NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 18: Rhys Thomas of Scarlets looks on during the Heineken Cup match between Northampton Saints and Scarlets at Franklin’s Gardens on November 18, 2011 in Northampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Chief Executive of the Scarlets Mark Davies said: “All our thoughts and best wishes as Scarlets are with Rhys and his wife Paula and their family and the region will be keeping in close contact with medical teams at Morriston Hospital as to his progress but it is understood that he is comfortable and doing well.“Out of respect for Rhys and at the request of his family, we would ask that this matter is treated with dignified sensitivity and that the family and his colleagues at Parc y Scarlets are given time and space to concentrate on the most important focus which is supporting Rhys’ wellbeing and recovery. I am sure the whole rugby community in Wales would join with us in expressing to Rhys – all our very best wishes for a quick and comfortable recovery.” Scarlet prop Rhys Thomas underwent surgery for a heart conditionScarlets tight head prop Rhys Thomas has been admitted to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, after collapsing during training at Parc y Scarlets yesterday afternoon (Thursday 26th January 2012).Rhys was treated by Scarlets medical staff at his training base of Parc Y Scarlets before being taken by ambulance to hospital where he was treated for a heart condition.He has undergone successful surgery and is now in a comfortable condition and will remain in hospital during his recovery.
ENGLAND 7s speedster Dan Norton set a new record at the 2013 Glasgow 7s, by taking his try-scoring tally to 40 for the season – more than any other England player. The Bristolian beat team-mate Mat Turner’s previous record of 38, set last year, while England finished third in the tournament. Check out the video below to see what Dan gets up to in the gym, when training on the track and during his time off… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 20: Ben Foden of Northampton Saints avoids a tackle from Justin Tipuric of Ospreys during the Heineken Cup Round 2 match between Northampton Saints and Ospreys at Franklin’s Gardens on October 20, 2013 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) Back to his best: Rhys Priestland’s improved form has helped the Scarlets punch above their weight in EuropeBy Paul WilliamsScarlets are alive and well in EuropeLazarus Syndrome is a medical condition where the patient is pronounced dead – whilst being very much alive. Having found themselves in a Heineken Cup group with Clermont Auvergne, Harlequins and Racing Metro, the Scarlets were diagnosed with rugby’s Lazarus Syndrome and were bagged and tagged before the competition had even started.However, after two rounds, the Scarlets are top of the group of death and deservedly so. Their strong post-engagement scrummagers are thriving. Rhys Priestland’s passing game is back to its accurate best and his shallow positioning, and desire to attack the tackle-line, has helped Scott Williams become one of the form players in Europe. Jordan Williams’ ability to leave players standing and Liam Williams’ determination to leave nothing standing have also contributed to a Scarlets team that is punching way above its modest player budget. Hat tip to the Scarlets.Split personality: Which Cardiff Blues side will turn up?Cardiff Blues – peaks and troughsThe highs and lows experienced by the Cardiff Blues have been remarkable. Having lost to Exeter in the opening round of the Heineken Cup, they then beat the reigning champions. Such was the speed at which they ascended from the depths to giddy highs in, it’s surprising more Blues’ supporters were lucky not to suffer from ‘the bends’. Against Exeter the Blues’ excruciating performance meant that the opposition were only required to make 14 tackles in the first half – statistically, one player didn’t need to make a single tackle during 40 minutes.Yet, six days later, Cardiff Blues beat Toulon and with it one of the biggest packs in Europe and a backline of the quality usually reserved for test coaches. The roller-coaster didn’t end there. Despite securing a shameful 19% possession and 11% percent territory during the first half against Exeter, they finished the game with four tries and with it a bonus point. It means that, with a home win and an away bonus point, the Blues have made a textbook start to a Heineken campaign – albeit an unconventional textbook.Rugby has a problem with alcoholMike Phillips seems, once again, to have made a sizable faux-pas. Except that on this occasion, turning up for a Bayonne video session worse for wear has resulted in his contract being shredded and some rather sobering words from high profile figures within the rugby community. This isn’t Phillips’ first alcohol related incident and his actions obviously shouldn’t be condoned – especially as he is a professional player who was earning a vast sum at a club that finds itself at the wrong end of the Top 14.Rocky patch: Mike Phillips is in troubleHowever, it is hard to ignore the hint of hypocrisy whenever the rugby community lambasts one of its own for an alcohol related incident – and to be clear I am talking purely about incidents without criminal implications. For example this week I witnessed a group of blokes debating the Phillips’ incident – as they supped their sixth pint. Last weekend rugby clubs would’ve been awash with members discussing Phillips’ actions as they kept one eye on their mate smashing down a yard of ale. Many grassroots clubs still pay their players with beer vouchers and rugby sponsorship