Help shape the future of Rugby World

first_imgIf you are interested email [email protected] you like to receive a weekly email newsletter from Rugby World? Click here http://bit.ly/pFfVJm Rugby World is undertaking a thorough review and we’d like you to be a part of the process.Could you attend a Focus Group on Monday October 24th in London (near Waterloo) from 5.45pm? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 03: The All Blacks warm up during a New Zealand All Blacks IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 training session at Trusts Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)last_img

Three years to RWC 2015

first_imgPaul Vaughan, the former Chief Executive was surprisingly replaced in his role by Debbie Jevans, the former Director of Sport for Locog in early September, and Cosslett explained that Jevans was installed as the new CEO due to the unique experience she gained at London 2012. “We had a very strong experience in rugby within the team, we had event management experience but we didn’t have the dimension that Debbie brings which was the exposure to other sports and the level of expertise you will only find with something of the magnitude of the Olympics and Paralympics. In every respect she brings new value to the team that Paul wasn’t in a position to do because he hasn’t got that experience.” With Stuart Lancaster, Ian Ritchie and Bill Beaumont all hailing from Yorkshire and Lancashire, there is support from within the RFU to ‘do the right thing’ and attract fans from outside rugby’s traditional outposts, with a particular onus on showcasing the sport in the North. Taking a home Test away from South West London has also been mooted for the first time since Old Trafford hosted an England international in 1998. Discussing the matter, England 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett said. “There is a tremendous appetite for making sure this World Cup gets to as many corners of the country as we can take it. Taking it out of the traditional rugby strongholds, where we are fighting the battle against Premier League football teams is a priority. If we’ve done our job properly we’ll engage the whole population of England. ”Ticketing policyER 2015 has guaranteed the IRB a profit of £80m, and the organisers admitted the had targeted at least a £100m profit. To achieve this, they will have to shift 2.9m tickets, matching, or exceeding the near full occupancy rates achieved at 2007 and 2011 World Cup. This has resulted in only Twickenham, Welford Road and Kingsholm being considered among traditional rugby grounds. An existing shortlist of 20 stadiums will be whittled down to 10 or 11 in the next month. It was also confirmed that the Millennium Stadium would host matches with Wales playing at least two matches in Cardiff.Change at the top © Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images 2012 – Left to Right: Andy Cosslett & Brett Gosper with the Webb Ellis Cup Rugby World Cup – England 2015 – ‘3 Years to Go’ – Press conference – Webb Ellis House – Twickenham – London – 17/09/2012 – UK – All rights reserved The countdown is on: Three years today the 2015 Rugby World Cup will kick offBy Owain Jones, Editor, Rugby WorldTODAY MARKS three years to the kick-off of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. With that timely milestone, those tasked with bringing the tournament to millions of rugby fans convened at Webb Ellis House, Twickenham, to give the public an update on progress towards the world’s third biggest sporting event. In a frank and wide ranging discussion, several topics were discussed.Using the Olympic StadiumLeading men: ER 2015 Chairman Andy Cosslett (left) and IRB CEO Brett Gosper at Webb Ellis HouseWith the nation still glowing after a phenomenally successful Olympics and Paralympics, England 2015’s chief operating officer Ross Young stated that the organizing committee was having ongoing discussions about the viability of hosting World Cup games at the iconic Olympic Stadium. “We would be mad not to include it as part of our thinking. Unfortunately there’s still a bit of uncertainty about what exactly is going to happen with regard to full-time landlords for Olympic Park, but we have engaged with the London Legacy Development Corporation from the very early part of this year.”Taking the World Cup to the North LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Championship blog: Round 6 round-up

