Exeter’s Tom Johnson confident for a win against Bath

first_imgThe Exeter forward against GloucesterDisappointed Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter blamed his side for making a series of “dumb” errors as they Exeter forward Tom Johnson is confident the Chiefs will rediscover their ‘bite’ when they run out for this Saturday’s Westcountry derby with Bath in the Aviva Premiership.Back to back defeats against London Irish (39-17) and Leeds Carnegie (27-22) have seen Rob Baxter’s side falter in recent weeks, but Johnson is confident the league’s newest additions can put things right when they make the short trek to the Recreation Ground.In what will be the Devon club’s third away day on the trot, the Chiefs will not only look to halt their recent run of setbacks, but at the same time look to gain their revenge against a Bath side who edged home 12-9 in the corresponding fixture at Sandy Park in late February.Johnson admits the recent losses at Irish and Leeds have been “hugely disappointing” – particularly after the club had enjoyed an impressive sequence of results prior to the recent two-week break in action – but knows a win at Bath this weekend could once more re-ignite the club’s season as they enter into the final straight.“The boys are disappointed, it’s the second game on the bounce we haven’t played for 80 minutes,” he said. “We said at the start of the season we would always play for 80 and we’re not doing that at the moment.“We’ve got to hold our hands up, it’s individual mistakes, but the boys will address that when we meet back up and then we’ll crack on and get ready for Bath. We don’t feel too far away from where we want to be, we’re not quite where we were a couple of months ago – we need to get that bite back in us – and we’ll address that this week.”Certainly Exeter’s head coach Rob Baxter has promised to dissect the past fortnight – both individually and collectively – and look to get his team back on track. Indeed, in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss at Headingley, Baxter admitted “dumb errors” had cost his team the opportunity of recording a league double over the league’s basement club.“We were gutted after the game, we went up there to do a job and Leeds turned it around,” added Johnson, who is Exeter’s leading try-scorer this season with six touchdowns. “Fair play to them, they stood up and did a job on us. “We’re defending well and that’s the best part of our game. We need to look hard at our attack. We should be more of a threat than we are. It’s not rocket science. If you hang on to the ball you’ll score the points, whether it’s penalties or tries.“If you don’t hang on to the ball you’re just giving your opponents easy opportunities to have it back and be the threat. We have to keep working at becoming tough when we keep it, because we’re tough when we don’t have it.” “We got back in the game and we did the same the previous week, we got back within a point at Irish, but the last 20 minutes are hurting us at the moment. It’s not fitness, we’re just doing a few silly things away from the game plan and it’s costing us.”Having tasted defeat once already to Bath, Johnson believes the Chiefs can rediscover their winning formula against one of the household names within the English game.“It’s a local derby. It was a tight encounter at Sandy Park and we’ve got to go up there and try to put our game on Bath.”Like the Chiefs, Bath will head into this latest match-up on the back of another defeat themselves after they crashed 20-9 to Saracens at Vicarage Road on Sunday.However, Director of Rugby Sir Ian McGeechan is adamant his side are still within striking distance of the Premiership play-offs, despite slumping to a third defeat in a row at Saracens.“We’ve five games to go and there’s a lot of points on offer,” said McGeechan, whose side are 13 points adrift of fourth spot. “There’ll be points lost elsewhere so I’m still looking at that fourth spot and making sure we’re thereabouts. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 08: Tom Johnson of Exeter looks to pass as Andy Hazell closes in during the Aviva Premiership game between Gloucester and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) last_img read more