is entwined with alcohol brands. Whether there’s a link between alcohol and Mike Phillips’ dismissal will be decided by an employment tribunal – Phillips is taking legal action. However, the link between rugby and alcohol is there for all to see. TAGS: Cardiff Blues LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Gatland. He’s Welsh again.Prior to Warren Gatland taking control of the Lions there were many in Wales who feared the role would impair his ability to manage Wales in the future. Would his commitment to Wales be tainted having mingled with the English, Irish and Scottish? However, Gatland told a Welsh newspaper that one of the reasons for selecting Andy Farrell as part of his coaching staff was so that he could gain a ‘little bit of an insight into England and their preparations’.Whether the comment was tongue-in-cheek, or one of Gatland’s notorious mind-games, it represented Gatland severing ties with the Lions and publicly recommitting to Wales – his presence in Wales is already strangely reassuring. Talking of Gatland’s grenades I’d like to see Hasbro release ‘Warren’s Mind Games’ as an interactive DVD for the Christmas market. You, and your family, take on Gatland in a series of mind-game challenges. After 80 minutes Gatland invariably wins and you and your grandmother become another scalp on Gatland’s increasingly impressive CV – not sure it would be on Keith Wood’s Christmas list, mind.Justin Tipuric – a class apartSome of Justin Tipuric’s performances in October have been sublime. Last week’s display against the Newport Gwent Dragons was as complete as you’ll see from an open-side flanker. But that’s what’s remarkable about Tipuric – his display against the Dragons was also as good as you will see from a professional-level outside-centre. Tipuric made four clean breaks, beat four defenders and made two offloads against the Dragons – more than the orthodox centres on either team.Openside masterclass: Justin Tipuric has been in fine formThose numbers may portray him as a glory hunting backrow forward who sits in the 13 channel calling for a cross-kick. Far from it – against the Dragons he was also the Ospreys’ top tackler and the most effective ball carrier in their pack. Gatland’s got a big decision to make regarding his flankers. However, the solution may not revolve around who plays at seven, but at six.Point 5.1. The future of European Rugby is still a mess.
England are heavy favourites to beat Fiji in Friday’s opening game of the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham, so simply putting money on the hosts to win may not be the best betting option.With England hoping to rack up a few points against one of the supposedly weaker sides in their pool, Boyle Sports are offering 19/10 on the first score of the game coming from an England try, while BetVictor offer 2/1 that it’ll be an England penalty.If England are to get the first try, they’ll need a player to cross the whitewash and winger Jonny May is favourite to be just that man. Sportingbet will give you odds of 13/2 on the Gloucester man scoring the first try. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Jonny May runs against Ireland in September 2015 (Getty Images) If you think Fiji will score the first try, powerhouse winger Nemani Nadolo is teasingly priced at 20/1 by PaddyPower – the same odds as Sam Burgess, strangely, although Nadolo has the advantage of actually starting the game. Where to find the best odds for England v Fiji – the first match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup TAGS: Fiji If the handicap market is something you’re into, there are seemingly endless opportunities to place your money, with SkyBet offering odds of 5/4 that England will win with a 28-point defecit. If you back Fiji’s defence to be slightly more resolute, you can find odds of 11/10 that they’ll be within 22 points of the hosts.All these odds are correct on www.oddschecker.com as of the time of publishing, and remember – bet responsibly.
Gavin Mortimer runs the rule over the French contenders in this season’s European Champions Cup Busy Bezy: Scrum-half Sebastien Bezy has impressed for Toulouse this season. Photo: Getty ImagesThey warmed up for Saturday’s trip to Saracens by thrashing Grenoble 52-12 with Gael Fickou running in the first hat-trick of his top-flight career. There was also another well-crafted display from young scrum-half Sébastien Bézy, while Louis Picamoles – off to Northampton next season – has brought his blistering form back from the World Cup. Luke McAlister, who missed the Grenoble game with a sore Achilles, is expected to return at the weekend to resume his partnership with Toby Flood. The Kiwi has been at fly-half this season, with Flood at 12, and they’ve pooled their experience and intelligence to restore to the Toulouse back-line a confident creativity sadly lacking in recent seasons.