Tag Archives: jumpers

Greg Rutherford on how Olympics changed his life

Greg the baker has recipe for success… Olympic hero Rutherford on how life has been very different since Super Saturday

) — but it was also the
shortest winning mark for Olympic gold since Randy Williams’ 8.24m in
1972.

‘People said I came out of nowhere,’
says Rutherford, ‘but I thought: “Hang on. I’ve been a professional
athlete for eight years. I’ve been a world top 10 athlete for five or
six.” It’s a bit frustrating.

Jump to it: Rutherford competing at the London Olympics in August

Jump to it: Rutherford competing at the London Olympics in August

‘It wasn’t the longest distance in the world, but I did what I needed to do on the day to win.

‘I want to be classed as one of the
greatest ever long jumpers, which means I have to go out there and jump a
hell of a lot further than I have done. I still genuinely believe, at
26, that’s possible.’

Rutherford at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

Rutherford at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

However, five years ago Rutherford
contemplated walking away from athletics, after a 2007 season heavily
disrupted by injury culminated in him failing to qualify for the final
at the World Championships in Osaka. But Rutherford won the British
title to book his place in Beijing only to finish 10th at the Olympic
Games as he failed to reach 8m.

‘I didn’t perform in Beijing,’
admitted Rutherford. ‘Emotionally I wasn’t in a good place (after his
grandfather died). But in 2009 I broke the British record, in 2010 got a
Commonwealth silver medal, had a great year in 2011 and, all of a
sudden, it was starting to work.

‘So I thought: “Well, I can’t give up
now, because I’ve got the greatest competition of my life next year.”
And thank goodness I didn’t.’

Rutherford credits Dan Pfaff, the
American ‘super-coach’ whose contract with UK Athletics expired in
December, as a ‘ridiculously important’ part of his development.

Later this month, however,
Rutherford, will move from his hometown of Milton Keyes to Phoenix in
Arizonza to continue working with Pfaff. It will be another huge change
for the self-titled ‘Ginger Wizard’.

‘I can’t wait,’ said Rutherford.
‘When I joined Dan he told me he wanted me to have a PhD in long jump by
the time I retired — that’s how well he wanted to teach me.

‘Technically, I’m still not a great
long jumper. I think there’s a hell of a lot more for me to learn.
Hopefully I’ve got another Olympics, maybe two, in me, so it’s
exciting.’

Greg Rutherford is supported by Home House: www.homehouse.co.uk

Josh McEachran dreams of Chelsea despite Middlesbrough success

EXCLUSIVE: Josh gets his teenage kicks with Boro but he still dreams of Chelsea

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 8 November 2012

Did you ever think you would hear a teenage Premier League footballer use the phrase ‘jumpers for goalposts’ Meet Chelsea’s Josh McEachran. That was his childhood growing up in Oxfordshire.

He was handed his first Chelsea strip by the club at the age of eight and wore it every day in the family back garden, if he could be bothered to get out of his school uniform. Two versus two with his three brothers, who can all play a bit and are all midfielders.

Josh, 19, is the oldest so teamed up with George, the youngest, now 12 — who has followed Josh’s footsteps, and their parents Julie and Mark’s car journeys, to the Chelsea academy. Their opponents were Billy, now 14, and second oldest Zak, 18, who was released by Chelsea five years ago and now plays for Oxford City. Got that Josh and George v Billy and Zak.

Shining light: Josh McEachran is loving life on Teesside after being sent out on loan from Chelsea

Shining light: Josh McEachran is loving life on Teesside after being sent out on loan from Chelsea

Loan star: Josh McEachran

Blue boy: Josh McEachran

‘We were lucky we had a good relationship with the neighbours and they’d always throw the ball back,’ Josh said. ‘It was all we did. Two v two after school every day. As soon as we got in, we’d chuck the bags down and head out there. It was a small garden, no grass on it, just mud, we’d put down little jumpers for goalposts, get a proper ball out and batter the fences.

‘It was really competitive. They are all good footballers and it usually ended in a little row and we’d sort it out the next night. My grandad played semi-pro in Scotland and my dad only played locally but he reckons he could play. I think he thinks he is better than he was but it’s weird he has sons who are all pretty good.’

Asked who is the best of the McEachrans, he gives it some thought, blushes and smiles when he nominates himself. It is a rare moment of bravado from a shy young man who is certainly not afraid to express himself on a football pitch.

