Alex Goode – Saracens and England Saxons

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Goode’s sights are set on a World Cup place and he hopes some assured performances in the Heineken Cup will stand him in good stead. “It’s the superior competition in Europe and a chance to really put yourself out there. These are the big games the selectors really look at and you need to put down a marker. I know I can play well in big pressure matches, because the Premiership final and the Churchill Cup final were two of my best performances last year.“If you play well against Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be involved in the England set-up. If I’m not involved in the autumn Internationals I just need to make sure I’m showing consistency as a No 10. I think that’s what the England management want to see from a young guy like me.” Saracens met French opposition in last season’s Amlin Challenge Cup and spent their pre-season tour in Biarritz, so Goode is certain they can cope with their two French adversaries. “I watched Clermont against Racing on ESPN and they’re very powerful teams, but we’re not a bad team either!” he says. “The French sides haven’t adapted much to the new interpretations of the laws and there is still a lot of kicking. They’re not playing at the quicker tempo we have seen in the Premiership.”Goode has excelled for England Saxons but hasn’t made the step up to the Elite Player Squad yet and, with the World Cup less than a year away, time is running short. Added to which, Saracens coach Brendan Venter has promised Goode at least a dozen starts in the No 10 shirt this season, so the 22-year-old is adapting to a new role after playing most of his professional rugby at full-back, while trying to impress Martin Johnson. But Goode is not only a talented player, he’s also confident, intelligent, level-headed and ready for the challenge.“There’s quite a lot of pressure on me, so people keep telling me! I know it’s going to be a tough transition (to fly-half). It’s not a position you can just step into. You have to worry about the whole team and getting the best out of everyone going forward. You need to have a thicker skin playing there. You’re going to make mistakes because you can’t possibly make 100% correct decisions in any game. But I’m putting a lot of time into my game and the key for me is to listen to the people I trust, whether I’m playing well or badly.” TAGS: Saracens Alex Goode at SaracensALEX GOODE admits he didn’t have much luck in the casinos when he holidayed in Las Vegas this year, but Saracens’ gamble of taking club rugby to Wembley Stadium for the first time last season paid off as they managed to win all four matches in front of crowds of 40,000-plus. Saracens will make what they hope is a happy return to Wembley on 16 October, when they entertain Leinster in the Heineken Cup, and Goode can’t wait. “Playing at Wembley for a young English kid is a dream come true,” says the England Saxons star. “Twickenham is my number one but Wembley comes close. It’s wonderful. They left no stone unturned when they built it – it’s a highly professional set-up. It’s a very special place and in the first 20 minutes the opposition chuck the kitchen sink at you because they’re so motivated too. But we’ve won there four times so it’s somewhere we like to play!”Saracens beat Northampton, Worcester and Harlequins there, but the match which Goode says “will stick with me for the rest of my life” was their 24-23 defeat of South Africa in November. Not only was it an historic win, but Saracens fan Stuart Tinner wrote his own headlines when he won £250,000 during half-time by successfully hitting the crossbar with a punt kick. Goode laughs: “I hadn’t played the first half so I was more relaxed than a lot of the players and I was aware of what had happened and had a joke about it.“It was quite a fairytale because we were losing at half-time and then the crowd went up a notch after the guy won the money. We started the second half well, scored and scored again and went on to win. A lot of people were won over to us after that.”Before the Leinster clash, Saracens have to cross the Channel to meet French champions Clermont Auvergne on 9 October. It will be Sarries’ first Heineken Cup match since the 2007-08 season and as Goode didn’t make his first-team debut until May 2008 it’s set to be his first taste of the competition. With Parisians Racing Métro in their pool too, Saracens are up against it, but Goode isn’t fazed.“The initial reaction to the draw was, ‘Brilliant, we’ve got a group of death here’. But the old cliché is right – to be the best you have to beat the best. Leinster have set a precedent in the last few years with how good they’ve been and Clermont are an extremely talented side. But why not play the best and enjoy it? I’ve never been in awe of any player I’ve played against but I’ve massive respect for Brian O’Driscoll and if I can stand toe to toe with him and not look out of place I’ll be delighted.”last_img read more

Joe Simpson has the world’s fastest pass

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Suraj Bithal, from Lehman Brothers who watched the action unfold said: “Today was a really good event here at Canary Wharf, and the interest from the public was great.  It was a novel way for City workers to spend their lunch hours, comparing their skills and prowess with the likes of Kenny Logan and some of the current Wasps boys.”Speaking at the event, Mark Wheeler, UK and Ireland Marketing Director at EMC, said, “Congratulations to our new Guinness world record holder – and we look forward to seeing if his record of 48 mph will be challenged at Twickenham on Easter Saturday. This second annual St. George’s Day Game promises to be a great family day out – and EMC is proud to be associated with London Wasps’ campaign in support of some very deserving causes.” [imagebrowser id=6]London Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson today set a new Guinness World record for the world’s fastest pass of a rugby ball at a special event organised by the club’s main sponsor EMC.The pass was measured at a speed of 48 mph – and officially entered into the record books by watching officials from Guinness. The event was organised as part of the Wasps’ promotion of their forthcoming St. George’s Day Game against Bath at Twickenham Stadium on Easter Saturday.Simpson was joined by Wasps teammates Tom Varndell and Nic Berry and ex-players Kenny Logan and Mark Robinson in taking part in the challenge. London Wasps Head Coach Shaun Edwards was on hand to give advice to the players.Commenting on his new status in the world record books, Simpson said, “I am thrilled to have beaten the other players involved to get my name in the record books. It’s been interesting to see the different speeds recorded, and the competitor in me meant I was determined to win.  Thanks to EMC for setting up the challenge, and giving me something fun to tell my children one day!”center_img The speed challenge will be available for budding Joe Simpsons to try out in the west car park at Twickenham on the afternoon of the St. George’s Day Game – featuring London Wasps versus Bath – on 23rd April.  The match is aiming to raise thousands of pounds for four special military charities – BLESMA, Combat Stress, the Special Boat Service Association and the Parachute Regiment Charity.Tickets for the match are priced from just £15 and are available now on 0844 225 2990 or at read more

