The life and times of James Simpson-Daniel

first_imgTwo for the price of one was the way I got into Sedbergh School. My parents couldn’t afford to send either myself or Chris to a boarding school like that, but Chris was offered an assisted place because of his rugby. He told the headmaster he had a younger brother and that if he wanted him he had to take the both of us, so my chance to start my rugby career came along because of Chris.I was an average player just holding my place when I played for the Sedbergh first team a year young, but then I decided to run the ball and get some confidence.I was lucky to come under the coaching of Neil Rollings at Sedbergh. I remember Chris telling me to watch and listen very closely to everything that Neil said, and he was right.A non-kicking fly-half is how I went into my final year at Sedbergh and Phil Dowson (now at Northampton) was my captain. We had a great time running it from our own 22 and scoring tries, all under Neil’s leadership. It’s no surprise I get on with coaches like Brian Ashton and Tosh Askew because they’re on the same wavelength as Neil.I had no idea I could make it in the game until that final year. I played for Yorkshire, the North and England at age-group level.A few clubs were at a North of England match against the Midlands at Loughborough and spoke to me about signing for them, but I quickly decided on life in the West Country, signing for Gloucester a few months before I left school. Audley Lumsden was the scout for them and Philippe Saint-André the coach when I made the decision to sign.A one-club man is unusual in the professional era, but since walking through the gates at Kingsholm I’ve loved the place and the people. When I was at school I didn’t think you could have a whole city devoted to rugby, but we have it here. The fans at Gloucester are some of the most passionate you’ll find and I love that. They live and breathe rugby.Injuries haven’t been as bad for me as most people think but it’s been their timing that has killed me. I’ve picked up random injuries at the wrong time, although I haven’t had that for a while. At the moment every time I flick on teletext I seem to see another player out for three months.I take rejection pretty hard when I don’t make squads and tend to be my own worst critic. I take it better now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Phil Vickery has been a constant source of good advice. He told me never to look at the negatives and the ‘what ifs’. You can’t live your life that way. One club man – James Simpson-DanielFrom the start I loved rugby. I was four when I first headed to Middlesbrough RFC for mini rugby, following my older brother, Chris, there. In the garden I was forced into the outside-half spot. I had no choice really, as Chris was a scrum-half so he insisted on firing countless passes at me. When I was eight we decided that if we were going to play for England together one of us had to move from the No 9 shirt. I’ve made some incredible friendships through rugby. I was best man for Josh Frape and Nick Southern (both ex-Gloucester players). Mike Tindall and Nicky Robinson are godparents to my son, George, and I was an usher at Phil Vickery’s wedding.‘Are you retiring?’ is what most people say to me when I tell them I’m having a benefit year, but I’m only 28 and in my 11th season at the club.Horse racing is a real passion of mine off the field. I’m president of the 18-24 Club at Cheltenham, set up to attract young people to racing, and I own a horse with Mike Tindall and Nicky Robinson called Monbeg Dude. In November I kicked off my testimonial year ( with the staging of the Sinbad Testimonial Chase at Cheltenham.Did you know? James has his older brother, Chris, to thank for his nickname ‘Sinbad’. Chris was called Sinbad after the character in TV soap Brookside and the moniker was then passed down to the Gloucester man.Name: James Simpson-DanielPosition: CentreAge: 28 (30 May 1982)Born: Stockton-on-TeesThis article appeared in the February 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.Find a newsagent that sells Rugby World in the UK LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Or perhaps you’d like a digital version of the magazine delivered direct to your PC, MAC or Ipad? If so click here. For Back Issues Contact John Denton Services at 01733-385-170 visitlast_img read more

Ireland v Connacht preview

first_img Leo Cullen will captain Ireland v Connacht In what is a busy week for the Ireland squad, two Irish teams will play games in the space of three days.  An Ireland Select XV will take on Connacht on Thursday evening in Donnybrook Stadium followed by Ireland playing France in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.In the Connacht game, several players who were involved in the test match against France last week get another chance to play in Donnybrook tomorrow evening.Leo Cullen will captain the side and will be partnered in the second row by Mick O’Driscoll, with Tony Buckley, Sean Cronin, John Hayes completing the front five.  Shane Jennings will have his first outing of August after returning from a broken arm alongside Kevin McLaughlin and Denis Leamy in the back row.Isaac Boss and Paddy Wallace will make up the half back partnership with Fergus McFadden, Johne Murphy and Geordan Murphy in the back three.Eric Elwood’s Connacht side sees just 3 changes from the starting XV that took on the Exeter Chiefs in Dubarry Park last weekend with Adrian Flavin starting at hooker, Mick Kearney replacing the injured Dave Nolan and John Muldoon returning to captain the side from blindside flanker. The backline remains unchanged with O’Donohoe and O’Connor completing the halfbacks. Fa’afili and Griffin renew their centre partnership with Brian Tuohy, Mark McCrea and Tiernan O’Halloran completing the backline.Elwood said: “This will a be a huge test for us, we’re up against a strong Ireland Select side with players vying for World Cup places so it’s a great opportunity for our players to test themselves at this level. From our perspective we’re looking for an 80 minute performance and improvements in key areas from last weekend’s game against Exeter “Ireland TAGS: Connacht ReplacementsEthienne Reynecke, Denis Buckle, Johnny O’Connor, TJ Anderson, Dave Moore, Matthew Jarvis, James Loxton LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Geordan Murphy; Johne Murphy, Darren Cave, Ian Keatley, Fergus McFadden; Paddy Wallace, Isaac Boss; Tony Buckley, Sean Cronin, John Hayes, Mick O’Driscoll, Leo Cullen (captain), Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings, Denis LeamyReplacementsDamien Varley, Marcus Horan, Donnacha Ryan, Niall Ronan, Conor Murray, Denis Hurley, Ian WhittenConnacht Tiernan O’Halloran; Mark McCrea, Eoin Griffin, Henry Fa’afili, Brian Tuohy; Niall O’Connor, Paul O’Donohue; Dylan Rogers, Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Mick Kearney, John Muldoon (captain), Ray Ofisa, George Naoupulast_img read more