first_imgAnd finally…Don’t miss this week’s top of the table clash when London Welsh take on Bristol at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday, 2.30pm kick off. OXFORD, ENGLAND – MAY 04: Gordon Ross of London Welsh kicks a penalty during the Aviva Premiership match between London Welsh and Worcester Warriors at the Kassam Stadium on May 04, 2013 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images) There were no damp squibs at Brickfields either on Saturday with 10 tries in this pulsating encounter. Despite outscoring the hosts by six tries to four, it took Bryan Rennie’s 80th minute try to secure the points for Bristol. However, Chris Elder had the final word for Plymouth with a 40-metre penalty to bring up Albion’s second bonus point. The game produced two try hat-tricks: Tom Bowen for Plymouth and George Watkins for Bristol.Rotherham 25, Jersey 16Three first half tries were enough to bag for points for the Titans at Clifton Lane on Saturday, although head coach Lee Blackett was disappointed that his charges failed to notch the bonus point. But it could have been much worse for Rotherham, as Mark McCrea dropped the ball in the act of scoring for Jersey, and it took Pablo Socino’s 80th minute penalty to make the game safe for the Yorkshiremen.Cornish Pirates 16, London Scottish 8Two tries by Pirates’ scrum half Tom Kessell was enough to consign Scottish to their second consecutive league defeat at the Mennaye Field on Friday night. The Exiles’ skipper Mark Bright blamed his teams error count and said: “We were outmuscled to be honest. We couldn’t get gain lines and compounded it by making error after error.”Battle of the basement: Ealing 6, Moseley 15Not only did Moseley notch their first GKIPA Championship win in this dogfight at Vallis Way on Friday night, but they also managed to ensure that their hosts are yet to record their first league point. A try either side of half time in reply to two first half Tom Wheatcroft penalties was sufficient.More blues for Bedford: Nottingham 26, Bedford 24In a game lacking the quality of last season’s Championship semi-final when the two sides last met, Bedford looked to have done enough to record their second league win when James Pritchard knocked over a late penalty only for Matt Jarvis to win it with a last gasp effort. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The Greene King IPA Championship: Here’s you’re next instalment from England’s competitive second tierAll three of the division’s frontrunners were made to work desperately hard to maintain their status with only Rotherham able deny their opponents a losing bonus point, albeit with the clock on zero.Leeds 24, London Welsh 31— Featured MatchThere were plenty of fireworks at Headingley with three tries from Leeds in 10 minutes either side of the interval before London Welsh ignited in the final quarter to recover from a 12-point deficit for the second time this season.The Welsh were as cut up as large sections of the Headingley turf when referee Mr Steve Lee ran beneath the posts in the 50th minute after their fifth scrum infringement.Alex Lowozski’s conversion stretched the home side’s lead to 24-12 and an upset looked on the cards.But aside from having major problems at the scrum, Welsh created a host of opportunities in the first half but squandered all bar two with inaccurate handling and poor decision-making.Bad day at the office: Gordon RossWelsh finally got on the scoreboard after 28 minutes when loosehead Nathan Trevitt finished off a handling move involving the entire front row to cross in the corner. Two minutes later Nick Scott dotted down in exactly the same place, when Welsh tapped and went from a penalty. Scrum half Alex Davies replaced the normally metronomic Gordon Ross, unsuccessful from four attempts at goal, and converted from the touchline.The Leeds response was immediate with Fred Burdon on hand to finish off a fine break from Stevie McColl in the last minute of the first half; and when Lowozski knocked over the extras, to add to his second minute penalty, it was game on.The second period had barely begun before Callum Green barrelled over to round off another fine piece of work from McColl.When Welsh made wholesale changes following the penalty try, there was a reversal of fortunes at scrum time. Davies converted a penalty before Scott exploited soft-shouldered Leeds tackling to bring the Exiles within a score. Davies added three further penalties — including a rocket from wide on the halfway line on the stroke of time — to complete the renaissance.Plymouth 31, Bristol 38last_img read more

15 reasons to buy the new issue of Rugby World

first_img– / 15Credits: Getty ImagesmoreShowing image 1 of 15 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS We talk through some of the best features in the November issue of Rugby World TAGS: Highlight center_img The latest issue of Rugby World is out now and we’ve put together 15 reasons why we think you should pick up a copy. From big-name interviews, professional advice and expert analysis, there is plenty to interest you in the November edition. These are our first XV, if you like, and for a full list of contents click here. Find out how to download the digital edition here or your local stockists can be found here. For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.last_img