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Bryn Evans to captain Exiles against Saracens

first_imgLondon Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith said: “It is great to be back to Aviva Premiership action. We’ve got a fantastic squad on board for the 2012/13 season and we are looking forward to the season ahead. This squad is very ambitious and we aim to emulate the deeds of our courageous sevens team that won the JP Morgan sevens title over the summer.”London Irish v SaracensSaturday 1st September, at TwickenhamKick-off: 16:30 Starting XV15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo13. Jonathan Joseph; 12. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 11. Marland Yarde 10. Steve Shingler; 9. Tomás O’Leary; 1. Max Lahiff; 2. Scott Lawson; 3. Leo Halavatau; 4. George Skivington; 5. Bryn Evans (C); 6. Jamie Gibson; 7. Ofisa Treviranus; 8. Jon FisherReplacements:16. Brian Blaney; 17. Halani Aulika*; 18. Cai Griffiths; 19. Kieran Low; 20. Declan Danaher; 21. Alex Gray; 22. Shane Geraghty; 23. Jack Moates Captains duties fall to Kiwi born lock Evans (above)New Zealand international, Bryn Evans, will captain London Irish tomorrow afternoon against Saracens in the Aviva Premiership’s London Double Header clash at Twickenham.Evans will form a second row partnership with George Skivington who joined from Leicester Tigers over the summer.Scotland international, Scott Lawson, will start at hooker alongside Max Lahiff and Leo Halavatau with Jon Fisher, Jamie Gibson and Ofisa Treviranus making up the back row.Ireland international, Tomás O’Leary, will partner Steven Shingler at half back with Sailosi Tagicakibau moving from the wing to inside centre in place of injured Joe Ansbro.Jonathan Joseph will partner the Samoan in the centre with Marland Yarde, Topsy Ojo and last season’s Aviva Premiership top point scorer, Tom Homer, making up the back three. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 18: Irish lock Bryn Evans looks on during the Aviva Premiership match between Newcastle Falcons and London Irish at Kingston Park on February 18, 2012 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)last_img read more

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Michalak returns at No 10 to ignite Les Bleus

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Heat is on: Deans is still under pressureIn the front row Castres prop Yannick Forestier will be winning his first cap over the more experienced Thomas Domingo. “I have full trust in him,” Saint-Andre said of the 30-year-old Forestier whose career has been ravaged by injuries. The coach also has trust  in Clermont’s creative centre Wesley Fofana adapting to the right wing.In plumping for Maxime Mermoz and Florian Fritz as his centre pairing, Saint-Andre could be accused of abusing the talents of Fofana, but he’s confident he’s made the right decision. “We did not want to deprived ourselves of his ability to accelerate, of his speed. He’s an atypical player. He already played as a winger and even the Australians start a number 13 on the wing with [Adam] Ashley-Cooper.”The Aussies, meanwhile, have made three changes to the XV that held the All Blacks to an 18-18 draw in Brisbane last month. Sekope Kepu starts at prop in place of James Slipper , Kane Douglas takes over from Sitaleki Timani and Dave Dennis replaces the suspended  Scott Higginbotham on the blindside. Back in bleu: Freddie Michalak is back to marshal the French backline against the WallabiesBy Gavin MortimerSO FREDDY’S back. For the first time since 2007, Michalak will start a home Test match for France and Les Bleus will be all the better for it. The 30-year-old fly-half got the nod over Montpellier’s Francois Trinh-Duc, and Maxime Machenaud has kept out Morgan Parra at scrum-half. “We’re continuing from where we left off against Argentina,” explained French coach Philippe Saint-André, a reference to France’s last Test outing, a record 49-10 thrashing of the Pumas in June. “For us, it’s logical to restart with the same 2-8-9-10-15 axis. It was important to keep the skeleton of a team which has performed well.”In from cold: Yannick Nyanga is backMichalak became so disillusioned with life when Marc Lievremont was coach of France that he took himself off to South Africa, starring for the Sharks and reminding the rugby world that only the conservative – or the cack-handed – would overlook such a talent. When Saint-Andre replaced Lievremont as national coach this time last year, he made little secret of his wish to see Michalak back in the fold. And despite the fact the wee man plays at scrum-half for Toulon (unable to wrest the 10 shirt from Jonny Wilkinson), Saint-Andre believes he can step up against the Wallabies.France haven’t beaten Australia since 2005 and the last time the two countries clashed, at the Stade de France in November 2010, the French were humiliated 59-16. Should the tourists win on Saturday they’ll equal their best winning streak against the French, the six victories achieved between 1993 and 2000.With flanker and captain Thierry Dusautoir still working his way back to fitness after a knee injury, France have selected two tearaway flankers in their attempt to win the battle at the breakdown. It will be the first time Fulgence Ouedraogo and Yannick Nynaga have played together for France. “Yannick will play more in the role of Thierry Dusauatoir,” explained Saint-Andre. “It will be up to him to win the ball on the floor and slow up the Australian game.”Like Michalak, the 28-year-old Nyanga was a victim of Livermont’s incompetence. First selected for France by Bernard Laporte in 2004, the Toulouse breakaway won the last of his 25 caps in the 2007 World Cup. How a player of his athleticism and ball skills was snubbed for five years beggars belief. GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 15: Australian Wallabies Coach Robbie Deans looks on before the Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina at Skilled Park on September 15, 2012 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) “The atmosphere at the Stade de France is always fantastic and the crowd vociferous,” said coach Robbie Deans. “It’s a great place to play the game, and a magnificent experience that none of the players who are fortunate enough to put on a jersey on the weekend will ever forget.”last_img read more

