Has the LV Cup lost its sheen?

first_imgNORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – MARCH 20: Gloucester celebrate victory with the trophy during the LV= Anglo Welsh Cup Final between Gloucester and Newcastle Falcons at Franklin’s Gardens on March 20, 2011 in Northampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Gloucester celebrate winning the 2011 LV Cup Katie Field questions the future of a competition which has lost its focal point…THE victory celebrations were loud and long, but will Gloucester’s 34-7 win over Newcastle in this spring’s LV= Cup final be the last of its kind for an English Premiership club?Cup final day used to be the climax of the club season in England, but the cup has been so severely devalued by the powers-that-be in the past two years that its very existence is in peril.The top-flight clubs were taken out of the old RFU knockout cup and put into the Anglo-Welsh version, which upset traditional rugby folk. But at least there was still a Twickenham final and 54,899 fans turned up to see Cardiff Blues defeat Gloucester 50-12 in the 2009 showpiece.However, the 2010 and 2011 LV= Cup finals were played at neutral club grounds and the fans took the hint that it is now just a sideshow; 12,024 watched Northampton beat Gloucester at Sixways in 2010, but only 6,848 were at Franklin’s Gardens as Gloucester made it third time lucky last month with some wonderful attacking rugby. Strangely, 12,533 had packed Kingsholm seven days earlier for the semi-final, but having just a week between the games is helpful to no one.So, is it time to can the cup and just focus on the Premiership and Europe? Do the winners merit a Heineken Cup place when so many clubs field weakened teams in it? Gloucester’s coach Bryan Redpath sees the pros and cons.“If you win it and get into the Heineken Cup because of that, you’ll say it’s a good competition,” he chuckles. “But with clubs not spending as much money and squads getting smaller, do we need a fixture list that’s packed from the middle of August right through until now?” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Gloucester center_img Or 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 Redpath says the LV= Cup let him give valuable game time to youngsters like Rupert Harden and Yann Thomas this season.“It’s also been good for our senior players, like Olly Azam, to win a trophy,” he adds. “The powers-that-be need to sit down and look at the bigger picture and see what’s best.”This article appeared in the May 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.Find a newsagent that sells Rugby World in the UKlast_img read more

Five things we learnt about Wales – Round Three

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Crowning glory: Wales’ goalkicker Leigh Halfpenny and captain Sam Warburton with the Triple CrownObsession with the 12 channelWales have had enormous success targeting the 12 channel over the past 18 months. There are few international outside-halves and inside-centres who are able to cope with the repeated heavy carrying of Jamie Roberts. Yet Wales’ repeated use of this tactic on Saturday verged on OCD (Obsessive Centre Deployment). Roberts carried the ball down the central channel four times in the first 12 minutes, where he was met with the more than able defensive pairing of Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt. It’s not that Roberts didn’t make yardage, he did; but there are hard yards and there are smashing your head against reinforced concrete yards. It’s little wonder he didn’t come out for the second half.Whilst the policy of hitting the 10-12 channel with Roberts is understandable, continuing with the same tactics when Scott Williams took the field was not. It seemed as though this offensive pattern had been devised in anticipation of Charlie Hodgson and Owen Farrell playing at 10 and 12 respectively, and hadn’t changed to allow for a change in the English defensive line. In light of the English re-shuffle, a policy of attacking the 13 channel may have been more fruitful; Manu Tuilagi’s strengths lie in going forwards, not backwards Wales struggled in the narrow channelsThe English defence in the narrow channels was first class and it restricted Wales’ ability to get over the gain-line. This will come as no surprise to anyone who watches the Aviva Premiership. The ruck defence in England’s top flight is second to none; it is where much of the division’s rugby is played. Indeed you could play some Aviva Premiership games on a credit card signature strip, such is the desire to keep things tight. Strangely, Wales played to England’s strengths. Instead of implementing some ‘widening’ plays to stretch the English defensive line, they repeatedly executed ‘narrowing’ patterns and lost valuable yards in the tackle as result. In fact, the English ruck defence was so effective it restricted the entire Welsh pack to a combined ball-carrying distance of just 67 yards. That is their lowest total of the championship so far. NOT FOR FEATURED He’s the man: Scott Williams dives over for the decisive try against England at TwickenhamBy Paul WilliamsWALES beat England 19-12 to clinch the Triple Crown on Saturday – the first time Wales have ever completed their sweep of the home nations at Twickenham. Here’s the lowdown on the good, and not so good, of their performance. Stay tuned for more Welsh analysis as the championship reaches its climax next month…Eight seconds that won the gameScott Williams has played well for Wales over the past six months and has shown moments of quality. He has executed important tackles, carried the ball well, made clean line breaks and scored some important tries. However, he has never shown his entire skill-set in one game. On Saturday he showed it all in eight seconds. It was a glorious passage of Six Nations rugby. His rip and strip embarrassed the muscular Lawes (Courtney would be well advised to drink a few more of those protein shakes that he endorses), whilst his positionally aware grubber, searing pace and calm two-handed take will live long in the memory. Williams also opted to finish his try with an elegant swallow dive; it’s the first time Twickenham has seen that manoeuvre for quite some time. Clever when down to 14 menWales concede more points when they have a player in the sin-bin than any other team in the Six Nations. On average they concede just over seven points every time they are down to 14 men. And when Rhys Priestland was yellow-carded in the 44th minute, it looked as though England would stretch their three-point lead, particularly when you consider Wales had lost their outside-half and no one amongst the remaining 14 had any experience of playing ten at regional, let alone Test level. But Wales were very clever. Having effectively given England a ten-minute overlap, they kept the ball safe and tight. Their neat pod work allowed them to build a 21-phase set and they spent an incredible five minutes of the sin-binning camped between the halfway line and England’s 22.  When the sin-bin clock finally turned to zero, Wales’ net point loss was exactly the same. It was very impressive; in fact Wales’ work with 14 men was more memorable than some of their work with 15. Distraught: Rhys Priestland was sin-binnedShallow kicking anglesWales have struggled with their kicking. The goalkicking percentages have on occasions fallen well below the requisite 75% demanded at international level. It is therefore unfortunate that on the day Wales converted 83% of their kicks from the tee, their kicking from hand could have been their undoing. Rhys Priestland’s clearance kick in the 43rd minute could have cost Wales the game. It provided the Mouritz Botha with a simple charge down that resulted in Wales conceding three points and losing their outside-half to the sin-bin for ten minutes.It’s not a problem that solely affects Wales. The modern game places a premium on distance from both line and tactical kicking; it has created a launch profile that is lower and longer, yet easier to charge down. It’s something that the Welsh team need to address, as shallow kicking angles in the 22 also produce shallow heart beats in their supporters.last_img read more

