It is 8 November.
England are about to tackle the All Blacks at Twickenham.
For captain Chris Robshaw, matchday starts with a lie-in; he has his own room due to his thunderous snoring. Then comes breakfast, a massage and some physio if required before the forwards go through a couple of plays while the backs play a passing game.
England legend Martin Johnson has finally broken his silence on the team’s World Cup embarrassments off the field in New Zealand, saying he lamented the way “rugby got dragged through the mud”.
Under Johnson’s command as coach, England’s 2011 campaign lurched from one disaster to another including: drunken players involved in a dwarf-throwing competition in a Queenstown bar, Mike Tindall being photographed with an ex-girlfriend, inappropriate comments being made to a female hotel worker, and Manu Tuilagi jumping off a ferry into Auckland’s harbour.
When the World Cup kicks off in a little under a year’s time, England will have played all but one of the other nine sides in the top ten of the current IRB World Rankings. Psychologically, it is a huge 12 months for next year’s hosts.
In the past few seasons, they have made huge strides in the right direction – but they are not the finished product yet.
There’s a year to go until the World Cup – just enough time for it to be turned into an eligibility farce.
The potential for the game’s biggest event to be laughed out of town is growing. The prospect of teams turning up with legions of players who don’t really have a strong link to the jersey they wear is real.
International coaches – and selection panels before them – traditionally prize solidity at centre, and nowhere more than in England.
Which is not to say that they’ve not had great creative centres; Jeff Butterfield, Jerry Guscott and Will Greenwood had talents that would have been welcomed in any team in the world.
The Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby have settled their dispute over World Cup compensation, the governing bodies have announced.
England’s 12 clubs are likely to share £13 million provided by the RFU and have been cleared to play matches during the knockout stage of the tournament.
“It’s a reflection of the strength of the partnership that once again we have managed to come to an arrangement that benefits both the RFU and clubs,” RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said.
The school term has finished and the report cards have been dispatched.
This makes it as good a time as any to deliver a summary on how the Wallabies have fared since Ewen McKenzie took over the top job 14 months ago.
Record wise, the Wallabies are on an impressive run, winning 11 of their past 12 games, but the goal has to be to win against the top nations, South Africa and the All Blacks.
They have achieved one of those two desired outcomes.
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons I have observed during the opening stages of the McKenzie era:
Today marks exactly 1 year before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off.
There’s no sign of a change in design, but the Rugby Football Union has issued an apology over the controversial new jersey England will debut against the All Blacks in London in November.
The jersey, manufactured by Canterbury, has drawn criticism for its use of rubber grips across the chest area in the shape of the hallowed Victoria Cross. They were intended to help deaden the impact of the ball and help with grip.
England have broken the mould with their new kit as they have moved the rose to the centre of the shirt for the first time.
The kit will be worn by England throughout the 2014-15 campaign with a new strip unveiled before the start of next year’s World Cup.
In addition to the new-look home shirt, England have reverted back to a traditional red change strip which will be worn against Samoa in the autumn internationals.
Gloucester and England back James Simpson-Daniel has confirmed his retirement after failing to recover from an ankle injury.
The 32-year-old winger has been sidelined since last November when he suffered an horrific ankle injury in an LV= Cup fixture against Newcastle Falcons at Kingsholm.
Sinbad, as he is affectionately known by all connected with Gloucester, has battled bravely in an attempt to regain full fitness but has reluctantly been forced to admit defeat.
Despite the desperately disappointing news, Simpson-Daniel preferred to dwell on the positives when he spoke to the club website.
Northampton flanker Tom Wood has said that the England squad has been told they have to get much fitter in the light of their series whitewash by New Zealand in the summer.
In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, Wood said that one of the issues is that the week-in, week-out club game no longer prepares players well enough for the rigours of the international game.
“International level is dramatically different to the club game,” he said. “We have been shown data that illustrates that.
Premiership Rugby has threatened to continue with their league programme during next year’s Rugby World Cup unless a deal can be reached with the RFU.
Tensions have been running high between Premiership Rugby and the RFU in recent months.
Premiership Rugby are upset after the RFU failed to consult them over the bid for the Rugby World Cup.
They are now seeking a compensation deal of £14 million from the RFU as they will have to shut down the league while the Rugby World Cup is taking place in England.
With the global showpiece scheduled to take place between September and October, England’s Premiership clubs will have no matchday income for five months – as the tournament finishes at the end of May – and according to projections each top tier club are set to lose £1.2 million.
The hostility Emily Scarratt suffered for wanting to play rugby as a teenager was made to look even more absurd when she sealed England’s World Cup triumph last Sunday with a superb individual try.
Like the rest of her team-mates, Scarratt is only too aware of the cliches surrounding women’s rugby.
‘Leave it to the men,’ the dinosaurs say. ‘The rugby field is no place for girls’.
