Debut: V Argentina, 23/5/2005Appearances: 12 (2 tests V NZ in 2005, 1 Test V South Africa in 2009) Debut: V Wales 22/03/2003Caps: 64Points: 5Munster CareerDebut: V Ulster 4/09/1998Caps: 169Points: 40British & Irish Lions The Irish Rugby Football Union is pleased to announce that Donncha O’Callaghan has signed a new Ireland international contract that will see him remain in Ireland to play his rugby with Munster for the next three seasons until 2014.O’Callaghan, who will line out for Ireland this Saturday against Samoa to win his 65th cap, made his international debut against Wales in Cardiff in 2003 and since then has become one of the most important cogs in the Ireland team. He represented both Munster and Ireland schools before he won an U19 World Championship with Ireland alongside current Ireland team members Brian O’Driscoll and Paddy Wallace.His senior international career has seen him selected for two Rugby World Cup squads in 2003 and 2007 and was part of the sides that won five triple crowns, one RBS Six Nations Championship and Ireland’s second ever Grand Slam in 2009. His Munster career has seen him win two Heineken Cups, two Magners league titles as well as a Celtic Cup.Commenting on the announcement, Ireland Coach Declan Kidney said, “It is very important that we continue to retain players of the caliber of Donncha in Ireland and I am delighted that he has made the decision to remain here. I have had the pleasure to work with Donncha through many years of his career and seen him develop into the top class player that he is now. His professionalism and work ethic is second to none to the point where he is highly respected by coaches, players, opposition and supporters in equal measure.”Donncha O’Callaghan said, “As players we are so well looked after by both the national and provincial management teams and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to play the sport I love for both Ireland and Munster. Munster is my home province and the decision to continue my career here was an easy one when you consider the standard of players in the squad and the incredible support I have received from both the fans and my family. My focus now is to try and perform as well as I can to help Munster and Ireland to be successful.”IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said, “It has always been the Union’s desire to keep our best players within the provincial teams so as to allow us to monitor their development. In an increasingly aggressive market place with overseas clubs constantly looking to take players out of Ireland, their retention is one of our top priorities.”Munster Coach Tony McGahan said, “We’re obviously delighted that Donnacha has agreed an extension of his contract. I believe it’s a massive boost for Munster given the strong interest there was in him from overseas clubs with far greater financial resources than Munster. He’s a hugely ambitious competitive character and I think this sends a clear message concerning that ambition and where it will be best served. Here in Ireland with Munster. I think it’s also a very encouraging sign for younger players to see a player of his calibre and universal appeal showing the loyalty and commitment he has done by agreeing this new deal. I look forward continuing to work with him. This is certainly good news for Munster Rugby.”Career DetailsDonncha O’CallaghanBorn: March 24th, 1979Ireland Career LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Nikolai Vladimirovich NerushAge 50 (24 July 1960)Birthplace MoscowCoaching history VVA MoninoRecord as Russia coach (November 2008-present)P21 W12 L8 D1He’s achieved all he can domestically. Now Nikolai Nerush is facing the toughest challenge of his career to date. He tells Lúcás Ó’Ceallacháin why he can’t wait…Nikolai Nerush is a realist. Drawn in a World Cup pool containing Australia, Ireland, Italy and the USA, the Russia head coach knows the challenge in New Zealand will be huge.“This is the first time we have qualified for a Rugby World Cup,” explains Nerush. “The priority for us is to approach every game as a new challenge and to show the rugby world and the Russian public that we can play rugby with the best.“We want to put in four good performances and have set ourselves the target of one victory in our first Rugby World Cup. Even this will be a monumental challenge.“We hope to play our game our way. The style of the national team involves a fast, dynamic game in attack, solid set-piece, organised defence and a fast counter-attacking game. We know the current level of Russian rugby is a long way from that of Australia, Italy or Ireland, but we’ll do our best to perform at maximum capacity.”Nerush doubles up as head coach of Russian club side VVA Monino in the Moscow region. He has also played for and been a youth coach at VVA, who are known as the ‘Lyechiki’ or ‘Pilots’, due to their connection with the aviation academy that has trained fighter pilots and cosmonauts. VVA have won everything there is to win in Russian rugby and, with playing numbers in the country limited, the squad make up the bulk of the national team.“There is only really a pool of about 50 to 60 players for us to choose the national team from in Russia,” he says. “Sevens has allowed us to see other players in action before bringing them into the national team. The experience that the players can gain there is a real bonus for the national team, but it’s also a struggle for managing the welfare of players.