Saracens are planning to play their home matches on artificial turf from next season.The installation of a state-of-the-art pitch forms a key element of the club’s proposal to revive the Barnet Copthall stadium in the heart of north London.Chairman Nigel Wray said: “Artificial turf may well be the future of rugby. It has been approved by the IRB and the RFU, and all the latest evidence suggests it will enable a faster, safer and more entertaining game. Artificial turf technology has improved out of all recognition and concerns about burns and injuries are very much in the past. “The use of artificial turf in the revived Barnet Copthall stadium will not affect athletics and will also enable the community to use the venue on around 350 days per year.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “We are announcing our intentions today and have already entered into open discussions, sharing information and research with our colleagues in Aviva Premiership Rugby.”The artificial turf pitch at Barnet Copthall will comply in full with IRB Regulation 22.
“There are quite a few players in that (second-row) area, but it is going to be a long old season. It’s good to have competition for places as it brings the best out of us all.”For now, Muldowney’s immediate aim is to work hard during these opening few weeks of pre-season, a period he admits no player ever enjoys.“Pre-season wherever you play is always tough and horrible,” he said. “The conditioners try to bring as much fun into it as possible, but pre-season is a horrible process to get through.“The trainers are all working very hard, this is a massive time in the season for them, they’re getting programmes in place and making sure we are getting a lot of hard work done.“I can’t say I’m enjoying getting up for the early morning swims, I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world and making me do a lot of swimming isn’t great, but it’s all part of it at the end of the day. TAGS: Exeter Chiefs LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Welcoming committee: Exeter Chiefs have a good team spirit under Tommy Hayes, centreALY MULDOWNEY is already feeling at home with Exeter Chiefs after just a week of pre-season training.As one of nine signings brought to Sandy Park by head coach Rob Baxter during the close season, settling in with new team-mates and in a different environment can sometimes take a while to get to grips with.However, the 27-year-old forward insists his move from Glasgow Warriors to the West Country has been a smooth transition and now he is looking to realise a lifelong dream of playing in English rugby’s top flight.“My dream when I started playing rugby was to try and play at the highest level possible and play in the Premiership – it is something I have wanted to achieve for a while,” he said. “Coming to Exeter, I have that chance now. I won’t say I’m a Premiership player until I’ve got myself into the team, but now I have the chance to work hard and try and get myself into that team.”Having previously played against Exeter for Moseley, Muldowney was already well aware of the Chiefs’ fanatic support – and discussions with Baxter ahead of his move merely confirmed his early impressions.“One of the main reasons I came was the town itself and how much the people love their rugby here,” added Muldowney. “Previously I have played in Birmingham and Glasgow, both of which I would say are football cities, but somewhere like Exeter you can see how much they buy into the rugby team and how much they follow the club, so it was a massive attraction to play somewhere that has that kind of support.”New boy: Aly MuldowneyBreaking into the Chiefs squad, however, will be no formality for Muldowney, who will be battling it out with a handful of other locks. It is, according to the man himself, a challenge he is ready to take on. “The good thing about here, unlike a lot of other clubs, is that we have done quite a bit of rugby already – that has been a big plus for me, especially as a newcomer coming into the club.“That is why it is so good we are doing so much rugby in this first week – because we can get used to all the patterns. When you go to a new club it can be several weeks before you really know all the moves and that, so already we are getting an insight into how the team plays.”
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – FEBRUARY 26: Ross Rennie of Scotland poses with the man of the match award following the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Bristol 54, Jersey 14Four tries in each half helped Bristol to their biggest points haul in the GKIPA Championship this season at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday. Ross Rennie scored a brace of tries on his debut and Luke Baldwin also touched down on his first outing for the Westcountry outfit. Further tries came from Riki Tipuna, Ross Johnston, Ben Glynn and Luke Eves, to add to a penalty try won by a dominant pack.Debut double for Scot Ross RennieSean Holley was delighted with his side’s performance. “We turned over a lot of ball,” he said, “which shows how we are learning and developing in defence.” This romp takes Bristol into third place with a game in hand.Carnegie Cane the BluesLeeds Carnegie 50, Bedford Blues 6Bedford’s miserable season continues with a six-try thrashing at the hands of Leeds at Headingley on Sunday. Rob Vickerman crossed twice for Carnegie, and Johan Holmes, Ben Hooper and the prolific David Doherty added touchdowns to a penalty try earned by the pack. Bedford, who trailed 28-6 early in the second period, would have served their cause better had Tom Vandermolen and Paul Tupai not been sent to the bin.Below-par Titans take top spotRotherham 16, Moseley 6Mose head coach Kevin Maggs felt his team were unlucky not to take at least a point against promotion chasing Rotherham at Clifton Lane on Saturday. “We’ve improved since we last played Rotherham and gave a good account of ourselves against a side which should finish in the top four,” said Maggs. Jack Roberts scored the only try of the game in the second minute and the GKIPA Championship points machine, Juan Pablo Socini, converted then added three penalties, the last in the final minute cruelly denying Mose a bonus point.Nottingham notch first win in fiveNottingham 15, London Scottish 3 What it is all about: Here are the latest comings, goings and hammer-blowings in the competitive ChampionshipBy Richard GraingerIt’s all change at the top and tight at the bottom of the GKIPA Championship with London Welsh slipping to a third defeat and bottom placed Ealing closing the gap with Jersey to two points.Plymouth punish erratic ExilesPlymouth Albion 36, London Welsh 15Albion recorded their first home win in any competition this season with a resounding five-try defeat of the Exiles to knock them off top spot at Brickfields on Saturday. Plymouth, who have acquired a reputation for letting commanding leads slip, were in no mood to relinquish their stranglehold and defended an interval lead of 28-15 with gusto after the break. The hosts, who had been on the wrong end of four tight home defeats, had secured the bonus point by half time with a brace of tries from Tom Bowen and one each from Toby Howley-Berridge, and Sam Matavesi.Seb-ra crossing: Seb Stegmann scoredNathan Trevett and Seb Stegmann crossed for the visitors in the first period but out-of sorts Exiles were unable to add to their score in the second half. Declan Cusack nudged Albion further towards victory with a penalty after the break, and Chris Elder gilded the lily with a fine individual try in the last minute.Energised Ealing eyeing safetyCornish Pirates 18, Ealing Trailfinders 18Hopes of a play-off place for the Cornishmen are fading fast as the Pirates failed to secure maximum points against the division’s bottom side at the Mennaye Field on Sunday.But Ealing will see this as two points lost having led18-11 with five minutes to go, thanks to two tries from Phil Chesters and one from Andrew Henderson. This leaves them just two points behind Jersey, and with home ties against three of the four sides above them to come, they now look a good bet to secure a second Championship season at Jersey’s expense.“The improvement each game is getting bigger and bigger,” said Ealing scrum half Morgan Thompson, “and with games like Leeds and London Welsh coming up we need that consistency.”With time running out, Pirates’ scrum-half Kyle Moyle touched down in the corner and Kieran Hallett converted from the touchline to tie the score and spoil a perfect afternoon for the Londoners.Bristol bank biggest league win Nottingham, who have been flirting with the relegation spot for most of this season, recorded their first win in five outings thanks to five first-half penalties from Matthew Jarvis in reply to two from Dan Newton.In a dour game played in atrocious conditions, the Green and Whites defence denied the Exiles any daylight and the game drifted into stalemate with neither side able to score in the second period.