Hotshots: Bath centre Max Clark

first_imgBath time: Clark is now full time at the west country club No. Mum is Welsh but I’ve lived in England all my life.What was the highlight of your England U18 year?Beating South Africa on tour. They beat us last year but we played our best game this time.What are your aims now?To play as many Bath United games as possible and retain the A league title. I also want to get some LV= Cup games and play for England U20. When did you first play?I played a little in London, then we moved to Dorset when I was seven or eight and I played at North Dorset rugby club and Port Regis School. I enjoyed running around as much as possible, so I preferred rugby to cricket.When did you join Bath?I came into the academy around the age of 13 or 14. Now I’m here full-time.Who helps you improve?Everyone in the Bath squad is awesome, but Ollie Devoto was at my school and he is very helpful.You were born in Wales, were you tempted to play for them, not England? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS RW verdict: After an unbeaten year in the centre for England U18, this 19-year-old has success to build on.This hotshot was first published in the November 2014 edition of Rugby World. Click here to find out what’s in this month’s mag!last_img read more

South Africa Vs Argentina: The history of the bronze medal match

first_imgWe take a brief look at the bronze medal match, and ask the question if there is any importance riding on this match? Estatic: Argentinean team jubilates after winning the third-place final match vs France. Photo: Getty imagesStill not convinced? Fine, case re-opened – let’s check out this year’s contenders. For Argentina, it is a chance to match the achievements of 2007. For the Pumas to finish third at a World Cup would have taken a Hollywood script before 2000, but the rules were re-written with their kick-based run to the playoff in France. The plan this year, according to Agustin Pichot, was “to go one better” – but it certainly won’t be to finish one place further back. This team have bravery and heart in abundance, so a game like this is made for them.Particularly if it stays dry. Consider the stats. Argentina have scored the second-most tries (26) in the World Cup behind only New Zealand (36), while they lead the way in runs made (800), metres made (3,854), clean breaks (71) and offloads (62). They have a backline who can create from anywhere, and they showed against Ireland and Australia how far they have come. This side do not want to settle for fourth.Plenty of heart and soul: The Pumas will be looking to match their heroics in 2007. Photo: Getty imagesThe South Africans, though, are as proud a rugby nation as there is. Defeat to New Zealand was met with dignified resignation. Defeat to Argentina – a second defeat in the space of three months, after the 37-25 loss in Durban back in August – will not be. Heyneke Meyer came under a fair bit of stick for the Japan loss at the start of the tournament, so he will be determined to end the trip to England with a victory. A team combining youth, who have a chance to prove a point, with experienced heads who are here to bid adieu, will be in no mood to settle for second best.Speaking of bidding adieu, the plethora of huge talents saying farewell to the international stage on Friday night should have you excited enough on its own. Horacio Agulla, Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Juan Fernandez Lobbe are just some of the heroes who could be making their final World Cup bow for the Pumas, while the Du Plessis duo, Tendai Mtawarira, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, Ruan Pienaar and Bryan Habana are likely all playing their final World Cup games for South Africa, if not their last internationals. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Preparing to battle again: South Africa and Argentina will square off on Friday in the bronze medal match. Photo: Getty images center_img By Mark CoughlanI’m really looking forward to the bronze medal match. Or third-placed playoff. Whatever you call it. The point is I’m excited about it. There, I said it.I’ve heard the game described as disappointing, one the players dread, like kissing your sister and in various other derogatory guises this week, but frankly I think it could be a belter. You only have to look at history to see why.The precedent was set in the first outing, when Wales and Australia went head to head on a Thursday back in 1987. It wasn’t meant to matter, but a red card for Aussie flanker David Codey meant it really really did. The Wallabies led going into the final throes, but the Welsh hit the flair button and one fluent move later, Adrian Hadley crossed to bring the difference to just one. Paul Thorburn stepped up, did what he did best from the touchline by drawing in a fantastic kick, and Wales won by a single point. An epic was born.Epic: Wales won the third-place playoff 22-21 vs Australia. Photo: Getty imagesOK, there have been some duds over the years, but a 75th minute drop goal secured Australia’s victory over New Zealand in 1999, while an angry All Blacks scored six tries to crush the French 40-13 in 2003. Then there’s 2007, when Argentina hung up their kicking boots to blow France (again) away 34-10 and finish third in the world. Inspirational stuff.The disappointment of losing a semi-final will linger on, but the pressure has somewhat dissipated. This is a chance for both teams to say thank you to their loyal fans, to entertain the global audience one last time, and to showcase what they can do. Two of the seven World Cup finals have ended without a try, but the third-placed playoff has never been tryless, and sees an average of 3.6 tries scored. Case closed. One last hurrah: Bryan Habana can break Jonah Lomu’s try-scoring record. Photo: Getty imagesOh yeah, Bryan Habana. We haven’t even talked about that. The man can break the Rugby World Cup try-scoring record (he’s currently tied with Jonah Lomu on 15) if he dots down against Argentina. In his final ever World Cup game. Come on – how can you not want to watch history in the making? Saturday is going to see a huge game, a tense encounter, a massive clash – but Friday, for me, could be where the real entertainment lies this weekend. Don’t miss it!last_img read more