Those who have seen him play will not be surprised that his skills were honed in an enclosed backyard. He can also play a bit. He has played in 22 Chelsea games since his debut in the Champions League against MSK Zilina two years ago when he became the first player to be born after the competition started (November 1992) to play in it.

On the ball: The Oxford-born midfielder is one of four football-mad and rather talented brothers

On the ball: The Oxford-born midfielder is one of four football-mad and rather talented brothers

But a loan spell at Swansea last season fell flat, despite his style suiting Brendan Rodgers. He played five games in five months, three as a substitute.

‘I went at a bad time,’ he said. ‘They wanted to stay up, they were playing really well and Brendan didn’t want to change the team so it was tough to get in. Gylfi Sigurdsson came in a week before me, he was on fire from the start so he had to play. They did well and I can’t blame him.’

Now on loan at Middlesbrough, he is a regular in their midfield, playing a pivotal role in Tony Mowbray’s typically free-flowing side, who can go top of the Championship with a victory over Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.

McEachran is enjoying his time on Teesside. He lives at the luxurious Rockcliffe Hall adjacent to the training ground, spending an ideal day off with his girlfriend, whom he mentions a lot, even though she is supposed to be off limits. She is Coronation Street actress Brooke Vincent, aka Sophie Webster.

It is the football I’m interested in and McEachran believes the move to the most northern Championship club is helping his development. It is working for Middlesbrough, who are looking for their biggest crowd for four years, despite the Sky cameras, after luring fans back with a half-price ticket offer. It helps that Mowbray’s methods are working.

Pass master: McEachran (left) has been a big hit at Middlesbrough playing under Tony Mowbray

Pass master: McEachran (left) has been a big hit at Middlesbrough playing under Tony Mowbray

Happy couple: Josh with girlfriend Brooke Vincent

Happy couple: Josh with girlfriend Brooke Vincent

McEachran said: ‘I could have gone to a few teams but I met Tony, got on with him and his assistant Mark Venus, saw the training ground. I know his style is to get the ball down, pass it through midfield, so it was an easy choice. He drums it in every day in training. I am playing games, which is what I came to do, and Middlesbrough are doing well. The standard is good, really competitive, anyone can beat anyone.

‘My body is getting used to it but I am feeling fitter than ever and training is not as intense because of all the games.’

McEachran is under constant review from Chelsea and he is in regular contact with assistant first-team coach Steve Holland.

He has watched recordings of seen every Chelsea game. They could recall him in January, so he wants to be primed for that. While Middlesbrough is a happy temporary location, he did not sign a five-year contract last season for the sake of it.

He said: ‘I don’t see Mata, Hazard or Oscar in my position. It would be good to play with those players, they are all on fire. I am a deeper midfielder, so that’s my favourite position, where Mikel, Lampard or Ramires play.

‘I’ve been there since I was seven and came through the youth system, so that is my dream club. That is who I want to play for, but this experience can only help me.’

Ryder Cup 2012: Europe"s golfers pay tribute to Seve Ballesteros

Do it for Seve: Europe pay tribute to the great Spaniard as they try to retain the Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 30 September 2012

Europe's Ryder Cup team will hope to pull off an unlikely victory on the final day of the tournament inspired by the late, great Seve Ballesteros.

All of Europe's players took to the Medinah Country Club course on the final day of the 39th Ryder Cup – trailing the USA 10-6 over night – dressed in navy jumpers and trousers and a white shirt – just as the Spaniard used to wear.

The tribute has been organised by European captain Jose Maria Olazabal to honour his friend, with whom he formed a dominant partnership in the competition.

True blue: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal talks with Justin Rose, wearing the famous all blue clothes

True blue: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal talks with Justin Rose, wearing the famous all blue clothes

Ballesteros, who died in May last year after a long battle with cancer, captained Europe to victory in his native Spain in 1997 after playing in the contest eight times.

The pairing of the two Spaniards became a fixture at this event beginning in 1987 at Muirfield Village when Olazabal was a Ryder Cup rookie.

Severiano Ballesteros

Ian Poulter

Inspiration: Seve was famed for wearing a blue jumped and trousers and Europe's team, including Ian Poulter, wore similar outfits on the final day

‘He was a great figure,’ he said. ‘I think not just for myself but for the whole European squad, not just that year but every year that he played in that team. We are going to miss him a lot.

