level of domination and now have the general ‘hate’ rating which Manchester United reached in the mid noughties.Domestic domination: Saracens excellence is not enjoyed about many outside their circleSaracens were awesome in May and absolutely dominated all whom they played. Their destruction of Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs in the finals of the Aviva was particularly memorable. They were essentially playing 23-man test rugby against club teams. Even the mighty Racing 92 squad were made to look like a Pro D2 team when put under Saracen’s relentless test level set piece, defensive line and goal kicking. Whether you love to hate them, or hate to love them, Saracens were the best team in Europe this season and by some distance.
“You’ve got to be positive,” Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder says when asked if his side will try and entertain when they face Leicester at Twickenham during The Clash this Saturday.“I think all year we’ve wanted to play with that style and brand. But we’ve got too much quality with our backs not to try and stretch Leicester.”Rejuvenated: Todd Blackadder feels his side will rise to the occasionWith Bath in fifth and Tigers just three points ahead in fourth spot in the Premiership, both sides are hoping to gain significant advantage in the hunt for a play-off spot. But there have been differing fortunes in terms of form, with Tigers winning four of their last five league matches. Last week Bath impressed against Brive, utilising such width – with Wales No 8 Taulupe Faletau thriving within Blackadder’s structure that attempts to station game-breakers wide out – however, the side have lost their last three league fixtures, including a 53-10 demolition at the hands of Saracens last time out. Blackadder believes a big event at Twickenham will serve as a huge motivator for his charges.“If anything it’s rejuvenated and refreshed us,” Blackadder says. “It’s a home game, but instead of having 14.5k fans at the Rec, we’ll have 55k. It’s really exciting and we’ve put in a lot of hard work for the showcase. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced anything like that – the closest thing will probably have been playing at Twickenham with the Crusaders (in 2011) – but our players are really relishing it. TAGS: Bath Rugby LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Wide warrior: Taulupe Faletau has proven punishing in wide channels Standing in their way: Leicester want to take that play-off spot“The best thing about that loss to Sarries was that it highlighted a lot of issues that we then progressed against Brive. We kicked a lot of ball away, we were not holding on to it. We gifted them points, kicking it away. We were not shifting the ball to the wider channels and we’ve got a really good backline. We can win (against Leicester) if we do that well – it’s a supply game.” Todd Blackadder previews Bath’s game against Leicester at Twickenham Tickets for The Clash are still available – visit bathrugby.com/theclash for more details.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.
Simon Hardy, one of the world’s top throwing specialists, explains the hooker’s chief craft LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “Getting your hands right is the No 1 rule for throwing in,” says Simon Hardy, a World Cup-winning coach with England who now works with the likes of Bath, Harlequins and Pau on a consultancy basis. “Each player is different, so find what works for you.” Here are his top tips for throwing into a lineout…1. GET YOUR HANDS RIGHT“For a right-hander, have ‘Gilbert’ on top (seam at 2, 4, 6 and 8 o’clock). Right hand towards back of ball, fingers over top of seam, thumb relaxed. Left hand slightly forward of right, fingers relaxed, thumb under ball. To throw, snap elbows and roll hands out. Hands are together, pointing at the target.”Right place: Getting your hands in the correct position is key. Photo: Getty Images2. SIT ON A STABILITY BALL“The aim here is to isolate your upper body, using your core, arms and hands to throw. Technique: sit tall, chest up, hips up. Chin off your chest. Snap your elbows and roll the hands out. For a progression (adding difficulty), use a heavy ball or use only one foot to stabilise yourself.”3. LIE ON A STABILITY BALL“Aim: general use of all muscle groups and coordination of throwing action. Technique: hips up, pull through the abs, release ball above the head. Lift chest up after throw. In a game a throw isn’t an isolated action so for the progression, throw and stand to catch the ball.”Having a ball: Tom Youngs works on his technique in front of Simon Hardy. Photo: Getty Images 4. INTRODUCE A WOBBLE BOARD England hooker Jamie George throws in during England training. Photo: Getty Images WHAT YOU COULD DOThe 95% rule. Spend 95% of your time on practice. On average there