“At times I’ve been criticised for not choosing more players from outside VVA, but I have to do what is best for the national team. Now we’re starting to see a new generation of players coming through, as evidenced by the young side that did so well in the Hong Kong Sevens this year.” The preparations for the World Cup have been ongoing since their 21-21 draw in Romania in 2010 ensured their qualification for the tournament. “We have been around the world and back, training in South Africa, New Zealand and England. We have played more games than ever, adding Tests against Canada and Japan as well as games against New Zealand clubs,” says Nerush.“This season we were able to try new things in the European Nations Cup as World Cup qualification was already secured and there was no real pressure. We’ve tried players in different positions and given new players opportunities to play. We’re now closer to knowing what our best 15 is.”The coaching team has changed with forwards coach Steve Diamond departing for Sale and Australian strength and conditioning coach Nigel Ashley-Jones also leaving. But Nerush has faith in the group coaching Russia at the Churchill Cup this month.“Steve and Nigel were big losses for us as they brought a lot of innovation and expertise to our set-up. We’re fortunate to have Kingsley Jones come in and for Henry Paul to stay on. We still have plenty of time together with the Churchill Cup and camps, so we’ll gel as a unit and prepare the team.”Nerush’s own playing achievements are numerous, but he prefers to focus on the enjoyment the national team has brought him. “I’ve won a lot of things as a coach, everything you can in Russia domestically, and now we’re heading to a World Cup.It’s been a long journey and I share the excitement of the players, staff and fans about the adventure ahead of us in New Zealand.”This article appeared in Part 1 of our Rugby World Cup Supplement.To get a copy of the supplement contact [email protected] Or click here if you prefer a digital version of the magazineAnd if you’d like 50% off a subscription to Rugby World Magazine click here
KICKINGWho kicked more ball in open play than anyone else? Dan Parks may not be a surprise list-topper, but Kahn Fotuali’i, who is known more as a runner than a punter, has put foot to ball more often than Ruan Pienaar. It’s little wonder that Northampton wanted his services so badly.DEFENCETackles madeIt would be expected that Sale Shark’s resident scavenger-in-chief David Seymour is topping tackling charts, but it is his partner-in-hits Chris Henry who is the headliner, defensively. He is playing in an already belligerent pack where Iain Henderson is skelping anything that picks up a ball, but the young flanker is still posting big numbers.This category is also scary reading for potential Six Nations carriers.Turnovers wonAgain, Chris Henry features, while backs Andrew Trimble and Nikola Matawalu jump onto the list. There is also expected appearances from the likes of Justin Tipuric, Thierry Dusautoir and Seymour.What no one would have expected is that Rory Best storms past everyone else. The Ulsterman is prolific.Of course, we should probably take a moment to point out that Chris Henry is the biggest offender in the competition, having given away seven penalties in the pool stages (He was joint-top, actually. Richard Hibbard, Wenceslas Lauret, Mauro Bergamasco, Mamuka ‘Gorgodzilla’ Gorgodze, Jamie Cudmore, Rob McCusker and Tom Hayes also gave away seven penalties, and even then, this is after we discounted every single prop. Collapsed scrums kind of mess up lists like these…) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Breaking clear: Napolioni Nalaga has been a stand out performer in this season’s Heineken CupBy Alan DymockMUCH LIKE younglings obeying a magical, umbrella-toting nanny, we have packed the Heineken Cup away in its box until March. We have no use for it when we have the all-singing, all-dancing Six Nations coming up.However, as much as we tuned in to the crashing, the banging and the walloping in order to entertain ourselves, it was serving several purposes. The Heineken Cup is, almost achingly, a spellbinding competition in its own right and for international coaches, on the judging panel, if you like, it is rugby’s equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, a platform for the game’s elite operators.So when the Six Nations squads were announced it was assumed that the big dawgs in the big competition had shown enough of themselves to see them selected for the international squads. This is where Opta’s statistics come in to play. They can show who has been most effective in the Heineken Cup, and who merits their place, because of course, the stats don’t lie!ATTACKINGCarriesLooking at the stats, you can see why Declan Kidney has rewarded Jamie Heaslip. He is a man who offers himself up to carry as often as possible. The number of carries is obviously no indication of the quality of carry, but there is no surprise that workhorses Peter O’Mahony and Louis Picamoles are in the mix in as backrow operators of the highest order.Metres madeThis is perhaps were the effectiveness of the carry comes into play. Heaslip drops out of the top five, as does Picamoles and O’Mahony, though of course, all fare better in the tighter exchanges.The class of runner is more apparent, though. Napolioni Nalaga tops the list, having featured for his workrate above. His silky-smooth teammate Wesley Fofana is also prolific in terms of yardage, and who would have expected Eli Walker to be one of the Heineken’s most effective runners back in October?Defenders beatenNalaga is again in the mix, proving that he is a potent force in attack. However, the true shock is that Walker has danced past more would-be tacklers than any other in the pools with the Ospreys coming third in their pool. The national call up was no surprise.Welsh fans will also be happy to see try scorer Alex Cuthbert as one of the Heineken’s most evasive, alongside that man, Fofana. Clermont’s Fijian winger Napolioni Nalaga (C) jumps over tackles by Llanelli players during a European Cup rugby union match between ASM Clermont-Auvergne and Llanelli Scarlets at the Marcel Michelin stadium on October 13, 2012 in Clermont-Ferrand. AFP PHOTO/THIERRY ZOCCOLAN (Photo credit should read THIERRY ZOCCOLAN/AFP/Getty Images) Statistics provided by Opta
