NOT FOR FEATURED: DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 09: Ben Foden of England dives over for a try during the First Test match between the South Africa Springboks and England at Kings Park Stadium on June 9, 2012 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) Morne Steyn scores South Africa’s first try LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS By Katie Field, Rugby World writerIn a nutshellENGLAND HAD a strong first half, featuring outstanding defence, some good attacks and great security under the high ball, but South Africa took a grip on the game in the third quarter and England were never quite good enough to get back into it. The scrum did not prove to be a decisive weapon for South Africa until the last ten minutes, but England’s poor kicking game helped hand the hosts the initiative.England debutants Joe Marler and Tom Johnson had terrific games, Mike Brown was rock solid under the high ball and Jonathan Joseph could have done with more time, coming off the bench in the dying minutes. Chris Robshaw led his team well and while Owen Farrell was out of sorts, Ben Foden did well on the wing. For South Africa Willem Alberts was outstanding and Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn and Frans Steyn all posed questions in attack. New coach Heyneke Meyer clearly said the right things at half-time, as South Africa took the initiative straight after the break.Key momentJean de Villiers’ try, his team’s second of the second half, put South Africa 16-6 up and gave England a mountain to climb. The tourists’ defence had held up so well in the first half, but two breaches after the break – Morne Steyn crossed before de Villiers – gave South Africa a clear lead.Man of the Match, Willem AlbertsStar manWillem Alberts was in storming form in the Springbok back row, using all his power to knock England back. He was deservedly named the official Man of the Match. For England, Tom Johnson was the stand-out performer on debut and made very few errors.Room for improvementEngland’s kicking out of hand was poor, and the chase even poorer. After holding South Africa in the first half, they needed to take the initiative with some incisive attacking rugby, but were unable to cut through until the final play of the match. For South Africa, Morne Steyn had an off-day with the boot and their pack lost a couple of lineouts on their own throw, but with only five days of preparation time they will be delighted to be 1-0 up in the three-Test series.In quotes – winnersSouth Africa coach Heyneke Meyer: “At some stages I really thought we played great rugby, we moved the ball around and I was happy with the result, but we butchered one or two tries and you need to finish those in Test match rugby. I think that this team has been so great from the start, they have got very high standards, so although there were some hard words (at half-time) they knew that they had to step up in the second half.”In quotes – losersEngland coach Stuart Lancaster: “The first half was very positive but in that third quarter the Boks got on top of us a bit. Joe Marler was outstanding and Tom Johnson had a fantastic game. We were a little bit short today, but not much.”Top statsEngland won all ten of their own lineouts and stole three from the Springboks. England forced 17 turnovers from South Africa and conceded 13, but the hosts beat 19 defenders to England’s 12.SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner (Pat Lambie 40); JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana (Wynard Olivier 31-40); Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard (Ruan Pienaar 56); Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis (Adriaan Strauss 66), Jannie du Plessis (Coenraad Oostuizen 48-58), Eben Etzebeth (Flip van der Merwe 58), Juandre Kruger, Willam Alberts, Marcell Coetzee (Keegan Daniel 72), Pierre Spies.Tries: M Steyn, de Villiers. Pens M Steyn 4ENGLAND: Mike Brown (Jonathan Joseph 78); Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt (Toby Flood 53), Ben Foden; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs (Lee Dickson 72); Joe Marler (Paul Doran-Jones 72), Dylan Hartley (Lee Mears 75), Dan Cole, Mouritz Botha (Tom Palmer 58), Geoff Parling, Tom Johnson, Chris Robshaw (capt), Ben Morgan (Phil Dowson 61). Try: Foden. Pens: Farrell 4Ben Foden dives in for England’s consolation try
AUSTRALIA: Mike Harris; Nick Cummins, Ben Tapuai, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane; Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps; James Slipper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas, Nathan Sharpe (captain), Sitaleki Timani, Michael Hooper, Radike Samo.Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, Dave Dennis, Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Dom Shipperley LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 09: Nathan Sharpe of the Wallabies runs off the field during the international test match between the Australian Wallabies and Wales at Suncorp Stadium on June 9, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) Up front the Wallabies are also heavily depleted, with blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham only fit enough to make the bench. Second row Sitaleki Timani will fill the No 6 shirt with veteran Radike Samo at No 8.The tight-five is one area where Australia are not missing too many bodies, the leadership and influence of Horwill aside. Against the Pumas at home Australia held their own in the scrum and lineout, but Saturday appears to be Argentina’s best opportunity for a first win in The Rugby Championship and their pack will be ferocious in the hunt for a first scalp. As the pressure continues to rise on Robbie Deans, failure in Rosario could be critical.Argentina v AustraliaSunday, 7th October 2012 at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in RosarioKick-off: 00:00 BST live on Sky Sports 1 Limited experience: Captain Nathan Sharpe will be the only Wallaby with over 50 caps against Argentinaby Ben ColesREELING FROM an injury list that has deprived them of David Pocock, Will Genia and James Horwill to name just a few, Australia have been forced to select an inexperienced XV for their encounter with Argentina this Saturday in Rosario, with only one player possessing over 50 caps in captain Nathan Sharpe.The heavy defeat against South Africa in Pretoria last weekend saw the Wallabies also lose Berrick Barnes and Adam Ashley-Cooper to injury, depleting a backline that has struggled throughout The Rugby Championship even further.James O’Connor and Quade Cooper are two other notable absentees, O’Connor due to a long-standing hamstring injury whilst Cooper has been excluded because of knee injury, although his recent outbursts regarding the management of Robbie Deans, won’t have done him any favours .As a result the Wallabies will field an unfamiliar back three, with talisman Digby Ioane partnering Reds teammate Mike Harris and the uncapped Western Force winger Nick Cummins. Kurtley Beale will fill the Australian No 10 shirt, the fourth-choice option behind O’Connor, Cooper and Barnes. In South Africa last weekend, Brett Sheehan made his first appearance for Australia in four years off the bench.