‘It's going to be actually the first time that he's not going to be with us. He was a special man.

Famous pose: Europe's players had a Seve Ballesteros logo stitched onto their sweaters

Famous pose: Europe's players had a Seve Ballesteros logo stitched onto their sweaters

It's written in the sky: The words 'Do it for Seve' are written above the golf course

It's written in the sky: The words 'Do it for Seve' are written above the golf course

‘I believe Seve reflected the core of Ryder Cup values. More than anything, I learned from him what true passion is all about. Seve, we miss you.’

Olazabal choked back tears during the tournament's opening ceremony on Thursday as chairman of the European Professional Golf Association Phil Weaver paid his own tribute to Seve – describing the Spaniard as 'The heartbeat of that team.'

In what promises to be a colourful Sunday scene the US PGA has encouraged home supporters to turn up at Medinah wearing red.

London 2012 Olympics: Daley Thompson – My five Americans to watch

My five Americans to watch at the London Olympics

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UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 5 July 2012

I was surprised at America's lack of depth in a lot of events they were previously very good at: the men's discus, javelin, long jump and high jump in particular.

Only two triple jumpers had the 'A' standard. On the track, the men's 200 metres wasn't that good. There was nothing there to vaguely worry the Jamaicans. It was a bit of a shock because of the numbers of athletes the US have to select from. Either the athletes are just not doing it or the coaching's not as good as it should be.

But there's still an appetite for track and field in the US. Eugene in Oregon, where the trials were held, calls itself Track Town USA . Even in the rain there were more than 20,000 people at Hayward Field.

And despite the US team's problems, I reckon these five will be worth watching out for:

U.S. triple jumper Christian Taylor

In-form: World record holder Eaton

Ashton Eaton: decathlon

The fact he set a world record in poor conditions impressed me, plus he was 656 points in front of the next guy, Trey Hardee, who is the current world champion and probably the second best guy in the world. You look at Eaton's new best and think he's still got a lot left to show, particularly in the high jump, 400m and javelin.

Allyson Felix: 100M, 200m, 4 x 100m relay

I was surprised Jeneba Tarmoh pulled out of the run-out against Felix after the two of them dead-heated for third in the 100m final, but I'm not sure running the 100m as well as the 200m is going to be good for Allyson. She tends to run better when she's just got the one thing to do and she was unbelievable in the 200m. She set a new personal best of 21.69 – the fourth fastest time ever.

Ashton Eaton

Christian Taylor: Triple Jump

The world champion (above) put in a very professional performance. He did one jump to qualify for the final and then jumped 17.63m to win the competition with his first jump. He's going to pose a big threat to Phillips Idowu, or maybe it's the other way round: I think it's Phillips who is the challenger now.

Aries Merritt: 110m hurdles

Merritt and world champion Jason Richardson both ran really well and dipped under 13 seconds in the final. Jeff Porter, whose wife Tiffany has made the British team in the 100m hurdles, came in third. If the conditions had been better a world record might have been on the cards because Richardson ran 12.98 in his semifinal. Two runs under 13 seconds in just over an hour is pretty good.

Galen Rupp

Genuine threat: Impressive Rupp

Galen Rupp: 5,000m, 10,000m

For the last couple of years he's always looked really strong but didn't seem to have a lot of speed to kick at the finish. But he really bombed along in the final lap of the 5,000m to outsprint former 1500m Olympic silver medallist Bernard Lagat. You don't need to warn Mo Farah about Rupp because he trains with him every day, but can he provide a genuine challenge to Mo, the Ethiopians and Kenyans in London Yes, why not

London 2012 Olympics: Phillips Idowu set to warm up against Christian Taylor before Games

Idowu set for warm up against rival Taylor less than a month before the Games

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UPDATED:

16:58 GMT, 23 May 2012

Phillips Idowu will take on his leading rival for Olympic triple jump gold this summer, Christian Taylor, less than a month before the Games.

The Londoner will go head to head with the man who beat him to the world title in Daegu last year at the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on July 14.

Crunch time: Phillips Idowu will face Christian Taylor, the man who defeated him in Daegu, at Crystal Palace

Crunch time: Phillips Idowu will face Christian Taylor, the man who defeated him in Daegu, at Crystal Palace

The pair have already met this season, with Idowu beating the 21-year-old American in last Saturday's Diamond League meeting in atrocious conditions in Shanghai.