Smith leaves Ospreys for London Irish

first_imgCommenting on his decision to sign for London Irish, Tom Smith said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ospreys but feel it is time to move on and I am keen to do this at London Irish. There are a few Welsh lads in the current London Irish squad who have gone on to be extremely successful in recent seasons and I hope to follow suit when I join this summer.”Tom will join up with his new London Irish team mates for pre-season training in June. Away from rugby Tom has studied medicine at Cardiff University. London Irish head coach Toby Booth said: “Tom’s ability to play at both blindside flanker and number 8 means he will add further to our back row options.  He is a top class defender that possesses very good set piece attributes.” Smith leaves the Welsh region for the bright lights of the PremiershipLondon Irish has signed Tom Smith from Ospreys on a two year deal the club can reveal this afternoon.Smith, who was born in Bristol, has made 60 appearances for the Welsh region scoring two tries. Standing 6 feet 2 inches and weighing just under 17 stones, he will bring plenty of physicality to the Irish back row as well as his experience of playing regularly in the RaboDirect PRO 12 competition and the Heineken Cup.The 26 year-old has captained Wales at Under 21 level as well as the Ospreys when called upon. This will see him bring leadership qualities along with his rugby ability when he joins the club. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS SWANSEA, WALES – JANUARY 13: Ospreys forward Tom Smith in action during the Heineken Cup pool five match between Ospreys and Benetton Treviso at Liberty Stadium on January 13, 2012 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)last_img read more

Big Debate: Should the Premiership keep the salary cap?

first_imgFollowing today’s press release from Saracens, we dug this out of our archives. First published in the September 2013 edition of Rugby World, it’s still prevalent today… WITH ENGLISH clubs failing to oust their French counterparts in the European Cup in recent years and several high-profile names jetting off to the millionaires’ playground of the Top 14, some fans are asking why Aviva Premiership clubs are no longer expected to compete with the French.One answer being proffered is that English sides are impeded by the salary cap. In place since 1999, the cap ensures that no Premiership club can spend in excess of a salary limit, agreed upon by a majority of the Premiership Rugby board, the 12 representatives of the Premiership sides.Here, Exeter CEO Tony Rowe and former Bath coach Steve Meehan, who’s also worked for Western Force, debate whether English clubs should keep the cap. Read their views and then cast your vote…No: Steve Meehan AT THE time Bath were bought by Bruce Craig (2010), I remember thinking it could immediately bear fruit. I thought money could put Bath on an even footing with the big guns – but we couldn’t take advantage.It’s not just about your starting 15 but your second 15. The traditional big guys can lose 15 internationals. He has been vocal since he has left but when Martin Castrogiovanni was at Leicester they had Dan Cole as well and that is not bad as an example. There are some pretty clever guys looking at the regulations.I never felt restricted but at Bath we understood and played by the rules. You look at team depth. I cannot really complain as I tried to maximise the quality of the squad, but it was no secret that when Butch James got injured for us – and this is not an insult to the guys who came in and did their best – we found it tough. You cannot have two fly-halves like that. You cannot chase your tails, and if we had two fly-halves like that we would lose out elsewhere.I also had meetings with Premiership Rugby about player welfare. There is a lot of rugby and at the moment there seems to be a lot of retirements coming out. Is this the tip of the iceberg? Maybe they can track it back to the salary cap.Driving force: Bath would benefit from the Premiership getting rid of the capI’ve spoken about it on various occasions: when fans questioned the players’ efforts I’d say to them, ‘Would you care to look in the changing room?’ The boys looked like they’d been in a car accident. Then you see what they have to do at the end of a long season and it’s no surprise that players look at the riches of France or guys from here in Australia or New Zealand look at Japan.There are some concessions for academy guys but those run out after a few years. There is an interesting debate in Australian rugby league about concessions for long-serving players at a club. A percentage of their wages could be taken out of the salary cap. To do that you need a good club culture that players stay for, but it could be a way of creating greater stability without needing to add 12 players to your programme a year.I can see why some owners and CEOs would be offended by the cap and be concerned that they aren’t trusted to be responsible. It’s give and take. Here in Australia we have a cap, but the ARU offer top-ups for certain players’ wages.The Western Force are also getting concessions now to bring in more foreign development players. New ARU CEO Bill Pulver is proactive and wants competitive teams becausethere is Australian Rules, league and soccer in a small market.In Europe, the European Cup cannot rely on the northern hemisphere’s magnificent tradition to get bums on seats and compete with soccer. Tony Rowe – YesIF THERE was a debate at board level today I would fight for it. We at Exeter Chiefs aren’t naïve enough to think that all clubs stick to the word of the law on the cap, but we would rather have something that keeps things in check than nothing at all.We aren’t as rich as some clubs and we’ve had to manage our budget to be successful on the pitch as well as making a profit. That would be more difficult without the cap.In the Aviva Premiership all of the teams can beat each other. Some of the results last year prove that and it is fantastic, because the competition is not totally one-sided. That is what punters go for. There is enjoyment and everyone shows some of the more traditional clubs the greatest respect. You wouldn’t find fans so respectful if they were regularly beaten by the chequebook.Some can pull out the chequebook once a year and if there was open season only two or three would spend well over the current cap. It is sort of self-policing but, like everything else in life, some can see their way around it. If you’ve seen the regulations they’re a hefty bit of paperwork. As long as there is someone willing to write regulations, there are also those willing to sit and study them.Business view: Rowe has made sure Exeter is financially secureThe problem is that the documents are difficult to enforce to the letter and the penny. If I wanted to bend the rules and had someone in my legal team who came to me and said they had the answer I would probably consider it.All the shareholders at clubs meet up (to vote on the cap) but sometimes it can feel like turkeys voting for Christmas. I would support the rules being enforced more and that would be passed down to the board of directors, who are the turkeys.We need to move on in other ways. Worcester Warriors and ourselves didn’t just appear. We had planned for a long time, working on building the commercial sides of the clubs. London Welsh were never afforded that. The rules are ringfenced in favour of the Championship clubs but you have to be able to perform within the cap.Three years ago we were given less than £1m centrally (from the RFU) while others got £3m. We planned to make up the deficit for when we joined the Premiership, so that the gulf between us and the other clubs was one we could afford.The challenge should change so that first division or Championship clubs that aspire to make the Premiership don’t suffer. It comes down to money, or the lack of it. The RFU have been very reluctant to spend money on grass-roots or amateur rugby in the past and they get the bulk of their money from pro rugby.Now, the Aviva Premiership is very professionally run and the teams have made great efforts to provide a brilliant match-day experience for fans – and rightfully so. However, that is what others are looking up into. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Highlight Fanfare: Would these fans enjoy the Premiership so much if there was no cap? Cast your vote below… Should the Premiership keep the salary cap? (Poll Closed) Yes  82.14%      No  17.86%      Comments (0) Create Your Own Poll   Should the Premiership keep the salary cap?last_img read more

