Thomas Waldrom named Aviva Premiership Player of the Month

first_img Thomas Waldrom has been voted the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month.The Leicester Tigers number 8 was picked for December by a panel made up of rugby media representatives from print, TV, radio and the photographers.Rugby World editor Paul Morgan, who chairs the panel, commented: “Since arriving from New Zealand, Thomas has really lived up to his nickname of ‘The Tank’ marauding around the Aviva Premiership Rugby and contributing to his team’s recent impressive performances. He is world-class in the tight but what sets him apart is his love of the open spaces, where he is a sensational runner, and up there with the most consistent players in Europe. A very well deserved winner.”The powerful, ball carrying New Zealander renowned for his gutsy displays, has found real success at the base of the scrum playing a pivotal role in the Leicester pack and helping his team climb to the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.Thomas spoke of the pride he felt for being named December’s Player of the Month: “It is very special to win the award,” “It was unexpected but I will definitely take it. Heather Smith, Head of Sponsorship for Premiership Rugby sponsors Aviva added: “Thomas’ work ethic and attitude is symptomatic of Leicester Tigers approach to the game. He has been a consistent performer and who strives to give 100% in every match.” TAGS: Leicester Tigers LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “I feel like I have been playing some good rugby in a team that has been playing some good football and it is nice to get recognised.“It has been going really well for the team, we have worked hard and when we have had an injury people have stepped up but we know there is a long way to go.”Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “We knew we were signing a very good player when we brought Thomas in during the summer and I’m delighted that he’s settled so well. He has been playing well, he gives us a good balance in the back row, he is enjoying his rugby and his family like it here.”last_img read more

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Cullen to captain Ireland against Scotland

first_img21 Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster)22 Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster) 3 Tony Buckley (Sale)4 Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)5 Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster) Captain6 Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht)*7 Niall Ronan (Shannon/Munster)8 Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)Replacements16 Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)17 Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster)18 John Hayes (Bruff/Munster)19 Mick O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster)20 Kevin McLaughlin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) New skipper: Leinster lock Leo Cullen will lead Ireland against ScotlandVenue: Murrayfield, Date: Saturday 6 August, Kick-off: 1415 BSTCoverage: Live on BBC2, BBC Radio Scotland, Radio Ulster and BBC Sport websiteLEO CULLEN will captain Ireland in their first World Cup warm-up Test against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.It is the first time the second-row has captained his country and he will lead a side that contains two uncapped players in the match-day 22.Mike McCarthy starts the game at blindside flanker in his first Test appearance, while Felix Jones has been named amongst the replacements.Rob Kearney returns to start at full-back in what will be his first game since November having recovered from a knee injury. Fergus McFadden and Paddy Wallace form a new centre partnership with Andrew Trimble and Luke Fitzgerald named on the wings.Ireland Team to play Scotland, Saturday 6 August, Murrayfield 2.15pm15 Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)14 Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)13 Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)12 Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)First shot: Connacht’s Mike McCarthy is making his Test debut at blindside11 Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)10 Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)9 Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster)1 Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)2 Sean Cronin (Leinster)center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

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A little World Cup in Bristol

first_imgThe final will take place just six days before the real thing, however in our case a Tonga v Argentina final is a real possibility! LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Youth centre: the kids at Broad Plain RFC will be hosting their own World Cup tournament this month COME SEPTEMBER, all eyes will be focused on New Zealand 2011, where the big guns of rugby union will be slugging it out for the World Cup.Meanwhile, the live action will be taking place much closer to home, at Bristol South End (St John’s Lane) home of Broad Plain RFC, who will be hosting their very own Little World Cup for south Bristol schools’ tag rugby teams.Smooth moves: there will be plenty of good skills on displayThe club is working with Ashton Park School Sports Partnership to run a tag rugby league for children in Years Five and Six, through September and October to coincide with events on the other side of the world.The after-school tournament will run over four Monday evenings, with schools assigned a country drawn out of the hat on the first meeting.center_img Planning for the event is taking place right now, and schools will receive an invite when the new school term starts.Although the Little World Cup may lack the bone-crunching tackles of the much anticipated Antipodean showdown, we can expect plenty of pace, skill and competitive spirit, judging by schools’ performances at recent Broad Plain tournaments.last_img read more

