Tag Archives: hemisphere

Rugby World Cup draw: England are the team to fear, says Clive Woodward

Big guns now fear England in World Cup draw, says Woodward

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UPDATED:

08:07 GMT, 3 December 2012

Sir Clive Woodward believes England’s demolition of New Zealand makes them the team to avoid in Monday’s draw for the 2015 World Cup.

New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France are the top seeds — and hosts England, who are among the second seeds, could find themselves up against the All Blacks when the draw is made at Tate Modern in London.

‘It makes the draw fascinating, given that England have just demolished New Zealand,’ said Woodward.

Scroll down for your guide to how the draw works

History: England celebrate their stunning victory over New Zealand

History: England celebrate their stunning victory over New Zealand

‘The top four sides will not want to be playing against England. That result will make the southern hemisphere teams sit up and say for once, “We want to keep away from England”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek, Woodward, who was England’s World Cup winning coach in 2003, added: ‘It was a great, great victory for the English team. The 38-21 scoreline absolutely reflected the performance and it was a great, great day to be at Twickenham.

‘They have some great players in there — Joe Launchbury, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw — who were world class. This was a real David and Goliath effort.

Flying: Chris Ashton scored a try during England's win at Twickenham

Flying: Chris Ashton scored a try during England's win at Twickenham

‘They came out and threw the kitchen sink and New Zealand got completely rattled. Every phase of the game they won.’

Because Wales have slipped to ninth in the world following seven successive defeats, they will be drawn against two teams higher than them in the rankings, and could face New Zealand and England in a ‘group of death’.

But centre Jonathan Davies recalled
Wales’s performance at the last World Cup when they lost by a point to
France in the semi-finals and said: ‘Because of what we did then, I
think people will be fearing us, not the other way round.

Despair: Wales lost their fourth and final autumn international to Australia

Despair: Wales lost their fourth and final autumn international to Australia

‘It’s not an ideal situation, but we had a tough draw last year, too. I’m sure the boys are pretty confident that whoever we are drawn against we can beat.’

Wales wing Alex Cuthbert was similarly confident. ‘I’d look forward to it, whoever we draw,’ said Cuthbert. ‘Two top teams in the pool You want to beat the best in the world. We’ll be looking forward to it.’

Your guide to the World Cup draw

Where and where…
The World Cup draw takes place at 2.55pm today at Tate Modern in London.

How it works…
The 20 teams for the 2015 World Cup will be allocated into four pools of five teams. The top 12 teams in the world have automatically qualified and are split into bands. No team faces another from the same band.

Mind the gap…
The eight remaining qualifying places (two in each pool) will be allocated into bands four and five and drawn randomly. Those teams are yet to qualify.

The bands…

BAND ONE: New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, France
BAND TWO: England, Ireland, Samoa, Argentina
BAND THREE: Wales, Italy, Tonga, Scotland

*The competition will run from September 18 to October 31, 2015, with Twickenham hosting the final.

ENGLAND'S DREAM DRAW: France and Tonga

ENGLAND'S NIGHTMARE: New Zealand and Wales

WALES'S DREAM DRAW: France and Argentina

WALES'S NIGHTMARE DRAW: New Zealand and England

Toby Flood toe injury rules him out of New Zealand clash

Flood blow for England as toe injury rules fly-half out of New Zealand clash

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 25 November 2012

Stuart Lancaster's autumn of discontent looks set to get even worse after first-choice playmaker Toby Flood suffered a serious toe injury that looks certain to rule him out of next week's clash with New Zealand.

The fly-half suffered the injury in the early stages of his side's 16-15 defeat by South Africa at Twickenham as England suffered their second loss to a Southern Hemisphere side in a week and their fourth in six games under coach Lancaster.

Black day: Toby Flood was forced to come off just after half-time against South Africa

Black day: Toby Flood was forced to
come off just after half-time against South Africa

Yesterday's defeat, following on from last week's 20-14 loss Australia, ended in controversial fashion as England captain Chris Robshaw instructed Flood's second-half replacement, Owen Farrell, to kick a penalty with a fourpoint deficit on the scoreboard and less than two minutes remaining.

Robshaw appeared to change his mind after initially opting to kick to the corner, telling frustrated Farrell to instead kick for the posts, leading to confusion and a needless delay.

Farrell, who clearly wanted to kick for the corner in the hope of securing a drive over try from a line-out, kicked the three points on offer, but with the seconds ticking down, England lock Mauritz Botha dropped the ball from South Africa's restart and the Springboks were able to hack the ball into touch to claim a narrow victory.

It added up to another miserable afternoon for Lancaster, who was last night considering his options at fly-half after Flood had an X-ray and was spotted leaving Twickenham with his right foot in a protective boot.

While the X-ray revealed no break to the bone, it is understood that Flood suffered ligament damage in a collision with two South African players and he will be out of action for up to four weeks.

That will rule him out of Saturday's clash with the world champion All Blacks, giving Lancaster an extra headache following his side's latest disappointment. Flood missed two kicks out of four at goal yesterday as England were unable to capitalise on a glut of firsthalf possession.

This meant they were unable to claw their way back from a 16-9 deficit just after half-time when South Africa Willem Alberts scored a fortuitous try.

Wales 12 Argentina 26: Halfpenny can"t keep pace as Pumas run riot

Wales 12 Argentina 26: Halfpenny can't keep pace as Pumas run riot

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 10 November 2012

Wales' hopes of securing a top-four seeding in the 2015 World Cup nosedived after Argentina stunned them at the Millennium Stadium.

Eleven years to the day following Argentina's only previous victory over Wales in Cardiff, second-half tries from wings Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho left the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions reeling.