USA sevens star Zack Test: “We’re out to take over the world”

first_imgTest has been through the wringer with the sevens team. An eight-year veteran of the circuit, despite being only 26, he remembers the days when it was all about development, about learning the game. Now he is confident and he is hungry. Even last season it was about competing, being one of the top eight sides on the circuit who could hang with the big boys. Now they want to be in the top four, competing to win every single series event. As the ever-experienced Test puts it: “I’m out to lead by example, to have my team go out and take over the world.”These are exciting times for rugby in the States. According to Test, the game’s popularity has exploded. The World Cup was great for the game, but the continued improvement of the sevens side has not gone unnoticed either. In 2016 there will be a professional North American league, while a US Olympic medal could further push rugby’s cause. Global stars can be made at the Games, but at the recent World Cup Test had to mark one potential Olympian who is already a big name when he played the Springboks.“I swapped jerseys with Bryan Habana at the World Cup and had a nice little chat with him after. He was good. He wished me and the team well for the series and the Olympics and told me he’s rooting for us. We might face him again in sevens, so it’d be nice to play him with a little more space on the field!” Zack Test’s USA are no longer just competing on the World Sevens Series – they’re out to win LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS THAT’S IT. Time to wake up. If USA rugby is a slumbering giant then this is the season when the alarm starts ringing. At least that is according to US sevens stalwart Zack Test.At the final event of last season’s HSBC World Sevens Series, the States left London with a first-ever tournament victory. They then qualified for the Olympics. This US side clicked right at the end of a hard season and they want to start much, much quicker this time.“Any team has to go through pains to get gains, so we had that last year. We have to start fresh now,” Test says. “Every season has a different feel to it, and it’s especially true for this one with the Olympics at the end as a golden prize. It is going to be a long, daunting season, but we will go from tournament to tournament looking for the right results.“That means no compromising. In training, no ‘what ifs?’ If you’re not going to get it in training, you’re not going to get it in a game, so it has to be high intensity, performing at the highest level, and hopefully that will transfer through to the series.”LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 26: Zack Test #5 of the United States carries the ball against Spain in the Shield Final match of the USA Sevens Rugby tournament at Sam Boyd Stadium on January 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The United States won 31-0. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)last_img read more