Dan’s the manWales fly-half Dan Biggar was once again the hero for the Ospreys as they held onto top spot in the Guinness PRO12 with a 22-11 win over the Newport-Gwent Dragons. Biggar defied the wet conditions to create a first-half try for Tyler Ardron, then kicked the conversion and five penalties, not missing from the tee at all. The Dragons boss Lyn Jones called the performance of Biggar and his half-back partner Rhys Webb “faultless” and Wales fans will hope that continues right through the spring.Pulling the strings: Dan Biggar guided the Ospreys to another PRO12 win, keeping them at the top Magic moment: James Hook puts everything he’s got into kicking the winning penalty The SaintsKiller kickThe weekend started in some style with a humdinger of an Aviva Premiership clash between Gloucester and Saracens at Kingsholm. There were enough incidents, both good and bad, to fill an entire Saints and Sinners column, so choosing the best and worst of them has been tricky. Fabulous tries from Dan Robson and Callum Braley have been overlooked to crown James Hook this week’s ultimate Saint.Trailing 21-23, Gloucester were attacking relentlessly during the last five minutes but could not break Saracens’ defensive line. Hook tried and failed with a drop-goal attempt, then Saracens broke away and thought they had nabbed a decisive try, but the officials spotted Chris Ashton offside and so brought play back for one last penalty.Hook had missed three first-half kicks in windy conditions – two of them relative sitters – but he bravely lined up the penalty from just beyond halfway. Hook’s longest penalty so far this season had been from 43 metres, so the odds were very much against the Welshman.However, he belted the ball high, long and true through the uprights to secure an astonishing win for Gloucester and send the city into raptures. See the highlights here. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Easter treatOn the day he made his 250th first team appearance for Harlequins, 36-year-old Nick Easter proved there’s life in the old dog yet as he produced the most sublime offload under great pressure in a tackle from Tom Youngs. He flipped the ball sideways to find Danny Care, who raced through for a try.Harlequins were 9-3 down at the time against Leicester Tigers, but the try and conversion took them into the lead and they kicked on from there to win 32-12. Easter was the deserved Man of the Match. TAGS: Ulster Turned out fine: Twelvetrees celebrates Braley’s try but the centre’s error could have been costlySilly BillyBilly Twelvetrees will be mighty relieved that Gloucester beat Saracens in a match which produced so many talking-points on Friday evening, as it means his horrendous butchering of a certain try was forgotten (or very nearly) amid all the brouhaha.Gloucester were trailing 7-0 after 14 minutes when Jonny May charged down a clearance kick from Saracens, Matt Kvesic caught the ball and put Twelvetrees through on a searing run up the left. May was tracking outside him as Twelvetrees drew the two defenders, but the centre inexplicably held onto the ball in a bid to score himself, instead of passing to the entirely free May. Richard Wigglesworth hauled Twelvetrees down from behind as the other two defenders also piled in and the scoring chance became a penalty instead of a try. The SinnersRed for BlueCardiff Blues had won three of their last four Guinness PRO12 matches and were looking to grab another victory at home against Leinster. They were leading 13-5 on Saturday afternoon after 33 minutes, then Blues lock Jarrad Hoeata was deservedly sent off for a brutal high tackle around the head of Rob Kearney.Fortunately the Irish full-back was not hurt, which is more than can be said for Cardiff’s chances thereafter, as they were unable to hold out a Leinster side with the wind at their backs in the second half, and the Blues lost 22-13. The Aviva Premiership and Guinness PRO 12 produced an embarrassment of riches this weekend, with plenty of players putting their hands up for inclusion as a Saint, but there were a few individuals and teams who have some wrongs to right next time. The visitors came out of the traps at great speed and were 24-0 up after just 25 minutes, but from there they let Treviso back into the game big-time, allowing the Italians to score 20 unanswered points.Ultimately, Ulster hung on for the 24-20 win and so remain in fifth spot in the table, just two points outside the playoff places, but a careless loss in Italy would have left them trailing. Ulster let it slipUlster have already blown their chances of winning the European Champions Cup this season and they very nearly put a severe dent in their Guinness PRO12 hopes when they almost slipped up at Benetton Treviso on Sunday. Jump for joy: Shane Geraghty celebrates his drop-goal with Myles DorrianLate, late showJames Hook wasn’t the only player to snatch a win with a last-second kick, as Shane Geraghty took London Irish to a 28-26 win over Exeter Chiefs with a drop-goal coolly slotted from just outside the 22.Exeter had led 13-5 at the break but Tom Guest and Alex Lewington hit back for the Exiles with tries early in the second half before Blair Cowan, who had already crossed the whitewash in the first half, grabbed his second try.A converted Dave Ewers try and two Gareth Steenson penalties gave Exeter the lead again before Geraghty won it. Battling onThey might have lost their 13th Aviva Premiership game on the trot, but there is still plenty of fighting spirit at London Welsh and that was epitomised by former All Blacks playmaker Piri Weepu, who played on through the pain barrier during their match at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.He turned his right ankle badly in a tackle just as the last half-hour started and looked all set to be stretchered off, but the medics strapped him up and Weepu played on, gingerly at first, right to the end. He couldn’t stop his team losing 38-7 but that wasn’t for the want of trying.Later, Weepu Tweeted it had been one of his toughest days ever, as he had received the news before the game that his grandmother had died. Sam stops ConnachtConditions are rarely easy at Connacht’s Sportsground home and they hadn’t lost a match there this season until Edinburgh rolled up on a wet and windy Friday evening for their Guinness PRO12 clash.The Irish side led 13-7 at half-time, then Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne produced a second half kicking masterclass, defying the gale to slot three penalties and take the visitors to a 16-13 win.One of the kicks went over from 50 metres and the nerveless display from the 21-year-old enabled Edinburgh to move up to seventh in the table.