Turning the screw: Juan Imhoff scores a try for Argentina

Turning the screw: Juan Imhoff scores a try for Argentina

Match facts

WALES:

Penalties: Halfpenny (7, 14, 27, 48)

ARGENTINA:

Tries: Imhoff (54), Camacho (59)

Conversions: Sanchez (54, 59)

Penalties: Contepomi (4)

Drop goals: Sanchez (9. 52)

And to make matters worse, Wales also
suffered a double injury blow when centre Jamie Roberts and lock
Alun-Wyn Jones departed inside the opening 40 minutes.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked all
Wales' points, but they were outplayed by a Pumas team battle-hardened
from recent home and away appointments with New Zealand, Australia and
South Africa in the southern hemisphere's inaugural Rugby Championship.

Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez weighed in
with two drop-goals, two conversions and a penalty, while veteran centre
Felipe Contepomi kicked a penalty before he was forced off injured
after just 10 minutes. Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley – in charge
while Warren Gatland begins preparations for heading up next summer's
British and Irish Lions tour to Australia – will have been dismayed by
some of his side's lethargy.

It was Wales' fourth defeat on the
bounce, their first at home since last December and a loss that leaves
them with little chance of securing a top four ranking on which top
seeds will based prior to the World Cup draw early next month.

Feeding frenzy: Argentina's Martin Landajo releases the ball

Feeding frenzy: Argentina's Martin Landajo releases the ball

They have Samoa, New Zealand and
Australia still to come over the next three weeks, with Wales having not
beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and suffered seven successive defeats
at the Wallabies' hands.

And Wales' day was summed up three
minutes from time when substitute back-row forward Rob McCusker burst
through – but he blissfully ignored three unmarked team-mates outside
him.

Getting his kicks: Wales' Leigh Halfpenny (left) scores a penalty

Getting his kicks: Wales' Leigh Halfpenny (left) scores a penalty

It was the final misguided act by
Wales, with their players booed off by many in a 51,000-strong crowd.
Wales launched their autumn campaign without injured quartet Jonathan
Davies, Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate and Ryan Jones, but Roberts returned
after knee surgery in a team that also included debutant prop Aaron
Jarvis.

Contepomi and Halfpenny exchanged
penalties during a low-key opening under the stadium's closed roof, but
there was an impressive tempo to Argentina's game that suggested they
meant business. Sanchez put them 6-3 ahead with a drop-goal after 10
minutes, and there was no immediate sign of Wales getting their
much-vaunted wide attacking game into gear.

The Pumas, though, suffered an injury
blow when Contepomi was carried off after being left dazed following a
midfield collision of bodies.

Going south: George North is tackled by Argentina's Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (left)

Going south: George North is tackled by Argentina's Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (left)

He was replaced by Joaquin Tuculet as
Halfpenny landed an equalising penalty. And the game's
fiercely-punishing trend did not end there as Roberts was helped away
midway through the half.

It looked as though he had been
knocked out following a collision with Pumas centre Gonzalo Tiesi, and
it meant an early entry for Perpignan's James Hook, who won his 66th
cap.

Halfpenny then completed his penalty
hat-trick, putting Wales in front for the first time, but it was
largely unconvincing rugby from the home side.

Playing their first Test match since
June, Wales looked rusty, although Hook's arrival injected a midfield
snap as the home side looked to free wings Alex Cuthbert and George
North.

Double trouble: Manuel Carizza (third right) looks to offload under pressure from Tavis Knoyle (right) and Toby Faletau (right)

Double trouble: Manuel Carizza (third right) looks to offload under pressure from Tavis Knoyle (right) and Toby Faletau (right)

But Wales suffered another injury
blow on the stroke of half-time when lock Jones was forced off clutching
his ribs, and Wales shaded a disappointing 40 minutes 9-6 in front.

With Contepomi off, Sanchez assumed
goalkicking duties, but his opening strike bounced back off the post as
Argentina dominated territory early in the second period.

Sanchez then had another opportunity
just two minutes later, albeit from longer range, and this time he
slipped on making contact with the ball and it fell well short of the
target.

Chip 'n' chase: Martin Landajo (left) kicks past Tavis Knoyle (right)

Chip 'n' chase: Martin Landajo (left) kicks past Tavis Knoyle (right)

Argentina, though, had served notice
to Wales they did not intend slipping off the pace, and the home side
needed some inspiration, rather than perspiration.

Halfpenny's fourth successful penalty
inched Wales further in front, but Sanchez dropped his second goal to
make it a three-point game again midway through the third quarter.

Wales could establish nothing in the
way of sustained momentum, and the Pumas showed them exactly what do
with quality possession when Imhoff sprinted over for a well-worked try
that Sanchez converted.

And it got worse for Wales just six
minutes later, with Imhoff's fellow wing Camacho the beneficiary this
time, finishing superbly in the corner despite Halfpenny's tackle.

Sanchez again converted, leaving Wales in grave danger of defeat unless they could stir during the closing quarter.

But when Sanchez slotted a penalty
nine minutes from time there was no way back for Wales, who delivered
comfortably their worst performance since folding to defeat against
France in Paris 20 months ago.

The talk is over… it"s time for England to deliver

The talk is over… it's time for England to deliver (starting with a big win over understrength Fiji)

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UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 9 November 2012

England are in such a heightened state of readiness for this arduous autumn series that they even turned up for Test week armed with gift-wrapped soundbites. ‘It’s production time,’ said Stuart Lancaster. ‘Time to rebuild the fortress,’ said various players.

Quite right, on both counts. Management and squad are alert to the shifting of emphasis and mood since they were last at Twickenham.

Back in March, England were coming off a win in Paris and the warmth of the reception from the stands as Ireland were put to the sword was founded on the public’s support for a decent man as Lancaster made a promising pitch to retain his interim role long-term.

Driving forward: England captain Robshaw sets the

Driving forward: England captain Robshaw sets the

Back then, the host nation were still raw from the wounding aftermath of the World Cup, so the revival in the Six Nations created a bubble of relief and hope, especially as the players responsible were new and young and so evidently awash with pride and spirit. But times have changed. Expectation levels have increased.