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. Six of seven: Racing, Oyonnax, Toulon, Clermont, Toulouse and Bordeaux are represented at the Champions Cup launch. Photo: Inpho TAGS: Highlight Heaven knows European rugby needs cheering up at the moment after a World Cup that for the first time saw no Six Nations side reach the last four. And what better way to lift the spirits than the return of the European Champions Cup, rugby’s premier club competition.But the question on everyone’s lips is: who can break Toulon’s stranglehold? With their unprecedented hat-trick of titles, the Cote d’Azur club are strong favourites this season, but if they are to surrender their crown it may well be to one of their French rivals. Gavin Mortimer casts an eye over the seven French clubs and their progress this season…Bordeaux, Pool Two: Ospreys, Exeter and ClermontThe club qualified for their first appearance in the Champions Cup courtesy of a play-off victory over Gloucester having finished seventh in the Top 14. They achieved their position playing with pace and panache, running in 66 tries – a number only bettered in last season’s regular season by the 81 of Toulon. One would have expected more of the same this season with former France threequarter Emile Ntamack (known for his attacking talent) replacing Vincent Etcheto as backs coach over the summer. But it’s been a difficult start for the season for Bordeaux, who have managed four wins in their opening eight encounters.Right mix: Sebastien Taofifenua says Bordeaux need to get a balance between pragmatism and madness. Photo: Getty ImagesIt’s the try count that is the most surprising, however, with their total of seven the lowest in the Top 14. Asked to account for this sterility, Sébastien Taofifenua replied: “I find us more pragmatic than last year… we’ve got to preserve our touch of madness which gives us our identity and our force, of course, but we must find the balance between the two.” The arrival of veteran Wallaby centre Adam Ashley-Cooper will be a plus for Bordeaux and he should bring the best out of French Test threequarters Jean-Marcellin Buttin and Felix Le Bourhis.Clermont, Pool Three: Ospreys, Exeter and BordeauxEuropean runners-up twice in the last three seasons, Clermont also lost in last season’s Top 14 final to Stade Francais, the culmination of an awful few weeks as they endured what is becoming their traditional end-of-season slump. Some canny summer signings – including Camille Gérondeau, Hosea Gear, Scott Spedding and David Strettle (the latter quickly hitting his stride on the right wing) – have propelled them to the top of the table.Winging in: David Strettle has hit the ground running in his first few games for Clermont. Photo: Getty ImagesThere’s no question that Clermont will be fully focused on the Champions Cup, and having been drawn in some tough pools over the years, they are pleased this time around. “For once, the draw hasn’t placed us in the worst of pools,” admitted hooker Benjamin Kayser on Monday. “But we know that it’s a big challenge waiting for us.” None is bigger than Sunday’s trip to Bordeaux, where last season Clermont were thrashed 51-21 in the league.Oyonnax, Pool One: Saracens, Toulouse and UlsterIt was all change at Oyonnax over the summer. In came a new coach in former Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam, while the squad underwent a major overhaul including the arrival of lock George Robson, scrum-half Piri Weepu, centre Eamonn Sheridan and, more recently, fly-half Rory Clegg.Slow start: Oyonnax have struggled so far this term, winning only two of eight games. Photo: Getty ImagesThere was also a new pitch, an artificial one, that some in Oyonnax might now be regretting. Last season Oyonnax only lost twice at home in the Top 14, the Stade Charles-Mathon an intimidating cauldron and the pitch often a quagmire that suited Oyonnax’s pack-dominated game. The atmosphere remains raucous but the pitch seems to working against their hosts, who have lost two of their four home league games this season.Oyonnax are in only their third season of Top 14 rugby and they are the smallest town or city to boast a top-flight rugby club. To make it into Europe’s showpiece tournament is a feat in itself; to reach the knockout stages this season will be nothing short of miraculous.Racing 92, Pool Three: Glasgow, Northampton and Scarlets Racing 92 tasted Champions Cup knockout rugby for the first time last season but then cracked under pressure in the closing minutes of their quarter-final home tie to Saracens. That defeat hurt the Paris club but they’ve started this season in solid form and are third in the table. Backs coach Laurent Labit admitted last week that the return from World Cup duty of Brice Dulin, Eddy Ben Arous, Remi Tales and Yannick Nyanga would require a period of recalibration, and so it appears after Racing slumped to a 34-8 defeat at Castres on Saturday.Foot race: Sean Robinson is challenging Brice Dulin for Racing’s No 15 shirt. Photo: Getty ImagesTales and Johan Goosen will be fighting for the No 10 jersey in the absence of Dan Carter, who arrives in the French capital in December, while Dulin faces competition for his spot at full-back from the young South African Sean Robinson. In the pack the arrival of Chris Masoe is a boon, as is the signing of Nyanga, and keep an eye out for 19-year-old hooker Camille Chat – much is expected of the raw talent.Stade Francais, Pool Four: Leicester, Munster and Benetton TrevisoIt’s been a wretched couple of months for the reigning Top 14 champions, and despite beating Clermont on Sunday they lie 11th in the table. Now they have a five-day turnaround and a trip to Welford Road to play Leicester. The two clubs met in the 2001 Heineken Cup final (the Tigers winning a thriller 34-30) but this season sees the return of Stade to Europe’s showpiece competition for the first time in six years.Forward march: Stade Francais have a strong pack but the backs aren’t doing well. Photo: Getty ImagesThat they have a pack capable of taking on Europe’s best is not in question – and in the win over Clermont, props Heinke van der Merwe and Rabah Slimani demonstrated their scrummaging prowess. The arrival of Springbok flanker Willem Alberts will further beef up their scrum, but it’s in the back-line where Stade have been struggling. Fly-half Jules Plisson has lacked authority this season and scrum-half Will Genia, yet to make his Stade debut, can’t be