Lions 2013: The Wallabies name a squad…

first_imgThis may be an act of man-management from Deans, who may seek to clarify with the squad where they stand on reinstating the playmaker, whose desire to play Test rugby will be debated after the assembly. There is still plenty of time for him to play into Deans’s plans and if left out entirely he will be afforded the opportunity to show what the Wallabies will be missing on 8 June, when the Reds face the tourists.Ever the aggressor: Jesse Mogg loves being on the front footWhere Australian fans may get excited, though, is with the inclusion of Brumbies Jesse Mogg (full-back), No 8 Ben Mowen and Fotu Auelua (back-row), and Red Liam Gill (openside).If this squad is any indicator of the Test 25, leaving out Cooper while Kurtley Beale sorts out his personal issues means that James O’Connor (Rebels) and Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies) will be fighting over the fly-half jersey should Berrick Barnes not recover quick enough, despite neither being regulars in that position for their clubs.There is also some contention rising from the fact that Folau is taken as a winger alongside Joe Tomane of the Brumbies, while franchise team-mate Henry Speight is left out. Elsewhere the squad is as you would expect.The players who will assemble on Sunday afternoon in Sydney: Jesse Mogg (Brumbies), Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs), Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds), Joe Tomane (Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Ben Tapuai (Queensland Reds), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies), Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs), James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Nic White (Brumbies), Will Genia (Queensland Reds), Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs), Fotu Auelua (Brumbies), Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs), Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels), Ben Mowen (Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), James Horwill (Queensland Reds), Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs), Dan Palmer (Brumbies), James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs). The line of fire: Wallaby coach Robbie Deans faces questions over omitting Quade Cooper while Israel Folau looks onBy Alan DymockPULSES HAVE been set racing south of the equator as Robbie Deans named a preliminary Australia squad to meet for an ‘exercise’ this Sunday, omitting Quade Cooper but naming Waratah Israel Folau in his 30-man group.The players are set for a ‘logistical assembly’, with a Wallabies statement explaining that the meet-up was “to conclude off-field requirements and team planning ahead of this year’s highly-anticipated British & Irish Lions tour of Australia”.In form but out: fly-half Quade CooperWhile this is not a definitive squad for the British and Irish invasion, it is an indicator of where Deans’s head is as they prepare to pull players out of their franchises weeks before the opening Test on 22 June at Suncorp Stadium.Neglecting to select Cooper has been met with derision from some quarters of Australia, with former Wallaby Greg Martin branding Deans’s decision to continue to punish Cooper for his comments last year – he described the national camp as a “toxic environment” – as an act of conceited self-harm.“In other words, Robbie Deans wants to sabotage Australian rugby,” the ex-Queensland Reds full-back said. He is not alone, either, with former Wallaby coach John Connolly registering his shock and stating: “If Quade is not in this 30-man squad then it will be difficult for him to be picked in the final 25 (for the British and Irish Lions Tests).” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Jesse Mogg of the Brumbies on the run to the try line during the Super 15 rugby union match between the Unviersity of Canberra Brumbies of Australia and the Sharks of Durban at the Kings Park Rugby Stadium in Durban on March 16, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ANESH DEBIKY (Photo credit should read ANESH DEBIKY/AFP/Getty Images) last_img read more

Six Nations: France hoping to replicate club form against England

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSSkip AdAds by NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 27: Joe Launchbury (R) of Wasps kicks the ball away from Scott Lawson during the Aviva Premiership match between Newcastle Falcons and London Wasps at Kingston Park on December 27, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) In addition, France have no locks to compare to the young English duo of Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, players who combine power with almost freakish athleticism. France are likely to rely heavily in the Six Nations on the experienced Pascal Pape, a decent lock but no athlete, and a player with the shortest of fuses, having received five yellow cards in this season’s Top 14.The reason for this shortage of tight forward talent has been well-documented, both in this column and elsewhere. As the foreign players continue to flood into French rugby, opportunities for homegrown players diminish. The FFR and LNR are addressing the problem – and from next season squads must have 55% of their players eligible for France or face heavy fines – but that will take a few years to bear fruit. In the meantime France are going to have to get by on what they’ve already got in the front five, and pray to Dieu that Mas and Domingo stay fit. Conversely, of the 30 tight forwards who started for the six English clubs at the weekend, an impressive 23 were England-qualified with Harlequins managing to select an entire pack of Englishmen. Saracens had the smallest representation with Mako Vunipola and Steve Borthwick the only players eligible for Stuart Lancaster’s squad. So the fact the Aviva Premiership leaders were so comprehensively beaten up front in Toulouse isn’t as alarming as it might have been from an England perspective, particularly given that the opposition front five contained four southern hemisphere players.The tight forwards selected in Saint-Andre’s Six Nations squad are the best of a dwindling bunch, but they are also an ageing bunch: Benjamin Kayser is 29, Dimitri Szarzewski 31, Yannick Forestier 32, Nicolas Mas and Pascal Pape both 33 (even in the back row they’re getting on with Nyanga and Dusautoir the wrong side of 30). Of course there is some youth in the French front five with the likes of Yoann Maestri (25) and Stade Francais’s 24-year-old prop Rabah Slimani, but they are the exceptions.Powerhouse: Launchbury is set to pack down with LawesCompare that to England’s Six Nations squad, where of the 18 forwards selected by Lancaster only Exeter loose forward Tom Johnson is over 30 and the front row trio of Mako Vunipola, Henry Thomas and Joe Marler are still in their early 20s. Pack to pack: every Quins starting forward in the game v Clermont is qualified to play for EnglandBy Gavin Mortimer IN THE wake of victories over Quins and Saracens there’s been a certain amount of gloating in France about what Les Bleus might well do to England next month in Paris. Four years since they last beat the English in the Six Nations, the French are more confident than ever that 1 February will be their day.Not so fast. Sure, Toulouse had the Man of the Match in Jean-Marc Doussain from their win over Sarries, though their all-French back row of Dusautoir, Picamoles and Nyanga all ran him close. And Brice Dulin, Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Morgan Parra and Wesley Fofana all caught the eye in their team’s performances.But what about in the trenches, at the coalface, in the engine room, use whatever euphemism you will to describe the front five.Take a look at the statistics from the weekend’s round of Heineken Cup clashes and if you’re a Frenchman there’s cause for concern. For all the talent and options the French have in some positions, it’s a different story in the tight five.Veteran: Nicolas Mas, 33, will face England next monthOf the 35 tight forwards who started for the seven French clubs in the Heineken Cup at the weekend, only 16 are French. More worrying, still, if you’re Philippe Saint-Andre, is that the three clubs that tasted success only fielded four Frenchmen between them in the front five: Toulouse second row Yoann Maestri, the Clermont front-row pair of Thomas Domingo and Benjamin Kayser, and Toulon lock Jocelino Suta. Racing fielded the biggest French contingent with four players, but given their abject defeat at home to the Scarlets, that’s not something to boast about.last_img read more

