Tag Archives: welsh

Amlin Challenge Cup match report: Bath 20 Stade Francais 36:

Bath 20 Stade Francais 36: Bath fury over spit incident as they bow out

PUBLISHED:

15:44 GMT, 6 April 2013

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UPDATED:

20:51 GMT, 6 April 2013

Peter Stringer was furious after being spat at by opposing scrum-half Jerome Fillol as Bath crashed out of Europe.

The Irish No 9 hopes his rival from Stade Francais will be hit with a long ban for the ugly bust-up which he labelled 'the lowest of the lows'.

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Fillol could face a possible 10-week suspension if found guilty after losing his cool at a ruck.

Stringer, capped 98 times, was clearly upset and asked referee Nigel Owens if he had witnessed the incident.

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

The Welsh referee did not see Fillol
spit but the citing commissioner will take a dim view and the Frenchman
can expect the book to be thrown at him.

Stringer said: 'It's the lowest of
the lows and has no place on a rugby field. It's out of my hands now but
as it was seen on TV, hopefully it will be dealt with.'

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

The English challenge in the Amlin
Cup ended as Bath meekly bowed out. Two converted tries from Fijian
winger Waisea Vuidravuwalu and two penalties set up a 20-3 halftime lead
for the visitors.

Bath spent 20 minutes against 14 men
after Rabah Slimani and then Scott Lavalla were sin-binned, allowing
the home side back with a penalty try.

In control: Stade Francais's Jerome Fillol offloads the ball

In control: Stade Francais's Jerome Fillol offloads the ball

But a brace from Hugo Bonneval
stretched Stade's lead. Bath pulled tries back through Michael Claassens
and Jack Cuthbert but it was too late to avoid defeat.

Gavin Rees vows to knock out Adrien Broner

Underdog Rees pledges to KO 'cocky' Broner in Atlantic City showdown

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

01:07 GMT, 13 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:18 GMT, 13 February 2013

Gavin Rees has promised to knock 'cocky' Adrien Broner out cold and become a two-weight world champion in Atlantic City on Saturday night.

The Welsh lightweight will be a huge underdog against the 23-year-old hailed as the heir to Floyd Mayweather Jnr's throne.

But Rees, who was clearly riled during Tuesday's press conference, is confident he can put an end to the hype.

Vow: Gavin Rees (right) is determined to knock out Adrien Broner this weekend

Vow: Gavin Rees (right) is determined to knock out Adrien Broner this weekend

The 32-year-old won the WBA light-welterweight belt in 2007 when he stunned Souleymane M'Baye only to lose in his first defence to Andriy Kotelnik the following year.

Rees then dropped down a division, winning the British and European titles before accepting the clash with Broner.

'I'm looking forward to knocking your head off because you're one cocky f***,' he said, addressing his opponent.

'You'll be lower than me when I knock you out cold. You do all the talking but we'll see if you can back it up on Saturday night.'

Broner, who claimed throughout the conference not to know Rees' name, is renowned for his brash attitude and post-fight antics which include having his dad brush his hair.#

And unsurprisingly, he was confident of recording his 22nd knockout from 26 professional contests.

'I respect him as a fighter because only a boxer knows what we go through when we get in that ring,' he said.

'Cocky': Adrien Broner is widely considered to be favourites for the bout

'Cocky': Adrien Broner is widely considered to be favourite for the bout

'At the end of the day, we're going to have fun. I've never seen him fight but he's been world champion so he's not a lookover.

'He's going to sleep. I'm not going to miss the boulder on his shoulders; it's not going to last long.
'I'm not looking past the fight but I wanted to fight Ricky Burns but he put on his track shoes and ran away from me again.

'We're going to take care of business on Saturday night.'

Rees' promoter Eddie Hearn meanwhile admits he was insulted by the odds being offered on his charge winning with one British bookmaker quoting him at 25/1.

'He's been written off and some of the odds that are flying about are quite abusive,' he said. 'He's a former British, European and world champion. He won't be overawed going into the fight.

'It will be the toughest fight of Adrien Broner's career and Gavin deserves a hell of a lot more respect than he's been getting.

'We believe we will cause a massive upset and make a huge statement for British boxing.'