'I've got a good winter of quality training under my belt and now I'm aiming for the gold medal,' said Idowu, who jumped 17.24 metres on his first outing of the season in China.

'The Aviva London Grand Prix is only three weeks before we jump at the Olympics, so it's perfect for me to keep sharp and get the support of the home crowd which will give me a taste of things to come in the Olympic stadium.

'I'm looking forward to taking on the best jumpers in the world on July 14th. I'm never one to avoid my main competitors.

Rival: Christian Taylor beat Idowu to the World Championship gold medal

Rival: Christian Taylor beat Idowu to the World Championship gold medal

'We have all had some great battles in previous years but if I go out there and execute at Crystal Palace, I'm confident that it will give me a boost towards competing at the Games.'

Taylor, who took gold at the World Championships with a leap of 17.96m, 15cm further than Idowu has ever jumped, said: 'It's a great way for me to prepare for the Olympics a few weeks later.'

The American, who also beat Idowu at last year's London Grand Prix, insists he will not underestimate his rivals.

He said: 'It was nice to beat Phillips in his home town, but I know what he's capable of and I know he's never to be underestimated.

'We're both elite jumpers capable of big distances so it comes down to who steps up on the day and who shows the most heart.'

SIX NATIONS 2012: Why England must fly at France from kick-off

Rush hour! Why England must fly at France from kick-off

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UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 9 March 2012

The restart has become the third set-piece and it is an area England should target. Every restart is an opportunity to regain possession or win penalties.

If we were gathered under our own posts for a penalty or conversion, we’d be ready to sprint back to halfway. Sir Clive Woodward used to say that it was the chance to immediately turn the pressure around. Some teams would jog back and relax, but our wings would be in charge of making sure we got in position quickly and were ready and focused.

Teams often score a penalty then concede three points immediately from the kick-off – and it is exactly what happened to France last week. Ireland kicked off, Morgan Parra box-kicked straight into touch, Ireland got the line-out, won a penalty and claimed three points back, which is a double psychological blow.

Under pressure: Paul O'Connell attempts to charge down a Morgan Parra box kick

Under pressure: Paul O'Connell attempts to charge down a Morgan Parra box kick

The French locks don’t look particularly comfortable receiving a high ball off the kick-off. Forwards work in pods of lifters and jumpers – like in a line-out – and the lifters are usually props or back-row forwards, who have to react to the kick and lift a second row. Unusually, France have centre Aurelien Rougerie lifting in the middle. Even though he is a big, strong man, England should target him.

When England receive, I would also put Lee Dickson in the area to receive the ball and feed Ben Morgan at full tilt, in the way Leicester use Alesana Tuilagi running off the scrum-half.

There are two main types of kick. The first is to kick long for field position, with a high hang so a wing or fast flanker can chase to get to the ball-carrier. If you cut off their momentum, the opposition have to kick straight back to you or into touch. The other way is to kick shorter and high, so that you can compete to win the ball in the air.

Owen Farrell is very effective at delivering a flat kick, so the opposition can’t get a pod in formation to win the ball. It is like a cross-kick in open play. He switched one kick against Scotland, which can surprise teams. Some teams put all pods on one side of the field but France put Imanol Harinordoquy alone on the other side to deal with this.

Key man: Owen Farrell's kicking game will be vital on Sunday

Key man: Owen Farrell's kicking game will be vital on Sunday

The chasing team have the advantage of running on to the ball. You want to stay outside the receiver and come from the blind side. If they’ve got a lift, the ideal option is to jump and put your knee on the arm of the back lifter, to climb up off them and get higher. You can get away with it because you are competing for the ball. It is a technique from Aussie Rules Football.

The receivers might have to back-track and that stops you getting a decent jump and ‘owning’ the space. Some jumpers have a great perception of depth so they can allow the ball to come down over them, but coming on to the kick also makes it harder for the opposition to knock you back.

Away from the kick-off, the three key battles are between the scrum-halves, the back rows and the front rows. France have picked Julien Dupuy at scrum-half and although he’s a lovely bloke and very talented, you can wind him up. He is very Gallic! When things aren’t going his way, he will throw his arms in the air in frustration.

