Month: June 2021

Mark Cueto – Sale Sharks and England

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Mark Cueto during an England training sessionHe may now be well known for the disallowed try at the World Cup Final in 2007 [clip below], but during the 2008/09 pre-season training we caught up with ‘Cuets’ to chat about any pre-match routines, embarrassing moments, and why Sale players can’t be trusted with bikes.  RUGBY WORLD: So, did you have a nice summer break?MARK CUETO: I had five weeks off in total and managed to get away for a week to Gran Canaria, but that feels like a year ago now we’re back in pre-season training.RW: How tough has training been?MC: It has been pretty intense but it’s well structured. We’re only in from nine to lunchtime so you’re doing a few sessions in a short space of time, which is intense, but then you’re at home in the afternoon. In the past we’ve been in all day, but in a way you work a bit harder when you know you can go home at lunchtime than if you’re in nine to four, so it’s been going really well.RW: Have there been any practical jokes going on in pre-season?MC: Walshy, our new fitness coach Steve Walsh, has been doing a lot of things to keep us off our feet, so we’re not doing too much running. We still need to get CV work done, though, so we’ve been cycling, swimming and rowing, and a lot of the guys have invested in bikes. They’re not £100 jobs from Halfords; people have spent quite a bit of money. While the lads are upstairs training, their bikes are out front and a few wheels and seats have gone “missing”. It definitely wasn’t me.RW: Are there a lot of jokers at Sale?MC: There’s always banter flying around and everyone seems to be on the bandwagon. Nine times out of ten it’s between the different nationalities as there’s quite a big mix in the squad.Nicknames, Superstitions and Embarrassing moments… RW: What are your nicknames?MC: Cuets is the obvious one, and Frank. My old man’s called Frank so there’s a lot of thought behind it! A lot of the lads know my old man because he comes to every game. He’s very opinionated and says what he thinks; he doesn’t hold back. He’s a legend in his own right.RW: Do you have a pre-match routine?MC: I’m massively superstitious – the meal I have before a game, what boot I put on first. It starts from the minute I get out of bed. I need to get rid of them.RW: Any embarrassing moments?MC: I’d injured my ankle a couple of years ago and was on crutches. I had a plastic boot on the ankle and I couldn’t weight-bear. We were flying to France for a Sale game and as we were going up the stairs to board the plane one of the lads pulled my pants down. I was on the crutches and couldn’t weight-bear, so I couldn’t pull them up and my tracksuit bottoms were round my ankles for everyone in the world to see for about five minutes. Luckily I had undies on.RW: Which person would you like to be stuck in a lift with? MC: I recently saw that Will Smith film Hancock so I’ll say Charlize Theron.RW: What can’t you live without?MC: My mobile phone.RW: Do you have any bugbears?MC: I’m a bit of a girl really. Things that annoy me are being untidy. When we come in from training, I fold all my kit up and put it to the side of my bag. The lads see that, come over and ruffle it all up because they know I’ve got a bit of OCD.RW: Do you have a karaoke song?MC: No, but the song I sang when I won my first cap was Robbie Williams’s Angels. It went down a treat. Normally it’s just the lads on the bus after a game, so when you stand up and sing people throw things at you and shout. But on the night of my first cap a lot of girlfriends and wives were there as well and loads of people joined in.RW: Stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?MC: My girlfriend, Suzie. She would be enough.Check out his profile for England Here’s a reminder of that infamous decision…Another clip of Cuets but in a few bad tackles…Learn more about Mark’s teammates at Sale Sharks… TAGS: Sale Sharks Dwayne PeelChris Belllast_img read more