Player of the Month Matthews hopes to carry form into Europe and topple Juventus

Player of the Month Matthews hopes to carry form into Europe and topple Juventus

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

17:24 GMT, 8 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:24 GMT, 8 February 2013

SPL Player of the Month Adam Matthews is hoping he can take his magnificent league form with Celtic and help them win the Champions League last-16 tie against Juventus.

The Welsh defender has been in exceptional form this season for the Bhoys, and was awarded with the monthly gong for January.

The 21-year-old now hopes to kick on and is focusing on 'one of the biggest games of my career' when the Italian giants visit Parkhead on Tuesday for the first leg of the knockout rounds.

Forward thinking: Adam Matthews hopes Celtic can get past Juventus in the Champions League

Forward thinking: Adam Matthews hopes Celtic can get past Juventus in the Champions League

Celtic progressed through the group stages in spectacular fashion, even managing to beat tournament favourites Barcelona at home in a thrilling 2-1 win.

Matthews said: 'I think it's a good achievement. We have a few young good players in the SPL and it's the first time I've won the award but hopefully I can win it some more.'

'It is the first time I have won the award but hopefully I can win it a few more times.

Superstar: Andrea Pirlo is hoping to spoil the party at Parkhead

Superstar: Andrea Pirlo is hoping to spoil the party at Parkhead

Leading the line: Gary Hooper has been in lethal form for Celtic

Leading the line: Gary Hooper has been in lethal form for Celtic

'You play against the best teams in the world like Barcelona and you can only improve.

'Juventus will be one of the biggest games of my career.

'The Barcelona game was one of them but this, for the club and the fans, is even bigger.'

Juventus are favourites to progress past the SPL champions and currently sit top of Serie A, three points clear of chasers Napoli.

London Welsh sign up Tonga"uiha and Bateman on long-term deals

Ambitious London Welsh sign up Tonga'uiha and Bateman on long-term deals

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UPDATED:

14:51 GMT, 27 December 2012

London Welsh duo Hudson Tonga'uiha and Greg Bateman have signed new deals with the Aviva Premiership club.

Centre Tonga'uiha, who has 24 caps for Tonga and made nine Premiership appearances for the Exiles in their debut season in the top flight, joined prop Bateman in extending his contract with the Oxford-based side.

Welsh head coach Lyn Jones told the club's official website: 'I'm absolutely delighted that Hudson and Greg have committed themselves to London Welsh.

Hudson Tonga'Uiha of London Welsh in action against Leicester Tigers

Greg Bateman in action against the Exeter Chiefs

Long-term aspirations: London Welsh want to secure their Premiership future

'Hudson has really stepped up to the mark this year and has thrived in the Aviva Premiership. Greg has grasped his opportunity with both hands and is evolving into a decent Premiership player with the potential to go further.

'These two re-signings signify the ambitions and long term objectives of London Welsh RFC.'

Bateman said: 'I've improved a lot in my time here and I'm looking forward to what I can achieve in the future.

'Lyn's worked a lot with me on areas of my game where I can improve and I take that very seriously. I want to push to be involved in the first XV more and more.'

Kempton"s conditions are heavy for Boxing Day meeting

Christmas deluge turns Kempton heavy with inspections expected elsewhere

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Kempton goes ahead without an inspection despite being hit with more rain on Christmas Day that changed the going to heavy.

Clerk of the course Barney Clifford said eight millimetres of rain fell at the track on Tuesday morning but the course had taken it well.

Clifford added: ‘No inspection is needed. You could still arguably find a few soft patches among the heavy but that is splitting hairs.

Meeting greeting: Kempton's conditions have turned heavy (stock image)

Meeting greeting: Kempton's conditions have turned heavy (stock image)

‘There is a band of showers moving in after midnight but then it should be dry with a sunny day before the next rain front moves in late in the afternoon.’

The prospect of a bright forecast is the Christmas present Kempton has been praying for ahead of its biggest crowd of the year.

But two other courses, Fontwell (8am) and Wetherby (8.30am) face inspections ahead of their most lucrative meetings.

All the remaining jump cards take place on heavy going. Huntingdon was already off and Thursday's Welsh National card at Chepstow has also been abandoned.

The meeting was to have been the BBC’s last racing broadcast before Channel 4 takes up exclusive rights to the sport. The card has been moved to January 5. Leicester inspect at 11am today for Friday’s fixture.