expected to slot effortlessly in. But look out for 22-year-old centre Jonathan Danty, voted by Midi Olympique France’s outstanding centre last season – only to be absurdly overlooked by Philippe Saint-André for the RWC.Toulon, Pool Five: Bath, Wasps and LeinsterFour wins, four losses and fourth in the table. Such symmetry has been lacking from their displays for much of the autumn but against Montpellier on Saturday we saw the Toulon of old, the same ruthless precision that has won them an unprecedented hat-trick of European titles. Alarmingly, they did it without Matt Giteau, Bryan Habana and James O’Connor, who were watching from the stands, and with Ma’a Nonu, Duane Vermeulen and Drew Mitchell still off on their holidays.Super Cooper: Australia fly-half Quade Cooper excelled on his Toulon debut. Photo: Getty ImagesQuade Cooper was instrumental in orchestrating the 52-8 thrashing of Montpellier while another new boy, Samu Manoa, also caught the eye with a second-row display that included a 30-metre try. Star of the show, however, was wing Josua Tuisova, who scored a second-half hat-trick in 16 minutes. The 21-year-old Fijian is likely to be one of the sensations of this season’s Champions Cup, and given the way he effortlessly slotted in at fly-half on Saturday, so might Cooper.Toulouse, Pool One: Oyonnax, Ulster and SaracensA new coach and an old Toulouse this season at the Stade Ernest-Wallon. Gone is the muddled mediocrity that characterised the last few seasons of Guy Noves’s reign, supplanted by the confident dynamism that once was synonymous with Europe’s most successful club. Averaging 27 points a game under new boss Ugo Mola, Toulouse have run in 25 tries in eight Top 14 matches, nearly half the number they scored (53) in the 2014-15 regular season. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Midi Olympique’s XV of the Weekend in Monday’s edition was a United Nations of rugby talent. England’s Nick Abendanon at full-back, a couple of Kiwis in Conrad Smith and Casey Laulala in the centre, Argentina’s Juan Imhoff on one wing, South Africa’s Demetri Catrakilis at fly-half and a pack that featured a Uruguayan, Fijian, Samoan and a Georgian in the pack.Oh, and there were six Frenchman, although only two, Pau winger Louis Dupichot and Castres flanker Mathieu Babillot, could be described as an up-and-coming talent. For French fans looking to the future it didn’t make for cheerful reading.Man in form: Argentinian wing Juan Imhoff is a big star with RacingSuch selections help explain the Ligue nationale de rugby’s (LNR) confirmation last week of what president Paul Goze called a “small revolution”. As of the 2017-18 season France’s 30 professional clubs in the Top 14 and ProD2 must name a minimum of 14 Jiff-qualified  players in their 23-man matchday squads. They’ll be docked points if they don’t. Just a couple for those clubs falling one or two players short of the 14, but up to 10 points at the end of the season if they field 10 or fewer on average.In a league as tight as the Top 14 ten points could mean the difference – as it would have last season – between finishing first and fifth at the end of the regular season. Even losing two points would have seen Toulon drop from second to fourth in the table.The other measure announced by Goze further underlined the LNR’s determination to promote French talent over foreign imports: from next season onwards each club’s 35-strong squad will be restricted to 16 non-Jiff players, and, additionally, replacements signed on short-term contracts for injured players (known as medical jokers) will be included in the 16. Hitherto this hasn’t been the case, and it’s provided clubs with a loophole for recruiting more overseas players at the expense of homegrown youngsters.Setting an example: All Black legend Conrad Smith is another player in formGoze’s mini revolution has been greeted with general approval by the clubs, most of whom recognise that the decline of the France national team had to be arrested after the humiliation of the 2015 World Cup, when Les Bleus suffered a record 62-13 thrashing at the hands of New Zealand. Notable absentee: Mourad Boudjellal wasn’t present at the JIFF meetingThere was, however, a note of caution from Lorenzetti. “I think that certain clubs will prefer to lose points rather than play their Jiffs,” he said. He didn’t name names but drew attention to the fact that when the clubs and the LNR sat down in the summer to thrash out an agreement, two presidents were conspicious by their absence: Mourad Boudjellal and Mohed Altrad.The presidents of Toulon and Montpellier may have given the meeting a miss but miss the Jiff targets from next season onwards and the pair will lose points, and possibly prestige. Paying public: Fans will be seeing more French qualified players next season LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The rise of the Top 14 has been inverted by the steady decline of the French national team but new JIFF regulations may be about to stem the tide “It’s good,” commented Jacky Lorenzetti, president of Top 14 champions Racing 92. “I look favourably on it. It won’t make a difference this season but then it will quickly evolve and lead us in the right direction.”Stade Francais president echoed those sentiments, and said that his only regret was that the LNR had “given in to pressure” and agreed that players recruited by clubs to replace the 30 internationals named in France’s elite squad at the start of the season would fall outside the Jiff quotas.Eric de Cromières, president of Clermont, told Midi Olympique that of his club’s 23-man squad selected for the recent match against Racing, 18 were Jiff-qualified. Nonetheless, he added, he was pleased that the new regulations would force other clubs to fall in line for the benefit of the national team.