are 15 throws in a game, so players should make 285 throws a week.Copycat. Watch good throwers who have a similar style to you (whether at your club or on TV).World Cup winner: Simon Hardy was part of England’s 2003 back-room team. Photo: Getty ImagesFact not feel. Record your best throws in a ‘confidence diary’ or on a phone, so you can see your improvement. In his first season at Bath, Tom Dunn recorded 6,000 throws in an exercise book.Ask yourself the right questions. Why was that a good throw? How did it feel? Don’t analyse a bad throw, just bin it. It’s about positive reinforcement.Use consequence drills to perform under pressure. Eg, hit the target ten times in a row before you finish.This article first appeared in the April 2017 issue of Rugby World magazine. For the latest subscription offers, click here. “Now stand and throw from a wobble board. Aim: to develop good posture and keep weight on the balls of your feet. Technique: stay tall, lift hips and chest up, flex your knees (don’t bend them), push hips forward. Progression: once you’re staying on the board, throw longer and faster.” 5. STANDING THROW TO TARGET“Aim: to develop understanding of release points and speed and shape of the throw. Technique: feet square, hips and chest up, chin off chest. Knees relaxed, weight on balls of feet. Hands up, step forward after throw. Progression: smaller targets or throw through a hoop between you and target.”Target practice: New Zealand work on their lineout drills. Photo: Getty Images 6. THROW INTO A LINEOUT“Aim: to develop understanding of speed of jumpers into the air to improve timing of throw. A. SPEAK to yourself as you come to touchline. B. Set up half a step behind line and SEE your throw. C. SHOOT. Use a trigger word to focus attention. Progression: add opposition, time constraints, noise, etc.”
TAGS: Highlight We introduce you to the next generation of England women who will be lighting up the Test scene. We talk to all five youngsters – Ellie Kildunne, Zoe Harrison, Caity Mattinson, Lagi Tuima and Hannah Botterman – and England veteran Rachael Burford gives us her view on these upstart talents.6. SUPER RUGBY RETURNSWhile we all get excited about the Six Nations, you must remember that the premier club competition in the southern hemisphere is set to start up again. Our resident columnist Ben Ryan explains what to look out for in the Super Rugby competition. We also talk to the fly-half for last year’s triumphant Crusaders, Richie Mo’unga.Pivotal player: Richie Mo’unga in action for the Crusaders7. SCOTLAND SKIPPER JOHN BARCLAYThis well-respected back-rower is ready to lead the Scots into battle, but there’s lots more he has to talk about. He gives us his thoughts on his high-flying Scarlets side, concussion and his long-running campaign of terror against the easily-scared Stuart Hogg.8. MUNSTER HEROAs part of our continuing ‘Club Hero’ franchise, we get an insight from former all Black Doug Howlett into what has made Munster stalwart Keith Earls tick over the last impressive decade. A tenacious and industrious character, he should also shine in the green of Ireland over the coming months.Family man: Keith Earls with his daughters Ella May and Laurie9. INSIDE THE MIND OF HALLAM AMOSThe Wales and Dragons outside back lets us into his head. He talks on diverse subject ranging from studying for his medical degree to learning piano and what he would change about rugby.10. THE ITALIAN VIEWItaly and Benetton Treviso back-row Braam Steyn writes exclusively for us about what it’s like to work your way up to Test level from Italy’s Eccellenza, what playing in Rome is like and the continued brilliance of Sergio Parisse. As if the Six Nations was not exciting enough, we are giving away two free gifts with Rugby World‘s Six Nations special issue! So not only will you get the brilliant, Six Nations-flavoured features you’d expect in this special edition, but you will also get a championship wallchart and a pull-out guide to every team in the famous competition, the women’s Six Nations and the U20s version too.On the eve of the most celebrated Test tournament in the world, you shouldn’t need too much persuasion to run out to your local newsagents. But just in case you want an extra nudge, here are ten reasons to buy this brilliant mag…1. FREE WALLCHART + TEAM GUIDEGet the inside track on each team with our extensive, 24-page team guide, and keep track of every result with our Six Nations wallchart (complete with great snaps of al four Home Nations on the reverse side).2. GEORGE FORD’S LIFE IN PICTURESEngland’s fly-half talks us through the moments that have defined his short career, as well as telling the stories behind images of his family, his relationship with Jonny Wilkinson and winning moments in the white of England.3. EPIC WELSH WINSWe count down through the most memorable, awe-inspiring Welsh victories in the history of the Six Nations (and its earlier guises). With obliterations of old enemies, come-from-behind victories and heart-in-mouth moments, there’s plenty in here to get you singing Hymns and Arias.FOR THE LATEST SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS, CLICK HERE4. THE NEED FOR SCOTTISH SUCCESSColumnist Stephen Jones explains why something is stirring north of the border and why Scotland roaring is just what the Six Nations – and us fans – need. It’s safe to say that Jones loves his stays in Edinburgh…Dynamic duo: Huw Jones and Stuart Hogg are integral to how Scotland attack5. AKI’S BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARSIreland and Connacht centre Bundee Aki talks to us exclusively about life in Galway, the challenges he has overcome simply to make it as a professional rugby player and what he made of the storm about his selection for Ireland back in November. There’s eve a mention of the 2000 hit, Angel by Shaggy!6. FRESH ROSES LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Ten reasons why you need to pick up a copy of Rugby World’s March 2018 edition PLUS, THERE’S ALL THIS…The ever-intrepid Alan Dymock writes about his day out in Ulster as part of our Welcome to my Club series.Ben Scully explains what it was like to go from interning with Eddie Jones to coaching his own Test team, Norway.Sean Holley looks at the threats posed by Scotland in The Analyst.Dan Biggar offers up some top tips on how to regather kicks you have launched up yourself..The Secret Player confronts the myth of ‘playing at home’ during the Six Nations. Does it really give you an edge?Canada sevens star Jen Kish explains the reasons behind her impending retirement and why she values free speech.Meet rising stars Dane Blacker, who eyes a spot at the Junior World Cup for Wales, and Jacob Umaga, son of Mike and nephew of Tana.James Horwill – or Big Kev to his mates – runs the gauntlet of our Downtime Q&A.Ali Donnelly reports on Scotland centre Lisa Thompson’s French sojourn.We take a trip to Yokohama to see the venue of the World Cup 2019 final, but end up finding so much more…Grass-roots news in our club section.
RW Verdict: He admired Dan Carter and Carlos Spencer growing up, has huge family pedigree and will have learnt a lot watching from the sidelines at his dad’s clubs. Next he faces a big decision over who to represent at Test level.This article originally appeared in the March 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine. Hotshot: Wasps centre Jacob UmagaDate of birth 8 July 1998 Born Halifax, W Yorkshire Club Wasps Country England Position CentreWhen did you first play? I was three or four and playing for the U6s at Old Brodleians in Halifax. I played a lot of other sports – rugby league, basketball, football, cricket – but rugby was always the best fit.What positions have you played?Ten for a long time, but recently I’ve moved to centre and played a little at full-back.Do you feel pressure because of what your dad, Mike, and uncle, Tana, have achieved?Not really, I’m my own person, my own player. I’m a different player to my dad or my uncle; I’m doing my own thing. If I can get anywhere near the recognition they got that would be good.What are your strengths? Probably my decision-making with ball in hand and having time on the ball. I like being a playmaker. I’m definitely still working on getting bigger collisions in contact.Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?My parents. My mum played a bit as well. She runs a good dummy switch – I got that off her. If I ask my mum how I did, I’ll get a comforting response and my dad will give me the truth. He’ll pick me up on things but I need that. And he says as long as I’ve got a smile on my face it will be alright.You’ve represented England at age-grade level. Have you considered playing for New Zealand or Samoa?I’ve always followed New Zealand and Samoa closely, and Samoa a bit more recently as they’ve been struggling. I’ve always thought it would be nice for my dad to see me put on the blue shirt at some point. International rugby is international rugby at the end of the day – any honours would be good.What do you do away from rugby?I follow basketball, the NBA, and through Wasps I’m involved with Playing Advantage, which is a disability and special needs club. I’m an ambassador and help out on weekends. TAGS: Wasps An exclusive Q&A with Wasps centre, Jacob Umaga LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Hotshot: Read our exclusive interview with Wasps centre Jacob Umaga (Getty Images)
Pat Lam, who has steered Bristol to the top of the Greene King IPA Championship and back to the Aviva Premiership, explains what the club’s plans are going forward.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find out what’s inside the June 2018 edition of Rugby World, including a world exclusive interview with All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett Beauden Barrett World Exclusive in Rugby WorldIn the new issue of Rugby World magazine we bring you a world exclusive interview with New Zealand‘s Beauden Barrett. On top of that, Stephen Jones gives his verdict on rugby’s eligibility crisis, Ben Ryan talks player burnout and we look ahead to the Premiership and Pro14 play-offs.Here are 15 reasons to pick up a copy of Rugby World’s June 2018 edition – and find out how to download the digital issue here.1. Beauden Barrett World ExclusiveThe incredibly talented All Blacks fly-half – one of only two players to win the World Rugby Player of the Year award back-to-back, the other being Richie McCaw – reveals why his best is yet to come and opens up about his childhood on the family farm as well as his time in Ireland. Plus, former England fly-half Stuart Barnes analyses Barrett’s strengths from head to toe.2. How to solve rugby’s eligibility crisisFollowing the fallout from the Belgium-Spain game and reports of teams fielding ineligible players in the Rugby Europe Championship, Stephen Jones puts forward his plans to avoid such problems in the future. It’s a solution he says can “restore the ethics of the sport” – but will you agree?Related: World Rugby launches eligibility investigation3. The Secret PlayerThis month our former pro provides a unique insight into rugby’s ‘dark arts’.4. My life in pictures… Tommy BoweMemories: Tommy Bowe scores a famous try in Ireland’s 2009 Grand Slam win over Wales (Huw Evans Agency)As he hangs up his boots, Ulster and Ireland wing Tommy Bowe reflects on the highs and lows of his career in snap shots from his photo album – and looks ahead to what’s next post-rugby.5. What it’s like to… row the Atlantic“I was literally clinging to the boat with my fingernails.” Former Ireland A lock Damian Browne, who played his club rugby for Connacht, Northampton, Brive, Leinster and Oyonnax, talks through his extraordinary 3,000-mile journey rowing solo across the Atlantic.6. Club FocusA round-up of news from grass-roots clubs across the country – will you see your team mentioned?7. Behind the scenes with England’s rising stars Gym work: England U20 wing Gabriel Ibitoye during weight training (Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)We spent a day with the England U20 squad to get an insight into what life is like in camp ahead of the Junior World Cup, which kicks off at the end of May.8. Welcome to my club… Ealing TrailfindersRugby World’s Alan Dymock heads to West London to find out how the Greene King IPA Championship runners-up are plotting for a brighter future.9. Ben Ryan on player burnoutThe coach who guided Fiji to gold at the Rio Olympics gives his thoughts on the hot topic that is player burnout – and explains how it can be avoided. 10. Eyes on the play-offsWith the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro14 seasons reaching their climax, we bring you a plethora of features involving those in the thick of the action:Sean Holley analyses how Glasgow have developed a new attacking edge under Dave RennieExeter’s Alec Hepburn talks England, economics and engaging conversationsChief impact: Exeter’s Alec Hepburn tries to find a way through the Saracens defence (Getty Images)We discuss the questions surrounding Joey Carbery’s future – fly-half or full-back? Leinster or elsewhere?Scarlets fly-half Rhys Patchell talks funny men, phobias and his first jobHow to defend like Saracens – Brad Barritt’s top tips for when you don’t have the ballMunster flyer Alex Wootton reflects on his breakthrough seasonWasps scrum-half Dan Robson provides a glimpse inside his mind11. Scotland flanker Hamish Watson Moving clear: Hamish Watson breaks to score for Edinburgh (Getty Images)As well as breakdown skills and life in the rugby bubble, the Edinburgh back-rower talks about his thriving hat business.12. New Zealand women’s contractsIn a major step forward, New Zealand Rugby have awarded contracts to their 15-a-side women’s players for the first time. Ali Donnelly gets the lowdown from Black Ferns scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge.13. How to gear up for the sevens seasonBootcamp this month is all about getting ready for playing the abbreviated game, with three exercises to incorporate into your gym routine, advice on supplements and a salad recipe. We also have an interview with Canada sevens player Nate Hirayama.14. My day off… Motorbiking with Jeff HasslerCool rider: Jeff Hassler with his motorbike at the Liberty Stadium (Huw Evans Agency)The Ospreys and Canada wing has an adventurous streak – as Rugby World discovers when he takes his Triumph motorbike for a spin in the Brecon Beacons.15. Bristol’s promotion to the Premiership TAGS: Highlight LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS