Scarlets v Edinburgh – Stephen Jones fit again!

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Iestyn Thomas, Rhodri Jones, Damian Welch, Ben Morgan, Martin Roberts, Stephen Jones, Lee Williams. “We’re eager to put our record right up in Edinburgh and we’ve changed a few things in terms of our preparations.  We want to go up there and get a result and we know we have a huge challenge on our hands, but we are desperate to continue our momentum in the league.  We don’t want Munster to get too far ahead of us, and want to try and keep ahead of the teams below us.“We know that if we really want to compete this season, we have to come to tough places like Murrayfield and get results, it’s a measure of how much this team has progressed this season and we’ve told the players if they have ambitions to get something from this season, these are the types of games we have to win.“Yes we’ve got the big Leicester game on the horizon next weekend and it’s a massive one for the team and our supporters at home – but you can’t just switch it on for Europe. Consistency in the domestic competition is equally important and if we can get a result this weekend, it will take us into Europe on a better footing.“These Scarlets players are working very hard and want to get the best out of themselves. It’s a very focused and competitive group at the moment and they’re showing real spirit and determination.”The Scarlets have won five of their last six matches in all competitions.They are currently placed 2nd in the Magners League on 36 points.  Edinburgh sit in 7thon 27 points.Edinburgh have won five of their last six matches against Scarlets, and the visitors are yet to win on Edinburgh soil since rugby went regional in 2003. The Scotsmen have strong home form and have won their last five home games at Murrayfield in the Magners League.Scarlets starting XV v Edinburgh, Murrayfield 08/01/2011, kick-off 1830: Morgan Stoddart, Gareth Maule, Regan King, Jon Davies, Sean Lamont, Rhys Priestland, Tavis Knoyle, Phil John, Matthew Rees (capt), Simon Gardiner, Vernon Cooper, Lou Reed, Jonny Fa’amatuainu, Richie Pugh, David Lyons. The Scarlets are intent on putting right their away record up in Edinburgh and on the back of a derby win against the Dragons last weekend will be challenging hard for points to maintain their momentum and position in the Magners League.With competition tight at the top of the league table and only a few points separating teams placed second to fifth, the Scarlets say that their Scottish trip is a vital one to get right.The Scarlets come into Saturday evening’s game off a hard-fought and brave win against derby rivals the Dragons (21-15) on New Year’s Day and have the confidence of some good away form this season with wins on the road against Treviso, London Irish, Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons and Aironi.The Scarlets welcome back from injury Wales and British Lions outside half Stephen Jones (bench) and second row Lou Reed who comes straight back into the starting line-up alongside Scarlets stalwart Vernon Cooper.The region is however, without three forwards Ken Owens, Josh Turnbull and Rob McCusker who failed late fitness tests and are being rested with minor injuries; Owens (neck), Turnbull (shoulder), McCusker (shoulder).Wales Sevens star Richie Pugh gets his first start of the season at flanker with flair player Samoan international Jonny Fa’amatuainu continuing with a run of games for the Scarlets in the back row.In the backs, Morgan Stoddart moves to fullback from the wing and in-form centre Gareth Maule, who has shown pace and power with five tries from his last six Scarlets appearances moves to the wing along with experienced Scottish international winger Sean Lamont.Regan King and Jon Davies reunite their explosive centre partnership in midfield with Magners League third top point scorer this season, Rhys Priestland (115 points) taking the Scarlets number 10 jersey.Scarlets defense Coach Simon Easterby said: “This month is a huge one for us.  We have our big European fixture against Leicester next weekend at home, then Perpignan away but we want to stay in the top section of the Magners League and as we’ve said all season, the domestic competition is hugely important and a primary focus for us. TAGS: Edinburgh RugbyScarlets last_img read more

Danny Cipriani – Melbourne Rebels, Wasps and England

first_imgDanny Cipriani earning his keep Rapper Lil’ Wayne Before ‘Cips’ decided to trade in the grey skies of London for the sunny pastures of Melbourne, he caught up with Rugby World to chat about Rocky the Pug, chick flicks and Lil’ Wayne.RUGBY WORLD: Who are the jokers at Wasps?DANNY CIPRIANI: Dom Waldouck, Rob Webber and Steve Kefu. We don’t do practical jokes so much, but this is one of the funniest things that’s happened. One day I brought in my dog and when Serge Betsen was sleeping in the physio room I put Rocky on his legs. He felt him climbing up his body, woke up and started screaming – the hardest man in world rugby scared of dogs! I try to steer clear of him on the training field now.RW: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch?DC: It’s little things like the ref getting pushed or someone falling over. You’re in the zone so don’t notice that much. Steve Kefu got hit in the face once and came up to me and said, “Am I still pretty?”!RW: Do you have any nicknames?DC: Cips and Ice Man. I only say that second one in a self-proclaiming way! It’s a cool nickname.RW: You should try it in Australia. What are the three must-have items you’re taking to Oz?DC: My dog, Rocky (below). He’ll be in quarantine for 30 days but I can see him every day so that’ll be fine. My Sony Ericsson X10 phone – it has my music and films on it. I really like R&B so I’ve got Jay Z, Dizzee Rascal, Jagged Edge, Maxwell – but I want to add more. The final thing would be my swimming shorts.RW: Do you have any phobias?DC: Big heights. I look down and it makes you want to jump. It’s called something… vertigo.RW: Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?DC: Really small people if it was a tight lift! Or someone with food, like a full trolley from room service. Denzel Washington would be quite cool too.The Notebook, Singing and his greatest memories…RW: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?DC: To fly. I’ve had dreams about just flying off and I love Superman.RW: Who’d play you in a film of your life?DC: Brad Pitt is the obvious choice. He’s a great actor and adapts to every role. Colin Farrell is Irish so he must know a bit about rugby.RW: And who would play your mum? TAGS: Wasps DC: Helen Mirren or the lady from The Notebook, Joan Allen.center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS RW: You like chick flick The Notebook?!DC: It’s my favourite film. I’ve got in on my phone and I’ll watch it on long away trips.RW: Who would be your three dream dinner party guests?DC: Lil Wayne (rapper).RW: Isn’t he in jail?DC: I’d ask for special leave for him. Then Will Smith and Adele. I saw her at the Hollywood Bowl and she forgot the words twice but got everyone to love her by being funny. It was really endearing and an amazing performance. Will and Adele could do a duet and teach me something – I can’t sing.RW: When was the last time you laughed?DC: In this interview – it’s been fun! I watched The Blind Side the other day and there’s some funny bits in that as well.RW: What’s the best game you’ve played in?DC: The 2003 Daily Mail U15 Cup final for Whitgift v Millfield. We weren’t meant to win as they had such a strong side, but we did (24-7) – it was a great day. As a professional, it’s the Ireland game for England. And for Wasps, when I scored the winning try at Welford Road – everyone knows we love to beat Leicester.RW: What are your happiest and saddest memories?DC: My happiest would be on the beach with my family at Maracas Bay in Trinidad when I was four or five. I recently went to a funeral so that would be the saddest.RW: Any regrets?DC: Not yet.RW: What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?DC: A happy family life, and to bring my children up with good morals.Check out his profile for England Learn more about Danny’s teammates when he was at Wasps…Tom Rees Joe WorsleyAndy Powelllast_img read more

Las Vegas Sevens preview

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS When the 2011 USA Sevens takes place on 12-13 February defending USA Sevens champions Samoa will not only be looking to defend their title at the Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, but also kick-start the defence of their World Series crown.vSo far on the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series Stephen Betham’s side are third with 52 points having lost to England in one final (29-21 in Dubai) and two semis (22-12 and 7-5 in South Africa and New Zealand respectively).The match schedule for Las VegasEngland (above) and New Zealand lead the standings with 64 points each, and Betham knows the importance of at least reaching the final in Las Vegas to decrease the 12-point gap and maintain their hopes of defending the World Series title.“At the moment it is not that easy but we have tried to set a target to win in Vegas. It was the point that we really got going last year and hopefully we can do the same this year. The pool line-up for Las Vegas“But like I said it is not easy. We have two teams in front of us who are playing really well, and we have Fiji in fourth place who are also playing well.”How Samoa won it in 2010:But Betham will remember that at the same stage last year his side had also failed to win any of the three Cup titles before an outstanding 33-10 victory over New Zealand in last year’s USA Sevens Cup final acted as the catalyst in their season.Following their win in Las Vegas, Samoa went on to win the Australia, Hong Kong and Scotland Cup titles to help clinch their first ever World Series, and the coach believes his side are strong enough to repeat history again this year with the help of the Samoan community.“It is our main goal to reach the final. We know if we don’t make the final it will be pretty hard from here on in. But the boys have refocussed for this weekend,” added Betham. “In saying that it will be a different game on a smaller size pitch so we have to tactically sit down and work on different tactics for it. I think it will be another 50-50 chance but it just depends on how well we eliminate our mistakes.“Not only that there is a huge Samoan community here in the USA which will give a huge boost to the boys but saying that we have lost our captain Lolo Lui so it will be interesting to see what happens.”This year they face pool matches with Japan, hosts USA and South Africa on day one of the fourth leg on the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series and will be favourites to reach the Cup quarter finals. But despite having never lost to Japan and just once to USA, Betham is not underestimating their Pool D opponents.“It wont be easy. You don’t know what Japan will bring to the game, so you just have to play to your strengths and minimise your mistakes.”Alongside the main HSBC Sevens World Series event at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, some of the finest women players in the world will compete in the USA Women’s International 7s Tournament.Hosts USA have named an exciting squad blending Sevens veterans, collegiate hopefuls and cross-overs from the 15-a-side Women’s National team as they prepare to take on the likes of France, Kenya, Spain, the Netherlands and bitter rivals Canada.As well as striding out on the main Sam Boyd Stadium pitch on Sunday during a break in the men’s action, the women’s final will also be broadcast on NBC/NBC Universal, a further indication of the increasing appetite for both men’s and women’s Sevens as an exciting new Olympic sport.“We have a lot of great athletes, at camp we saw a lot of our players show up in great shape, with great attitudes,” said USA women’s Sevens coach, Ric Suggitt. “I am really looking forward to Vegas and getting to watch the girls play not only as a coach, but as a fan,” he added. “It’s going to be an eye-opener for some of the players coming over from 15s to see how much space they have to run.”Suggitt selected the home team based on performances in domestic and international competitions at various levels, but the side will almost certainly benefit from the experience that several of the players gained by playing at the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup in England.Victoria Folayan, Nathalie Marchino, and Christy Ringgenberg all proved match winners in that tournament and during the 2010 Women’s Premier League (WPL) season, Marchino finishing second top try-scorer in the WPL.center_img In addition, collegiate All-Star and three-time All-American Tyra McGrady was selected for the Sevens side again, while Penn State stars Deven Owsiany and Sadie Anderson, UNC’s Katie Lorenz, Minnesota’s Catherine Parkhill, and Stanford stand-outs Amelia Villines and Frances Wehrwein all add panache.As well as being shown NBC/NBC Universal, the women’s matches will be webcast live on USA Rugby’s UStream channel, http://www.ustream.tv/usarugby.last_img read more

