Neil BackLeeds Carnegie launched their Amlin Challenge Cup Pool 4 bid with a 23-9 opening round win at Bucharest Oaks – now they face the star-studded Stade Français Paris side under the Headingly Carnegie floodlights on Sunday night with Andy Key, the Director of Rugby, relishing the chance to take on one of Europe’s top clubs.The French capital city club – Heineken Cup finalists in 2001 and 2005 – opened their account with a nine-try victory against Crociati Rugby and have given every indication they are targeting the silverware.“Naturally we are all very excited about this game,” said Key. “No matter who you are you want to test yourself against the very best and Stade are unquestionably – and regularly – one of the best sides in Europe.“They are a club steeped in history and have a squad full of quality players with plenty of experience of playing at the highest level.“Stade Francais would have been massively disappointed not to be in this season’s Heineken Cup tournament after just missing out on qualification from the Top 14.“However, the way they are playing and selecting in both the Amlin Challenge Cup and Top 14 competitions indicate they really mean business.“They have got a lot of experience in all areas. They have a good strong defence – they don’t miss many tackles – and a genuinely great backline.“What is more they will run it from anywhere. It does not matter where they are on the field and we will have to be on our mettle and at our very best when defending.“However, I think we showed against London Irish that we can also score tries and hopefully we will be able to ask them some questions. “We are starting to put together a game plan and style that suits our players and is a balance between winning, entertaining and enjoying it.“Sunday is a great time for us to see just where we are in relation to a team like Stade and take the opportunity of the development of our squad.“It will also be the chance for meeting some old friends like our former player Tom Palmer who is now playing for Stade.“I am sure he will get a great welcome and, although he left before Neil and I arrived, I have only heard good reports about him and he certainly appears to be an integral part of the set-up at Stade Francais right now.“With a side like Stade and the players they will bring to our ground hopefully we get a big crowd behind us – which is, after all, the whole essence of playing rugby at highest level.“For our part we want to put on the sort of performance that will make the people of Yorkshire proud in Leeds Carnegie. “Against Bucharest Oaks we found out, yet again, that they wear their hearts on their sleeves and that made for a tough first half in particular.“It was definitely important to kick-off with a win on the back of five very tough Premiership matches and I was really pleased with the way we managed that, used our squad well and our ability to play for the 80 minutes because if you are not careful you can succumb to their early pressure.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
It’s Ireland’s chance today to throw their name into the race as a contender for the title of 2011 Six Nations Champions. Are they able to repeat the dream year that was 2009? Or will they let the growing injury list get in their way? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Andrew Hore will make his Hilander debut against ChiefsOn Saturday 25 February, four players will make their Highlanders debut; All Black Andrew Hore will start at hooker for the first time in Highlanders colours alongside fellow All Black Hosea Gear. Gear will make his run-on debut for the Highlanders since transferring from the Hurricanes in the off-season.Tamati Ellison, who returned to New Zealand from Japan last night, will start at centre and Otago playmaker Buxton Popoali’i will make his Highlanders debut on the right wing.The reserves include three newcomers; English international, James Haskell, Bay Of Plenty lock Culum Retallick and Kurt Baker who returns to the squad of 22 after a lengthy injury layoff. Starting XV:1 Jamie Mackintosh (C)2 Andrew Hore3 Chris King4 Josh Bekhuis5 Nick Crosswell6 Adam Thomson7 John Hardie8 Nasi Manu9 Jimmy Cowan10 Chris Noakes11 Hosea Gear12 Phil Burleigh13 Tamati Ellison14 Buxton Popoali’i15 Ben Smith LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 17: Andrew Hore of the Highlanders walks off after the Super Rugby trial match between the Blues and the Highlanders at Unitec on February 17, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images) Replacements:16 Jason Rutledge17 Bronson Murray18 Culum Retallick19 James Haskell20 Aaron Smith21 Lima Sopoaga22 Kurt BakerInjured Update: Jarrad Hoeata (shoulder), Siale Piutau (ankle), Kade Poki (knee), Kenny Lynn (neck), Shaun Treeby (knee) & Ma’afu Fia (hamstring).End.
In the first half it was the full-back’s boot that was crucial for the Lions, his penalty kicks building a 19-3 lead at one point. Then in the second half he helped prevent a Wallaby try by diving on a kick through when James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale were charging towards him with plenty of space to work in, and he played a part in two of the four tries. First, he provided the scoring pass for Johnny Sexton after being set free by Jonathan Davies and Tommy Bowe, then he caught a high ball and his darting run down the wing set up George North to touch down.Mention must go to his fellow Welshman Alun Wyn Jones, who has been a force in all three Tests, the scrummaging prowess of Alex Corbisiero, Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones, and the hard-hitting performances of Sean O’Brien and Toby Faletau here in Sydney. But Halfpenny’s excellence throughout the tour makes him Man of the Series.StatsAustralia made twice as many clean breaks (six to three) and offloads (12 to six).Sean O’Brien was the top Lions tackler with 15 and Leigh Halfpenny made the most metres (85).Scorers NOT FOR FEATURED Australia – Try: O’Connor. Con: Leali’ifano. Pens: Leali’ifano 3.Lions – Tries: Corbisiero, Sexton, North, Roberts. Cons: Halfpenny 3. Pens: Halfpenny 5. Scarlet fever: the Lions celebrate their first series win since 1997 after their emphatic victory over AustraliaBy Sarah Mockford at ANZ Stadium in SydneyIn a nutshellWOW! Is there a better word to sum up this win?! The Lions have won their first series for 16 years, absolutely destroying Australia in Sydney. They started the game as they finished, overpowering the Wallabies in the scrum – Romain Poite rewarding the tourists’ dominance with penalty after penalty – but they also outscored Australia four tries to one, damning suggestions that they were simply a side of brute force.Early in the second half the Wallabies were in the ascendancy, having gone from 19-3 down to 19-16, but the pendulum quickly swung the other way and the Lions scored three tries in 12 minutes, Johnny Sexton, George North and Jamie Roberts crossing the whitewash in well-worked moves.It was a resounding victory – highlighted by the fact Lions fans gleefully waved their Australian counterparts from the stadium with ten minutes remaining. The gold may have trooped out early, but the red was blazing long into the night.Key momentToby Faletau’s turnover on the Lions 22 in the 54th minute. The Wallabies had been putting the pressure on the tourists, but Faletau’s quick reactions got them possession, Johnny Sexton kicked ahead for George North, who fed Jonathan Davies. The centre stood up well when tackled by two Wallabies and it resulted in a Lions lineout on the Australia 22 – quite a turnaround. From that set-piece came Sexton’s try and a crucial lead that the Lions never rescinded.Kick-start: Leigh HalfpennyStar man – Leigh Halfpenny LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Livewire: Ford looks for support after slicing through for a line break against Samoa George Ford decorated his first Test start with some flashes of brilliance during England’s 28-9 defeat of Samoa. We analyse the best bits. Ford’s speed of foot and mind make him a nightmare to shackle when there are multiple runners in motion. After England again manufacture a fantastic platform from another slick lineout, he has a chance to sting Samoa as Ben Youngs whips the ball away:With May and Barritt in close attendance, defenders are sucked in. Ford needs no encouraging to have a crack:In the red circle here we see some important gamesmanship from Barritt, who maintains on the same course to obstruct some Samoa tacklers. While the Saracen has critics from an attacking angle, both here and for the May try his role was pivotal.A pump off his left hand from Ford sends Johnny Leota drifting and the gap is created. But the timing of the next pass is equally impressive:Isolating the moment Ford releases the ball, the body language of both Ken Pisi and Lemi is telling. Their shoulders are both facing the Bath man, meaning they are at least semi-committed to him. A look at Ford’s work from the reverse angle gives a great idea of his vision:If Brown had caught this on the run, a simple transfer would have seen Anthony Watson over. As it was, England’s full back had a try himself just minutes into the second period.England 16-6 Samoa, 52 minutes: Cross-kick perfectionFor the third time in this piece, England’s lineout is the origin of some effective back play. Though Samoa stand off the maul, they are penalised by referee Jaco Peyper. With advantage, Ford has a shot to nothing and spies that the visitors are rather narrow:Now, what makes this a devastating cross-kick is its flat trajectory. The ball reaches Watson rapidly and he hardly has to break stride. Again, the reverse angle is insightful:Seven minutes later with Samoa reduced to 14 men, May added his second and England threatened to run up a heavy scoreline. However, the game descended into a scrappy affair until a harum-scarum ending.England 28-9 Samoa, 81 minutes: More gain-line slicingIn some ways, this felt like an appropriate finish to the game – bright promise but underlying frustration. Ford’s run is clearly a fine piece of athleticism. Still it is important to acknowledge the awareness too. Look who he bypasses: TAGS: Highlight LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS It says a great deal for the precocious potential of George Ford and his dazzling years in England‘s age-group ranks that a maiden international start at senior level seemed overdue. Remember, the fly half is not 22 until next March.By then, he might well have won another five caps in the No 10 jersey too. Certainly, during a 28-9 victory over Samoa that was fractured and disjointed in patches, Ford was responsible for some of his team’s most cohesive, eye-catching passages. If brushing himself off after some traditionally bone-shuddering (and, in my opinion, fair) Pacific Islander tackling showed guts, there was also plenty of guile.To beat Australia and end this testing autumn on a high, England must be more exact. Here is a run-down of six moments in which Ford demonstrated his worth to Stuart Lancaster.England 0-3 Samoa, 14 minutes: Boot to ballA fairly worrying aspect of England’s approach on Friday night was how loose they were in attack. Too often Lancaster’s charges strayed from structure and, in an attempt to inject pace into proceedings, conceded turnovers from either handling errors or a lack of