The Barbarians are playing three games in seven days next month in what is a busy November schedule. The famous invitational side kick things off by facing South Africa at Wembley on Saturday 5 November, then travel to Prague to play the Czech Republic three days later and round off the fixture list against Fiji in Belfast on the Friday.Robbie Deans, the former Crusaders and Australia coach, and 2003 World Cup winner Will Greenwood are coaching the Baa-Baas for these three games and have already announced some big names in their squad as they chase a hat-trick of victories against the Springboks – they won 26-20 in 2010 and 22-5 in 2007.Australia’s Taqele Naiyaravoro, Wycliff Palu and Will Skelton will be donning the famous black-and-white jersey alongside Andy Ellis, a 2011 World Cup winner with New Zealand.Giant Waratahs and Panasonic Wild Knights wing Naiyaravoro – a Pro12 competitor with Glasgow last season – has scored on both his appearances for the Wallabies and returns to the Barbarians after appearing against Samoa in 2015.Crusaders and Kobelco Steelers scrum-half Ellis won the last of his 28 caps in last year’s Rugby Championship and featured for the Barbarians in their 2010 win over South Africa.Australia No 8 Palu and lock Skelton will become Barbarians No 4,995 and 4,996 respectively when they make their debuts for the club. At 6ft 8in and 22st, Skelton will be one of the biggest combatants in Barbarians’ history. He played for the Wallabies against the Barbarians in 2014, an 11-try classic won 40-36 by Australia.As for the match in Prague, Baa-Baas honorary secretary Gordon Brown said: “The Barbarians will be facing a 20th different international side and we have competed against many developing rugby nations as well as established countries. We are delighted to be able to play a role in raising the profile of the game in the Czech Republic.”Czech Rugby general secretary Pavel Mysak added: “This year is our 90th anniversary and this is our biggest event in years – it’ll be one of the highlights of those 90 years. Tickets to the Barbarians v South Africa match at Wembley are available from £20 – click here for details. Tickets to the Barbarians v Fiji at Kingspan Stadium are available from £20 for adults and £12 for juniors. See www.ticketmaster.ie For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. Rematch: Andy Ellis in Baa-Baas action against the Boks in 2010. Photo: Getty Images The Barbarians are preparing to play South Africa, the Czech Republic and Fiji next month “After the success of the World Cup, people here are interested in rugby. It’s important for us to attract more people, particularly children, to the game. We want to show people in the Czech Republic a different sport that has strong values and the Barbarians are an example of that. They have a very high reputation and I know it’s one of the greatest honours for a player to be selected.”Barbarians fixturesSat 5 Nov South Africa (Wembley, 3,30pm)Tue 8 Nov Czech Republic (Prague, 6.30pm)Fri 11 Nov Fiji (Kingspan, 7.30pm) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Get a grip: Wales couldn’t stop the Wallabies in Cardiff on Saturday. (Photo: Getty Images)The SinnersWalesWhat a washout Wales were in their 32-8 battering by Australia. Wales have gained an unwanted reputation for starting their Test season’s slowly but this was a whole new level of bad against a Wallabies team which didn’t exactly set the Rugby Championship alight.Wales have not become a bad team overnight, but too many players had a poor game on the same day. Their defensive organisation was all over the place, there were gaps everywhere for Australia to exploit and they created more opportunities with their skilful offloading game.Australia dominated territory, possession and the metres-gained statistics. Their line-speed was excellent and in the first 15 minutes they had 91 per cent of the possession, which left Wales reeling.Ross Moriarty is the only Wales player who had anything like a good game and even he missed a couple of tackles. The more eye-catching mistakes in the Welsh ranks include Dan Biggar being sin-binned in the first quarter for pulling Dane Haylett-Petty back off the ball and Sam Davies costing Wales a try on his debut off the bench as Haylett-Petty picked up a pass to no one from him and raced in from a long way out.It was Wales’s heaviest home defeat in a decade so it will be a tough week on the training ground as they try to right the wrongs before facing Argentina. The SaintsConor Murray and IrelandAre there enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe Ireland’s 40-29 win over New Zealand? It was their first victory over the Kiwis in 29 attempts and, astonishing, this was only the fifth time New Zealand have conceded 40 points in a Test match.The chief architect of Ireland’s win was scrum-half Conor Murray, who absolutely bossed proceedings. It is no exaggeration to say every Ireland player had an outstanding afternoon in the unfamiliar surroundings of Chicago’s Soldier Field. The pack produced so much quick ball and the back three of Rob Kearney, Simon Zebo and Andrew Trimble were among those who really stood out, but Murray was the top dog.He scored a fine individual try in the 34th minute, making his opposite number Aaron Smith look like a chump as he breezed past him from the back of a ruck. Murray also stepped up to kick a penalty while Johnny Sexton was injured and he kept Ireland going forward at a great rate of knots throughout.New Zealand rallied from 25-8 