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS French rule in U18 tri-nations eventTHE ENGLAND U18 Club and Schools side, Ireland U18 Clubs and France U18A played a tri-nations tournament at the French National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis.Tries: Ireland’s Conor FarrellIreland lost to France 7-3, the key score coming from a try by Bayonne wing Martin Laveau against a Brett Connon penalty.The Irish looked as if they were going to lose to England, who twice led after tries from lock Tom Bell (Uppingham), full-back Charlie Dockery (Epsom) and No 8 Alex Brown (Oaklands), but finished strongly to squeeze ahead 30-22. Two tries from flanker Conor Farrell (Navan) and 20 points from the boot of Connon secured the victory. France confirmed their strength in seeing off England 23-9. Fly-half Dan Lewis (St Joseph’s) kicked three penalties but flyer Laveau twice raced clear for the French.To find out which school won our Team of the Year award and for a round-up of news from the schools circuit, see the July 2014 edition of Rugby World – on sale Tuesday 3 June. Next generation: Huw S Thomas brings readers a regular round-up of schools news in Rugby World THE U16 International Festival at Wellington College brought together four teams from England (South-West, Midlands, North and London & South-East), two from Wales (Druids and Celts), two from France (East and West) and one apiece from Italy and Scotland.Highlight of day one was the 29-29 draw between Welsh Druids and Scotland, who had to thank replacement Bruce Sorbie (Robert Gordon’s) for a late equalising try. In the North’s excellent 15-0 win over France West, Max Davies (Sedbergh) caught the eye at lock. London & SE impressed in the 38-5 win over Italy with centre Jack Longhurst (Fitzwimarc CS, Rayleigh) getting the opening try and shining throughout.On day two L&SE continued their good form with a 27-19 win over Welsh Celts helped by a brace of tries from Harrow wing Callum Sirker. Lincoln Minster centre Jordan Olowofela got a couple for the North only to see Scotland run in four through Sorbie, Sam Yawayawa (Firhill HS), Charlie Shiel (RHS) and Tom Klein (Earlston HS) to claim a 26-14 win. The Midlands led the Welsh Druids after a couple of touchdowns from wing Harry Robinson (The Chase) but replacement centre Cameron Lewis went over to secure a 15-15 draw.On the third and final day, the England selectors chose the two best teams from their four sides to play Scotland U16 and Italy U17. The A side pipped Italy 10-8, thanks largely to a try from Robinson before the top side battled to a 32-22 win over Scotland.Six England tries – a brace apiece for wings Sirker and Gabriel Ibitoye (Trinity) and one each from Castle School full-back Ollie Graham and outstanding Tonbridge No 8 Ben Earl – against a brace from wing Ross McCann (RHS) and one from Yawayawa ended another thrilling tournament.In the Wales v France confrontations, the top game was won by Wales 34-17 and the A clash went the way of France 18-5. Rugby World’s schools correspondent Huw S Thomas reports from this season’s age-grade international scene
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Dagg is, perhaps, inadvertently alluding to the 1999 and 2007 Rugby World Cup ‘choking tag’. “Listen, for this particular playing group, we embrace the pressure. When the game is getting tough, we just pull together. We have great leaders in the team and Richie and co pull us together and unite us.”The All Blacks have also, to the frustration of the opposition, learned how close out games, with nine victories in their last 13 games coming by eight points or less, with last-minute victories against Ireland and Australia, in the last 12 months. “We just have a belief that the game is not over until the 80th minute when the ref blows his whistle. If there are five minutes left on the clock and we’re down we just keep working harder. We know every game is going to be tough, so it’s all about getting some momentum.”A renewed upturn in form has seen Dagg, once again bandied about as one of the best purveyors of the No 15 role in world rugby, and he sees his role constantly evolving. “The full back has to have a multitude of skills. He has to be a ball player, step in in that first receiver role or move out wide.”Warming to his theme, Dagg continues. “From my perspective, a full-back has to be agile and play what he sees in front of him. He’s got to have a reasonable boot on him, be brave in the air and be a good finisher.”Phew, so who are the best in the business? “There are some special players out there. The likes of Leigh Halfpenny, Mike (Brown), Israel Folau, Stuart Hogg and Ben (Smith) alongside me with the All Blacks are all pushing the role on. I’m pretty good mates with Mike Brown. He’s a quality player and I have some decent banter with him. He had a great Six Nations tournament.” First up however is this weekend’s tussle with England, which pits the World’s No 1 and No 4 sides together. “We are taking England pretty seriously. We had a tough loss against South Africa and I hate losing. The best thing about that game is that we fought till the end. We will never give up.”These words will give little comfort for England, Scotland and Wales in the coming weeks. Israel Dagg has struggled for form in the last 12 months but against the USA he was back to his counter-attacking best and he’s ready for England Free flow: Israel Dagg was at his best against USA last weekend In the basement of the swanky Royal Kensington Gardens hotel, the All Blacks, the world’s most successful team are holding court as they unveil their new Test shirt, unsurprisingly in black…At the roll out of what Adidas are marketing as the ‘blackest kit ever’, all the big guns were put on show for the assembled media; Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino and Israel Dagg, all pimped and preened in a sign of the marketing might of Adidas.In a purposefully menacing promotional video, former All Black Buck Shelford in a darkly lit room, said, ‘Black is evil, black is dark but it is our colour,’ with a wry smile. It was all very slick, as you’d come to expect with the All Blacks.With formalities out of the way, one man all too aware of the responsibility of the black shirt is 45-cap Canterbury Crusader full-back Israel Dagg, who will face England on the weekend.Dagg has, in truth, had a mixed 18 months, where a few indifferent displays in the ABs jersey, notably against England, saw him side dropped for the start of The Rugby Championship, as Highlanders back three Ben Smith took his shirt. However in recent months Dagg regained the 15 shirt and has looked more like his old self putting in a superb offensive display last weekend against, albeit, limited opposition in the US Eagles, and scoring a fine individual try.Main man: Israel Dagg is back in the All Blacks front lineWhether this upturn in form has been due to some honest ‘soul-searching’ by Dagg or the reality of having one of the world’s best full-backs, in Ben Smith vying for his jersey is a moot point, but Dagg says that getting the mental side right is paramount. Only recently, Gilbert Enoka, their mental coach said they worked on a ‘no dickheads policy’ that espoused team ethic, above personal success, was all.Dagg nods, agreeing wholeheartedly with that assertion. “Yeah, the mental side is a big part of our game and we work pretty hard on that throughout the year. Gilbert is one of our leaders in the preparation side of things. If we’re honest, a few years ago, when the going got tough we tended to shy away from that.”