Financial penalties in the ProD2 send shockwaves around French rugby

first_imgFor once venerable clubs in the Top 14, relegation can mean staring into the financial abyss as Biarritz, Bourgoin and Narbonne are starting to find out the hard way… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS It’s not been the most auspicious season for the ProD2 in France. For a start, Lyon ran away with the title from day one, clinching the crown on April 1 with yet another all-too-easy victory. Being crowned champions a full six weeks before the end of the regular season gives some indication as to the disparity in quality between Lyon and the other 15 sides in the French second division.On Saturday Aurillac meet Bayonne in the play-off final to discover who will join Lyon in the Top 14 next season. It should be a good contest but whatever the outcome the real drama will happen the following week when Biarritz, Bourgoin and Narbonne learn if they’re to be relegated to the semi-professional ranks of Federale 1. If they are, they’ll join a fourth ProD2 club, Tarbes, who were relegated earlier in the season.The announcement last Friday by the Direction Nationale d’Aide et de Contrôle de Gestion [DNACG], colloquially known as the ‘financial gendarme‘ of professional rugby in France, that the trio of venerable clubs were to relegated as a punishment for financial mismanagement sent shockwaves through the French game. Between them Biarritz, Tarbes and Narbonne have won the French championship on eight occasions while Bourgoin were runners-up in 1997.Quality: Damien Traille comes to the aid of Iain Balshaw against the Ospreys in the Heineken CupIt was only six years ago that Biarritz were in the Heineken Cup final, and it’s four since they beat Toulon to win the Challenge Cup. Yet unless their appeal succeeds next week the club that until recently contained such top-class talent as Imanol Harinordoquy, Iain Balshaw and Dimitri Yachvili will next season be playing against Bobigny and Cognac in front of a few hundred people.The French are sad but at the same time there’s little sympathy for the plight of the quartet of clubs. At the weekend La Depeche, the newspaper that serves Toulouse and the surrounding region, ran an article in which it asked the rhetorical question ‘should the DNACG be congratulated for its draconian punishment?’ Their answer: “Yes, even if it’s taken such a long time, because what’s at stake is the credibility of a professional [rugby] world that has sometimes appeared to be that in name only.”Bourgoin have been flirting with financial disaster for a while, according to Monday’s edition of Midi Olympique. With a budget of just four million euros, Bourgoin have run up a deficit of €1m, despite the fact that they were relegated to Fédérale 1 in the summer of 2012 for similar financial ineptitude. Good times: Dimitri Yachvili lifts the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2012, when they beat Toulon center_img Star turn: Bourgoin used to be able to attract the likes of Nemani NadoloThe DNACG have run out of patience, as they have with Biarritz, whose accountants have been working overtime to keep the club afloat ever since they were relegated from the Top 14 two years ago. The Basque club cut its budget from €16.7 m to €11.7m following the demotion, with some players seeing their wages slashed by 40 percent as the club prepared for life without the television riches of the Top 14. That had little effect and in May 2015 it was reported that players hadn’t been paid their full salary for the previous month amid talk of a €2m financial hole at the heart of the club. There was an attempt to merge Biarritz with Bayonne last summer, a sensible option given the proximity of the two clubs and the concomitant problems of trying to attract commercial partners, but parochialism won out over pragmatism.According to Midi Olympique Biarritz need to find €600,000 in the next few days if they’re to stave off relegation to Federale 1, while the paper says Narbonne’s shortfall “is estimated to be between €300,000 and €600,000”. The man in charge of Narbonne, former Wallaby flanker Rocky Elsom, had the chance to sell the club to a Qatari Investment Fund in December, but chose not to. This created what Midi Olympique described as ‘tensions’ in both the club and the town, with local businesses now scrabbling around in an attempt to come up with the money. But even if they do, Narbonne may still be relegated if they can’t convince the DNACG that the same hole won’t appear next season.Rich heritage: Narbonne, pictured in 1973, playing against BeziersIf the three appeals fail then Provence, who finished bottom of the ProD2, will be spared the drop, while the two losing semi-finalists in the Federale 1 play-offs, Massy et Bourg-en-Bresse, are likely to be promoted. As ever it’s the players concerned who suffer most in such situations. The news of Bourgoin’s punishment broke on the same day the squad departed for their summer holiday, meaning there’ll be some worried young men sitting on their beach towels this week.There are times when the life of a professional rugby player isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.last_img read more