Part 4: Day of reckoning

first_imgTo find out how to upgrade to Windows 10 go to www.windows.com/10. Our proud blogger Kevin Eason finally plays his first game of rugby This is a Rugby World advertorial.In the fourth and final part of the series in conjunction with Windows 10 and written in his own words, Rugby World welcomes #therugbybeginner.WEEK FOURI wake and open one eye. Outside it’s misty and the sun is threatening to break through. As the brain starts to click into gear, I’m hit by a jolt. Today is game day. Within minutes, I’m showered and changed. Sitting with my son at the breakfast table checking my social feeds on my Surface Pro 3, trying to keep my mind off the battering I’ll be taking later.With a kitbag full of more gear than I’d probably ever need, I walked into Westcliff RFC clubhouse to be greeted by a wall of silver; cups, trophies and statuettes of rugby players who’d forged the history of the club stared back at me through the glass trophy cabinet. No pressure, I thought.As I entered the changing room, Westcliff’s home shirts were piled in a heap on the floor. I made straight for the quiet corner of the dressing room, mumbling my hellos to my fellow team-mates. Lucas the vice captain and stand-in captain for today’s game beckoned me over and asked me to pull up the moves he’d showed me at training on the Surface Pro 3 for one last refresher session.Using the Surface Pen, Lucas pulled up Microsoft Edge, found a clip of the All Blacks from the Rugby World Cup final and drew the lines of running and defensive sets he wanted. ‘Gainline’, ‘front-foot ball’, ‘kick-chase’. He was carrying on like I was actually playing. I had to ask him to repeat the line-up when my name was mentioned. Oh lord, I was actually starting. This is really happening!The changing room started to fill up with fellow squad members. With just two training sessions under my belt I was playing ahead of other far better players than me. Was this some kind of wind-up?I joked about starting a game with such little experience, hoping that someone would pat me on the back and say it was just a bit of banter. Sadly, the punchline never came. “This is what rugby’s all about, mate. You’ve got to start somewhere, haven’t you? We’ll look after you.” The boys were so cheerful that it actually gave me some newfound confidence ahead of the game. It instantly made me feel part of the team.Before this I’d played for loads of Sunday league football teams where I’d had to train for months before even coming on as sub.Rugby seemed to have a special camaraderie that I’d not experienced in other sports. I head out to the pitch filled with optimism and healthy dose of pre-match nerves. Okay, I felt sick… Before kick-off we linked arms in a circle and the captain ran over our roles slapping us on the back, geeing us up. Our togetherness turned into passion. The team-talk had done the job. We were ready. I can’t wait for the whistle.With that, we’re off. The centres and fullback constantly shout instructions to help me out with my positioning. I’m learning on the job and soaking it all up. It’s sink or swim. I touch the ball a few times in the first-half, make a few passes and even a few tackles. I’m clattered into the mud on a few occasions but I’m holding my own.After taking on some liquid at the break and catching some breath, we run over some tactics for the second-half with all the replacements shouting their support.Lucas asked me how I felt? “Like a little kid at Christmas.” I replied. He reminded me of what we went through on the Surface Pro 3 and the calls I should be looking out for.The second-half flew by as quickly as the first and despite more touches, I’m disappointed not to get on the score sheet. When the final whistle goes, I’m chuffed. I’d got through my first ever game of rugby without any broken bones! The boys shouted ‘well done, Kev,” and said I hadn’t looked out of place. They were being kind.Sadly, we lost, but leaving the pitch we were clapped and cheered through a tunnel by our rivals, Chelmsford RFC, before we returned the gesture. Minutes earlier we’d been trying to knock each other into next week!Showered and changed, we went into the clubhouse for a beer with the opposition and had a laugh. I was really beginning to take to this strange game. In fact, I wish I’d taken it up years ago!So that’s it. My Windows 10 and Rugby World assignment completed. From complete beginner to rugby devotee in a matter of weeks. All I could say was a thanks to the World Cup, Windows 10, Rugby world and everyone at Westcliff Rugby Club for their patience and kindness.Now to get some rest and prepare for next week’s training with my L-plates off. No regrets. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Saints and Sinners: The weekend’s talking points