Best hits the top as Ireland make one change

first_imgNOT FOR FEATURED: during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland England are due to name their team on Thursday afternoon.Ireland (v England, Twickenham, Saturday, 17 March, 5pm): Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan;  Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Mike Ross, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, Stephen Ferris, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip. Reps: Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Mike McCarthy, Peter O’Mahony, Tomas O’Leary, Ronan O’Gara, Fergus McFadden. Keith Earls and Cian Healy will both win their 30th Ireland caps on Saturday while Donncha O’Callaghan joins Paul O’Connell on 85. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Rory Best is heading for a landmarkRORY BEST will become Ireland’s most capped hooker when he leads his nation out at Twickenham on Saturday. He will be making his 59th Test appearance, overhauling Keith Wood’s milestone of 58.Ireland have made one change to the team which beat Scotland 32-14 last Saturday, bringing Sean O’Brien back on the openside now he has recovered from the skin infection which ruled him out. Peter O’Mahony drops to the bench, with head coach Declan Kidney saying: “Sean trained well this morning and we wouldn’t have selected him if he wasn’t ready. It’s tough on Peter because he played really well against Scotland.”England are looking for their first win over Ireland at Twickenham since 2008 and the contest is likely to decide who finishes runner-up in this year’s RBS 6 Nations, assuming Wales take the title when they play France earlier in the afternoon.last_img read more