London Welsh coach Lyn Jones backs Welsh rugby to rise again

Welsh rugby will rise again! Former Lion Jones lifted by Cuthbert's loyalty

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

When two blood-and-thunder Welsh derbies take place today in front of big festive crowds in Cardiff and Swansea, it will present a vibrant image to the rugby world. In reality, though, the game in the Principality is on a knife-edge.

There will barely be an empty seat at the Arms Park and the Liberty Stadium as the Blues and Dragons square up first, followed by the Ospreys and Scarlets.

They come on the back of a rare outbreak of positive news, with the Ospreys’ glorious Heineken Cup win over Toulouse preceding an announcement from the Blues that Alex Cuthbert had agreed a new three-year contract.

Trend setter: Alex Cuthbert went against the grain when he committed to Cardiff Blues rather than follow the money in France, where there is no salary cap

Trend setter: Alex Cuthbert went against the grain when he committed to Cardiff Blues rather than follow the money in France, where there is no salary cap

The Grand Slam-winning wing’s
decision to go against the grain by staying at home may be just the
boost that the regions were crying out for.

With Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate
having already agreed to join the exodus to France, Cuthbert’s decision
to turn his back on the riches on offer in the Top 14 was seized upon
as cause for optimism in bleak times.

And Blues chairman Peter Thomas was
upbeat about the chances of three more marquee players signing new
contracts next year — Wales captain Sam Warburton, fullback Leigh
Halfpenny and lock Bradley Davies.

But the bigger picture provides cause
for alarm. While the Scarlets lie second in the RaboDirect Pro12
league, there is every chance that the Heineken Cup quarter-finals will
again go ahead without a Welsh team.

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis
strongly hinted that the four regions may not all survive in their
current form, with at least one in danger of being re-cast as a
development team, with central funding heavily reduced as a result.

Hopeful: Cardiff want to get the likes of Sam Warburton to follow Cuthbert

Hopeful: Cardiff want to get the likes of Sam Warburton to follow Cuthbert

One prominent Welsh rugby figure told
Sportsmail that drastic action was needed and that the future formula
should include two ‘primary’ regions and one development region, with
one removed altogether. There is a growing realisation that something
has to give.

Bigger picture: Lyn Jones is concerned by the lack of depth at most levels in the region

Bigger picture: Lyn Jones is concerned by the lack of depth at most levels in the region

London Welsh head coach, Lyn Jones,
said: ‘Three regions is enough. At this stage, they haven’t said which
region will be downgraded or axed, so we’ll just have to wait and see
what happens.’

In a time of economic struggle and a
3.5million salary cap, Jones believes that finances are a major factor
in the difficulties experienced by the regions, exacerbated by the
growing input of the WRU.

‘The game in Wales needs new
investors to give it a boost, but people won’t get involved if they feel
that their hands are tied. Increased funding from the governing body
has frightened people away.’

However, Jones has no worries about the production of players.

‘Compared to England, far more
players are being produced per capita in Wales. They have to keep
producing young players in order to survive and they have to keep
looking after their treasures.’

Wasps’ former Scarlets, Wales and
Lions fly-half Stephen Jones feels that Cuthbert’s decision to stay with
the Blues may serve as a watershed moment for the regions as a whole,
when it comes to the retention of their stars.

Ready for the fight: Ospreys went into Christmas in good spirits after their hugely impressive win over Toulouse at Liberty Stadium on December 15

Ready for the fight: Ospreys went into Christmas in good spirits after their hugely impressive win over Toulouse at Liberty Stadium on December 15

‘He is the first one to break the
trend and that suggests that the Blues sold a vision to him,’ he said.
‘Let’s hope that now one of the big names has decided to stay in Wales,
more will follow his lead.’

With the prospect of one region being
demoted to development status, the Dragons are surely most vulnerable,
lying 11th of 12 in the Pro12 league and competing in the Amlin
Challenge Cup this season.

Stephen Jones added: ‘It’s tough for
the Dragons, losing someone like Luke Charteris, who was a leader for
them, was a real blow and Dan (Lydiate) now.’

But he believes the other regions
have the ability to keep filling voids left by high-profile departures,
adding: ‘The key is the production line.

'If the regions can keep enough strong
role models in their squads to give guidance and direction to the
youngsters, then you have a healthy system.’