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Aviva Premiership: Round 6 predictions

first_imgOur prediction: Written off already and not winning games in the tight final exchanges like seasons of old, Harlequins have not looked strong enough to deal with knocks and set-backs. However they stuck to their task manfully in Clermont last week and may have a little confidence, even if they have lost captain Chris Robshaw to England. Sale, in contrast, look strong and full of a team spirit that was missing last season. This will be close. Quins by 4Northampton Saints v SaracensOur prediction: This should be another teeth-rattler, but Saints are at home and even without George North, they face a big challenge of a Saracens team hunting a sixth straight win. Normally we would suggest Saracens would nip by in this, but logic be damned. Saints by 3London Wasps v Leicester TigersOur prediction: Marcos Ayerza returns any impressive young fly-half Owen Williams is brought in for Tigers to face Wasps who are boosted by returns for Eliot Daly, Tom Palmer and Ashley Johnson. Shame that nothing looks likely to change in Tigers’ mindset. Expect Wasps to start spectacularly and Tigers to claw it back. Leicester by 13 Impressive season so far: George Ford has played well and shown an assured boot. Will he keep Gloucester at bay?THE AVIVA Premiership is back after a fortnight of Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup where the English clubs involved may have had an alright time of it, verging into a pretty good time.So forgetting our absolute howlers so far in the prediction stakes, we jump back on the horse, break out the whip and hit ourselves over the head with it. More clairvoyant than us? Bring on your predictions…Bath v GloucesterOur prediction: West is best, we are told, and if ever there was a good-natured-but-really-not-that-good-natured-but-not-malicious-really game this is it. Bath have fared much better so far and while both have match winners and silky runners the issue is the pack for Gloucester. This one should come down to set-piece power. Bath by 4Exeter Chiefs v Worcester WarriorsOur prediction: Chiefs have been mixing it up with gritty play and break-out, blockbusting stuff and poor Worcester – and pity is a terrible thing to throw at a professional sports team – just can’t manufacture a great result for themselves. Chiefs by 16Stepping in for skips: Luke WallaceHarlequins v Sale Sharks LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Newcastle Falcons v London IrishOur prediction: Will the Exiles’ best player Marland Yarde being snuggly wrapped in cotton wool for England purposes knock Irish off their gait? Perhaps, though they have some individuals still capable of a madcap scramble. Instead expect Falcons half-backs Rory Clegg and Mike Blair to keep sending the ball back down into the corners where the home side’s back-row will want to snuffle anything too long, too short or on the floor. Falcons by 8last_img read more