support at the breakdown.This clip comes just after a particularly frantic spell. As you can see, carrier Joe Marler gets isolated and Samoa lock Filo Paulo pounces to pilfer possession. The pinball continues as Chris Robshaw races in to win the ball back, and Rob Webber does well to pass away.However, with the hosts behind on the scoreboard thanks to an early Tusi Pisi penalty, Ford then makes the practical decision to take hold of the territorial battle. Skidding the kick low, he calmly makes the most of the conditions to drive Samoa back and bring England direction.England 3-3 Samoa, 19 minutes: May unleashedRegardless of whether or not Mike Brown‘s pass drifted forward, there is always something aesthetically pleasing about a first-phase try. Unsurprisingly, Ford is the pivotal figure as England’s backline capitalise on excellent ball from the tail of the lineout.The primary component of the score is a midfield wrap-around between Ford and Owen Farrell. It is executed flawlessly as the pair of former junior teammates build on their instinctive understanding:Johnny Leota (circled in blue) is fixed by decoy runner Brad Barritt and Farrell can lift a pass across his body to Ford. The fly half then has his opening and takes advantage:On receiving the ball back from Farrell, Ford accelerates away. Crucially though, he remains mindful of space and curves back infield – as accentuated by the red line. This both attracts Samoa defenders and allows Brown and Anthony Watson to retain width. In fact, this was arguably the most threatening Brown has ever looked for England in terms of hitting the line from deep in phase-play.To nit pick, May would possibly have been under the posts untouched with a simple cut here, but Brown is given enough time to find his right wing on the inside. While the score lifted England, their lead was soon cut as Pisi landed another penalty. Ford instigated an immediate reply, though.England 10-6 Samoa, 23 minutes: Pinpoint restartMopers do not last long in Lancaster’s set-up. Feeling sorry for oneself is not a habit he endures. As such, this would have delighted him. Here, straight after Pisi lands a three-pointer, Ford exhibits the controlled urgency Lancaster wants. He organises his chasers early and weights the kick perfectly.The restart has become more important in modern rugby as sides get better at recovering them. Ford’s effort above comes before Samoa are set and lands precisely on the head of five foot seven David Lemi. Its hang-time also allows Watson and Barritt to charge into the catcher’s eye-line:Lemi spilt, England won a penalty from the scrum and Ford added three points to get England back up and running.England 13-6 Samoa, 33 minutes: Scything break Circled in blue are Maatuilmanu Leiatua and Viliamu Afatia, two Samoa replacements – a hooker and loosehead prop. It is a classic mis-match and one Ford exploits clinically. It is just a shame that Dave Attwood cannot hold on.Ford will almost certainly be handed the reins against the Wallabies, and with them a chance to build on what was a fine display. England need to capitalise on every opportunity he creates.
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Rising high: Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones wins a lineout against England. Photo: Getty ImagesNew Year Wish-list – Stephen Jones reveals the 12 things he’d like to see happen over the coming yearStars of 2016 – Rugby World picks out 16 players – men and women, sevens and 15s – who are set for a big yearReferees – David Flatman asks if technology is a help or a hindrance to officialsDavid Pocock – Find out why the Australia back-row has been on safari in ZimbabweAmerican Six Nations – A look at the new Pan-American competition from the six countries taking partKicking on: Ruan Pienaar has a new business venture with Robbie Diack. Photo: Getty ImagesPienaar and Diack – The Ulster duo on why they are branching out into the wine businessAaron Mauger – Matt Hampson meets the man reinvigorating Leicester’s attacking gameADVICEPro Insight – Learn to jackal like Sale’s Dan BraidNutrition – Ensure you get enough protein in your dietFitness – Exercises to help you chop tackle like Dan LydiatePro’s Playbook – London Irish coach Tom Coventry reveals a move used by Sonny Bill WilliamsMini rugby – Play one-on-one and tips on how to grip the ballREGULARSClub Focus – A round-up of news from the club game, plus interviews with Australia Sevens star Shannon Parry and Fji coach Chris CracknellEssentials – The latest books and products on the rugby marketUncovered – London Irish’s Matt Symons on going from rowing to rugby A new year and a new edition of Rugby World! The February 2016 issue features big names and big ideas for the coming 12 months. We predict which players are going to be the ‘Stars of 2016’ while Stephen Jones presents his rugby wish-list for the year ahead.We also have exclusive interviews with Joe Launchbury, Alun Wyn Jones, David Pocock, Luke Fitzgerald, WP Nel and Aaron Mauger, while David Flatman assesses whether a referee’s decision is still sacrosanct.Here’s a full list of contents – find out where to buy your copy here or you can download the digital edition here.NEWSEuropean Champions Cup predictions, 30 Minutes with Mike Phillips, walking rugby, the USA’s new professional league, Hotshots and moreCOLUMNISTSDenis Hickie – The former Ireland wing on the form of the provincesThe Secret Player – An insight into contract negotiations from our former proGerald Davies – The Wales legend wants to see a faster, more athletic gameSPOTLIGHTSKieran Brookes – How the England prop has made great strides at NorthamptonGreig Laidlaw – The Scotland skipper talks captaincy, Cotter and the Calcutta CupTight tussle: Gloucester’s Greig Laidlaw tries to evade Nick Evans of Harlequins. Photo: Getty ImagesLloyd Williams – The scrum-half on a red-letter day and a case of the BluesJohn Muldoon – The record-breaking Connacht man talks through his rugby journeyFEATURESJoe Launchbury – How the England lock is maturing on and off the pitchLuke Fitzgerald – The Ireland flier opens up on the highs and lows of recent seasonsWP Nel – Why the South Africa-born prop is putting down roots in ScotlandAlun Wyn Jones – The Wales lock on fatherhood and the future TAGS: Highlight A full list of contents for the February 2016 edition of Rugby World Standing tall: Joe Launchbury’s form for Wasps recently has impressed. Photo: Getty Images Tour Tale – Ian Gough recalls an eventful team night outFor the latest subscription offers, click here.