Mentor: Cudmore has been a guiding light for Vahaamahina at ClermontBut it’s Cudmore from whom Vahaamahina has learned the most this season. Laughing when asked if they have a ‘father and son’ relationship given the age gap, the 23-year-old admits he does from time to time ask what it feels like to be 36. Is it wise to pull the leg of Cudmore, one of rugby’s more robust characters? “Jamie is a completely different character on the training ground to what he is on the pitch,” says Vahaamahina. “During matches, one can see he is there to win, he wants to dominate. But he’s done a lot to bring on my game and playing alongside him, learning from him, has really improved my game this season.”Cudmore returns the compliment, warning the world that Vahaamahina will be a frightening figure when he hits his peak years as a player. “He’s got all the tools to be one of the best, and as he grows into his talent he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with,” says the Canadian. “Strength, size and speed are already a given. He’s also got a mean streak that he can turn on in the big games, which is very important for imposing himself.”He’ll need that mean streak at Twickenham on Saturday. Botha and Williams are tough characters who will want to test the temperament of the 23-year-old Frenchman in what is his first major final. But Vahaamahina is a hard man himself, albeit one who prefers to do his talking on the pitch. Returning to Brive for the start of the 2009-10 season, Vahaamahina admits he took a little while to settle into his new environment. “It was a bit of shock around November when the weather changed,” he says, laughing.Steamrollered: Vahaamahina was part of a Clermont side that smashed Saints in the quarter-finalsHis acclimatisation to professional rugby was swift and after two seasons with Brive he joined Perpignan, in the deep south of France. Not long after his arrival, however, Perpignan ran into a financial storm and were eventually relegated from the Top 14 to the ProD2 at the end of the 2013-14 season. Vahaamahina, like a number of other players, moved on, in his case to Clermont. “It was a hard decision to leave Perpignan but if you do something and you feel you made the right choice, then it helps,” says Vahaamahina, who won the first of his 15 caps against Australia in 2012. “I’ve joined a big club here at Clermont, with a great team. I’m developing and I want to continue to develop.”Vahaamahina made two appearances in the back-row during the 2014 Six Nations, a compliment to his footballing skills but not an experiment he particularly enjoyed. “I prefer the second row,” he says emphatically. Nonetheless, his ability to play in the loose like a third flanker has been to Clermont’s advantage this season and Vahaamahina’s tackle success rate of 96% out of 177 tackles is bettered among the forwards only by open-side Alexandre Lapandry.Clermont are rare among Top 14 clubs in that the bulk of their pack are French internationals, seasoned ones at that. Between them the flankers Julien Bonnaire and Damien Chouly, and front-row trio of Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty and Thomas Domingo have more than 200 caps. “I’m someone who asks questions of the older guys,” he says. “I learn from them and discuss with them. It helps that there’s a trust within the squad that allows me to do that.” Big man: Vahaamahina will form the Clermont engine room with Jamie Cudmore Sebastien Vahaamahina is a big man with a soft voice. And soft hands, too, as he’s shown this season for Clermont in combining set-piece solidity with ball-handling athleticism in the loose. The French giant, who stands 6ft 6in and weighs in at just under 20 stone, arrived at the club last summer and now commands a regular slot in their starting XV, packing down alongside Jamie Cudmore in the second row, and leaving the veteran French international Julien Pierre to warm his derriere on the bench.One can safely say Vahaamahina isn’t a man who seeks the spotlight. He rarely gives interviews, and when he does talk, one has to crane one’s neck to catch those soft words. Not that he’s a difficult interviewee, far from it. He punctuates his prose with melodious chuckles and gives the impression of a man at ease with the world.“He’s got a great sense of humour,” says Cudmore who, at 36, is 13 years Vahaamahina’s senior. In fact Vahaamahina will be the exception in Saturday’s Champions Cup final, the only lock on the field under 30. Like Cudmore, Toulon’s second-row pairing of Bakkies Botha and Ali Williams are in their mid-30s, leaving the Frenchman to carry the flag for 20-somethings. “It’s going to be the first time that I play against them,” says Vahaamahina of the South African and New Zealander. “They’re great players, both World Cup winners, so it will be a pleasure to play against them, particularly if I manage to impose myself at the set-piece and show them that youth has arrived!”All smiles: Cudmore says Vahaamahina is fun off the pitchA decade ago, while Williams and Botha were at the peak of their careers, Vahaamahina was a gangly adolescent growing up in New Caledonia, a dependent territory of France in the Pacific Ocean 750 miles east of Australia. He didn’t even play rugby in his childhood, preferring the frenetic pace of handball, one reason why his hands are so soft and his co-ordination so sharp. “It was my brother who began playing rugby,” explains Vahaamahina. “I accompanied him to training and that’s how I started. Then I carried on it school. And another important figure was Georges Sao, our priest. He told us stories about rugby and helped us understand the rules. I suppose you could say it was a ‘coup de foudre’ [love at first sight]; the first time I picked up a rugby ball I was in love with it. I loved the contact and everything about it.”Vahaamahina certainly had the build for his new passion. “I was tall as a child,” he reflects. “By the time I was 15 I was 6ft 3in but I wasn’t that broad. In fact I was the slimmest in my family.”But none of them had his talent and when he visited France for the first time in 2009, to compete for a New Caledonia team in a Sevens tournament in Brive, he was swiftly identified as a star of the future. “I went back to New Caledonia for a couple of months at the end of the tournament and Brive was the first club to contact me,” says Vahaamahina. “There were others who contacted me but Brive was the first one, and I immediately warmed to Brive and its structure.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Sebastien Vahaamahina came to rugby late in life, but at 6ft 6in and nearly 20st he soon found his true metier with Clermont and France
