Russia will take the narrowest of leads with them to Montevideo in two weeks’ time after they beat Uruguay 22-21 in Saturday’s first leg of the final Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier in Krasnoyarsk. However, while no team likes to lose a game of rugby, Uruguay’s Pablo Lemoine will probably be the more satisfied of the two coaches as his side is still very much in contention at what is effectively half-time. Of course, the fact that the second half will most likely be played on a warm day in front 12,000 home fans will give him cause for optimism after his team held their own in the near-freezing conditions and vociferous Siberian crowd of the first 80 minutes.
But for Russia’s indiscipline and the cultured right boot of fly-half Felipe Berchesi, who slotted seven penalties, the gap would have been more. Two yellow cards, a high penalty count and the spurning of several try-scoring opportunities did nothing for the mood of Russia coach Raphael Saint-Andre but he will know that his team was the more creative on the day and, if they can somehow learn to compete at set pieces and improve their defence at mauls, they too can make the long journey to South America with some confidence.
If there was a World Cup without the All Blacks, we would have a great chance of lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.
I say this because perhaps we may have been a little harsh in our criticism of the Wallabies in relation to our neighbours across the ditch.
The Wallabies are in a predicament, along with South Africa and Argentina. The three of us contest a competition against a side who right now are clearly the best rugby-playing nation.
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.
Conrad Smith has spoken highly of his midfield partnership with Ma’a Nonu after the pair equalled the world record for caps as a midfield combination in New Zealand’s 14-10 win over South Africa earlier this month.
Sadly, the broken arm suffered by Nonu during the first half in Wellington means they will have a long wait before getting the opportunity to improve on the 55-Test landmark shared with Irish centres, Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy.
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.
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.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen can see where his predecessor, Sir Graham Henry, is coming from.
But Hansen wants his team to continue improving without the need of a loss as a wake-up call.
Henry, with Hansen as an assistant, steered New Zealand to the World Cup title in 2011.
However, 12 months out from the start of their defence, Henry is worried they might get too used to winning and believes some adversity, namely a loss, might have benefits.
Sir Graham Henry believes Steve Hansen’s All Blacks have the ingredients to carry out a historic defence of the Rugby World Cup at next year’s tournament in England.
Henry delivered New Zealand their second World Cup at home in 2011 following their victory as hosts of the inaugural tournament in 1987.
No team has won back-to-back titles and no All Blacks side has triumphed away from home.
But, a year out from next year’s tournament, Henry is backing the current side to buck history.
“For sure, but it won’t be easy,” warned Henry who oversaw the quarterfinal disaster in 2007 before redeeming himself.
Today marks exactly 1 year before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off.
World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry has committed the ultimate sin in rugby-mad New Zealand, suggesting it would not hurt the All Blacks if they lose a game before they defend the Webb Ellis trophy next year in England.
The All Blacks have lost just once since Steve Hansen succeeded Henry after the successful World Cup campaign in 2011, winning 32 of their 35 Tests. They have also drawn twice with Australia.
The Wallabies quest for an unprecedented third Rugby World Cup crown is now just 12 months away with Thursday marking the one year countdown to the game’s showpiece event.
The eighth edition of the tournament will bring the game’s elite together in England and it will again be the All Blacks who start as red-hot favourites.
Sir Graham Henry would pick Dan Carter for the next World Cup though admits the veteran first-five now needs to earn his starting position ahead of two young “world class” alternatives in Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.
Today is a year-to-the-day before the Rugby World Cup tournament began at Twickenham with a match between England and Fiji.
The defending champion All Blacks will launch their campaign two days later with a match against Argentina at Wembley Stadium.
The All Blacks may march on undefeated but the weekend demonstrated palpably that South Africa are going to be big-time World Cup threats.
Maybe bigger even than the hosts who are also going to take some beating at Fortress Twickenham.
Sure, the Springboks weren’t able to get up and end their five-year losing streak on New Zealand soil, but boy did they get close. And a year out from the Cup it’s significant that they’re knocking on the door.
On Thursday, the start of RWC 2015 will be exactly one year away. Nineteen of the 20 participating nations have been decided, with Russia and Uruguay fighting it out over two legs in the next few weeks to fill the last remaining spot.
We take a look at how the pools are shaping up in terms of where the competing countries are in the World Rankings.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was left visibly frustrated and annoyed his side had failed to end the All Blacks’ five-year winning streak in New Zealand.
Deep down, however, he knew the mistakes that had been made could be rectified and the youngsters in his team would only be better for their tight 14-10 defeat to the world champions in Wellington on Saturday.
With the recent pedantic display of refereeing, it pains me to say that the World Cup could turn into a game of whistle-blowing, ruining the experience for the spectators and more importantly the players.
Some of the technical refereeing that has been on display has eliminated any “feel” for the game.