Saints and Sinners: The weekend’s talking points

first_imgBordeaux were still going for the win and Baptiste Serin took a tap penalty and attacked down the right. He shipped the ball on to Jean-Marcellin Buttin, who found full-back Geoffrey Cros on his outside, but he dropped the ball over the line in the corner, under pressure from a tackle from Woodburn.Exeter went on to win 20-12 and the home crowd were not impressed.Manu TuilagiWorld Rugby’s decision to clamp down on dangerous tackles isn’t exactly a secret, but it seems to have passed Manu Tuilagi by. The Leicester centre was sin-binned for a no-arms shoulder charge on Rory Scannell half an hour into his team’s narrow win over Munster and he was lucky that the Tigers actually scored six points while he was off the pitch, rather than conceding any more.In the bin: Manu Tuilagi looks on after being yellow-carded for a second week running v MunsterTuilagi barged into Scannell after the Munster man had passed the ball. It was a no-brainer for referee Pascal Gauzere and a really needless sin-binning from Leicester’s point of view, as Tuilagi’s ‘tackle’ did not have any positive effect.Leicester skipper Tom Youngs also stepped out of line a fraction as he was too intent on arguing with Munster’s leader Peter O’Mahony to pay attention to Gauzere when the referee was calling him over to speak about Tuilagi.Leigh HalfpennyMany times a match-winner, this weekend Leigh Halfpenny failed to take two opportunities to clinch a win over the Scarlets for Toulon.His French club were trailing 22-21 and knocking on the door in search of a winning score. They earned a penalty after 74 minutes, just outside the ten-metre line and 15 metres in from touch on the left. Halfpenny sent it wide.Five minutes later his team-mates earned him another shot at goal and Scarlets fans were sure their fellow countryman was going to snatch the win away from them. However, the Wales star’s kick from just inside the Scarlets’ half fell short, and Toulon were beaten.Their fly-half Pierre Bernard also missed a chance to win the match for Toulon. He was wide with a drop-goal attempt from 43 metres with three minutes to go. His team-mates were at fault too, as they should have been more patient, gone through more phases and got him closer to the posts.Mathieu RaynalReferees are there to arbitrate on and uphold the laws of the game, so it’s essential they know what those laws are and get the big calls at the big moments right.Mathieu Raynal took over the refereeing of Connacht’s Champions Cup Pool Two clash with Wasps late in the game after Jerome Garces suffered a hamstring injury. Wasps were 18-13 up as the clock hit 80 minutes and then Raynal awarded Connacht a penalty.With time up, kicking to the corner and going for a catch-and-drive was not an option for Connacht.But their captain, John Muldoon, told Raynal they could take the lineout under the “new laws”. In fact, the changes come into force in 2017 but Raynal acquiesced and duly allowed Connacht to kick for the touch and take the lineout. Naulia Dawai rumbled over for a try that Jack Carty converted nervelessly to steal a 20-18 win.Jerome Garces’s injury brought a new official into play – and a refereeing blunder (Pic: Inpho)EPCR, the governing body of the Champions Cup, issued a statement on Sunday to say Raynal had made a mistake. “As time had elapsed, Connacht should not have been permitted to take a lineout throw-in once the ball had been kicked into touch as stipulated in Law 5.7 (e) of World Rugby’s Laws of the Game,” said the statement.“EPCR would like to thank all parties for their understanding and would also like to confirm that the result of the Pool Two match stands.”That means Wasps, Toulouse and Connacht all have 13 points with four rounds gone, so the fact that Wasps were incorrectly denied a win could have big consequences.Ruan PienaarUlster conceded a try to Clermont Auvergne in the second minute of last weekend’s Champions Cup Pool Five clash and the return match started even more badly for them as this time Clermont breached their defence in the first minute.That try from Isaiah Toeava was followed by another from Nick Abendanon in the 18th minute and a third five minutes later, also scored by Abendanon. Ulster went into half-time 21-0 down and so very much needed a good start to the second half.Instead, they conceded yet another try as Ruan Pienaar threw a pass in the direction of Stuart McCloskey only to see Camille Lopez intercept it and run from his own half to score. Pienaar, who to be fair has been magnificent on countless occasions for his Irish province, should never have given the pass as Lopez was already in attendance.From 28-0 down Ulster looked dead and buried and it is to their great credit that they came back to 28-19 before Clermont found a couple more scores and won 38-19.Pascal PapeThe Stade Francais second-row should really have been a Sinner last week as he indulged in a bit of play-acting which is totally unwelcome in our sport. THE SAINTSFinn RussellWith Johnny Sexton, George Ford and Owen Farrell all strong options for the Lions, Finn Russell must still be viewed as a ‘bolter’ in the race to nail a fly-half spot in Warren Gatland’s squad.Yet the Scotland man was again outstanding against Racing 92 last Friday night, despite incurring a calf injury just before the match that threatened his involvement.Russell’s chip over the top was the catalyst for a superb Josh Strauss try after four minutes, and his run and pop pass created the second try for Fraser Brown. He was a bag of tricks all night, making 12 carries for 80 metres and beating nine defenders. He showed the ability to counter pressure with pressure by attacking from tight spots, and even got involved in a spot of counter-rucking.It brought back-to-back Man of the Match awards and Glasgow, yet to qualify for the