Eddie Jones has stated the Saxons tour to South Africa this summer will not be a traditional second-string trip. So what can England and South Africa get out of it? Support role: Lions No 8 Warren Whitely is rumoured to be in the frame to captain the sideIn South Africa, the Junior Springboks (SA under-20) are the nominated second team; so uncapped Test players featuring against the Saxons will not be bound to playing international rugby for the Springboks, as long as they haven’t already been capped at Under-20 level.England Saxons tour to South Africa:Friday, June 10: SA A v England Saxons – Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinFriday, June 17: SA A v England Saxons – Outeniqua Park, George The last time the England Saxons played a game it was in Cork against the Irish Wolfhounds on 30 January 2015 and they came away with an 18-9 win over a home side that featured Sean O’Brien, Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls. The Irish were taking it seriously – it is a pity some other nations cannot take the second-tier games seriously but that is one for another day.For the record, England’s starting team last January was Chris Pennell; Chris Ashton, Elliot Daly, Sam Burgess, Marland Yarde; Henry Slade, Lee Dickson; Matt Mullan, Rob Webber, Henry Thomas, Matt Garvey, James Gaskell, Dave Ewers, Matt Kvesic and Thomas Waldrom. Someone called Maro Itoje came off the bench for Gaskell after 15 minutes and has hardly looked back since.Change in tactThe Saxons are off on another trip this summer to play matches against South Africa A in Bloemfontein and George. They are Saxons by name but according to Eddie Jones they won’t be a typical Saxons team by nature, such as the ones that used to contest the Churchill Cup and won it six times before it was disbanded in 2011 in what seems like an outbreak of apathy.In the frame: Exeter’s Ali Hepher’s name has been linked to the coaching role with the SaxonsThey haven’t got a coach yet, nor any assistant coaches – although Exeter’s Ali Hepher is in the frame for one of the jobs – and have only just finalised the itinerary. Apart from that everything is in place.Jones always says he is in England to coach the national team, and the national team only, but he will have an input into this Saxons coaching and playing staff and he knows what he wants out of the trip.Opportunity knocksJones is going to take 32 or 33 players for the senior tour to Australia and if you were someone ranked third or fourth in your position by the England hierarchy you would expect to have a couple of weeks in SA to make up for missing out on the big one. But according to Jones some of them can book a couple of weeks in Miami now.The Australian is viewing this as a development tour and there will be more than a few names on it who are not on the radar of the casual rugby watcher. Jones wants to find all about the strength in depth of the English game and this is a decent way to do it but bafflingly he does not seem to have the final choices.The chief: Eddie Jones will have his hands full with the England tour to AustraliaJones said: “I have some influence in selection and who’s going to coach the team. But I’m not the person who makes the final decision. When I came to England it was quite clear how the RFU wanted me to play and how I wanted to play. I only want to coach the national team. I don’t want to tell the rest of English rugby how to suck eggs.Jones to remain ‘hands-off’“We’re running an (elite) squad of 33-35 players. In the next two or three years they’re the players we’re going to use. So those Saxons guys are very much development players. I see that as a development tour, not for second tier players. They are some guys who are probably third or fourth in their position who won’t go on that Saxons tour because we need to be looking at guys who are fifth or sixth and whether they can handle that international test match environment. There will be some difficult games down there. I’ve definitely got a role in it but I’m not making that final decision.”That is very un-Jones-like but you can bet your bottom Aussie dollar that he will be looking at the tapes of the two games and will getting in the ear of whoever coaches on the tour to see what the attitude of certain players is.Stars of tomorrowIf you are a number three in your position for England though you might feel a bit miffed if you missed out on the trip but if you are a number four or five or a real up-and-comer, like Northampton’s Harry Mallinder or one of England’s decent Junior World Cup teams of recent vintage that has not made the step up yet – think Chris Cook at Bath, Callum Braley at Gloucester or Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi who might just be getting a call. Alex Waller, another Northampton man, could be in the frame but if the players pick don’t swim on this one, they might be sunk without trace for a long time to come.Worth a look: Bath’s Chris Cook could come under considerationThis is a win-win situation for Jones. He will see some players almost off the radar having a crack at what should be a decent South Africa A team. It might not be a win-win situation for the players though if they don’t front up.THE VIEW FROM SOUTH AFRICA by Craig Ray LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The announcement of a short England Saxons June tour to South Africa was largely met with indifference in the Republic considering the matches sit alongside Ireland’s visit.The Irish, set to take on the Springboks in a three-Test series – a rare occurrence in the modern era – has the public buzzing. South Africa ‘A’ versus England’s second and third stringers is not causing a stampede at the box office.Time for a new startThe Boks, under new coach Allister Coetzee, and the team itself are in a rebuilding phase following a third place finish at Rugby World Cup 2015. There is massive interest in how they will fare in a season of rebuilding.Juggling balls: New Springbok coach Allister Coetzee may delegate South Africa A-team dutiesThe Saxons visit will no doubt stir interest as the games draw closer, especially as the SA ‘A’ squad will be chosen from those that Coetzee culls from his initial 40-man squad, plus others from the country’s six Super Rugby franchises.“The SA ‘A’ team and the Springboks will work closely together in the build-up to their matches in June,” SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux commented: “Under the guidance of the Rugby Department (headed up by the Munster-bound Rassie Erasmus) we will be able to select two very strong squads for these series.”Saxons footing the billInterestingly, the Saxons are footing the entire bill for the tour and when SA Rugby asked their unions for bids to host the English tourists there was minimal response. Eventually Free State and South Western Districts came forward, so the two matches will be played in Bloemfontein and George on June 10 and 17 respectively.It’s likely to be bitterly cold, but dry at high altitude in Bloemfontein on a winter night and correspondingly, the following week the players could be under water if a cold front is passing over the southern Cape. SA Rugby have yet to formally name a coach for the SA ‘A’ team but it is understood that Lions boss Johan Ackermann will take charge of South Africa’s dirt trackers.Springboks who play like New ZealandersAckermann, who was a confrontational Springbok lock in his playing days, is the complete