Saracens and England centre Brad Barritt has committed his future to the club signing a long-term deal at Allianz Park.
The 28-year old is the latest Saracen to commit his future to the north Londoners, following the likes of Marcelo Bosch, Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and George Kruis in signing contract extensions.
On signing his new deal, Barritt said: “I’m absolutely delighted to stay a part of the Saracens family. I consider this place home and I’m really looking forward to the years ahead with this fantastic club.
England centre Manu Tuilagi is set to miss the rest of the Aviva Premiership season because of a groin injury but should be fit for the World Cup, his Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill said.
The 23-year-old, who has won 25 caps and scored 11 tries for England, is still recovering from the injury he sustained in October.
England’s World Cup campaign begins against Fiji on 18 September, but they play France at home and away in August before hosting Ireland at Twickenham on 5 September.
Ben Spencer kicked a last-ditch penalty to win the LV Cup for Saracens.
After a pulsating second half which saw 5 tries scored, Spencer had the kick with the scores at 20 / 20 with time up on the clock and the scrumhalf kept his nerve to win the trophy for the 1st time in the club’s history.
Somewhere, shaking his cauliflower ears in dismay, a grizzled old retired prop was probably secretly wishing someone would just stick the ball up his jumper and make a cautious 3 inches.
For everyone else watching this was surely the most thrilling day that 5 or 6 Nations rugby has seen: a fantasy finale, a chest-squeezer and knee-knocker, a day to fall back in love.
There are the stats: 221 points scored across the 3 matches, the most in a single weekend – 27 tries, run in from deep and wide and everywhere in between.
There was England’s record score against France, Ireland’s biggest away win, the most tries Wales have scored in 1 championship half.
Then there was the style. This was rugby we thought had died and been laid to rest, killed by detailed analysis and the professional urge to be sensible.
Sensible? This was glorious chaos, March madness to put a spring in every watcher’s step and an ulcer in the stomach of every defence coach.
The Board of Saracens and Edward Griffiths announced that, following seven very successful years with the club, the CEO will be leaving at the end of the season to pursue new opportunities.
“After seven years as CEO Edward is moving on,” Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray said.
“He has created and leaves an outstanding and beautiful new permanent home for Saracens, and a team of people with a real caring and community focus and we will build upon this legacy.
“Edward will forever be a Saracen and always welcome amongst his friends at Allianz Park.”
It should be a 3-way fight between England, Ireland and Wales for the Six Nations title on Saturday, although France still have an outside chance.
The Top 3 are locked on 6 Points with 3 wins apiece, while England’s points difference of +37 puts them 1st, ahead of Ireland’s +33 and Wales’ +12.
France are 4th with 4 Points and a points difference of +22.
Philippe Saint-Andre’s side could still steal the title if Wales and Ireland lose and Les Bleus then beat England by a margin of 8 points or more, but it looks a remote possibility.
If teams are level on points, and match-points difference, then England are likely to win the Championship on tries scored, having crossed 11 times to Ireland’s 4 and Wales’ 5. In the highly unlikely event this was also level come Saturday night, the trophy would be shared.
Wales are in action 1st away to Italy in Rome (14:30 SA Time, 12:30 GMT), before Ireland take on Scotland at Murrayfield (16:30 SA Time, 14:30 GMT), ahead of England’s home match against France at Twickenham (19:00 SA Time, 17:00 GMT).
With the Six Nations wide open, we assess the 4 teams’ chances.
Leicester lock Geoff Parling was recalled by England coach Stuart Lancaster for Saturday’s decisive Six Nations showdown with France at Twickenham.
Parling comes into the second row in place of Dave Attwood, who drops out of the squad, in the only change to the starting 15 that overcame Scotland 25 / 13 last weekend.
Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter returns to the bench.
Premiership Rugby’s bid to increase the size of the top flight to 14 clubs and suspend relegation for an unspecified number of seasons, forms a cornerstone of its negotiations with Twickenham over a new elite-player agreement.
Any change to replace the deal that runs out next year would have to be agreed by the Rugby Football Union’s 60-strong council.