Las Vegas Sevens: Amor planning to shake England up

first_imgSA: Mike Ellery had a great tournament in Dubai. Unfortunately he was injured and missed the following week’s tournament in South Africa, so it’s great to have him back. And Marcus Watson was also in great form in our last outings.Mitch (Tom Mitchell) is becoming a great playmaker and leader in our squad. I’ve shared the captaincy around a bit, and Tom Powell did a great job for us at the last few tournaments, but Mitch could potentially stay in the role for a while. At the moment I’m naming a squad tournament by tournament, because I want the guys to feel that pressure to perform every time they step on the pitch. But the long-term goal is to have a steady, settled captain.One to watch: Watson makes a break in London last seasonRW: Why did you leave Mat Turner and John Brake out of the squad this time?  SA: Mat did well in South Africa, and he’s working on a number of areas of his game along with everybody else. But he’s been in South Africa for a few weeks sorting out his girlfriend’s visa, and because he’s not been training I’ve chosen to reward the other guys in the squad.John Brake has an excellent attitude, but others have just edged him in training. In addition, I felt like Crackers deserved his opportunity, a hugely experienced player who will be valuable in Las Vegas.RW: What changes would you like to make to England’s sevens programme?SA: Every nation is stepping up and our programme has been evolving for the last three months. I’d like the guys to be here and training together full time (Monday to Friday instead of three days per week). The more time spent together, the more their understanding and communication with each other will improve.RW: Should sevens be used as a development tool for 15s, or should it stand alone?SA: I don’t believe sevens should stand alone. We’ve got some talented players in our squad who may well go on to play 15s one day, and although there will always be some specialist sevens players, I don’t think they should be pigeonholed. Using sevens to develop players is a proven model used around the world. It depends slightly on the position, but as a rule sevens players are excellent in broken field and phase play attack, and good decision makers.RW: Tell us about your new backroom staff. Powerhouse: Mike Ellery has recovered from injury for the Las Vegas Sevens, but can he help England take the title?By Bea Asprey, Rugby World Staff Writer SIMON AMOR is three tournaments in to his tenure as England Sevens head coach, and he has already started to make some changes to the squad. We caught up with the former IRB Sevens Player of the Year to find out a bit more about the team, and what plans he has for England.RW: What are England’s strengths, and how would you like them to improve?SA: Traditionally England have great pace, and they’re very good in broken field. I’d like them to improve defence and become more direct, physically, in the contact. I’d like them to be more confrontational.Sevens is about doing the basics at world-class level, so I also want everyone to improve on that. It sounds very simple, but there’s a lot in the quality of a catch, pass or tackle.Skipper: Mitchell will be captain for the first time in VegasRW: Have you changed the way you train to mirror that?SA: We do more contact work now. These guys aren’t playing 15s, so they’re not doing contact week in, week out. The breakdown is so important, as is their tackle technique.There’s always a risk of injury when you do contact work in training and they do pick up bumps and bruises, but rugby is a contact sport, and of course you try to limit that. There’s also an element that the boys can become more body-hardened by doing the contact work and in addition, we have a brilliant medical team working hard to keep the boys fit.RW: Which team is setting the benchmark on the circuit?SA: New Zealand. As a team they’ve never had out and out pace, but they are good physically and their ability to read the game, to feel it, is outsanding. They also have a lot of good decision-makers.There’s no culture of sevens in the UK, so it takes time for guys to get the feel of how to create space, and manipulate it. We try to teach it by doing a lot of repetitions, in mini games in training.RW: Which England players should we look out for in Las Vegas? SA: We’re ambitious, and we want to give our players the world’s best support with the best people in that team. Dan Howells has just joined us from Wasps, to head up our strength and conditioning, and Damian McGrath has joined me as the assistant coach. Scott Drawer, who’s just joined the RFU, will also be helping us from time to time.We want to link our strength and conditioning with the rugby in training a bit more. If we do our rugby training under fatigue, it’ll develop the boys’ decision making and also intensify the session – just like the situation you’d get at a tournament. LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 11: Marcus Watson of England breaks away from the tackle of Joaquin Diaz Bonilla of Argentina during the Marriottt London Sevens – Day One at Twickenham on May 11, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Rugby statistics: The England players under Stuart Lancaster

first_imgReasons to be cheerful: Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw celebrate with their team-mates Credit: Inpho England’s third round Six Nations contest with Ireland will feature a match day squad without Mike Brown for the first time since their 14-14 draw with South Africa back in June 2012.The Harlequins full-back tops the Opta rugby statistics for metres made (2102m), clean breaks (24) and defenders beaten (98) in England games, since 2012. These quantity stats and those that relate to performances in an individual game tend to receive the most attention.As an example, Chris Robshaw’s tally of 45 tackles in two games in this current Six Nations tournament has been widely shared.The fact that Brown is responsible for 14.7% of England’s metres made in this period, 16.6% of defenders beaten and accounts for six of the 11 performances when a player has carried over 100m could be used to highlight what England will miss without him. Context is required though.The players that top the above tables for metres made and tackles are also the most picked, by coach Stuart Lancaster. Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown have played in 33 and 32 Tests respectively in three years and racked up 2640 and 2032 minutes of game time. Only nine of the 67 players to have taken the field in the 36 England Tests since 2012 have totalled more than 1440 minutes of game time.It is possible to measure the contribution of England players in this period, without the results being weighted as heavily in favour of those who have played the most minutes.Below is a look at average metres made per run and runs per game, along with how often a tackle has been made. The selection was limited to the 36 players who had played more than 400 minutes since 2012. While Brown ranks fourth for average metres made per run, he carries more often than the other players on that list and would rate top for average metres made per game, with 82.8m. The next highest is Alex Goode, with 74.5m a game. TAGS: Highlight Including Mike Brown, England will be without ten of their 15 most selected players since 2012, for their match in Dublin. While that does remove a chance to give established combinations more time, there is the opportunity for some of the less experienced players to prove their worth before the Rugby World Cup. As an example and allowing for a relatively small sample of 285 minutes, George Kruis currently averages a tackle every 6.6 minutes, a run or tackle every 4.67 minutes and has conceded just the one penalty or turnover.There may be satisfaction with that current squad depth and the development of genuine competition for most positions.  However one problem that Lancaster has managed to avoid is how he would replace his captain’s contribution. New Zealand have managed a similar situation by giving Sam Cane 11 starts in the No 7 shirt since 2012, compared to 31 for Richie McCaw. Chris Robshaw’s average performance of 6.9 passes, 8.6 runs, 13.7 tackles and playing the full 80 minutes wouldn’t be easily replicated, but perhaps the World Cup warm-up matches in August and September will be used to give a potential backup a chance.center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Manu Tuilagi has carried for an average of 55.8m an appearance and while an exact replacement for the destructive centre is not possible, the current midfield combination of Jonathan Joseph (average of 45.4m per game) and Luther Burrell (41m) is proving effective.The appearance of Mako Vunipola and Tom Youngs on the tackling chart might be surprising, but those numbers do fit their performances on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour – when the former averaged a tackle every 6.5 minutes and the latter 6.8. It is also true that the tackle rate for substitutes is often superior to starters. As an example, Youngs averages a tackle every 3.97 minutes as a replacement and 7.84 minutes when starting. For Dave Attwood it is 4.6 minutes as a sub and 7.28 minutes as a starter.It does put into context Robshaw’s rate of a tackle every 5.8 minutes, given he plays the full 80 minutes in each appearance. Along with a healthy tackle rate of one every 7.6 minutes for a regular starter, it should also be noted that Wasps lock Joe Launchbury has a very low error count. He has conceded just three penalties in 1427 Test minutes and concedes a penalty or turnover every 89 minutes.Expanding the selection to minutes per run or tackle, it can be seen above that the Vunipola brothers have recorded very similar rates. Again, Mako Vunipola’s figure is line with his 2013 Lions tour level – when he averaged a run and tackle every 3.3 minutes and was second only after Seán O’Brien at 3.28 minutes.The average appearance time does have to be factored in though and players on that list missing for the Ireland game such as Tom Wood, Launchbury and Brad Barritt are among those capable of maintaining a high level of workrate over a longer period.last_img read more

Eddie Jones to coach Super Rugby’s Stormers after World Cup

first_img TAGS: Japan It will be Jones’s third stint in Super Rugby, having coached the ACT Brumbies between 1998-2001 and the Queensland Reds in 2007, before working with South Africa as an assistant as they won the World Cup in the same year.Jones commented: “I am a coach that enjoys a challenge and I see this job as a huge challenge, but one that excites me tremendously. Eddie Jones will leave his position with Japan at the end of the World Cup to take up the vacant coaching position at Super Rugby’s DHL Stormers Japan coach Eddie Jones‘s rise in stock has not been bad news for all South African fans, with the Australian-born mastermind named as the new coach of Super Rugby side DHL Stormers.The Cape Town-based side announced their new coaching addition on Monday, two days after the Springboks succumbed to Jones’s Japan side in Brighton in their opening World Cup game.Stormers director of rugby Gert Smal says Jones was an obvious candidate for the vacant position and he hopes the 55-year-old can help develop the current group of players.“Eddie was always on my mind in terms of potential external candidates and it’s a massive coup that we have signed a coach of his ability – really, his coaching credentials and achievements do speak for themselves,” he said in a statement on the club’s website.“I really enjoyed our interactions and working with Eddie during the 2007 World Cup, he can add even more value here – both in terms of pushing for trophies and, importantly, in helping the continued development of our coaches and players.” Eddie Jones at the 2015 Rugby World Cup LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “Having worked with the Springboks in 2007, and in the process working closely with people like Gert Smal, Allister Coetzee, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger, it gave me a brief taste of what Stormers rugby and Western Cape rugby is all about.“I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, one of the biggest franchise jobs in world rugby, but I am also excited about the talent available in the DHL Stormers squad and the potential of this playing squad. This is a challenge I am looking forward to.”last_img read more

Summer Test: Japan 16-21 Scotland

first_img TAGS: Japan It was little wonder they changed their entire front row at half-time – though that only served to highlight Scotland’s lack of depth in that area – while the introduction of Greig Laidlaw after 50 minutes brought a little more direction to the team’s play as they kicked for territory. However, they still struggled to cope with Japan’s slick attack and build any momentum of their own. Yes, it was the last game of an extremely long and onerous season, and yes, the conditions would have been uncomfortable, but this was a lacklustre performance from a team that had showed such signs of improvement earlier in the season.Going to ground: Stuart Hogg is tackled as he tries to launch an attack. Photo: Getty ImagesQueues – A line of people snaked alongside the stadium and back on itself even 90 minutes before kick-off. They were queuing to get inside the stadium itself but having only one gate open meant rather a long wait in hot and humid conditions. Not ideal organisation and something that should be looked at for future games.The hooter – There’s letting the crowd know it’s half-time and then there’s letting the whole locale know. If anyone was catching 40 winks as the first half drew to a close – unlikely as there was plenty on the pitch to entertain – they would have been rudely awakened by the extremely loud hooter. It was a shock to the system and it was the same again at full-time. Cover those ears!JAPAN: R Matsuda (PM Poseti 78); M Sa’u, T Bennetts (K Ono 56), H Tatekawa, Y Sasakura; Y Tamura, K Shigeno (K Uchida 62); K Inagaki (M Mikami 72), S Horie (capt, T Kizu 61), K Hatakeyama (S Kakinaga 56), H Ono (K Yatabe 66), N Kotaki, H Tui (R Holani 61), S Kin, A Mafi.Try: Shigeno. Con: Tamura. Pens: Tamura 3.SCOTLAND: S Hogg; T Seymour, M Scott, P Horne, S Maitland (S Lamont 80); R Jackson (H Jones 58), H Pyrgos (capt, G Laidlaw 50); R Sutherland (G Reid ht), S McInally (F Brown ht), M Low (WP Nel ht), R Gray, J Gray, J Strauss, J Barclay (T Swinson 68), R Wilson (J Hardie 45). A rundown of what’s hot and what’s not from the second Japan-Scotland Test Scotland maintained their winning record against Japan with this seventh victory in seven Tests – but it was an error-strewn performance from the visitors at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium. In fact, Japan impressed in attack far more than their Scottish opponents, scoring a sensational first-half try and pressurising the line regularly in the second 40. The Scots, in contrast, could not create even one try-scoring opportunity and had to rely on the boot of Greig Laidlaw to grind out a narrow win from a succession of penalties.WHAT’S HOTTry-tastic – Japan produced one of the tries of 2016 in the 20th minute. First, they should be congratulated for backing themselves to attack from deep in their own 22. Within seconds full-back Rikiya Matsuda had taken the ball up to halfway and their speed of play was even more impressive as they spread the ball to the right and moved up the pitch. Amanaki Mafi drew in two Scottish defenders, offloaded to Shokei Kin, who then fed a simple try-scoring pass to scrum-half Kaito Shigeno. Fast of feet, hands and mind, simple movements but hugely effective ones – it was a quite brilliant score. And a team try too.The crowd – It wasn’t a sellout but there was a big turn out at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo, the stands awash with cherry-and-white shirts. They were engrossed in the game too, ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ ringing out in reaction to different pieces of play, the noise undulating depending on the situation, and plenty of applause throughout. The national team’s performances at RWC 2015 have brought a new audience to the game in this country and let’s hope it keeps growing as we head towards Japan’s World Cup in three years’ time.Special guests: Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko wave to the crowd in Tokyo. Photo: ReutersQuick and slick Japan – Everyone knows how good Japan played at last year’s World Cup and they continued to impress with this performance. They may have been missing key players like Michael Leitch, Ayumu Goromaru and Fumiaki Tanaka, but their organisation was superb. They were far quicker than Scotland at getting the ball away from the breakdown and were far more reliable at keeping the ball in hand than their opponents. Passes would zip left and right, the support player invariably where they were supposed to be. As Henry Pyrgos said afterwards “Japan play at a really high tempo”, while Vern Cotter added that the hosts had “lifted the intensity” from the first Test.Laidlaw’s boot – There was little in this performance to warm Scottish hearts but Greig Laidlaw, a second-half replacement, stepped up to slot two long-range penalties from just inside the Japanese half to put the visitors in front with ten minutes to go. His fourth successful kick in the 77th minute then put the game beyond Japan’s reach.He can kick it: Greig Laidlaw’s 12 points helped Scotland to victory. Photo: ReutersWHAT’S NOTScotland’s first half – Pushed around at the scrum, inaccurate at the lineout and handling errors across the park: the first 40 minutes were not pretty for Scotland. They couldn’t assert any authority up front, either at the set-piece or the breakdown, where they had to commit numbers to retain possession. And when they did get possession with which to attack, more often than not there would be a knock-on or dropped pass, resulting in the attack fizzling out. Jump to it: Japan’s Hitoshi Ono battles for possession against Scotland. Photo: Getty Images LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Pens: Pyrgos 3, Laidlaw 4.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.last_img read more