knockout phase of the top-tier European competition, look a genuine contender for the crown.Owen WilliamsLeicester Tigers were on the wrong end of a 38-0 kicking in Munster last weekend, so bouncing back was high on their agenda. Going into the final minute of the return fixture at Welford Road they trailed 16-15, but were then awarded a penalty just inside their own half.Landing a monster: Owen Williams kicks the penalty that did for Munster (Pic: Getty)They could have kicked for the corner and tried to set up a better scoring chance. But fly-half Owen Williams shouldered the responsibility for the outcome of the match and said he would have a shot at goal.He took a moment to pick the mud off his studs, then lined up the kick and sent it sailing 52 metres to its target. His nerve and skill gave Leicester their second win in Pool One and, perhaps more importantly, restored some pride for the Tigers.Scott WilliamsThis weekend’s matches were a mixture of wallopings and nail-biters and the Scarlets’ 22-21 win over Toulon certainly fell into the latter category.The Welsh side were hanging on to a one-point lead with three minutes to play when Toulon’s big forward Samu Manoa set off on a dangerous run from his own half. Wales centre Scott Williams took on the task of trying to stop him and somehow found the strength to rip the ball from the grasp of the much bigger man and defuse the danger.Scott Williams (with ball) celebrates his try during Scarlets’win over Toulon in Llanelli (Pic: Getty)That was a telling contribution from Man of the Match Williams at a critical point in the game, but it wasn’t the only high point for him. Williams had scored the Scarlets’ only try of the game, with 14 minutes on the clock, benefiting from a great break by Hadleigh Parkes. That gave the home side a 10-0 lead and they never trailed Toulon from that position.Ross BattyWe can’t give all the plaudits to the backs. So let’s hear it for Bath hooker Ross Batty, aka the Ginger Shetland. After showing a sharp turn of pace to score Bath’s opening try, the 30-year-old Batty intercepted a Blues pass just outside his own 22 with 15 minutes remaining and set off for the distant try-line.“I wasn’t expecting that much space in front of me,” Batty said. “I just kept going and going and then I hit quicksand and just managed to slide in at the end. I’ll have to go and look for my lungs later on I think.”Endurance race: Cory Allen can’t stop Bath hooker Ross Batty scoring from 70 metres (Pic: Getty)It might have ruined his credibility with the front-row union but Batty, one of the Premiership’s most dogged and consistent performers of recent years, brought Christmas-size cheer to the Rec faithful.THE SINNERS Drama club: Pascal Pape was warned after a comical reaction to a slap against Edinburgh (Pic: Inpho)Pascal Papé was struck on the head by Edinburgh’s Phil Burleigh during their Challenge Cup round three clash and Burleigh was sent off and subsequently banned for one week.Pape himself was given an official Citing Commissioner Warning because he “fell to the ground in an exaggerated manner”.  There was a time when if a lock hit the floor like a sack of spuds, clutching his face, after being hit be a mere centre, he would have been roundly ridiculed by his team-mates. Let’s hope that is happening to Pape and that he doesn’t repeat this kind of behaviour. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS It might be the panto season, but round four of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup served up the best entertainment you would wish to see. Who were the heroes who stole the show, and who were the biggest villains?center_img Creative spark: Finn Russell (headband) offloads to Tommy Seymour during his stellar display (Pic: AFP) Johan GoosenSpringbok full-back Johan Goosen announced on social media that he was quitting his French club, Racing 92 – which was news to them.“I found out on Twitter and I’m part of the management team,” said Racing coach Ronan O’Gara ahead of the Champions Cup tie at Glasgow.“Obviously there’s been a bit of unrest for the last few weeks but that news shocked everyone. He was part of a fantastic team that succeeded in getting to the Champions Cup final and winning the Top 14 final last year. When he’s in the right frame of mind, we need him.”Twitter shock: Johan Goosen, here scoring at Twickenham last month, left Racing in the lurchGoosen, 24, who won the most recent of his 13 caps against Wales a few weeks ago, claims to be retiring from rugby to become a commercial director. Many in France smell a rat, with suspicions that he might be trying to engineer a move to a Top 14 rival without the need for Racing to be paid compensation.Whatever the truth of the matter, tweeting your resignation shows total disrespect for your employer.Dithering over decisionsIf only there was a fast-forward button for certain match officials. French referee Alexandre Ruiz took an age in the Bath-Cardiff Blues match at the Rec to decide whether a scoring pass to Aled Brew was forward. “How many times do you need to look at the same replay to make a decision?” said exasperated commentator Mark Robson.Quite. If it’s not ‘clear and obvious’ from one or two viewings, it’s not going to be after five or six. And it was not the only occasion in the latest round of European matches. For example, the TMO in the Bordeaux-Exeter game took far too long to reach the obvious conclusion that Joe Edwards had beaten Henry Slade to a touchdown. Speed it up, please!Geoffrey CrosBordeaux-Begles were trailing 17-12 at home with 73 minutes of their Champions Cup Pool Five clash with Exeter gone. The French side were down to 14 men, having had Nance Ducuing sent off for a dangerous tackle on Olly Woodburn, when in fact Woodburn had caused the problem by jumping into him. TAGS: HighlightLeicester Tigers last_img read more