down at half-time to trail just 33-29 with just 15 minutes to go and it looked like the story of the match would be yet another Kiwi comeback and another year of heartbreak for Ireland. However, Zebo kicked over the top of the defence and Malakai Fekitoa gathered it under pressure from Zebo and Robbie Henshaw, and so offloaded quickly to Julian Savea.He tried to sprint out of trouble over his own try-line, but a tremendous chase and tackle by Murray meant Savea was bundled into touch in goal. Jamie Heaslip picked up from the back of the five-metre scrum and fed Henshaw and the centre crashed through for the try which sealed the game for Ireland.What it means: Josh van der Flier, who had a great game off the bench, celebrates. (Photo: Inpho)From the pre-match moment when Ireland formed a figure of eight to face the Haka, as a tribute to the late, great Anthony Foley, everything about this Ireland display was top quality. Their supporters in a fantastically vocal crowd were made to sweat a bit in the second half, but there is no doubt Ireland deserved their win. Hat-trick hero: Adam Byrne scored three tries in Leinster’s win. (Photo: Inpho)Adam Byrne Leinster wing Adam Byrne scored a hat-trick for his side in their 33-10 Guinness Pro12 win over Zebre in Italy. The 22-year-old struck in the 34th, 48th and 64th minutes and, given that he also scored a try against Connacht last week in his first league appearance of the season, Byrne is on something of a hot streak. Moment of madness: Joe Moody was sin-binned for this spear tackle. (Photo: Inpho)Aaron Smith and Joe Moody New Zealand’s 40-29 defeat at the hands of Ireland was down to a superb all-round team effort from the men in green and more than a handful of below-par performances from All Blacks players.Among the villains on the New Zealand side was scrum-half Aaron Smith, who was substituted after just 46 minutes. He looked off the pace and made a defensive mistake at the back of a ruck to let his opposite number Conor Murray waltz through for a try. Smith stepped too far away from the ruck and left a gap on the openside that Murray happily darted through, touching down for a score which gave Ireland a 25-8 half-time lead.Joe Moody must also shoulder some of the blame after he was sin-binned for a needless tip-tackle on Robbie Henshaw with six minutes on the clock. While he was off, Ireland scored two tries, the first a lineout drive which was grounded by Jordi Murphy and the second a touchdown by CJ Stander after a break from Rob Kearney. By the time Moody came back onto the pitch, Ireland were 15-8 up so it was a costly mistake from him. It was a weekend of contrasting fortunes for Ireland and Wales, as the former achieved a landmark win and the latter slumped to a dire defeat. With the Barbarians in action too, and Guinness Pro12 and Anglo-Welsh Cup matches to take in, there was plenty to write home about. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The Wasps back row sprinted from his own half to score a try which took Wasps from 7-3 down to 8-7 up.Rugby league star Josh Charnley came on for the last 20 minutes to make his debut for Sale but his team-mates might all count as Sinners to some extent as they failed to bring him into the game at all. Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond quipped: “Well he did nothing, he didn’t get the ball did he, so it wasn’t really a debut was it? He just wore the shirt!” Harry Thacker and Freddie BurnsThis duo shone for Leicester Tigers in their 21-20 Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Bath. The home side took an 8-0 lead at the Recreation Ground, but Thacker’s strong carries and Burns’s game management and goal kicking put Leicester 21-8 up early in the second half and although Bath fought back, they just fell short.Tiger’s roar: George Catchpole scores his try, created by Thacker’s break. (Photo: Getty Images)Thacker was named Man of the Match for his dynamic play in the loose and one peel and break from a lineout created a try for George Catchpole which ensured the Tigers were 15-8 up at half-time. Burns kicked 11 points from the tee and controlled the game well. Taqele Naiyaravoro and the BarbariansThe Barbarians showed you don’t have to have weeks of preparation to produce a top level performance, as they drew 31-31 with South Africa at Wembley on Saturday after just three days of training.The Man of the Match was the Barbarians wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, who terrorised the Springbok defence time and time again. He created his team’s first try and scored one of his own in the 40th minute to give the invitation side a 17-12 half-time lead.Unstoppable: Taqele Naiyaravoro scores his try for the Barbarians. (Photo: Getty Images)Then, on 56 minutes, Naiyaravoro conjured up one of the best tries you will ever see. With South Africa 19-17 up, the Barbarians won turnover ball and the big Australian rampaged up the left wing then flung an outrageous offload to Andy Ellis, who stooped to collect it and chipped ahead, only to see Jamba Ulengo tidy up the ball. However, the South Africa wing’s clearance kick was caught by none other than Naiyaravoro and he set off on a diagonal run. His powerful break, plus quick hands from the other backs, put Luke Morahan in at the right-hand corner and the Barbarians were ahead again. Magic moment: Conor Murray (left) celebrates at Robbie Henshaw scores the final try. (Photo: Inpho) TAGS: Highlight Mike Phillips Sale Sharks beat Wasps 17-13 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and while scrum-half Mike Phillips had a good game for them in many ways, he also cost them five points when his flat