opposite as a coach. His Lions, who at the time of writing were top of the Africa 2 group in Super Rugby and also the defending Currie Cup champions, play like New Zealanders.Speed it up: There is expected to be an influence from the fast-paced LionsRunning into space and offloading in the tackle are skills Ackermann has drilled into his provincial side and are no doubt elements he will try and bring to the ‘A’ team. He’ll have little time to prepare the squad for the Saxons but it could feature many of his Lions squad.Lions in line to face SaxonsLions captain Warren Whiteley will come close to Bok selection, but with Toulon’s Duane Vermeulen arguably the best No 8 in the world, the former is likely to miss out. That would make Whiteley the perfect candidate to lead the ‘A’ team where fellow Lions such as lock Franco Mostert, hooker Malcolm Marx, prop Julian Redelinghuys, centre Howard Mnisi and wings Courtnall Skosan and Ruan Combrinck will almost certainly feature against the Saxons. Rise to stardom: Anthony Watson took his first international steps for the Saxons against the Wolfhounds
The need for more innovation in rugbyAs the Six Nations begins and rivalries reignite, so many of us are scrambling to make sense of it all. Who will realise their potential? Will the sides play with the exact style we expect? Will it be the most entertaining instalment ever?Pundits attempt to predict trends, while the Rugby World Cup in Japan stands as a shimmering sight in the distance. We all want things to be mapped out for us. However, should we let go a little?At the start of such a significant rugby year, we talked to three coaches about how they see the game from outside the box. Maybe it would help if others decided to do the same too.EXPLOITING DEFENCESBRENDAN VENTER quietly listens to the theory. Is it possible that it’s taken all this time since rugby went fully pro, for everyone to catch up with a rugby league-style defence, and that this style is now everywhere, right down the levels?“I think we’ve got very stale in rugby,” Venter says. “Coaches have become almost lazy. One coach called it ‘cut and paste,’ and you could argue that. If you watch a rugby game, in France, in Australia, South Africa or England or Ireland, you’ll actually see the same plays over and over. Everybody has adopted the same attack.“There’s a big emphasis on the rush (in defence) at the moment. Everybody rushes and there’s been very little creativity. There are very few people prepared to dare to be different. I think that is a valid statement when it comes to defence.”Laying the foundations: Venter coaching Saracens in 2010 (Getty Images)Venter still works as a medical doctor now, but his pioneering approach at Saracens is still talked about within the club with some degree of reverence. Recently he spent a week working with the side, and in recent years he has consulted with Italy and South Africa. People still want to tap into his ideas.The former Springboks centre has looked sideways at the current trends. Simply put, we want new ideas in attack and rigid systems in defence. And the ubiquitous rush-blitz approach means that space is inevitable elsewhere. As he puts it: “Attack coaches should be licking their lips for this World Cup.”Venter believes that a key talking point in Japan will be how the driving lineout is being nullified, with a disruptive defensive player being allowed to stay in the heart of the opposition drive if he doesn’t change his bind. Peels, long passes, runs through the centre of the lineout will have to come to the fore, he feels.Related: The use of tech in rugbyBut where else in the game is ripe for exploitation with new ideas?“I think the attacking kicking game is a huge thing. People don’t want to kick the ball away any more but the general thought is ‘where is the space presenting itself?’“The ability to utilise that space is the first thing. New Zealanders have been brilliant at that, kicking those cross-kicks, little grubbers in behind teams with attacking kicks.“The second (area for exploitation) is, I think, around the outside. Teams are rushing in, trying to close the door the whole time on everybody. Look at the way South Africa were defending recently. I actually think that there are ways to break that down.Once there’s space: Ireland are great at creating holes three phases in (Getty Images)“A lot of teams are getting their wings up and having a go out there, but by being a bit more creative in the outside channel, that is where the space is. The space is no longer really around the ruck area, or channel one. Teams are good there, there’s very little you can do. But outside there, there is the ability there to be more creative on attack. That’s where the weaknesses are happening.”As we look ahead to the World Cup again, Venter insists that the deadly strike move straight from first phase, off set-piece ball, is not what will wow us. The smartest attacks, he says, are designed to create gaps a few phases in.He explains: “If you look at the way Joe Schmidt coaches the Irish, you have to be very alert because there’s something sneaky coming somewhere within three phases and if he gives you a basic play, there’s a trick coming somewhere else. He’s not going to give you three basic plays in a row.”That’s about out-thinking teams a few moves in advance.PLAYER POWEROF COURSE sometimes you have to chase a dream.“I love trying to be a little bit different and sometimes I need to rein myself in!” says an excited Ben Herring.Last time out, in his first season with Otago in the Mitre 10 Championship, the ex-flanker wanted to shake things up. His side ended up going to the competition final, losing to Waikato, and they also won the Ranfurly Shield at the end of the regular season.In charge: Herring during the Mitre 10 Championship final – they lost to Waikato (Getty Images)A big-picture guy, Herring says that he is well aware that if life is made up of two types of people – those who want to rip up the script when things go bad and those who want to double down on the ‘basics’ – he will be looking for bold changes. His fellow coaches are good at tempering his excitement, but if the whole Otago group buy into an idea, they will plot how to use it wisely, further down the line.Related: “Most specialist coaches are shadowy figures”He gives an example: “We discovered, by mucking around with a silly game, that our hooker could actually throw to about the posts with an American Football-style throw. So we’d been waiting for the opportunity where we met a team with sloppy, lazy midfielders. That was the opportunity.“We were going to stack some backs in the lineout, with our ten and 15 in there, hit the centre then swing it straight back. We were going to target those sloppy centres and then come straight back with backs v forwards. Most of the time players would say, ‘Yeah, sounds awesome!’ I think you’ve got to have the passion yourself, be pumped up, and if it doesn’t work it’s on me. And if it works the boys get all the kudos!” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The latest issue of Rugby World is on sale now.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is an exciting year for the sport, but as we meet those who look at the game from outside the box we wonder: can innovation in rugby ultimately lead to more fun? Shock and awe: In 2017, Italy’s ‘Fox’ defence stunned England. Brendan Venter helped create the tactic Happy camp: Otago celebrate winning their semi-final (Getty Images)Herring is also happy to challenge his players to come up with crazy plays, to see what the athletes can come up with. “I did it really successfully in Japan,” he continues, on his time with NEC Green Rockets. “We got about three moves we used in the season and I’d love to use them again. The boys came up with it.“We had one – Nemani Nadolo was in our team and the concept was that we put him on the openside flank of the scrum and we put our seven to the blindside. He was a big ball-carrier so we hit him up and he ran straight at the winger. Then the six and eight cleaned so the winger came into that spot. All the loosies had to do was hold onto the winger, don’t let him go.“The ball comes to ten, banana kick the other way, there’s no winger and the full-back was chasing… A player came up with that and when I heard it I thought it was perfect. We just needed to find a team with a full-back who’s sloppy on the blindside defence and we’d put him in his place.”Former Leicester Tiger Herring is animated as he talks about his approach. He believes that Otago would be creative even if they did not have certain financial restraints – he has a lot of students in his side and he thinks that their inherent curiosity added into the willingness to try things out makes for innovation.The biggest task the team had, Herring says, was getting young guys to grow as people. So every morning, at 9am, the group get together before training. Someone will have to do a presentation. It could just be about what is in the papers that day, or a quick biography of a rapper who is soon to tour New Zealand.Attacking plan: Michael Collins breaks for Otago last season (Getty Images)In one case, Herring made one of the players with the most potential but who was shy in front of the group their lead orator. A toastmaster of sorts, he was continually talking. The Otago coaches would then help the group work on their delivery.There was a little bit more too. In Otago people talk of the ‘battler’ – the idea of harnessing the gold rush spirit, with will sometimes triumphing over talent. Herring had to address this with the team ethos, as he could see the derogatory side of the ‘battler’ tag.“The theme this year was The Fast &The Furious,” the coach reveals. “Instead of the ‘white battler’ we were the ‘Dominic Torettos’ (Vin Diesel’s character in the movies). So we’re multicultural, organised, ruthless and we really care about our family.“So we tweaked that white battler tag. We kept those things but said, ‘That’s our guy, that’s who represents us’ for Toretto. We wanted to be organised, tough and caring, so we all knew what that character was about. And it’s all about family; The Fast & The Furious is all about a group of people coming together.”Having a group identity, it transpires, can mean a lot.IT’S PARTY TIMETWO SEASONS ago, led by their talented captain Marcus Smith, Brighton College were unstoppable. The team dazzled on the park.However, just a season later, with 13 of the previous side’s 15 in the group, it all felt a little flat. So something needed to change.“We came to this party time conclusion,” explains Nick Buoy, director of rugby. “So for a match day I began putting on something like a five-year-old’s birthday party. There were balloons, streamers – stuff all the way from the gate to the changing room, like a five-year-old’s party – and it escalated from there. They played out of their skins, they absolutely loved it and before we knew it they were having dance-offs before games.Party time: A typical changing room scene for Brighton last season (Brighton College)“We had a lad who was a party organiser, as he was out with a long-term injury. At the St Joseph’s festival, about 20 minutes before the final against Millfield, they had this big party. It was incredible to watch and you were probably questioning if it was the right thing to do, because it was a big game. And they won 35-5 in a 15-minute game.”A bit of context here. Every season, the Brighton coaches ask the new year group to go away and decide what their identity will be. That includes music, a bit of their playing style and even how they’ll train. At the heart of it is their warm-up routines, with Buoy adding: “I always feel that that pre-game area is one that can be explored and if you can let the players have ownership of it, it makes a big difference. When James Chisholm (now with Harlequins) was captain, they had Euro pop in the changing room before a game.”Related: How fear and anxiety affect elite playersThis season, the Brighton team are the Silent Assassins, with a motto of ‘Walk in, walk out.’ They want to get in, get the job done and move onto the next game with a degree of chill.Meeting the man: Brighton College students with Eddie Jones (Brighton College)Buoy explains that when the party timers were together, training became about play in it’s purest sense. Tag, stick in the mud, tyre races and even some touch American football. He described the scene then as “like having 20 puppies out there”.He is already excited about what identity the next year group come up with. Buoy loves the saying ‘playing in safe uncertainty,’ coined by psychologist Dr Suzanne Brown who has worked with Russell Earnshaw and the Magic Academy.Asked about the Magic Academy’s approach to the balance of fun, uncertainty and learning, Earnshaw told Rugby World: “We want to innovate and predict the game of the future, across sports. Breaking the rules to come up with fresh thinking would be a big part of what we do… What are the assumptions and traditions associated with your sport?“In rugby, what might be the benefits of forwards and backs better understanding one another’s worlds – and how are we currently predating this? How could huddles look different and what might be the impact? What would be the consequence of the scrum-half having the ball lifted to him more often than not? What could tackle practice look like if all the shields were burned? How would we play if we had to beat New Zealand 100-0?”Who knows what’s next: A planning session (Brighton College)This reinforces Buoy’s approach. He adds on the ‘safe uncertainty’ values: “They are youngsters, you do want them playing, to think that something different can happen round the corner and they’ll have to adapt.”As a coach, Buoy loves the challenge of pushing players within an environment they have been entrusted to help create. He also appreciates the balance needed between fun and play against technique work and understanding strategy.But hey, who isn’t up for a bit of a party? If it leads to great fun, rugby could do with a lot more outside-the-box thinking.