Blues-Dragons derby a shadow of yesteryear

first_imgHall is MD of a property development company, PMG, that was involved in the building of Cardiff City Stadium and adjacent retail park. The project was beset by problems, most stemming from the free-spending former chairman Sam Hamman, whose reign saw the club climb the leagues but accrue massive debt – £31m of it by the time the banks asked for their money back in 2004.In October 2006 Cardiff City were two hours away from bankruptcy, but the club was saved, players were sold to pay tax bills, and eventually uber-rich Malaysian Vincent Tan arrived on the scene, pledging £100m investment as long as City played in red because that’s a lucky colour where he comes from.Cardiff Blues briefly played at the new stadium before returning to the Arms Park from the start of the 2012-13 season. Hall calls that a terrible decision, arguing that a noisy minority of Blues fans, who liked having a pint in their city-centre local rather than travelling a mile and a half out to the new stadium, engineered the U-turn. “It’s a massive backward step for the Blues and I don’t really know how they can recover from it,” he says.Muddy rivalry: Cardiff Blues taking on the Dragons is still one of the great Welsh rivalriesBragging rightsEnough of the doom and gloom. It’s Christmas, after all, and both teams will at least go into the first of their festive derbies – they meet again in Newport on New Year’s Day – on the back of league wins. The Blues beat Scarlets 21-9 last weekend, with back-row Josh Navidi scoring two tries, whilst the Dragons accounted for Zebre 25-11.Both sides have work to do, however, with only the two Italian sides separating them from the foot of the table. A top-six finish will be required to qualify for next season’s Champions Cup and currently that looks a long way off.The first Cardiff-Newport game was in 1875 and, though fans no longer hang off trees to watch, local bragging rights are still something to cherish.The Blues are without Wales captain Sam Warburton, after he suffered a stinger against the Scarlets, while one subplot will be the form of Gareth Anscombe, the Wales-qualified New Zealander who has conceded two tries this month through charged-down kicks. “I don’t think it’s a worry,” says Blues DoR Mark Hammett.Enjoy the occasion if you’re going but don’t expect to bump into Hall – he rarely attends Blues matches nowadays. Close your eyes at Cardiff Arms Park on Boxing Day and you might just imagine you’ve stepped back in time. A bumper crowd is expected for the Blues-Dragons Guinness Pro12 fixture and the atmosphere should be vaguely reminiscent of the great derby clashes of old.“The Boxing Day local derbies were fantastic occasions,” says Mike Hall, the former Cardiff, Wales and Lions centre. “Cardiff-Pontypridd was the traditional Boxing Day game and it was unbelievably well supported, but of course there were rivalries all around South Wales.“When you played for Cardiff every game was like a derby because everyone wanted to beat you. We weren’t really troubled much by Newport because they were in the doldrums when I played. Having said that, going to Rodney Parade, in front of a full house, could be a tough game. Sardis Road, Stradey, the Brewery Field were the same, real hotbeds of rugby. Players don’t experience that any more.”Hall, 49, recalls one Cardiff-Newport game mired in controversy. In 1995, with Cardiff having wrapped up the league, then coach Alec Evans chose to rest most of his first team against the Black and Ambers ahead of the World Cup. The title celebrations went as flat as a week-old bottle of popped Prosecco as Cardiff lost 24-20, with one critic noting: “Cardiff supporters were aghast at Evans’s decision.”Good old days: Cardiff captain Mike Hall holds aloft the Swalec Cup in 1994Lost generationAt least there were some supporters to feel aghast. Nowadays, says Hall, a whole generation of spectators has been lost to football as Welsh domestic rugby struggles on with a failing system.“People used to watch Cardiff ten years ago but now they’ve lost all their supporters. Regional rugby isn’t working, people aren’t watching, and we need to fire people’s imaginations and get people engaged again.“It’s hard to be excited about watching Connacht, say, in an empty stadium with no atmosphere. I feel sorry for the players really. Llanelli, Cardiff, Newport, Swansea – these are world-famous clubs but we ripped it up and we’re paying the price now. We had something special but replaced it with something artificial. The Ospreys? Who are they? We’ve lost our way a bit.”Ouch. Hall doesn’t mince his words but he backs up his criticism with a solution, albeit one that appears as infeasible as it is radical. The former Wales captain advocates returning to the traditional club structure and then picking the best players for two regional teams – not four as now – to play in European competition at the end of each season. Furthermore, he argues, the WRU should have sole ownership, with current franchise owners being rewarded for their largesse by making them life vice-presidents of the WRU, with all the perks such a position offers.With such a structure, the union could replicate the successful Irish model and playing talent would be evenly distributed. So Dan Lydiate would be back playing for the struggling Dragons instead of the up-table Ospreys, who already have a host of back-row options that include Joe Bearman and James King. “You need one paymaster – the WRU. It’s not rocket science, is it?”Old enemy: In the red of Wales, Hall chips the ball over England’s Brian Moore in 1990“Backward” BluesHall was one of the last amateurs, rashly retiring from international rugby aged 29 after Wales bombed out early in the 1995 World Cup. He won 43 caps, one of them for the 1989 Lions.He has charted his rugby experiences in a new book (details below) and very interesting they are too. Wales’ decline in the Eighties, Kerry Packer’s failed professional ‘circus’, and choosing a Cambridge Blue over a Wales cap are just some of the topics covered, but perhaps most engrossing is the story of Cardiff City. Great rivalry: Newport and Cardiff have played each other for over 125 years LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Former Wales captain Mike Hall believes only a radical restructuring of the domestic game can save rugby in the Principality TAGS: Cardiff BluesNewport Gwent Dragons Friday 26 December: Cardiff Blues v Newport Gwent Dragons (2.05pm, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park)* The Mike Hall Story is published by Y Lolfa, priced £9.95. All proceeds go to the Velindre Cancer Centre. To buy a copy, click read more

World Cup 2015: Wales 54-9 Uruguay

first_imgA review of Wales’s big win in their RWC 2015 opener against Uruguay, at the Millennium Stadium. Wales avoided a first-day upset, running in eight tries to beat Uruguay at a canter. Four first-half tries – three by Cory Allen – set the scene and after the break they added four more, including two for scrum-half Gareth Davies.However, the major downside for Wales was a series of injuries, with hat-trick hero Allen looking like he might be ruled out of the World Cup with a hamstring tear.Immaculate place-kicking from Rhys Priestland added 14 points and while Uruguay started strongly and were 6-0 up after seven minutes, the inexperienced South Americans couldn’t deal with Wales’s power, pace and strength. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Wales: Liam Williams (M Morgan 35), A Cuthbert, C Allen (Lloyd Williams 54), S Williams, H Amos; R Priestland, G Davies; P James (A Jarvis 31), S Baldwin (K Owens 62), S Lee (T Francis 40), J Ball, L Charteris (D Day 46), S Warburton (capt, D Lydiate 58, J King 74), J Tipuric, J King (R Moriarty 46).Tries (8): Lee, Allen 3, Amos, Davies 2, Tipuric. Cons: Priestland 7Uruguay: G Mieres; S Gibernau, J Prada, A Vilaseca, R Silva; F Berchesi, A Ormaechea (A Duran 79); A Corral (M Sanguinetti 74), C Arboleya (G Kessler 77), M Sagario (O Duran 72), S Vilaseca (capt, A Alonso 74)), J Zerbino (F Lamanna 61), J Gaminara, M Beer (J de Freitas 58), A Nieto.Pens: Berchesi 3Referee: Romain Poite (France) Man of the Match: Cory AllenAttendance: 71,887 STATISTICS464 – the metres Wales made with the ball in hand, but Uruguay managed a respectable 256 as well20 – Wales beat a score of defenders, while Uruguay managed to beat just five11 – the number of tackles Justin Tipuric made, which was matched by Vilaseca and Matias Beer in the Uruguay team0 – the number of Uruguay players in their matchday 23 with any previous World Cup experience TAGS: Uruguay WHAT’S HOT Super centre– Cory Allen had a field day, turning copious possession into a first-half hat-trick, but sadly his day ended on a sour note with his injury. The outside centre benefited from great work from his team-mates and cut through Uruguay with ease.High standard: Rodrigo Silva and his Uruguay team-mates gave their all. (Photo: Getty Images)Pride of place – Uruguay did themselves proud in what for most of these players was the biggest day of their careers so far. They started strongly, took the lead and did not concede as many points as most people would have expected. “We are not caring about the result, winning or losing, we want to show what we are made of,” said their skipper Santiago Vilaseca.Pack power – Wales’s forwards had a fine day, with Jake Ball and Justin Tipuric particularly outstanding. They dominated Uruguay at the set pieces, took the ball up well and defended strongly when they needed to as well.Off the wall – Whoever dreamed up the idea of the sculpture of the giant rugby ball which appears to be embedded in the wall of Cardiff Castle deserves a medal. This brilliant and clever piece of work was the favourite spot for selfies before the game in Cardiff.Clever kick: the rugby ball embedded in the wall of Cardiff Castle. (Photo Huw Evans Images)WHAT’S NOTCasualty – The sight of Liam Williams limping off the pitch after 35 minutes was a sickening one for Wales fans. The full-back is only just back from injury, and he was hurt in a tackle early in the second quarter. He played on, but took another knock soon afterwards and the Wales management wisely decided to take him off.The injury situation worsened in the second half with Cory Allen suffering a suspected hamstring tear, Dan Lydiate needing a head injury assessment and Samson Lee and Paul James both suffering tight calves.Unhappy ending: Liam Williams hurt his thigh (Photo: Getty Images)Wallet drainers – It is disappointing that fans are being asked to pay £10 for a matchday progamme and £10 for a radio to listen to the referee (although those prices are, of course, the same at every World Cup match). And don’t get me started on the number of ticket touts swarming around Cardiff’s streets. Highs and lows: Cory Allen delighted the fans with a hat-trick but suffered an injury. (Photo Getty Images) last_img read more