>>> Jared Payne relishing return of Robbie Henshaw in Ireland midfieldAbout Madigan’s suitability to cover the No 9 shirt in an emergency, Murray said: “He’s got a good idea of how the game of rugby is played and what he expects his nine to do, so that’s something that will come quite easily to Ian I think. Conor Murray in action for Ireland against Canada With only two specialist scrum-halves in the Ireland squad, Munster’s Conor Murray is physically and mentally prepared to play in every game Ireland’s Conor Murray is prepared to be a busy man over the next few weeks as Ireland have only named two specialist scrum-halves in their 31-man squad.The Limerick-born back may get a bit of a breather this Sunday as Ireland are likely to rest a few big names for their match against Romania, but with only two options at No 9 he is prepared to play in every game.Fly-half Ian Madigan has been training to step in at scrum-half should Murray or replacement Eoin Reddan go down with injury, with the latter likely to get the start on Sunday despite nursing his knee after the win against Canada last Saturday.“Mentally you have to prepare to be involved in every game,” Murray said. “And all going well you should be involved in most games, if not all of them.“So it doesn’t change for me or Eoin during the week, we’re both preparing for a Test match at the weekend.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “He’s been there a few times with Leinster when they’ve had sin-bins or injuries or things, so he’s not a complete stranger to it and I’m sure he’s had a dabble in it as a youngster too.“Ian’s a very talented, skilful player, he can play full-back and centre comfortably so nine is just another string he can add to his bow.”
Agen back-rower Luke Hamilton opens up about life in France, battling relegation and how the Top 14 compares to the Pro12 On the ball: Agen’s Welsh flanker Luke Hamilton in action against Bordeaux-Begles. Photo: Getty Images I’m out of contract at the end of this season but I’d like to stay in France, preferably in the Top 14. I feel that if I go home I could end up back in the same position as before, doing it for the sake of doing it rather than really enjoying my rugby, which I am here.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. Top 14 strugglers Agen haven’t had much to cheer this season but they do lead the field in one area – individual tackles made. Former Cardiff Blues back-rower Luke Hamilton had totted up 184 tackles by the end of February in 12 league appearances, and his performance in Agen’s defeat of La Rochelle last month won him a place in Midi Olympique‘s XV of the weekend. Rugby World spoke to Hamilton to hear how life in France is treating him…Were you aware you’re the top tackler in the Top 14?I’d been told about four weeks into the season I was, but I didn’t know I was still up there. But my shoulder is certainly feeling the effects. I’ve never made so many tackles in a season.Why did you move to Agen in 2014?The option of going to France came up and it was the good time to go. I’m young and had no family to take with me, so I thought I would give it a go. I went down to Agen, who were then in ProD2, talked to them and they said they saw me as a big part of the team and I thought I’d take a risk and go, rather than staying in Wales and only playing half-a-dozen games in a season.Was it hard to leave the Blues?I was out of contract (at the end of 2013-14). The season before I’d played a lot of games and then the year after I played only once before Christmas. I don’t know why. There was no communication. So I thought it was time to move on. I didn’t kick up a fuss. There’s not really much you can do because whatever you say isn’t going to change minds six months into the season.Slide show: Luke Hamilton scores for Cardiff Blues in a 2012 LV= Cup game. Photo: Getty ImagesWhat was your initial impression of Agen?When I first came to have a look I thought it was a joke. The airport at Agen is one room and I was sitting in a chair in this room waiting. Opposite me were a group of people staring at me. I’d just shaved my hair so I don’t think they recognised me. Luckily Philippe Sella (Agen’s director of rugby) was one of the men and I recognised him so introductions were made. Philippe, who’s a really nice guy, showed me round and explained everything.Did you settle in okay?I was lucky that Denis Fogarty, the ex-Munster hooker, was at the club when I arrived. Without him I would have been stuck but he helped with everything. He also got me my most important thing – Sky television!Are you fluent in French now?In the first year we had three hours of French a week but it was a bit like being back at school. Then I was recommended an old couple, who used to give lessons to overseas players at the club. They’ve now become almost a second family, and me and Taylor Paris (Agen’s Canadian wing) have supper with this couple two or three times a week. It’s a great opportunity to talk French and also eat some lovely French cuisine.Last season you won most matches; this season it’s the reverse. How does that affect the mindset?Personally, playing last season in the ProD2, there were some weeks you’d turn up, not really play well and still win by 30 points. In the Top 14 if we don’t play our best we lose by 50 points. I see it as a challenge and I prefer playing tough games each week than going out to play a game that’s pretty much already won before you’ve gone on the field.Going up: Taylor Paris celebrates after Agen secured promotion from ProD2 last year. Photo: Getty ImagesHow does the Top 14 differ from the ProD2? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS In the ProD2 you have a couple of quick games but it’s more running straight and hard. The Top14 is another level and I was quite shocked at first by the speed of the games. My first game was at Grenoble, which was very quick, but the Toulouse match the week after was even quicker. It was very hot and I’ve never felt so sick after a match. I was ill for about three days. Another difference is that in the ProD2, in a ruck, you’re always thinking to protect your face because they seem to get away with a lot more than in the Top 14.Have you noticed a different approach to home and away matches in France?Last season (in ProD2) there were some away games where our attitude was: ‘We’re not going to win here, don’t worry about it’. I found that a bit bizarre. This season it’s different because if we’re to survive we need to try to get something from each match.What’s the atmosphere like at away games compared to back home?It’s harder to win away in France because of the atmosphere at away matches. I didn’t think it could make such an impact but you get crowds of 10,000 here who can generate the noise of three times that number. People warn you about it but until you’ve actually experienced it you don’t know what it’s like. My first away game last season was in Perpignan and it was Henry Tuilagi’s first game back for them. He got the ball from the kick-off and went on a run. I couldn’t get over the noise. But it’s good, I enjoy it far more than some matches back home when you look around and think, ‘There’s hardly anyone here!’Vocal support: Agen fans in full voice. Photo: Getty ImagesCan Agen avoid the drop?We believe we can. There have been one or two games when we haven’t turned up but most matches we’ve been in them for long periods but just haven’t managed to close them out. We have to stay positive.What’s the difference in style between the Pro12 and the Top 14?Firstly, it’s more structured in the Pro12 with everyone knowing what they are doing. In France anything can happen. Secondly, it’s more physical in France. There are some huge packs and when we played Toulon I couldn’t get over the size of their scrum. So often what happens in the Top 14 is that for the first 50 minutes it’s very physical with a lot of collisions. Then it begins to open up because they don’t spend so much time on fitness over here.Any other differences?I’ve found in France I am always fresh for the game, whereas sometimes at home we did so much training during the week I went into matches feeling tired and with sore legs. Here, it’s all about getting the result from the game, so your body isn’t as battered during the week. Another thing is the changing room huddle before going out onto the pitch. They (Agen forwards) headbutt each other. When we played Racing this year our prop split both eyebrows in the huddle. When I first came here I was warned about the huddle and advised: ‘Sit down, don’t stand up’!Wrapped up: Agen lost 38-13 to Racing 92 at the weekend. Photo: Getty ImagesYou’ve played across the back row this year. Do you have a preference?I’m best suited to playing seven in France. There are some huge No 8s in the Top 14, some 140kg boys, and the six isn’t far behind in size. Back home the seven is more the dogged, get-the-ball type but here it’s almost like a six and a half and that suits me.What does the future hold?
Why rugby must build on the momentum created by the 2017 World Cup High energy, high tempo, high quality, high drama – the 2017 Women’s World Cup has been the biggest and best yet. Without wanting to put a dampener on things, though, we were saying the exact same thing after the 2014 tournament in France and if we’re honest there have been few significant advances since. So how does rugby ensure it taps into the increased interest and builds on the momentum of WRWC 2017?Before looking at the key issues facing the game, let’s look at exactly why this tournament has been such a success.For a start, the standards on the pitch have been brilliant. New Zealand’s victory over England was undoubtedly the greatest Women’s World Cup final there has been but it was also an incredible game of rugby, period. It was the skills, physicality and tactics on show at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium that engaged spectators, viewers and listeners; it didn’t matter if it was men, women, boys or girls playing.Caught on film: New Zealand perform their haka for the cameras after their win in the final. Photo: Getty ImagesHow fantastic for a match of that quality to be aired live on ITV and BBC 5live on a Saturday night. It was a different kind of X-factor but demonstrated that Britain has got talent! The TV audience for the final peaked at 2.65m – a UK record – while 3.4m tuned in for the semi-final between France and England in France, another record.In the stadium itself, 15,000 tickets had been sold, beating the match record for the 2014 final at Stade Jean Bouin. Players have spoken of the welcome change of seeing unfamiliar faces in the crowd; rather than only friends and family coming to watch, the general rugby fan is now showing an interest.Then there is the increased media coverage – more column inches in newspapers, live commentaries on terrestrial TV and radio, Rugby World dedicating their first cover to women’s rugby.All these have been key factors in generating such a buzz about the game in recent weeks and it is fantastic to see so many people engage with it and appreciate the role models there are in the sport. A quick scroll through social media demonstrates just how much the event has captured people’s imaginations, young and old. Now rugby must seize the moment and not let it pass by.Point made: Katy Mclean has called for change following the 2017 World Cup. Photo: Getty Images“At some point we’ve got to kick on,” England fly-half Katy Mclean told 5live after the final. “We’ve said this in 2010 and 2014 and now we’re saying it in 2017. At some point the landscape has got to change. Unless we start doing something about it, it isn’t going to change.“The support has been sensational but we have really got to start making sure we aren’t saying in 2021, ‘Was this the one?’