England can wind him up and put him off his game. But he is exceptional at quick tap-penalties. He is also one of the best in the world at changing the direction of attack and finding a hole when the team has been attacking one way. Dickson has a big defensive role. If a penalty goes against them, he has to get back 10 yards quickly then race forward to stop Dupuy. He also has to boss his blindside guards to stay alert for Dupuy’s change of direction.

Talented: France scrum half Julien Dupuy goes airborne in training

Talented: France scrum half Julien Dupuy goes airborne in training

France have an outstanding back-row. Julien Bonnaire is superb in the line-out, so it will be a good match-up against Tom Croft. Harinordoquy is another great line-out forward and an all-round player, but if you can get into him, he has been known to crack. Because he is so talented and flamboyant he is the sort of player who can get frustrated under pressure. When he can’t show off his skills, he sometimes tries to throw miracle off-loads and spills the ball.

The scrum is so important in France, where the props are the heroes. Dan Cole is very strong but he will get a severe test of his credentials. Alex Corbisiero struggled against Adam Jones and now he has to take on formidable tighthead Nicolas Mas.

It is particularly difficult taking on the scrum in Paris, because when the crowd start to smell blood, they become so loud, the French pack pick up on the atmosphere and try to finish you off. It is like being gladiators being thrown to the lions in the Colosseum!

Final preparations: England go in for a huddle at Pennyhill Park

Final preparations: England go in for a huddle at Pennyhill Park

In the week before playing against France we would do 10-second scrum practice – keeping the ball in and replicating the way they like to build pressure like Italy and Argentina. England have to win the ‘hit’ and keep it going.

I think England will soak up early pressure but France will win by nine points.

Ben Kay is a rugby analyst for ESPN’s Aviva Premiership Rugby coverage

Six Nations 2012: England v Wales will be won on line-outs: Ben Kay

Line-outs will be key factor in deciding who wins

The battle of the line-out will be the most fascinating duel of the afternoon. It is far more complicated than it looks and requires a combination of physical agility and smart analysis.

A good line-out needs precision, perfect timing and a symmetry between the hooker, lifters and jumpers. Nearly everything that goes wrong with it is down to hesitation.

THE MANAGERS

IN THE ENGLISH CORNER: GEOFF PARLING

Picking Geoff Parling is a really brave decision by Stuart Lancaster, but absolutely the right one. Leaving the experienced Tom Palmer in there would have been tempting, but the line-out has been much better when Parling has come on. I played with him for a year at Leicester and found him to be one of the best line-out managers I’ve come across.

Jump starter: Geoff Parling will do battle with Alun Wyn Jones

Jump starter: Geoff Parling will do battle with Alun Wyn Jones

IN THE WELSH CORNER: ALUN WYN JONES

The return of Alun Wyn Jones (below) will help Wales, but he’s rusty – he’s only played a game and a half since a three-month lay-off. It doesn’t help him that hooker Ken Owens is Wales’ third-choice, which means that the vital rapport between thrower and jumper may take longer to establish. He won’t yet know Wales’ ‘banker’ throw.

Key man: Alun Wyn Jones will be a vital player for Wales

Head to head

THE JUMPERS

England have a stronger set of jumpers than Wales, so Parling has more tools at his disposal. Tom Croft is the best back-row jumper in the world. Mouritz Botha has done his job really well at the front of the line and Courtney Lawes is a real athlete to bring on.

THE CALL

The line-out manager will nominate a call and a ‘check-out’ option – effectively a Plan A and a Plan B. The hooker will be ready for either, depending on how the opposition are lined up. The call will probably involve really simple numbers – for instance: ‘The call is 88, the check-out is 32’. During the Six Nations, it is important to keep developing calls to avoid being worked out. In the first week a call might be applied to a double movement (one dummy, then a jump), then the next week that could become a triple movement – adding an extra dummy – to make sure the opposition are always guessing and in the wrong place.

Getting it right: The line outs will be key

Getting it right: The line outs will be key

THE DUMMY

If you are using dummies, it has to be for a reason. The timing is vital — it must look convincing; go slow so they think they have you, then quickly move away so they can’t recover. England have been dummying in one area then throwing the ball too far away. If you dummy at the front, the hole is just behind it, but England have then thrown back to where the next ‘pod’ of forwards is standing, which means the opposition are waiting for them.