Dan Parks – Cardiff Blues and Scotland

first_imgTAGS: Cardiff Blues Samoa are no Tri-Nations side but they will still test Scotland. “They’re strong and very skilful,” says Parks. “We’ve three of the most powerful teams in the world one after the other. It’s a big test but we have a strong squad and Andy Robinson has been a huge contributing factor to how the team is playing and the confidence they’re playing with.”Parks’s leading rival for the Scotland No 10 jersey, Godman, tore his knee ligaments in training in September and so misses this month’s series and, possibly, the Six Nations. Having both endured the ups and downs of Test rugby, they’re good friends rather than fierce rivals, so Parks is disappointed to see the Edinburgh player sidelined – and mindful that his selection is not guaranteed.“There are young guys who will see this as an opportunity to get in the mix. David Blair played very well for Edinburgh against Cardiff in the Heineken Cup and there are young guys at Glasgow like Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson, who had been snapping at my heels for ages and is now fulfilling his potential. You can never rest on your laurels. There have been times in the past when people, myself included, have done that and someone has taken your spot. That’s one thing I’ll never do again.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Dan ParksThis time last season it looked like Dan Parks’s Test career was doomed. A full year since he had won a cap and 17 months since he had started a Scotland match, he was definitely out of favour with new coach Andy Robinson. But a remarkable turnaround has occurred and now Parks is a vital cog in a winning Scotland machine. In the Test wilderness last winter, Parks was nevertheless in outstanding form for Glasgow and even became the first player in Magners League history to pass 1,000 points. Phil Godman was picked ahead of him for the 2010 Six Nations opener against France, but after Scotland were defeated Robinson handed Parks the No 10 jersey for the next match, against Wales, and he has held onto it ever since. Scotland lost narrowly to Wales and then Italy, but Parks kept his place and rewarded Robinson by piloting Scotland to a draw against England (his 50th cap), a win in Ireland and a double triumph in Argentina in June.While the Australia-born fly-half was soul-searching last winter, he decided a change of scene might help and chose to leave the Glasgow side he had joined on his arrival from Sydney in 2004 and sign for Cardiff Blues. His Test career resurrected, he still made the switch in July and has no regrets. “It was a huge move but I’m really enjoying the experience,” he says. “It’s a rugby city and a good place to be with a great squad and a good support base. I couldn’t have wished to go anywhere more professional and we made a positive, winning start.“One of the exciting things about moving clubs is exploring the way the team likes to do things. It’s a great social environment too, and when you’re winning it always makes things fantastic.”This month Parks will head north for Scotland’s November Tests against New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa. With three straight Test wins under their belts, Parks and Scotland are optimistic about claiming some major scalps. He says: “It’s going to be very difficult but it’s an exciting time for Scotland. We had a very positive finish last season and we’re delighted with what we achieved but we also know it doesn’t count for much if we don’t play well this autumn.”New Zealand have been in world-beating form this year and Parks says: “They’re a phenomenal team but we’re targeting that match as a huge opportunity for us. We’re in the best run of form since I’ve been involved with Scotland and our confidence is high, but New Zealand are at a different level so it’s about us putting in a good performance.” South Africa had a disappointing Tri-Nations, going from champions in 2009 to the wooden spoon this year, but Parks warns: “In previous years when they’ve had tough times they have come storming back.” Parks was pigeonholed as a kicking fly-half until last season, when his running and passing game came shining through and he hopes to continue in the same vein. “Coaches have certain tactics going into a game, and people forget that. Weather conditions play a role as well. Kicking is a strong part of my game and something I enjoy, but I have different parts to my game and last year people were able to see that. “That comes down to Andy Robinson’s leadership and the game he is trying to play. The first Test in Argentina, when we had nice weather, was a fantastic game for me. We wanted to keep the ball in hand and use our outside backs and although we didn’t score any tries we created opportunities which gave us the win.”Parks set a Scotland record by kicking all the points in that 24-16 win. With that historical series triumph in Argentina under his belt, Parks is now keen to better it. “I’m delighted with how last season went on a personal level and I want that to continue. It’s an exciting time for Scotland and we have to keep that momentum going.”last_img read more