Sam Warbuton will stay loyal to Cardiff Blues

Warbuton will follow Cuthbert's lead and stay loyal to Cardiff

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 22 December 2012

Sam Warburton is set to emulate Alex Cuthbert by securing his future in Wales with Cardiff Blues.

The Wales captain has been reassured over the club’s ambitions after they tied down Cuthbert for the next three years and he says he is ready to commit to his home team ‘for life’ when his current deal ends after next season.

Warburton, 24, said: ‘I would love to stay at the Blues for life and have my testimonial here.

Set to sign: Sam Warburton will commit his future to the Cardiff Blues

Set to sign: Sam Warburton will commit his future to the Cardiff Blues

‘In France you can earn three or four times what you get in Wales, but I would also rather play somewhere I’m happy and getting looked after.

‘It will be interesting to see the detail in the new WRU plans and what incentives they come up with to keep players at the regions.’

One of the main aims of the newly formed Professional Regional Game Board in Wales is to help the four Welsh teams hold on to their top players.

Newport Gwent Dragons director of rugby Rob Beale says they could help the club keep Toby Faletau, who will also be out of contract after next season.

Beale said: ‘If that is a stated aim then they have got to be involved in how we set about keeping Toby.’

Jan Vertonghen says Spurs can win without Gareth Bale

We can win without Bale! Vertonghen adamant Spurs not a one-man team

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 17 December 2012

Jan Vertonghen believes Tottenham's victory over Swansea proves they can flourish without winger Gareth Bale.

Spurs climbed to fourth in the Barclays Premier League after Vertonghen fired them to a 1-0 triumph with his first goal in the competition at White Hart Lane yesterday.

Bale has been sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring injury and failed to make the squad yesterday and Tottenham are criticised for their lack of penetration in the Welsh winger's absence.

Vertonghen scored the only goal in a hard-fought win over Swansea on Sunday

Vertonghen scored the only goal in a hard-fought win over Swansea on Sunday

But Vertonghen, a 12million summer signing from Ajax, believes Clint Dempsey has proved a capable deputy.

'Maybe we needed a little more width on the pitch but Clint has replaced Gareth very well, like he has done with all the strikers already,' he said.

'Of course Gareth is a world class player, but we did well without him.

'We have a big squad but have had too many injuries. But even without those players we've played quite well. When everybody comes back we'll have a very strong team.'

Vertonghen insists the victory has set Tottenham up for a Christmas schedule that begins against Stoke at White Hart Lane on Saturday and also includes fixtures against Aston Villa, Sunderland and Reading.

Tottenham moved level on points with third-placed Chelsea

Tottenham moved level on points with third-placed Chelsea

Bale has been out with a hamstring injury

Bale has been out with a hamstring injury

'We needed to win our two matches games, this being the first one. It's important to enter Christmas with a good feeling,' the 25-year-old said.

'We did okay against Swansea. We know Swansea are a good passing team but we put them under pressure and created a lot of chances.'

Just as pleasing as Spurs' third clean sheet of the season was their refusal to concede the type of late goal that has hamstrung them under manager Andre Villas-Boas.

In their 24 matches this season, they have been breached 13 times in the last 15 minutes and had their matches finished at 80 minutes, they would be top of the table.

'We've conceded too many goals in the last 10 minutes, we know that. We have to keep our focus for 95 minutes,' Vertonghen said.

'We talked about not conceding late goals and last week was a perfect example. We concentrated very hard.

'It would have been nice to win 2-0 but we didn't give them many chances.'

Six seasons spent at Ajax before joining Tottenham has conditioned Vertonghen to a winter break, but he is happy to change his routine and play over Christmas.

'I love the winter break and it would be welcome because of the amount of games I play,' he said.

'But it's tradition and there are amazing atmospheres on Boxing Day and January 1. I love playing football so I don't really care. My family will come over for a few days.'

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup saw no shame in the defeat at White Hart Lane.

'On a day when our passing game maybe wasn't at its best, we were really competitive until the last second against a really good team on their ground so I can't complain about the performance – we know we can't win them all,' he said.

Championship rugby sides threatening promotion chaos

Newcastle can stop a promotion commotion with Championship clubs threatening chaos

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UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 18 December 2012

English rugby is facing the spectre of further promotion and relegation chaos, as Championship clubs have warned that they will follow the lead of London Welsh by launching a legal challenge if barred from the Aviva Premiership.