Right now, the blokes in the middle are trying to put on their best show to be chosen to get a gig in England in 2015. But who is judging their performance so they get to secure a position as a top whistle-blower?
Organised criminals with links to the arms and drugs trade were on Wednesday night plotting to hijack the Rugby World Cup ticket launch and hold countless ordinary fans to ransom on the secondary market.
Tournament organisers and senior police officers admitted the second biggest sporting event ever held in the UK would definitely be targeted by gangs of touts, who Britain’s leading anti-ticket fraud expert warned stood to make millions illegally from fleecing unsuspecting supporters.
The hosts of the 2015 Rugby World Cup say they didn’t forget to feature the All Blacks in an ad released yesterday encouraging people to buy tickets to the tournament.
In fact, current and former players were approached to do it, but declined the offer, an England Rugby 2015 official said.
Watch the video here
The short-term future of James O’Connor and his return to Australia is assured, but doubts remain about his long-term plans after the World Cup in Britain next year.
Queensland are expecting O’Connor, who has 44 Test caps with the Wallabies, to remain in Brisbane after announcing last Friday that the back had signed a two-year deal with them – starting next season.
Keven Mealamu says he isn’t done yet, not by a long shot.
As another round of hand wringing about the country’s lack of depth at hooker kicks off, Mealamu has reiterated his desire to be part of next year’s World Cup campaign.
Dane Coles’ looming absence from part, or all, of the All Blacks’ trip to Argentina and South Africa later this month for the birth of his partner’s child has again highlighted the dearth of options available to coach Steve Hansen.
Bay of Plenty’s Nathan Harris was the next cab off the rank, but after that it was anybody’s guess.
“We’ve been bringing people in and out of the environment,” Hansen said.
The awful truth about the Wallabies’ hammering last weekend is that by 2015 the All Blacks could roll out an entirely different back line and dish it out all over again.
Wallowing in pessimism? Perhaps, but look at the stockpile of talent that wasn’t even in the 23 in Auckland that, in theory, they could select next year.
The risk of losing star Wallabies like Israel Folau after the 2015 World Cup has prompted the Australian Rugby Union to change its rules to allow overseas sabbaticals.
The Australian Rugby Union will dangle a sizeable carrot to lure the country’s top players to sevens in the lead up to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
A New Zealand radio station has been criticised after running a competition to see how far its male listeners will go to win tickets to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Edge offered tickets if two heterosexual male friends got married. “We’ve done stranger weddings, naked weddings, same sex weddings but this is the first one that we know will end in divorce,” the station said in its promotional material.
Communities across the length and breadth of England and Wales will share in the excitement of hosting Rugby World Cup 2015 after tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 and owners Rugby World Cup Limited announced the selection of team base camps.
With Rugby at heart, a selection of 41 venues from the University of Exeter in the south to Newcastle Royal Grammar School in the north, extend the reach of the showcase tournament, while delivering the stage for the world’s best teams to perform to their potential.
The search for team bases was launched via an open tender process in April 2013 and just under 100 bids were received from across the country and in Wales. All prospective team bases were subject to a rigorous selection process which included an expansive and detailed programme of site visits as well as liaison with the competing Rugby World Cup 2015 teams.
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’.
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says South Africa deserves to have a Springbok team representative of its rainbow nation, The Star reported on Friday.
“Now, nearly 20 years later, I lament the tortoise pace at which transformation at the highest level is being effected,” he said in a letter to The Star’s sister paper, The Cape Times.
Tutu criticised the SA Rugby Union (SARU) for the pace of transformation in the team, and said it was “particularly hurtful” to see the selection of black players as “peripheral squad members never given the chance to settle down and earn their spurs.”
The Webb Ellis Cup has completed its first day in South Africa as part of the fifth leg of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.
On August 18 the Trophy visited Hoerskool Waterkloof in Pretoria where children from the school, along with groups from St Peters, Pretoria Technical High School and Elarduspark got to show off their Rugby playing skills in a coaching clinic which was led by former South Africa coach Ian McIntosh and Rugby World Cup 2007 winner Gary Botha.
Land Rover supports a number of schools through its South African dealer network – a total of 31 dealers who support local schools within their communities.
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.
Innovation and tradition is at the heart of MATCH XV, the official Rugby World Cup 2015 match ball, launched by Rugby World Cup suppliers Gilbert today.
The MATCH XV will make its debut in the English Premiership and French Top 14 later this month and will be used in top level Test matches throughout the rest of 2014 and 2015, meaning the world’s best players will have plenty of competition time with the ball.
A modern classic, the MATCH XV is the latest in a succession of balls stretching back to 1995 to be engineered by the industry-leaders specifically for Rugby’s global showpiece tournament and is packed with innovation. It is also the most-tested Gilbert ball in history.
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.