There are many benefits of installing an artificial pitch. The surface will perform consistently throughout the entire season; traction, shock absorption and head impact criterion will be the same all year, whatever the weather. The increased playing hours mean teams are able to maximise the use of their facility, both for training and in matches.The level of specialist maintenance is nowhere near the same as required for maintaining perfect natural grass.We don’t believe artificial pitches cause a higher rate of injury. A 2016-17 study by the RFU, Premiership Rugby and RPA noted that when combining data from four seasons, neither injury incidence nor severity differ between artificial and natural surfaces. But risk will keep being monitored.ED SLATERGloucester second-rowAt the top level I feel artificial pitches are a hindrance. I can see the benefit in lower leagues, particularly during bad weather, but they don’t train or play on them at the same intensity.My main concern is how stiff the body feels after playing on an artificial pitch. I feel aches in my hips and back a lot more than if I’ve played on grass. It’s an indicator to me there’s more stress on the body.I’ve spoken to props whose objective on a plastic pitch is to minimise foot movement as there’s not as much give. Players are changing their game to minimise the risk of injury.I understand the business advantages of 4G pitches, but from a performance point of view it feels inconsistent. You go from good grass surfaces at Exeter or Northampton, to 4G at Saracens, which is slightly different to the 4G at Worcester.We need to be more consistent. Right now, the surfaces are so different, it may affect the standard of rugby. Artificial surface: A general view of Allianz Park, home of Saracens (Getty Images) But there are those who believe that artificial turf is a cost-effective way of ensuring a ground is playable more often and that offers a durable solution for clubs who want to offer a field to their community regularly.Related: Should rugby have an orange card?Back in our August 2018 issue of the magazine, we had a Face-Off on this very subject. Below you will see two different arguments on the value of artificial surfaces…LUKE EDWARDSSports Systems Development Manager at SIS PitchesAs a World Rugby Preferred Turf Producer, SIS Pitches have worked with clubs and teams across all levels, including Saracens and Newcastle. The debate over whether artificial pitches are a good or a bad thing has been reignited after Northampton Saints scrum-half Alex Mitchell posted a gruesome image of bad grazes he sustained playing on an artificial pitch in the last round of Gallagher Premiership action.Several team-mates came out in support, with images of their own, including Fraser Dingwall, Jamie Gibson and former Saint James Wilson. This first appeared in the August 2018 issue of Rugby World.This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s September edition. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
The Welsh winger reflects on his retirement, life after rugby, what he misses about the game and how he’s filling the void. Welsh Rugby Legend Shane Williams Gives His Thoughts On Everest ChallengeOne of the world’s most prolific international try-scorers, Shane Williams represented Wales almost 90 times and also clocked up four appearances for the British and Irish Lions in a distinguished career. He overcame critics of his size (he is only 5ft7) with an electric turn of pace and a defence-defying side step, that allowed him to score the decisive try against England in Wales’ 2005 Six Nations Grand Slam triumph, amongst many other stunning solo efforts.Retiring from the international game in 2011, following the Rugby World Cup and autumn internationals, Williams played his last game against Australia at the Principality Stadium. He speaks fondly of this final cap. “My final game, against Australia, was huge,” he remembers. “We lost the game, but I remember thinking that the crowd was still pushing us along and still cheering for us. I scored a try at the end and for 20 minutes after the game, considering we had just lost, the crowd kept clapping and cheering. I think half the people in the stadium forgot we lost!”Big Send-off: Williams scored in his last game for Wales in 2011 (Getty Images)Despite continuing his club rugby career in Japan, Williams has struggled to fill the void of performing at the highest level and the adrenaline buzz that this brings. “I miss the crack and the camaraderie,” he says. “I miss the togetherness that you need to work as a team and be successful. So the Six Nations is a difficult time for me, especially when you’re working doing punditry or commentary because you’d much rather be on the field, helping the lads out, than talking about it on the sideline. It’s not the easiest of times for an ex-international but when you keep challenging yourself and trying to better yourself as a person it helps to get over that loss.”Such is the drive of this phenomenal athlete that the competitive edge remains, if only in constantly striving to go further and do more, pushing his body to the limits of its capabilities in a similar way that professional rugby used to. Triathlons and ultra-triathlons (including a famous Ironman race) have followed and Williams now has his sights on a Guinness World Record.In April, Williams will join former England hooker Lee Mears, former Sevens star Ollie Phillips and Tamara Taylor, a legend of the Women’s game, in attempting to play the highest altitude games of rugby. Taking place over 24 days (13 April to 6 May 2019), the LMAX Exchange Everest Rugby Challenge will see the foursome, and other members of the rugby community, battle acclimatisation and heights of 6,500 metres to play the highest game of full contact rugby and the highest game of mixed rugby in history – all in support of Wooden Spoon. Wales denied a Grand Slam by France’s 32-30… Having gone through the shock of a testicular… Collapse After news of World Rugby’s plans for a… Playing rugby at 6,500m will, naturally, not be the same experience as running out at the notoriously caldron-like Principality Stadium, the home of Welsh rugby, famed for its hostile environment for visiting teams. But Williams is confident the excitement of the occasion will still provide a buzz. “I used to love running out to a full stadium,” he recalls, “but when I’m at 6,500m with a ball in hand I don’t think I’ll care who’s watching as I’ll be too busy struggling to breathe! And we will still get a buzz whether we’re playing rugby in front of ten people or ten million people, because that’s the kind of people we are. We’ll have fun doing it too, while raising a lot of money for Wooden Spoon, which is a fantastic