If the Gloucester flanker is not in the top 45 players in England then World Cup glory is surely a formality for Jones in 2019. It is hard to see what Kvesic has done wrong since being overlooked for the famous pair of six-and-a-halves in James Haskell and Chris Robshaw who did an outstanding job in Australia.Missing link: Matt Kvesic can count himself unlucky not to make the squad Kvesic was outstanding for the Saxons in South Africa and if England do truly want a number seven, rather than the make-do-and-mend option they have used so brilliantly so far then Kvesic is your man. But he is out with the washing for the moment and with Haskell injured must be wondering what he has got to do to get a look-in.Luther BurrellHooked after half an hour of the first Test in Brisbane and now dropped from the training squad – it must be a confusing time to be Luther Burrell right now. He missed out on the World Cup thanks to the Sam Burgess farrago and it is just possible he might not see the light of day in an England Test jersey again after 15 caps since 2014. Haley only played three minutes of the second game, before going off injured, but his running the week before caught the eye. The 23-year-old has just signed a new three-year contract at Sale and has been tipped to go all the way by club boss Steve Diamond.Nathan HughesRugby’s romantics would have liked to have seen Hughes running out for Fiji at the last World Cup but it was pretty clear when he arrived at Wasps that he had his eyes set on playing for England. The Fijian-born backrower’s qualification period ended just after England’s series in Australia and he has made the first squad he is eligible for.Wrecking ball: Nathan Hughes tallies physicality with sweet offloading skills Outplayed by Billy Vunipola, when the two big No. 8s met in the Champions’ Cup semi-final in April, Hughes is seen by Jones as more of a six than an eight although the boss admits he has plenty to work on. Hughes will definitely win Test caps for England but they might be later rather than sooner.Jonny MayThere was no such thing as out of sight, out of mind for the Gloucester wing May who has not played since just after Christmas thanks to a serious knee injury. May, who has 19 caps, was always in the forefront of Stuart Lancaster’s selection thinking but cannot have been expecting this call-up after so long away from the fray. Ashton, 29, may have felt that with 39 caps, 19 international tries and a new baby on the way, the second-string trip was not for him, but Jones obviously felt differently despite Saracens’ pleas, the Australian had given him the thumbs-up to stay at home.Danny CiprianiCipriani was one of the headline omissions after seeming to do his bit with the Saxons. The 28-year-old last played for England, off the bench, in a World Cup warm-up match in Paris and has managed just 14 caps more than eight years after his debut. After missing out on the Australia tour though, Cipriani did the right thing by knuckling down with the Saxons and playing a leading role in the wins in Bloemfontein and George.Face doesn’t fit: Danny Cipriani continues to be overlooked by England The centre needs a massive start to the Premiership season with Northampton to get a shot with Jones but with the Ford/Farrell axis set to last the 28-year-old is bang up against it.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers click here and find out how to download the digital edition here. Eddie Jones has named his first England training squad of the new season – a 45-man party – who will gather this weekend in London for a four-day camp. Predictably the head coach has pulled out some unpredictable selections, so who are the winners and losers?WinnersMike HaleyLike Nathan Hughes, Mike Williams, Josh Beaumont, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Marchant, Charlie Ewels, Dan Robson and Ben Te’o full-back Haley is one of a number of uncapped players named in the squad and it is reward for an excellent season where he was virtually ever-present for Sale. He and Beaumont have proved you don’t have to play for one of the so-called fashionable clubs to get noticed, and his display in the first Saxons match in South Africa, a 32-24 win in Bloemfontein was enough for him to get the nod.Breakout: Mike Haley has followed a successful Saxons tour with a call-up But he has obviously not done enough to get in front of George Ford, Owen Farrell and Henry Slade and you get the feeling his move to Wasps will be his last chance to impress and get a foothold in the international team. If he does not make it, it would be a criminal waste.Matt Kvesic Back from the cold: Tom Youngs had fallen out of favour with England May day: Jonny May has been out injured but his call-up showed he’s not been forgottenHowever he is quick-witted and has plenty of gas and if that package is back, then there is no reason why he won’t be challenging Anthony Watson for the left wing berth come the Six Nations. Probably not before. LosersChris AshtonAshton is still feeling the fall-out from his 10-week ban in the spring which ruled him out of the Six Nations and it looks a long way back for the Saracens wing. In January he was in decent form and had been named in Eddie Jones’ first England squad before being suspended for an eye-gouging incident with Ulster’s Luke Marshall. That put the kybosh on an immediate return – he has not played a Test since June 2014 – and his decision to miss the Saxons trip to South Africa looks like the wrong one now with plenty of wings in front of him.Out in the cold: Ashton’s prolific form for Sarries hasn’t seen an England call-up Youngs is probably in a scrap with Luke Cowan- Dickie to be the third hooker, behind captain Dylan Hartley and Jamie George, but at least he is in there and it is a welcome boost for a hard-working player trying to get rid of the stains of the last World Cup. He has won 28 caps but with Hartley and George about, probably needs someone to get injured to add to them. Tom YoungsNo-one saw Youngs’ omission from the training squad in January coming and no-one really saw his re-instatement, as one of four hookers, coming this time around either. The new Leicester captain has not played a match since 24 January after suspension and back surgery but Jones must be keen to have a look at him or he would not have bothered to call him up for this camp. Australian downer: Luther Burrell was replaced in the First Test and hasn’t been figured since Eddie Jones has named his provisional EPS squad for a four-day squad camp later this month but who will be elated and who will be deflated from it?