At the end of last season, the Exiles won the second-tier title via the play-offs, having learned that they didn’t satisfy the controversial Minimum Standards Criteria for entry into the top division. However, Welsh sought legal advice and on appeal they were belatedly approved for promotion.

This season, Newcastle are clear at the top of the Championship and would satisfy the criteria, but the play-off system – involving home-and-away semi-finals and final – means their return to the Premiership is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Chaos: Newcastle's Grant Shiells and his team-mates can help avert disaster

Chaos: Newcastle's Grant Shiells and his team-mates can help avert disaster

Prior to the start of the campaign, the RFU’s professional rugby director, Rob Andrew, insisted that the MSC would have to be urgently revised in order to provide clarity for clubs and guard against future legal challenges.

However, while minor amendments have been made, Championship clubs are unhappy with the outcome and are ready to take legal action if Newcastle don’t clinch the title and avert a fresh crisis.

‘The Championship view is that the Minimum Standards don’t exist anymore because Welsh successfully challenged the document, and our legal people support that position,’ said Geoff Irvine, chairman of Bedford and the body representing the division’s clubs.

‘We have been sent revised Minimum Standards which only address the primacy of tenure issue really. So what I have done on behalf of the Championship clubs is tell the RFU and Premiership Rugby, “Do what you want, but this could be challenged”.

Dangerous precedent: London Welsh were granted promotion on appeal

Dangerous precedent: London Welsh were granted promotion on appeal

‘We have put them on notice. I took a statement to the last Professional Game Board meeting in November, so that they have a formal record of the position of the Championship clubs.

'There is no point sabre-rattling now, but we have fired a shot across their bows. We’ve told them that we don’t believe in the Minimum Standards and will challenge them at the first available opportunity. If Newcastle win the title then they will be off the hook for this season.’

Irvine’s own club are currently lying second in the Championship table, behind the flying, uneaten Falcons. The chairman outlined the Blues’ stance, adding: ‘At Bedford, we’re just trying to win each game and not look too far ahead for now. But if we get into that position (challenging for the title), then we would employ the lawyers and have a go at them.’

Warning: Rob Andrew recommended the Minimum Standards Criteria be changed

Warning: Rob Andrew recommended the Minimum Standards Criteria be changed

At the end of last season, the RFU were caught in the cross-fire as the shambles over Welsh’s off-and-on promotion tarnished the image of the game, but in Irvine’s eyes, the union are sympathetic to the Championship clubs. The difficulty, he argues, has come from trying to convince PRL to alter the status quo.

‘In fairness to the RFU, they at least said that these minor changes had to be made,’ he said.

‘Premiership Rugby grudgingly accepted them but if they had had their way, there would be no changes at all. The problem we have is that PRL only wanted to address the areas they fell down on in the London Welsh case. They wanted to put a sticking plaster on it and move on.

‘The RFU and Championship clubs believe the whole thing is flawed and has to be fully reviewed. But the RFU recognise that they have to get both parties to agree to the changes, which could take time. PRL won’t agree to major changes until the current agreement runs out in three-and-a-half years.’

Twickenham crowd must match Welsh noise makers – Chris Foy

Crowd at HQ must roar to silence wails of the Welsh

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 6 December 2012

It must be some kind of record. Almost three years before England v Wales at the next World Cup and the mutual antagonism is already evident.

When the draw was made on Monday for the
2015 tournament, Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis caught
the host nation on the hop by offering to stage the Pool A clash between
the old foes in Cardiff. England’s stunned response was of the ‘thanks,
but no thanks’ variety.

Let’s cut through the sabre-rattling here. The game will not take place in Cardiff. That scenario is unthinkable. It is England’s event and although much is made of the organisers being independent of the RFU, conceding home advantage to their near neighbours is a non-starter.

Turn it up: Twickenham Stadium needs to bring the noise against Wales

Turn it up: Twickenham Stadium needs to bring the noise against Wales

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The Millennium Stadium will be used as a World Cup venue on the simple basis that it suits English requirements. It satisfies the need for a geographical spread of matches. The West Country has a passion for rugby but lacks big stadiums, so taking games to Cardiff ticks a strategic box.