30 Minutes with… Larissa Muldoon

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS We hear you’re one of the jokers in camp… I like to keep the buzz up and I’m probably seen as a prankster. I’m making an iMovie at the moment of the girls doing lots of random stuff.So what’s on the iMovie? In our pre-Six Nations camp I was dared to ask our coach, Tom Tierney, what my chances of becoming captain were. The girls got some hysterical footage of me doing it. (Captain) Niamh Briggs didn’t have a clue what was going on, so I said I was trying to push her out. I was on the floor laughing!Leading figure: Ireland captain Niamh Briggs makes a break. Photo: InphoCan you tell us about any pranks? During last year’s Six Nations, me, Nora (Stapleton) and (Sophie) Spence got our team manager Jean Casey’s room key. We took out her ‘number ones’, stuffed the suit and set it up so it looked like someone was sitting in the room. Then we all took selfies with it.If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be? It has to be Mazzie Reilly, the second-row. She’s just the funniest person I’ve ever met. She’s got the loveliest personality and we have such a laugh.What superpower would you like to have? Superman is my idol – I’m a big superhero fan. But I do like the thought of being a god too, like Thor.Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? Beyoncé – I’m a massive fan, have been since a young age. She’d probably have to sing all her big hits. You know Beyoncé has an alter ego, Sasha Fierce? I have one too: Clarissa! It’s one of my nicknames with the Welsh girls at Skewen now.Stage presence: Beyonce performas at the Super Bowl. Photo: Getty ImagesWho would be your three dream dinner-party guests? I enjoy playing rugby and I’m very passionate and on the pitch I’m the most serious person ever, but off it I like to joke about. I’m a joker and make sure things are light-hearted. I’m not a very serious person in general – we’re here for a good time, not for a long time.This article appeared in the March 2016 edition of Rugby World. For the latest subscription offers click here, or find out how to download the digital edition here. Get to know Ireland Women’s scrum-half Larissa Muldooncenter_img Adele. I’ve been watching James Corden’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ and she seems really down to earth. I’d have to have Brian O’Driscoll – he’s an absolute legend in my eyes. Then Beyoncé again – she could duet with Adele.What’s your guilty pleasure? Vampire box sets. I’m not a big Twilight fan but I like The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.Any hidden talents? No! I can’t curl my tongue. I can’t even wink!What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought? I’m quite good money-wise, but a few years ago me and my friends all bought matching hooded gilets. Mine was lime green and we thought we were really cool, but now I think it’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever bought. It’s gone now.Pass master: Larissa Muldoon in action during this year’s Six Nations. Photo: InphoWhat would you like to achieve outside of rugby? I really want to come back home to Ireland – that’s the main aim. I’d like to help develop sport in Ireland, maybe take on a role with the IRFU. I’d also love to buy a round-the-world ticket and go travelling, but I can’t do that until I’ve hung up my boots.How would you like to be remembered? Happy day: Larissa Muldoon celebrates Ireland’s 2015 Six Nations win. Photo: Inpho last_img read more