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The rise of Exeter Chiefs

first_img Group hug: Exeter Chiefs celebrate during their 52-0 win over London Welsh earlier this season As Exeter welcome Saracens to Sandy Park, head coach Rob Baxter says that the Chiefs’ form this season is no miracle LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “They have an incredibly strong squad and like to build a brick wall. It’s a fantastic mental challenge for us: how much does it mean to us to stay second in the league? People talk about playing in finals or semi-finals and this is one of those games – it’s the sort of game you should dream about being involved in.”Saturday 29 November: Exeter v Saracens (4.30pm, Sandy Park) TAGS: Exeter Chiefs Centre of attention: Henry Slade has impressed in a midfield role this seasonThe Chiefs aren’t alone in selecting two natural tens in their back-line – Leicester, London Irish, Gloucester and Newcastle have all done so recently, not to mention England – but they do it better than anyone else. It helps that Slade is left-footed, but Exeter are particularly adept at switching play in midfield, keeping their options open to attack either side of a breakdown instead of going wide early.Their kicking, set-piece and out-to-in defence have all improved and they’re learning to back up emotionally-charged performances. After winning at Northampton, the next fixture with Wasps was just the banana skin that previously would have tripped them. Not now.Risk-reward balanceCrucially, too, their game management is showing signs of the maturity needed to notch those wins. Too often the Chiefs have coughed up soft points by being penalised when running and recycling the ball deep in their own half.A dash of pragmatism was needed and we’ve seen it this term, though not, says Baxter, because of any directive from the coaches. Rather, it is natural evolution, because with experience comes better decision-making. And with teams expecting Exeter to run from everywhere, sides have left space behind the line for the Chiefs to kick into.Exeter’s running ethos is firmly intact, however, and they remain a joy to watch and a beacon of positivity for the game at large.“To be successful as a club, you need something different in your DNA, something to hang your hat on,” says Baxter. “We try to play with ambition and score tries. There are reasons for that and number one is that I want to work with players who enjoy what they’re doing. We want to play to win matches, and train to improve, not play to avoid relegation and scrape through games 6-3.“If you set your stall out to be positive you’ll err on the side of danger. When we went to Leinster (in the Heineken Cup) we attacked them and attacked them and attacked them, and we very nearly won it. We attacked because it was a fantastic opportunity for the players to develop. To carry the ball, to make passes, to be involved in the game.”Boot boy: Gareth Steenson’s kicking is key to Exeter’s game planDream fixtureExeter have won just two of their previous nine meetings with Saracens, but the visitors have stumbled a little lately whilst Exeter are on a five-match winning streak in all competitions. Only Leicester have won at Sandy Park this season.“Our games against Saracens are always humdingers. They have tremendous physicality and are a very hard-working unit. They pride themselves on not making mistakes and a lot of their qualities are ones we like to instil in our own team. AS CHRISTMAS rushes towards us, what are the standout stories in this season’s Aviva Premiership? No one expected London Welsh to be so utterly out of their depth, and those routs for Leicester (0-45) and Harlequins (0-39) were pretty sensational. But the story so far has to be the resurgence of Exeter Chiefs, who petered out last season to finish eighth and now sit second, two places and three points above this weekend’s illustrious opponents Saracens. They’re the Southampton FC of rugby’s top flight.Few saw this coming, certainly not Stuart Barnes, who in Rugby World predicted an 11th-place finish for the durable Devonians. So how has it come about? There’s surely more to it than a metaphorical sobering up after their LV= Cup celebrations last March.“More than anything it’s about time,” says Rob Baxter, head of the coaching team that this week signed new contracts tying them to the club until 2018.“Seventeen of our regular match-day 23 have only just played their first full season. Ben Moon and Jack Yeandle in the front row, Dave Ewers, Ben White and Kai Horstmann in the back row, Damian Welch at second-row. It’s all the way through the team: Dave Lewis, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell, Sam Hill.“When we did our player reviews, these players were saying, ‘It was a fantastic season, I broke into the team and kept my spot and we won a cup.’ We finished a comfortable eighth, we won the LV= Cup and as a group we garnered a lot of experience. It’s not a miracle that these players are now more composed and more comfortable.”Staying put: Rob Baxter and his coaching team have just committed to Exeter until 2018Fine marginsIf time brings cohesion, it also brings perspective. According to Baxter, some observers lost sight of Exeter’s true standing in the fog of the win-loss columns.“People forget that the difference between winning and losing can be very fine margins,” he says. “Last season we lost seven Premiership games by one score, four or five of them by one point. In six of those seven games we were leading into the second half.“What does it take to turn those defeats into wins? One decision, one mistake, one call by the referee. There are a lot of fine margins and that’s what kept us strong, because we knew how close we were (to winning more games).”Slade’s X-factorThe thundering Thomas Waldrom, the league’s top try-scorer, has proved an inspired signing after he was discarded prematurely by Leicester. But the most significant personnel change has been a positional one, with the decision to field two first receivers, Gareth Steenson and Henry Slade, in the same line-up. Last season they vied for the No 10 shirt.“Being able to field two first receivers, two kickers, two decision-makers who see space and communicate it, all helps. The back-line we have now has been made possible because of Henry’s fantastic defence – it’s what stands him apart from a lot of other players.“Henry has the skills and vision of a ten but also the tenacity in contact of a top-class centre. Some players have two or three important qualities but Henry has it all, he has the X-factor.”last_img read more

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Manu Tuilagi to miss Rugby World Cup

first_imgAfter pleading guilty to the assault of a police officer, Manu Tuilagi was told by Stuart Lancaster he would not feature in the 2015 Rugby World Cup England centre Manu Tuilagi has been omitted from England’s World Cup squad after being convicted on three charges of assault and one of criminal damage. There are reports he assaulted a police officer. He was also fined £6,205 in fines compensation, charges and costs.The Leicester Tigers centre, who has not played for England since June 2014, after a succession of injuries, was told by England coach Stuart Lancaster that he would miss the showpiece event due to his latest indiscretion.Tuilagi’s absence will be seen as a huge blow to England, although his absence has allowed Bath’s Jonathan Joseph the opportunity to showcase his skills on the international stage. Having been used to coping without Tuilagi, Lancaster will now have to plot his England midfield make-up without the destructive Leicester Tiger.Hard line: Stuart Lancaster has taken firm action over Tuilagi’s off-the-field indiscretionsIndeed, Stuart Lancaster bemoaned the loss of Tuilagi to injury in the wake of the Six Nations, after England narrowly lost out on points difference to Ireland. Tuilagi pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates earlier this week leading England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster to inform him that his behaviour and subsequent conviction, that he will not be considered for England selection until January 2016. A similar tough stance was taken with Danny Care in 2012, after the Harleqins No. 9 had a number of brushes with the law and it seemed to have the desired effect who captains Harlequins this evening.Lancaster said: “As role models and ambassadors for the game, the highest standards of behaviour are expected from every England player both on and off the field. Having spoken to Manu, he understands and accepts both the seriousness of the offences to which he has pleaded guilty and the consequences of his behaviour to his club, country and the game as a whole. England will continue to liaise with Leicester Tigers and have every confidence that the club will continue to support Manu in the right way.” TAGS: HighlightLeicester Tigers Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Manu knows and accepts his responsibilities and has received a significant punishment in being excluded from the England squad and the club will also take internal disciplinary action. While we do not in any way condone his actions in this case, Manu is a young man who has grown up in the public eye and he is a good professional in a top-level environment. He always gives his time very generously to supporters, particularly young ones, wherever he goes, and fully understands the role that the fans have played in his career. We will continue to work closely with him on his return to full fitness and look forward to his return to the field in due course.”In Tigers hands: Richard Cockerill will now have a man-management job to help Tuilagi rehabilitateManu Tuilagi commented: “I take full responsibility for my actions and unreservedly apologise to all those involved in the incident, Leicester Tigers and England. It is something I deeply regret and I totally accept the sentence given by the court. The club and Stuart have been very supportive and I understand their sanctions too. I know as an England player the need to conduct myself as a good role model for the game. I am very disappointed because my actions have let so many people down and I can only hope for a future chance to prove myself again.” In trouble: Manu Tuilagi has been suspended from England service until January 2016 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

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What’s in the new issue of Rugby World?

first_img The World Cup is in full swing and the latest issue of Rugby World takes you inside the tournament. There are exclusive interviews with big names like Aaron Smith, Israel Folau, Jonny Wilkinson, Conor Murray, Tendai Mtawarira and Juan Martin Hernandez as well as behind-the-scenes photos from RWC 2015.On top of all that, we take an in-depth look at what it takes to win a World Cup, report on the RFU’s legacy plans and analyse the pros and cons of professionalism.Here’s a full list of contents – find out where to buy your copy here or get our free magazine finder app here. Plus, you can download the digital edition here.NEWSThe rise of the underdogs at RWC 2015, 30 minutes with Ireland’s Conor Murray, World Cup predictions, wheelchair rugby, the return of the Aviva Premiership and moreHeads up: Conor Murray talks jokers, mess and Eva Mendes. Photo: InphoCOLUMNISTSStephen Moore – The Australia captain talks the World Cup and the BarbariansThe Secret Player – Our former professional on what life is like in a national campSteve Tew – The New Zealand CEO on building a World Cup legacySPOTLIGHTSAaron Smith – The All Blacks scrum-half explains what pushes him onDamien Chouly – The Clermont back-row is relishing a lengthy spell with FranceTevita Kuridrani – The Australia centre reveals what makes him tickJuan Martin Hernandez – The Argentina playmaker talks Wembley and World CupsFEATURESTom Youngs – The England hooker on farming, family and physicalityIreland’s World Cup journey – The ups and downs told in players’ own wordsScotland – The tale of two centres, Mark Bennett and Robbie FergussonIt’s good to talk: Robbie Fergusson and Mark Bennett open up in Rugby World. Photo: Robert PerryJustin Tipuric – Why the Wales flanker is still striving to find the perfect balance to his game TAGS: Highlight A full list of contents for the November 2015 issue of Rugby World How to win a World Cup – The 12 boxes that need to be ticked if a team is to lift the Webb Ellis trophy, as explained by players and coaches who have been crowned world championsBehind the scenes – Fantastic photos showing what’s been going on off the field at RWC 2015Israel Folau – What’s made the Australia full-back faster?Stephen Jones – How the RFU are building a long-lasting legacy from the World CupJonny Wilkinson – Matt Hampson interviews the former England fly-half and finds out what the future holds for himPro v Amateur – The best and worst things about professionalismADVICEPro Insight – Namibia’s Jacques Burger gives his top defence tipsNutrition – How to refuel in a rushFitness – Exercises to help you offload like Sonny Bill WilliamsHandy: Sonny Bill Williams offloads against Georgia. Photo: Getty ImagesPro Playbook – Two ways to attack from a scrumMini rugby – Play overload touch and learn how to throw into a lineoutREGULARS Club Focus – It’s back! A round-up of news from the club game, plus we launch a new sevens section, which this month features Australia’s Ed JenkinsEssentials – Book reviews and new products on the marketUncovered – South Africa prop Tendai Mtawarira talks through his life and timescenter_img Tour Tale – An interesting tale from an U17 club tour to AmsterdamFor the latest subscription offers, click here. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