Those who swarm into HQ today will bring with them a desire to see all the talk of progress writ large on the famous field. They will know that Lancaster is now in charge for the foreseeable future and that his coaching staff is complete. They will know that the ground-work in the championship was followed by a necessary quantum leap in intensity during the June series in South Africa, when England found out what was required to live with the southern hemisphere elite.

Going through the paces: The England players have a final practice at Twickenham

Going through the paces: The England players have a final practice at Twickenham

Lancaster is no fool, so he is aware that the stakes have been raised — hence the ‘production time’ remark. And his players know all too well that England’s stadium has been plundered far too often by southern visitors in the last nine years, having previously been a place even the All Blacks approached with caution. So re-establishing the ‘fortress’ aura is an urgent priority.

A sudden barrage of injury setbacks have been cruel to Lancaster, just when he thought he might have something approaching a first-choice team available, but that is no excuse.

All together: The England team gather during training at Twickenham

All together: The England team gather during training at Twickenham

England as a rugby nation of such bountiful resources should be able to absorb the loss of a few good men and still send out a line-up capable of mixing it with all-comers at home. So the loss of Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Jonathan Joseph must be taken in stride.

There will be three debutants in white today — Tom Youngs starting at hooker and Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury on the bench providing cover at prop and lock or flanker respectively.

In addition, Joe Marler, Tom Johnson, Thomas Waldrom and Alex Goode will all be making their first Test appearances at Twickenham, but they have been in front of full houses there before, so the arena should hold no demons.

Running game: Tom Johnson runs with the ball during training

Running game: Tom Johnson runs with the ball during training

What’s more, Lancaster is adamant that the players he has brought in are the best available, in which case they must be judged without too much allowance for the naivety of youth.

The IRB rankings provide a constant backdrop this autumn, as countries jostle for position prior to the World Cup pool draw on December3. England are fourth on the list and Fiji down in 14th.

Enlarge

England Line up

The visitors have a swathe of newcomers in their squad, are unable to pick several leading players based at European clubs and did not even arrive in this country with enough appropriate kit. As ever, however, the Pacific Island side possess raw quality and a willingness to run from all parts.

They have ample power and a high-class flanker in Gloucester’s Akapusi Qera, but what they do not have is a promising record in this fixture. England have played four against Fiji and won the lot.

This time, England should be well capable of squeezing their opponents and building a steady lead before cutting loose when their superior fitness and collective understanding starts to tell.

What Lancaster really needs is a performance mixing power, precision and the hint of a swagger to set his team up for Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

There will be plenty of focus on Tom Youngs, who could install himself as the preferred deputy to Hartley or even make himself a rival to the Northampton captain.

There will be an onus on Waldrom to impress, as Ben Morgan is breathing down his neck. The same could be said for Danny Care, who has Ben Youngs close behind.

Midfield has been a problem area for most of England’s recent history and the underlying issue now is how best to harness the brute force of Manu Tuilagi. Brad Barritt will today resume his quest to be considered the ideal foil for Leicester’s Anglo-Samoan wrecking ball, but the No 12 must offer proof that he can be a creative presence at Test level.

He must do so while confronted by a giant combination in midfield for Fiji — Sireli Naqelevuki of Exeter and Leicester’s Vereniki Goneva.

There will soon come a time when the England line-up must be settled and galvanised — preferably just before the All Blacks sweep into Twickenham on December 1.

Enlarge

Scouting report

2002 autumn internationals: How England tamed the big three

How England tamed the big three: Ten years on from an autumn to remember

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UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 4 November 2012

Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal to win the World Cup in November 2003 is etched in the memory of every England rugby fan.

But the foundation was laid a year earlier with stunning victories in successive weeks in the 2002 autumn series against the three southern hemisphere giants New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – a feat achieved neither before nor since.

The series started on November 9, 2002 with the mighty All BIacks.

Try time: Danny Lee can't stop Jonny Wilkinson from scoring

Try time: Danny Lee can't stop Jonny Wilkinson from scoring

ENGLAND 31 NEW ZEALAND 28

ENGLAND: Robinson; Simpson-Daniel (Healey 77), Greenwood (Johnston 40), Tindall, Cohen; Wilkinson, Dawson; Woodman, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Grewcock (Kay 60); Moody, Hill, Dallaglio (Back 70).
Subs not used: Regan, Leonard, Stimpson.
Tries: Cohen, Moody, Wilkinson.
Cons: Wilkinson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (3).
DG: Wilkinson.

NEW ZEALAND: Blair; Howlett, Umaga, Lowen (Robinson 46), Lomu; Spencer (Mehrtens 40), Devine (Lee 24); McDonnell, Hore, Meeuws; Robinson (Mika 60), Williams; Randall, Holah, Broomhall.
Subs not used: Mealamu, Hayman, So’oialo.
Tries: Howlett, Lee, Lomu (2).
Cons: Blair (2), Mehrtens (2).
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA).

It is sometimes forgotten England had not lost to southern hemisphere opposition since the South African tour in June 2000. They had also won 15 matches in a row at Twickenham, so confidence was high.

The match proved a real nail-biter, as the 31-28 scoreline would suggest. But it took a heroic Ben Cohen tackle in the corner and an equally vital Ben Kay line-out steal on England’s line to preserve the narrow advantage.

‘I’d come on as a replacement for Steve Borthwick,’ Kay remembers. ‘I had already established myself in the England squad. But I think that steal possibly cemented my reputation as a good line-out leader.

‘We proved that we could handle a
pressure situation just as we did in a different scenario against
Australia the week after. That was so important when we got to the World
Cup.’

The game against Australia had a strange
build-up. Any fly on the wall in the England team room at Pennyhill
Park Hotel 10 years ago next week would have been well advised to spread
his wings over his ears when two rugby giants clashed.