charity.”Preparing for such an endeavour is a feat in itself but Williams down plays the experience of various trips undertaken at altitude as working in his favour. “I’ve played [at altitude] in South Africa and as much as you do preparation in the altitude tents, you spend the first 20 minutes of the game wondering how you’re going to make it to the end. And that won’t be anything like 6,500m. I also trekked to Machu Picchu [situated at just under 2,500m] 18 months ago. On the first day I was walking up a hill and I felt awful. A 60-year-old lady, who had had cancer, was walking behind me and I had step aside for her to go past me. We hadn’t even gone far. But if we get up Everest and we can all run around like blue-arsed flies, then it’s too easy, surely?! That’s why it’ll be a Guinness World Record and that’s why we’re doing it for Wooden Spoon, so bring it on!” Nasi Manu positive about his rugby future after cancer treatment Expand Wales Six Nations Squad 2021 Social Media Reacts To World League Reports Wales Six Nations Squad 2021 As if trying to justify this arguably insane feat, Williams says, “I miss the challenge [of international rugby] and the only way I’ve been able to get over that slightly is by doing other challenges, like triathlons and Ironmen. Challenging yourself to bigger and better things like this is the closest thing you get [to rugby] and it doesn’t come any bigger than Everest. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do something like this; it will be up there as one of the most challenging things I’ve done physically, but raising a lot of money will gives us the extra drive to do it.” Nasi Manu positive about his rugby future after cancer treatment Expand LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Visit everestrugby.org.uk to see how you can share your #MyEverest story or fundraise. Donations can be made via the same link or by texting EVEREST5 to 70085 to donate £5.Also don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Social Media Reacts To World League Reports
Rector (FT or PT) Indian River, MI The Church Investment Group Commends the Taskforce on the Theology of Money on its report, The Theology of Money and Investing as Doing Theology Church Investment Group Turning 100, Episcopal priest celebrates a life’s work Virtual Celebration of the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center Zoom Conversation June 19 @ 12 p.m. ET Rector Bath, NC The Rev. Dr. Charles H. Morris says: Rector/Priest in Charge (PT) Lisbon, ME [Philly Inquirer] Don’t be surprised if the Rev. Thomas W. Logan smiles during next Sunday’s Gospel reading.It will be on eternal life – a topic about which he seems to know a thing or two.And don’t be surprised if the friends, family, congregants, and bishops packed into St. Thomas African Episcopal Church in Overbrook applaud his sermon.Logan turns 100 next week, and the historic parish, where he is an active associate priest, is celebrating the life of the oldest African American cleric in the Episcopal Church.“My father was a devout churchman, and I guess you could say I was nudged to follow him,” Logan said last week at his Center City apartment. Submit a Job Listing Featured Jobs & Calls Rector Martinsville, VA Missioner for Disaster Resilience Sacramento, CA Submit a Press Release Cathedral Dean Boise, ID AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to PrintFriendlyPrintFriendlyShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis Bishop Diocesan Springfield, IL Comments are closed. Rector Hopkinsville, KY Rector Pittsburgh, PA Rector Shreveport, LA Rector and Chaplain Eugene, OR Priest Associate or Director of Adult Ministries Greenville, SC Episcopal Church releases new prayer book translations into Spanish and French, solicits feedback Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs Comments (1) Featured Events The Church Pension Fund Invests $20 Million in Impact Investment Fund Designed to Preserve Workforce Housing Communities Nationwide Church Pension Group Assistant/Associate Rector Morristown, NJ Course Director Jerusalem, Israel Associate Priest for Pastoral Care New York, NY Inaugural Diocesan Feast Day Celebrating Juneteenth San Francisco, CA (and livestream) June 19 @ 2 p.m. PT Curate (Associate & Priest-in-Charge) Traverse City, MI March 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm Congratulations and all good wishes to a man who was twenty years old when I was just a new guy on the block of this world! I’ve now been a priest for 54 years, still active as supplier and as assisting priest in my local congregation. Much more relaxed about preaching now (and I trust better) than long ago! Priest-in-Charge Lebanon, OH Press Release Service Ya no son extranjeros: Un diálogo acerca de inmigración Una conversación de Zoom June 22 @ 7 p.m. ET Assistant/Associate Priest Scottsdale, AZ Remember Holy Land Christians on Jerusalem Sunday, June 20 American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem Rector Albany, NY Associate Rector for Family Ministries Anchorage, AK An Evening with Presiding Bishop Curry and Iconographer Kelly Latimore Episcopal Migration Ministries via Zoom June 23 @ 6 p.m. ET Seminary of the Southwest announces appointment of two new full time faculty members Seminary of the Southwest By David O’ReillyPosted Mar 13, 2012 Assistant/Associate Rector Washington, DC TryTank Experimental Lab and York St. John University of England Launch Survey to Study the Impact of Covid-19 on the Episcopal Church TryTank Experimental Lab Rector Collierville, TN Join the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Celebrating the Pauli Murray Feast Online Worship Service June 27 An Evening with Aliya Cycon Playing the Oud Lancaster, PA (and streaming online) July 3 @ 7 p.m. ET Director of Music Morristown, NJ Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Hires Reverend Kevin W. VanHook, II as Executive Director Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York In-person Retreat: Thanksgiving Trinity Retreat Center (West Cornwall, CT) Nov. 24-28 Rector Smithfield, NC Rector Tampa, FL Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Virtual Prayer Vigil for World Refugee Day Facebook Live Prayer Vigil June 20 @ 7 p.m. ET New Berrigan Book With Episcopal Roots Cascade Books Submit an Event Listing Director of Administration & Finance Atlanta, GA Canon for Family Ministry Jackson, MS Youth Minister Lorton, VA Rector Washington, DC Curate Diocese of Nebraska Rector Belleville, IL Virtual Episcopal Latino Ministry Competency Course Online Course Aug. 9-13 Associate Rector Columbus, GA Rector Knoxville, TN This Summer’s Anti-Racism Training Online Course (Diocese of New Jersey) June 18-July 16 Family Ministry Coordinator Baton Rouge, LA