THE THROW

There are different types, flat and fast or looping ‘floaters’. Whatever the type of throw, the key is to find space, particularly in Tests where it is so congested, so the holes are not obvious. Sometimes the throw comes before the jump — the hooker throws to the area that has been called and the movement follows.

Hooker: Ken Owens

Key throw: Dylan Hartley

Getting it right: Ken Owens and Dylan Hartley will need to get their throws right

CRACKING THE CODE

These days, codes and calls have become too complex to work out, but Parling and Jones will still spend hours analysing the opposition line-out to look for clues and patterns in body language. They have detailed systems they can access on their laptops of every type of line-out and every player.

v WALES, 2005

BEWARE THE TELL-TALE CLAP!

Some jumpers clap when they are dummying without even realising it. I used to use that.
I had to tell my own team-mates who didn’t even realise they were doing it.
It used to irritate me if a back-rower waved for the ball to signal to the hooker — it would give the game away!

Before we went to Cardiff in 2005, I spent a lot of time analysing their calls and I thought I had cracked them. I was sat in the dressing-room at the Millennium Stadium before the game feeling confident, but they suddenly decided to start calling the numbers in Welsh. My wife knew how to count in Welsh, but I hadn’t asked her to teach me because I’d seen so much footage of them calling in English.

v SOUTH AFRICA, 2003

In 2003, I had learned South African numbers before we played the Springboks at the World Cup. We had a South African, Sherylle Calder, as our vision awareness coach. I asked her what a word in Afrikaans was and she said ‘three’. I asked her another and she said ‘five’. It became obvious they were just using a simple number calling system in Afrikaans, so I learned all the words and we cleaned up against them. It was probably the only time I got one over on Victor Matfield.

Spying: The Australian used to watch England practice their line-outs during the 2003 World Cup

Spying: The Australian used to watch England practice their line-outs during the 2003 World Cup

v AUSTRALIA, 2003

Before the World Cup Final in 2003 we were training at the Manly Seagulls ground, outside Sydney. There was a row of houses up on a hill overlooking the ground and we were convinced the Australians were spying on us. A couple of years later, I was chatting to Scott Johnson on the Lions tour and he admitted that he had been spying, to help them work out our line-out. He had been sat in one of those houses and the old lady who owned it kept bringing him cups of tea while he filmed our sessions!

THE OTHER KEY BATTLES

THE MIDFIELD

It will be explosive as Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi line up against Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies. The danger is that the England pair will fly out of the line to make big hits on their opponents, and could get stepped. Barritt has got a big role helping Tuilagi in defence. Wales may have the edge in this area, but Tuilagi is capable of making a couple of breaks to change the game.

THE OPENSIDE FLANKERS

Sam Warburton will present the biggest test yet for his opposite number, Chris Robshaw. The England skipper is often described as a six-and-a-half — not an out-and-out openside — and Warburton is one of the best breakdown forwards in the world, who provides quick ball for his team. But I’ve been impressed by Robshaw at Harlequins. He can compete.

Big test: Sam Warburton will be a major challenge for Chris Robshaw

Big test: Sam Warburton will be a major challenge for Chris Robshaw

THE FLY-HALVES

Rhys Priestland showed at Twickenham last summer what a quality player he is. Owen Farrell is very inexperienced and has to lead the team in attack, but I’m sure he will take that role in his stride. There will be a contrast in styles — I think Farrell will be more controlled. He might not bring his back line into play to the same level, but he makes good decisions and is a born winner.

PREDICTION

I think it will be close for an hour, then one of the centres will produce a game-changing moment. If I had to bet, I’d go for Wales to score then hold on to win by a handful of points.

Enlarge

Two ways England can get the better of Jones

Ben Kay is a rugby analyst for ESPN’s Aviva Premiership Rugby coverage.

Winter Youth Olympics 2012 begin and Scheffau travel review

IOC chief Rogge welcomes new tradition as inaugural Winter Youth Olympics begin

The inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games got underway on Friday with an opening ceremony featuring classic and modern dance, along with video flashbacks to 1964 and 1976 when Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics.

'It is altogether fitting that this new Olympic tradition will begin in Innsbruck,' International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said.

'These Games will enhance a great legacy that includes Innsbruck's role as host of the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games.'