Wrecking ball: Jonah Lomu brushes aside James Simpson-Daniel

Wrecking ball: Jonah Lomu brushes aside James Simpson-Daniel

ENGLAND 32 AUSTRALIA 31

ENGLAND: Robinson; Simpson-Daniel, Greenwood, Tindall (Healey 80), Cohen; Wilkinson, Dawson; Leonard, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Kay; Moody, Hill, Back.
Subs not used: Regan, Morris, Grewcock, Dallaglio, Gomarsall, Stimpson.
Tries: Cohen (2).
Cons: Wilkinson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (6).

AUSTRALIA: Burke; Sailor, Herbert (Giteau 73), Flatley, Mortlock; Larkham, Gregan; Noriega (Darwin 77), Paul (Freier 69), Young; Vickerman (Griffin 56), Harrison (Croft 70); Cockbain, Smith, Kefu.
Subs not used: Whitaker, Staniforth.
Tries: Sailor, Flatley (2).
Cons: Burke (2).
Pens: Burke (4).
Referee: Paul Honiss (NZ).

England No 8 Lawrence Dallaglio, fresh from playing his part in the famous defeat of the All Blacks, had just found out that he had been left out of the side to face the world champions. He wanted to ‘discuss’ the matter with a pre-knighted Clive Woodward, the England manager. ‘We lunched together the other day and had a good laugh about it,’ Dallaglio told Sportsmail.

‘At least Clive did. It is not a subject I could ever laugh about.’

Dallaglio,
the very personification of pride and patriotism, had quite reasonably
anticipated leading out England against the Aussies for his 50th cap. He
had never previously been dropped and never previously been allocated a
seat on an international bench.

He adds: ‘I was not happy. I think you can assume the air was blue.

‘I
thought I had played pretty well against New Zealand. The stats showed
that I had been top tackler. Actually, I don’t think Clive realised it
would have been my 50th cap.

Putting the boot in: Wilkinson kicks a penalty against the All Blacks

Putting the boot in: Wilkinson kicks a penalty against the All Blacks

Swallow dive: Ben Cohen goes over in the win against New Zealand

Swallow dive: Ben Cohen goes over in the win against New Zealand

‘At least I had captained England and experienced the honour of leading the team out. I would have been even angrier had I not and been denied that moment.’

Woodward remembers a ‘good’ meeting. ‘It was probably the stormiest I ever had with a player. Lawrence was furious. He did not like being dropped. He tried to persuade me to say that he had been rested. I refused. He had been dropped and that was that.’

Ben Kay, who replaced Danny Grewcock in the second row for the second of the Antipodean encounters, was a member of a group all too aware. ‘I heard some crashing about in Lawrence’s bedroom that night,’ he recalls.

Legend: England captain Martin Johnson breaks clear

Legend: England captain Martin Johnson breaks clear

Woodward pretty much knew his optimum World Cup XV even at that stage of the preparations. ‘The back row was certainly 100 per cent settled. It was always going to be (Richard) Hill, Dallaglio and (Neil) Back. They were all world class.’

In fact, neither Dallaglio nor Back were in the starting line-up for all three autumn internationals. But no fewer than 10 of the 15 who began the World Cup final featured in all three teams that November. Only Josh Lewsey of the World Cup side had yet to emerge. He did not make his home England debut until the 2003 Six Nations.

Job done: Johnson lifts the Cook Cup after the win over Australia

Job done: Johnson lifts the Cook Cup after the win over Australia

‘We did have a settled side,’ Woodward
says. ‘And it is important to keep winning and building momentum ahead
of a world championship.

‘But I have always thought it a bit of a cop-out when coaches talk about using any international as a preparation for this or that.

High hopes: A young Mike Tindall skips clear of a South African challenge

High hopes: A young Mike Tindall skips clear of a South African challenge

ENGLAND 53 SOUTH AFRICA 3

ENGLAND: Robinson; Cohen, Greenwood (Stimpson 70), Tindall, Christophers; Wilkinson (Healey 44), Dawson (Gomarsall 57); Leonard, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Kay (Grewcock 70); Moody (Dallaglio 14), Hill, Back.
Subs not used: Regan, Morris.
Tries: Cohen, Greenwood 2.
Pen try: Back, Hill, Dallaglio.
Cons: Wilkinson, Dawson, Gomarsall (2), Stimpson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (2).

SOUTH AFRICA: Greeff; Paulse (Russell 48), Fleck, James, Lombard; Pretorius (Jacobs 54), Conradie (Jordaan 10); Roux, Dalton (Van Biljon 54), Carstens; Labuschagne, Venter; Krige, Wannenburg, Niekerk.
Subs not used: Van der Linde, Wentzel, Uys.
Pen: Pretorius.
Sent off: Labuschagne (23).
Referee: Paddy O’Brien (NZ).

‘Test rugby is the absolute pinnacle. I
firmly believed in that old cliche of taking one game at a time and
picking a side to win that match.’ The contest against the Aussies was
another determined display by England. They ended up winning 32-31,
demonstrating that England could come from behind as well as hold on. A
10-point lead was turned into a 12-point deficit as Australia scored 22
unanswered points either side of half-time.

Dallaglio came on as a blood replacement for Richard Hill in that period, and recalls: ‘It was like a blur. We lost two tries and I left the field. As I was trotting off I heard a Gloucester voice in the crowd shout, “Hey, Dallaglio, we were winning before you came on”. I had to agree with him.

‘These wins, though, and further ones against southern hemisphere countries in 2003, were very important in building up confidence for the World Cup. We were better than them and they knew it.’

Last up, a week later, were South Africa. The 53-3 annihilation of the shambolic Springboks is remembered less for England’s seven tries than the cheap shots and calculated violence perpetrated by the tourists. Lock Jannes Labuschagne, who felled Wilkinson with a late shoulder charge, might not have been the only South African shown a red card.

Three Saturdays. Three unforgettable victories. History in the making.

Mauling: Neil Back celebrates a Will Greenwood try

Mauling: Neil Back celebrates a Will Greenwood try

Ten years on, an England side still early in the development stage are preparing for the mighty challenge provided by, in order, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

‘New Zealand look pretty much unbeatable,’ Woodward reckons. ‘But it is always a good time of the year to face the southern hemisphere countries. They are ending their season while we are beginning ours. And the Olympic Games demonstrated more than I had realised that home advantage is a huge factor in sport.’

Mastermind: Woodward back in 2002

Mastermind: Woodward back in 2002

Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Dane Coles make it into New Zealand"s squad for European tour

Uncapped Kerr-Barlow and Coles named in New Zealand's European tour squad

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UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 1 November 2012

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has named two uncapped players in his squad for the world champions' autumn European tour.

Scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow and and hooker Dane Coles have both made Hansen's 32-man group for a schedule that features Test matches against Scotland, Italy, Wales and England.

Lock Ali Williams, meanwhile, is recalled after recovering from knee surgery, but players not considered for selection include Anthony Boric (neck), Colin Slade (leg) and Richard Kahui (shoulder).

Two new faces: Steve Hansen

Two new faces: Steve Hansen

The squad, comprising 18 forwards and 14 backs, boasts a combined cap total of 1,103 and will be led by World Cup captain Richie McCaw.

The All Blacks kick off their tour against Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday week and they are due to arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow afternoon.

New Zealand squad

Backs: I Dagg, H Gear, C Jane, B Smith, J Savea, T Ellison, M Nonu, C Smith, B Barrett, D Carter, A Cruden, T Kerr-Barlow, A Smith, P Weepu.

Forwards: W Crockett, C Faumuina, B Franks, O Franks, T Woodcock, D Coles, A Hore, K Mealamu, B Retallick, L Romano, S Whitelock, A Williams, S Cane, R McCaw (capt), L Messam, K Read, A Thomson, V Vito.

'I would like to congratulate Tawera and Dane on their selection,' Hansen said.

'They are young and exciting players and have shown this year that they look more than capable of stepping up to Test match rugby.

'Tours to the northern hemisphere always bring unique challenges, and this tour will be no different.

'For many of the newer players in the All Blacks it will be the first time they have experienced Test matches in the United Kingdom and Europe, and they are always big occasions.

'Overall, the team has been very happy with what we have achieved so far this year, but nothing has changed. We are always looking to put in performances we are proud of, and we are always looking to improve.'

New Zealand, unbeaten winners of the southern hemisphere's inaugural Rugby Championship this year, also tackle Italy in Rome on November 17 before facing Wales seven days later and then England at Twickenham on December 1.

The Heineken Cup is back, thankfully. chris foy

Let's play! Time for TV war to take a back seat as the Heineken Cup returns

PUBLISHED:

21:34 GMT, 11 October 2012

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UPDATED:

21:37 GMT, 11 October 2012

Against a backdrop of division and doubts about its existence, the Heineken Cup returns, not a moment too soon.

For now, the European TV rights war which has erupted this season can be put to one side. Let the men in suits step back in to the shadows. Let the players and their clubs emerge into the light.

On Monday, ERC stakeholders met in Rome in an attempt to find a resolution to the power struggle stemming from attempts by English and French clubs to overhaul the accord governing participation in the tournament, and the shock English tactic of getting into bed with BT Vision.

There were no puffs of white smoke after the latest meeting, which was no surprise as this is a tangled mess.

Welcome return: Leinster celebrate winning the Heineken Cup last May

Welcome return: Leinster celebrate winning the Heineken Cup last May

The quest to establish common ground will drag on for months, so at this juncture it is simply appropriate to state that anything which threatens this event is bad news.

The Heineken Cup is adored by spectators, relished by players and coaches and envied by the southern hemisphere.

A major aspect of its appeal is the sheer variety it delivers, on and off the field, but the Anglo-French gripe about qualification is justified. The argument that this should be a merit-based showcase of the continent’s best teams is enticing, yet the multi-national element must be protected.

Once again, the English challenge will be hamstrung by circumstance. Aviva Premiership clubs have to deal with the triple-whammy inconvenience of a salary cap, a fight for qualification places and the spectre of relegation in their league.

Europe cannot be the over-riding priority, as it is in Ireland, where central contracts and union control of leading players has been a recipe for success.

Jonny be good Toulon will take on the Cardiff Blues

Jonny be good Toulon will take on the Cardiff Blues

France have relegation and qualification to contend with, but their clubs are awash with money and talent.

The Welsh regions do not have the same issue of league position to contend with, but they now have a salary cap, falling attendance and a growing player exodus.

For them, as for the English, the only way to compete is with an emphasis on quality coaching, production of homegrown talent and development of first-rate support structures.

It is not a level playing field, so they have to be smarter and more efficient than their French and Irish rivals.
Enough of the hardships. The start of the campaign is a time to celebrate what lies ahead.

Much of the rugby in the key pool games and throughout the knock-out phases is of Test intensity.

Ulster play Castres at Ravenhill. The Irish province will aim to deliver another tribute to the memory of young centre Nevin Spence, who died in an accident on the family farm last month, by extending their unbeaten start to the season.

On Sunday, a clash of the titans sees Toulouse host Leicester. The beat of the drums and the giant flags are the mark of such an occasion in France, from Perpignan to Biarritz to Clermont. Next weekend, the Cardiff Blues confront Jonny Wilkinson and the rest of Toulon’s galacticos at the old Arms Park. On the same day, Leicester and the Ospreys renew a fierce rivalry.

What would really galvanise the Heineken Cup would be a Welsh triumph to show that the regional model can prosper. Another feat for the greater good would be an Italian side reaching the knock-out stages, although that is unlikely.