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RBS 6 Nations: Variety is spice of life for England

first_imgNOT FOR FEATURED LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Man at No 10: Toby Flood starts on SundayThere is no one England team, churning and smashing everything in front of it like an immovable object that has the same steely, mud-smeared face. No. This England team can rotate and adapt to its environment. So centres can switch in and out, and scrum-halves can be swapped because a boot is needed more than a run or a pass is most important. The opponent is meticulously assessed and a jersey is shared by the squad.So, while Croft comes in on the bench it is because he can pass balls round players’ heads on the run or he can jump up on the wing to collect a high ball, not because he is seen by Lancaster to be more of an ‘England’ player than anyone else.He perches on the bench while dynamic ball-carriers Mako Vunipola and James Haskell come in. They are tasked with bursting through Italy and playing around the breakdown. Danny Care is brought in to interest fringe players and provide a different kicking dimension. Tom Youngs never stops offering his services. Croft is in so that a splintered Azzurri can be flicked and galloped past. Freddie Burns can come on to drag defenders in a way different from Toby Flood.Focal point: Mako Vunipola tests France’s defenceLancaster will want to bamboozle Italy, and he can offer them big targets coming direct before looking to drag. In a way it is even more simple a tactic than if Wales were the opposition this Sunday. The English want to squash and pull Italy at will. Back in the groove: Tom Croft gets stuck into scrummaging practice with England ahead of the Italy gameBy Alan DymockWITH THE naming of the England squad it became easy to take the return of Tom Croft to international rugby as the headline.Of course, his comeback from a broken neck is a brave tale of a professional gritting their teeth and inching back into contention whether his body wanted to or not. He willed himself to get back to Twickenham and that must be respected.Nevertheless, his inclusion speaks of a tactical shift by the coaches for a certain opponent, rather than him being the best contender. Stuart Lancaster will undoubtedly support Croft and his unyielding desire, but this is on-message; he does not want to fully draw attention to his intentions.The England team may regularly be dragged kicking and screaming into a comparison with the England of 2003 – any glimmer of success makes this unavoidable – but they are wholly different, at least in a sense of set-up. Some changes are born of necessity. Owen Farrell could play to this tune were he fit. But with Flood it ensures that more defenders need to be interested before Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt come tumbling in. England need their new starters to blow out as they traipse around the park. They may just take Italy with them.The England coaches will not consider losing. Their press work will tell of respect and consideration of Italian talents. However, the England that play on Sunday will be one with a ruthlessness at the core of their outlook. Sentimentality is just an added extra.last_img read more