Lions bolters: Eight players who could make New Zealand in 2017

first_imgSuch is the excitement around Garry Ringrose, that demands were made for the Leinster centre’s inclusion in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad in his first season of domestic rugby. At 6ft 2ins, the 21-year-old is an increasing physical presence – he’s packed on a few kilos over the past 12 months – with a solid defence, neat footwork and an ability to ghost outside defenders, which is a key trait of a natural 13.Rich potential: Garry Ringrose has been seen by man as the heir to Brian O’DriscollThe Dublin man was a nominee for Junior Player of the Year in 2014 and his centre partnership with Robbie Henshaw has the potential to make Leinster fans move on from Messrs O’Driscoll and D’Arcy. Ringrose also has the chance of impressing Warren Gatland in November, when Ireland take on the All Blacks over two Tests – the only home nation to do so before the Lions tour. If selected for those Tests, Ringrose will know that a career-best performance could be rewarded with a Lions spot. Stranger things have happened. From Will Greenwood in 1997, to Keith Earls in 2009, the selection announcement for the Lions tour always springs its surprises. And with eight months to go until Warren Gatland’s team is unveiled, its worth noting a few potential candidates, and preparing for the unexpected.EnglandElliot DalyOne of the swiftest players in the Premiership, an arcing run from Elliot Daly at outside-centre usually means one thing; five points. The 23-year-old has acceleration to match most international wingers. Indeed, Daly has been ‘the next big thing’ since 2010 when he thrust himself into the public consciousness yet he only made his Test bow last season, after Eddie Jones selected him for the Six Nations, getting a run out against Ireland.Catch me if you can: Elliot Daly possesses blistering pace wherever you play himThe centre is a lethal finisher, and genuine threat from anywhere on the field. He was selected for a Barbarians XV that faced off against the 2013 Lions in Hong Kong, and he has an outside shot of switching sides, next year. Although a 13, Daly is comfortable to play anywhere in the outside backs. And with a demanding mid-week schedule awaiting the Lions in New Zealand, Gatland might just need a jack of all trades. One who can kick goals from 55 metres…Nathan HughesHughes qualified for residency on June 27, just days after England’s 3-0 series triumph Down Under, and he was helicoptered straight into Eddie Jones’ provisional squad. The gargantuan No 8 has made a telling impression on Aviva Premiership fans ever since his inaugural season back in 2013, with outstanding performances, week-in, week-out from the base of the Wasps scrum.Great expectations: Nathan Hughes has the ability to be a huge Test starAthletic, powerful and deceptively quick, Hughes is a natural footballer whose name regularly appears at the top of ball-carrying and offloading lists. For all of his domestic prowess, Hughes is untested on the international stage. For now, the Fijian-born-back-rower stands in the shadow of Billy Vunipola, whose devastating form of late makes him favourite for the Lions No 8 jersey but given the opportunity, Hughes could challenge both Big Billy and Taulupe Faletau for a berth in the Lions backrow.WalesRoss MoriartyThe 22-year-old flanker has become a fan favourite at Kingsholm, having earned 63 appearances for the Cherry & Whites in four seasons. Part of the first ever England U20s team to win a Junior World Championship back in 2013, Moriarty who was born on Merseyside, but grew up in Swansea, pledged his senior allegiance to Wales two years later, and has featured in nine Tests, where he is now putting serious pressure on Dan Lydiate for the No 6 shirt.Dynamism: Ross Moriarty makes a trademark burst against Italy in the Six NationsMoriarty had a coming-of-age tour against the All Blacks in the summer and started off the season with a blockbusting performance against Leicester last weekend, showcasing his agression in the tight exchanges and handling skills in the wide channels, putting away Matt Scott. With a father, Paul, and uncle, Richard, renowned for playing on the edge with Wales, Moriarty’s physicality and pace, as a former full-back, could yet earn him a plane ticket.Sam DaviesThe Ospreys fly-half was in impeccable from the kicking tee in the first round of the Pro 12 last weekend, slotting a perfect nine kicks from nine, on the way to giving Zebre a 59-5 drubbing. After a season in which he was named ‘Young Player of the Season’ at the Pro12 awards, Davies is expected to kick on this year. A gifted footballer, he likes to mix his game up, attacking the defensive line with intent and rifling wiper-kicks and 50-yard touchfinders at will with a sumptuous left-boot.Cultured left boot: Sam Davies is maturing into a fine all-round No 10Like many fly-halves, his slight stature means his Achilles Heel is his defence but the former Junior IRB Player of the Year has time to improve that aspect of his game. As the son of former Wales centre Nigel Davies, Sam is expected to put club colleague Dan Biggar under serious pressure for the Welsh No 10 shirt. If he succeeds, it would boost his own chances of a unexpected call from a certain ‘Warren G’ in May. ScotlandJonny GrayHis older brother Richie was part of the successful Lions tour to Australia four years ago, and Jonny could fill the same role in Warren Gatland’s side next year. The 22-year-old, who is in his second year as captain for the Glasgow Warriors, has already won 25 Test caps and become an integral part of the Scotland boiler room.Classy player: Jonny Gray is a brilliant lineout operator and a tackling machine in the looseAt 6ft 6in and 119kg, Gray doesn’t lack in stature and shares similar characteristics to his celebrated All Black contemporaries Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick; a prodigious workrate and a tackle count that regularly reaches into double figures. The Glasgow Warrior spent three months in New Zealand developing his rugby in 2012, after being named the recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship – gaining knowledge of Kiwi forward play that could prove invaluable to the touring Lions team. With the likes of George Kruis, Alun Wyn Jones, Maro Itoje and Iain Henderson, Gray faces a mighty battle to tour.Tommy SeymourTommy Seymour has been Scotland’s first-choice wing since 2013 and he showcased his innate finishing ability in Glasgow’s opening Pro 12 match against Connacht last weekend, with two tries. If he can help propel the Warriors to Pro12 success, don’t bet against him being in with a chance of a window seat in Warren Gatland’s Lions squad.Boy can finish: Tommy Seymour is one of the most consistent wings in Test rugby2015 was something of a breakthrough year for Seymour as he played to a wider audience, scoring four tries in as many games at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and picking up last year’s Pro 12 Try of the Season award. With New Zealand’s Super Rugby powerhouses boasting wingers who provide a steady highlight reel of stellar tries, the inclusion of Seymour could act as a fitting counterbalance.IrelandUltan DillaneTwelve months ago, few had heard of Dillane outside the Sportsground in Galway, but the Parisien-born lock had a stratospheric 2015, turning in five senior appearances for Joe Schmidt’s men since making his debut against England in last season’s Six Nations. After starting his rugby career out on the flank, Dillane’s strengths are as a dynamic ball carrier who mixes technical skill with a fierce competitive drive.Take a bow: Ultan Dillane made quite an impact in last year’s Six NationsAfter impressing for Connacht last season and picking up a Pro12 winners medal for his trouble, the 22-year-old continued to mature in South Africa this summer and despite Connacht’s surprise capitulation at the hands of Glasgow, it’s unlikely to harm Dillane’s Test prospects. If Schmidt gives him more international exposure, Dillane has the potential to surprise us all.Garry Ringrose Fast-track: At 25, Nathan Hughes has the maturity and talent to make the Lions squad LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The Lions are well-known for surprise packages so don’t be surprised if eyebrows are raised at Warren Gatland’s squad announcement. Here are a few players to watch… TAGS: Highlight last_img read more