But the health of the event can be measured in how competitive this pool phase has become.

Unlike its football counterparts, there are very few predictable outcomes. The ‘shocks’ are less shocking with every passing year, as the power-base expands.

European rugby has a formula which works. So a message to the suits — enjoy the show, then find a compromise. Do not destroy this.

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

McCaw caught offside

What a shame that, days after Richie McCaw became the world’s first player to participate in 100 Test victories, the release of his autobiography should resurrect the Kiwi obsession with lambasting Wayne Barnes.

The All Black captain reflects on his side’s 2007 World Cup quarter-final defeat to France by castigating the IRB for putting the English referee in charge. ‘I don’t blame Barnes, I blame the people who appointed the most inexperienced referee,’ says McCaw, in The Open Side.

‘On the big stage, an inexperienced referee is likely to become so afraid of making a mistake that he stops making decisions. /10/11/article-0-1568CBF1000005DC-972_634x424.jpg” width=”634″ height=”424″ alt=”Missing the cut: Welford Road” class=”blkBorder” />

Missing the cut: Welford Road

The last word

When England Rugby 2015 released their ‘long list’ of possible World Cup venues this week — which did not contain Welford Road, home of the country’s biggest club, Leicester, the backlash was staggering.

Officially, the problem is that the pitch is deemed too small. In reality it is about money.

The IRB awarded the 2011 World Cup to New Zealand, knowing it would make a loss, which it did. So England are charged with balancing the books, hence the acceptance of an 80million ‘guarantee’ to the world governing body.

Asked recently if ER2015 expected to cover the guarantee, chairman Andy Cosslett said: ‘I think we can do better than that.’

Well, that requires selling 2.9million tickets, potentially in such hot-beds of the elite game as Sunderland, Derby and Southampton.

While that hard sell goes on, Welford Road will continue to stage big games and draw big crowds, but when the festival comes it will be excluded. It’s a travesty.

Euro memories

Conor O’Shea (Director of rugby at Harlequins, ex-Ireland full-back)

Munster’s first European Cup success in 2006, beating Biarritz 23-19 in the Millennium Stadium

‘I’m a Limerick-born lad and that first Cup success was very special after so many disappointments and near misses. It was the end of a journey and I became very partisan in watching Munster finally get to that ‘Holy Grail’ of winning a European Cup final.’

Steve Borthwick (Saracens lock and ex-England captain)

Going to Bath’s semi-final against Pau in 1998 as a schoolboy player

‘I was only 17 or 18 and had been invited to see the set up and sample the atmosphere on a big-match day. Bath won, beating Pau, 20-14, and the decision was almost made. There’s just nothing to beat the atmosphere in the city on a big-match day in such a beautiful setting.’

Chris Robshaw (captain of Harlequins & England)

Nick Evans kicking the winning drop goal against Stade Francais in a pool game at the Stoop, Dec 2008

‘It was in the wet and mud of the Stoop and it was one of our first big wins in Europe. To get to the drop goal for Nick we went through some 29 phases in an effort to get a bit closer all the time. Somehow Nick managed to keep his cool and to slot it over.’

Simon Easterby (head coach at Llanelli Scarlets, ex-Ireland back row)

Losing 13-12 to Leicester in 2003 semi-final at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground

‘I’m a Nottingham Forest fan so it was a great buzz playing at the City Ground, but it did not bring us any luck and came in a period when the Scarlets had a number of really close defeats. Leicester nicked it right at the end thanks to Tim Stimpson’s penalty from over halfway which hit the upright and crossbar before going over.’

Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys and Wales lock)

Shane Williams’ last-gasp try when Ospreys beat Sale 17-16 in Oct 2006 at Swansea

‘Sale had their title-winning team out including players like Sebastian Chabal and Charlie Hodgson. I came off the bench towards the end and was immediately dumped on my backside by Chabal. But I got my own back by winning a line-out and then helping to put Shane over in the corner for one of his special tries.’

Gregor Townsend (Glasgow head coach and ex-Scotland fly half)

Playing for Castres in France when they had to play Munster three times in one season

‘The last match was in the semi-final in Beziers where we just lost, 25-17, but by then a great rivalry had built up between the teams and the games became very special. For Scotsman playing for a French team against Munster left a great impression. Pity we lost.’

Michael Bradley (Edinburgh head coach and ex-Ireland scrum-half)

Edinburgh’s run to the semi-final last season – the best by a Scottish team

‘It must be the win over Racing Metro in last season’s pool games. Greig Laidlaw kicked the winning conversion in a match where we came back to win 48-47 after losing by 24 points. As an Irishman it must be Leinster’s stunning win over Northampton in the 2011 final.’

Alastair Kellock (Glasgow captain and Scotland lock)

Glasgow’s trip to Toulouse in 2011where the game was delayed for five days due to the weather

‘The circumstances surrounding the delay brought the whole squad together and helped us finish the season very strongly. We had arrived without our kit because of flight delays and then refused to play in Toulouse’s away kit. That upset them and made for a very hostile atmosphere once the match was played.’

Interviews by Rob Wildman

Warren Gatland confirmed as British and Irish Lions boss for Australia 2013 tour

Gatland braced for 'hardest challenge' after being confirmed as Lions boss for Aussie tour

|

UPDATED:

10:46 GMT, 4 September 2012

Warren Gatland is prepared for 'one hell of a challenge' after being confirmed as the British and Irish Lions head coach for the 2013 tour of Australia.

Gatland was the outstanding candidate for the post after leading Wales to the semi-finals of the 2011 Rugby World Cup and last season's Grand Slam triumph.

The Lions will tackle Australia in a three-Test series as part of a 10-match tour, which opens with a fixture against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1.

Aussie rules: Wales coach Gatland will lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour of Oz

Aussie rules: Wales coach Gatland will lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour of Oz

'There is no question it will be one hell of a challenge,' Gatland said. 'Playing in the southern hemisphere is one of rugby's hardest challenges. The Lions came close in South Africa (in 2009) and our ambition is to win the series in 2013 – and I believe we have the players to do that.'

Gatland, 48, will coach Wales in their autumn Tests against New Zealand and Australia but otherwise he will be seconded full-time to the Lions.

Gatland is expected to confirm his full coaching team in October and it would be a surprise if the likes of Graham Rowntree and Shaun Edwards are not involved.

All three were part of the 2009 Lions management in South Africa and received the backing of head coach Ian McGeechan to carry the torch to Australia.

'I am really honoured to have been asked to take the position of head coach,' Gatland added. 'I really enjoyed the experience as one of the assistant coaches in 2009 and since then have harboured the ambition to lead the tour to Australia next year.

'Over the coming months I will give careful consideration to the make-up of my coaching staff and of course the playing squad itself.

Into battle: Tour manager Andy Irvine with Lions head coach Gatland at the announcement

Into battle: Tour manager Andy Irvine with Lions head coach Gatland at the announcement

Lions Tour Fixtures 2013

Barbarians – June 1, Hong Kong

Western Force – June 5, Perth

Queensland Reds – June 8, Brisbane

Comb NSW-Queensland Country – June 12, Newcastle

NSW Waratahs – June 15, Sydney

ACT Brumbies – June 18, Canberra

Australia – June 22, Brisbane

Melbourne Rebels – June 25, Melbourne Jun

Australia – June 29, Melbourne

Australia – July 6, Sydney

'A Lions tour is unique, it is the ultimate career pinnacle for coaches and players. I want to ensure that we get the tour environment right so that we are hugely competitive and that our fans are proud of the team.'

The Lions had initially planned to hold the announcement in April but were forced into a delay after Gatland broke both his heels in a fall at his house in Waikato.

'It has been no secret that after the initial selection process, Warren was our preferred candidate,” tour manager Andy Irvine.

'We naturally had to ensure he was fit to take up the post. Those concerns have now been addressed.

'Warren has an outstanding coaching record and he has been fully embedded in rugby in the UK and Ireland since 1989.'

Gatland coached Ireland for three years between 1998 and 2001 before taking charge at Wasps, where he won a hat-trick of Premiership titles and the Heineken Cup.

In 2006, he moved back to New Zealand and coached his native Waikato to the New Zealand provincial title before Wales came calling.

Gatland took charge of a Wales side that had just crashed out of the pool stages of the World Cup and he made an immediate impact, guiding them to the first of two Grand Slam titles during his tenure.

The second was this year and it followed hot on the heels of Wales' greatest World Cup performance since 1987, when they came agonisingly close to beating France to earn a place in the final.

Gatland will become the second New Zealander to lead the Lions on tour to Australia, after Graham Henry's failed attempt to beat the Wallabies in 2001.

Rob Howley led Wales on their summer tour of Australia in Gatland's injury-enforced absence and will continue in that role through the 2013 RBS 6 Nations.

Revenge: The Lions - under Sir Graham Henry and Martin Johnson - lost the 2001 series 2-1

Revenge: The Lions – under Sir Graham Henry and Martin Johnson – lost the 2001 series 2-1

Warren Gatland- factfile

1963: Born September 17 in Waikato, New Zealand

1986: Made his debut for Waikato in the New Zealand provincial championship as a hooker, having switched from a number eight at the age of 21.

1988: Helped Waikato beat the touring Wales team and won his first All Blacks call-up, for the tour to Australia in 1988 and became a regular in the squad.

1994: Retired from playing having made a record number of appearances for Waikato (140) and 17 for the All Blacks, although he never won a Test cap, with his path blocked by Shaun Fitzpatrick.

1996: Coached Connacht for two seasons.

1998: Appointed Ireland head coach.

2001: Appointed Wasps director of rugby and kept the club in the Premiership.

2003: Wasps won Premiership title and Parker Pen European Shield.

2004: Wasps won Premiership title and the Heineken Cup.

2005: Wasps won Premiership title.

2006: Coached Waikato to the New Zealand provincial championship.

2007: Appointed Wales head coach, replacing Gareth Jenkins after Wales had crashed out in the pool stages of the World Cup.

2008: Coached Wales to the Six Nations, including their first win against England at Twickenham for 20 years.

2009: Appointed British and Irish Lions forwards coach for the tour of South Africa. The Lions were beaten 2-1.

2010: Signed a new four-year contract with the Welsh Rugby Union that included a sabbatical to cover the summer of 2013.

2011: Coached Wales to the semi-finals of the World Cup, their best performance since the inaugural tournament in 1987.

2012: Wales won their second Grand Slam in Gatland's tenure.
September 4 – Confirmed as British and Irish Lions head coach for 2013 tour of Australia.

Bath sign Horacio Agulla from Leicester

Bath coach Gold happy to wait for Agulla after luring winger from Leicester

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UPDATED:

09:55 GMT, 26 June 2012

Bath have signed Argentina wing
Horacio Agulla from Leicester in the belief the benefits of his
international commitments will outweigh his lengthy absences.

Argentina's inclusion in the southern
hemisphere Rugby Championship, which finishes in October, and the
Pumas' three November internationals means Agulla will not be available
to Bath full-time until December.

On the move: Leicester winger Horacio Agulla has agreed to join Bath

On the move: Leicester winger Horacio Agulla has agreed to join Bath

But Bath coach Gary Gold is confident the experience of playing regularly against the world's top three nations will only make Agulla a better player, and therefore benefit the club.

'We're really excited to have Horacio join Bath Rugby for the new season,' Gold said.

'He's a very good player who is able to play two positions at a high level which brings great diversity and strength in depth to the team.