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Saints and Sinners: The weekend’s talking points

first_imgOut of lineLeinster desperately needed a win in their second Champions Cup pool match, having lost at home to Wasps last weekend. Late in the game at Bath, with the home side 19-16 up, Leinster had a chance to steal the points when they kicked a penalty to touch to set up an attacking lineout.However, there was a dreadful mix-up in communication between the replacement hooker James Tracy and the rest of his forwards, as his throw went straight to Bath skipper Stuart Hooper, with no one from Leinster even being hoisted up to challenge for the ball. TAGS: HighlightWasps On the charge: Dave Ward making one of his breaks for Harlequins. (Photo: Getty Images)Wonderful WardHarlequins hooker Dave Ward was in the unusual position of covering the back row on the bench for their European Challenge Cup match against Cardiff Blues and he was pressed into service as an openside flanker after half an hour, when Jack Clifford was stretchered off.Was Ward daunted? No! In fact he positively relished the challenge and he turned in a Man of the Match performance, making a huge contribution to Quins’ 32-20 win.Ward made 18 carries, covered 95 metres with the ball in hand, crossed the gain line 11 times and beat six defenders. He and Nick Easter played off each other brilliantly and his offloading was first class.The hooker clearly enjoyed a chance to play a different role and said: “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have to hit the scrums!” Try-tasticMarcus Watson equalled a club record by running in four tries for Newcastle Falcons in their 55-7 win over Russian club Enisei-STM in Sunday’s Challenge Cup match.Playing against tougher opposition in the shape of Bordeaux-Begles, Olly Woodburn ran in two tries in Exeter Chiefs’ 34-19 home win in the Champions Cup, sprinting up the left wing for both and, in the case of the second, capitalising on a wonderful break out of defence by Henry Slade.Over in France, David Strettle scored two crackers for Clermont Auvergne to help them beat the Ospreys and earn the Man of the Match award. The wing’s first came from a run from half-way, while his second involved an elusive, weaving run through the defence from the 22.Ah See Tuala scored a brace for Northampton Saints in their excellent 26-15 win at the home of Guinness Pro12 champions Glasgow Warriors. Both tries were superbly taken by the Samoan wing. The SinnersRed for ReesThis week’s rogues’ gallery is led by Matthew Rees, after the Cardiff Blues hooker raked his boot across the face of Harlequins’ No 8 Nick Easter during their European Challenge Cup clash.Easter was caught at the bottom of the ruck in the 73rd minute and as Rees joined the fray his boot made contact with his face, leaving Easter in some pain and with what looked like a stud mark on his eyelid.Rees was quite rightly sent off by referee Alexandre Ruiz. Harlequins were 25-13 up at the time and went on to win 32-20.Racing 92 flanker Bernard le Roux was also sent off for stamping in his side’s 29-12 win at the Scarlets. His offence was not nearly as severe as Rees’s though, as he just lashed out at Ken Owens’ ankle on the edge of a ruck in the 44th minute. Racing were already 26-0 up at the time, so le Roux’s foul did not impact on the result. Bath weren’t about to give Leinster another chance and the Irish side’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals are all but dashed. The SaintsChampions stungWasps produced arguably the performance and result of the weekend, beating three-times European champions Toulon 32-6 at the Ricoh Arena, just a week after kicking off their Champions Cup campaign with an away win at the home of former champions Leinster.James Gaskell was named Man of the Match but fly-half Ruaridh Jackson got Wasps off to a flying start, throwing a fabulous long, cut-out pass to find Nathan Hughes inside the 22 and the No 8 scored with eight minutes on the clock.Two minutes later, Jackson chipped the defence in the middle of the pitch, Joe Simpson gathered and offloaded to Gaskell and he found Jackson roaring through to finish off a terrific try which gave Wasps a 17-0 lead.When Wasps lost playmaker Jimmy Gopperth to suspension just before their first two European matches of the season, it looked like it might be a big blow, but with Jackson pulling the strings the English side have scored over 60 points on the way to beating two of Europe’s top teams.Wasps boss Dai Young is understandably buzzing. “That’s as good as it gets,” he said. Wasps supporters will hope there is more of the same to come. There were some stellar performances in the second round of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, but