How to make as a broadcast journalist: BBC rugby reporter Sonja McLaughlan

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “I was very, very fortunate that the BBC backed me to the hilt, I’ve got an excellent rugby editor in Richard Hughes and he wants me to ask the tough questions if they are there to be asked and if it’s appropriate. So he was fully behind me as was Philip Bernie the executive producer of BBC Sport. I was due to go back to Wales the very next week and I was thinking were they going to take me off the gig because of what happened, and they were like ‘No, no, you’ll go back next week’. Warren’s got broad shoulders, he’s one of the highest paid coaches in world rugby and it’s his job to answer questions of that nature. His reaction in that moment in my mind was indicative of the fact that he did feel under pressure and to this day I stand by it.”Do you believe your gender was key to that media storm?“That’s a really interesting question and I have often chatted to colleagues about it. If a male reporter had asked the same question, if it had been Martin Bayfield or A.N Other reporter, would there have been the same fuss? I doubt it.“I think it was something to do with the fact that I was a woman, do I know that definitively? Gatland has got form for being grumpy, so I’m not going to say categorically it was because I was a woman, but I do feel it had a part to play. But I have interviewed him since and it has been fine, we move on.Influence: Sonja has had a long-standing working relationship with Ian Robertson“But the fact that one question got as much coverage as it did – what is going on? Is that because in this day and age the people with the microphones are not asking the tough questions?“The broadcast journalists of my ilk, the Alastair Eykyns and the Nick Mullins, are a dying breed because more and more ex-players have a microphone. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, not at all, they bring a different dimension to it. But the trained broadcast journalist, there are not that many of us. I lament that and it’s not the way forward for me – the broadcast journalist has a role to play and should be celebrated.”You now juggle pitch side work with studio programmes for 5 Live?“I was always viewed as a reporter but Mike Carr, my rugby editor at 5 Live, gave me an opportunity a couple of years ago and its developed and grown since then. I was presenting at the World Cup, and now I have this regular programme with Matt Dawson.Partner-in-crime: Sonja now presents on Radio Five Live with World Cup winner Matt Dawson“I love doing the studio stuff because in an hour and a half programme on national radio your personality can come out in a way that it can’t on the touchline where you might just have three questions to make your mark.“In the studio you can be much more creative, you can have much more fun and get more out of your guests. I am just very fortunate to have fantastic variety when it comes to my job”How does it compare with your work covering athletics?“It is similar but very different. Rugby union is of course a team sport and everyone wins and loses together. Track and field is an individual sport and sometimes that post-race emotion is heightened. The post-race reaction is not the same as post-match because the margins between success and failure in track and field are so slender, you are talking hundredths of a second and as a results the emotion is sometimes magnified.“I’ve also been privileged to live and work through a golden era for track and field. I was there in Beijing in 2008 when Usain Bolt burst through in Beijing and there’s also been Mo Farrah, Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford. Being at the Olympic stadium in London in 2012 when three gold medals were won in 44 minutes for GB, was incredible.”What are your fondest memories covering rugby union?“Until last year I had never worked on a Rugby World Cup as the TV rights were always elsewhere, so last year, to work on a World Cup and have a full a role as I did for 5 Live while also working for host broadcasters ITV was one of my real highlights.“To watch the All Blacks reclaim the World Cup and then be the first person to interview Richie McCaw knowing that I had to ask the question about his future… I knew I had to ask the question, ‘how can you walk away from this?’Crowning moment: Sonja was privileged to interview Richie McCaw after his World Cup win“He’s so eloquent and it was a lovely interview, and he gave such a lovely answer. You never think when you start in this job that you will get to where I currently am and I don’t take it for granted because you do have those ‘Wow!’ moments – when this whistle goes I’m the one who walks onto the pitch and talks to Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen.“There have been plenty of those wet Friday nights but there are also those enormous moments and you know you are there because you have worked so hard to get there. You feel so much pressure as it was going everywhere on the world feed, so you’ve got to get it right, even though I’ve been doing this 27 years now, you still get nervous and have to remind yourself to breathe and that you can do this and that you know what you are doing. You don’t put too much pressure on tour self but you make sure you as the right questions.”Sonja McLaughlan’s top tips:+ Look close to home – “Local radio which is a fantastic training ground and I would always recommend it to anyone who wants to get into broadcasting. So many very good broadcaster that people listen to today like Mark Pougatch, Jonathan Overend, Nick Mullins – they have all come through local radio.”+ Don’t wing it – “Do your homework. Know what you are talking about because if you do that then people are much more amenable to you as a journalist because they know you have that credibility.”The greatest: Bill McLaren was a copious taker of notes+ Safety net – “I never go to a Test match without doing my match notes. I write out the teams and all the salient bullet points relating to that match whether it is the form of the two teams or key players, injured players, a key player coming back. The context of the match is always really important in case you get brain fade on live TV.” The Forward Pass Podcast – Sonja McLaughlanWelcome to The Forward Pass, a series of conversations with leading rugby union journalists, broadcasters, presenters and photographers who will offer the next generation of media professionals – and fans – an insight into how they cover the sport.Sonja McLaughlan has covered many sports for a variety of media outlets in a career spanning more than 25 years. However, it is her work covering rugby union on radio and TV that will be familiar to most having been a pitch side presence for much of her professional career.She joins Graham Jenkins to offer an insight into her career path, her approach to her job and how she deals with the challenges of her role.Where did your journalism career begin?