While there is no realistic prospect of England v Wales taking place there, Lewis will lobby strongly for the Millennium Stadium to host Wales v Australia. He will press his point on the basis that the home of Welsh rugby is ‘the best rugby stadium in the world’. He’s right. It is.

Located in the heart of Cardiff, on matchdays it is the heart of Cardiff, with a loud pulse all of its own. Twickenham is bigger, but the Millennium’s stands are steeper and closer, creating an intensity of atmosphere which is enhanced when the roof is shut.

So much is about the people. In Cardiff, there is fervent support, in London it is more passive.

Many Twickenham patrons turn up to be entertained, as if at the opera, while their Welsh counterparts embrace an interactive experience. There are contrasting demographics and they create a contrasting backdrop.

England’s players talk dutifully of wonderful support, but in truth they largely have to perform for their crowd, rather than feed off vocal backing.

Even when the hordes responded to the Haka last Saturday by singing Swing Low, there was one full-throttle rendition, then an almost apologetic second take which petered out into murmuring near-silence.

Ultimately, the England v Wales pool game at the World Cup won’t be staged at the Millennium, but perhaps the away players from the ‘host’ nation would be more inspired by the commotion if it was.

Commotion: There is normally a great atmosphere in the Millenium Stadium

Commotion: There is normally a great atmosphere in the Millenium Stadium

How are the Lions looking

Now that the dust has settled on the autumn Tests, it’s another opportune moment to predict how the Lions might line up for their first Test against Australia in June.

Based partly on form and partly on long-standing personal preference, a possible matchday 23 is listed below. One striking factor is the physical power of what would surely be the most imposing threequarter line the Lions have ever mustered, plus a bench role for that great wasted Welsh talent, James Hook.

Chris Foy’s latest Lions matchday Test squad: Halfpenny; Visser, Tuilagi, Roberts, North; Sexton, B Youngs; Healy, Hartley, Cole; Parling, Gray; Wood, Heaslip, Warburton (capt). Replacements: Best, Corbisiero, A Jones, Lawes, Robshaw, Phillips, Hook, Foden.

Wasted talent: Chris Foy would include James Hook on the bench

Wasted talent: Chris Foy would include James Hook on the bench

Captain Chris tackles his critics

Among modern sporting cliches, ‘he does his talking on the pitch’ is particularly well-worn, but it was a fitting summary of Chris Robshaw’s defiant work last weekend.

He had been lambasted for a close call at the end of England’s defeat against South Africa, but the national captain presented a stoic face and responded with stirring deeds in the epic win over New Zealand.

Once again, his leadership was confirmed by the raft of post-match data, which showed he was England’s leading carrier and second in the tackle count, with 19, missing none. What was most illuminating was that Robshaw hit 27 rucks, while blindside flanker Tom Wood led that list with 39.

This indicates that the back-row balance was right. Put these two together and they cover all bases required of a 6-7 combination, with a blurring of the demarcation lines, which works well.

This may present problems for Tom Croft when he is fit to press for a recall, as the rangy Tiger is a different beast entirely and his lesser impact at the breakdown means he may struggle to break up the Wood-Robshaw axis.

Stepping up: Chris Robshaw showed his worth against the All Blacks

Stepping up: Chris Robshaw showed his worth against the All Blacks

The Last Word

One of the most daunting challenges for World Cup organisers will be to sell out large stadiums in the north, but it appears the RFU aren’t rushing to assist. There have been suggestions that, prior to the tournament, a major Test could be relocated to a northern venue such as Old Trafford, but that concept now appears to be on ice. The reason is — shock, horror — money.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: ‘There are financial imperatives. If Xmillion doesn’t come in because we don’t play at Twickenham, how many regional development officers is that worth I don’t think we would be dashing to do it (play in the north).

Also, is a single match really going to transform things’

First of all, it is outrageously simplistic to say moving a Test up north = less revenue = reduction in grass-roots funding. The RFU spend a lot of money on a lot of things, not just development officers. Old Trafford’s capacity is only 6,000 below Twickenham’s and it has ample corporate facilities, so why not take a modest monetary ‘hit’ for the good of the game The answer is tied up in considerations such as the debenture scheme at HQ, which discourages an ‘away-day’ Test.

Ritchie cannot dismiss that concept, then argue — as he did — that taking the Saxons up north is a viable solution. Only the senior team against ‘A’-list rivals will have the desired effect.