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Rugby must build on Women’s World Cup

first_img We are the champions! England celebrate their Women’s World Cup triumph in Paris After England beat Canada to be crowned world champions, rugby must make the most of this opportunity to grow the women’s game To finish, though, let us celebrate England’s momentous achievement and hope that this tournament inspires the next generation of women’s rugby stars. In the words of Alphonsi: “Hopefully it will increase participation and get more people involved in the sport. This has grown attention to the sport and people who’ve not watched it before now want to watch it more. Women’s rugby is a spectator sport in England and across the world now.”Don’t miss monthly reports from the women’s game in Rugby World. “THIS COULD  be the tipping point for women’s rugby worldwide.” Those were the words of England coach Gary Street after England’s 21-9 Women’s World Cup final win over Canada at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris.It’s important to celebrate England’s achievement – after three successive defeats to New Zealand in the climax of the women’s tournament they deserve huge credit for lifting the trophy for the first time in 20 years – but the bigger picture could prove more significant.In recent years the focus in women’s rugby has shifted to sevens. With rugby sevens making its Olympics debut in Rio in 2016, the IRB have a Women’s World Sevens Series and countries like Canada and Australia are putting a lot of funding into the abbreviated game.This month’s World Cup has shown, however, that there is a huge appetite for 15-a-side women’s rugby. Record TV figures and big crowds have put the game in front of a wider audience than ever before and raised its profile hugely. As Street says: “Women’s rugby at this level is a hell of a sport.”Thanks for the memories: fans have been out in force throughout the Women’s World Cup in ParisThe final may have been a stop-start affair but few sporting finals are exceptional given the pressure of the occasion. It’s the semi-finals to which people should look to see the quality of the women’s game today.England were simply sublime in the way they dismantled Ireland in their last-four tie on Wednesday, the forwards showing no mercy up front and the backs capitalising on that momentum. Then the crowd – as raucous as many a men’s Test match – for the semi-final between France and Canada were treated to a nip-tuck affair where the contact was wince-inducing and the Magali Harvey try was a joy to watch. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS In the four years since the last World Cup, the standard of play has risen hugely. England and New Zealand were in a class of their own in 2010 whereas France, Ireland and Canada have all added to the mix here.The improvement in tight-forward skills was evident in the number of tries scored at this tournament from diving mauls – a technical element of the game that is now being mastered by the elite female players. Kicking, once the glaring weakness in the women’s game, has also developed across all the sides, be that in a tactical or goalkicking sense.Wonder woman: Emily Scarratt scores the decisive try in the final and also kicked 11 pointsThe physicality of matches has definitely gone up several notches too. In 2010, Maggie Alphonsi’s fierceness in the tackle set her apart but back-rowers in all teams now show that same power – and that’s without mentioning Canada centres Andrea Burk and Mandy Marchak, who hit with huge force and determination in midfield.The challenge now is to maintain the momentum. Women’s rugby has made the front pages today but it’s important that people continue to recognise their achievements. These are the women who should be idolised by young girls today, not the reality TV stars who wouldn’t want to risk breaking a nail at the breakdown. These players have to juggle jobs as vets and plumbers with competing at the elite level on a global stage; those sacrifices cannot be underestimated and should be roundly applauded. TAGS: Highlight last_img read more

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Opinion: Players must have say in how rugby is run