pass at the back of a lineout was intercepted by Guy Thompson. David HalaifonuaThree home defeats in the Aviva Premiership have made Kingsholm an unhappy place to be so far this season, but Gloucester got their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign off to a winning start against Saracens, coming back from 25-5 down at half-time to win 36-32.Wing David Halaifonua scored the winning try at the death, ploughing his way down the right-hand touchline and taking Nathan Earle over the line with him.It was by no means a one-man show for Gloucester and Henry Purdy was among their other shining lights, but without Halaifonua’s power and pace in that final moment, it would all have been in vain. EdinburghEdinburgh bounced back from their 19-14 Guinness Pro12 defeat to Zebre last weekend with a 28-17 victory over Ulster. Both teams were missing some Test players but Ulster still fielded a strong side so Edinburgh’s young pack in particular had to dig deep.Magnus Bradbury had yet another superb game in the back row, gaining 44 metres from ten carries, scoring Edinburgh’s third try and making 11 tackles.His back-row colleague Jamie Ritchie made 17 tackles to impress head coach Duncan Hodge and in the backs Blair Kinghorn and Damien Hoyland kept the Scots going forward.
The new issue of Rugby World celebrates the game’s entertainers – that’s why we’ve called it the Mavericks Edition. We’ve spoken to players around the world who have the ability to keep fans on the edge of their seats, wondering what trick they will conjure next. There’s plenty more inside too – here are 12 reasons to pick up a copy…Ready for take-off: Danny Cipriani at South Warwickshire Flying School. Photo: Sam RileyDanny Cipriani takes to the skiesThe Wasps fly-half has always divided opinion but no one can deny his knack for producing magic on a rugby pitch. RW’s Alan Dymock caught up with him as he enjoyed a flying lesson – yes, we put him in control of a plane!The greatest mavericks of all timeAs well as speaking to modern-day players with verve and flair, RW profiles seven players who can be labelled the greatest mavericks ever. Will you agree with our selection? Pick up an issue to see who makes the cut.Boot it: Beauden Barrett explains different kicking options in the new RW. Photo: Getty ImagesLearn to kick like an All BlackBeauden Barrett, the reigning World Player of the Year, is one of the game’s most exciting players. He gives his top tips for mixing up your kicks, from the chip to the grubber to the banana – and explains why putting boot to ball is a key attacking weapon.How to make the Eagles flyWe spoke to John Mitchell to find out how he’s using the lessons learnt as All Blacks coach – and with other teams around the globe – to inspire greater success in his USA role. The Eagles won the Americas Rugby Championship and now Mitchell wants his team to become more competitive against Tier One countries.Space invader: Simon Zebo finds a gap in England’s defence. Photo: Getty ImagesSimon Zebo on fatherhood, fun and FoleyIreland’s Simon Zebo is known as one of rugby’s most chilled out characters but he’s still hugely competitive and is not averse to taking risks in a game – he’s just learnt to do so when the time is right. He opens up about the loss of Anthony Foley, being a father and why it’s so important to play with a smile on your face.Prop stars: Tadhg Furlong and Kyle SincklerIreland tighthead Tadhg Furlong is enjoying a phenomenal season and is the favourite to wear the No 3 shirt for the Lions against New Zealand in a couple of months. Kyle Sinckler is the coming man in the position for England, highly rated by Eddie Jones and standing out for his trademark bursts. We interviewed both props to find out more about them. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS 12. Plus, all this is inside…An offbeat Q&A with Kurtley Beale.Leicester lock Ed Slater talks through his rugby journey.Ryan Wilson, the Scotland back-row, explains why his club and country are in a good place.The verdict on the RFU’s new Women’s Super Rugby competition.Rugby Europe president Octavian Moriaru lays out his vision for the future of the game on the continent and explains why there needs to be greater integration with the Six Nations.The Secret Player on what it’s like to play with ‘mavericks’.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. And to download the digital edition, click here. Sea of red: Lions fans in New Zealand in 2005. Photo: Getty ImagesA trip down memory lane – Lions-style!RW columnist Stephen Jones has been on every Lions tour since 1983. This month he recalls some of his favourite memories, including bank robberies and death-defying drives, while also looking at how the tours have changed over the years.Why Quade Cooper is still swingingThe Wallaby is back in Australia after a frustrating stint at Toulon and he has plenty left to tick off his to-do list. Cooper tells RW about his approach to rugby, why he is trying his hand at boxing and his ambitions for the future.Break time: Emily Scarratt on an attacking burst for England Women. Photo: Getty ImagesRoses in bloom: what’s next for EnglandEngland won all three Six Nations titles this year so we look at what challenges lie ahead for the men, women and U20s as they aim to build on their success. Plus, Emily Scarratt talks about the women’s Grand Slam, the June to tour to New Zealand and their World Cup defence.The historic 100th Army v Navy clashThis month at Twickenham, the Army will play the Navy for the 100th time. RW’s Alan Pearey has been inside both camps to find out how they are preparing and why this match is the biggest amateur sports spectacle in the world.Man at No 10: Dan Biggar in action during the Six Nations. Photo: Getty Images11. Wales fly-half Dan Biggar speaks outIt’s been a mixed season for Wales and Dan Biggar. In this interview he talks about that penalty incident in the Scotland v Wales game, addresses suggestions that he should move to inside-centre to accommodate Sam Davies and reveals who he thinks is the best fly-half in the world. TAGS: Highlight A dozen reasons to buy the May 2017 edition of Rugby World