There has been no change in the Top 12 of the IRB world rankings following the opening round of The Rugby Championship.
Despite seeing their 17-Test win streak end in Sydney thanks to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies, New Zealand continue to lead the way on 93.42 points.
The Wallabies, courageous in their efforts – and perhaps a little unlucky – remain in third position on 87.32.
England were crowned champions after beating first-time finalists Canada 21-9 in an enthralling Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 title decider at Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris on Sunday.
Hosts France overcame Ireland 25-18 to finish third, while four-time champions New Zealand ran riot against the USA and Australia beat Wales to secure fifth and seventh place. Spain overcame South Africa for ninth place and Samoa picked up their first win to condemn Kazakhstan to 12th place.
England will be aiming to end a run of three straight defeats in Women’s Rugby World Cup finals when they meet Canada in Paris on Sunday.
The Red Roses, who claimed their only world title in 1994, were beaten by New Zealand in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
Gary Street’s team are favourites to beat a Canadian side who will be appearing in their first final.
But England captain Katy Mclean warned: “As soon as you start thinking about lifting cups is when you fall over.”
New Zealand, winners of the last four World Cups, were knocked out of the competition at the pool stage after a shock defeat by Ireland.
Glenwood’s Jaco Coetzee has been selected to captain the SA Schools team for 2014 against France, Wales and England.
Their first match is against France at the City Park Stadium in Cape Town on 15 August, followed by Wales at Outeniqua Park in George on 19 August, and England at the Paul Roos Markötter grounds in Stellenbosch on 23 August.
Canada will face former champions England in the final of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 on Sunday at the Stade Jean Bouin after they enjoyed contrasting semi-final victories in the French capital.
England booked their place in a sixth Women’s Rugby World Cup final after an emphatic 40-7 victory over first-time semi-finalists Ireland, the Red Roses finally producing the all-round performance they had been craving.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has called together a group of 55 players for a four-day training camp in Loughborough.
The squad will report to the university this afternoon for strength and conditioning assessments as well as rugby training before departing at lunchtime on Wednesday.
This is the first time the players have met since the three Test tour to New Zealand last June, with the majority of the travelling party attending.
Defending champions New Zealand got their World Cup defence off to a strong start on day one of the tournament while wins for hosts France, Canada, Australia, England and Ireland mean the competition is set for more classic match-ups before the 17 August final.
The seventh Women’s Rugby World Cup saw sell-out crowds watch six top-quality matches at FFR headquarters in the French capital.
Ireland beat their Pool B rivals USA in a match that could be crucial for the progress of the girls in green, while Australia and England impressed in their pool openers.
England Rugby World Cup winning flanker Richard Hill MBE has been appointed by the RFU as Player Pathway Liaison Manager.
The consultancy position will see Hill, a 2003 World Cup winner, play an important role with England’s international performance coaches to help identify, mentor and develop young players, between the ages of 15-19, both on and off the field.
He will also liaise between the RFU’s rugby executive staff and key external stakeholders of the governing body.
There is a palpable level of excitement in the country ahead of the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow this year. Driving up the road over the weekend one was reminded by overhead sign boards long before reaching Glasgow of the need to plan ahead and potential difficulties in travelling as a result of the Games.
The online search engine Google has the theme of the games on its page, there is a lot of coverage in the media both online, in print and of course in audio and visual. Radio schedules have already been changed on some stations providing coverage already ahead of the Games which are due to get kick started with the opening ceremony tonight. In advertising it’s radio coverage the national broadcaster has even made a pledge to bring all the action of Scotland’s medal winning events live to the public. Colleagues have members of their family involved on a voluntary basis as ambassadors for Glasgow 2014 with some having already been helping out in the Athletes Village for the last two weeks.
In rugby, like most sports, teams and athletes have had a bad playing strip or two. Individual sports that comes to mind is cycling and golf. There have been some truly terrible creations that those athletes have worn, all in the name of sponsorship and moolah.
In rugby, its generally the alternate, or so called away strip, where designers indulge in a bit too much whacky weed before sitting down in front of the drawing boards. For the most part, kits are practical and speak of tradition and history, however, there are times that the Sporting and Designing Gods sincerely fall out and abominations like the ones that appear below.
These choices of ours are by no means exhaustive and is fairly recent in it’s selection, however, if you disagree, let us know and tell us which ones you think should have made the cut.
There’s ccertainly been some strange kit in recent years!
It appears the Kit sponsors want to stamp some sort of mark on their creations, so prepare yourself for some more strange jerseys in future!