first_imgWelsh wizard: Jonathan Davies on the attack for Clermont against Exeter. (Photo: Getty Images)French lesson Clermont Auvergne were taught a lesson by Exeter Chiefs in the European Champions Cup last weekend and they paid the English club back in kind on Sunday, beating them 42-10 at the Stade Marcel Michelin to keep their Pool One hopes well and truly alive.Exeter scored an early penalty as Clermont had a player sin-binned, but far from conceding points when they were down a man, they scored 13 of their own. David Strettle and Jonathan Davies both scored excellent tries as Clermont turned their power, pace and precision settings up to 100%, but the Man of the Match was lock Sebastien Vahaamahina, part of a Clermont pack which marmalised the Chiefs at the breakdown. And if there was an award for having the most a’s in your name… Unstoppable: Sofiane Guitoune is set to score, with Sam Davies pursuing in vain. (Photo: Getty Images)Christmas giftHunting for a try-scoring chance inside the Bordeaux-Begles 22, Ospreys centre Sam Davies threw a long pass to Dan Evans, but it was a tad too high for him to gather and Sofiane Guitoune needed no second invitation to pluck the ball out of the air and race 80 metres to score. Pierre Bernard’s conversion gave Bordeaux Begles a 25-7 lead – a far cry from the 18-14 scoreline the Ospreys had been chasing when they attacked. Try, try, try again: Chris Ashton on his way to a hat-trick. (Photo: Getty Images)Happy Chris-mas Saracens wing Chris Ashton will be feeling extra festive this week after scoring a hat-trick of tries in his club’s 55-13 trouncing of Oyonnax in Champions Cup Pool One. He nipped over in a tight space for the first, latched onto a lovely grubber kick from Owen Farrell for the second and strode over from a few yards out on the right for the third.Saracens scored eight tries in all. Alex Goode wove his way through the defence from just inside halfway for his try, Jamie George cut a fine line for his, and Mike Ellery picked up a loose ball in his own half for another.The English club have 19 from a possible 20 after their four wins and second-placed Ulster are trailing a full ten points behind them in the Pool One table, with two games to play. Saracens are in impressive form. The chaseMy chief Saint from Leicester’s 17-6 win over Munster in Pool Four is not a try-scorer, but a try-saver. With 61 minutes on the clock the Tigers led 10-6 and were attacking the Munster line, when Francis Saili picked up a loose ball and set off to sprint the length of the pitch for what looked like being a crucial try. However, the Tigers full-back Telusa Veainu had other ideas and chased a seemingly lost cause, catching the centre a few metres short and after Saili passed to a team-mate, Leicester won a penalty. Four minutes later Niki Goneva was scoring the Tigers’ second try for a 17-6 lead and Leicester secured the win which sees them topping their pool with four victories out of four. Dented hopes Bath No 8 Dave Denton made a costly error 15 minutes into the clash with Wasps, losing the ball as he tried to pass out of contact to set Anthony Watson free. Instead, Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson grabbed the ball and put Elliot Daly away for a try which took Wasps from 7-3 down to 10-7 up. They did not go behind again in this game. No stopping him: Jimmy Gopperth defies the tacklers to score a try. (Photo: Getty Images) Record runIt wasn’t the prettiest of games, but Gloucester’s 27-13 win over Worcester in round four of the Challenge Cup was significant in that it was the Cherry and Whites’ 13th consecutive win in the competition, which sets a new record for the second tier European competition. Can Gloucester keep rolling all the way to the final again this season? It is not just try-scorers who get the plaudits this week – a few pieces of brilliant defending also proved crucial in the fourth round of European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches. The SaintsTen out of ten for the ten Jimmy Gopperth produced a masterclass of fly-half play in Wasps’ 36-10 away win at Bath in Pool Five of the European Champions Cup, earning the Man of the Match award. The New Zealander used his close-quarter strength in the face of a treble tackle to score a try, kicked four penalties and three conversions without missing a chance from the tee, stepped past Guy Mercer to break the line and set up his team’s final try for Alapati Leiua and flung glorious passes to his backs all afternoon.His team-mate Elliot Daly also had a magnificent game and scored the first try, then added a late drop-goal. Someone who wore the No 13 jersey to great effect in his time, BT Sport pundit Brian O’Driscoll, said Daly had been “fantastic in everything he’s done”. With new England coach Eddie Jones in the crowd at the Recreation Ground, Daly picked a good day to play a blinder. Dynamic Duo Casey Laulala and Marc Andreu enabled Racing 92 to maintain their unbeaten record in Champions Cup Pool Three when they held up Northampton’s Jamie Elliott on the line as the centre attempted to score a potentially match-winning try in the 68th minute.The duo spared Dan Carter’s blushes as George Pisi had charged down an attempted clearance from Racing’s star man and Elliott – playing his 100th game for the Saints – had grabbed the loose ball, with the try-line at his mercy. Laulala and Andreu wrapped him up and stopped him hitting the ground and from the resulting scrum, Racing earned a penalty and cleared their lines.The match ended in a 9-9 draw, which was a better outcome for the French visitors than it was for the Saints. Up to the ChallengeThe Dragons, Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons all picked up valuable wins in the Challenge Cup. Quins scored a magnificent nine tries to beat Calvisano 59-7. They had only led 14-7 at the break, but raced to victory in the second half with Ben Botica scoring one of the tries and converting seven, to be named Man of the Match. Harlequins now have a perfect 20 points from four wins and are top of Pool Three. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Losing streakThree-times European top dogs Leinster are in anything but champion form at the moment and they suffered their fifth straight Champions Cup defeat when Toulon beat them 20-16 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. It is the Irish province’s worst run in their 140-game European competition history. They had led the French visitors 16-5 at half-time but could not build on that advantage. Points make prizesThe Ospreys staged a great fightback against Bordeaux-Begles in Champions Cup Pool Two and although they fell short of snatching a win, they gleaned two bonus points which mean they are top of the pool table.Trailing 25-10 at half-time, the Welsh side scored tries through Eli Walker, Alun Wyn Jones and Man of the Match Dan Biggar, who intercepted a pass from Baptiste Serin and raced 60 metres for the touchdown which clinched the bonus points with six minutes to go.As well as Biggar, who scored 12 points and continued his great form, Hanno Dirksen deserves to be among the Saints for the tackle-busting break he made to set up Jones’s try. The SinnersKnock it offDear Father Christmas, instead of bringing me a present this year, would you please ask rugby referees to stop sin-binning players for everything they judge to be a deliberate knock-on?This was one of my major bugbears last season and on Saturday Romain Poite yellow-carded Semisa Rokoduguni for this offence, when it looked to me like the Bath wing was simply getting ready to wrap his arms around Joe Launchbury in a tackle, just as the lock was taking a pass from James Haskell. In my book it was a simple knock-on, end of.Luckily the sin-binning didn’t affect the result as Wasps were already 29-10 up in their Champions Cup clash at the Recreation Ground, with only nine minutes left to play. TAGS: HighlightWasps Ulster double Ulster achieved a rare feat by beating Toulouse in Europe for the second time in as many weeks, defeating them 25-22 at the Stade Ernest Wallon, to stay in contention in Champions Cup Pool One. Ruan Pienaar was named Man of the Match, but the centre partnership of Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey also shone for the Irish province, with Marshall’s 75th minute try proving decisive and McCloskey making a superb break to put Andrew Trimble over in the corner in the first half.Ulster have made a great recovery from their 27-9 home loss to Saracens in November. And the winner is…Racing 92 fly-half Dan Carter kicked three points in his club’s 9-9 Champions Cup draw with Northampton Saints, but still had a win to celebrate this weekend as he won the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award. The World Cup winner is only the second rugby player to lift the trophy in 55 years, following in the footsteps of the late, great Jonah Lomu, who won it 20 years ago. Daft Delon Delon Armitage gave away the stupidest of penalties, charging shoulder first into the back of Eoin Reddan well after the Leinster scrum-half had passed the ball, and even longer after referee Wayne Barnes had blown the whistle for what would have been a knock-on against Leinster. As it was, the decision was changed to a penalty against Toulon and Johnny Sexton kicked it to put the Irish side 16-5 up at half-time. But Sir! Dan Biggar remonstrates with Luke Pearce. (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)Too late LukeReferee Luke Pearce was at the centre of a controversial moment during the Ospreys’ 33-27 loss at Bordeaux-Begles. The Welsh side were trailing 25-10 when Eli Walker scored a try ten minutes into the second half, but just as Dan Biggar swung his boot to kick the conversion, Pearce shouted at him to wait because he had decided to check the try with the TMO. It was too late for Biggar to pull out of the kick and the ball sailed through the posts, but the two points were chalked off while Pearce checked the legitimacy of the try.He then ruled that the score was good, asked an incensed Biggar to take the conversion again and this time the outside-half missed.Fortunately those two points did not prove crucial, but it was a bad piece of officiating from Pearce. Once a kicker has started his run-up to take a conversion, play has re-started, so surely that should be the point at which a referee’s chance to use the TMO to check a try is gone, rather than a nano-second before boot connects with ball.As an aside, it was good to see Romain Poite trust his own judgement a couple of times during the Bath v Wasps match, when the TV pundits were calling for him to use the TMO. He was right in both instances. Tumbling act: Kyle Sinckler celebrated his try with a head-over-heels. (Photo: Getty Images)The Dragons top Pool Two after winning 34-17 at Pau. Jason Tovey picked up the Man of the Match award after scoring 19 points. Pau deserve to be among the Sinners, as they are winless after four matches.Newcastle upset the odds in Pool One to beat leaders Connacht 29-5. Marcus Watson scored two of the Falcons’ tries and lock Sean Robinson was Man of the Match. Despite this big defeat, Connacht remain top of the pool by two points from Newcastle.Demetri Catrakilis of Montpellier also deserves a mention for landing the stoppage-time conversion which gave his team a 23-22 home win over Cardiff Blues in Pool Three of the Challenge Cup.last_img read more