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Pro’s Playbook – England U20 coach Nick Walshe’s try-scoring playMini Rugby – How to play Rugby Soccer as well as a guide to the spin passSave Your Season – We assess how Kettering have improved during our campaignDavid Campese – The outspoken Aussie lays into Robbie Deans and refereesLions A to Z – Take an alphabetical journey through all things LionsRala O’Reilly – The Lions bagman opens up on behind-the-scenes antics as he prepares for his second tourPicture Special – We snapped legends like Martin Johnson returning to the pitchStephen Jones – One player’s cautionary tale about racism in rugbyDai Young – Wasps, Lions and Barbarians are all on the coach’s agendaEuropean XV – The best stats-based team in Europe — you may be surprised!Marland Yarde – Go back to school with the promising London Irish wingerRugby is booming in Brazil — we went to find out whyBacks…Club section – All the latest grass-roots newsSchools – Who’s starring at school level?Essentials – The latest books and productsUncovered – George Smith on comebacks, culture shocks and clothingTour Tale – One reader shares his hilarious story of a close shave on tour———————————————————————————————————————————————–Click here to subscribe to Rugby World You can also download the issue onto your iPad or iPad MiniOr perhaps you’d like a digital version of the magazine delivered direct to your PC or android device? If so click here. [imagebrowser id=39]WITH THE start of the tour less than a month away it should come as no surprise that the new issue of Rugby World is jam-packed with Lions features. Not only do we have a free 36-page guide to the 2013 Lions tour, featuring a travel guide, expert views and the greatest Lions team ever, but there are interviews with four big-name tourists too: captain Sam Warburton, Manu Tuilagi, Stuart Hogg and Cian Healy. We also have an A to Z of the Lions, an interview with hilarious bag man Rala O’Reilly and David Campese letting rip about the Aussies.There is plenty of non-Lions content too. We find out why rugby is booming in Brazil, pick this season’s best European XV based on stats and tell one man’s cautionary tale about racism in rugby. We also have exclusive photos from Martin Johnson’s return to the rugby pitch. All in all, there’s plenty to keep you entertained as the countdown to the Lions tour begins.———————————————————————————————————————————————–Forwards…30 minutes with Donnacha RyanHome nations’ June toursCelebrating 10 years of Mongolian rugbyCraig Chalmers – The ex-Scotland No 10 shares his favourite tour memoriesGwyn Jones – The former Wales captain on the ongoing Welsh rugby rowRob Baxter – Why the Exeter coach is so excited to tour with EnglandSpotlights…Liam Williams – The Scarlets full-back’s fearless approach has won over fans, says Owain JonesNathan Hines – The Clermont lock tells Alan Dymock why he has such an appetite for new challengesIsa Nacewa – Before he heads home, the Leinster favourite shares his fondest memories with Bea AspreyJacques Burger – The Saracens flanker has endured a long road back from injury. Katie Field reportsCentres…Manu Tuilagi – Discover why the Lions are so special to the England centreSam Warburton – The Wales flanker reveals how he recently had to toughen upStuart Hogg – Why the Scotland full-back enjoys being a rugby geekCian Healy – Ireland’s prop on the off-field abuse that followed his stampPro Insight – Wings Christian Wade and Tom Varndell give their top tipsRugby Fitness – What to do in the off-season
Box of tricksThere was not much for Cardiff Blues fans to smile about as their team lost 26-9 to Ulster at the Arms Park, but some of the squad members who were not involved in the game provided a little light relief. The group, including Sam Warburton, were watching the game from a hospitality box and when the BBC Wales cameras picked them out to be shown on screen, they all threw themselves to the floor behind the furniture, in an attempt to hide.The scoreline wasn’t funny for the Blues, but it’s nevertheless good to see that professional players still like a laugh. Follow this link to see the players’ disappearing act. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Happy clappy: Dave Attwood is delighted with Bath’s 45-0 win over Leicester Dumbstruck: Matt Kvesic receives one of the softest yellow cards you will seeMust do betterIt will be an unhappy and uncomfortable week in the Leicester and Edinburgh camps after both were trounced in this weekend’s games. Leicester conceded five tries in their 45-0 drubbing at Bath and Edinburgh let through nine as they were thrashed 62-13 by the Ospreys.For professional teams in their own league to perform so badly is verging on the unforgivable. A repeat is unthinkable. Both Leicester and Edinburgh owe it to their supporters to right the wrongs next weekend. The SaintsBubbling BathNo one – not even the closest relatives of any of the Bath players – could have predicted that Mike Ford’s side would beat Leicester Tigers 45-0 at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.It was an utterly astonishing performance from Bath, as close to perfection as you might expect to see. Yes, Leicester have more than their share of injury problems (which begs the question whether something is amiss with their training and conditioning), but they still had world class players on the pitch and the hosts just blew them away.George Ford directed operations well, but my choice for Man of the Match would have been Bath lock Dave Attwood. He was quite simply everywhere, and ended the game bloodied but buoyant.“It was a great demonstration of collective effort,” was Attwood’s accurate summary of the Bath performance. “To nil Leicester is a great achievement. This is a really proud day for the club.”Come in No 9Kieran Marmion played a starring role for Connacht as they beat Leinster 10-9 to make it three wins out of three so far in the Guinness Pro12. The scrum-half, who won his first Ireland caps in the summer, scored a terrific try, racing in from the 10 metre line, stepping Rob Kearney brilliantly on the way.Man-of-the-Match Marmion also did important work in defence, helping hold up a potential Leinster try on the line. This was his 59th consecutive appearance for Connacht in the Pro12 and Europe and he is just getting better and better.As for Connacht, they ended a losing run of 11 games against other Irish provinces and are now third in the Pro12 table with three wins out of three, ahead of Ulster, Munster and Leinster. West is best at the moment in Ireland. Smiling assassin: Tom Arscott scored his first Premiership hat-trick to help Sale beat London WelshDouble trebleTom Arscott might have thought it was his birthday, as he was handed three gilt-edged try-scoring chances by his Sale Sharks team-mates and duly ran in a hat-trick which helped them beat London Welsh 46-8, but for Alex Lewington it really was his birthday and he too claimed a try treble.The London Irish wing’s first score came when he chased a clever dink of a kick from Chris Noakes. The second and third both came from kicks by scrum-half Scott Steele, and on each occasion Lewington gathered, ran and finished, to give London Irish the lead against Saracens. Unfortunately for the Exiles, Saracens drove over with the last play of the game to snatch a 36-32 win and deny Lewington a perfect 23rd birthday.Ospreys flyingThe Ospreys were as on-song as the most accomplished orchestra in beating Edinburgh 62-13 on Sunday and the conductor was scrum-half Rhys Webb, who scored two of the nine tries, set up more for his team-mates and was duly named Man of the Match.Webb’s first try, in the first minute, was a lovely run on the diagonal from the left side, just inside his own half. The second one required him just to dive over from one metre out. He has now scored four tries in three Pro12 games this season and is in the kind of form to give the Wales selectors plenty to think about. With three weeks gone in this Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro12 season, rugby fans have enjoyed 100 and 88 tries respectively in the two competitions. It’s been a scintillating start, full of surprises, leaving some players purring with delight and others slinking off with their tails between their legs. TAGS: Bath RugbyConnachtLeicester TigersOspreys An early bath: David Mele leaves the pitch after being sent offThe SinnersSeeing redGlasgow openside Tyrone Holmes owes his team-mates a few beers or apologies after getting sent off thanks to a foolish piece of foul play against Newport Gwent Dragons.Right under the touch-judge’s nose Holmes landed a couple of totally unnecessary and deliberate stamps on the shoulder of Dragons hooker Rhys Thomas. There was still well over half an hour to play but fortunately for Holmes, the 14 remaining Warriors rallied and won the game 33-13.Leicester scrum-half David Mele was also given his marching orders this weekend, towards the end of their mauling by Bath. With the ball out of the ruck and heading for a different postcode, Mele rake the upper arm of Dave Attwood three times and was red-carded by Wayne Barnes. Leicester’s squad is injury-ravaged and now they look set to lose Mele’s services to a ban.Dictation errorThere is a balance to be struck between making sure rugby’s laws are interpreted consistently and fairly, and allowing referees to show some common sense and discretion. At the moment, too much weight is being placed on the former and referees are being exposed to unnecessary criticism as the IRB dictates what they should do in certain situations.Matt Carley, who was in charge of the Gloucester v Exeter match on Friday evening, showed a yellow card to Ian Whitten for taking out Charlie Sharples in the air, and later to Matt Kvesic for a dangerous tackle on Tom Waldrom. The Whitten decision was a little harsh, as he was not looking at Sharples when the two of them leapt to claim a high ball. The Kvesic card was even worse, as the flanker was sin-binned for lifting the leg of an already horizontal Waldrom, resulting in the Chief landing face down, on his arms, not dangerously on his head, neck or back.Tackles in the air and tip-tackles are potentially highly dangerous and, where appropriate, should be heavily punished. But referees have to be allowed to assess whether an individual incident deserved a yellow or red card, or no card at all.