France relieved to overcome Ireland hurdle

first_imgDUBLIN, IRELAND – FEBRUARY 13: Thierry Dusautoir of France passes the ball during the RBS 6 Nations match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium on February 13, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images FRANCE KEPT their cool to achieve victory over Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, but coach Marc Lièvremont admitted that he experienced “moments of absolute panic” as they fought to suppress the home side’s comeback in the dying minutes of the match.Ireland put in an improved performance from the one that saw them defeat Italy the previous weekend, and they put the visitors under pressure for the full 80 minutes. Jamie Heaslip’s try in the 68th minute took the score to 22-25, and Keith Earls’s chip deep into France’s half gave the home fans hope that there may yet be another score in Ireland’s locker still to come. But France’s desperate defence held firm and a second last minute victory in as many weeks was not to be.Marc Lièvremont praised his players’ spirit and composure as they fought to shut Ireland out, but said there are still plenty of improvements that need to come from his team. “There were lots of good moments, but we weren’t well paced, and they put pressure on us for the full 80 minutes, as well as scoring two tries against us,” said Lièvremont.“The match ended with a very dangerous situation for us and the final scrum was very stressful, but we were able to control it. The Irish could have won, but we managed to come through in the end.” Lièvremont is already thinking about their next game – France head to Twickenham to take on England – despite the two-week break. England are the only other unbeaten side in the championship and are enjoying some great form, and Lièvremont said: “I already have a headache looking towards England. They’re looking confident and have great physicality as well as acceleration. They’re ahead of everyone else.”Ireland head to Murrayfield next to take on winless Scotland in a game they must look to win to regain their confidence, and keep their hopes of winning the tournament alive. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Captain Thierry Dusautoir admitted that the team hadn’t always responded well to the pressure they came under at the Aviva Stadium today. Ireland’s first try and second try-scoring chance came after just five minutes of play,  but he praised the composure of the team, dispelling any thoughts of an unhappy French camp.” The message from the first 10 minutes was that we needed to react immediately,” said Dusautoir. “Our game management would only score 5/10, but our spirit would score 10/10. We didn’t respond well to the pressure of the situation at the start of the game, but the solidarity within the team is certainly a positive we can take from this game.”last_img read more

South Africa rugby – Vodacom Cup preview