The life and times of Ross Ford

first_imgOr perhaps you’d like a digital version of the magazine delivered direct to your PC, MAC or Ipad? If so click here. For Back Issues Contact John Denton Services at 01733-385-170 visit LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Ross ford during the 2011 Six NationsName: Ross William FordPosition: HookerAge: 26 (23 April 1984)Born: EdinburghMy mum was the rugby player in the family, but living in the Scottish Borders – a hotbed of the game – it was only a matter of time before I gave it a go. My earliest memories are of watching players like Alan Tait, John Jeffrey and Roger Baird on the field for Scotland. I knew I wanted to do the same.So many internationals played in the Borders then and rugby’s the main sport in Kelso. Borders rugby is so strong it’s a shame there’s not a professional team based there, but there are a few Borders boys at Edinburgh.I followed my friends to my local club in Kelso at around six or seven. Everyone in our area seemed to play and, although it was full contact from the start, I took to it – that was my favourite part of the game. I tried out football the week before, but enjoyed the rugby so much more and knew it was the game for me straightaway. Rugby suited me a lot better, as it did my brother.Being big in my early years certainly ensured that I enjoyed it! Back then it was eight-a-side so I played prop, although it was almost like having eight backs on the field – scrums were only a way to restart the game, rugby league-style, with the ball in play pretty much all the time.The ultimate attraction for me was playing in the blue jersey of Scotland, rather than having a career. I remember watching the Five Nations on television and saying, ‘That’s what I want to do’. Bryan Redpath went to Kelso High School before me, but it was my local school so I went there because of that rather than for the rugby.Turning professional I was moved to hooker from the back row as my coach Tony Gilbert said it would be better suited to my size and ability. By that time I wasn’t big enough for a six or eight, or quick enough to play seven, so the move happened. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t change position, even as a teenager. I did it with a lot of perseverance and hard work, and if you need to, so can you. If you want it bad enough, you’ll keep doing it.Learning the technical side of being a hooker, after playing for so many years in the back row, was certainly a challenge. My family and coaches were very important at that time because they were so supportive, encouraging me to stick at it. For hours on end I’d stand there trying to hit a mark I’d put on a rugby post with a ball to learn how to throw in.If I’m honest I didn’t realise that there were so many different types of throw. I found scrummaging a lot easier to pick up, and it took me a couple of years to get even semi-good at the throwing in. It was dark at times and it left me wondering whether I’d made the right move as I was finding it difficult and having a few nightmare games. But I kept at it and gradually it got better.My first cap came after I’d been playing hooker for three or four years – it took time to make the transition because I was finding it difficult. I was frustrated at times, but I knew I wanted to play for Scotland and that’s what drove me on.center_img The philosophy I’ve always adopted is that ‘If you’re not doing the hard work someone else will be’. I’m competing with so many different people, I know they’ll be out there doing that extra session, so I need to as well.Andy Robinson was the coach when I joined Edinburgh from Borders so the move worked out pretty well for me. It was good for my development. A winning mentality is what Andy brings – he’s had a big impact in Scotland. He asks players to improve every day. He wants us to focus on making small improvements, which can lead to much more.The players pick up on the fact Andy is mentally very strong and he has helped us win a number of tight games. I’ve learned so much from him.It’s a huge honour to represent my country, especially in the Six Nations. It’s still a very special tournament for me and everyone involved with the Scotland team. We enjoy the winning and working hard.DID YOU KNOW? Ross Ford was Andy Robinson’s first signing when he moved north of the border to take charge of Edinburgh. A passionate Borders player, Ford still lives in Kelso and coaches the town’s U18 side. Ford made his Scotland debut in 2004 after mastering the art of throwing in.This article appeared in the March 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.Find a newsagent that sells Rugby World in the UKlast_img read more

Wales v Samoa: The Preview

first_img Focal point: Mike Phillips, back in the first XV this week, in action against Samoa during Wales’ 17-10 RWC 2011 winBy Sarah Mockford, Rugby World Features EditorThe best way to describe Wales’ performance against Argentina is flat. There was no energy, no spark and certainly none of the pizzazz that is now expected from the men in red.Rob Howley has rung the changes for Friday night’s game – changes that I expect were predominantly planned before the poor show against the Pumas – but will the new faces be able to liven up Wales’ performance and get a much-needed ‘W’ against Samoa?Intense – not tenseWales need to play with the same intensity, focus and ambition that they bring to training. Against Argentina they only started putting phases together in the final five minutes so they must play from the first whistle.Stand off Samoa and Wales will pay a heavy price. The islanders will be punching holes across the field with their powerful ball-carriers and they have natural footballers with the footwork and sleight of hand to create try-scoring opportunities. Allow Samoa to play and it will be another Friday night fright for Wales.Power play: Maurie Fa’asavaluSmash hitsSamoa’s physicality is their biggest strength and they have some of the hardest tacklers in the world game. They can also use this power with ball in hand and will be looking to break the gain-line then put in smart offloads while the Wales defence is stretched. This is where Maurie Fa’asavalu and Ofisa Treviranus come into their own.Wales couldn’t make any line breaks on Saturday so will be hoping Jamie Roberts can stay on the pitch longer than he managed against Argentina and provide the focal point for their attacking game.The return of Ryan Jones – to captain his country for a record 29th time – relieves the pressure on Toby Faletau in terms of back-row ball-carriers. If they can both make yards and give Wales front-foot ball, they should present more of a threat than last time out.Game of chance NOT FOR FEATURED TAGS: HarlequinsSamoa LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img This match presents Samoa with a great opportunity to prove, like Argentina before them, that they need an improved international schedule. The Pumas’ performance at the 2007 World Cup gave the IRB little choice but to find them a place in elite competition. If Samoa can beat Wales in Cardiff, it will help push their case for more Test matches against the world’s top sides.Starting point: Wales flanker Justin TipuricA couple of Wales players also have points to prove. Mike Phillips will want to show that he’s first choice at nine having been dropped to the bench last weekend, while Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar have been given starts in the No 7 and No 10 shirts that fans have long clamoured for.If Tipuric can win a few turnovers and bring his linking game to the fore, he will give Howley a real selection dilemma for the New Zealand game. Perhaps the coach will even bring on Sam Warburton in the second half to see how he and Tipuric work together.Prediction: Samoa will be fired up but Wales often play at their best when their backs are to the wall and they’re under pressure. It will be tight – Wales by five.WALES v SAMOA, Friday 16 November, 7.30pm, Millennium Stadium, Live on BBC WalesWALES: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Ashley Beck, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Bradley Davies, Ian Evans, Ryan Jones (capt), Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau.Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Andrews, Luke Charteris, Sam Warburton, Tavis Knoyle, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams.SAMOA: Fa’atoina Autagavaia; Paul Perez, George Pisi, Paul Williams, David Lemi (capt); Tusiata Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i; Sakaria Taulafo, Wayne Ole Avei, Census Johnston, Daniel Leo, Teofilo Paulo, Ofisa Treviranus, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Taiasina Tuifu’a. Replacements: Ti’i Paulo, Viliamu Afatia, James Johnston, Joe Tekori, Tivaini Foma’i, Jeremy Su’a, Johnny Leota, Robert Lilomaiava.Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France).last_img read more