For all the talk of players leaving Australian shores, the costliest exit may be Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, who is bound for Gloucester next year. The Brumbies’ lineout, drive, scrum and defence against the relatively new Chiefs tactic of setting up mauls in general play were the difference in an outstanding qualifying final of tiny margins on Saturday. Not only that, but Fisher worked lineout miracles with emergency hooker Ruaidhri Murphy in the few short weeks since he understandably struggled against the Waratahs. Murphy was like Phil Taylor with his arrows when he came on for the closing stages, even hitting Ben Mowen at the tail of one set-piece. Brilliant work
We don’t always get to hear much about our top-level coaches these days, certainly not much beyond the usual ‘this bloke is rubbish’/’this bloke’s a genius’ debate, but often there are stories and insight to be provided that goes well beyond the standard clichés.
Alistair Hargreaves has been appointed as the new Saracens captain. The Springbok lock forward, 28, succeeds Steve Borthwick, who retired at the end of last season.
The former Sharks man has been with the Saracens since 2012, born and schooled in Durban he played for the Sharks from under-19 level.
He has been capped four times for the Springboks, the last of those coming in the 2011 Tri-Nations tournament.
Fiji have qualified as Oceania 1 for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England by beating the Cook Islands 108-6 in Lautoka. The Flying Fijians scored 17 unanswered tries in a runaway victory in front of their adoring home fans at Churchill Park.
Fiji join hosts England, Australia, Wales and the yet to be determined Repechage winner in Pool A, and will have the honour of playing England at Twickenham in the opening match of the tournament on 18 September.
New Zealand rugby writers have hailed the All Blacks record-equalling performance to trounce England in the third Test on Saturday, seeing it as a set-back for England’s World Cup hopes.
The “muscularity” of the All Blacks forwards was given as much credit as the flair of the backs who scored all five tries and ran England ragged, particularly in the first half.
“As good as it gets” said Fairfax Media, echoing the thoughts of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, while the Herald on Sunday praised the “well-oiled All Black machine”.
England came in for scathing criticism from their coaches after failing to measure up to the intensity of the All Blacks, who won the third Test in Hamilton 36-13 on Saturday.
“We started poor and it got worse,” assistant coach Andy Farrell said, referring to a Freddie Burns opening kick-off a that failed to go the required 10 metres, setting the All Blacks up for a first-half rout in which they led 29-6 at half-time.
In the first two Tests, the All Blacks had to come from behind in the second half to win, but in Hamilton they seized control from the start.
All Blacks (29) 36 / 13 (6) England (Final Score)
The New Zealand All Blacks and England did battle in the 3rd Test of the June Internationals at
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & CSN on TV in SA.
England Under 20 retained their title as the IRB’s Junior World Champions when they edged their South African counterparts 21-20 in Auckland on Friday.
It was far from a clinical display. In fact it was a typical Final – in which there was good and bad kicking, handling errors, moments of sublime brilliance and a few poor options.
However, it was a great and enthralling encounter to watch, as two of the giants of the junior game went head-to-head.
In the end England deserved the win, if only because they made fewer errors and managed to overcome their soft moments better than the Baby Boks did.
Two of the key aspects were the line-outs, where JD Schickerling reigned supreme, and the kicking game – with Handré Pollard and Warrick Gelant’s boots just so much more accurate and secure.
However, errors limited the Baby Boks’ ability to capitalise on their superiority on those departments.
England were on Friday forced into a forward reshuffle on the eve of the third Test against the All Blacks in Hamilton with Joe Launchbury replacing injured lock Geoff Parling.
Launchbury will partner Courtney Lawes to re-establish England’s Six Nations middle-row pairing in what becomes the eighth change to the side that lost the second Test in Dunedin 28-27.
Parling has not fully recovered from a hamstring injury suffered in the Dunedin clash.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has made a number of changes to his team ahead of the third and final Test against New Zealand at the Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, on Saturday.
Most notably was the decision to move Manu Tuilagi’s back to midfield, making his transition to a Test wing a very shortlived affair.
Tuilagi, who caused trouble for New Zealand from his preferred centre position in the first Test in Auckland, was largely anonymous on the right wing for the second Test in Dunedin last week.
He will be joined in midfield by his first Test centre partner Kyle Eastmond.
Kieran Read will play in his first Test of the year, after finally overcoming the concussion issues that has sidelined him for months.
Read’s inclusion in the starting 15 is one of two changes to the team hat will play England in the third and final Test of the June series at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, on Saturday.
The All Blacks made just the two changes, injecting Read and Malakai Fekitoa to the starting line up as they chase a clean sweep in the series.
Coach Steve Hansen said he’d decided not to try new combinations with the series already won, as he looks to develop his preferred run-on side – who were far from perfect in winning the first two Tests 20-15 and 28-27.
There was little change in the International Rugby Board’s rankings after the weekend’s matches, according to the IRB website.
New Zealand, who beat England 28-27 in Dunedin to secure the three-match series, remain at the top with 93.81 ratings points.
The Springboks, who beat Wales 38-16 in Durban, stay in 2nd position on 89.34, while Australia – who were 6-0 victors over France in Melbourne – stay in 3rd position (86.92) ahead of England (85.68).