Dan Biggar on family, fly-halves and the future

first_imgBiggar recalls an early conversation with Boyd when the coach asked for his strengths. Biggar listed his kicking game, defence and competitive edge, and Boyd encouraged him to become the best in the world at those things, to strengthen his strengths. At the same time, he challenged him to work on other areas that weren’t quite as strong, to improve.As well as Boyd, Biggar finds the younger players at Franklin’s Gardens inspire him. He’s full of praise for his understudy at ten, 21-year-old James Grayson, as well as the likes of Rory Hutchinson, George Furbank and Tom Collins. They are all excelling this season.“It’s a really positive set-up,” says Biggar. “The young guys here are the future of this club and it’s refreshing for me to come in and be driven by their hunger and how they want to perform and find another level.“We’re not a team that’s going to try to turn the screw on teams at the set-piece; we’re about the ability of players to play with the ball in their hands. I learn more in every single session, every single meeting here, and that’s really important. I feel I develop and learn and get better every day.” The No 10 has found a new groove at Northampton Saints – and he still has plenty of desire to play for Wales too Target: Dan Biggar is closing in on 400 Test points (Getty Images) This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Dan Biggar on family, fly-halves and the futureA competitor. That’s how Chris Boyd describes Dan Biggar. Driven is the word we put to the Northampton and Wales fly-half. “A bit too much at times,” he laughs in response. “I’m very determined to succeed and want to do well. I wanted to win as much as possible growing up and I’ve always been quite vocal. That comes from wanting the team to perform.”Yet while that steely focus remains and there are still moments when he is forthright – to put it politely! – in making his point on the pitch, the 30-year-old believes he has learnt to use it in a better way. There’s no shouting for the sake of shouting. His move to Northampton in 2018 has undoubtedly helped in this regard, with director of rugby Boyd bringing a refreshing approach, while his two-year-old son, James, also provides a new perspective.“It’s about channelling it in the right way,” he says. “I’ve got better at dealing with things and I’ve probably been able to channel it in better ways over the past few years. When I was younger I wanted every single moment in every single game to go the right way. I wanted everything to be perfect in every moment. I wanted my role to be perfect to help the team to be better.“The more experience and the older you get, you realise that’s never been the case for anybody. It’s about how you react when things don’t go your way or you make a couple of mistakes.“It’s a change in my own mindset. I’ve still got that streak in me and it’s never going away as that’s my natural personality. There are times I let loose a bit and the boys are happy to respond to that. At a new club it’s about getting a feel for who can handle a kick up the backside and who needs an arm around the shoulder. In my younger days, it was probably a kick up the backside for everyone!Saint alive: Dan Biggar on the attack for Northampton (Getty Images)“It’s helped being in an environment (Northampton) when you can make mistakes without being hung, drawn and quartered. My little one also puts things in perspective. Whether I make mistakes or not, I go home and my wife and little boy love me and are there for me.“Chris is the type of coach you really want to work for and play for and not let down, and we’re achieving something with a group of young guys who are keeping me on my toes, keeping me young. It’s infectious.“I’m as happy as I’ve ever been on the rugby field. It’s been refreshing coming here whereas in Wales there’s scrutiny for every single thing. Northampton is a rugby-mad town and we’re under pressure every time we play, but I live closer to Oxford, which isn’t a massive rugby area. When I go into town I’m not noticed at all, unlike in Wales, and I enjoy that side of things.”Many a Welsh player has spoken of relishing life outside the ‘goldfish bowl’ of Wales when they move to English or French clubs and Biggar has had to endure a fair amount of criticism during his career. You could argue that he’s underappreciated by many of the Welsh public, pigeon-holed as a kicking ten when fans often want to see more of an expansive style.Yet he has plenty of skills too; it’s just that he now has the freedom to use them more often. The reverse pass in Saints’ victory over Benetton is a prime example while the last-minute winning penalty in the same match showcased his more recognised capabilities. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Those improvements have been noted too, with plenty of praise heading in his direction. But Biggar is not one to get caught up in those comments or bask in the glory as Northampton set the pace in the Gallagher Premiership; he’s been around long enough to know how quickly things can change. After all, it’s more than a decade since he made his Test debut against Canada as a teenager – and surviving at the top level for that long is an achievement in itself.“It’s nice to stick it out through the ups and downs. I’ve achieved great moments in that Wales shirt and I always pride myself on giving everything on the pitch for whoever I’m playing for. There are times I’ve had praise and times I’ve had stick, but I’ve got through it.“I’m not on my own in this; I’m sure every player who has played ten – Rhys Priestland, Neil Jenkins, Stephen Jones, James Hook – have all had praise and all had criticism.“I rarely read the press but I do pick up bits and pieces, and I’m sent things over WhatsApp. It makes me laugh because the press are waiting to big you up – there are probably four or five people playing outside-half getting bigged up as the next big thing – but I know how quickly it can turn. That’s the way of the world and I take little notice of things like that. When it comes to picking you, a coach is not going to listen to a reporter giving you three out of ten.”Biggar has a new coach to impress in 2020: Wayne Pivac. The Kiwi took charge of Wales for their 43-33 victory over the Barbarians at the end of November – a match Biggar couldn’t be picked for as it fell outside the international window – and is now starting his first Six Nations campaign.After ending the World Cup with a narrow defeat by eventual champions South Africa in the semi-finals, Biggar is hungry for more Wales honours – he starts at ten in the first game of the 2020 championship against Italy – but at the same time is aware that his international career is finite.“I’m categorically not ready to give that up,” says Biggar of Test rugby. “I’m not planning on retiring unless he (Pivac) retires me! I’d like to carry on playing for the next couple of years and see where that takes me.“I’m on 79 caps now so if I get another good year or so, hopefully I’ll edge towards a really big milestone. It might not work out like that, the coaches might want to go down a different route. There’s a lot of young talent coming along, so it’s going to be really interesting to see how the next couple of years go.”It’s clear the thought of reaching a century of caps has crossed his mind, but perhaps France 2023 will be a step too far. Biggar is extremely honest as he talks about the future and weighing up the needs of his family against rugby honours.The World Cup is when it hit home. The training camps in the summer were followed by eight weeks in Japan – that’s a long time to be away. Wife Alex and son James flew out towards the end of the tournament, but there was still a period of adjusting upon returning to the UK. James still preferred Alex at bedtime or bath time because she was the familiar face from those previous few months; Biggar hadn’t been around. It has all led him to evaluate what comes next.Family time: Dan Biggar with his son, James, during the Rugby World Cup (Getty Images)“I’m desperate to carry on playing for Wales and it looks like being an exciting era. I also have a young family and they are a massive priority. I want to spend time with my little boy as he grows up.“My family have supported me and have given up so much time, missed out on so many things from me being away. I found it hard to be away for such a long time (at the World Cup) and there are moments you won’t get back.”It all comes down to that work-life balance. That’s probably one of the reasons the Biggars have been making the most of their central location to visit other parts of the country, with trips to London, Manchester and Birmingham all made recently.And even on family days out, Biggar’s focus can come to the fore. If a 9am departure has been agreed, he’ll be getting irritated if they haven’t left by 9:02! “I just like things done properly,” he says with a wry smile.His team-mates wouldn’t expect anything less and over the coming months, whether in the green of Northampton or red of Wales, he’ll be striving for more success. “I’m hungrier than ever in terms of that determination and drive.” Happier too.last_img read more