Hotshot: Dragons and Wales U20 centre Aneurin Owen

first_img Dragons and Wales U20 centre Aneurin OwenDate of birth 19 Oct 2000 Born Newport Region Dragons Country Wales Position Inside-centreWhat age did you first play rugby? Seven. My dad took me to my local club, Newport High School Old Boys. It took me a couple of years to fall in love with it. I’ve come through the age groups, HSOB and up to youth, and then the Dragons Academy kicked in.What positions have you played? I was a ten until the age of 16. As I turned 17, the Dragons converted me to a 12, but I like to think I can play both.Those years playing ten have been really useful. Decision-making, time on the ball, my kicking – all that developed as a ten. I can use those skills a space out; I can still play to the gain-line, beat defenders and put people in space.Which players did you admire growing up? Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell. They’re the biggest two people I looked up to. But also people like Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter.Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?My dad (Rob). He played rugby in the Army and had a real passion for it. He’s the most honest with me. After a game people say ‘well done’ but Dad will be the critical one. That pushes me to improve. He’s always giving me stuff to work on.Who have you been playing for this season? Over time: Aneurin Owen runs in a try against Ireland (Huw Evans Agency) This article originally appeared in the April 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. TAGS: Dragons LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS For Ebbw Vale in the Principality Premiership and for Wales in the U20 Six Nations.How does the U20 Six Nations compare to life in the Principality Premiership? The Premiership is about physicality, and you’ve got to be mentally up thereevery week. The U20s is a lot faster and tests you in a different way. It has more of a professional feel because of the travelling and playing abroad.We hear that your nickname is ‘NHS’… Yeah, a couple of the boys at Ebbw Vale made the simple connection to Aneurin Bevan (founder of the NHS). Everybody there calls me that now.Are you still studying? I’m doing A Levels this summer in Maths, PE and History. That’s at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool. I hope to go to Cardiff Met University to do sports performance analysis, starting in September. At uni I’d still be at the Dragons and playing for Ebbw Vale as well.What are your goals for 2019? To get my grades and get to uni. And with my rugby, to play for the U20s and to keep improving my game.RW VERDICT: At 5ft 11in and around 13-and-a-half stone, Owen hopes to bulk up to prepare for the rigours of elite rugby. He has the rounded skill-set to evoke envy in rivals and those in the know tip him for senior Welsh honours in the near future. This rising star is juggling his A Levels with Premiership and U20 rugbylast_img read more