. Let’s make it now, and let’s make a difference.”So what are the key challenges the game must address if it is to grow and not stagnate?The widening gulfEngland and New Zealand were always expected to reach this year’s final, and as good as that final was, therein lies a problem. There need to be more teams capable of lifting the trophy, more teams able to challenge each other over 80 minutes, otherwise there are going to be two divisions: those who can keep up with the Black Ferns and Red Roses, which on recent evidence looks like France and possibly the USA, and those who can’t.There also needs to be a general raising of standards across the world. Hong Kong’s achievement was in reaching the World Cup itself, but the one-sided nature of their matches wasn’t pretty. It should be remembered that the men’s tournament has thrown up ugly scorelines, too, but it is key that rugby develops in all nations, not just the big ones.Global spread: Hong Kong need to play more Tests outside of Asia. Photo: Getty ImagesHow do you do that? More regular Test matches would be a start, and against different opposition. Japan and Hong Kong may dominate women’s rugby in Asia but they need to test themselves more regularly against the top European teams or the North Americans. Warren Gatland’s mantra has long been ‘you only get better by playing the best’ and a better global fixtures list for the women’s game would be a big step forward, just as World Rugby have managed to implement for the Tier Two men’s nations.Tournament formatThere are two issues to look at with regards the World Cup itself. The first is qualification. Yes, it’s important to have a geographical spread of countries but it’s also important that the best teams are at the tournament. Would Scotland have been more competitive than Hong Kong? Yes. It’s not about denying countries the chance to compete in a global showpiece but changing the qualification process and perhaps using a similar repechage tournament to that being employed for RWC 2019 where a few nations from different regions play off to determine who should go through to the main event could be a smart move. TAGS: Highlight Raising their game: England’s Sarah Bern hands off Black Fern Kendra Cocksedge in the final. Photo: Getty Images As the applause for this World Cup dies down, rugby must ensure it addresses these wider issues. Otherwise, as Mclean says, we’ll be having the same conversations in four years’ time and those who have been inspired to take up rugby in recent weeks will be facing the same challenges. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS FOR THE LATEST SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS, CLICK HEREThe second is the time span of the competition – and this is where it gets tricky. The good thing is that the schedule is the same for all teams; there are short turnarounds but it is all equal, unlike a men’s World Cup where the lower-tier nations are often forced to back up after just a few days while the bigger ones have a week between matches.New Zealand wing Portia Woodman, the tournament’s top try-scorer, has called out the schedule, saying that she doubts the men would be able to cope with it. And the arguments to have longer between matches are strong. Take Danielle Waterman, who was unable to play in a fourth World Cup final because she simply didn’t have the time to complete the return-to-play protocols after suffering a concussion in the semi-final against France.Time constraint: Danielle Waterman missed the final as she underwent the return-to-play protocols. Photo: Getty ImagesYet on the other side of the coin the amount of time off the amateur players have to take in order to compete has to be considered. Extending the periods between matches means extending the tournament by a week or two, and some players may not be able to afford to do that, particularly when you take into account training camps before the tournament itself. Like many of these problems, one answer only generates another question.Finances Money. Like so many things in life this is crucial to progress. Funding levels for women’s teams sports are notoriously lower than their male counterparts and given the money generated by men’s leagues and international fixtures, not to mention sponsorship, it’s obvious to see why. Yet unions could surely funnel some of that money into women’s sport to ensure it continues to grow.Also, many sponsors these days are looking to engage with women’s sports and events so tap into those opportunities, get separate deals – not everything has to be tied to the men.Going pro: Scotland’s Chloe Rollie has joined French club Lille. Photo: Getty ImagesA key growth area is the domestic game. Three Scotland players, Jade Konkel, Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson, have been signed as pros by the Lille Metropole club in France. The Top 8 in the country has become a successful league since the 2014 World Cup and games have drawn large TV audiences. The RFU are looking to do something similar with the newly-created Tyrrells Premier XVs and developing a better club game for the country’s best players is a vital goal.The next step is attracting broadcast partners and bigger crowds. They need the league to be a competitive spectacle to do that, which will take a few years, but being visible is crucial, not only in terms of inspiring a new generation of players – which is hopefully what WRWC 2017 has done – but also in attracting external investment.XVs v sevensThis is probably the most thorny subject of all. It’s little wonder that the sevens code has been prioritised by many countries around the world. It’s cheaper to fund because you need less players, plus the fact it’s an Olympic sport means many nations are allocated money for it. But do we want a situation where an Olympic medal is valued more highly than winning the World Cup? Doesn’t the focus on sevens dilute the ‘a game for all shapes and sizes’ argument? And how fair is it on those players to continually flit between sevens and XVs?New ground: Australia won gold in sevens at last year’s Olympics. Photo: Getty ImagesThe RFU took an historic step forward when handing out contracts to 15-a-side players this year but they are coming to an end and those not wanted by the sevens programme will have to return to work. Is this a viable way to continue going forward? How are players supposed to develop careers away from rugby if in one of every four years they are asked to take eight months off work to focus purely on the oval ball ahead of the World Cup?There is no easy solution here. Personally, I don’t know if the XVs game can support full-time contracts for such a large group of players in England, let alone in other countries where the game is less established. But the fact that England’s priority for the next three years is sevens is a huge concern and competitions like the Six Nations are devalued when many of the best players are absent.Numbers game: Emily Scarratt is likely to return to the sevens set-up later this year. Photo: Getty ImagesCountries need to be incentivised to promote and develop their XVs programme as much as sevens, or the abbreviated format could take over in the long term.
Rugby World Cup Greatest Players Owain Jones looks at eight of the biggest… We take a whistle stop tour through the greatest matches to take place during the Rugby World Cup. Past Rugby World Cup Hosts Expand Rugby World Cup Fixtures The 2023 Rugby World… Greatest Rugby World Cup MatchesWe have already seen some fantastic matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and are sure to see more as the tournament develops.But what are the greatest matches in the history of the tournament? Well in this piece we have taken a look at 12 of the greatest matches with their being at least one selection from each tournament.What do you make of our selections? Let us know your thoughts via our social media channels.Greatest Rugby World Cup MatchesAustralia 24 vs France 30, Semi-Final, 1987As per usual with the French, they upset what was supposed to happen here. Australia were supposed to win to set up a World Cup Final against New Zealand. It looked to be going that way too as time was winding down and the men in gold were ahead 24-21. Didier Camberabero slotted a penalty to level the scores and extra-time looked inevitable.But the French again had other ideas. Starting in their own half, they played their usual game of flair and a pinch of luck to get the ball to Serge Blanco who showed a turn of speed to just about dot down in the corner. They had won it against all odds and would go on to lose against New Zealand in the final.Wales 13 vs Western Samoa 16, Group Stage, 1991The first true shock to occur in the Rugby World Cup, this match saw for the first time ever, a seeded team beaten by a non-seeded team.England 29 vs New Zealand 45, Semi-Final, 1995The match that saw the man mountain of Jonah Lomu run rings around England, New Zealand won easily to progress to their second World Cup Final eight years after their first.South Africa 15 vs New Zealand 12, World Cup Final, 1995A match that united a nation, South Africa somehow managed to bottle up Lomu and somehow emerged victorious thanks to the boot of Joel Stransky. This was the Springboks first tournament since being readmitted to the rugby fold because of their apartheid policies and it cannot be understated in its importance not just for South Africa, but also the history of rugby union.Italy 25 vs Tonga 28, Group Stages, 1999Sure this match didn’t include two powerhouses of rugby but for sheer drama it delivered on all fronts. The score was tied 25-all and a draw looked on the cards, at least that was until full-back Sateki Tuipulotu decided to pull off a last minute drop-goal to gain an unlikely victory.France 43 vs New Zealand 31, Semi-Final, 1999This really does require little explanation. The All Blacks had dominated the game and had put themselves up by 24 points to 10 at one stage. It appeared as if they were heading for yet another World Cup final, but the French had other ideas.Inspired by Christophe Lamaison, the French scored 33 unanswered points in 20 minutes and would emerge 43-31 winners. Much like 1987, they would get into the final but lose once again, this time to Australia. Also make sure you know about the Groups, Warm-ups, Dates, Fixtures, Venues, TV Coverage, Qualified Teams by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, and Twitter. Collapse The All Blacks, visibly shaken, somehow managed to regain their composure and emerge 53-37 winners.Australia 17 vs England 20, Final, 2003 (after extra-time)The second final on our list, the quality of play may not have been the best but a World Cup final as important as this one deserves mentioning. It was totally engrossing from start to finish and the pivotal moment conducted by Jonny Wilkinson meant that the northern hemisphere had finally wrestled the cup away from the south for the first time.England were the favourites before the tournament began and they delivered which was a monumental achievement in English sport.France 10 vs Argentina 34, Third-place playoff, 2007This match is purely on this list because of what the third-place playoff usually is – a damp squib. However this unexpectedly delivered largely because it was a rematch of the first game of the tournament, when Argentina beat France to shock the hosts.The Pumas turned out to be a revelation throughout the tournament playing exciting and energetic rugby, and France showed a willingness to play flowing rugby as well which resulted in a gripping affair. To add to that, there were three sin-binnings. Argentina ultimately proved too strong though as they ran in five tries to win 34-10.France 14 vs Tonga 19, Group Stages, 2011Another French loss and another shock win for Tonga in our list, the men in red made a 13-6 half-time lead count during the group stages of the 2011 tournament. Thanks to the boot of Kurt Morath they eventually ran out winners by 19 points to 14 and the ecstatic reaction of the Tongans showed just how much the victory meant to them.South Africa 32 vs Japan 34, Group Stages, 2015Arguably the biggest shock in rugby history, Japan scored a last minute try through Karne Hesketh to win against the Springboks. The Brave Blossoms had not won a match in the event since 1991 and yet played bright and attacking rugby that took the Springboks totally off-guard.No doubt they were below their best, but Japan deserved the win in every sense of the word.Australia 35 vs Scotland 34, Quarter-Final, 2015Probably best remembered for referee Craig Joubert’s controversial decision that gave Australia a vital penalty, this match was a pulsating affair that saw eight tries scored.Japan 28 vs Scotland 21, Group Stages, 2019The match that would decide who went through to the knockout stages nearly didn’t happen. Super Typhoon Hagibis wreaked havoc on Yokohama and there was a realistic chance the match would be cancelled. Thank goodness it wasn’t because it was a pulsating affair that ultimately saw Japan top their group and move into the knockout stages in their home World Cup. To be honest, we could write down what happened below, but the highlights above tell the whole story…Follow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. Expand Rugby World Cup Greatest Shocks Rugby World Cup Greatest Shocks Past Rugby World Cup Hosts Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 Rugby World Cup Greatest Players Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 Adam Hathaway takes a look at the best… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS New Zealand 53 vs Wales 37, Group Stages, 2003Both had already qualified so this match was the decider for who got top spot in group D during the tournament. Not many people gave Wales much of a chance but thanks to the games free-flowing nature, and the genius of youngster Shane Williams, the Welsh scored try after try to eventually lead 37-34. We take a look at the past countries… Expand