Byron Hayward leaves Wales role

first_imgThe defence coach leaves job on eve of Autumn Nations Cup 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.Please follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Hayward added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Wales and it was an honour to coach my country.“As I have always said from day one, the team comes first and upon reflection of the last campaign with Wayne we felt it was best for me to step aside.“When I took the role last year I wouldn’t have planned to be leaving as the squad prepare to start the new international season, I believe it is the right decision for myself and the squad as they enter a new campaign.“I would like to wish Wayne and the squad all the best going forward and I will be fully supporting them.” Gone: Byron Hayward is no longer Wales defence coach (Getty Images) Wales kick off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign against Ireland on Friday, but will do so without defence coach Byron Hayward who has left his role with immediate effect.Hayward joined Wayne Pivac’s backroom team last year, but has left his role by mutual agreement. The incumbent coaching team will manage the defence for the upcoming games, Wales say.Head coach Pivac said: “I would like to thank Byron for all his hard work with Wales and thank him for his honesty in recent meetings. I have worked alongside Byron for six and a half years, he is a dedicated coach that has had great success in his career.“On reflection of the last campaign it was mutually decided that the best way forward for Wales and for Byron is for him to step down from his role.“I, on behalf of the squad and management, would like to wish Byron all the best for the future.“In the short-term, for the upcoming four matches, the existing coaching team will manage the defence based on the foundations already put in place. We will then look to replace Byron on a full-time basis with an announcement in due course.”last_img read more

Scotland v France live stream: How to watch the Autumn Nations Cup match

first_imgWe 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.  LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Scotland v France live stream: How to watch the Autumn Nations Cup matchIt looks everything like a Pool B decider in the Autumn Nations Cup and it’s a cracking prospect for a Sunday.A near full-strength France versus Scotland looking to extend their run of Test wins in a row – find out all the interesting facts, quotes and team news in our Scotland v France preview. And if you want to find a reliable live stream for Scotland v France wherever you are, check out our breakdown below.How to watch Scotland v France from outside your countryIf you’re abroad, but still want to watch your local Autumn Nations Cup coverage, like Scotland v France, 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 Autumn Nations Cup live stream you would at home.Our 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 or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.Check out ExpressVPN Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from FranceFrance 2, a free-to-air channel, has the Autumn Nations Cup broadcast rights in France. Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from the UKAmazon Prime Video are the main rights holders for the Autumn Nations Cup in the UK and will show Scotland v France (kick-off 3.15pm) live.If you’re an Amazon Prime member, coverage is included in your package. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, it costs £7.99 a month and you can cancel at any time, so you could just sign up for the period of the Autumn Nations Cup. Plus, if you’ve never signed up before, there is currently a 30-day FREE trial and you could watch the entire tournament in that time.Sign up to Amazon PrimeThe Prime Video app allows you to watch games on your TV, mobile, game console and more. Find out what devices you can watch Prime Video on here.Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from IrelandPremier Sports will show Scotland v France (kick-off 3.15pm) for Irish viewers.If you have a Sky contract, Premier Sports is part of the broadcaster’s ‘Sports Extra’ package, which costs €10 a month for the first six months and €20 a month after that for Sky Sports customers (€17 and €34 for non-Sky Sports customers).You can also access Premier Sports via a Now TV day or month pass, which allows you to watch sports channels without committing to a long-term contract.Get a Now TV Pass Surging on: France skipper Charles Ollivon (Getty Images) Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from South AfricaIf you want to watch the Autumn Nations Cup from South Africa, SuperSport is the place to go. Scotland v France is on SuperSport Rugby (5.15pm).There are various DStv packages available that give access to SuperSport, ranging from Access, which has the Blitz and Variety 4 channels, to Premium, which includes all 18 sports channels.Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from AsiaPremier Sports has the rights to broadcast Autumn Nations Cup matches, like Scotland v France, in Asia and will show matches in 22 territories – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.A weekly pass to Premier Sports Asia is $19.99 or you can take out a rolling six-month contract for $59.99.Premier Sports Asia subscriptioncenter_img Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from AustraliaFor those in Australia, beIN Sports has the rights to show Autumn Nations Cup matches, with Scotland v France kicking off at 2.15am on Monday.Access to beIN Sports’ Connect package is $19.99 a month or $179.99 for a year and also includes lots of European football action.You can also stream beIN Sports’ coverage live and on-demand through Kayo Sports. A basic package is $25 a month and premium is $35 a month – and they are offering a FREE 14-day trial to new customers so you could take advantage of that to watch some of these Autumn Nations Cup matches.Kayo Sports offer Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from New ZealandIf you want to tune in to the Autumn Nations Cup from the Land of the Long White Cloud, Sky Sport NZ have the rights. Scotland v France kicks off at 4.15am on Monday, with coverage on Sky Sport NZ 1.It costs $31.99 a month to add Sky Sport to your Sky Starter pack ($25.99) but if you sign up for 12 months before 31 January 2021 you’ll get your first month free. Plus, you’ll get Sky Go, which allows you to watch live rugby wherever you are.Sky Sport NZ offer Where to catch the Pool B clash Scotland v France live stream: How to watch from the USAIf you live in the States, FloSports have the exclusive rights to show every Autumn Nations Cup match live. You can stream Scotland v France (kick-off UK time 10.15am EST and 7.15pm on the West coast) via FloSports or watch via the app.A FloRugby monthly subscription costs $29.99 and the annual subscription is $150, with both packages also giving you access to the entire FloSports network, which includes coverage of cycling, motorsport and American football.Sign up to FloRugby 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.last_img read more

Will the 2021 Lions tour go ahead?

first_imgCan’t get to the shops? Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet. Subscribe to the print edition for magazine delivery to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The latest developments on this year’s planned tour to South Africa The third option was moving the entire tour to Australia, where sporting events have been staged with crowds in recent months, but it was not seen as financially viable.Crowds are back to watch Super Rugby AU in Australia (Getty Images)Rugby World viewIt’s a positive move by the Lions to commit to touring South Africa and provides clarity on plans, but there are still numerous questions to be answered.We’d all love the Lions tour to take place in South Africa this year as planned with fans, but if it has to be played behind closed doors is it really financially viable? With the Lions and SA Rugby agreeing to a joint venture when it comes to commercial deals, there should still be the generation of much-needed revenue for both entities, but the absence of fans would be a financial blow for the hosts as well as a big departure for Lions tours.What Covid protocols will need to be implemented to avoid any postponements, as we had in the Six Nations with France v Scotland? What if there’s another Covid wave in South Africa between now and July?Let’s hope it all goes ahead as planned but it doesn’t look 100% certain – and then what?Mike Phillips in action during the 2009 series – the last time the Lions toured SA (Getty Images)Many have proposed postponing the tour a year, but all the home unions have summer tours scheduled for July 2022 and those Test series are a crucial part of their preparation for the World Cup 15 months later. If a team’s best players are away with the Lions, that preparation will suffer and it’s hard to see national coaches signing off on that.Plus, if the Lions tour took place in 2022 the players involved would return to go straight into a World Cup season. Yes, they would get a short off-season – probably around five weeks – but then it would be club action, November Tests, club action, Six Nations, club action, World Cup training camps, World Cup warm-ups, the World Cup itself, and then back to another season.That’s a long and intense period of top-level rugby, so you hope players are involved in these discussions too.If keeping the 2021 schedule doesn’t look viable, I’d propose moving the tour to 2025, when the Lions are due to visit Australia, and shifting all subsequent tours back four years (ie Australia 2029, New Zealand 2033).Yes, it means an eight-year wait between Lions tours but it may be the best long-term solution and minimises disruption across other competitions. Of course, if rugby ever sorted out its calendar there wouldn’t be as much disruption but that’s a topic for another day. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Will the 2021 Lions tour go ahead?The much-awaited 2021 Lions tour is due to start with a Test against Japan at BT Murrayfield at the end of June before Warren Gatland’s squad play eight matches, including three Tests, in South Africa in July and August.However, there has been much speculation about where, or even if, this year’s tour will take place given the global pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions. The fact that new variants of Covid have been identified in the UK and South Africa has only intensified concerns.Will the 2021 Lions tour go ahead?There have been regular meetings between the Lions and SA Rugby, with several contingency plans being discussed.Three options were considered: playing the tour in South Africa as planned, playing matches in the UK and Ireland, or relocating the tour to Australia.The Lions and SA Rugby have now announced that they are committed to the tour being held in South Africa as planned.Related: Lions commit to South Africa tourThere are still a lot of unknowns with regards to whether supporters will be permitted and what Covid-19 protocols teams will have to follow, but both the hosts and the tourists want to proceed with the original schedule.British & Irish Lions chairman Jason Leonard said: “After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered, I can confirm that the Board’s intended position is for the tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021.“We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust Covid-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful, safe and uninterrupted tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan.”Lions tours are known for tens of thousands of fans heading to the other side of the world to pack out stadiums, but that still looks very unlikely given ongoing travel restrictions.The prospect of playing matches in the UK and Ireland had gained traction given the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ announced by Boris Johnson. If the plans go smoothly, fans in England are expected back in stadiums in mid-May, albeit at reduced capacity. Restrictions on social contact could be lifted from 21 June, meaning capacity crowds from then on – just in time for the Lions dates!Related: Lions 2021 schedule as it standsThe Mail reported that the Lions asked the UK Government to underwrite the tour and cover any financial losses should there be delays in fans returning to grounds in Britain and Ireland. With no guarantee forthcoming, the Lions have opted to stick with the original plan. Lions fans watch a Test against New Zealand in 2017 (Getty Images) last_img read more