None of the 17,000 spectators present at Bayonne’s Stade Jean-Dauger will forget in a hurry the events of Saturday 23 May. The Basque club’s fate was out of their hands on the final day of the regular Top 14 season; all they could do was win with an offensive bonus point, which they did by hammering La Rochelle 45-12, and pray that either Brive or Grenoble slipped up.Brive didn’t. By early in the second half of their clash with Stade Francais it was clear to the Bayonne fans, following events from Brive on their smartphones, that the Parisians were not going to do them a favour. So attention turned to Lyon, who were hosting Grenoble.The visitors required just a point to avoid the drop but they leaked two early tries. Grenoble then fought back to take an 18-17 lead at half-time, but in an excruciatingly tense second half the lead changed hand four times before a penalty and drop-goal from Lachie Munro took Lyon 29-24 clear with six minutes remaining. Another score from Lyon and Grenoble would lose their defensive bonus point but the visitors clung on and so Bayonne’s 11-year stay in the Top 14 came to an end.Sad day: Bayonne prop Lucas Pointud is consoled by Mark Chisholm after the club’s relegation. Photo: Getty ImagesComing 12 months after Biarritz were relegated to ProD2, these are dark days for Basque rugby. Since rugby went professional 20 years ago there has always been at least one club from the region in France’s top flight; to have none is a huge shock to the Basque people, so proud of their traditions and culture.It’s this pride that has prevented in recent years any plans for a merger between Bayonne and Biarritz. The idea of a fusion was first mooted seriously in 2011, but came to nothing despite the warnings of Claude Charbonnier, the former president of the Basque Academy of Sport. In an interview with a local newspaper in November 2011, he supported the idea for financial reasons, saying prophetically: “There is no guarantee of the perennial support of (Alain) Afflelou and (Serge) Kampf”.Afflelou, the millionaire eyewear manufacturer, was Bayonne’s major financier from 2007 until 2014 when he stepped down as president, at the same time reducing his financial commitment to the club from €4m to €1m. Manu Mérin, the man who succeeded Afflelou as president (and who is a firm believer in the need for the creation of a Basque ‘super club’) admitted earlier in the month that Bayonne are “penniless”, and that they required a letter of guarantee from Afflelou recently to placate DNACG, the authority that polices the finances of France’s professional clubs. Following Bayonne’s relegation from the Top 14, talk of a merger with local rivals Biarritz to create a Basque ‘super club’ is hotting up Biarritz are in an even worse economic plight. Midi Olympique reported a fortnight ago that the club has a financial hole of €2.5m, which their chief financial backer, Kampf, was allegedly willing to pay off “only in the event of a rapprochement between the two clubs”.Rise again? Biarritz win a lineout during a local derby against Bayonne last season. Photo: Getty ImagesThe head then, as well as the wallet, suggests that creating a super club between the two Basque sides is the only way to resuscitate rugby in the region even if it means sacrificing more than a century of tradition. In this day and age, it’s just not feasible for two towns a stone’s throw apart to sustain two professional rugby clubs, particularly when Pau and Agen have been promoted to the Top 14 this season. Pau is just 70 miles east of Bayonne, Agen 140 miles north-east, so businesses in the region looking to invest in a rugby club are likely to choose them over a couple of struggling ProD2 clubs.Unfortunately the heart often doesn’t follow the head when it comes to sport, and when plans to fuse the two Basque clubs into one super club were resurrected at the start of this month there was vociferous opposition from some supporters. Strong views: Bayonne fans protest against a possible merger with Biarritz earlier this month. Photo: Getty Images LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Several hundred Bayonne fans gathered to demonstrate outside the club and Merin, confronted with threats against him and his family, announced the abandonment of the plans in an emotional press conference last week.But the reality of relegation to ProD2 seems to be concentrating minds in Basque country. A Facebook page has been created in support of a merger and comments left by supporters from both clubs indicate that pragmatism may yet triumph over parochialism. After all, as Charbonnier put it this week: “We must choose: either we want to play in the European Cup or we finish by playing in the Basque provincial cup.”