Description Credit: Credit TAGS: Saracens More than any athletic attribute, the one quality that Maro Itoje’s clubmates value highest in their young lock is an uncanny capacity to learn. Saracens playmakers know they only need to explain a pattern once. Coaches do not need to repeat pointers. Put simply, Itoje absorbs advice, applies it and thrives.High-stakes rugby matches are often won by the most adaptable team. Against Wasps at Allianz Park on Sunday afternoon, Saracens did not have everything their own way. In fact, a good deal of the game was scruffy.BT Sport commentator David Flatman encapsulated the tone on awarding Billy Vunipola with the man-of-the-match award. He said the England number eight had made mistakes, but had also influenced many pivotal moments.In a six-minute period just before the break, Saracens suffered a setback. Instead of capitulating though, they rallied and wrestled the lead from Wasps once more. Here, we chart a stirring response that crystallised a 30-14 win.Initial errorWe join the game after a deft kick from Sean Maitland has dribbled into touch close to the Wasps 22. Five points ahead with less than six minutes until the break, Saracens have their opponents pinned down deep in their own territory.But Itoje is not content. He wants to steal possession and watches intently as Kearnan Myall calls the six-man Wasps lineout from the tail:As Myall moves forward towards Matt Symons and fakes a jump, Itoje tracks his man and prepares to lift George Kruis to contest:Symons then steps out of the lineout though, allowing Myall a passage through to the front where Marty Moore can lift him. Following Myall, Itoje turns towards his own lifter Juan Figallo:However, the intricate movement buys time for Myall and allows him to rise above Itoje. Then, as Myall takes the accurate throw of hooker Tom Cruse, Itoje collides with him:Referee Matt Carley is not fooled by Itoje’s outstretched arms that feign innocence, immediately blowing his whistle to penalise Saracens for closing the gap in the lineout:Because the visitors have committed a lineout offence, Wasps are allowed to kick for touch from the 15-metre line……and Danny Cipriani makes the most of an improved angle to send Wasps over halfway:Some slightly clumsy exuberance from Itoje has cost his team around 30 metres, and there were further faults to come.Wrong side of the lawSaracens have honed an aggressive, confrontational defensive system that forces mistakes, creating turnovers and tries. As a side, they are extremely comfortable without the ball and regularly cause rivals to feel claustrophobic.Initially, five phases of characteristically cohesive muscle from the ensuing lineout repels Wasps some 10 metres behind the gainline. But now watch Itoje as Dan Robson passes to Cruse:Cruse is stopped in a double-tackle from Kruis and Schalk Brits, with defensive lynchpin Brad Barritt shooting up on the outside to cover a potential tip-on to Ashley Johnson.Wasps tighthead prop Moore changes course to resource the next ruck, while Itoje sweeps in behind the tackle area:Brits does not release the tackled player straightaway, causing some gesturing from Robson and requiring Moore to clear him. By this point, Itoje is directly behind the ball:Moore wrestles Brits away from the breakdown and to the ground. Seeing no players over the ball, Itoje clearly believes the breakdown to be over. He dives through……shooting off his feet and on to the ball as Cruse places it back. With Symons joining the melee and Robson keen to link up with his backs, referee Carley takes a close look……and pings Itoje, deeming the situation to be a ruck rather than open play:As Itoje’s pained expression outlines his thoughts on the decision – and his disappointment at compounding his earlier offence with another one – Robson takes a quick tap to snipe Wasps back on to the front foot:A flash of superb footwork then helped level the match at 8-8.Hitting a hitchIn Lee Blackett, Dai Young has one of the most talented coaches in England. The Wasps backline currently looks confident and dangerous. Here, even with Itoje circling around from the other side of the breakdown, Saracens are in trouble.Wing Mike Ellery looks as though he is calling for Michael Rhodes to move closer to him. Meanwhile, the direction of Jimmy Gopperth’s gaze suggests he is eager to attack a stretched defence:As Robson finds first-receiver Cipriani, Wasps have a four-on-three advantage with a large hole between Saracens’ second and third defender:But it is a stutter-step or hitch-kick from Cipriani that creates the opening. As the fly-half lands, he suddenly accelerates, causing the would-be tackler opposite to become flat-footed.In the below screenshot, Billy Vunipola’s bodyweight has sunk into his right heel (circled). Billy Vunipola slows while Rhodes continues to press on the outside, alert to the presence of Gopperth and Josh Bassett and probably wary of Elliot Daly further out as well:From a reverse angle, we can see how well Daly holds his width to stretch Saracens……and how easily Cipriani arcs around Billy Vunipola……before drawing Maitland and releasing Bassett for a try:Two and a half minutes prior to half-time, conceding this score would be a debilitating sucker-punch to most. But Saracens thanks to sound decision-making and diligent execution,regroup and regain control.On the chargeThe first step of Saracens’ reply is the restart. Rather than hitting a shallow kick for his chasers to contest, Alex Lozowski aims long.This presents Wasps with two options. Either they can attempt to play out the half by keeping the ball for almost two minutes – a risky strategy against arch-spoilers Saracens – or they can clear, returning possession to Saracens.Notice Billy Vunipola (circled), hanging behind Lozowski in the back-field and primed to return any kick that does not sail into touch:Forced to retreat, Nathan Hughes gathers on the five-metre line. As the red arrow shows, there is just one minute and 44 seconds until