Is Ross Byrne Johnny Sexton’s successor? And other Test talking points

first_img Is Ross Byrne Johnny Sexton’s successor? And other Test talking pointsLast weekend’s Autumn Nations Cup and Tri-Nations matches served up some intriguing, skilful and downright unprecedented games of rugby.Italy threatened a surprise result against Scotland until the final quarter, Jack Willis took to international rugby like a jackal to a feast, while Wales’ set-piece proved itself even more of a complex mess than the ongoing Brexit negotiations.One match overshadowed the rest – Argentina’s first-ever win over the All Blacks. It didn’t matter that the Pumas hadn’t played for 13 months when gladiators such as Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer and Julian Montoya were forged in the heat of the moment.Just as Giuseppe Verdi saw each season as a symphony, we could read the previous week of the autumn as the first movement, a rising crescendo promising more to come. The themes have been established, but individual melodies still need to be played out over the coming weekend – so what can we expect to experience?Australian props asked to tame Pumas Australia v Argentina, 8.45am, Saturday 21 November, Newcastle, Live on Sky Sports The rugby world (well, those in the UK and Ireland) was split into two camps last Saturday morning. Those who set their alarms and rose, yawning, for New Zealand v Argentina at 6am, and those who enjoyed a weekend lie-in (well-earned I’m sure). However, I’m equally sure the latter group will be well awake in time to watch the Pumas this week…Australia v Argentina is never usually the sexiest game of the Rugby Championship, often overshadowed by the hulking presence of New Zealand v South Africa on the same weekend. But both these sides are now in the running for the title.It was the ferocity of their forward pack that carried Argentina to victory over the All Blacks, an intensity apparent from Pablo Matera’s early conversation with referee Angus Gardner: “They must show some respect, I’m playing for my country.”New Zealand were bullied up front – and Australia have changed both their props to try to make sure it doesn’t happen to them.Australia and scrummaging have traditionally gone together like water and oil – you never want to see the two mix, and when they do, it usually provokes an international outcry. But Australia have found a man the size of a small oil tanker to solve this – Taniela Tupou, also known as the Tongan Thor. Tongan Thor! MATCH REPORT + HIGHLIGHTS:— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) May 18, 2018Tupou was a surprise exclusion from the starting XV to face the All Blacks two weekends ago but made up for it in a matter of minutes after coming off the bench, with the tighthead decimating the New Zealand scrum as well as grabbing himself the crucial try. A 135kg foundation for the Wallabies to build around for years to come.He’ll be joined by Scott Sio, the experienced Brumbies prop making his first Test start since the World Cup after James Slipper was ruled out having dislocated his elbow. May a historic weakness be the strength that sees them through on Saturday?Ollie Lawrence v Chris Farrell – the battle of the 13s at Twickenham England v Ireland, 3pm, Saturday 21 November, Twickenham, Live on Channel 4, Amazon Prime & RTEYou’d think that wearing the No 13 shirt in 2020 was asking for trouble, but both Ollie Lawrence and Chris Farrell have each enjoyed a rapid rise in fortune this autumn. While at different stages of their careers, and with radically different styles, Saturday’s match could hinge on their clashes in the outside channels.With Lawrence asked to bring an X-factor to England’s attack and Farrell given the responsibility of organising the Irish defence, which outside-centre will see their country home?Chris Farrell has played 11 times for Ireland, making his debut back in 2017, but has never quite been first choice. A talented group including Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw are consistently chosen, leaving Farrell fighting for the scraps – he made his first start since the World Cup pool stages last weekend.The Munster centre has taken a more circuitous route to international recognition than most – leaving Ulster at only 21 to spend three years in Grenoble, his path to the first team blocked by Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Paddy Wallace and Stuart McCloskey.However, Farrell has played a starring role in Limerick in recent years, his hard-nosed running and underrated pace making him a hard man to stop, especially considering some of the intelligent lines he picks around the opposing 22. It’s in defence where he most thrives, his long body deceptively covering the wide areas. Players think they have half a step on him – and then bang, they’re in touch, Irish lineout.Man in the middle: Ollie Lawrence in England training (Getty Images)The latest man to face the Farrell conundrum is Lawrence, the Worcester man having been touted for England honours since videos of him as a 16-year-old schoolboy first hit YouTube. Getting his first Test start last weekend against Georgia, the inclement weather stopped us seeing too much of him in a game designed for the tight five, although he did provide some impressive continuity play at times.With the weather set fair for Saturday, it could be his chance to burst into England’s first-choice XV, replacing Manu Tuilagi as the power athlete in Eddie Jones’s back-line. Lawrence and New Zealand’s emerging star Caleb Clarke both possess that lateral explosion only the athletically freakish have – and look out for an offloading ability to match. Louis Rees-Zammit is a GAMECHANGER A brilliant break and sublime offload has @gloucesterrugby in front!What a talent!#HeinekenChampionsCup— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 11, 2020Rees-Zammit puts the hype in hyperspeed, the flyer making his debut in a brief cameo against France. Not given the chance to showcase his quite frightening speed on that occasion, Rees-Zammit has echoes of Bryan Habana, with his fleet feet matched by the powerful shoulders of a 100m sprinter. Meanwhile, his hands aren’t bad either – and he’ll be hoping to stop Wales getting their fingers burnt.Maverick Jalibert returns to MurrayfieldThe unfortunate cancellation of pool games involving Fiji means that Sunday’s meeting at BT Murrayfield between France and Scotland is effectively a Group B decider, with the winner virtually assured of top place in the seedings.France will have unwelcome memories of decisive games at Murrayfield – their 28-17 loss there in March ended their hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam.That game saw star fly-half Romain Ntamack injured within ten minutes, with 22-year-old Matthieu Jalibert called off the bench to replace him. Possessing a passing resemblance to Eminem with his bleach-blonde hair, the ten was not afraid to try new things in attack but lost himself in defence – shooting out the line to open a hole the size of the Seine for Sean Maitland’s crucial try on the stroke of half-time.Kicking on: Matthieu Jalibert in action at BT Murrayfield in March (Getty Images)Perhaps it was unfair to expect such an inexperienced international player to flourish with his side down to 14 men and the gruesome twosome of Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie running rampant, but Sunday will go a long way towards showing off his burgeoning development.Ntamack is injured once again, with Jalibert handed control of possibly the most in-form back-line in world rugby. The Bordeaux stand-off is a beautifully balanced runner, and, rather surprisingly for a fairly slight figure, possesses one of the nastier hand-offs in the game.It’s a shame we won’t get to see a battle of ingenuity between Jalibert and the injured Finn Russell, but keep an eye on Louis Carbonel too. He’s named amongst the French replacements, is a gifted attacking kicker and has an element of gamesmanship that should make him a love-hate figure in a long career. Is Ross Byrne Johnny Sexton’s successor?England v Ireland, 3pm, Saturday 21 November, Twickenham, Live on Channel 4, Amazon Prime & RTEJohnny Sexton’s injury against Wales has forced coach Andy Farrell to begin to address the issue of the Leinsterman’s successor – and he’s turned to the veteran’s provincial understudy, Ross Byrne, over the challenge of Ulster’s Billy Burns and Connacht’s Jack Carty.Trophy time: Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne after Leinster’s Pro14 win (Getty Images)With Sexton now 35, and the talented Joey Carbery injured indefinitely, Irish fans have been wondering which out-half will pilot them to the World Cup in 2023.Saturday’s match is Byrne’s biggest test so far – fail it, and the experimental nature of the Autumn Nations Cup could see Billy Burns rewarded with a start in Ireland’s next game. Just remember that Byrne is no rookie – indeed, he was preferred over a fully-fit Sexton for this year’s Guinness Pro14 final.Heavily criticised – unfairly in my view – for his performance in a 57-15 thrashing by England on his last start, he’ll hope to be receiving plaudits on his return to Twickenham this time around.New Welsh faces should release pressure on Pivac Wales v Georgia, 5.15pm, Saturday 21 November, Parc y Scarlets, Live on Amazon Prime, Premier Sports & S4CSomething new coming into the world usually makes most souls happier. In this sense, Wayne Pivac should escape the pressure cooker at the weekend, when a Wales team full of more new hope than a Star Wars film takes to the field against Georgia.Pivac has made 13 personnel changes after the 32-9 loss to Ireland, with three debutants in the starting XV alone – scrum-half Kieran Hardy, centre Johnny Williams and flanker James Botham. The former two both represent the Scarlets, with Williams’s inclusion a feel-good story after his recent recovery from testicular cancer. Botham has enjoyed a breakthrough year at the Cardiff Blues and is picked despite having only played 13 professional games.Possibly the most exciting selections come from the first starts for two England-based players – Bristol’s Callum Sheedy and Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit. Sheedy’s all-round skill-set is probably only matched by Gareth Anscombe among current Welsh fly-halves – could he be the man to lead Wales towards 2023? Jacob Whitehead gives his thoughts ahead of another busy weekend of international rugbycenter_img 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. Man at No 10: Ross Byrne starts at fly-half against England (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