The Premiership has resisted calls in the past decade to go up from 12 to 14, not least because each club’s share of central funds would drop, but the change in the way the European Cup is organised has had a significant effect. Other factors to be considered include a new television deal with BT Sport, which kicks in from the 2016 / 2017 season and is worth significantly more than the present contract, together with the extra income that will come with the new elite-player agreement. This will lead to considerably more money for all, even with 2 extra sides.
The television broadcast rights for the English (Aviva) Premiership over the next 6 years have been snapped up by current broadcaster BT Sport.
The new deal means that Aviva Premiership Rugby will be broadcast live on BT Sport until at least the end of the 2020 / 2021 campaign.
Mark McCafferty, the chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said,”BT Sport has been a fantastic partner for English club rugby so we are delighted that we have been able to extend our relationship with them for a further 4 years. This is the longest TV agreement in the history of Premiership Rugby.
“In the 18 months we have been on-air with them our live TV audiences have grown by 50% so it is clear that the partnership is going from strength to strength.
England (10) 25 / 13 (13) Scotland (Final Score)
England and Scotland did battle in the RBS 6 Nations at
Twickenham, London at 19:00 SA Time (17:00 BST & GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named a team with five changes for their penultimate Six Nations Championship match against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Cotter has brought back David Denton, Dougie Fife, Matt Scott, Jim Hamilton and Finn Russell to a Scotland team that are still looking for their first victory this year.
The five players come in to the starting team to replace Johnnie Beattie, knee injury victims Sean Lamont and Alex Dunbar, and Tim Swinson and Peter Horne.
Lock Courtney Lawes and fullback Mike Brown have been recalled for England’s Six Nations clash with Scotland on Saturday, after recovering from injury, head coach Stuart Lancaster announced on Wednesday.
Northampton forward Lawes has returned to fitness after an ankle problem and is in line to make his first international appearance since England’s 26 / 17 victory over Australia last November.
Harlequins No 15 Brown sat out England’s 9 / 19 defeat by Ireland last time out, after suffering concussion in the 47 / 17 win over Italy, with Alex Goode having taken his place.
Goode drops to the bench, where tighthead prop Kieran Brookes, second row forward Geoff Parling and flank Tom Wood have all been drafted into the matchday squad.
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has revealed that he and his team-mates have seen a different side of head coach Vern Cotter this week.
The New Zealander has generally been very supportive of his players since taking up the post last summer but, after 3 successive losses in the Six Nations Championship, his patience has worn thin. As the countdown to Saturday’s match against England at Twickenham reaches its final stages, Cotter has become more demanding of the squad, as well as changing his approach to analysing what has been going wrong.
Ireland (9) 19 / 9 (3) England (Final Score)
Ireland and England did battle in the RBS 6 Nations at
Aviva Stadium, Dublin at 17:00 SA Time (15:00 BST & GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.
England fullback Mike Brown is unlikely to return to action in time for the crucial Six Nations clash against Ireland following a setback in his recovery from concussion.
The 29-year-old felt a recurrence of his symptoms on Friday after being knocked unconscious in the 47 / 17 victory over Italy and having completed a weekend of rest has restarted the return to play protocols.
The earliest the Harlequins star will be able to resume contact training is Friday, the day head coach Stuart Lancaster announces his starting line-up for Sunday’s showdown between the Championship’s only remaining unbeaten teams in Dublin.
It leaves Brown – who had an outstanding tournament last year scoring 4 tries – with a race against time to prove his fitness knowing any further flare-up in symptoms will force him to start the protocols again and rule him out of contention.
The ongoing poaching of South Africa’s Rugby players goes ahead unabated with the announcement by English club Coventry that they have signed South African born centre Mark Hodgkiss from Maties.
Coventry already have a number of SA born players on their books and even though they only play in the 3rd tier of English Rugby, this latest signing serves to illustrate the depth of the problem facing South African Rugby.
This media release from Coventry Rugby’s website:
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has named an unchanged match day squad for Saturday’s Six Nations match against Italy at Twickenham.