England increasing tally of injuries shouldn’t be feared but seen as an opportunity to increase squad depth towards the 2019 World Cup Treatment bench: Manu Tuilagi has had wretched luck with injuries By Alex ShawThere are two words rugby fans and coaches the world over fear to hear – injury crisis.It can loom like an ominous, dark cloud over any international teams’ preparations for a Test window.If there is a year to suffer through one, though, there aren’t many better than 2016. The new cycle is still young and coaches are given longer leashes to experiment with and develop their squads.Winning is still, as ever, paramount, but losses can be mitigated by encouraging performances and adaptations to a new style.Injuries offer opportunities to other players to put forward their cases for selection and can create a larger pool of proven Test players two or three years down the road. With all due respect to the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship, both live in the shadow of the Rugby World Cup and that’s what all teams are building towards.Coming through: Josh Van der Flier was been a breakout star from last yearAn example of this would be Ireland earlier this year.Injuries to key players such as Rob Kearney, Iain Henderson and Sean O’Brien opened the door for Tiernan O’Halloran, Ultan Dillane and Josh van der Flier. The first three were known quantities but now the latter three are also players with whom Ireland can build heading towards the 2019 RWC.Similarly, Ireland’s opponents this summer, South Africa, have also made the most of injuries to key players and should reap the rewards in the near future.With Handré Pollard missing the whole of this southern hemisphere season, Elton Jantjies was thrust into the spotlight. There have been growing pains and mistakes by Jantjies but he will be a better player for his experiences and gives the Springboks the options they need moving forward.In from the shadows: No 8 Warren Whiteley has replaced Duane Vermeulen for the BoksLikewise, Duane Vermeulen’s injury has fast-tracked Warren Whiteley’s development at Test level and the No 8 has taken that extra responsibility and pressure in his sizeable stride.The perfect case study for this, however, may be the current England side.After coasting through the 2015-16 season with barely a scratch, the injury bug has finally come to bite Eddie Jones’ men.Back rowers James Haskell and Jack Clifford have been ruled out of the upcoming Test window, wing Jonny May is yet to play after suffering a knee injury last season and Manu Tuilagi has been felled by his troublesome groin.There are also question marks over whether or not Dylan Hartley, Owen Farrell and Joe Marler will be in fighting shape by the time South Africa arrive in London next month.With England playing so well last season and staying relatively healthy, opportunities were limited for players outside of Jones’ favoured group of 27 or 28.England regular: Jonathan Joseph has been a regular fixture under Eddie JonesFarrell, Mike Brown, Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph started all eight of England’s games under Jones – excluding the match against Wales which was held on the same weekend as the Premiership final – whilst Jack Nowell and George Ford both started seven and Ben Youngs started six. There was a similar story in the pack as Hartley, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola, George Kruis and Dan Cole started all eight games, Haskell started seven and Maro Itoje started six.Trusted performers such as Clifford, Danny Care and Mako Vunipola featured in all eight games, whilst Paul Hill and Jamie George featured in seven.With consistency being prized highly by Jones and the Australian eager to develop players as starters, he was reluctant to chop and change over the course of the season. In fact, the only positions where Jones looked to actively rotate his personnel or try new players as starters were loosehead prop, scrum-half and, briefly, inside-centre.In form: Tommy Taylor has impressed at Wasps early in the seasonThese injuries now offer Jones the opportunity to be a bit more experimental with his squad and not only improve the depth of player available to England, but also identify players with the potential to prove long-term challengers to those currently possessing starters’ jerseys.If Hartley does not recover from his head knock in time to take on the Springboks, George has been chomping at the bit to start, whilst Tommy Taylor has impressed enough following his arrival at Wasps to nudge ahead of Luke Cowan-Dickie in the pecking order.The double blow of losing Haskell and Clifford opens up opportunities for the uncapped duo of Mike Williams and Sam Jones, who was himself injured earlier today. The England seven jersey will always be up for debate until fans are placated by a genuine fetcher and though neither player offers that specifically, they are versatile and physical contributors who can play key roles for England moving forward.Perhaps the most interesting opportunity would be the one afforded if Farrell cannot regain fitness by the end of the month.Jones’ experiment with Luther Burrell did not last long in the first test against Australia and Tuilagi is sidelined for the foreseeable future but both Ben Te’o and Henry Slade are candidates to fill the void. If one of them can nail down and impress in the 12 jersey this autumn, it will free Jones up to try moving Farrell back to fly-half, something he was keen to do Down Under.Pole position: Leicester’s Mike Williams has a shot at getting the No 7 shirtStuart Lancaster was lauded for his adventurous selections in the early days of his tenure as England coach but arguably fell foul of settling for the good team he had built and not searching for players capable of making it a great team.Admittedly, Lancaster had the pressure of trying to ensure England were competitive in a tough pool at a home Rugby World Cup and that may have stayed his bolder instincts but Jones – or any other international coach – needs to be careful they don’t fall into the same trap.The point is, having injuries and squad disruption in 2016 is no bad thing.Yes, you want consistent selections with players being able to develop chemistry together but it is far better for a Test side that the injury big strikes now and they are able to ascertain where they have strength in depth and where they need to improve. If it strikes in a RWC year and a coach has had the luxury of a largely full-strength team for the previous three years, it can set alarm bells ringing.Whether a coach looks to find like-for-like replacements who can step in and replicate what a current starter provides or they opt to utilise a player who brings a different set of skills to the position, is the type of decision that can be the difference between a coach being seen as a success or a failure.Pause for thought: Eddie Jones will be plotting the downfall of Autumn opponentsBoth Joe Schmidt and Allister Coetzee have experimented with players of different styles where injury has allowed for them this year, whilst Jones’ new blood for the upcoming Test window seems to be very much in the like-for-like mould. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The success of the two approaches is not necessarily mutually exclusive and there is no right or wrong way of doing things. England are developing two or three players at every position who can play the way Jones wants England to, whilst Ireland and South Africa have improved their ability to turn their hand to different tactical approaches.Regardless of which approach you favour, these short-term pains shouldn’t just be stomached, they should be embraced, as they can reap long-term gains.