France coach Novès could be a Fall Guy as Samoa come to town

first_img “Colossal” was the word used by Midi Olympique last week to describe the pressure on Guy Novès and his coaching team ahead of France’s three autumn Internationals.The paper is right. The former Toulouse coach, viewed by many in France as a rugby guru, no longer has any excuses for failing to deliver success. His predecessors, Bernard Laporte, Marc Lièvremont and Philippe Saint-André, bemoaned the lack of time they had with the national squad, not to mention the shortage of cooperation between the clubs and the FFR.Novès has got the time and the cooperation, thanks to the Accord signed between the LNR and the FFR in the summer that guarantees him two weeks with the players prior to the November Tests and eight uninterrupted weeks during the Six Nations.France now has the same amount of preparation time as their northern hemisphere rivals, and the squad has been training hard for the challenge of taking on Samoa, Australia and New Zealand in the space of a fortnight.Captain Guilhem Guirado was asked at the weekend what would represent a good return for France from the three matches. “Three victories,” he replied. “That’s the objective the team is training for.”Lofty goal: Guilhem Guirado, here scoring v Scotland, expects to win all three Tests (Pic: Reuters)Midi Olympique was prepared to cut the squad a bit of slack in its assessment of what would constitute a good November for France. While defeat to New Zealand would be acceptable, said the paper, victory against Samoa and Australia was imperative.That was before the weekend’s results, however, when New Zealand suffered their stunning defeat to Ireland and Australia ran Wales ragged with an expansive style of rugby that once, many years ago, was the hallmark of French sides.None but the most deluded rugby fan would expect the All Blacks’ first defeat in 19 matches to lead to a crisis of confidence, and Italy are likely to feel the full force of the backlash on Saturday when they host New Zealand in Rome. He may only have just started but Guy Novès’s job could be on the line should France falter in the autumn Tests. Gavin Mortimer explains why he’s under such pressure As Midi Olympique says, the pressure on Novès is colossal.Hard at work: France training at Marcoussis ahead of games with Samoa, Australia and NZ (Pic: AFP)For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Samoa France play Samoa in Toulouse on the same day, a nation they struggled to put away when last they met in the autumn of 2012. On that occasion the French laboured to a 22-14 victory, thanks to the 19 points of Frédéric Michalak, with the Samoans scoring two tries to France’s one.Nice moves: Samoa perform the Siva Tau ahead of the 2012 clash in Paris (Pic: AFP/Getty Images)That win over Samoa was one of three for France in November 2012 (Australia and Argentina were also beaten), the only time in the past ten years that they have won all their autumn Tests. Traditionally les Bleus have started with a win and ended with a loss, as they did in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014. The only exception was 2013, when a win over Tonga was sandwiched between losses to South Africa and New Zealand.The prospect of France finishing the month with three victories are slimmer than a model on a Paris catwalk, and if Australia and New Zealand play to their full potential they could embarrass their hosts. Technically, the French squad is vastly inferior to their Antipodean rivals, while the leaden pace of so many Top 14 matches means that the players are incapable of playing rugby at the speed and intensity of their southern hemisphere rivals.There’s not even a fear factor any longer with France, the knowledge for an opposition side that facing the French would be brutal and bone-jarring whatever the outcome. The now retired Pascal Papé made that point in his recent autobiography, saying that for the new generation of France internationals “the blue jersey doesn’t have the same meaning”.Outspoken: Pascal Papé believes the current crop of players have lost pride in the jersey (Pic: AFP)Accusing them of “managing their image and their careers like show-biz entertainers”, Papé added: “The most important thing for them today is ‘how many followers do I have on Twitter, on Instagram’…[but] for me, the France team was mythical. Wearing the blue jersey was a dream I dared not hope for. For them, playing for France is good because they become bankable.”Bankable, bland and a far cry from French sides of old, which were crammed with characters who fought tooth and nail for the cockerel. It’s been a few seasons since a France team showed any fight, but perhaps they’ll rediscover their fire in the next fortnight. If they don’t then Novès could be out of a job.Rumours are circulating once more that should Bernard Laporte be elected president of the FFR next month he’ll want a new national coach. It would be difficult to fire a man who’s just beaten the All Blacks, but easy to get rid of a coach who’s overseen three defeats. Hot seat: Guy Novès has no excuses now that he has extended access to his players (Pic: Reuters) last_img read more

Six Nations 2018 Round Four – Six things we learnt

first_img Six Nations 2018 Round Four – Six things we learntIreland are possession mastersIreland had 60% of the possession against Scotland. This stat, in isolation, is not that rare. But when you consider that this is the fourth fixture in a row where they have kept the opposition below 38% possession, it creates a pattern.Ireland are often, and unfairly, labelled a ten-man team, but they aren’t, and certainly weren’t against Scotland. You just need to see the number of Scottish defenders beaten by the Irish back-line to realise that notion is false – 18 defenders beaten by the backs alone is not an indicator of ten-man rugby.What Ireland play, and play so perfectly, is possession rugby. Successions of neat short carries, where the ball is never further than three yards from at least two ruck-cleaners.Jump to it: Rob Kearney takes a high ball against Scotland (Getty Images)Ireland do kick the ball regularly, often ten to 15 times more than the opposition. But as against Scotland, the kicking from Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray is so accurate that their kicking game almost feels as secure as other teams’ passing games.Add in the incredible aerial performance of Rob Kearney and you have an attacking and defensive kicking system that delivers the ball like a vending machine.Ireland will get to hold the Six Nations trophy because they hold onto the ball better than anyone else. And unless England can get 50% possession, Ireland will get their hands on a well-deserved Grand Slam too.Scotland created, but didn’t finishScotland may have lost another game on the road. And their supporters may continue to wonder why their home-and-away performances are so schizophrenic. But their display against Ireland proves that Scotland are progressing at a substantial rate.Scotland could have scored three tries in Dublin. And these weren’t fantastical ‘What if?’ tries. What if we had our full-strength team playing? What if we had a different ref? What if the weather was better? These were: What if one, final, short pass had gone to hand?Break man: Huw Jones bursts through the Ireland defence (Getty Images)The truth is Scotland created three or four fantastic opportunities with very little possession. To create such clear-cut chance with less than 40% possession shows how creative and comfortable Scotland have become with ball in hand.Gregor Townsend has created a high-tempo, rapid offload game where all 15 players are comfortable handling at speed – until, on occasions, when it really matters.Seeing Huw Jones’s poor pass after his chip kick was like watching Da Vinci finessing the final brush stoke on Mona Lisa’s smile, only for him to slip off his stool and jab the brush through her face.Scotland will be disappointed, but not despondent.England are struggling to beat defendersEngland were handed their second defeat in a row, with one of the post-match explanations offered by Eddie Jones being that his team lacked power. It seems like an unusual weakness to pick on.England started with a pack weighing 939kg, which is very heavy for a modern Test pack. That’s reminiscent of the pack weights we saw from international sides between 2007 and 2011. Most Test forwards, collectively, now weigh well under 900kg because speed, particularly in the back row, has been deemed more important than mass.The English pack that faced France also featured what are essentially three second-rows, a No 8 and a blindside – a selection where power wouldn’t seem an issue.Stop sign: Elliot Daly can’t escape French tacklers (Getty Images)However, one aspect of the game where England did look underpowered was in their ability to beat defenders. As against Scotland, the running lines were predictable and lateral movement was non-existent.The linear nature of the carrying meant that England only beat eight defenders in 80 minutes. The English backs beat just four defenders and the team failed to make a single line break in the opening 40 minutes. Double act: Ireland half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton (Getty Images) This is purely observational and about as scientific as Donald Trump’s views on climate change, but the regularity with which Italy seem to be scoring in the final ten minutes is at least a sign that the squad is Test fit, if not always Test quality.Don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The Irish got the win that ultimately won… France v England Talking Points from Paris If England are serious about winning the World Cup, their levels of creativity need powering up, or if they are to continue playing as they are then a faster openside must be selected so that they can retain the ball from these predicable running lines.Eddie Jones has work to do if he plans on beating Ireland in Twickenham. Expand Wales v Italy Talking Points from Cardiff From possession masters Ireland to the high quality of Hadleigh Parkes, Paul Williams analyses the latest round of Six Nations action Ireland v Scotland Talking Points from the Aviva Stadium France v England Talking Points from Paris Ireland v Scotland Talking Points from the Aviva Stadium Collapse Wales v Italy Talking Points from Cardiff Talking points from the 38-14 Wales win over… France v England Talking Points from Paris  If… Expand France do it the hard wayFrance’s win over England was remarkable. And not merely because they managed to beat the pre-tournament favourites.France did this the hard way. Beating this current England team is a big task, regardless. Doing it with a scrum completion of 66% and a lineout completion of 54% is harder than a three-day old baguette.Winning just six lineouts from 11 makes Test rugby almost impossible. It nullifies the benefit of any penalty awarded in your own half and reduces the ability to make 50-metre gains from lineouts to almost zero.Problem area: France struggled at the lineout against England (Getty Images)However, whilst France struggled at the set-piece, defensively they were exceptional. They delivered a tackle completion of 95% – magnificent in a game where they had to make 168 tackles.The victory was made even more remarkable when you consider that Lionel Beauxis, a player selected solely for his kicking, missed touch in the final minutes.France have a much-needed win and Beauxis has a new anxiety dream.Hadleigh Parkes quietly doing the businessHadleigh Parkes delivered another Man of the Match performance for Wales. One try, another disallowed, seven defenders beaten and 11 tackles made – with just one missed.Those who have watched him play at the Scarlets won’t be surprised by how easily he has fitted into Test rugby. What is surprising is the seemingly lukewarm response that his performances – and indeed selection – have received in Wales.Star man: Hadleigh Parkes scores the opening try for Wales (Getty Images)It may be his residency qualification, his age or the fact he has been selected over Welsh favourites such as Jamie Roberts, but Parkes’s performances are worthy of more praise than seems to be forthcoming.If a fresh-faced 22-year-old centre, born in Wales, had performed as Parkes has, the Welsh nation would be raving about him. You can almost guarantee that there would be a three-minute TV feature on him as he walks his dog along a misty coastal path in South Wales.Let’s also remember that this is Wales we are talking about, a country where the overhyping of rugby players is a skill taught at birth (I’m Welsh, before the backlash begins).None of this seems to be bothering Parkes, of course. He carved his way through Italy and is destined to play in the World Cup in 2019.Fitness is a positive for ItalyIt can be difficult to find positives when writing about Italy in the Six Nations. Regular losing margins of between 20 and 25 points rarely contain many upsides. Once again, despite a two yellow-card advantage, and against a radically altered Welsh line-up, they were comprehensively beaten 38-14.Late show: Mattia Bellini scores Italy’s second try (Getty Images)But one positive in this game, as in the previous three in the year’s championship, has been their fitness. Italy no longer seem to fade away quite so rapidly in the final 20 minutes, as they have done in recent seasons. Mattia Bellini scored in the final five minutes against Wales and continued a trend where Italy are consistently scoring in the second half – a period in which they have historically fallen away.last_img read more