Let the games begin: Fireworks illuminate the opening ceremony of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Innsbruck

Let the games begin: Fireworks illuminate the opening ceremony of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Innsbruck

The Youth Olympic cauldron at the Bergisel ski jumping stadium was lit by Paul Gerstgraser, who will represent Austria in the nordic combined event.

The 1964 and 1976 cauldrons were lit by the respective Olympic downhill champions, Egon Zimmermann and Franz Klammer, while the Olympic flag was carried into the stadium by a series of former Olympic champions from Austria, including ski jumpers Toni Innauer and Karl Schnabl.

Flag bearer: Team GB's Katie Summerhayes at the Bergisel Stadium

Flag bearer: Team GB's Katie Summerhayes at the Bergisel Stadium

The games continue until Jan. 22 with 1,059 athletes aged 15-18 from 70 countries competing in 63 medal competitions. Some sports are new to the Olympics, others are known sports in a new format with teams of mixed genders and nationalities competing, underlining the event's values of respect and friendship.

'To the athletes, I say, these Games exist for you,' Rogge said.

'You have come here… not just to compete against each other, but also to learn from each other. This evening marks your entry into the Olympic world.'

The IOC president added that participating in the games is not just an honor but 'a great responsibility' as well.

'As the next generation of sports men and women, you are now the role models that represent our hopes for the future,' Rogge said.

Light show: Over 20,000 people attended the stunning opening ceremony in Austria

Light show: Over 20,000 people attended the stunning opening ceremony in Austria

'You have a chance to be true champions, not only by winning medals, but by conducting yourself like Olympians.'

'Strive for excellence, but compete with friendship and respect for your opponents. Reject doping and other shortcuts that cheat yourself as well as others.'

Let the Games begin: IOC president Jaques Rogge delivers his speech before declaring the Youth Olympic Games open in Innsbruck

Let the Games begin: IOC president Jaques Rogge delivers his speech before declaring the Youth Olympic Games open in Innsbruck

Among the 20,000 visitors attending the ceremony were Austrian President Heinz Fischer; coordination commission chairman for the Winter Youth Olympic Games and president of the International ski federation, Gian-Franco Kasper; and Olympic figure skating champion and 'YOG ambassador' Kim Yu-na.

SCHEFFAU – SPORTSMAIL TRAVEL SPECIAL

All smiles: Sportsmail's Matt Lawless pictured with his son Freddie and one of the locals in Scheffau

The legacy of the great Winter Games in
Innsburck in 1964 and 1976 stretches further afield in Austria.

Sportsmail's Matt Lawless (right) paid a flying visit to the nearby village of
Scheffau last week to introduce his four-year-old son Freddie to skiing.

Here's how their trip unfolded…

I remember taking up skiing on a school holiday as a teenager which had
then left me wondering why it had taken so long to discover such a
thrilling hobby.

Since that trip to Canada in 2000 I've been fortunate to travel on
numerous adventures to different resorts on the Continent, namely in
Italy and France. But never to Austria. Until now.

All smiles: Sportsmail's Matt Lawless pictured with his son Freddie and one of the locals in Scheffau

All smiles: Sportsmail's Matt Lawless (L) pictured with his son Freddie (C) and one of the locals in Scheffau

Something that always struck me on those visits was the masses of
children speeding down the slopes, some as young as two or three or
however early enough their enthusiastic parents could place two great
big planks at the bottom of their feet.

I actually found it somewhat inspiring and vowed that, when I became a
parent, I too would introduce my flesh and blood to life on the lifts,
as it were, at a tender age.

And so I did and off to Innsbruck my son and I went. With the inaugural
Winter Youth Games taking place the snow-engulfed area of Austria is
gripped with fever. There could not have been a more appropriate time
for Freddie to make his debut.

The town is painted with Olympic-themed posters and the locals are uber
excited at the return of such a prestigious event with many remembering
the great Games they hosted in 1964 and 1976.

Typically, four-year-old Freddie did not quite embrace this special
atmosphere until he was handed a bear of the official mascot Yogll (or
Jacob as he would be known on these shores). From there, his love-affair
with winter sports seemingly began.

We headed down some 40 minutes outside of Innsbruck towards the
incredibly picturesque family-station of Scheffau to stay at the Land
Alpin, a fine four-star hotel planted in glorious views of the
spectacularly snow-covered foothills of the vast Wilder Kaiser
Mountains.