half-time:Hughes gallops forward, where he is met by Schalk Burger……but any hope of a clean exit is lost when the ball trickles loose at the next ruck.Brits pressurises Robson……who must dart to the left, where Kruis is waiting at guard:Hughes is back on his feet to carry again by now, and Simon McIntyre drives him through the tackle of Brits beyond the Wasps 22:Of course, this means if a clearance were to go into touch on the full, Saracens would have a lineout back level with the kick. The most viable option for Wasps is a high, contestable box-kick.Robson ushers Moore in to join the breakdown, making a ruck that is five players long. Theoretically, this should allow Robson to be shielded from any potential charge-downs. But Itoje, spring-heeled and long-limbed, is stalking in the bodyguard position:As Robson takes the ball and lifts it up, cramped for space just five metres in from the touchline, Itoje steals forward:An explosive leap brings him above Moore……and Itoje’s right arm deflects the ball, sending it skywards. Around 10 metres to the left is the perennially underrated Mako Vunipola, who is watching the action but turned in readiness to retreat after the kick:Snapping into action after the charge-down, Mako Vunipola changes direction… In snatching back the lead from Wasps just before half-time on Sunday afternoon at Allianz, Saracens showed the opportunism and problem-solving ability of a champion side. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS …before rising to gather……and launching Saracens into a game-breaking attack.Readjustments and patienceAs Mako Vunipola lands and trucks forward, the reactive support play of Kruis and Itoje is very sharp:They circle around the carrier and latch on to either shoulder with Figallo in behind, three of them driving the ball to within 15 metres of the Wasps line:Mako Vunipola places the ball back and Richard Wigglesworth has a pristine platform to play from. Remember, Wasps piled six forwards into the previous ruck.Here, designated by their shirt numbers, we can see them scramble back to join a frantic defensive effort. Given they are all hovering in the vicinity of the breakdown, there must be space for Saracens to exploit out wide:This becomes obvious with a wider angle, although Burger must stop to collect Wigglesworth’s pass:Even so, as we see Billy Vunipola join the attacking line from the back-field – holding his width rather than gravitating towards the ball – Burger does not panic. He simply runs straight, preserving space for those outside him:Quick recycling gives Saracens another overlap, but a gamble from Daly pays off. The centre shoots up on the outside of first-receiver Barritt:Encouraging Barrit to cut back against the grain, away from six teammates outside him and towards the Wasps forwards:Moore makes the tackle and Johnson hovers in an attempt to slow down the next breakdown or even create a turnover. Billy Vunipola is aware, though. He mirrors Barritt’s line of running……and storms into a robust clear-out:Wigglesworth can keep the attack going by bouncing back to the right and finding Burger, who has Brits, Mako Vunipola and Figallo to the right:Burger transfers the ball to Brits……and a neat swivel-pass releases a sweeping Lozowski while sucking in three Wasps tacklers:In Figallo, Mako Vunipola and Itoje, Lozowski has three forward runners offering themselves with Marcelo Bosch also coming around.As it happens, Lozoswki opts to hold on to the ball. He carries and is only stopped because of Gopperth’s instinctive decision to step in:Figallo and Brits clear the ruck……and Kruis is next to be sent up. Watch Mako Vunipola and Itoje on this phase. Despite a well-set opposition defence, they trust Bosch and Ellery to recycle the ball at the ensuing ruck:Itoje circles back around to the left as Rhodes arrives as well:So when Wigglesworth turns back to that side, he can find Burger with Itoje already latched on. Figallo and Mako Vunipola are also in close attendance:Launchbury and McIntyre stand firm, but now we can really see how the Wasps defence is being manoeuvred.Variation, organisation and manipulationSeven Wasps forwards, designated again by their shirt numbers in the screenshot below, are standing within five metres of the breakdown. The other, McIntyre, has made the tackle.Wigglesworth then instructs Rhodes and Brits to support Mako Vunipola’s pick-and-go:Moving in the same direction, from right to left, Itoje is next to shunt around the fringe. Kruis, Billy Vunipola and Barritt join him……latching on and driving Itoje through for two more precious metres. Note how narrow the Wasps forwards are again, and that Gopperth is on the right-hand edge of them:When Brits gets off the floor to carry back towards the posts, changing the direction of the attack, five Wasps forwards are wrong-footed and rendered redundant:Gopperth circles around to the right in order to bolster that side of the Wasps defence……and immediately, the decision is justified. Kruis stoops to adopt the role of scrum-half……and feeds Mako Vunipola on a wider line that outflanks Launchbury at bodyguard position:Gopperth must step in to stop the loosehead prop:In fact, the New Zealander almost manages to rip the ball from Mako Vuniopola’s grasp.But the carrier wrestles the ball to ground, demonstrating decent contact skills and a desire to retain possession. A few weary Wasps labour around the corner as Billy Vunipola arrives on the scene:Having spent the previous two phases in a tight cluster, the hosts’ forwards are now far more widely dispersed – the result of facing a varied attack. Following up two pick-and-goes with a wider, one-pass play, Saracens have manipulated gaps.Billy Vunipola scoops up the ball and looks to exploit space around the vacant fringe of the breakdown:A quick, powerful thrust requires McIntyre and Symons to react quickly, jamming together to stop him. Barrit, industrious as ever, latches on once more:Hughes and full-back Rob Miller join the tackle, making four Wasps required to take down Billy Vunipola. Gopperth has made his way around the ruck, but there is still over 15 metres of space to the right of the screenshot:Itoje clears the ruck with Barritt. Wigglesworth arrives to take the ball. Burger and Bosch circle around the corner. Goppperth’s body language at guard – shoulders turned in, primed for impact – suggests he is expecting another narrow burst……but Wigglesworth fires a long pass across the boughs of Moore, Daly, Robson and Cipriani to Ellery, who is stationed two metres inside the touchline, ensuring Saracens can use the entire width of the field:Ruthless and resilient, this try allowed Saracens to bounce back from an error-strewn period and snatch a slim advantage before half-time.They never relinquished the lead, going on to take a bonus point and a comfortable victory without finding their fluent best. Saracens solved teething problems along the way, the hallmark of a trophy-winning team.Owen Farrell returns this weekend for the Champions Cup opener against Toulon. Rumours of a short-term deal for Eben Etzebeth during the Six Nations are gathering momentum. These figures will only drive squad standards higher and enhance an already healthy level of inward expectation. Such an attitude is ominous for every prospective opponent in Europe.Match footage courtesy of Premiership Rugby
Robinson famously scored a try for England in the 2003 final against Australia and was also part of the 2007 team that lost in the final to South Africa, but for this World Cup he will be in the Maldives from 18 October to 3 November to provide his thoughts on all of the knockout matches at the tournament.Wondrous walkway: The arrival jetty at the Soneva Kiri resort in ThailandUtility back Healey, who won 51 England caps and two for the Lions, is now a regular BT Sport pundit so is well accustomed to analysing games live and he will be doing just that for guests at Soneva Kiri.He is in Thailand from 20 October to 4 November, so will be commentating on the two quarter-finals on Sunday 21 October as well as the semi-finals, bronze final and final.If you’re interested in enjoying a luxurious holiday and a unique rugby experience, find out more information about Soneva here.Beach life: An island picnic at Soneva FushiAt both resorts, all World Cup matches will be shown in the main bar area, with the rugby legends commentating on the matches mentioned above for guests on a complimentary basis.Soneva Fushi is an award-winning resort located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with 63 private villas, ranging in size from one to nine bedrooms. Each comes with their own stretch of beach, most have their own pools, and are hidden among dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef.As well as myriad dining options, you can enjoy the open-air Cinema Paradiso, explore the cosmos at the high-tech Observatory and indulge in the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms. World champion: Jason Robinson celebrates after England’s 2003 World Cup win (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Jason Robinson, James Haskell and Austin Healey will be commentating on matches at Soneva’s resorts in the Maldives and Thailand Advertising Feature Watch the Rugby World Cup with England legendsThe 2019 Rugby World Cup is almost upon us and while many fans will be watching matches from the sofa in their living room, would you fancy enjoying the tournament in style overseas – and in the company of an England legend?Soneva, the luxury resort operator, is offering rugby fans the opportunity to do just that – and in the exotic locations of Thailand and the Maldives. Soneva is also running a special half-term offer at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, where you can enjoy return domestic flight transfers, complimentary daily breakfast and dinner as well as resort credit to use on food and beverages at its bars and restaurants if you book a minimum seven-night stay between 19 October and 2 November.Those dates coincide with the Rugby World Cup, when Soneva is bringing in a few experts to deliver unique insight to guests during the tournament.Jason Robinson, a 2003 World Cup winner, is one of three former England players – James Haskell and Austin Healey the others – who will be at Soneva Fushi (Maldives) and Soneva Kiri (Thailand) at different points during the tournament to provide live commentary for certain matches.Spectacular: An aerial view of the Soneva Fushi resort in the MaldivesSo you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the resorts while also getting expert insight on the rugby from people who have been there and done it.With Japan 2019, set to be one of, if not the, most competitive World Cup to date, this is a brilliant – and unique – chance to find out what former international players think about matches as they are happening. How was that try created? Was the referee right to award that penalty? Who has been the star performer?Haskell, who retired at the end of last season after winning 77 England caps, will be at Soneva Fushi from 19 September to 3 October to commentate on six pool matches.Insight: Former England back-row James Haskell retired at the end of last season (Getty Images)These include potential ‘deciders’ in terms of who will top their respective pools in New Zealand v South Africa (21 Sept) and Australia v Wales (29 Sept) as well England’s matches against Tonga (22 Sept) and USA (26 Sept) and another Pool C clash in France v USA (2 Oct). Plus, Haskell will be there to offer his views when hosts Japan take on Ireland (28 Sept). Fine dining: A treepod dining experience at Soneva KiriSoneva Kiri is found within tropical rainforest on an unspoiled island and features villas containing from one to six bedrooms, some containing gyms, steam rooms and water slides.Soneva aims to combine luxury with a conscientious approach to sustainability and the environment to deliver meaningful experiences to guests.