RFU Cuts Championship Funding

first_imgI despair that as a sport we keep tinkering when what’s needed is a package of interrelated changes which reinforce each other eg.a closed Prem & Div 1,max squad size in Prem, abolition of Prem Cup & Shield & A League, fewer games,lower salary cap, subsidised Div 1, feeder teams.— Mark Evans (@evans_marke) February 12, 2020Yes, clubs aren’t sustainable at present – but then the vast majority of Premiership clubs don’t turn a profit. I’d scrap the Premiership Cup and/or A league, and put the money into the Championship for developing players.Of course, those competitions aren’t directly funded by the RFU but by Premiership Rugby – and therein lies the biggest problem in English rugby. The RFU doesn’t actually control all of English rugby. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The governing body has been heavily criticised for its decision to slash funding to the second tier Scrum time: Jersey Reds pack down against Newcastle Falcons (Getty Images)Jersey Reds player Charlie Beckett wrote in his Talking Rugby Union column: “A number of Championship clubs will now be forced to go to a semi-pro and part-time basis and this, I feel, is incredibly detrimental for all rugby in England.“Without this funding I don’t see how the Championship remains a professional league and this obviously minimises the opportunities for people working in professional rugby in England. Without a competitive second tier of professional rugby for young players to play in and learn their trade, where is the next generation of England players going to come from?“On the financial side, I struggle to understand how the RFU can justify these drastic cuts to the Championship budget while paying their international players north of £20,000 a game for playing for England. I completely appreciate the work the players put in and the sacrifices they make and I absolutely believe they should be paid, and paid well for this.“However, when the match fees of one England squad, on one match day, costs the RFU more money than supporting an entire Championship club for an entire year, it seems something is wrong.”Cornish Pirates, Coventry and Ealing Trailfinders had already been working on a blueprint to make the league more viable. They’ve said they’ll now look at alternative sources of funding to make the competition a success, raising the possibility of forming a breakaway league.League of their own? The crowd watch Cornish Pirates v Yorkshire Carnegie at Mennaye Field (Getty)Many have suggested this reduction in funding is the first step towards ring-fencing the Gallagher Premiership. Saracens will play in the Championship next season but are widely expected to be promoted back to the top flight in 2021-22, with the possibility of a closed 13-team league heavily mooted.Rugby World Comment: Editor Sarah MockfordRW writer Alan Pearey summed up this news succinctly when saying this was “another boot in the groin for Championship clubs”.I think it’s fair to say the league isn’t working as it is – small crowds, few sponsors, clubs losing money and so on – but it has still been a proving ground for many players now starring both in the Premiership and for England.Surely the RFU should be looking at ways to improve the league, to make it attractive to broadcasters and sponsors, rather than appearing to wash their hands of it. RFU Cuts Championship FundingThe RFU’s decision to cut funding to the Greene King IPA Championship has been heavily criticised.The press release from English rugby’s governing body stated that “the RFU will continue to provide financial support” to the Championship next season, but that central funding will be reduced from £480,000 to £288,000 for 2020-21.RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said the reason for the 40% cut was the failure of the clubs to meet specific targets set in 2015. The Times reported the five areas as:Make steps towards becoming a financially viable league, given the average annual club loss is £260,000.Develop a league where more clubs have an ambition of winning promotion.Increase the number of English-qualified players.Develop future England coaches and referees.Develop a community programme to grow the game in the club’s region.Championship clubs have criticised the RFU’s decision, as have players and coaches. Can’t see how cutting the funding for @Champrugby is going to help anyone. Terrible decision that will have even worse consequences. So many @premrugby players have come through the Championship!— Guy Thompson (@GuyThompson87) February 12, 2020 Very misleading headline! Gutted for @Champrugby ,provides so much opportunity for players and coaches. 50% cuts almost certainly means the beginning of the end, more players and coaches to slip through the net. Very strange and poor decision. https://t.co/6brsPtmCc6— Tom Cruse (@cruse_dog2) February 12, 2020A joint statement by Cornish Pirates and Coventry read: “Collectively we’re very disappointed with many aspects of the RFU’s decision to drastically cut the funding of the Championship clubs, which could very well have a devastating impact on some of our fellow clubs, putting livelihoods and careers at risk, and which could also put some clubs out of business.“The Championship is an RFU tournament, meaning that the clubs do not control the league’s sponsorship rights; these are held by Twickenham. But over the last few years we have received no Championship-specific sponsorship funding, no Championship-specific TV broadcast deal, or any promotion by Twickenham of the community work which is being done by our clubs, such as wheelchair rugby, suicide prevention, and helping older people with dementia, and could also suffer as a result of these cuts.“For the RFU to then use their own failure to deliver on these as a justification for unilaterally decimating the Championship is nothing short of outrageous.”Line of duty: Jay Tyack scores a try for Cornish Pirates (Getty Images)The timing of the announcement has also proved problematic, with clubs already recruiting for the next campaign and no news on the funding situation beyond 2021. Jersey Reds chairman Mark Morgan said: “Championship clubs have been trying for months to get clarity around funding. To be presented with this fait accompli when teams are already hiring for next season is immoral and irresponsible.“There has been zero consultation, engagement, nor explanation before the announcement and no vision for the future of the Championship was provided. With Bill Sweeney’s heralded business background, this is astonishingly poor execution.“The position the RFU has taken is disrespectful to the great work being done by Championship clubs and the army of volunteers that are involved at all levels who work to deliver a quality product and developmental opportunities for players and coaches alike.“The lack of any indication about funding beyond the end of the 2020-21 season is a glaring omission and can only be aimed at creating further uncertainty.” Budget cut: The RFU is reducing funding for the Championship next season (Getty Images) The March issue of Rugby World magazine – a Six Nations special – is on sale now.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more