Just a short three-minute bus ride and five-minute gondola climb away, I
enrolled Freddie at the KinderKaiserland area where he took his first
steps on skis with the expert tutelage of a team of expert instructors.

After two short runs down the nursery slopes he'd demonstrated he was
more than capable of perfecting the 'pizza' and 'chips' routine – or as
those common to the sport would know as a snow plough for stopping.

Having fun: Freddie proudly stands by the snowman he made with two other youngsters

Having fun: Freddie proudly stands by snowman he made with two other kids

The ski school offers tuition for children from the age of two in
special classes which take place before lunchtime for 45 minutes – just
enough for their little legs to get a taste of the skiing fun before
being looked after by qualified supervisors in a Kids Club centre.

As he enjoyed his starting experience, I was able explore the huge Ski
Welt circuit – Austria's largest, fully integrated, ski area with a vast
279kms cross-section of runs. The mountain bowl above Scheffau provides
some of the best snow conditions in the area so perfect to seduce you
into a rest of aprs-ski.

Scheffau is a sleepy resort in comparison to neighbouring village of
Soll where many Brits flock during the winter season for its vast array
of aprs-ski friendly bars and inns. But it's ideal for a visit with
youngsters where there are a host of activities aside from the skiing to
keep them entertained.

After a challenging day on the slopes, where blizzard conditions were
fiercely brutal last Tuesday with high winds sweeping snowboarders slightly off-track, we embarked on an
enchanting candlelit evening walk through the forest to find a welcoming
traditional family-run local restaurant, where we enjoyed a feat of
meat cooked on a fondue.

Stunning views: Hotel Land Alpin where Matt stayed in Scheffau

Stunning views: Hotel Land Alpin where Matt stayed in Scheffau

The evening before, on the Monday, we were gleefully whisked around the
charming town of Ellmau in a horse-drawn sleigh. Had it been two weeks
or so earlier, it would have felt that all of our Christmases had come
at once as we shared breath-taking views of the village.

Among some of
the interesting sights were cars and rooftops sheeted completely in
snow.

Of course, it had been well documented on the news how severe Austria
had been succumbed to the white powder. I'd wondered whether we'd be
able to return home. But then I was comforted by the spirit of the locals
was as warming as a hearty bowl of Goulash soup. It made me want to
stay longer.

No doubt we'll return one day and hopefully the current Winter Youth
Olympics will inspire a new generation of Olympians.

Perhaps, even my
Freddie…

For more information on skiing holiday's to Scheffau visit: www.crystalski.co.uk

EasyJet flys from London Gatwick to Innsbruck.

Snow hits Premier League players

Missing the snood, lads Premier League stars grit their teeth in the big freeze

The Premier League is heading for the big freeze as the icy weather spreads across the country.

Matches this weekend are expected to be played in cold temperatures as the top-flight stars unpack their gloves and fancy tights.

Go with the snow: Hardy Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt wore shorts

Go with the snow: Hardy Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt wore shorts

Wrap up, Andy: Liverpool striker Carroll feels the chill at Melwood

Wrap up, Andy: Liverpool striker Carroll feels the chill at Melwood

A snowy scene greeted much of the UK on Friday morning as large parts of the country experienced their first covering of the winter.

Liverpool”s players pulled on their woolies for their morning training session, with Andy Carroll – who donned a snood – looking to come out of the cold and earn a place in the first team.

At Manchester City, Mario Balotelli seemed to be feeling the chill after his heated row with Micah Richards in training 24 hours earlier.

Got a spare, snood Mario Balotelli and Stefan Svaic share a joke at Carrington

Got a spare, snood Mario Balotelli and Stefan Svaic share a joke at Carrington

Blowing cold: Roberto Mancini made sure he didn

Blowing cold: Roberto Mancini made sure he didn”t forget his woolies for training

The striker looked like he”d nicked Roberto Mancini”s famous blue-and-white scarf as he also pulled on a woolly hat at their Carrington base.

Down in the capital, Arsenal”s players looked like slimline Santas as they donned red jumpers and hats for their session at London Colney.

So, if you”re heading off to a match this weekend, don”t forget to wrap up warm. And don”t laugh too much at the shivering winger longer for the once-legal snood…

Santa run: Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott wore festive red at Arsenal

Santa run: Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott wore festive red at Arsenal