first_img16h45  Vodacom Blue Bulls v Boland Cavaliers at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria* All times are South African times * The Ford Pumas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs be aiming to continue their great starts to the season when these teams meet up in their second Vodacom Cup match of the season at Ermelo on Saturday at 3pm. The team from Mpumalanga kicked off their campaign by running in five tries during their 35-26 victory over the SWD Eagles in George last weekend. However, their opponents from Bloemfontein, who recorded a 55-19 victory over the Valke, last Friday will be a different proposition altogether where a head-on collision is expected.The Toyota Free State Cheetahs side will be captained by winger Eddie Fredericks and includes Springbok flanker Heinrich Brüssow and former DHL Western Province centre Morgan Newman, who is furthering his rugby career in Bloemfontein.Coach Pine Pienaar has loaded his bench with four SA U20 hopefuls – flyhalf Johan Goosen, fullback Riaan Britz, scrumhalf Kevin Luiters and prop Stephan Kotze.In Pretoria, Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Denzil Frans made five changes to his team that lost 19-30 to the Sharks XV last weekend as the defending champions prepare for their match against the Boland Cavaliers at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.Talented centre Stefan Watermeyer returns from Vodacom Super Rugby duty and joins a star-studded backline, which include former Springbok wing Akona Ndungane and former Baby Bok representatives Clayton Blommetjies (fullback), Sampie Mastriet (wing) and Francois Venter (centre).DHL Western Province coach John Dobson has selected a squad mixed with experience and youth for his side’s first Vodacom Cup game on the road when they travel to Kempton Park for their clash against the Valke on Saturday at 15h00.Five players included in the DHL WP team – Lionel Cronje, Johann Sadie, Yaya Hartzenberg, Louis Schreuder and Siya Kolisi – previously represented the SA U20s, while a host of players with Vodacom Super Rugby experience, like Hilton Lobberts, Tim Whitehead, JD Moller, Wikus Blaauw and JC Kritzinger, provide balance to the team.In Johannesburg, the Golden Lions will be looking for their first Vodacom Cup victory of the season after playing out an 18-18 draw against DHL Western Province last weekend. They host the Pampas XV at Coca-Cola Park on Friday at 16h45.Two former Springboks – flyhalf Andre Pretorius, who is approaching his 50th cap for the Golden Lions and winger Tonderai Chavhanga – have been including in the Johannesburg team that will be captained by former SA U20 lock David Bulbring.In the weekend’s other Vodacom Cup matches, the EP Kings travel to Potchefstroom for their match against the Platinum Leopards on Friday at 18h00; the Griffons host the SWD Eagles at the North West Stadium in Welkom at 15h00 on Saturday, while Griquas are the Diamantveld Hoërskool for their clash against the Border Bulldogs, with kick-off also on Saturday at 15h00. In Windhoek, the Welwitschias face the Sharks XV at the Hage Geingob Stadium at 16h00.Vodacom Cup Fixtures – Round Two Friday, March 4, 201116h45  Golden Lions v Pampas XV at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg18h00  Platinum Leopards v EP Kings at Profert Olën Park, PotchefstroomSaturday, March 5, 201115h00  Valke v DHL Western Province at Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park15h00  Ford Pumas v Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Ermelo15h00  Griffons v SWD Eagles at North West Stadium, Welkom15h00  Griquas v Border Bulldogs at Diamantveld Hoërskool, Kimberley16h00  Welwitschias v Sharks XV at Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoekcenter_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Watch the 2015 World Cup draw live!