England defensive coach John Mitchell signs contract extension

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Also make sure you know about the Fixtures, Injuries, Table, Venues, TV Coverage by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram “I also think it’s the right place for me to evolve and challenge myself as a coach. I’m learning all the time and that’s only going to help me to improve the players and contribute more. I really feel we have the potential to do some special things here.”Eddie Jones, who also extended his contract in April last year, has praised his right-hand man for the decision.“I’m very pleased to have Mitch with us as we work to win the World Cup in 2023,” Jones said. “He adds great value to the coaching staff and player development.”Although sights are set on the 2023 World Cup in France, the main priority is on retaining the Six Nations. England begin their championship defence in the Calcutta Cup as they welcome Scotland to Twickenham on Saturday 6 February (4:45pm KO).Make sure to stay updated with all team news for Saturday’s fixture on the England squad page and the Scotland squad page. John Mitchell, former All Blacks head coach, has pledged his future to Eddie Jones’ England team with a contract that will take him up until the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Having joined in September 2018, Mitchell has overseen a successful England team that reached the final of the 2019 World Cup and won last season’s Six Nations.However, Mitchell doesn’t believe that’s the limit of this England squad, who also picked up the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup in 2020.“For me this side has so much more potential,” said Mitchell. “We don’t realise, I don’t think, how much better we can get. When we reach our potential, we have the ability to win and do well.“I really like the mix of experience and youth that is coming through. They give off a really good energy and there’s a willingness to want to get better. That’s what you want to be around. I really feel we have the potential to do some special things here.”Mitchell expressed his delight with continuing his role within the England set up, 22 years on from his spell as England’s forwards coach. Something he claims ended prematurely, but necessarily for family reasons.Mitchell said: “I’m really happy to sign this contract extension. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here with England and working with such a talented group of players, coaches and staff. Defensive coach Mitchell has signed a two-and-a-half year contract extension with England that takes him up until the 2023 World Cup Follow our Six Nations homepage which we update regularly with news and features. Committed futures: John Mitchell signs a two-and-a-half year contract extension as England’s defensive coach (Getty Images)last_img read more