Inside the mind of centre Chris Harris

first_img“I’ve mastered cooking a beef joint. It’s next level, man! My missus also loves this basic carbonara I do. Easy, 20 minutes, there you go, brownie points for me!” “We’ve got an Airbnb in the basement of our house at the moment. It’s a very small two-bed flat. There is a lot more admin than you would think with it, with the turnover and stuff like that. So that does take up a bit of time.” “There’s no music in the Gloucester changing room. George Skivington doesn’t want us listening to it, I’m sure he won’t mind me saying. He’s all about focusing on the game. We’re there to work. I don’t mind it.” “I’m learning guitar and in the (November) Scotland camp I took it with me. A few of the boys were learning so we practised together. When I got home, my missus would say, ‘Shut up, you play the same songs every time!’ Duncan Taylor is brillianton guitar.”Related: See Harris’s team-mates in the British & Irish Lions squad 2021 Chris Harris in action for Scotland (Getty Images) “I’m a little bit of a coffee snob, but thankfully we’ve got a good coffee machine with Scotland, so you can make all your latte art and fancy stuff. We’re pretty lucky in that regard.”Chris Harris offloads for Gloucester (Getty Images) “I love cooking. My girlfriend’s an accountant, so as she works I’ll knock something together. Know the Big Green Egg barbecues? For my birthday/Christmas, I got one. Rain or shine, I’m out there.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “Mark Atkinson fancies himself as a joker at Gloucester. And Joe Simpson loves his dad jokes. There’s not so much pranks. Adam Radwan is a top prankster! The car thing at Falcons (see Downtime with Adam Radwan) is the best bit of humour I’ve experienced at a club.”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. The chilled Gloucester, Scotland and Lions back talks new skills and hot grills in his own words Inside the mind of Gloucester, Scotland and Lions centre Chris Harris“It’s my worst nightmare getting random people to speak to me! At uni I did a random job with Metro Radio – I was doing those annoying questionnaires on the street. I must have done one and then snuck off to a coffee shop, called my grandma and grandad and just sort of made the rest of them up.” “When I was younger I did a few sevens tours with the Wailers, and the best was in Amsterdam. But they don’t stay there. Every year they go to a nightclub out of town where they love it.” Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more