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Golden reign: New Zealand were crowned world champions in 2011 but who will be in their 2015 World Cup pool?THE POOL draw for the 2015 World Cup takes place at 3pm today – and you can watch it unfold live here. Who will defending champions New Zealand be grouped with? Who will hosts England play in the pool stages? And will Wales drop to ninth in the world rankings mean they are in the toughest group? Find out as the draw takes place…last_img

Week 3: Autumn series talking points

first_img All about the execution: Owen Farrell will look to show his creativity Opportunity knocks for FordWith all the discussion of centred round George Ford – Owen Farrell reunion against Samoa, it’s been easy to overlook that the former is making his first Test start tomorrow.Despite the abilities he has shown in repeatedly opening up Aviva Premiership defences this season and last, Ford’s shot at being England‘s first-choice 10 for the World Cup has seemed unlikely with Farrell as the incumbent. But the Saracens man’s recent struggles for form and fitness have granted his former U20 partner an opportunity to prove that he can become England’s pivot on a permanent basis.In many ways Ford and Farrell are opposing entities, and the Bath fly-half needs to show why his qualities are the ones Stuart Lancaster needs to trust. His ability to orchestrate and fully utilise the backline is well documented, and will be a welcome prospect given England’s lack of cutting edge last time out – where they failed to score a try in the first half against South Africa despite enjoying 65 per cent of possession. There have been some doubts about his kicking proficiency off the deck on the biggest stage – a criticism that could never be aimed at the nerveless Farrell – but he has been granted responsibility of the tee ahead of his old friend tomorrow.With just eight games to the World Cup, it is getting late to be discussing new partnerships, so Ford is running out of opportunities to prove he can cut it in the Test arena so an immediate impact is required, and the young 10 is fully capable of providing the catalyst. Ball in hand: George Ford will be looking to unlock the Samoa defenceWales need to play a game of two halvesThere was more than a hint of frustration at the Millennium Stadium last weekend as Wales failed to score in the second half of their win over Samoa. Their point-less second half was a repeat of the display against Tonga last year, when the scoreboard read 17-7 at half-time and full-time, and added to the frustration of the all too familiar defeat to Australia, in which Rhys Webb crossed the whitewash after just two minutes.This weekend’s opponents, New Zealand, are the masters of maintaining the intensity that wins Test matches. In their 24-21 win at Twickenham earlier this month they dominated a rain-soaked second-half, staying level on points, even with 14 men, that allowed them to control and ultimately win the game.Warren Gatland‘s side need to react in a similar way up to 80 minutes and beyond if they are have any chance of nicking a first win in 61 years. In the Australian defeat, their share of possession and territory both dropped in the second half, and this unsurprisingly mirrored a drop in ticking the scoreboard over. There are countless challenges Wales face if they are to beat the All Blacks for the first time in 26 attempts, but ensuring they don’t lose their discipline and mental edge as the match reaches its denouement could prove far more important than the opening exchanges. After a mixed weekend for the Home Nations last time out, we take a look at some of the key issues ahead of this weekend’s international action LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Held: Wales could not break loose in the second half against FijiCan Ireland back up their rankings rise?November is threatening to turn into Christmas come early for Irish rugby fans. A rip-roaring 29-15 win over South Africa was followed last weekend by a new-look side putting Georgia away with a clinical second-half display, and a spot at third in the world rankings – the first time they’ve reached such heady heights since 2006 – was just reward for their recent endeavours.Joe Schmidt referred to Ireland‘s promotion above Australia and England as a ‘distraction’, but he must be privately thrilled at the performances his team are showing a year out from the World Cup. They have lost only once – against England – since Ryan Crotty‘s last-gasp try for the All Blacks last November, and a brave display under pressure in Paris, which saw them claim the Six Nations title in March, was testament to their big-game credentials. A visit from the Wallabies is the year’s final test, and the bulk of the side that beat the Springboks a fortnight ago is returning, with the experienced duo of Rory Best and Gordon D’Arcy also coming in to bolster the ranks. An alternative Ireland outfit showed promise against the Georgians, but the returning grunt and guile fits the occasion. A win tomorrow would cap a year of progress, and add weight to the view they’re genuine contenders for next year’s biggest prize. Green dream: Ireland have enjoyed a successful year to jump to third in the rankingsScotland must avoid Tonga horror show repeatTonga’s last trip to Scotland was a record-breaking one but not in the manner Scotland had hoped. The Pacific Island outfit’s 21-15 victory was their first ever win over the Scots, and ensured a swift exit for Andy Robinson.Two years down the line and there is a renewed sense of optimism around current head coach Vern Cotter‘s side, as they prepare to line up against the same opponents in Kilmarnock. Their five-try victory against Argentina – a side they also beat in Cordoba this summer – was impressive, despite the late defensive lapses that took the gloss off the scoreline. More impressive still was the nature of their defeat to New Zealand last weekend. So often in the past a Scottish defeat to southern hemisphere opponents has been labelled ‘valiant’, but Saturday’s display genuinely warranted the title. They competed for 70 minutes and they may have been in the realms of dreamland had Greig Laidlaw’s late penalty gone over. Scottish fans will warn you that such optimism does not last long however, and maintaining performance levels is Cotter’s new test. The Tongans will provide a destructive threat in contact, and come in to this clash off the back of a five-try defeat of the USA, so the hosts must front up in a way they couldn’t manage in 2012. A repeat of that result would undermine much of the tentative momtenum built in the previous two weeks. Scot better: Can Scotland continue to impress and avenge their 2012 defeat to Tonga?last_img read more