other players had a weekend to forget. On targetGeorge Ford landed a 42 metre penalty in the 76th minute to take Bath to a hard-earned 19-16 home win over Leinster. The England fly-half’s place kicking becomes more consistent all the time and while it was Bath’s forward dominance which set the platform for this win, particularly in the scrum, without ice-cool Ford to turn the chances into points they would have fallen short.center_img Come in No 10: Ruaridh Jackson scores against Toulon. (Photo: Getty Images) Double bonusWhat a spirited performance the Ospreys put in against Clermont Auvergne in the Champions Cup. They looked dead and buried at 20-3 down, fought back to 20-17, only to see their French hosts stretch away to 34-17 with two more tries.However, the Ospreys found the spirit to fight to the finish and two tries in the last two minutes – the first by Sam Parry after a lovely offload from Justin Tipuric, and the second a magnificent run from Tom Habberfield after great work from Dan Biggar – gave the Welsh side two precious bonus points, one for scoring four tries and one for bringing the final score back to within seven points at 34-29. Super Sale: Vili Fihaki, who scored the bonus point try, in the thick of it v Pau. (Photo: Getty Images)Vili goodSale ended their eight-game losing streak in European competition by beating Pau 29-20 at home in the Challenge Cup, and No 8 Viliami Fihaki put the icing on the cake in the 77th minute when his try earned the Sharks an important four-try bonus point.The five match points Sale earned keep them in touch in Pool 2, where the Dragons are top with six points after a win and a loss and Castres are also just behind on five points after defeating the Welsh side on Saturday and having their first match postponed. Fine marginsUlster fans thought Saracens’ blindside Michael Rhodes should also have seen red when he sent Andrew Trimble clattering to the floor early in their clash after Trimble had leapt to catch a high ball. However, the fact that the wing landed flat on his back meant Rhodes was only sin-binned by referee Romain Poite, as players who take out an opponent in the air are generally only red-carded if the tackled player lands on their shoulders or head. It was still reckless from Rhodes and he was lucky his challenge did not turn out to be more significant.I’m OK: Andrew Trimble was not badly injured when he was taken out in the air. (Photo: Getty Images)Wrong kind of handiworkWith 49 minutes on the clock, the Cardiff Blues v Harlequins match was evenly poised at 6-6. Two minutes later Quins led 20-6 thanks to the “generosity” of a few Blues players, who handed their visitors a couple of tries on a plate.Firstly, Tim Visser ripped the ball away from the grasping fingertips of Josh Turnbull after anticipating where a pass from Kristian Dacey was going. Visser raced in for a try, which Ben Botica converted, then two minutes later Botica was stepping up to the tee again, after Lou Reed had the ball torn out of his grasp and Ollie Lindsay-Hague sprinted in for a try.It was a scoring burst the Blues struggled to recover from and they returned to their generous ways in the last play of the game when, at 25-20 down they were hoping to grab a dramatic win, only for Tau Filise to allow the ball to be stolen from his hands and Danny Care coasted over for a bonus-point try for Harlequins. A Goode day: Alex Goode helped Saracens win at Ulster. (Photo: Getty Images)Farrell and Goode to the foreSaracens became the first team to beat Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium since Toulon in October 2014, and no small thanks was due to Owen Farrell and Alex Goode for creating scoring chances.Farrell sent a magnificent cut-out pass to Goode, who then put Chris Wyles over for the first try and in the second half Goode saw some space in behind the Ulster defence, put in a perfect chip and was on hand to collect a brilliant offload from Duncan Taylor, who had chased the chip with him, and score.A scorching line break from Farrell then made the third try and the fly-half even joined a driving maul to help Billy Vunipola score the fourth. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Sharp as you likeGloucester wing Charlie Sharples got the second round of European action off to a stunning start on Thursday with a contender for Try of the Season.Fielding a kick just inside his own half, Sharples spotted a gap, pinned his ears back and cut through the La Rochelle defence, leaving defenders trailing in his wake, grasping at thin ear. Full-back Charles Bouldoire managed to get hold of his as he crossed the line, but Sharples still grounded the ball.Watch his try here – complete with brilliant French commentary!last_img read more

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Rugby rant: Keep Rugby World Cup free to watch

first_imgAny lucractive overtures to switch to pay-TV broadcasters should be resisted by World Rugby’s power brokers All kids should have an equal chance to aspire to be the next Dan Carter or Richie McCaw, not be locked on the outside unable to breach TV’s paywall. World Rugby should show restraint; some things are not for sale.What gets on your goat? Let us know on Facebook or TwitterThis article appeared in the April edition of Rugby World LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Rugby is in the midst of a gold rush. A year after the Six Nations was saved from the clutches of pay-TV broadcasters by a joint bid from the BBC and ITV, it’s the turn of World Rugby to flutter its eyelashes during the tender process for the 2019 World Cup broadcasting rights. There are no guarantees ITV, its UK broadcaster since 1991, will get first dibs.Plumping for a more lucrative deal from subscription broadcasters may seem like the answer, the ‘sell’ being more money to invest in grass-roots rugby and Tier Two nations across the world. After all, that is World Rugby’s remit and 90% of its revenue is raised at the quadrennial tournament. But in the UK, rugby’s most mature market, you would lose the mass scale of free-to-air television.The England v Wales humdinger at RWC 2015 was the UK’s most viewed rugby match since the 2007 World Cup final, with an audience of 11.5m, and the tournament as a whole was the most viewed in history.To my mind, television is still the medium that aspiring rugby players respond to best. I coach at Hitchin RFC and to be able to show a bunch of eight-year-old sponges how to draw a man by pulling up freely accessible smartphone clips of Johnny Sexton sending team-mate Robbie Henshaw down the wing is instructive.Role models: The next generation want to aspire to be the bestIf you want to look at the perils associated with going down the pay-TV route, look no further than cricket, which was last seen on terrestrial TV during the glorious 2005 Ashes. Participation numbers have plummeted in that sport.Rugby already has a near-saturated pay-TV rugby market. Super Rugby, the top three domestic leagues in the northern hemisphere and a host of Tests are on Sky and BT. But some competitions should be sacrosanct, otherwise you create an exclusive, elitist sport, out of reach of lower-income families and casual fans. Quite the spectacle: The Rugby World Cup final should be accessible to all last_img read more

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Aviva Premiership: Squads announced for first game of the season

first_img TAGS: Leicester TigersNewcastle FalconsSale Sharks Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks (Friday, 8pm, Kingston Park Stadium)Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 1 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Taione Vea, 4 Calum Green, 5 Will Witty, 6 Evan Olmstead, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Mark WilsonReplacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Sam Lockwood, 19 Opeti Fonua, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Dominic WaldouckSale: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 2 Rob Webber, 3 Halani Aulika, 4 Bryn Evans, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 6 Josh Beaumont (captain), 7 TJ Ioane, 8 Laurence PearceReplacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Magnus Lund, 21 David Seymour, 22 James Mitchell, 23 Dan MugfordFalcons v Sharks kicks off at 7pmGloucester Rugby v Leicester Tigers (Friday, 7:45pm, Kingsholm)Gloucester Rugby: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (capt), 1 Yann Thomas, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 John Afoa, 4 Tom Savage, 5 Mariano Galarza, 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Ben Morgan LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The 2016-17 Aviva Premiership season gets underway tomorrow night, with Newcastle Falcons welcoming Sale Sharks to Kingston Park, and Leicester Tigers taking on Gloucester at Kingsholm. Here are the teams… Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 James Hook, 23 Gareth EvansLeicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 1 Marcos Ayerza, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 3 Greg Bateman, 4 Ed Slater, 5 Dom Barrow, 6 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 8 Lachlan McCaffreyReplacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Adam ThompstonManu Tuilagi starts for the Tigers against GloucesterFor the latest Rugby World subscription offers click here and find out how to download the digital edition here.last_img read more

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