first_img Expand Plus, a World XV of the year and… Opinion: Players must have say in how rugby is run Player welfare must always be at the top of rugby’s agenda and that means players must have a say in the sport’s decision-making process. So the news that International Rugby Players have formed a Players’ Council should be warmly welcomed.The council, which features men’s and women’s players from 15s and sevens, got together in Monaco last week to discuss the game’s big issues. More than 350 Test players from around the world have taken part in the anonymous survey and the results are thought-provoking. Pick up a copy of the new issue – on sale 4 December – to find out more. Free 2019 calendar with the latest issue of Rugby World A survey of the world’s elite women’s players… The most comprehensive survey of the top men’s… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Setting up a council is something International Rugby Players have been working on for a while and having a meeting that coincided with the World Rugby Awards in Monaco helped logistically. Collapse Top women’s rugby players call for more Tests World Cup-winning All Black Conrad Smith, who is also working with International Rugby Players on introducing agent regulations, said: “The Players’ Council is legends of the game seeing what can be done better and having a stronger voice.“With players spread across the world, it’s tough to meet often, but we want a group of players to convene and decide what to push for, to find out what players in Georgia and New Zealand want.”Rugby World magazine have long supported giving players a voice in the game and this year we have teamed up with International Rugby Players to report on the results of several surveys they have conducted with their members.Earlier this year we reported on the biggest concerns for men’s sevens players and women’s players, and this month we reveal the findings of the men’s 15s survey in the January 2019 edition of the magazine.MORE ON THE PLAYERS’ SURVEYS HERE… Top women’s rugby players call for more Tests Vocal: All Blacks skipper Kieran Read makes his point during a Test (Getty Images) Sevens survey raises player welfare concerns Why the formation of the International Rugby Players’ Council is so important for the game The sport’s governing bodies must pay attention to these results and ensure changes are made to improve player welfare. Players’ voices must be heard.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Free 2019 calendar with the latest issue of Rugby World As International Rugby Players president and World Rugby Player of the Year Johnny Sexton said: “Players need to have their voice heard. There are massive issues that need addressing and governing bodies and unions must make decisions with the input of the men and women on the pitch.”South Africa back-row Warren Whiteley added: “We feel we can contribute and ultimately make the game better.”Players past and present were involved, with the likes of Rachael Burford, Sarah Goss, Guilhem Guirado, Jamie Roberts, Chris Vui, Akapusi Qera, Georgi Nemsadze, Bryan Habana and Brian O’Driscoll also in attendance.They also met with World Rugby in Monaco as part of the Rugby Athletes’ Commission (RAC) to discuss player load, injury prevention and laws.Former Scotland back-row John Jeffrey, who chairs the RAC, said: “Without players we have no game and this body is playing a significant role in advising and informing the Rugby Committee on matters relating to the playing of the game.” Expand Sevens survey raises player welfare concernslast_img read more

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Ireland Autumn Internationals Squad