The greatest wingers of all time: Gerald Davies

first_img Major teams: Llanelli, Cambridge University, London Welsh, CardiffCountry: WalesTest span: 1966-78Wales caps: 46 (46 starts)Lions caps: 5 (5 starts)Test points: 81 (23T)Such was Davies’ fame during the late Sixties and Seventies that he was known by a single name: Gerald.With a heavy moustache, jet-black locks and a jackhammer sidestep, Davies was a debonair figure who in a split-second could thrust himself through the tightest of midfield gaps. He was also an instinctive finisher, often leaping like a salmon to dot down inside the corner flag with millimetres to spare.One of his more devastating performances came in a cup tie for Cardiff against Pontypool when, despite seeing little ball, he scored four tries. A star turn for Cardiff and London Welsh between 1965 and 1974, it was on the international stage that Davies made his name.  Early in his Wales career, he played as a centre until coach Clive Rowlands encouraged him to move to the wing in 1969, where he played with such poise until his final game. Gerald Davies of Wales runs with the ball during the Welsh tour to Australia. An academic scholar who spent three years at Cambridge reading English, Davies refused to tour South Africa in 1974 in protest at apartheid. It came as no surprise that in his retirement he pursued a successful career in journalism with The Times and latterly sports administration with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Lions. Now 70, he’s chairman of the Guinness Pro12.To find out who made the list of the greatest wingers to play the game, click here.To see the greatest players of all time, click here. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: The Greatest Players Davies played in three Grand Slam campaigns, 1971, 1976 and 1978 – one of only six Welsh players to achieve this feat. John Dawes, his captain on the 1971 Lions tour said: “He was a magical man to have in your team because he could turn a game with one run. Some of the tries he scored were breathtaking.”Davies was one of many who further enhanced his reputation with the Lions, touring against the Springboks in 1968 and the All Blacks in 1971, where he crossed the whitewash on three occasions and helped the Lions to their only Test-series win in New Zealand. Welsh winger Gerald Davies is one of the greatest players to have ever graced the field last_img read more

Hong Kong hope Global Rapid Rugby will fire the Asian game

first_imgHong Kong hope their South China Tigers side can help a new format of the game catch alight in Asia. This feature first appeared in Rugby World magazine at the end of May LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Line of fire: The Tigers defend against the Western Force (Getty Images) Slatem admits “chaos rugby” does suit Hong Kong, who will never be the most monstrously large side. It’s a good thing GRR has some chaos-friendly laws then!The format is unconventional, with nine-point power tries, time limits on set-piece, punishments for kicking the ball out, rolling subs and a 70-minute run-time. The product is, well, rapid, with a high ball-in-play time. Hammond says: “It’s made us think a little bit more outside the box.” The group will go back to the ARC eventually, reverting to the game’s typical laws – though they feel the side will inevitably evolve thanks to GRR.Some hope the league’s bosses will be disrupters, that rugby needs another big shake-up. But it will take time.According to Matt Hodgson, who was a stalwart for the Force and now works alongside Forrest at GRR: “What we don’t want to do is have a one-year plan or a two-year plan. We want this to be a long-established competition which is fruitful for the regions we’re going into.”Enjoying themselves: During one of the lung-busting matches (Getty Images)World Rugby have sanctioned this new, wild ride for ten years, and with the governing body vocal about wanting to change laws to improve player welfare, they will be monitoring how GRR goes.When asked if he understands fears for the league’s stability following failure to launch a full package first time round, Hodgson insists they had to replan for every eventuality – and will still do so.He says there’s market research being conducted in the Pacific Islands to find fair ticket pricing. They’re looking at how to mix educating some in Asia about the game with putting on a spectacle for those who can’t care less about rugby. And you must appeal to the uninitiated.Which brings back in wing Ma Chong. The Tigers coaches say the China Sevens skipper is “electric in space”. But he has very little knowledge of 15s, with the abbreviated game much bigger at home. He was also brought southward because – although a promising talent – he can help rugby’s spread in China.Related: Can the Premiership make an impact in China?“The China angle is a huge part of what we’re trying to do,” says Hong Kong CEO Robbie McRobbie. “There’s lots of talk about development in China but it’s a very complicated place and it’s a very, very complicated rugby market.“The Greater Bay Area – between Hong Kong, southern China and Macau – has a population of 67m people. They speak Cantonese, there’s more similarity of culture shared and in terms of logistics, there’s a recent bridge and there’s a high-speed train, so the movement of people in the area is much easier.“The dream scenario is that GRR becomes the catalyst for developing Asian rugby. Having Fiji, Samoa and hopefully Tonga involved going forward is fantastic, for the Force it makes a lot of sense and a team out of the Northern Territories in Australia could work. But for Asia, there is already a rich rugby culture in Sri Lanka, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and it can be built in China.Slinging it: during a drill at training (via HKRFU)“Without it, I don’t really see Asian rugby being competitive going forward.”McRobbie reckons this competition needs at least five years before people can expect to see the “fruits of what it can produce”. But he is grateful that Forrest has put his money where his mouth is and kick-started something.Yet the CEO believes GRR needs hard work from all sides. “Andrew’s recent statements make this clear: he’s prepared to put money in as long as people get behind it. I respect that. He’s ponying up a lot of cash but if communities in the Asia-Pacific region don’t embrace this, don’t get excited about it, you can’t expect him to keep pouring money in. People must build on the foundation he’s generously put in place.”Now concluded, the Force won the Asian showcase in early May. But Hong Kong are happy with the start. With their ERP foundations in place, in both rugby and business terms, they hope they can now construct something even greater.We will see how rapid the process is.center_img Hong Kong hope Global Rapid Rugby will fire the Asian gameAS kids play touch on the pitch just metres away, lock Fin Field is maintaining his flow of chatter in Mandarin. Several times he stops to throw an aside in English our way, before switching back again. It’s good practice for him because with a contact-heavy session ahead for the South China Tigers here at Kowloon’s King’s Park, he may have to run a few translations for his Chinese team-mate Ma Chong.Welcome to a night’s training with one of Asia’s freshest rugby franchises for the aptly named Global Rapid Rugby.You may have heard of the new… well, let’s call it a rugby concept rather than a league. The brainchild of Australian mining billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, the competition has its rootsin the movement to save the Western Force from rugby oblivion. With the Perth outfit being booted out of Super Rugby in 2018, Forrest made moves to create a new Asia-Pacific competition. The game he wanted to see in it was deliberately and totally different.Suddenly the region was abuzz with the prospect of taking pro rugby into their own heartlands; to give the area’s game the foot-up it desperately desires. In 2019 we were promised an eight-team event with sides competing for a Grand Final prize pot of Aus$1m (£550,000).This was not possible with such a tight turnaround, with only the Singapore-tied Asia Pacific Dragons and Hong Kong’s South China Tigers able to put up a team against the Western Force from the start. Instead, a ‘showcase’ began with a World XV-Force opener. There were also hopes Currie Cup’s Falcons would parachute into a base in Malaysia later in the showcase. It never happened.The Tigers roared into action, though.Local attraction: The new team’s mascot (Getty Images)“We’re just happy it got off the ground really,” says Tigers head coach Craig Hammond before training fully kicks off. “Really, it all got chucked together pretty quickly. This is the opportunity we need for our guys to improve week in, week out. We couldn’t do that (before).“We’d just finished our domestic club season and then we’ve got the Asia Rugby Championships (played over late May and June). So we need these games. If we can live at this intensity with the Force and Pacific Dragons, it would put us in good stead for the Hong Kong national team playing the Malaysias and Koreas in the ARC.”And this, in rugby terms at least, is why a new league is perfect for Hong Kong.It’s likely you know of rugby in the are thanks to the world-renowned Hong Kong sevens. You might know the men’s national team were in the repêchage for the final place at the 2019 World Cup, with that spot eventually taken by Canada. You might even know of Hong Kong’s six-team men’s Premiership.What you might not know is that a few years back, Hong Kong set up their Elite Rugby Programme (ERP) alongside their sevens and women’s programmes – a full-time scheme for the national team players and club guys waiting to qualify. Effectively, the Test group went pro.A night at training: The team listen intently to coaches (via HKRFU)But the old, patchy season structure meant some played Tests following a break after the club season and others straddled Hong Kong’s push to make the World Sevens Series and then ARC.This unpredictable new event fills a gap. A new brand was created, with new kit to wear, and for the showcase they got to welcome in more stars of the club game, as well as former England wing Tom Varndell, Fiji’s Samisoni Viriviri and two mainland Chinese players.According to Tigers’ co-captain Liam Slatem, the new competition has added some pep to Hong Kong’s step.“It’s exciting,” says the scrum-half. “In the ARC you will play against similar opposition. Korea and Malaysia like to play a chaos brand of rugby. Then you come up against the Western Force and they have a mean pack, decent backs and you don’t know what you’re coming up against because this one guy can run over your whole team and that guy can sidestep anyone. It’s just different, really.“We need the step up, 100%, but we’re not too far away. In the repêchage, we let touch-and-go moments slip. Against opposition like that once or twice a year, you either convert chances or you’re at the other end of the scoreboard.“No disrespect to Korea and Malaysia, but you can make mistakes against them. Make them against the Force and you are punished and clawing back into it.” This feature first appeared in Rugby World magazine at the end of May.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest rugby news.last_img read more