The 23 players will re-assemble at Pennyhill Park on Wednesday, with the starting XV and replacements announced on Thursday.
Lancaster said: “We’ll name the team on Thursday but we’ve gone for the same squad that played against Wales as we look to build consistent performances.
“There are many players pushing hard for selection and we are looking forward to watching their club games this weekend.”
A strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21 / 16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to 3rd in the latest World Rugby rankings.
According to the World Rugby (previously IRB), the victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26 / 3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.
Wales (16) 16 / 21 (8) England (Final Score)
Wales and England did battle in the SIX Nations at
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff at 22:05 SA Time (20:05 BST & GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.
Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph form a new-look midfield partnership, as England recalled four British and Irish Lions for Friday’s Six Nations opener against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
Dan Cole starts at tighthead prop, while Leicester Tigers teammates Tom Youngs and Tom Croft, as well as Saracens loosehead Mako Vunipola, are included among the replacements.
All four played some part in England’s 3 / 30 defeat at the same venue two years ago and will be itching to set the record straight.
Cole comes in for David Wilson (Bath) to win a 46th cap in a pack showing four changes from the one that started the final 2014 year-end Test against Australia.
Sale Sharks flyhalf Danny Cipriani has been named in the England squad for the Six Nations opener against Wales. The 27-year-old, who has not featured since last June’s tour of New Zealand, is set to start on the bench.
Harlequins No 8 eight Nick Easter, 36, returns for the first time since the 2011 World Cup.
Leicester Tigers trio Dan Cole, Tom Croft and Tom Youngs and Saracens prop Mako Vunipola are also named in Stuart Lancaster’s 25-man party.
Bath centre Jonathan Joseph returns to the squad for the first time since the 2013 tour to Argentina.
The World Cup countdown is officially on, as the Six Nations sides get the first opportunity in the spotlight.
xThe Northern Hemisphere teams will look to sharpen up on their game plans, test out combinations and look to see who to cut from their World Cup plans.
With England hosting the global showpiece this year, the onus is on the Northern Hemisphere sides to fully challenge and grab the opportunity of a World Cup on their turf.
The conditions, referees and schedule seems to favour them.
The Six Nations in 2014 saw a tournament only decided on the final day – with three teams still able to win it. Eventually Ireland won it, a perfect swan song for arguably the greatest No.13 in the modern era – Brian O’Driscoll.
England won the triple crown, beating all the other Home Nations, but failed to win the Six Nations. Italy was also in the record books for the most tackles in a Test match as they made 208!
What do we expect in the 2015 edition of the Six Nations?
Saracens (0) 26 / 39 (13) Blue Bulls (Final Score)
Saracens and the Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in an inter-hemisphere match which also served as
warm-up for the Bulls at Allianz Park, London at 17:15 SA Time (15:15 BST & GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
Flanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when they take on Saracens in a friendly match outside London. The Blue Bulls named their final travelling squad on Wednesday, just before departure to England.
Regular captain Pierre Spies will only play off the bench in his return to first class rugby after more than 12 months on the sidelines; hence the decision to employ Stegmann’s proven leadership skills. The former Springbok flanker captained the Vodacom Blue Bulls with great success in the ABSA Currie Cup competition in the past.
Another former captain, Victor Matfield, will travel to London as part of the coaching team and not as a player and will not be in action over the weekend.
Leicester Tigers flank Tom Croft and Northampton Saints lock Christian Day have been called up to the England training squad.
The reinforcements come as coach Stuart Lancaster assesses the impact of an injury-laden round of European action – ahead of the first round of Six nations action, when England face Wales in Cardiff on 6 February.
Two-time British and Irish Lion Croft and former age-grade star Day joined the squad on Monday – while Geoff Parling’s knee and Tom Wood’s ankle are fully assessed by the England medical team.
Three-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls won’t find that their pre-season campaign gets any easier when they tackle English Premiership side Saracens at their Allianz Park, north London stronghold on Saturday.