Six Nations: Five things we learnt – Italy v Ireland

first_imgJoe Schmidt’s Ireland huffed and puffed but eventually pulled away from a dogged Italy side to leave Rome in credit Safe pair of hands: Paul O’Connell secures ball in a low-key Irish win (Pic INPHO) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS It was the ultimate bloodless coup. Italy never really fired a shot, and Ireland were able to roll from first gear, into second and maybe at a push, briefly got into third to run out comfortable winners without really having to dip into their bag of tricks, or even show that much of their hand. Here’s the five pointers we learned from the match:Joe Schmidt had gelled up on his ‘Italian Rugby Cliches Manual’Deny them early momentum. Tick. Don’t let them get on top in the set piece. Tick. Grind them down slowly. Tick. Earn the right to go wide. Tick. Joe Schmidt had clearly read the Handy Media Guide to Beating Italy and felt that, on balance, most of it still held true. Ireland squeezed the Italian lineout, got the nudge on their scrum and proceeded to dismantle them very, very slowly.In charge: Joe Schmidt ticked all the boxes as his side increasingly strangled Italy (Pic Inpho)Indeed, one attack in the Italian 22 in the first half was so narrow they might as well have reached a gentlemans’s agreement not to bother setting up another ruck after each phase and just charge up the same channel again.Schmidt’s all conquering system, erm, conquers allJoe Schmidt’s greatest achievement as Ireland coach so far is his ability to withstand the loss of key individuals. Like a rugby equivalent of Arrigo Sacchi, he is a firm believer in building playing systems around which the players perform. So when Sean O’Brien pulled up in the warm-up, Schmidt would have been confident that Tommy O’Donnell would have known exactly what was required of him as his replacement.Job done: Tommy O’Donnell stepped into Sean O’Brien’s shoes seamlessly (Pic Inpho)It seemed apt that O’Donnell should score the second try, barrelling over superbly from Ian Madigan’s cut-out pass. It does, however, leave Ireland looking a little dull on occasions. They never offload or run the ball in their own half, or do anything off the cuff. Outmuscling French fatties tends not to be a profitable strategy – just ask Scotland – so expect at least the occasional bit of panache next week.Ireland need Jonnycenter_img To be clear, Ian Keatley, did plenty of good things. He put in some decent tactical kicks and dinked everything off the tee through the sticks, but he also threw in a few loose kicks and lacks Sexton’s ability to run and pass with authority on the gainline. But, hey, doesn’t everyone? That’s why Johnny Sexton is the world’s premier fly-half.A man apart: Ireland need Johnny Sexton back to direct proceedings (PIC INPHO)It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Sexton remains absolutely essential to Ireland’s ability to challenge for a second successive championship. After 12 weeks kicking his heels, Johnny will have nervous energy to burn, but he’ll need to be at his controlled best next week against Les Bleus.Ireland have bench impactMomentum picked up notably once Iain Henderson and Ian Madigan came onto the pitch. It was as if a switch was flicked and the team set about putting the Italians away for good. Iain Henderson reminds us of  Stephen Ferris; his upright carrying style looks technically dubious but he’s so strong – with an added 4kg of muscle recently added – it just enables him to stay on his feet longer. It’s how the Springboks do things.Pass master: Ian Madigan may not get a start but he brings an extra option from the bench (Pic INPHO)And while it’s a real pity Ian Madigan seems doomed never to be able to bring his tactical kicking game to the level where he can be trusted to start Test matches, he remains Ireland’s best passer of a football. While Keatley was preferred to start this game, it’s likely that Madigan will remain on the bench when Sexton returns, since his unstructured brilliance is best suited to the last 20 minutes of matches.Mike Ross – he’s ALIVE! Some punters (by which we mean ‘we’) were quick to question the selection of Mike Ross at tighthead. He didn’t make the Leinster matchday squad in their last two ERCC pool matches, with Irish eligible players preferred in his stead. It’s all a bit like that time Deccie kept picking Donncha O’Callaghan even though Donnacha Ryan had displaced him at Munster and was playing fantastically.We digress, credit to Ross, who dominated his opponent in the scrum and set the tone for a dominant set piece performance by Ireland. But it remains to be seen over the course of the championship whether Schmidt is right to persist in the hope that Ross can hang on until the World Cup, or if he should be concentrating all his efforts on Marty Moore and Nathan White.last_img read more