Hotshot: Northampton Saints wing Ollie Sleightholme

first_imgThe England U20 speedster talks basics, goals and the influence of his dad When did you link up with Saints? I was first selected at 13 or 14. I was dropped at 16 and I played for East Midlands, but they picked me back up six months later.What are your goals? By this time next year, I’d like to have played more Premiership games than this year and to get more starts.Who’s been the biggest influence on your career? My dad. He doesn’t like to get too involved but he gives advice if I ask.What do you do outside rugby? I’m doing a PT (personal training) course that will lead to a strength and conditioning qualification, and then that can lead on to a degree. I always try to do something to take my mind off everything.RW VERDICT: Sleightholme has represented England U18 and U20, and scored just 15 seconds into his Premiership debut against Wasps in late 2018. He is improving markedly with each game he gets under Saints boss Chris Boyd. This article originally appeared in the July 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Northampton Saints wing Ollie SleightholmeDate of birth 13 April 2000 Born Northampton Position Wing Club Saints Country EnglandHow old were you when you took up rugby? Six or seven, at my local club Northampton Old Scouts. It’s the same club Courtney Lawes and a few others started at.Was rugby a natural path as your dad, Jon, played for England? He never put pressure on me and didn’t take me to the club. A friend was playing and I said, “Dad, can I go?” He didn’t push it on me.What other sports did you play? Cricket and football, but as soon as I started rugby I fell in love with it and it took over. I just like how rugby is in general, the teamwork, a family outside your family.What positions have you played? I’ve played flanker and centre. Now I think I’ve found my place on the wing.Who was your childhood hero? I took a lot from my dad, even though I didn’t ever watch him play. Growing up, it was Shane Williams. I’m not the tallest, so he showed me from a young age that you didn’t have to be massive at the top end.What are you trying to improve? Everything. This is only my second year in a professional environment. It’s about getting the basics right. Look at the top players in the world – they’re not overly flamboyant, they are exceptional at the basics. That’s what makes them so good. Come to pass: Ollie Sleightholme has impressed for Saints (Getty Images) last_img read more

Jason White: How to put in monster tackles

first_imgThe former Sale and Scotland flanker on momentum-changing hits Hammered: White slams into Rob Sidoli in 2006 (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Jason White: How to put in monster tacklesThe former Scotland captain was known in his playing days as a hitman, relishing putting in match-halting tackles on opposition stars. So here are his tips for putting in your own momentum-changing hits.Get scanning“Make sure your spacing is correct in the defensive line and scan up to see what’s in front of you. Are you numbers down or up? That has a big influence on whether you’re going to shoot out to cut off the play or drift heavily. If numbers up, you’re in a positive position and can put on as much line speed as possible and get into the opposition space.”Team awarenss“With big hits, you’re going for it yourself. But you’ve developed an understanding with team-mates about who’s going to do it – not everybody in the team is going to shoot early. The biggest thing is having those conversations on the training ground to help each other out.”Proud as punch: White after beating Fiji in 2003 (Getty)Get shifting“You have to win the first five yards – it’s physical and mental. So it’s getting off the line as quickly as possible, getting low and driving. It’s a transfer of all the work you do in the gym. A bit of vanity and being in shape is great, but how does that gym work help you on the pitch? Your squats, jumps – it’s about getting that power from your legs to your shoulder and transferring that into the opposition ball-carrier.”center_img Related: Jason White relives his biggest hitsBe in charge of the tackle“Look to make shoulder contact around the midriff, the ribs. So just below the nipple either front- or side-on, then transferring that power. You can try to wrap one arm round and hook a leg up, to get them off balance. Or depending on the power you put through you could grab both legs, but then it’s about making sure you’re in charge of the tackle and can look after the person. Hitting them as hard as you can but ensuring they are safe.” This article originally appeared in the September 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more