Kenyan faith leaders urge calm after court indicts politicians

first_img Rector Tampa, FL Priest Associate or Director of Adult Ministries Greenville, SC The Church Pension Fund Invests $20 Million in Impact Investment Fund Designed to Preserve Workforce Housing Communities Nationwide Church Pension Group [Ecumenical News International, Nairobi, Kenya] Faith leaders in Kenya called for calm after the International Criminal Court in The Hague committed to trial high-ranking politicians for crimes against humanity in connection with violence following elections in 2007.Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, fellow presidential candidate William Ruto, cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura and radio journalist Joshua Sang will be tried for an orchestrated campaign to displace, torture, and kill civilians. More than 1,200 people died and around 650,000 were left homeless in clashes in the Rift Valley, Nyanza, Nairobi and Central provinces.“We call for sobriety and restraint as Kenyans engage in discussion and interpretation of the decision and its ramifications,” said the Rev. Peter Karanja, an Anglican priest and general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, in a statement on Jan. 23.The council in 2009 urged the court to investigate the violence, following failure by the government to establish a local justice system to deal with the causes.The unrest began as clashes between supporters of presidential candidates Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga.Kibaki, the current president, who is of the Kikuyu community, was declared the winner, while Odinga, currently the prime minister, from the Luo people, alleged the vote had been rigged. The clashes ended after Kofi Annan, the former U.N. general secretary, brokered a peace deal, in which the two agreed to form a coalition government.Ahead of the announcement, Christian and Muslim leaders had called for peace, expressing concern that the violence could recur.“We should never allow what happened in 2007 to repeat itself again. We must accept one another and live in peace,” said Cardinal John Njue in Kajiado, near Nairobi, on Jan. 22.Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala urged citizens to remain calm and allow the law to take its own course. He called for acceptance of the outcome and support for the court’s process.Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, organizing secretary of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, said, “I urge Kenyans to accept the outcome. This should not be used to say that those who have been indicted are guilty,” he said.The faith groups had been leading peace and reconciliation work. Peace committees in the villages urged the communities to forgive each other. Rector Bath, NC Rector Smithfield, NC Curate (Associate & Priest-in-Charge) Traverse City, MI Family Ministry Coordinator Baton Rouge, LA This Summer’s Anti-Racism Training Online Course (Diocese of New Jersey) June 18-July 16 Assistant/Associate Priest Scottsdale, AZ By Fredrick NzwiliPosted Jan 24, 2012 Featured Jobs & Calls Director of Administration & Finance Atlanta, GA New Berrigan Book With Episcopal Roots Cascade Books Rector Hopkinsville, KY AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to PrintFriendlyPrintFriendlyShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis Submit an Event Listing Join the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Celebrating the Pauli Murray Feast Online Worship Service June 27 In-person Retreat: Thanksgiving Trinity Retreat Center (West Cornwall, CT) Nov. 24-28 Associate Rector for Family Ministries Anchorage, AK Africa, Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Virtual Prayer Vigil for World Refugee Day Facebook Live Prayer Vigil June 20 @ 7 p.m. ET Anglican Communion Submit a Job Listing Youth Minister Lorton, VA Remember Holy Land Christians on Jerusalem Sunday, June 20 American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem Course Director Jerusalem, Israel Seminary of the Southwest announces appointment of two new full time faculty members Seminary of the Southwest Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Hires Reverend Kevin W. VanHook, II as Executive Director Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Rector Martinsville, VA Press Release Service Rector Washington, DC Inaugural Diocesan Feast Day Celebrating Juneteenth San Francisco, CA (and livestream) June 19 @ 2 p.m. PT An Evening with Presiding Bishop Curry and Iconographer Kelly Latimore Episcopal Migration Ministries via Zoom June 23 @ 6 p.m. ET Tags Assistant/Associate Rector Morristown, NJ Assistant/Associate Rector Washington, DC Priest-in-Charge Lebanon, OH TryTank Experimental Lab and York St. John University of England Launch Survey to Study the Impact of Covid-19 on the Episcopal Church TryTank Experimental Lab Missioner for Disaster Resilience Sacramento, CA Rector Shreveport, LA The Church Investment Group Commends the Taskforce on the Theology of Money on its report, The Theology of Money and Investing as Doing Theology Church Investment Group An Evening with Aliya Cycon Playing the Oud Lancaster, PA (and streaming online) July 3 @ 7 p.m. ET Curate Diocese of Nebraska Associate Rector Columbus, GA Episcopal Church releases new prayer book translations into Spanish and French, solicits feedback Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs Rector Collierville, TN Ya no son extranjeros: Un diálogo acerca de inmigración Una conversación de Zoom June 22 @ 7 p.m. ET Virtual Episcopal Latino Ministry Competency Course Online Course Aug. 9-13 Bishop Diocesan Springfield, IL Associate Priest for Pastoral Care New York, NY Cathedral Dean Boise, ID Featured Events Rector/Priest in Charge (PT) Lisbon, ME Rector Knoxville, TN Submit a Press Release Rector (FT or PT) Indian River, MI Director of Music Morristown, NJ Rector Pittsburgh, PA Canon for Family Ministry Jackson, MS Rector and Chaplain Eugene, OR Virtual Celebration of the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center Zoom Conversation June 19 @ 12 p.m. ET Rector Albany, NY Rector Belleville, IL Kenyan faith leaders urge calm after court indicts politicianslast_img read more