French team suffer culture shock as they set up base in Croydon

first_imgCroydon council say a parking ticket given to the French team bus was not retaliation to the derogatory remarks made in the French press about the town A Croydon tram (Photo: Peter Trimming/CC2.0) When the French rugby team were told they were to be based ‘just outside London’ for the Rugby World Cup, doubtless they imagined the castled decadence of Windsor or the leafy Hertfordshire countryside.So when the team bus pulled up in Croydon some players were far from impressed.>>> Why it’s dangerous to write off FranceNew Zealand-born prop Uini Atonio complained of a bad night’s sleep when a wedding at the team’s Selsdon Park Hotel kept him awake and then the team bus was given a parking ticket for illegally stopping outside a restaurant in the town.https://twitter.com/DanMHicks/status/644259336802430976/photo/1One journalist from France’s MetroNews described Croydon as ‘dull’, ‘monotonous’, and ‘pas tres chic’, but the local council denies the parking ticket was in response to the derogatory comments. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img “Despite appearances, this is not Croydon’s revenge for disparaging remarks allegedly made about the town by a French rugby journalist earlier this week,” a council spokesman said.“The fact of the matter is that the coach was parked illegally in a bus stop on a busy main road.”Coach Philippe Saint-Andre told the Evening Standard: “(The organisers) chose (Croydon) for us, we did not have a say. We could not choose a hotel in the centre of London, unfortunately for our players, who could have gone shopping more easily.“But we are not going to complain.” France kick off their campaign against Six Nations rivals Italy at Twickenham on Saturday evening, so let’s hope there are no more noisy weddings planned at their hotel this week.To see all of Rugby World’s latest subscription deals click herelast_img read more

Nutrition: How to eat in the off-season

first_imgPoached egg, salmon & rosti (serves three) What you’ll need: 2 Maris Piper potatoes, 1 raw beetroot peeled and grated, 1⁄2 red onion peeled and finely chopped, 1⁄2 clove garlic peeled and finely crushed, 50ml of rapeseed oil, 3 eggs, 75g smoked salmon, An optional dollop of horseradish cream, Salad leaves of your choice.Step-by-step: 1 Boil the potatoes (unpeeled), drain and leave to cool for ten mins. Peel and grate into a large bowl.2 Add the beetroot, onion and garlic, then season. Divide mixture into three rostis and place on a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes.3 Heat oil in a frying pan and cook the rostis for 4-5 mins each side. Remove, keep warm in oven at low temperature.4 Poach the eggs in simmering water. As you’re no longer in a hurry, on days when training doesn’t eat into your schedule you don’t have to chuck everything in a blender and whizz up a five-minute miracle before rushing off for a full day.“This time of year is all about recovery and rest,” says James Morehen, a rugby nutritionist from Liverpool John Moores University. “This is the time when we tell athletes about the three Ts of nutrition – timing, type and total.“You don’t need to be carb loading as you’re not training as much, so what type of macronutrients are you consuming? If you’ve not done any heavy sessions that day and have nothing the next, do you need a heavy-carb spaghetti Bolognese at 9pm? I doubt it.”Enjoy cooking in the off-seasonSo as well as having time to actually enjoy cooking, it’s about understanding what your body needs. Morehen says that early conditioning sessions should be backed up with breakfasts that are protein-heavy but low on carbs.He implores athletes to imagine a plate of distinct sections, with a majority (palm size) made up of lean proteins, a fist size of fibre-rich carbs like sweet potato or brown rice, and the rest made up of colourful vegetables.As ever, Morehen encourages you to “eat a rainbow” of colours, be it with your biggest meals or midday snacks of Greek yoghurt, fruit and nuts.Below is a healthy recipe that anyone should be able to master…DO – Consider the balance of nutrients you consume on your days off, and enjoy spending time in the kitchen.DON’T – Pile up the carbohydrates like you would during a busy training block. 5 To serve, place a rosti on plate and top with the salmon and horseradish cream (if wanted). Put a poached egg on top, add salad leaves and enjoy!For the latest Rugby World subscription offers click here and find out how to download the digital edition here. The off-season is the time to get out the whisk and chopping board and learn a few recipes LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more