'We believe his exposure playing for Argentina in the new Rugby Championship format against the All Blacks, South Africa and Australia will further develop him as a player and Bath Rugby can only benefit from that.'

Agulla's move from Leicester, for whom he made 48 appearances, will be finalised upon confirmation he has been granted a work permit.

The 27-year-old was voted Leicester fans' player of last season, when the Tigers finished Aviva Premiership runners-up to Harlequins.

'I'm really excited to be joining Bath Rugby and hopefully helping them to challenge for silverware next season. Bath play a good brand of rugby that I believe will suit my game and I'm excited to work with the new coaching team,' Agulla said.

'They have some excellent players in their squad and my first challenge is to get into the side and make that starting shirt my own.'

Black Caviar may be retired

Caviar may be off the menu after Aussie superstar suffers injury during Ascot triumph

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 June 2012

A valedictory farewell tour back home looks on the agenda for Black Caviar after she scrambled home in Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The understandable immediate disappointment at her head verdict over Moonlight Cloud, as well as relief that jockey Luke Nolen’s final furlong misjudgement did not have calamitous ramifications, prompted hints of retirement.

A run in Newmarket’s July Cup has never been a serious possibility.

Made it: Black Caviar (right) narrowly won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Made it: Black Caviar (right) narrowly won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes

THREE MOMENTS TO SAVOUR

Star of the show: Frankel by a mile or, to be exact, 11 lengths in the Queen Anne Stakes — his best run yet on Flat racing’s biggest stage.

Ride of the week: Kieren Fallon, who manoeuvred Most Improved into the ideal position from a poor draw in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Jockey of the week: William Buick underlined his place at racing’s top table with five wins, including Newfangled and Fallen For You.

But, as she heads in quarantine, a likely shot the Patinack Stakes at the Melbourne Cup spring carnival in front of her adoring Australian fans, possibly preceded by a prep run in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valle looks the way trainer Peter Moody will steer the mare whose unbeaten sequence now stretches to 22 races.

Ratings experts Timeform have provisionally projected Black Caviar performed by 13lb below her best on Saturday.

The BHA’s head of handicapping Phil Smith more conservatively estimated the run at between 10lb to 12lb under her capabilities.

But after a 10,000 mile global trip from the southern hemisphere, Black Caviar deserves to be cut a little leeway and not be too harshly judged despite not completely living up to the pre-race publicity.

Having travelled from the Aussie winter, her coat lacked the gleam of her rivals and Smith also argued that the result also reflected national racing styles.

He said: ‘Australian racing is all about early pace. Once you’ve burnt your rivals off, they don’t come back at you. European racing is different. It is all about finishing and that is especially the case with the French, who supplied the second and third Moonlight Cloud and Resurgent.’

That mind set possibly explains why
Nolen eased off in the last half furlong. Maybe he could not believe
another rival get close as well as wishing to nurse home a mount se is
now sentimentally attached to.

But the clock make interesting
reading. Black Caviar completed the last furlong in 13.7secs – the third
slowest time in the field. But he split between the two and one furlong
pole of 10.84sec, easily the quickest in the race.

Lucky boy: Black Caviar extended her winning run to 22 races at Ascot

Lucky boy: Black Caviar extended her winning run to 22 races at Ascot

Intriguingly, on similar going, Frankel’s quickest furlong in Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes was 10.58secs between the three and two furlong pole.

Evidence Sir Henry Cecil’s wonder colt is better Not conclusively but an intriguing comparison.

This was racing – not a time trial even if Frankel makes it look that way. Hot favourites will get turned over at next month’s Olympics not because they lack raw talent but because on the day they could not produce their best for a variety of reasons.

Moody said: ‘I had concerns half a mile out, only her grit and ability got her home. You have probably seen the filly race at her lowest ebb for 10 or 12 starts – but fortunately she was able to get the job done. Post-race she is out on her feet.

‘I am slightly disappointed for your public that they haven’t seen how great this filly is. There will be some doubting Thomases but you don’t win 22 from 22 being a mug.

‘I saw the greatest performance I witnessed on a racecourse on Tuesday with Frankel. Had I brought this mare here last year, I probably would have said the same thing.’

Maybe, the Black Caviar has peaked as her career enters its last lap but she was put out of her comfort zone and got the job done. Many great champions from sport can’t claim that She also helped enliven one of the best ever royal meetings. Frankel, So You Think, Gold Cup winner Frankie Dettori and The Queen’s Estimate they all ignited crowds that were disappointingly down overall.

Royal occasion: The Queen congratulates the owners of Black Caviar

Royal occasion: The Queen congratulates the owners of Black Caviar

But Black Caviar’s presence, with her army of pink and back, green and gold occasionally raucous flag waving fans, brought an added dimension to the five-days.

The nearest thing I have witnessed was Zenyatta’s agonising defeat to Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic when jockey Mike Smith broke down in tears after giving American racing’s darling too much to do and she lost her unblemished record on her 20th and final start.

Nolen’s great escape meant he did not have to shed tears. ‘It’s not the bloody story,’ he implored under a barrage of questions about his near disastrous mistake.

It was 10 minutes after the race but in 10 months and 10 years, the story that will be that Black Caviar put her record and neck on the line and succeeded.

As the crowd waited for her return to the winner’s enclosure, a small lady dressed in green stood patiently waiting. Her gloved hand eventually patted the mare’s nose.

It was as if the Queen of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth had been granted an audience with the Queen of the racecourse. Her majesty, so atuned to racing, appreciated more than most that it was mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, Faarh, the Goldolphin-owned colt who stepped up from handicap company to finish third to So You Think in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, appears to be heading for a re-match in the Coral Eclipse.

TrainerAlan McCabe says his German 2,000 Guineas winner Caspar Netscher could be aimed at clash with Frankel in Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes if all goes well in next weekend’s Prix Jean Prat.