Newcastle and Leinster were chalk and cheese. It was totally different rugby. It’s not taking anything away from Newcastle – I really enjoyed my time there. I had to learn how to manage a game properly because more often than not we were on the back foot, so I had to adapt my game to try to keep us going forward.My time at Newcastle developed my game a lot, but going to a club like Leinster, multiple European champions, was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.Honorary Dubliner: Leinster, multiple European champions, was a step up for the New Zealander (Inpho)The coaches at Wasps give us that confidence to play the attacking game we love. When you’ve got the calibre of players we have, you have to use those talents and back yourselves. That’s the beauty of what we’re trying to achieve here: we want to play rugby and we want to enjoy ourselves. We’ve got some great strike power, we may as well be using it.I’ve had quite a few kicks to win a game. I had a few with Newcastle, I had one with the Hurricanes to get into a Super Rugby final, but it wasn’t a ‘buzzer beater’ (end of match) like against Exeter (in 2016 Champions Cup quarter-final). In 2006 we played the Waratahs at the Cake Tin and our scrum got a tighthead about 53 metres out; I had a shot and got it. When it’s a buzzer beater, it’s a bit different but that’s what kickers strive for. You want that pressure.Going wild: Gopperth’s 2016 winner against Exeter Chiefs in Europe sparked mayhem (Getty Images)I grew up on a beach and fell in love with surfing. Pretty much every club I’ve been to has been by the sea and I’ve been fortunate enough to continue doing it. It’s totally individual. You could be going out surfing and no one is around you for miles, sitting in the ocean by yourself, so it’s quite peaceful and a good release away from rugby.Mark Occhilupo, a former surfing world champion, is one of my heroes. I liked that he was a heavier guy. Most surfers these days are 60, 70 kilos but he was topping at 85-90 kilos, and he was a goofy footer like me, which means you have your right foot forward on the board. I surf all year round – if it’s freezing just put on a wet suit and away you go.At Newcastle there was a good group of us who would surf – myself, Carl Hayman, Mark Sorenson, Jonny Golding, my good mate, he’s still mad on surfing. He’d never surfed and then when the Kiwis turned up he took it up and has absolutely fallen in love with it.It’s good for recovery of the body as well, the day after the game. In the cold water, especially up north. Normally I go around Wales, Newquay, or jump on a train to Newcastle or go to Ireland. My favourite spot to go for surfing is in Indonesia.I caught the golf bug at Newcastle. There were quite a few Scots in the team who were pretty good at it. I really enjoy it and try to get out as much as I can. Some days I can hit 80, the next 100. I’m inconsistent, I don’t play enough.Surf dude: former professional surfer Mark Occhilupo is a ‘goofy footer’ like Gopperth (Getty Images)I’ve got the nickname ‘SpongeBob’. It’s because I have broad shoulders like the cartoon character. I thought I’d got rid of the name when I left New Zealand, but a few Kiwis over here obviously caught on. At Newcastle, the owner Semore Kurdi gave me a massive SpongeBob toy and I thought ‘Oh no, I’m never going to live this down!’Dave Rennie should be the next New Zealand coach [he was at Chiefs at this time]. He’s just a brilliant coach. A brilliant man-manager, he knows a lot about the game and he’s a really nice guy. I knew him when I was at Wellington. He loves the game, he loves the guys playing the game, you can see how the Chiefs play, that’s Dave Rennie all over.The weather is a big factor in the skills gap between the northern and southern hemispheres. It’s not just skill level, it’s extras after training. Here it can be miserable and there’s no point staying out doing extras because the wind is so bad or it’s so cold that you don’t feel like you’re progressing; you’re so cold that you just want to get inside and get warm. When it’s warmer everyone stays out to practise individual skills.Whereas back at home you’re doing that all the time, every single session, even in the winter. It doesn’t get that cold compared to here. I’m 100% a fan of summer rugby. I think it could happen and then it ends up being a global season, doesn’t it? Best of both worlds. TAGS: Wasps Probing for space: Jimmy Gopperth in action during Wasps’ win at Northampton in mid-August (Getty) Jimmy Gopperth: the classy Kiwi at WaspsAt 37, Gopperth has been round the block a few times during a journey that started back on New Zealand’s North Island in the mid-Eighties. Rugby World got some fascinating insights into the New Zealander when interviewing him for our Uncovered section in 2016…Emotion: Gopperth celebrates a try during the 2018 Premiership semi-final against Saracens (Getty)I first played rugby at my local club, Opunake, aged three or four. It’s a tiny place on the coast of Taranaki. It’s where Graham Mourie is from, we’re good family friends. My dad (Gavin) used to play and coached us as kids. When he retired he coached the U21s and I used to be the ball boy. I was in love with the game all the time. I have two older sisters who don’t play, so I became the favourite pretty quickly!Dad is a dairy farmer, in Pihama, a village about ten minutes from Opunake. That’s where I went to school as well, just up the road. The farming lifestyle is brilliant, especially where we live; it’s right on the beach, not far from the mountains, so the lifestyle, the community we’ve got around Pihama, is pretty special. It was a great place to grow up.I was always a ten. My dad made me goalposts in the cow paddock out the back, so I was kicking from a very young age. Whenever the cows got in the paddock they’d use them as a rubbing post, so we had to fix them every month. I’d be kicking balls until late every night, they’d have to call me in. It was just one of those things I loved doing.Farming points: the 37-year-old Kiwi used to practise kicking in a cow paddock (Getty Images)A lot of my best mates were a year above me, and playing with them was good for my development. I went to New Plymouth Boys High, playing right through to the first XV, then Wellington recruited me from school. I went down to Wellington, started at Petone rugby club, then later to Old Boys University because it was just up the road and I had quite a few friends playing for the club.Grant Fox was the main ten when I was growing up. He was one of the best kickers around and probably my first inspiration. He was the first ten that I could fully remember. Obviously Merhts (Andrew Mehrtens) was the modern-day one and I was lucky enough to play against him. That was pretty cool. He was the man and obviously Carlos (Spencer) as well.2002 was my last year at high school. I remember being on the beach supervising a drill by the third formers, listening to the Wellington Sevens on the radio. Jonah Lomu was playing and scoring ridiculous tries. And the next year I was training with him at Wellington.The first day I turned up I was just ‘Wow! I was just listening to you, now I’m in your team’. It was Lomu, Christian Cullen, Tana Umaga, Jerry Collins, Rodney So’oialo, all the big stars. The list went on and on and it was ‘Wow, I’ve just come from school and this is my first professional rugby team’. They were the big, big dogs.Our New Zealand Schoolboys team was ridiculous. Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam, Ben Atiga, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko – that team was unbelievable. About 90% of them became All Blacks. We came over on a tour and played England, Wales, Scotland and France. We were only a schoolboys team playing U19s but we beat everyone except France U19s. Against France we did a backs move, Joe Rokocoko went right through to score a try and for some reason the French referee said forward pass. No way was it a forward pass!My first year of Super Rugby with the Hurricanes (2005) was pretty special. David Holwell went to Leinster so Riki Flutey was going to be the No 1 ten, but then he got injured in pre-season. So I got an opportunity and never looked back, holding the jersey all year and having an All Blacks trial on the back of it.Nice touch: Scoring for Hurricanes in 2007. He also played Super Rugby for the Blues (Getty Images)I played twice for the Junior All Blacks, against Samoa and Tonga. I was knocking on the door of the All Blacks but there was Dan Carter, Andrew Mehrtens, Nick Evans… Stephen Donald and myself were battling it out really.To try to make the All Blacks, I joined the Blues. I thought let’s see what goes. But the other tens were cemented. The World Cup was coming up, all those guys were fit and healthy, so I thought, ‘I’ve had a good crack, let’s go overseas’.As soon as I went, they got injured! (At the 2011 World Cup, Carter, Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden were all injured, resulting in Donald appearing in the final.) If I’d been in New Zealand in 2011 I’d have backed myself to be in the squad, but you don’t know. And I’ve been very grateful for what I’ve had over here.My wife Sarah’s English ancestry meant I got a dependent’s visa at Newcastle. Her dad’s mother is English. It means you can stay five years and after that you get your green card and can come and go when you want. I was at Newcastle four years and then went to Leinster, so now I have to start again. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS From the sands of Taranaki to the stands of the Ricoh, learn about the New Zealander still going strong for Wasps. He makes his 100th appearance for them this weekend Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
England v France live stream: How to watch the Autumn Nations Cup matchThe Autumn Nations Cup reaches its conclusion this afternoon, with England and France kicking off at 2pm in the final at Twickenham.It’s ten months since France beat England in Paris in the Six Nations, but it will be a completely different team in blue that lines up for this match.It will be a real contrast of experience, with England fielding a starting XV with 772 caps while France’s starting team has just 68. Four England players – Ben Youngs (103), Owen Farrell (87), George Ford (71) and Joe Launchbury (68) have as many caps as the entire French XV!There is a full England v France match preview here and below we explain how to find a reliable live stream of the match wherever you are.How to watch England v France from outside your countryIf you’re abroad, but still want to watch your local Autumn Nations Cup coverage, like England v France, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network.VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Autumn Nations Cup live stream you would at home.Our friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN and recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.Check out ExpressVPN England v France live stream: How to watch from South AfricaIf you want to watch the Autumn Nations Cup from South Africa, SuperSport is the place to go. England v France is on SuperSport’s Rugby channel (kick-off 4pm).There are various DStv packages available that give access to SuperSport, ranging from Access, which has the Blitz and Variety 4 channels, to Premium, which includes all 18 sports channels.England v France live stream: How to watch from AsiaPremier Sports has the rights to broadcast Autumn Nations Cup matches, like England v France, in Asia and will show matches in 22 territories – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.A weekly pass to Premier Sports Asia is $19.99 or you can take out a rolling six-month contract for $59.99.Premier Sports Asia subscription England v France live stream: How to watch from FranceFrance 2, a free-to-air channel, has the Autumn Nations Cup broadcast rights in France. They will be showing England v France, with the match kicking off at 3pm French time. England v France live stream: How to watch from AustraliaFor those in Australia, beIN Sports has the rights to show Autumn Nations Cup matches, with England v France kicking off at 1am in the early hours of Monday.Access to beIN Sports’ Connect package is $19.99 a month or $179.99 for a year and also includes lots of European football action.You can also stream beIN Sports’ coverage live and on-demand through Kayo Sports. A basic package is $25 a month and premium is $35 a month – and they are offering a FREE 14-day trial to new customers so you could take advantage of that to watch some of these Autumn Nations Cup matches.Kayo Sports offer Clean through: Jonny May scores against France in February (Getty Images) We recommend VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service)Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroadWe do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing. England v France live stream: How to watch from the UKAmazon Prime Video are the main rights holders for the Autumn Nations Cup in the UK and will show England v France (kick-off 2pm) live.If you’re an Amazon Prime member, coverage is included in your package. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, it costs £7.99 a month and you can cancel at any time. Plus, if you’ve never signed up before, there is currently a 30-day FREE trial.Sign up to Amazon PrimeThe Prime Video app allows you to watch games on your TV, mobile, game console and more. Find out what devices you can watch Prime Video on here.England v France live stream: How to watch from IrelandPremier Sports will show England v France (kick-off 2pm) for Irish viewers.If you have a Sky contract, Premier Sports is part of the broadcaster’s ‘Sports Extra’ package, which costs €10 a month for the first six months and €20 a month after that for Sky Sports customers (€17 and €34 for non-Sky Sports customers).You can also access Premier Sports via a Now TV day or month pass, which allows you to watch sports channels without committing to a long-term contract.Get a Now TV Pass It will be a real contrast of experience in the final at Twickenham England v France live stream: How to watch from the USAIf you live in the States, FloSports have the exclusive rights to show every Autumn Nations Cup match live. You can stream England v France (kick-off 9am EST and 6am on the West coast) via FloSports or watch via the app.A FloRugby monthly subscription costs $29.99 and the annual subscription is $150, with both packages also giving you access to the entire FloSports network, which includes coverage of cycling, motorsport and American football.Sign up to FloRugby Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS England v France live stream: How to watch from New ZealandIf you want to tune in to the Autumn Nations Cup from the Land of the Long White Cloud, Sky Sport NZ have the rights. England v France kicks off at 3am on Monday, with coverage on Sky Sport NZ 1.It costs $31.99 a month to add Sky Sport to your Sky Starter pack ($25.99) but if you sign up for 12 months before 31 January 2021 you’ll get your first month free. Plus, you’ll get Sky Go, which allows you to watch live rugby wherever you are.Sky Sport NZ offer