The game (Kick-Off 17:15 SA Time, 15:15 BST & GMT) is due to be screened live on SuperSport 1 and CSN, after the Loftus-based side played out a 30 / 13 win minus the glare of television cameras against Super Rugby rivals the Cheetahs in Polokwane last Saturday.
There are few better ways to get European-stationed expatriate rugby players’ juices flowing than by pitting them against South African-based compatriots, and it seems Sarries – currently 3rd in the Premiership behind Northampton and Bath – will be in a position to field several against the presumably still rusty Bulls.
England flyhalf Owen Farrell will undergo tests after hobbling off with a knee injury during Saracens’ 6 / 18 European Champions Cup defeat at Clermont on Sunday.
Farrell was forced off in the 19th minute, after twisting his left knee in a collision with Clermont flank Julien Bardy.
Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said the 23-year-old would now undergo further tests to see if he can compete in the Six Nations which gets underway on 6 February.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says England made a mistake by not appointing him and New Zealander Wayne Smith as coaches 3 years ago.
Mallett, 58, was in line for the England head coaching job but lost out to Stuart Lancaster.
In an interview with The Times, Mallett said he would have appointed Smith as his assistant coach had he got the England job.
Smith was the All Blacks’ assistant coach when they won the 2011 Rugby World Cup and also helped the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.
Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter and Sale Sharks flyhalf Danny Cipriani have been named in Stuart Lancaster’s England training squad for the forthcoming Six Nations championship.
The 34-man group will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Monday 26 January, to prepare for their tournament-opening match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Friday 6 February.
There are also places for 5 British and Irish Lions – as Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs (all Leicester Tigers) and Mako Vunipola (Saracens) return from respective injuries.
Courtney Lawes, one of England’s key forwards, will miss the start of the SIX Nations Championship after he undergoes surgery on an injured ankle on Monday.
Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said the 25-year-old Saints lock was set to miss the “first few weeks” of the tournament, which could mean Lawes being sidelined not just for England’s opening game with Wales on 6 February but also the Italy match on 14 February.
It is a blow for England to lose their 36-times capped powerhouse, as they are already without Wasps lock Joe Launchbury for the whole tournament as he continues his rehabilitation from neck surgery.
England No 8 Ben Morgan is likely to miss the entire SIX Nations campaign after fracturing his left leg in Gloucester’s 24-23 win over Saracens in the Premiership last Friday.
The 25-year-old Morgan, who was carried off in the second half and given oxygen, had surgery on Saturday with Gloucester confirming the player had fractured his lower left leg.
Plymouth Albion’s chairman Graham Stirling claims the Championship is unsustainable unless the Rugby Football Union increases its funding to clubs.
Albion will go into administration next week unless they can find £250,000 to see them through until the summer.
Championship clubs currently receive £380,000 a year from the RFU.
“We do get central funding from the RFU, but it’s inadequate to support a fully professional side in the second tier,” Stirling told BBC Sport.
England centre Manu Tuilagi could miss the Six Nations opener against Wales next month as he continues his recovery from a groin injury, his Leicester Tigers club boss said on Sunday.
The powerful 23-year-old, widely regarded as key to England’s hopes in the annual European tournament and September’s home World Cup, has not played since last October.
“It may well come too soon, we’ll see,” Leiceister’s Richard Cockerill told reporters when asked about the 6 February date in Cardiff.
The Cell C Sharks have lured a New Zealand Sevens player to Durban as they continue to bolster their own ranks.
New Zealand-born wing Jack Wilson has signed for the Sharks from English Premiership club Saracens and will immediately join the Super Rugby squad.
The talented wing, 25, arrived in London in December 2012 and has scored 6 tries in 19 appearances for Saracens.
His arrival follows shortly after confirmation that Saracens’ England lock Mouritz Botha will also make Durban his home next year. Botha, unlike Wilson, will only join the coastal franchise in January.
Sam Burgess scored his first try in rugby union as he played at blindside flanker in Bath academy’s win over London Irish A.
Burgess, 26, had featured at centre in each of his four first-team appearances since switching codes in October.
He played 63 minutes and scored in the first half of the 44-5 A League victory at the Rec.