Dylan Hartley will spend another six weeks in the cooler but it might be good news for Eddie Jones ahead of the Six Nations LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Highlight Depending on which side of the fence you sit on, and no-one is sitting on it, Dylan Hartley is either a brilliant England captain who has made the odd mistake, but dragged his team out of the gutter, or rugby’s equivalent of a mad axe murderer who deserves to be hung, drawn and quartered.The truth is somewhere between the two but, as Hartley contemplates another six weeks in the cooler, he can count himself slightly lucky and Eddie Jones can count himself even more fortunate that his man is around for the Six Nations.There have been calls for a life ban for Hartley, following his latest misdemeanour, but not too many of them have come from anyone from England, or associated with the English team and there is a reason why and a reason why Jones might just have hit the jackpot again.Hartley is more important to England than he is to Northampton – if club team selection is anything to go by – he has only played three hours of rugby for the Saints this season and they seem to prefer Mikey Haywood at club level.Chosen one: Mikey Haywood is getting preferred at SaintsJust like England’s centrally contracted cricketers who spend their lives on national duty, Hartley is an international player and Jones staked his reputation on him about 12 months ago- he seems to have known the deal.Just over a year ago news leaked out that Jones, newly installed as England head coach after the disastrous World Cup, was planning to give the hooker the national captaincy. That was greeted with derision from some quarters and incredulity from others.Aussie Jones spent a lot of time at the racetrack in his younger days and this one smacked of a gamble. Firebrand hooker, loads of bans, missed a World Cup and a British & Irish Lions tour because of brushes with the law – it was all going to end in tears.But so far the only tears have been coming from England’s opponents who were seen off 13 times in 2016. No wonder the RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie rushed to Hartley’s defence the day before his latest disciplinary hearing saying that good old Dylan had plenty of credit in the bank.Weighty support: Ian Ritchie has given his backing to HartleyJones was in the stands at Franklin’s Gardens last Friday when Hartley went about adding to his suspension count with a dangerous tackle in Northampton’s Champions Cup clash with Leinster on Irish flanker Sean O’Brien.When he trotted on as a replacement Hartley had served 54 weeks in the cooler and, after Wednesday’s night verdict, that will be 60 weeks by 23 January when he is free to play again. Jones’ hands were in his hands but on reflection he might not think that a month-and-a-half is too bad a thing for his leader and a man who he says, along with Owen Farrell, is the driver of the side.Cynics might say Ritchie was getting a shot in early, and the RFU were flexing their muscles, but Hartley’s offence occurred under the jurisdiction of the European Rugby bods and the panel was made up of two Welshmen and an Italian. Seeing red: Dylan Hartley is sent off against Leinster Credit: Getty Images Hartley got five weeks for the tackle, two weeks for his massive charge sheet and a week knocked off for saying sorry and pleading guilty. And his ban ends just as England’s Six Nations preparations are in full swing and that can only spell good news for Jones.Leadership: Dylan Hartley has led England with aplomb over the last yearJones has had the Midas touch since he took over the England gig. Rugby in the land of the world’s biggest and richest union was in disarray after they hosted a party when they were kicked out by the bouncers before the canapés were even served.Hartley has plenty of previous on the disciplinary front but he also has previous on coming back on top of his game when he has little to no rugby. And Jones has got lucky on this front.His captain will play no competitive rugby between now and the end of January and when he does get a crack at a game it will be against France at Twickenham. In between, Hartley will surely get his nut down and then appear at England’s scheduled training camp ahead of the Six Nations fired up and ready to go. Jones will have plenty of time in that week to decide if Hartley is ready and put him through his paces.This is a 30-year old front rower we are talking about. Hartley has been around the block and could probably do with a decent bit of feet-up time – he has proved, like David Gower back in the day, he can play at the highest level without too much aggravation with domestic sport.Nothing to see here: Warren Gatland is unperturbed by Hartley’s disciplinary problemsBetween England’s Grand Slam game against France, in March, when Hartley was knocked sparko and on the deck for 10 minutes, and his reappearance in national colours, against Wales in May, he played precisely 17 minutes of rugby – off the bench for Northampton against Gloucester.After that he played 76 minutes against the Welsh in the 27-13 win at Twickenham and then led England to a 3-0 win series win over Australia. Think of the upsides for the England boss.He gets a captain who will be steaming, who will be fit and without any niggles and a bloke who is raring to go again. The world and his wife are cracking on about player welfare, quite rightly, but Hartley is one player who won’t be heading to the Six Nations opener jaded. And that could be even better news for Warren Gatland when it comes to Lions time in New Zealand.Hartley knows he owes Jones one and Jones is almost certain to expect payback and he will probably get it. I wonder what Eddie’s lottery numbers are.