Rugby World Cup Winners Rugby World Cup Groups Playing in their first final since 1995, the pressure was on the All Blacks to win in their home World Cup in 2011. To add to the nerves they were up against their enemies France, and had third-string fly-half Aaron Cruden in the number 10 jersey for the match.Then, despite starting the final well with a try to Tony Woodcock, things got even worse as Cruden himself went down injured with a knee problem. Step up Beaver, otherwise known as fourth-choice fly-half Stephen Donald.On the 46th minute Donald cooly slotted a penalty that put the gap to eight points which was then immediately slashed to one with a try to Thierry Dusautoir. No other points would be scored though and Donald became a national hero for kicking the points that finally won New Zealand another World Cup.Samoa and South Africa Praying Together in 2003 One of the more beautiful moments from the tournament, after their bruising pool match the players from Samoa and South Africa shared a prayer together for a brief moment of respect and reflection.France Beating the All Blacks in 1999 and 2007. On two occasions the French stunned the All Blacks to knock them out of World Cups despite being overwhelming favourites.In 1999 the All Blacks were ahead 24-10 with the World Cup final looming. However the French scored 33 unanswered points in an outstanding turnaround that the Kiwis had no answer for. The final score was 43-31.Then eight years later, again facing a deficit of 13 points to 3, the French pulled off a stunning second-half comeback thanks to two tries from Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion. The final score was 20-18.Francois Pienaar and Springboks Unite A Nation in 1995Rainbow Nation: South Africa’s rugby team in 1995 unites an entire country (Getty Images)South Africa had not been part of the Rugby World Cup scene thanks to their apartheid regime. However after being readmitted to the fold, the 1995 tournament was held there to help reunite a country through the medium of rugby.Indeed Nelson Mandela and Springbok captain Francois Pienaar knew the importance of a good showing which is exactly what happened. Facing New Zealand in the final, they bottled up man mountain Jonah Lomu and emerged victorious by 15 points to 12 after extra-time.Mandela, in a Springboks jersey, presented Pienaar with the trophy in a moment which perfectly symbolised the unification of a nation.Japan Topping Their Group In 2019Put in a group alongside Ireland and Scotland, not a lot was expected of 2019 World Cup hosts Japan. But they proved everyone wrong as the players competed excellently and used the excitement and enthusiasm of the Japanese people to beat both of those Tier 1 teams to top their group. The victory over Scotland was particularly emotional given that the match nearly didn’t take place because of Super Typhoon Hagibis. People had lost their lives and the victory brought together a nation.Follow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. Stephen Donald Kicking The Decisive Points in 2011 Final Rugby World Cup Winners Collapse A rundown of the Rugby World Cup groups… Greatest Rugby World Cup MomentsThe Rugby World Cup has provided some of the greatest moments in the history of rugby union. The presence of the greatest players competing for the ultimate prize in the sport means this is an inevitable result.So bearing this in mind, we have scoured through the history of the tournament looking for our favourite moments that warrant the title of greatest ever.Are there any we have missed? Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Don’t hesitate to let us know through our social media channels.Greatest Rugby World Cup MomentsJapan Beating South Africa in 2015Unlikely Winners: Japan shock the world in 2015 by beating South Africa (Getty Images)We all love a good underdog story and this was one of the biggest shocks in all of sport let alone in rugby union. Japan went toe to toe with the Springboks for the entire match and got themselves an unlikely victory thanks to Karne Hesketh’s last minute try in the corner. This kicked off sheer pandemonium in the stands and every fan watching that wasn’t a South African was pumping the air with delight at the result.The Rise of Jonah Lomu in 1995No other player emerged onto the world stage like All Black Jonah Lomu did back in 1995. The giant of a man scored three tries in their opening few matches which set up a semi-final clash with England.It was during that match that Lomu etched himself into the memory of everyone watching and especially Mike Catt. Lomu scored four tries, including a bulldozing run that saw him literally run straight through full-back Catt. Have I mentioned he had only just turned 21 too?Jannie De Beer Kicks England Out in 1999Number Four: De Beer slots his fourth drop-goal over against England (Getty Images)Executed correctly the drop-goal is one of the simplest ways of keeping the scoreboard ticking over in your favour, England would recognise this in 2003 with the boot of Jonny Wilkinson (see below). But before that it was South African Jannie De Beer who illuminated how effective the tactic could be.During a quarter-final match between the Springboks and England, he kicked five drop-goals to quite literally boot the English out of the tournament by 44 points to 21.Jonny Winning Drop-Goal in 2003For only the second time in Rugby World Cup history, the final had gone to extra-time. England and Australia were tied largely through the kicking accuracy of Wilkinson and Elton Flatley. With time winding down Martin Johnson took the ball into contact one more time to set the stage for a drop-goal.Matt Dawson, wily as ever, hesitated to almost draw the Australians offside and as they were briefly retreating he threw the pass to Wilkinson. Off his weaker foot, Jonny cooly knocked the drop-kick through the posts to go up 20 points to 17. The English closed out the match, and at last they were world champions.Western Samoa Beating Wales in 1991Playing at home, the Welsh were expected to win easily over the island nation of Western Samoa. But the men in blue had different ideas as they emerged as 16-13 winners thanks to the boot of scrum-half Vaea. Many will point to the controversial try Westerm Samoa were awarded in the second half as the reason for the shock victory, but that downgrades how underrated the Samoans were on the day.Ultimately this was the first true shock in the competition as it was the first time a seeded nation had lost to a non-seeded nation. Rugby World Cup Fixtures The 2023 Rugby World… Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 We take a quick tour through the history… Expand Expand Expand Adam Hathaway takes a look at the best… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The tournament has seen some truly memorable moments in rugby history, and in this piece we take a look at some of our favourites. Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 Rugby World Cup Greatest Players Rugby World Cup Greatest Players Rugby World Cup Groups The Moment: Jonny slots the World Cup winning drop-goal (Getty Images) Also make sure you know about the Groups, Warm-ups, Dates, Fixtures, Venues, TV Coverage, Qualified Teams by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, and Twitter.