“I did a sports degree and sport has always been a passion, but I was really hankering after a future in journalism. I worked at the Surrey Comet during my holidays to see if I could cope in a newsroom.“Then midway through my first teaching post I saw an advert in the Media Guardian for a BBC training scheme, it was called the Local Radio Trainee Reporter Scheme, you didn’t have to have a degree or worked in the media they just wanted people with a personality and an interest in their local community.“I applied for a place, and so did about 5,000 others apparently, and they took on 20 of us. That was way back in 1988.”You were the first woman to be appointed the rugby union producer for BBC Radio?“It was a shock to me because a woman hadn’t done it before. This was after the Rugby World Cup in South Africa back in 1995. Nick Mullins had done the job before me and had move to become a broadcaster, they needed a new rugby producer and the senior editor was looking for someone who had the sort of personality who could work with Ian Robertson, who was a well-known character in rugby, and someone who had the strength and presence of mind who could help take the sport to a new level as it went professional…and they said do you want to be the new rugby producer?“I promise you that I knew nothing about rugby union. I went out and found a book that was something like ‘the idiot’s guide to rugby union’, I was looking at all the positions and I was thinking how does this game work? Sonja McLaughlan has had a long and distinguished career as a rugby reporter for the BBC and she hands down some tips for aspiring journalists… Ready for action: Sonja McLaughlan is ready to report for Europe’s rugby hotbeds Predecessor: Sonja took over from Nick Mullins as at the BBC“I thought someone would work out that I was a fraud, but you learn quickly and learn on the job and I was very lucky that I had great support from the BBC who wanted to put me into that position. You are also working in a sport where fellow journalist, coaches and players were all very amenable to this woman turning up. These were the days where you would go to a press conference at Twickenham and you would be the only woman in there who wasn’t serving coffee to the assembled media!”Did you experience any resistance?“I would like to be to regale you about all these stories about sexism in a macho world but it just never happened. I was always going to just get on with it, get the job done, and the bottom line is that every move I’ve made in my career whether it was a rugby union producer for BBC Radio or on the touchline for BBC TV or presenting rugby programmes on BBC Radio 5 Live, it’s because I’m the best person for the job and I think that pretty quickly that was apparent to people with the way I went around my business.“The important thing is to do your homework, if you go into any interview with a player or coach, you don’t wing it, you do your homework, you know what you are talking about. That’s the one thing I would say to anyone who wants to get into this job is do your research, be rigorous with your prep, it’s about creating that credibility and that’s what I have always tried to do by being thorough in my approach to the job.”You have since moved into a pitch side role, what do you see as your primary objective in the immediate aftermath of a game?“Sometimes it is about the human interest. When I talked to Greig Laidlaw after the Argentina game, he’d missed a penalty that might have won the game, then he gets another crack at it and slots it. So your first question is, you must have been nervous in that moment? What was going through your mind?“Then sometimes you have to be more direct and ask the tough questions. Scotland were ahead for 77 minutes of their match against Australia and six points clear with 10 minutes to go but they failed to close the game out just like their World Cup meeting. So you have got to say, have you got a problem with closing close games out?Difference of opinion: Warren Gatland and Sonja had a well-documented post-match exchange“I famously got in a little hot water for asking Warren Gatland whether he felt under pressure after another defeat to a southern hemisphere side and he didn’t take too kindly to the question and a bit of a rumpus blew up for about a week.“But I am not there to be friends with the players and the coaches, that’s not my job, I’m there to ask tough questions if I have to. But that’s not always my objective, it not always about asking tough questions, the game doesn’t lend itself to that every time.“I sometimes get criticised on social media by people saying I don’t respect the players but they have no idea how difficult that 10 minutes is – it is really difficult….but I love being in the heat of the battle. It draws on all your 20 years of experience as a broadcaster to get it right in that moment and it is not easy.“But it’s my job to get it right and I think at the moment too many people with a microphone are too lazy and don’t think about the questions they are asking – they just make statements and expect players and coaches to respond to that and I always think where is the question in that? What were you trying to say? I do pride myself on trying to think very carefully about what I ask.”Did that run-in with Wales and Gatland leave a mark?“That was a really tough week for doing what I thought was my job. To buy a newspaper and find pictures of yourself because Wales have got cross about what I’ve said to Warren Gatland…that’s difficult. You do question your approach and maybe that was why Wales made a fuss because they thought she might not ask that kind of question again. + Think on your feet – “I scribble down some ideas for questions but sometimes but sometimes the situation takes me in a different direction when I am there and can assess the mood in the tunnel.”+ Keep emotion in check – “Be careful with the language you use and the tone you strike. It’s not easy to suddenly wade in and ask tough questions but you’ve got to find a way of saying it so you don’t miss the story.”last_img read more