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Following the pre-sale period between March 15 and April 5, general sale for the City and Follow my Team tickets open. Operating on a first come first serve basis, general sale opens at 5pm GMT on April 6.Individual match tickets aren’t available until 2022.Related: Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool DrawWorld Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby World Cup France 2023 will showcase the best of rugby and the best of France. We are delighted to launch the tournament’s ticketing programme. Our ambition is to make France 2023 the most accessible tournament to date. This ticketing programme certainly does that. Everyone is invited to join a special celebration of France and 200 years of rugby.”France 2023 Organising Committee CEO, Claude Atcher added: “With our ticketing programme, we want to make Rugby World Cup 2023 as accessible as possible for everyone. We want to provide the opportunity for fans to attend matches from the best 20 rugby nations in the world. Rugby World Cup France 2023 is also the promise of an incredible show with an unprecedented match schedule format. We look forward to celebrating and sharing moments in our nine host cities with fans from all over the world.” Rugby World Cup 2023 tickets on saleTickets for the 2023 Rugby World Cup hosted in France go on pre-sale on March 15 at 11am GMT, with 2.6 million tickets are available for the tenth edition of the tournament.The first phase of ticket sales requires fans to register for the 2023 Family by 22:59 GMT on March 13. Running until April 5, fans can buy one of two ticket packages in the pre-sale period: the Follow my Team pack, or City pack.Related: Rugby World Cup 2023 ExtendedThe Follow my Team package enables a fan to attend all four pool matches of an already qualified team, with the option of tickets to the quarter-final, should they progress to that stage.Conversely, the City package enables a fan to attend at least three pool matches in one of the nine host cities. Unfortunately, the Stade de France is excluded from the City package. Each city will include a compulsory fixture as part of the City package, with the remaining options free to choose.Tickets for the opening fixture of the 2023 Rugby World Cup between France and New Zealand, on 8 September 2023, are also exempt from both package deals.There are four different price categories for the event. For example, fans can watch three matches in Toulouse from €58 in category four, including New Zealand and Japan. Similarly, the Lille pack features three matches including England, Scotland and France for €70. 2.6 million tickets are available for the France 2023 Rugby World Cup (Getty Images) The first sale of tickets for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France go on sale March 15. Can’t get to the shops? Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet. Subscribe to the print edition for magazine delivery to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Northampton Saints were training while the squad announcement was taking place so it was the club’s director of rugby Chris Boyd who revealed that Dan Biggar and Courtney Lawes would be part of the squad travelling to South Africa. Lions chairman Jason Leonard announces the 2021 squad (Inpho/Getty Images) 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. The Lions deliver emotions at all points of the spectrum – and the tour hasn’t even started yet! It was a similar situation at Glasgow Warriors HQ when scrum-half Ali Price and prop Zander Fagerson were named… These videos show what it means to be picked for the British & Irish touring party Of course, there was also huge disappointment for those players not selected.Bristol and England tighthead Kyle Sinckler, who toured with the 2017 Lions, was one of the surprise omissions, and he described feeling “gutted” on social media before getting behind those who have been selected… Watch: Players react to Lions selectionGetting picked in a British & Irish Lions squad is the pinnacle for players in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and these videos show just how much it means.Several clubs captured the moment players from their teams were announced in the Lions party to tour South Africa this summer, with the celebrations of their team-mates emphasising the significance of the achievement.At Gloucester, there were huge cheers when Scotland centre Chris Harris’s name was read out by Lions chairman Jason Leonard… These moments are also important to players’ families. Wales hooker Ken Owens will be going on his second tour – to the delight of his son Efan’s class… Bath’s squad were sitting comfortably to hear Anthony Watson and Taulupe Faletau being selected… Harlequins’ Danny Care, who had been in selection discussions at scrum-half, was another quick to show his support for the squad picked… Maro Itoje spoke of the honour of being selected on Twitter, while also looking forward to passing on the responsibility of looking after mascot BIL to the youngest member of the 2021 squad, Louis Rees-Zammit… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS