Biggest test yet for Wales U20 squad

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Replacements: Sam Parry (Llandovery), WillGriff John (Blues/ Pontypridd), Lloyd Peers (Ospreys / Bridgend), Owen Sheppeard (Blues / Pontypridd), Lewis Jones (Pontypridd), Joseff Griffin (Blues / Cardiff). Adam Warren (Llandovery) Wales Under 20 Six Nations fixtures 2011 COSENZA, ITALY – FEBRUARY 25: Morgan Matthew (C)of Wales is tackled by of Leonardo Sarto Italy during the RBS under 20 Six Nations game between Italy U20 and Wales U20 at Stadio San Vito on February 25, 2011 in Cosenza, Italy. (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images) Welsh U20 centre Matthew Morgan WALES UNDER 20 head coach Darren Edwards has made five changes to the side that drew 26-26 with Ireland last Friday ahead of his side’s final Six Nations game, against France in Albi on Friday (8.45pm, 7.45pm UK time).Cory Hill returns at lock to partner skipper Macauley Cook, while Blues and Cardiff openside flanker Thomas Young will earn his first Under 20 cap after returning to fitness and form following a leg injury. Dragons scrum half Jonathan Evans starts ahead of Lewis Jones, while Liam Williams will start on the wing and Rheon James joins Owen Williams in the centre.Ben John has been ruled out of the game due to a wrist injury, while wing Eli Walker is still out with a shoulder injury. Edwards said: “It’s good to see Thomas (Young) and Lloyd Peers back in the squad, this game gives them a chance to stake a claim for the Junior World Championship squad. Lloyd was part of the squad last year and Thomas is a specialist No 7 whose game will hopefully suit the way we are trying to play the game.”“This is arguably going to be our biggest test to date. France are a different side depending on whether they play at home or away but this game will give us a new benchmark to see where we are ahead of our world cup preparations. We’ve got to get back to how we played against Scotland and Italy, with some real physicality and intensity that was lacking last weekend. We have to take the game to France and make things happen for us. Last week’s disappointment is already behind us, and this is a final chance for players to put down a marker ahead of the next phase.” Wales Under 20 Squad:Steve Shingler (Scarlets / Llanelli); Liam Williams (Llanelli), Owen Williams (Blues / Cardiff), Rheon James (Carmarthen Quins), Harry Robinson (Blues); Matthew Morgan (Ospreys / Swansea), Jonathan Evans (Dragons / Newport); Rhodri Jones (Scarlets / Llanelli), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets / Llanelli), Will Taylor (Ospreys / Swansea), Macauley Cook (capt, Blues / Cardiff), Cory Hill (Blues / Pontypridd), Edward Siggery (Pontypridd), Thomas Young (Blues / Cardiff), Ben Thomas (Ospreys / Bridgend).last_img read more

Ireland need to hit the ground running

first_img Alan Quinlan dives for a try v Argentina at the 2003 World Cup Alan Quinlan is backing Ireland to learn from the mistakes of their disastrous 2007 World Cup campaign, provided they can get off to a strong start in New Zealand.The former Munster back-rower, who featured in two World Cups for Ireland, believes that the boys in green can exorcise their demons come September despite failing to qualify from their pool at the last tournament, thanks to a rise in the standard of Irish rugby in recent years.“The players can take confidence after the last few years having won Heineken Cups and Grand Slams,” says Quinlan, who hung up his own boots in May. “2007 was a huge disappointment for everyone involved and for all of Irish rugby, and a good start to the tournament will be key this time around. They need to perform with a high intensity in their first few games.“Declan Kidney is a very shrewd coach,” Quinlan continues. “They will be preparing for the tournament mentally, and they will speak about ’07. I think they’ve learned their lessons.”Having been accused of being undercooked before heading to France four years ago, Ireland have set up four warm-up Test matches in August. They face Scotland at Murrayfield and France in Bordeaux before hosting France and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, and Quinlan says it’s crucial to strike a balance between being well prepared, and avoiding costly injuries.“The Tests will be very physical in August, and there is a danger that players will pick up injuries,” admits Quinlan. “Ireland don’t have the strength in depth of some of the bigger nations, so it’s especially important for them to keep all their players fit.”Ireland’s two biggest teams have enjoyed successful seasons, with Munster winning the Magners League and Leinster the Heineken Cup, but Quinlan believes one of the star players of this year’s World Cup could come from Ulster. TAGS: Munster “To reach the quarter-finals is a minimum requirement for Ireland and all the home nations,” says Quinlan. “What you need in World Cups is experienced players, and I think the teams with the most experience will be successful at the tournament.”Alan Quinlan will be co-commentating for ITV at the World Cup. “I just have a feeling that Stephen Ferris could make a big impact,” says Quinlan. “He’s been injured for a long time, but I think Kidney could start him because he is phenomenally powerful and a great athlete, and provides a great lineout option. That’s tough on Sean O’Brien though, who’s the European Player of the Year and also very physical.“Another key player will be Jamie Heaslip. He’s been in fantastic form all season, although he had a minor dip at the start of the Six Nations, but he’s a very important component in the side.“The fly-half dilemma is an enviable one for Ireland to have, and Johnny Sexton and Ronan O’Gara certainly bring out the best in each other. When Rog started against Scotland in the Six Nations he played fantastically well, but then look what that did for Johnny’s game when he came back to start against England. I’d pick Sexton to start, but it does depend on what sort of game Kidney wants to play. Sexton plays an expansive game in attack, but Rog has got a great kicking game. That pressure drives you to play better, and it’ll make those two get the best out of themselves.”Whoever Kidney picks in his starting line-up, Quinlan says there is no doubt about the standard that is expected of Ireland today. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Graham Henry steps down as All Blacks Coach

first_imgAUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 01: All Blacks coach Graham Henry attends a press conference announcing his future plans at Auckland university RFC on November 1, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. Henry announced he is standing down from All Black Coach. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Henry also paid tribute and “a big thank you” to his fellow All Blacks coaches and management team.“Wayne Smith, Steve Hansen, Mike Cron and Mick Byrne are quality men and all outstanding in their individual coaching roles.“Also thank you to All Blacks Manager Darren Shand and his management team of Gilbert Enoka (Mental Skills Coach), Nic Gill (Strength & Conditioning Coach), the medical team of Deb Robinson (Doctor), Peter Gallagher (Physiotherapist), George Duncan (Muscle Therapist) and Katrina Darry (Nutritionist); Joe Locke and Jo Malcolm (Media Managers), Alistair Rogers (Performance Analyst), Errol Collins (Baggage Man) and Bianca Thiel (Executive Assistant), who I believe are the best in the world.“Finally I would like to thank everyone in ‘the big team’ at the NZRU head office in Wellington for their help and expertise. A special thank you to Chairman Mike Eagle and CEO Steve Tew, former Chairman Jock Hobbs and CEO Chris Moller, and the NZRU Board, especially those gentlemen who reappointed the coaches after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.” Henry and All Blacks Assistant Coach Steve Hansen have one more coaching role this year – the duo will coach the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham, London, on Saturday 26 November.Graham Henry: a career of rugby highlights2004 – 2011Graham Henry finishes his All Blacks career as one of the most successful coaches of all time.  He coached the All Blacks to 88 wins in 103 Tests for a winning percentage of 85.4 percent, including 29 of the last 32 Tests and 48 of their 51 Tests at home.The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup, played for against Australia, every year of Henry’s coaching reign; won the Investec Tri Nations five times; won three Grand Slams; and hold all the trophies against other major rugby nations: The Freedom Cup (South Africa), the Dave Gallaher Cup (France) and the Hillary Shield (England).He coached a team at the Rugby World Cup for a record 16 times (including Wales in 1999) and his 13 RWC wins are unchallenged.He has won the International Rugby Board’s Coach of the Year award a record five times (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011); been the Steinlager Rugby Award New Zealand Coach of the Year four times (1995, 2005, 2006 and 2008); and in 2008 also received the Pierre de Coubertin Trophy awarded by the International Committee for Fair Play (ICPF).Born on 8 June in 1946 in Christchurch, Henry attended Christchurch Boys’ High School and the University of Otago before embarking on a long career as a teacher – and rugby coach. He taught and coached the First XV at two Auckland schools, Auckland Grammar and Kelston Boys’ High School, becoming headmaster at Kelston in 1987 until his professional rugby coaching career began in 1996.He coached the Auckland provincial side to championship titles four years in a row from 1993 to 1996 and the Blues Super Rugby side to glory in 1996 and 1997. He coached Wales from 1998 to 2002, and in 2001 became the first Southern Hemisphere coach to coach the British and Irish Lions side.He returned to New Zealand in 2003 and was appointed All Blacks Coach with Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen as his assistants. Graham Henry has stepped down as Head Coach of the All Blacks after a successful World Cup campaign2011 Rugby World Cup–winning coach Graham Henry has announced he is stepping down as All Blacks Coach.Henry made the announcement at a media conference at his rugby club, Auckland University RFC, today following the All Blacks’ outstanding Rugby World Cup win nine days ago.However, Henry will not be lost to rugby – the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) is discussing the possibility of retaining him as a coach mentor for the country’s leading coaches.Henry finishes his All Blacks career as one of the most successful rugby coaches of all time: he coached the All Blacks to 88 wins in 103 Tests for a winning percentage of 85.4 percent.  As well as winning Rugby World Cup 2011, the All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup every year since 2003, won the Investec Tri Nations five times and achieved three Grand Slams against the Northern Hemisphere Home Unions.“Firstly, I would like to thank my mum Ann, my wife Raewyn and our three children Matt, Catherine and Andrew for their constant, unconditional support over the many years I have been coaching rugby,” he said. “It’s been an enormous privilege to coach the All Blacks and I am exceptionally proud of how the team has added to the All Blacks legacy over the last eight years, involving 103 Test matches.“I am also exceptionally proud of how they have developed an extremely professional and enjoyable culture and environment, and how they have reached out to people of all ages and put a smile on their faces, both here in New Zealand and overseas. So I want to say a special thank you and congratulations to all the players who have played during this time, especially to Tana Umaga and Richie McCaw, the two long-term captains.”last_img read more

RBS 6 Nations: Lions Watch – Round 3

first_img Exorcising the demons: Adam Jones has played well enough to earn a chance to tour again with the LionsBy Alan DymockTHE FURTHER we wade into the 6 Nations the clearer the Lions picture becomes. After the latest matches, Rugby World’s Round 1 picks of Lion O’Driscoll, Owen Farrell, Stuart Hogg, Leigh Halfpenny and Joe Launchbury are all still in the mix. However, other players are putting their hands up.Adam JonesIn the mixer?: The Tullow TankA matter of minutes before Dan Cole was given a torrid time by the French scrum, the generously hirsute Jones was getting torn into the Italian pack featuring the not inexperienced, Martin Castrogiovanni and Andre Lo Cicero. He not only laid down a marker for Lions inclusion, but he presented a strong case to be Warren Gatland’s go to man at tight head.It could be suggested by some that Cole’s ability to disrupt opposition rucks and turn ball over that sets him apart, but that man Jones just keeps rumbling on.Lions 2013: On the planeChris RobshawDespite his many detractors, Robshaw keeps performing. Game after game, he links and leads, carrying strongly at close quarters. The talk of the number on his back is getting tiresome, but he is playing so well that it does not really matter what his number is. The talk will eventually fade.Do not underestimate what a man used to winning can bring to a squad. He may not start and he may not be a throwback loosie, but he should surely be a tourist. There is still time for him to prove he can be more than that, too.Lions 2013: On the planeAlex CuthbertThe Cardiff Blue is a try scorer. That is something that cannot be ignored. His pal George North is moving and shaking, interesting tacklers and churning up fields, but Cuthbert is dotting down domestically and in the Six Nations.The British Isles actually have a lot of wing talents to choose from, and North will likely go to Australia too, but at the moment Cuthbert is a serious contender for the starting XV. LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Chris Robshaw of England breaks through the french defen se during the RBS Six Nations match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium on February 23, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Lions 2013: Awaiting taxi to the airportLikely tourist: Chris Robshaw has had few equals so farKelly BrownThe Scotland captain currently has a face like a burst pavement, having been thrown at the feet of so many Irishmen at the weekend. However, he is leading the 6 Nations with more tackles (43) and more turnovers (7) than anyone else, even the great Thierry Dusautoir.With success possible with Saracens in Europe and the Aviva Premiership, and with him putting in an impressive shift for Scotland, he may be the ideal candidate for a gruelling tour and a trusty confidant for whoever is selected to captain the squad.Lions 2013: Awaiting taxi to airportSean O’BrienThe Tullow Tank is always caught up in the same argument as Robshaw: “Is the number on his back the right one?”However, he is a destructive ball carrier with more hit ups than anyone else in the championship, and is capable of setting up tries. He just needs to back it up with more than one showing in isolation.Lions 2013: Awaiting taxi to airportGeoff ParlingEngland’s bearded warrior is having a mightily. He may not have as many lineout takes as Donnacha Ryan (14) but his 12 takes are impressive, and he keeps beating away at the heart of the England pack, making tackles like a breakaway. There is nothing flash or pretentious about Parling, but he gets the job done. Give him a cause and he will fight for it, even if he is not meant to be integral to proceedings.Lions 2013: On the planelast_img read more

New Salary Cap powers for Premiership Rugby

first_img All about big games: PRL wants to keep their league competitive and fair so every mach feels like Tigers v SaintsPREMIERSHIP RUGBY is set to take more of a critical view of its member clubs after it was announced yesterday that clubs may be subjected to more transparent salary cap monitoring under PRL’s investigation system.Following a consultation by the salary cap manager Andrew Rogers with all of the clubs Premiership Rugby can now undertake an investigatory audit in addition to the current annual salary cap audit which can involve using independent experts to access relevant records held by a club who are suspected of breaching the regulations. There will also be clear sanctions to deal with any club failing to co-operate.Thinking of the brand: Mark McCaffertyOn the changes, PRL Chief Executive Mark McCafferty said: “Their [the rules] objective was to control inflationary pressures on clubs’ costs, and to provide a level playing field for clubs to ensure a competitive Aviva Premiership Rugby competition.“Having a compelling and unpredictable Aviva Premiership Rugby competition is at the centre of Premiership Rugby’s strategic objectives. It is a crucial factor in increasing the commercial value of the competition through its new broadcaster, BT Sport, and seeing the renewal of its title sponsor, Aviva.”Rugby director at PRL, Phil Winstanley, also said: “It was inevitable that as the game develops we would conduct a review of the salary cap.“Salary Caps exist in many commercially successful sports around the world. The most obvious examples are the NFL and NHL in the USA, and the NRL and AFL in Australia.”It is perhaps prevalent to bring up the NRL with such high profile cases as Melbourne Storm, who were stripped of their last two titles and finished bottom of the league in 2010 because of continued breaches of their salary cap regulations. The announcement also comes at the a good time after Mark Cueto said last week that some clubs could be acting on the fringes of the rules.Outspoken: Sale Sharks’ Mark CuetoThe Sale Sharks wingers said: “There’s no way you can tell me that certain clubs in the Premiership are sticking to the salary cap. I’m not saying them all, but I certainly think there’s a couple. Players know other players. We’ve all got friends at other clubs and we all know what sort of money players are on.“You look at a couple of clubs, and for them to be within the salary cap, they would all have to be on pretty average money, and for the names and the players they’ve got, they’re not.”The Premiership Rugby Salary Cap was set up in to achieve the following objectives in an appropriate and proportionate manner:(a) ensuring the financial viability of all Clubs and of the Aviva Premiership Rugby competition; • 1 Excluded Player (Salary is not included in the Salary Cap)• Injury Replacement LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS (b) controlling inflationary pressures on Clubs’ costs;(c) providing a level playing field for Clubs; and(d) ensuring a competitive Aviva Premiership Rugby competition.The new system also means that any clubs suspected of breaching the salary cap will be subject to a confidential disciplinary hearing with the sanction of both a points deduction and fine available, if Cueto is indeed correct in his assumption. Any breach and the sanction will be made public.Sport Resolutions UK will run the disciplinary procedure, appointing an independent panel of legal experts and overseeing any appeal procedure. Rogers and legal firm Charles Russell have overseen analysis of cap data together since 2012.Premiership Rugby has also set up an email address and hotline phone number for anyone wanting to present information. Anyone can now email [email protected] or call 07583 826343.In the 2013-14 Season the total Salary Cap for each club comprises of:• £4.26 million – Senior Salary Cap• £240,000 – Academy Credits LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 29: Mark McCafferty, the chief executive of Premiership Rugby talks to the media at the Aviva Premiership Season Launch 2013-2014 at Twickenham Stadium on August 29, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Aviva) last_img read more

Four talking points from the World Cup quarter-finals

first_imgWhat are the big issues arising from the weekend’s World Cup quarter-finals? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Slide show: Nehe Milner-Skudder scores one of NZ’s nine tries against France. Photo: Getty Images First, I’m in total agreement about the need to respect referees and officials – we wouldn’t have a game without them and some of the vitriol spouted in recent days is completely unnecessary. However, I think Craig Joubert should have shown more respect to the players and stayed to shake their hands at the end of the game rather than running off.Tough blow: Craig Joubert awards the deciding penalty in the Australia-Scotland game. Photo: Getty ImagesSecond, I’m not sure how World Rugby’s decision to put out a statement saying Joubert got that last-minute decision wrong helped anyone. Joubert will have felt a lack of support from his bosses – every ref has their match reviewed but he’s the only one who’s had a mistake confirmed, a mistake already outlined by most media outlets. Scotland will feel even more aggrieved at the result and Australia’s tournament will now be tarnished. Should they go on and lift the Webb Ellis Cup people will forever argue they shouldn’t have been in the semi-finals.So what can rugby learn from this fiasco? Referees make mistakes in games – they are mere human beings after all and I’m sure the Wallabies disagreed with a few decisions on Sunday too – so it’s important to minimise them.The key learning rugby should take from the events at Twickenham is that a referee should be able to use common sense in calling for the TMO. I know there’s been a lot of talk about the overuse of the TV officials during this tournament and the time it takes can be an issue, but when the incident is likely to decide who wins and loses a World Cup quarter-final surely it makes sense to use the technology? Joubert looked concerned about the call as he watched replays on the big screen and maybe he should have taken a few moments to check. It’s not in the protocols but would World Rugby have hung him out to dry in the same way had the call resulted in the correct decision?As always, plenty for the lawmakers to ponder.Pumas’ panacheArgentina have been playing in the Rugby Championship for four years – and, boy, is it evident in how they play.In 2007 they reached the World Cup semi-finals with their traditional powerful pack and an accurate, if at times dull, kicking game. This year they have reached the last four with an all-court style. Some of their play on Sunday lunchtime was reminiscent of the All Blacks on the same pitch the previous night. Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe dummied and then produced the perfect offload to set up Juan Imhoff for his second try – it’s hard to think of many northern hemisphere forwards who could do that.Ball player: Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe offloads against Ireland. Photo: Getty ImagesHaving a Super Rugby team from next year will only help them more, as it will for fellow newbies Japan. And surely the progress of Argentina demonstrates the need for the northern hemisphere to be more welcoming of other nations. Rugby World has long argued for promotion/relegation between  the Six Nations and the European Nations Cup (ENC).Yes, there are isues with the calendar at the moment – the ENC is played over two years rather than one – but it must be looked into now. It took four years for Argentina’s RWC 2007 performance to be rewarded with a place at rugby’s top table – now let’s look at bringing in Georgia and Romania. If a straight one up, one down is too much of a concern for the Six Nations, how about a play-off between the bottom team in the table and top ENC side?At the very least, England Saxons should head to Tbilisi to play a match. And they shouldn’t worry about crowds – 40,000+ often turn up to watch Georgia. Imagine how much better Georgia will get with more top-quality fixtures.On the rise: Do Georgia deserve a chance to play in the Six Nations? Photo: Getty ImagesFor those concerned about the financial impact on, say, Scotland should they be relegated one year, perhaps the two tournaments should all come under the Six Nations umbrella with funds shared among all involved so unions’ bank accounts aren’t too severely hit. North v SouthSo it’s an all southern hemisphere semi-final line-up, France and Ireland outclassed by New Zealand and Argentina, Wales pipped by South Africa and Scotland exiting after a controversial late Australia penalty. So the wait for another World Cup winner from the North goes on.It was said before the tournament that northern hemisphere teams would benefit from playing in familiar conditions, but as it’s happened the weather gods have shined on RWC 2015 and the fair skies mean the southern sides have been able to play with their usual flair and speed. That was certainly true of the All Blacks and the Pumas in Cardiff, both sides showing impressive skill levels from one to 15 and attacking space rather than seeking contact – a common flaw in northern tactics.So what needs to change? The biggest thing for me – and this isn’t a result of the World Cup but a concern that has grown over recent years – is that players are playing too much rugby. It’s fantastic that there are such strong club competitions but the fixture lists at both domestic and particularly international level need to be cut. Player welfare must be ranked ahead of bolstering the coffers. Make the season less of a slog and allow players time to recuperate, to make sure the basic enjoyment of the game remains.Break time: Does Chris Robshaw need to play less games? Photo: Getty ImagesAutumn Internationals should be limited to three, so no Tests outside the international window. And one of those matches should be against a Tier Two nation. Get rid of the LV= Cup – the A league does the job of bringing through young talent – and reduce the number of matches top players are allowed to play from 32 to 25.Bigger isn’t always betterSize matters. Or so we’re often let to believe by coaches, particularly in the northern hemisphere. Yet look down the back-lines of the four World Cup semi-finalists and you won’t find too many rugby giants.Yes, there is a place for your Jamie Roberts and Robbie Henshaws, your Tim Vissers and George Norths – but big isn’t the only route. It’s about balance.Nehe Milner-Skudder uses his feet to outfox people while on New Zealand’s other wing Julian Savea is more about power. Conrad Smith and Matt Giteau use their guile to make the right decisions while alongside them in midfield are more direct runners in Ma’a Nonu and Tevita Kuridrani. Nicholas Sanchez, at 5ft 9in, is maybe the most underrated fly-half in the world while 14st 1lb Willie le Roux gives South Africa a different dynamic compared to his bulky team-mates.Hard to stop: Matthew Morgan tests Fiji’s defence in a pool game. Photo: Getty ImagesYet in Europe the little men are often overlooked, defensive weaknesses often cited. Look at the damage Matthew Morgan wreaked against Fiji – they might not have been the best tactics against the islanders but would certainly have given the Boks something to think about on Saturday if unleashed from the bench. Instead of the nimble, fleet-footed full-back, Wales opted for two similar fly-halves as replacement options.Christian Wade’s ability to sidestep opponents cannot be taught but tackle technique and defensive positioning can. Rather than overlook him for a flaw, think of what he can bring in attack – and coach him about defence.Let’s embrace players for what they do well and work on their weaknesses rather than discarding people. Too often defensive ability, not attacking threat, is the deciding factor. Be positive, rather than negative in selections.Ref justiceIt’s an unfortunate situation where all the outstanding rugby of the weekend has been overshadowed by a refereeing error at the end of Australia v Scotland, an error that cost the Scots a famous win. TAGS: GeorgiaHighlight Come on folks, let’s be a little more inclusive rather than exclusive.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.last_img read more

Beauden Barrett: “I want to take it to another level”

first_img Beauden Barrett vows to take his game to another levelBefore we get to the serious business of the All Blacks, and the hunt for another World Cup, Beauden Barrett – the planet’s pre-eminent rugby player – is talking about home. In his mind’s eye he’s back in the days of innocence, just a kid kicking about the rivers and farmlands between Pungarehu and Rahotu, half an hour south of New Plymouth in New Zealand’s north island.“Growing up in the country, we were faced with a lot of things,” Barrett says. “Well, not faced exactly. We chose to do a lot of things. A lot of silly things. A lot of things that we absolutely loved doing. Things that if they happened today health and safety might have us in deep trouble over.“Climbing up trees that are I don’t know how many storeys high. Driving motorbikes on the farm and going up these huge hills with the constant fear of falling off and really hurting yourself. Floating down stormy rivers in big rapids on a blown-up tractor tyre with my brothers and the fear of being flicked over onto a rock and going underwater.“That’s blackwater rafting we’re talking about. We live near the mountains in Taranaki and when it rains heavily up in those mountains, then big, big angry rivers are formed and we saw that as an opportunity to get out there and float.”Centre stage: Beauden Barrett poses at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington (Hagen Hopkins)Talking to Barrett, you get the impression sometimes that he’d rather chat about those carefree days of his youth than the sustained brilliance of his adulthood with the Hurricanes, the All Blacks, the back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year titles in 2016 and 2017 – Barrett and Richie McCaw are the only men in history to have retained the crown.He appreciates everything he has. In his gentle way of speaking, time and again he’ll say how fortunate he is to be where he is, how lucky he was to have the start in life that he had with his four brothers and his three sisters and his mum and his dad and his rural upbringing. The secret to Barrett? He always brings you back to his formative years. The perfect childhood? If such a thing exists, then he had it.“My earliest memories are playing for Rahotu junior club when I was six years old and we’d play at nine in the morning and it would still be frosty and freezing cold,” he says. “Playing in those icy conditions made me love it even more. Playing in bare feet and if there was mud then all the better because you could slide around and really enjoy yourself. The grubbier the better.“One of the things I miss is being able to kick a spiral in bare feet in a match. It was always easier to kick them in bare feet than it is in boots. It’s changed in the last four or five years but we used to play in bare feet up until the age of about ten, for whatever reason, and it was awesome because you felt really quick. We didn’t need, or want, fancy boots in those days.Thumbs up: Kevin Barrett celebrates a Taranaki win against Waikato (Getty Images)“I was playing with my older brother Kane and Dad (the legend that is Kevin, otherwise known as Smiley) was our coach. As a kid, all I wanted to do was play for Taranaki because Dad played for Taranaki and I grew up watching so many of his games. It was such a big moment for the province every time Taranaki played. The thrill of going to see him run out is clear as day, even though I was only a child.“Dad was a very physical, uncompromising player with a huge, huge work ethic. A lock and a grafter. He played more than 160 games for Taranaki. Often he would come off the field with stitches in his face and cut eyes, blood all over him.“No 10s were Dad’s favourites. I’d hate to think what he would have done to me if I’d come up against him”“He wasn’t afraid to really rip into it. We used to see all the ruck marks on his back and his legs when he jumped in the shower. He was very different to me, being a fancy fly-half. I think Scott (one of Barrett’s younger brothers) takes after him a bit more. No 10s were Dad’s favourites. I’d hate to think what he would have done to me if I’d come up against him.”In 1996, Smiley won the Ranfurly Shield with Taranaki against an illustrious Auckland side. It was a 42-39 thriller and the footage that exists shows how much it meant. The Taranaki boys and their fans were beside themselves with joy.“I was only young but I remember it so well. We were lucky enough to bring the Shield back to the house and it was put in the cowshed and all the local people came around to share the moment, which was pretty amazing. My memory is not the best but moments like that stick out. It was quite inspirational.”Double act: All Blacks half-backs Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett (Getty Images)In 1999, his mum, Robyn, and his dad decided they wanted to see a bit of the world. They had six of their eight kids at the time, the youngest being little Jenna at only 18 months old, but still they wanted to explore. They heard of a job as farm manager in County Meath in the Republic of Ireland – and went for it. They spent 15 blissful months in the town of Oldcastle and they remain friends with the locals to this day.“At breaktime on our very first morning at primary school, we were playing with a round ball. Soccer, it was. I remember the three of us Barrett boys – Scott, Kane and I – ripped our shoes off and started playing in bare feet. Next thing, the school principal came out and told us off and we couldn’t believe it. We didn’t know what we’d done wrong. We didn’t know that it wasn’t normal to be running around in no shoes in the freezing cold in the middle of winter. It was a shock to the system. Slippers in the classroom and shoes to school. Up until then we never wore shoes.“You know, I think about it now and how ambitious and fearless my mum and dad were back then. Six kids and off we went to other side of the world. I mean, Dad had ancestors from Ireland. His great grandparents were born there, but that was a seriously big call to make with such a young family. And I’m so, so glad they made it. They managed a dairy farm and while there we played a bit of rugby and a lot of Gaelic football. We made lifetime friendships. We’ve stayed in touch with people. It’s our second home.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The Barretts returned to New Zealand and a dynasty began to form. Smiley and Robyn doubled up as a taxi service for their young rugby-playing sons. Kane and Beauden were in one team, Scott being a little younger was in another, Jordie and Blake being younger again were in a third age group. They would go here and there, attempting to follow three sides at once.“I wasn’t a superstar at school. I was hoping to make something of rugby, but I didn’t ever think I was going to go all the way”“I would say that the most enjoyable rugby I’ve ever played was at secondary school, because we were playing with our best mates and were so proud to be in the team. And we all wanted to be Conrad Smith because Conrad Smith was carving the way for us in Taranaki as a skinny white boy playing for the All Blacks. I was a skinny white boy, too, but I never thought I’d make it to the All Blacks. I was hoping to make something of rugby, but I didn’t ever think I was going to go all the way.“I wasn’t a superstar at school. There were a couple of us in the back-line for our first XV team and it’s fair to say that we threw the ball around and enjoyed ourselves. By no means were we standouts. We were just a modest bunch of rugby players. We were just kids having fun.”Toasting success: Dan Carter enjoys the 2015 World Cup win (Getty Images)Even when he became an All Black, he wasn’t sure how long he’d last. He made his debut in a 60-0 annihilation of his home from home, Ireland, in Hamilton in 2012. “But I never thought, ‘Right, I’ve made it now’. There were guys who I had looked up to for years – Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Aaron Cruden – so it took a lot of work on my self-belief to really accept that I could stay there and push on.“Even in 2015, at the World Cup in England, I was in awe of DC. The way he bounced back from injury and criticism, all the doubters he had and then to play out of his skin in the semi-final and final was just unreal. He was there when we needed him. Absolutely awesome. It was the perfect end to his All Black career.”Barrett came on as a substitute in that final, scored a try and never looked back. He has been other-worldly ever since, pretty much; a consummate player, one of the greatest we have ever seen.“In New Zealand we’re never satisfied. I want to become a better player, I want to take it to another level”“People ask me do I have unfulfilled ambitions. Of course I do. In New Zealand we’re never satisfied. I want to become a better player, I want to take it to another level. I think I can do it. That excites me. I’m not sitting back and taking it easy. There’s a World Cup around the corner.“Yeah, there’s pressure and we have to deal with that. We know we have a target on us but it’s a challenge we all embrace.”Can he see himself following the path of the great man, Carter, and moving to Europe at some stage?“If I get to an age, and a place, where I no longer have the drive or the desire to be an All Black and I feel it’s time to leave because there are younger and better guys who need their chance to wear that jersey, then, yep, sure. But right at the moment, I’m fresh, I’m still young and I want to be around. My management has always got an open mind. We understand the big picture. There’s more to it than this game of rugby. There’s a thing called life as well.And relax: Beauden Barrett playing golf in 2014 (Getty Images)“It’s very important to balance the work-life thing. I have ways to switch off and decompress and I think that’s crucial. Golf is part of that. Yoga is part of it. Walking the dogs. Keeping in contact with friends and family. Doing business stuff keeps my mind stimulated. We’ve all got to think of life after footy, so it’s important to start now.“You can’t live in this intense world 24 hours a day. If rugby consumes your life 100% you’re probably going to burn out in no time. It’s about really enjoying the moment and making the most of it, and also understanding that there is more to me than just Beauden Barrett the rugby player. There’s Beauden Barrett the son, the fiancée, the brother, the friend. That bigger picture is important. You have to keep a perspective on things.”Barrett says that it is his mum who is the chronicler-in-chief of her sons’ rugby careers. Locked away securely on the family farm are some priceless mementoes: Beauden’s Taranaki, Hurricanes and All Blacks jerseys and some of the jerseys “of the great international players I’ve swapped with”. He adds: “Mum has all sorts of things locked away. She’s getting a bit of a museum going.”Perhaps a hall of fame would be a better description. Or a pantheon. If there is such a thing in New Zealand rugby, even at the age of 27, Beauden Barrett is already there. This article originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of Rugby World.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.center_img All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett talks family, fortune and the future in this exclusive interview with Tom English Fab four: Beauden Barrett scores one of his four tries against Australia at Eden Park (Getty Images) last_img read more

Could The All Blacks Pathway From Sevens To Test Rugby Soon Be Closed?

first_img Ali Stokes argues that Saracens No 8 Billy… Opinion: Eddie Jones Must Rethink Billy Vunipola’s England Role HSBC reckons “17 million new fans brought into the sport almost overnight” thanks to the Olympics, and Forbes agrees that the sudden boost of interest transformed the game’s fortunes. Now, owning to the chance of going for a gold medal, and with a (much-needed) cash injection, players are faced with a serious dilemma at the outset of their careers: sevens or 15-a-side rugby. Doing both is no longer viable. New Zealand Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Collapse Winners of the past two World Cups, the… Forbes, who bowed out two years ago after a record 89 world series competitions, having played 512 games, scored 153 tries – he is currently in 12th place in the all-time list – and notched up 26 tournament victories, continues: “There is still an opportunity to use the sevens circuit as a bit of a testing ground, but the way it is going it is turning into a specialist sport.“With it being a full-time gig now, players have to make a decision to follow their sevens path, or the 15s path. It will be interesting to see how it develops.”Escape plan: Tone Ng Shiu gets away from the USA in Cape TownHe adds: “It has been amazing to watch the growth of sevens around the world. It has developed so much since I made my debut in 2006.“Being an Olympic sport, countries can apply for grants and that has changed the game. It provides the opportunity for smaller nations, who might not previously have had the resources or manpower, to get involved with rugby.”It will be fascinating to see whether Forbes’ prediction about the number of crosscoders dwindling plays out. Four years ago, the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, Bryan Habana, and Nick Cummins, among other big names in rugby union, attempted to gain Olympic selection for their respective nations, and only Williams succeeded (before being cruelly downed by injury in Rio).This season, in which the top four teams in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series rankings will gain an automatic berth at next year’s Olympics at Tokyo, there is a noticeable dearth of stellar names chancing their arms, underlining Forbes’ theory that the codes are too different these days. The All Blacks Sevens team has always given players a stepping stone to the Test arena, but DJ Forbes tells Oliver Pickup change may be afoot. center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Could The All Blacks Pathway From Sevens To Test Rugby Soon Be Closed?When the world’s number-one ranked rugby union nation, New Zealand, narrowly defeated England 16-15 at Twickenham last November, there was a zinger of a statistic that was trumpeted by growing legions of sevens supporters across the globe.  Five of the All Blacks’ seven starting backs, or 71.4 per cent to be exact, had all represented their country at international level in the abridged version of the sport. That handful – in more ways than one – were Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, and Ben Smith. Together they have hitherto amassed 231 Test caps.On the surface, this stat would seem to serve up compelling evidence that the rich heritage of catapulting sevens stars to the Test arena is in rude health in New Zealand. But a deeper dig uncovers a contrary trend.Ioane, the 21-year-old wing who has dotted down 22 tries in only 24 Tests, is the latest in a long list of All Blacks to have graduated from the sevens circuit. Almost exactly three years ago, the teenager crossed for a brace of tries in the last three minutes as his country came from 21-7 down to pip South Africa 24-21 and be crowned HSBC New Zealand Sevens in the penultimate tournament held in Wellington.Previously, the likes of Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, Joe Rokocoko, Julian Savea, and Mils Muliaina – five contenders for inclusion in an all-time world XV – have been propelled to stardom by sevens. However, the pathway from sevens to Test rugby is becoming closed off, according to one of the greatest and committed sevens players in history.In form: Andrew Knewstubb runs with the ball against South Africa this seasonDJ Forbes, skipper of the All Blacks Sevens for a decade until his retirement in 2017 – under his leadership New Zealand triumphed at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and, three years later, the World Cup, alongside chalking up six Sevens Series titles – contends that because the variations of the oval-ball game are growing apart there will be far fewer crossover athletes in the future.Speaking on the eve of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens, which takes place in Hamilton this weekend (Jan 26-27), the 36-year old says: “Sevens has been used as a launchpad for players, historically, to expose their talents so they can reach the next level. Now the two sports are going their separate ways.”The progress and status elevation of sevens has been catalysed by its inclusion in the Olympics, undoubtedly. The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has slowly and surely expanded the sport – and continues to do so, around the planet, not least at grassroots level – but interest exploded following its Games debut at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. New Zealand Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Opinion: Eddie Jones Must Rethink Billy Vunipola’s England Role Expand Moreover, since Rio sevens has grown in confidence, and is a long way through the process of successfully unshackling itself to its elder sibling, finally. Don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.last_img read more

Ben Ryan: “Alivereti Raka will be box office for France”

first_imgPlayers come over to a new culture in France and have a chance to change their lives and those of their family. Raka has done just that. A 90kg+, 6ft winger who has all the evasive skills you would expect from a Fijian but souped-up and in glorious technicolour. He is a very fine footballer and will glide into international rugby.Power play: Alivereti Raka kicks during Clermont’s European Challenge Cup win (Getty Images)So what does Raka bring on the field that will catapult him straight into Test rugby? Box office. His preference is to play on the left wing and that is simply because his MO is to clutch the ball in his left hand, ready to offload, which frees up his piston-like right arm for the ‘see you later’ fend. It’s a belter of a hand-off.The third strand to his attacking game is his 1970s hip swerve. He has an uncanny ability to beat defenders that are in close proximity. For most players, the tackle is met and you are brought down, but this hip swivel, combined with his fend and balance, will get him past even the most able of defences.He always tends to hit the ball at speed too – just what you want your winger to do. A catch at speed, a transfer to his left mitt and he’s off on his attacking forays. Just like his childhood up with the wild horses in the interior searching for new adventures, it’s the same on any 70m x 100m strip of grass. He’s more than a hard man to stop; he’s a pinballing force of nature.He defends the high ball brilliantly and loves a cross-field kick to gather in and attack with. With age on his side – he’s just turned 26 – he has a couple of World Cups and Olympic Games in him at least. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Why Alivereti Raka will be box office for FranceThis isn’t yet another tale of a bigger nation poaching a player from the Pacific Islands. It’s about opportunity and migration. Alivereti Raka is eligible for France and playing in the Rugby World Cup. He wasn’t born there and doesn’t have any parents or grandparents who might have connections. He is a ‘Naitasiri Turaga’ – a kid from the interior and mountainous highlands of Fiji. Waimala Secondary School is a long way in every respect from a Lyceé Francaise.From there, Raka played for Nadroga province at age-group level, starting in their U16s and progressing up the ranks until he made his senior debut in Fiji’s own version of the County Championship, the Skipper Cup – playing the smaller Vatukoula province in October 2014.Just one month later, he was in Clermont, joining one of the biggest rugby clubs in the world. Now, he is a French citizen, he is married to a Frenchwoman, he has a French passport and made his Test debut in France’s World Cup warm-up match against Scotland in Nice.Next step: Alivereti Raka in France training (Getty Images)Until we have more a targeted plan on how to really help the island nations, this will always happen. Raka has made the choice to play for France over Fiji and no one should question that. He has a French wife, speaks French and has made a life for himself over there. Others, like Peceli Yato, have opted for Fiji and the two of them, from the same province in Viti Levu, run out together for les Jaunards at the Marcel Michelin.We all make choices on where we choose to work and live based upon our circumstances and the offers available. Raka, who is from one of the poorest places on the planet, moved continents and cultures to make it to where he is today. Rugby has made a huge difference to him and countless others.Remember, there are currently no opportunities to play professionally in Fiji or any Pacific Island. There are no professional leagues, which means no pro academies and limited pathways. Pacific Island teams get no slice of the crowd revenue when playing at a Tier One side. Even Fiji’s star sevens players won’t be getting paid more than £7,000 in wages. Former Fiji Sevens coach Ben Ryan explains what debutant winger Alivereti Raka will bring to the France team Take a bow: Alivereti Raka will make his France debut against Scotland (Getty Images) center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more

Rugby World Cup Groups

first_img Expand 2019 Rugby World Cup Warm-Ups Collapse Rugby World Cup Fixtures The 2023 Rugby World… Take a look at all the matches that… Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 Expand 2019 Rugby World Cup TV Coverage Rugby World Cup Venues Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia, SamoaPool BNew Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Namibia, CanadaPool CEngland, France, Argentina, USA, TongaPool DAustralia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji, UruguayFollow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. What you need to know about the 12… Expand Rugby World Cup Venues New ground: Japan 2019 will be the first Rugby World Cup held in Asia (Getty Images) Rugby World Cup GroupsThe 2019 Rugby World Cup runs from Friday 20 September to Saturday 2 November, with games played across Japan. This page has all you need to know with regards the four pools at the tournament.There are 20 teams involved in the World Cup, divided into four groups of five, and the two teams that finish top of the table in their pool after the group matches progress to the quarter-finals.Twelve teams qualified automatically for RWC 2019 by finishing in the top three of their groups at the 2015 tournament in England. Those teams are New Zealand, who won back-to-back titles and are looking to secure a hat-trick in 2019, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, England, Georgia, Japan and Italy.Related: 2019 Rugby World Cup fixturesThe original pool draw was made in May 2017, with the 12 qualified teams split into various bands depending on their World Rugby Ranking at the time, with New Zealand, England, Australia and Ireland in the top band.Line-ups: The Rugby World Cup groups after the pool draw in May 2017 (Getty Images)Since then, the USA have qualified as Americas 1 and Uruguay have qualified as Americas 2, while Fiji and Tonga made it to the finals as Oceania 1 and Oceania 2 respectively.After much controversy in the Rugby Europe Championship, which doubles a World Cup qualifier, Russia made it through to Japan as Europe 1. Held in Japan for the first time, make… Samoa went through to Japan 2019 as the Play-off Winner with a comfortable aggregate win over two legs against Germany.Namibia secured the Africa 1 qualifying spot and a place in Pool B by winning the Africa Gold Cup, which also involved Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.The Repechage tournament was played in November 2018 in Marseille and involved four teams – Canada, Germany, Africa Gold Cup runners-up Kenya and Hong Kong, who won the Asia Championship and then beat the Cook Islands in a play-off.Canada won the tournament and secured their place in the World Cup.These are the Rugby World Cup groups for Japan 2019 as they stand:Rugby World Cup GroupsPool A 2019 Rugby World Cup Warm-Ups A rundown of the Rugby World Cup groups for the 2019 tournament in Japan LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 2019 Rugby World Cup TV Coverage Also make sure you know about the Groups, Warm-ups, Dates, Fixtures, Venues, TV Coverage, Qualified Teams by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.last_img read more