first_img Wales Autumn Internationals Squad BACKS: Rob Kearney (Leinster), Will Addison (Ulster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Darren Sweetnam (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), Sam Arnold (Munster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Joey Carbery (Munster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), John Cooney (Ulster), Luke McGrath (Leinster)Don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook and Twitter. Expand LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Collapse Ireland Autumn Internationals SquadFORWARDS: Cian Healy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Niall Scannell (Munster), Rory Best (capt, Ulster), Seán Cronin (Leinster), Rob Herring (Ulster),Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Andrew Porter (Leinster), John Ryan (Munster), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), James Ryan (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Quinn Roux (Connacht), Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Jack Conan (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Ulster). Expand Ireland Autumn Internationals SquadA week after a momentous win against New Zealand, Ireland have made 14 changes. Garry Ringrose is the only man to keep his spot with Sammy Arnold set to make his debut off the bench.Will Addison, Stuart McCloskey and Darren Sweetnam will earn only their third caps but, as Schmidt says below, the wholesale changes were planned ahead of schedule;“This was always part of the plan to make the changes, the two games book-ended the series and it’s a chance to look at all of the 43 players across the four matches,”Ireland team to face USA in the Autumn Internationals – 24th NovemberWill Addison; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Stuart McCloskey, Darren Sweetnam; Joey Carbery, John Cooney; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Finlay Bealham; Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson; Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan.Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Quinn Roux, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Ross Byrne, Sam ArnoldIreland team to face New Zealand in the Autumn Internationals – 17th NovemberRob Kearney; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Kieran Marmion; Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Dan Leavy, CJ Stander.Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.Ireland team to face Argentina in the Autumn Internationals – 10th November Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Kieran Marmion; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, CJ Stander New Zealand Autumn Internationals Squad Expand Take a look at Gregor Townsend’s Autumn Internationals… Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway.Ireland team to face Italy in the Autumn Internationals – 3rd November Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Joey Carbery, Luke McGrath, Jack McGrath, Niall Scannell, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock (captain), Josh van der Flier, Jack ConanConor Murray is an injury absentee from Ireland‘s 2018 Autumn Internationals squad due to a neck injury that has kept him sidelined for four months or so. His last match was the final Ireland Summer Tour match against Australia.A huge loss, Murray played a pivotal role in the defeat of New Zealand at Soldier Field in 2016, and his absence in the rematch on November 17th will be felt.Huge Loss: Murray is absent from the squad due to a neck injury (Getty Images)In other news, there are three uncapped players in the squad in the form of Ross Byrne, Will Addison and Murray’s Munster teammate Sam Arnold.Joe Schmidt said; “The upcoming Guinness Series offers an exciting opportunity for the squad but will also be very challenging. We are certainly looking forward to getting back to a packed Aviva Stadium with the fantastic support that we get there.”“As always there have been a number of close calls in selection, meaning that some very good players have missed out in this particular window,” Take a look at the Welsh squad for… England Autumn Internationals Squad Scotland Autumn Internationals Squad England Autumn Internationals Squad Scotland Autumn Internationals Squad The All Blacks have named a 51-man squad… Have a look at Joe Schmidt’s 42-man Ireland squad for their four Autumn International matches. New Zealand Autumn Internationals Squad Wales Autumn Internationals Squad Take a look at Eddie Jones’ 36-man England… Big Moment: Uncapped Will Addison has been named in Ireland’s 42-man squad (Getty Images) last_img read more