Christian Wade Is Swinging For The Fences With NFL MoveThe news that Christian Wade has stepped away from rugby to pursue a career in American Football’s NFL is a stunner.The 27-year-old winger is third on the all-time try-scorer list in the Premiership. In fact, in the current issue of Rugby World, team-mates at Wasps wax lyrical about the wide man’s ability to make something out of nothing. As team-mate Jimmy Gopperth told us: “Not many players have that X-factor and it baffles me that he’s not had better luck internationally.”Such a statement may offer potential reasoning for Wade’s shocking switch – perhaps there is frustration at a lack of opportunities to represent England – whilst also compounding how gobsmacking such a move would be.Related: The exchange of ideas between rugby and NFLCurrently details are scant. So we do not know via which route the hot-stepping Wade, who has only ever earned one England cap, intends to attack the NFL. But we know about those who have gone before him.Wade could try the IMG Academy. They train athletes to be ready for the NFL combine – the ‘meat market’ where hopefuls, with an overwhelming majority out of college, jump, sprint, lift and run around cones to impress scouts. Operating out of a base in Florida, they work with newbies to teach and drill and practise with hopefuls so they can learn the vagaries of a new game. The Wasps wing could become the top try-scorer in Premiership history but that is not stopping him from chasing an NFL dream LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS That is a tough ask. For all the talent an athlete possesses, there are too few polymaths who can excel in several differing sports. As it stands, two former rugby union players in Christian Scotland-Williamson and Alex Gray are currently on practice squads. Both tight ends, Scotland-Williamson is in his first year of a protected contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Gray is in his second year with the Atlanta Falcons.Both men have had to battle to get where they are, and both have some way to go to convince teams to let them take plenty of snaps in the big show. Former Aussie rugby league U20 player Jordan Mailata is finding his feet, learning to play left tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles – but again, he is yet to play.Strike a pose: Christian Wade of Wasps poses before the season startsThen we think back to league star Jarryd Hayne’s on-again-off-again stint with the San Francisco 49ers, where ultimately some dropped kick returns saw him demoted from the active team to the practice squad. He did not hang around for another season.Which means, while some are salivating at the prospect of Wade being a kick returner in the NFL, there is plenty to temper such enthusiasm. There are lots of little things mentioned on that stream. And there’s more.Handling visas can be a nightmare, first off. But let’s say that’s sorted for him. There’s then learning the basics, possibly with someone at IMG, maybe directly with private coaches or a team who has already said they are keen on him as an undrafted free agent – like Hayne when he was snapped up.But as the tweet thread posted above suggests, there are a lot of moving parts to life in the NFL and no matter how basic you make a role – as some would like, just a kick returner on special teams – you still have to operate within a rigid framework. There are so many other players and coaches involved in any one play call and in meetings you have to understand what the lingo means. You still have to match their hours in the analysis rooms, if not put in more as a rookie.Kids in the United States learn early on about the number of hours needed in training and watching game film. They learn early how to consume and disseminate different playbooks piling up. There is, frankly, little like it in western sports outside the US and Canada; certainly not in the UK and Ireland. So say experts who have worked in both rugby and the NFL.Related: Alex Gray captained Atlanta Falcons in pre-seasonWhich is not to say this is all beyond Wade. He could take to it no bother.Some will scoff at his age; that it is too late to pick things up. But look at his gifts. His feet are impressive regardless of the sport he is in.If suggestions of disillusionment are true, and he is truly hungry for a new challenge, then what a journey to embark upon now.Sure, you could advise Wade to hang on for a little while, try to break the Premiership try-scoring record. Then if he is still fed up, a former Wasp, coach Shaun Edwards, is taking over at Wigan Warriors in Super League post 2019 World Cup so he could give him a buzz. Just check out the thread of tweets which starts here for some thoughts on this: Try machine: Christian Wade scores for Wasps last season But then, rugby league in the UK does not quite have the glittery sheen of American sports, does it? If you are going to take a big swing, make it the biggest swing possible. If you don’t make the fences, at least you will have an incredible story about the attempt.You can read more about Wade in the current issue of the magazine – out now.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.