The ways and wisdom of Warren Gatland

first_img A story to tell: Warren Gatland, recently voted best rugby coach of the past 60 years by RW readers (Getty) The ways and wisdom of Warren GatlandWarren Gatland’s Chiefs are going through a sticky patch, with a first win in Super Rugby Aotearoa proving elusive. So the 56-year-old Kiwi could do with some good news right now.It comes in the shape of his nomination at the Telegraph Sports Book Awards, the results of which will be announced digitally on Wednesday (15 July). Gatland’s autobiography, Pride and Passion, appears on the rugby shortlist. If he ends up topping the powerful six-strong field, he would be the first New Zealander to win the award since John Daniell ten years ago.BUY NOW with AmazonYou can read a full summary of the six Rugby Book of the Year contenders here.Gatland’s story, told in collaboration with esteemed ghostwriter Chris Hewett, is a compelling one. He first played rugby, barefooted, aged five at the Eastern Suburbs club in Hamilton. Dad Dave was a car salesman and a handy back-row; mum Kay was a hairdresser and accomplished swimmer.Growing up, Gatland’s heroes were the glory boys in the back-line: wings Bryan Williams and Grant Batty, and later other backs like Bernie Fraser and Bruce Robertson. He played No 8 and in high school captained Hamilton Boys’ first XV for two years. When he was selected for a Northern Region XV, the player he beat to a place was none other than Michael Jones.It was George Simpkin, who sadly departed this world in May, who suggested Gatland switch to hooker. Within a year Gatland was playing for Waikato and in the early Nineties the Mooloo men won their first NPC title, beat the British & Irish Lions and ended Auckland’s Ranfurly domination with an epic 17-6 away victory; the reception the side received from 15,000 locals back at Rugby Park was Gatland’s most rewarding moment as a player.Big scalp: Gatland in action during Waikato’s 38-10 rout of the British & Irish Lions in 1993 (Getty)Gatland toured Australia and Europe with the All Blacks but famously never earned a Test cap. “How many Tests did I spend manacled to the bench, waiting for Fitzy (Sean Fitzpatrick) to break down and walk off the field in an act of front-row solidarity? There were quite a few of them, for sure,” he writes.It’s a frustration that fellow hooker Eddie Jones, also shortlisted for the book award, can relate to. Jones missed out on Test rugby because he was deemed too small. Gatland got closer but was ultimately thwarted by a late decision to take Graham Dowd, a prop/hooker, to the 1991 World Cup at his expense.Like Jones, Gatland set about forging a rugby coaching career that stands comparison with any in history. The bare bones of it are three Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-finals with Wales, a series win and draw as Lions head coach, European domination with Wasps, and a unique domestic double – as a player (1992) and head coach (2006) – with Waikato.A teacher by profession, Gatland’s first foray into coaching was at club side Taupiri. In 1989 he took up a player-coach role at Galwegians in Ireland. For his first fixture, Sligo away, they set off with only 12 players but he laid down the law and sparked an 11-match winning run.He was to stay four years, parting only because after eight consecutive winters, playing rugby in both hemispheres, he needed to remind himself what a summer was like.Smile for the camera: Gatland and Ireland players practise for the ‘Irish roar’ ahead of RWC 1999! (Inpho)In 1996, rugby was taking baby steps into professionalism. Gatland, teaching in New Zealand, received a call out of the blue to coach Connacht. Off he went – and he never looked back. From there it was the Ireland job at the age of 34, a position he was disgracefully relieved of despite bringing stability and progression after years of mediocrity by the national team.Two weeks after the IRFU decided not to renew his contract, Gatland was named Coach of the Year and received a standing ovation at a big do in Dublin. At Wasps, Gatland deployed a blitz defence long before it was in fashion. He recruited shrewdly – Craig White, the strength and conditioning expert, a noteworthy example – and recognised how to bring fitness and performance to a peak for the end-of-season play-offs.When Wasps missed the deadline to register their Heineken Cup squad, he stayed calm. The club faxed tournament headquarters to check their non-existent communication had been received. “We haven’t received a response from you,” Wasps pointed out. They were allowed to ‘resubmit’ the squad and went on to win that season’s competition.Once a Wasp, always a Wasp: Gatland rates Lawrence Dallaglio as the best captain he has seen (Getty)Gatland turned down the England job in 2006 and later would have finished with Wales after RWC 2011 – to become Chiefs coach in Super Rugby – had New Zealand Rugby upped an offer by just five grand.They wouldn’t budge so Gatland resumed his well-documented career in Europe, adding Welsh Grand Slams in 2012 and 2019 and taking on the job of Lions head coach for two glorious and stress-filled unbeaten series in Australasia.One of his red-letter days was the quarter-final at the 2011 World Cup. To negate Brian O’Driscoll’s spot-blitz, Wales played Rhys Priestland flat to the line at ten with the centres staying deep.They put two men back, one in each channel, to stop Ronan O’Gara kicking for the corners. And they switched the wings round because they guessed Ireland would have prepared a kicking game for the 5ft 7in Shane Williams. Gatland regards Williams, Wales’ record try-scorer, as the best player he coached during his 12 years in the Principality.The importance of family to Gatland comes across strongly in the book; he and wife Trudi, loving parents to Gabby and Bryn, lost their first child, Shauna, after she died at the age of four months in 1992. She had spina bifida.Embrace: Gatland with his wife Trudi at Auckland airport after arriving for the 2017 Lions tour (Inpho)When, during the 2017 Lions tour, the NZ Herald took a cheap shot at him and Bryn, a pro player now with the Highlanders, Gatland was disgusted. His disdain for crass journalism surfaces several times, albeit with slightly less venom than seen in Eddie Jones’s book.Gatland says: “So often, the reporting in Britain and Ireland has focused on the big-name players left out of a team rather than on the fresh talent drafted into it. In Wales… at times I felt it was easier to add new faces to the existing group rather than force someone to make way for them – to pick a squad of 36 or 37 rather than 31 or 32.”He doesn’t sit on the fence on political issues, such as the health of the Welsh regions or players going to France. And he slams the Lions’ preparation time in 2017 as “mind-blowingly inadequate”, arguing that a player might even have a legal case for damages if they get injured whilst in a jetlagged and poorly rested state.At least South Africa, where Gatland will head with the British & Irish Lions next year, has a similar time zone to Britain and Ireland. That fascinating next chapter awaits. Warren Gatland’s autobiography has been shortlisted for Rugby Book of the Year. We digest the compelling story of the Kiwi who’s done so much for British and Irish rugby LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Book Review BUY NOW with AmazonWarren Gatland: Pride and Passion is published by Headline, RRP £20.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.last_img read more

Connacht v Glasgow live stream: How to watch from anywhere

first_imgOur friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN and recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free – perfect timing to watch the end of the Pro14 season – or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.Check out ExpressVPNConnacht v Glasgow live stream: How to watch from the UKConnacht v Glasgow, which kicks off today at 5.15pm, will be shown live on Premier Sports 1 in the UK.Premier Sports show every Guinness Pro14 match live in the UK. If you have a Sky or Virgin Media contract, you can add Premier Sports to your package from £9.99 a month.Or subscribe to Premier Player so you can stream matches online from £9.99 a month or £99 for 12 months.See Premier Sports offersIf you’re from the UK but are overseas when there’s a particular match you want to watch, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN – see the information above.Connacht v Glasgow live stream: How to watch from IrelandIn Ireland, eir Sport show every Pro14 match live, including Connacht v Glasgow (kick-off 5.15pm on eir Sport 1). If you sign up for eir broadband you can watch eir Sport for free via the eir TV app and online player.Find out more about the eir broadband deals here. Or you can sign up for eir TV and broadband packages, which include eir Sport, from €39.98 a month.If you have Sky TV in Ireland but not eir broadband, you can add eir Sport to your package for €19.99 a month for three months (€29.99 after that) or for €240 for the year – here are the details of the Sky-eir package.Connacht v Glasgow live stream: How to watch from EuropeIf you’re in Austria, Germany, Italy or Switzerland, you can watch Connacht v Glasgow (kick-off 6.15pm) through the live and on-demand streaming service DAZN, which is compatible with smart TVs and phones, tablets, PCs, streaming sticks, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and more.Connacht v Glasgow live stream: How to watch from New ZealandIf you want to tune in to Connacht v Glasgow from New Zealand, the match kicks off at 4.15am on Sky Sport NZ Select.It costs $31.99 a month to add Sky Sport to your Sky Starter pack ($25.99).Sky Sport NZ offerWe recommend VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service)Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroadWe do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.  Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Connacht v Glasgow live stream: How to watch from anywhereThis is a familiar pairing for the start of a Guinness Pro14 season, with Glasgow notching up their fourth round-one visit in five years to Ireland’s west coast. Around 200 spectators will be at The Sportsground today (kick-off 5.15pm) to see if the Scots can maintain their recent dominance in the fixture.Glasgow include 17 internationals in their match-day 23, including two front-rowers on the point of making their 50th club appearance: prop D’arcy Rae and hooker George Turner.Wing Robbie Nairn, who scored a brace when the teams last met, makes his first start since the opening match of last season, while prop Aki Seiuli returns to the match squad for the first time since February following a thumb injury. New signing Fotu Lokotui is set for his club debut as a replacement.Pulling power: Jack Carty and Tom Farrell training in Galway ahead of Connacht’s opening league match of the 2020-21 season (Inpho)Connacht haven’t won their first-round fixture since 2015, nor beaten a Scottish opponent since April 2017. They are determined to set off on the right foot, hooker David Heffernan saying: “We want to make the play-offs. In the history of this competition, teams who do that win 90% of their home games. So we know we need to make The Sportsground a fortress.”Jarrad Butler begins his third season as Connacht captain. The hosts field the back-line that put Ulster to the sword at Aviva Stadium after the resumption, with Ireland trio Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty and Bundee Aki comprising the 9-10-12 axis.The following week Connacht crashed 49-12 to Munster after having forwards Abraham Papali’i and Shane Delahunt sent off in the first half. The club has had a month or so to stew over that, but head coach Andy Friend says they have put it to bed.“The spirit and energy at training has been really positive all week and there’s always a sense of excitement when you start a new season,” he said. “If this squad can produce what I know they’re capable of, we have a great chance of picking up a win.”The teams didn’t meet last season, with a raft of fixtures cancelled because of Covid. So the last clash was in February 2019 when Glasgow won 43-17 at Scotstoun. George Horne scored the first of Glasgow’s tries that day after just 45 seconds. Watch highlights of the game here.Connacht: John Porch; Peter Sullivan, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Alex Wootton; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Jarrad Butler (capt), Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle.Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Niall Murray, 20 Seán Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Sammy Arnold.Glasgow: Huw Jones; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Stafford McDowall, Robbie Nairn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown (capt), D’arcy Rae, Rob Harley, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Matt Fagerson.Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Enrique Pieretto 19 Richie Gray, 20 Fotu Lokotui, 21 George Horne, 22 Pete Horne, Ratu Tagive.Warrior: Oli Kebble carries during Glasgow’s last game, a 15-3 win against Edinburgh in August (Inpho)Here’s how to find a reliable live stream for Connacht v Glasgow wherever you are…How to watch Connacht v Glasgow from outside your countryIf you’re abroad but still want to watch your local Pro14 coverage, like Connacht v Glasgow, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network.VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Pro14 live stream you would at home. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Connacht are traditionally slow starters but they hope to put that right in their 2020-21 Pro14 opener against Glasgow. Here’s what you need to know about today’s match Daly dose: Tom Daly is tackled during Connacht’s last Pro14 game with Glasgow 20 months ago (Inpho) last_img read more

Exciting new-look France team for Autumn Nations Cup

first_img England hold all the aces for this round… Autumn Nations Cup Wales v England preview Autumn Nations Cup France v Italy Preview Some… Collapse Autumn Nations Cup Wales v England preview Exciting new-look France team for Autumn Nations CupFrance v Italy, 8.10pm, Saturday 28 November, Paris, Live on Amazon Prime & Premier SportsThe FFR had an agreement with the Top 14 clubs that players would be available for only three games in this thrown-together autumn campaign, meaning that Fabien Galthie has had to change nearly his entire squad for this weekend’s meeting against Italy.While for some France squads of the past, this curveball could have thrown the side into disarray, something feels different about this group.Galthie will be sure to recognise the importance of depth if his side are to win a World Cup – and after a calendar year in which his starting XV has barely changed, this could be the chance for others to come through. Exciting new-look France team for Autumn Nations Cup and other Test talking pointsLast week’s Autumn Nations Cup games weren’t all classics, but the same can’t be said for other rugby around the globe, with Argentina and Australia playing out a tense draw and England Women beating France in a last-minute thriller.By the law of averages – maths graduates look away – this weekend’s Autumn Nations Cup matches should be belters. We’ll see a confident England visit a Welsh side with their backs to the wall, an exciting new-look France team chock-full of talent, and everybody’s new second-favourite team, Argentina, attempting to repeat their dismantling of the All Blacks.With three Internationals on Saturday and an Irish curtain call on Sunday, all sprinkled liberally with some domestic action, what points do you need to know as you stay rooted to your sofa?Can Argentina do it again? Argentina v New Zealand, 8.45am, Saturday 28 November, Newcastle, Live on Sky SportsMario Ledesma would be a great card player. I’m sure he already is. The only time he’s ever been seen to smile was when the Pumas beat the All Blacks two weeks ago – he must have the best poker face south of the equator.He’s shuffled his deck against the All Blacks this weekend, making a very bold gamble by changing ten of his starting XV from last weekend’s draw against the Wallabies. Only Nicolas Sanchez starts from that game’s back-line, with the hugely experienced fly-half set to win his 83rd cap in New South Wales.Nevertheless, it’s clear Argentina now have impressive depth – their new back three of Emiliano Boffelli, Ramiro Moyano, and Santiago Cordero show absolutely no drop in quality, with Boffelli in particular unlucky not to have been starting previously over the slightly erratic Santiago Carreras. Watch out for Moyano – he’s got a record of scoring stunners against the All Blacks.Elsewhere, Ledesma’s new centre pairing of Juan Cruz Mallia and Jeronimo de la Fuente have a lot of talent – de la Fuente replaces the impressive youngster Santiago Chocobares’s defensive work while Mallia has a touch of X-factor. Just look at these highlights from last autumn’s World Cup…Remember that their last meeting was won in the back row, and Ledesma has kept his two key flankers – Marcos Kremer and captain Pablo Matera – in the starting team, and included Facundo Isa for his first start since before last year’s World Cup.New Zealand haven’t lost three consecutive Tests since 1998, and Argentina will need to get themselves to an incredible psychological place to make that a reality. But, perhaps inspired by the loss of Diego Maradona and the fact no one has backed them for the last two weekends, they could just do it.Welsh back row thrown to English Lions Wales v England, 4pm, Saturday 28 November, Llanelli, Live on Amazon Prime, Premier Sports & S4CEngland were bullies last Saturday. A bully that meticulously planned how they would pummel their victim. They didn’t so much need imagination – just efficiency, physicality and calmness. A hard trio to beat.At the centre of that were their back row: Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola. The latter two had their best games in white since the World Cup, and that includes Underhill’s Man of the Match performance against Scotland in February. It would be no surprise to see all three as the starting Lions back row in South Africa next summer.Making ground: Billy Vunipola carries strongly against Ireland (Getty Images)Throw in the fact that Eddie Jones has picked a six-two bench split, a combination he’s never lost with, and England’s potential intensity has gone through the roof. Who would want to play an hour against the ‘Kamikaze Kids’, only to look up to see Ben Earl and Jack Willis trotting on?Well, Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham have that task, backed up by their formidable experience of… three Wales caps between them. Heck, they only have a combined 49 domestic appearances – that’s less than half of Ben Youngs’s international caps!Rise to the challenge: Shane Lewis-Hughes wins a lineout against Ireland (Getty Images)Wayne Pivac’s hand has been forced by injuries to Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric and while both impressed in the quagmire against Georgia, England are another test entirely. It’s sink or swim for the young Welsh flankers – and we know how ruthless the England pack can be.MATCH PREVIEWS Expand Worth watching this a couple of times to see from just how far back Sekou Macalou runs to catch Matthieu UgaldeThere are still parts of his game that need work, but feel like France cannot afford to overlook someone with his— Paul Eddison (@pauleddison) January 4, 2019Watch out for the red-haired mane of second-row Kilian Geraci, only 21 yet a player whose international debut seems somehow overdue, the Lyon player having been such a pivotal part of France’s U20 double champions.Zanon leads way as Italy seek scalpsFrance v Italy, 8.10pm, Saturday 28 November, Paris, Live on Amazon Prime & Premier SportsItaly really could have beaten Scotland two weekends ago. They were leading right into the 67th minute, having had the better of the forwards battle and scored one sumptuous try. It was only when Scotland emptied their bench to show their superior depth that the dam broke – and Zander Fagerson’s try was quite simply bizarre.Paolo Garbisi has attracted most of the attention for Italy so far this autumn by virtue of possessing the holy trinity of youth, the fly-half shirt and a sidestep most mortals would die for, but outside him Marco Zanon has begun to blossom into a bit of a star.Italy’s excellent score against Scotland was manufactured by Zanon, who picked the ball up on the 15-metre line with very little on. He shrugged off Duncan Weir, swatted away a fly in the shape of Darcy Graham and raced into clear air. The ball passed through the hands of Marcello Violi and Mattia Bellini, before finding itself with Matteo Minozzi, who completed a sensational 60-metre score.Zanon was vice-captain of Italy U20 and has overcome some adversity to be in the team now – his knock-on on the try-line in the 2019 Six Nations possibly cost his side the chance of a win over France. At the centre of an inexperienced Italy back-line, could he make amends for that on Saturday?Ireland look north for inspiration Ireland v Georgia, 2pm, Sunday 29 November, Dublin, Live on Channel 4 & RTEUlster did impressively in the Guinness Pro14 last season, finishing runners-up to Leinster – and Andy Farrell has now turned to their players in his search to find some back-line chemistry before the Six Nations starts again in only two-and-a-half months’ time.Billy Burns impressed with his ambition off the bench against England, his delicate chip setting up clubmate Jacob Stockdale, who has also been recalled for the clash against Georgia. Argentina v New Zealand live stream: How to watch the Tri-Nations match Argentina v New Zealand live stream: How to watch the Tri-Nations match Autumn Nations Cup France v Italy Preview Jacob Whitehead looks ahead to the next round of November Internationals 𝗣𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗿’𝘀 𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗶𝘀𝗵@JacobStockdale gets @IrishRugby on the board at Twickenham#ENGvIRE #AmazonDeliversTheRugby— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) November 21, 2020This week will be Burns’s chance to stake his claim to eventually take over from Sexton after Ross Byrne failed to shine last week – and he’ll be joined in the back-line by Stuart McCloskey, the bulky centre making his first Test appearance since 2018.Ireland struggled to get front-foot ball last week – their difficulty getting over the gain-line highlighted by Amazon Prime’s excellent new graphic – and Byrne may feel slightly aggrieved that Burns will invariably receive far better service against a more limited Georgian side this weekend. New faces: France players during a training session at their Marcoussis base (Getty Images)Remember how significant a supposed ‘under-strength’ England tour to Argentina in 2017 was in discovering players for the World Cup – Ellis Genge, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill all saw their first meaningful international action.This is a perfect game for this new-look French side – playing for the opportunity to appear in the Autumn Nations Cup final, avoiding a top ten-ranked side, but still facing the formidable test of an Italian team who were impressive against Scotland two weeks ago.The most interesting part of the French selection lies in the forward pack, where no player has more caps than hooker Peato Mauvaka’s four. Each of their back row has a real point of difference – and with no specialist replacement on the bench, they will be in for a big day against Maxime Mbanda & Co.Ball-handling wizard Cameron Woki scored against England in the 2018 U20 World Cup final, openside Sekou Macalou is an athletic marvel, while Anthony Jelonch provides the graft and ability to cover the entire back row, which Galthié so values in starters Gregory Alldritt and Francois Cros. Autumn Nations Cup France v Italy Preview Autumn Nations Cup Ireland v Georgia Preview Can the Pumas secure back-to-back victories over the… Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Expand LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS On the ball: Sekou Macalou in training for France’s game against Italy (Getty Images) Autumn Nations Cup Ireland v Georgia Preview The tournament’s group stages conclude in Dublin on… Expandlast_img read more