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Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley

first_imgWhat’s your guilty pleasure?Caramac bars and Disney films.What’s the best advice you’ve received? There’s one thing from Exodus in the Bible. Moses is leading the Israelites to the Red Sea and being chased by the Egyptians. He tells his people to “stand still”. In the heat of the moment when they think they’re about to be slaughtered, that message of standing still and being calm resonates a lot with me. It’s relevant to rugby because it’s a sport where everything moves quickly. Being able to collect your thoughts in a game is really important.Who would be your three dream dinner party guests? Disraeli because of how eloquent he was and because I have a bit of a man-crush on him. Ada Lovelace intrigues me; she was the daughter of Byron and produced the mathematics that was the foundation of computer science. This was in the first half of the 19th century, so she was pretty forward-thinking. And I’d have someone American there. Probably Barack Obama.Rising star: Ollie Thorley was named Young Player of the Year at the RPA Awards (Getty Images)If you could be one team-mate, who would you be? It’d be cool to be Ben Morgan. He’s a bit of a freak of nature but has a really good skill-set as well. I like to run into people when the option to run round them isn’t there, so it would be interesting to see what happened if I went in with an extra X amount of kilos.Do you have a hidden talent? People say I know a lot about restaurants, like who owns which brands or chain. It’s a weird superpower I’ve got. TAGS: Gloucester LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Downtime with… Gloucester wing Ollie ThorleyOllie Thorley, 23, is one of eight uncapped players named in England’s 34-strong squad for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations. The explosive Gloucester wing is picking up from last year, when he won the Premiership Young Player of the Season award and trained with England both during the Six Nations and in preparation for the World Cup.This season Thorley has made nine clean breaks and beaten 24 defenders in the Premiership and his eye for an opportunity was best demonstrated in the first of his two tries at Harlequins, when he picked up from a midfield ruck and accelerated to the line, brushing off hooker Elia Elia, almost before Quins knew what was happening.A knee injury towards the end of last season effectively cost him a chance of making Eddie Jones’s squad for Japan 2019, but Thorley is now back and one of only three specialist wings in the squad with Jonny May and Anthony Watson, who both started the World Cup final.RW spoke to Thorley for a Downtime article that was published in our June 2019 edition…Too quick by half: Thorley bursts clear to score the first of his try double at Quins (CameraSport/Getty)What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch? At Sale three years ago, Greig Laidlaw was giving us the pre-match pep talk out on the pitch. Everyone was laughing because he had a big length of tissue roll attached to his boot. It was an unorthodox psyche-up but we ended up winning and Greig was Man of the Match.Who’s the biggest prankster at your club? Fraser Balmain’s up there. He has a quintessential British humour, mixing classic comedy with a bit of darker stuff. His partner-in-crime is Ed Slater.Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? I feel Theresa May would enjoy a bit of time with the cameras off her face, so she could chill out in there. I’d be happy to help her relax. That sounds dodgy!All smiles: the wing at a pre-season photo-call (Getty)Do you have any phobias? I’m not a massive fan of nasty toes, which you see a lot of in rugby. Specifically the nails. You know, when someone’s had their toenail stood on and it’s all blackened. That creeps me out. My own nails are beautiful.What’s your most embarrassing moment? I was a mascot in the 2006 FA Cup final in Cardiff. I’m a West Ham supporter but I was Liverpool’s mascot. When I was introduced to Prince William, I confessed that I was a West Ham fan. I said, “I can’t wait to get this Liverpool shirt off me.” Steven Gerrard, who had held my hand as we walked out at the start, heard me, the Liverpool players heard me. Everyone was amused but it was pretty embarrassing.I became their mascot as my dad used to be involved in the pub industry and had a friend at Carlsberg (then Liverpool’s sponsors). It was an amazing day and Alan Pardew gave me the West Ham pennant that was carried out.Memory: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and Prince William at the 2006 FA Cup final (Getty Images)If your house was on fire, what one item would you save? I collect art. I’ve got two sketches by Chris Riddell, an artist who illustrates children’s books, which have a lot of sentimental value to me. So I’d save those. I know technically that’s two items but they’re sort of a pair.What would be your specialist Mastermind subject? I enjoy a good pub quiz. It would probably be an area of geography, like capital cities. Or Victorian history, specifically Benjamin Disraeli and the politics of the time. Or just Disraeli.What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought? A Morris Minor Traveller. Half of the frame is wood and it was slightly terrifying going at any speed above 30mph. If you were in a crash you’d be dust. It was really cool but a ridiculous acquisition. I don’t have it anymore. Break time: Ollie Thorley, on the attack against Wasps, has 11 Premiership tries to his name (Getty Images) center_img A consistent threat in the Premiership, uncapped Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley is part of England’s 2020 Six Nations squad. He talks wooden cars, Moses and a royal confession Do you have any nicknames?The main ones are Thorlo or One-ten. Some people call me one-ten because they say I go 110% in everything. In the England camp they called me Thor. Thor, son of Odin.Any future goals you want to achieve?I’d like to progress and play for England – and not just play but play well.It would be great for Gloucester to keep building and putting pressure on Saracens and Exeter. Gloucester is a rugby-obsessed city, the fans are the best in the league, so doing justice to all that would be an amazing feeling.And outside of rugby? I had a place to read history but because of rugby didn’t take it up. Some form of higher education is important to me. So my next non-rugby goal is sorting out a degree. Powerful: Thorley slips the tackle of Ralph Adams-Hale during a league match against Saracens (Getty)This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more

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Could you be the 2019-20 Rugby World Team of the Year?

first_img Could you be the 2019-20 Rugby World Team of the Year?The Rugby World Team of the Year award will be decided shortly and we’re inviting amateur sides from anywhere in the world to send in their entries.Bournemouth claimed the prize last year after a phenomenal season of club growth that was capped by the record-breaking first XV, runaway winners of the South-West Premier league.The promoted Dorset side found life in National Two South a great deal harder and when the RFU decided to suspend the season because of the pandemic, Bournemouth were in the relegation position. They will be back in South-West Premier next season.Captain’s bounty: Bournemouth No 8 Joe Rees with the trophy last year (Simon Carlton)“We feel we built some excellent foundations towards the latter end of this season which we look forward to building upon,” said the coaches in a joint online message.So who will take the mantle this year? Our successful team will in all likelihood have claimed silverware this season, but success comes in many forms.For example, our 2012 winners Old Bristolians not only swept to a league and vase double but used the tragic death of second-team captain Robbie Stuart as a catalyst for rapid expansion and selfless charity work. The club had raised nearly £140,000 for CLIC Sargent at the time of their Rugby World award.Sale’s Josh Beaumont got his hands on the trophy in 2013 as captain of Durham University before it returned to Surrey.Cobham U18, with a squad containing Jack Clifford and Madison Hughes, had won in 2011 and three years later it was the turn of Farnham to fly the flag for the Home Counties. The club where Jonny Wilkinson started his rugby journey, Farnham enjoyed success at both ends of the scale in 2014, with their thriving mini section – they took 300 youngsters to a beach rugby festival in Devon – evidence of their rounded approach.Stepping stone: Jack Clifford, a RW winner with Cobham in 2011, scores for Harlequins last season (Getty)And then Battersea Ironsides, where England prop Kyle Sinckler rocked up as an eight-year-old to try rugby for the first time, were able to add our coveted cup to their cabinet.Ironsides won an historic treble that year, a feat matched by our 2016 Team of the Year Heriot’s. The Edinburgh club won the Premiership, Scottish Cup and Charity Shield, playing with a panache that lit up the game north of the border. Lions’ roar: Bournemouth won the Rugby World Team of the Year trophy last season (Simon Carlton) Manchester took the honours in 2017 after arresting a spectacular slide in swashbuckling style. The South Lancashire & Cheshire One trophy was tangible evidence that you can come back from the depths of despair and they have advanced their goal of being “the best amateur club we can be”.Then, in 2018, it was the turn of Drybrook, a village club from Gloucestershire, to get their hands on our trophy after punching way above their weight.Dry run: Gloucestershire team Drybrook were our winners in the 2017-18 season (Gary Taylor)Now we need a team worthy of following in their footsteps and those of current holders Bournemouth. So, have you swept all opponents aside? Have you worked tirelessly to boost playing numbers, or even just survive? Have you a story to tell that could inspire others?If your team has impressed in one way or another over the 2019-20 campaign, seize the moment by nominating your team.Already this season we’ve seen monthly awards for the likes of Glossop and Stamford in the Midlands, Sunderland, with their ex-pro footballer Leon Ryan, and King’s Ely, a Cambridgeshire school thriving after reinstating rugby as a games option. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Don’t delay, send in your nomination now!Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. So can you go one better by winning the big one? If you think your side – whether men, women or youth – merits the Rugby World Team of the Year award, simply email [email protected] to explain why.The current lockdown means we are unable to arrange a team picture, so entrants will need to provide a high-res photo. It’s time to decide the coveted 2019-20 Rugby World Team of the Year winner. So if your team has stood out from the crowd this season, send in your nomination nowlast_img read more

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Leigh Halfpenny: How to kick for goal

first_img All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett, the World Rugby… Leigh Halfpenny: How to kick for goalOnly Neil Jenkins and Stephen Jones have scored more points for Wales than Leigh Halfpenny, whose goalkicking was also crucial to the British & Irish Lions’ series win in Australia in 2013. Here he offers his top tips on kicking for goal…The tee“When placing the ball, line up the seam of the ball with the target – the middle of the posts. My personal preference is to have the seam with the pump valve on the opposite side to the one facing me. I’m a right-footed kicker and I’ll be aiming to hit the sweet spot about a third of the way up the ball.”The angle“Once the ball is on the tee, I take four steps back and then five to the left, to leave myself with a 45-degree angle towards the ball. Then I’ll visualise 
the ball going between the posts – 
a successful outcome. I like to set a target of a third post in the middle of the two actual posts and I visualise the ball hitting that. If I hit that, I know it’s through!”The run-up The Wales full-back explains how to hit the target from the tee LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “As I run up, I plant my left foot alongside the ball about a shoulder-width apart from it and look to hit the sweet spot with the instep of my right foot, then follow through. Don’t stop once you strike the ball, take your weight through it and finish past the tee.”MORE SKILLS ADVICE… England Women’s full-back Danielle Waterman gives her top… Beauden Barrett: How to mix your kicks Expand Collapse Danielle Waterman: How to sidestep Beauden Barrett: How to mix your kicks Expand Danielle Waterman: How to sidestep Mike Haley: How to perfect your positioning at 15 Mike Haley: How to perfect your positioning at 15 Tee time: Leigh Halfpenny kicks a conversion for Wales (Getty Images) Sale Sharks full-back Mike Haley gives his top… The stance“You want an upright stance when kicking the ball, not bent over. That gets me more power and distance – and more accuracy – when I’m striking the ball. I use trigger phrases – get alongside the ball, stay upright, make contact through the ball. Because I’m focused on executing those points, I forget about 
the crowd.”This article originally appeared in the December 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine. Every month Rugby World features advice from professional players and coaches on specific skills. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more

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