Hotshot: Jonathan Pelissie (Grenoble)

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS This was published in the May 2013 issue of Rugby World. Click here to see what’s in the current edition. We’re in good spirits and have a lot of good players. There are also a lot of foreign players from Australia and New Zealand. The ambience is good and the coaches are happy as this year has been spectacular for us. We’ve only just arrived from the second division!Where did you learn to speak English?At Brive, when a lot of foreign players arrived and I was spending time with them.What are your aims?It’s every French player’s dream to play for France, but I try not to let the idea enter my head. If it happens I’ll be happy!RW Verdict: A half-back with Top 14 experience could be coming to France’s rescue next season.center_img When did you first play rugby?I started playing at school and in my village when I was six. I went to Brive when I was 18, but couldn’t get into the first team because we had many stars like Andy Goode and Shaun Perry, so I moved to Grenoble. I’ve also played for France U18, U19, U20.Do you prefer playing scrum-half or fly-half?Now I prefer scrum-half, and my efforts are going into developing my game as a nine. But if my team needs me to I can play ten.Who do you admire? When I was younger, Carlos Spencer was a big star; his technique was great and he gave a lot of players a tough time! Now Kahn Fotuali’i and Will Genia impress me. Genia is very powerful.Grenoble are mid-table in the Top 14 – how’s life at the club?last_img read more

Hotshots: Clermont scrum-half Murdo McAndrew

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS During my first month I got a fractured sternum and collapsed lung. I was in hospital for a week and with the language barrier I didn’t know what was happening. But things have been great since then.Are you glad you went?  Clermont is a great place to work on individual skills. Jason White was there in my first year and was a big help with rugby and off-the-field things. I am working on all areas of my game and it’s a big aim to play at this year’s U20 World Championship. When did you first play?My dad Les was a minis coach at Howe of Fife and I joined the club when I was six. Later I played for Strathallan and Bell Baxter High School.How have you ended up at Clermont Auvergne?They contacted me after I played for Scotland U18 against France in 2012. I was shocked at first, then it all happened really fast and I signed the following week.Was moving to France as an 18-year-old tough?  center_img RW verdict: Brave enough to move to France, this young No 9 won four Scotland U20 caps this spring.Want to keep up to date with rugby’s hotshots every month? Why not subscribe to Rugby World? Click here to see our latest subscription deals, or find out how to download the digital edition here.last_img read more

England need to fill the trophy cabinet

first_img England head to the home of Manchester City on Saturday for the game that no-one wants. Stick 100 points on Uruguay and frankly who cares? Struggle to put the South Americans away and the knives will be sharpened even more for Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team.Score a mere 50 and they will be beaten by the stick of 2003 again, after all, England’s last world-class team put 111 points on Uruguay in Brisbane that year.In the great scheme of things, England could score 400, and it means the sum total of nish, nada and nothing – England are already out of a World Cup which will go on without them for the next three weeks.Feisty: Uruguay will provide stiffer opposition than previous yearsThere are some fans who have tickets for this weekend’s funeral pyre of a game and, frankly, they can’t be bothered to make the trip.Well they might be missing out – they could say they were in there at the start of England’s journey to World Cup glory in 2019. In true sporting parlance England must draw a line under it and move on.But how about moving on to the Six Nations instead and let the 2019 World Cup, take care of itself?Now is not the time to chuck the baby out with the bath water and have a complete re-shuffle of the squad. Yes, there should be changes, not the major surgery some are calling for, and just because a bloke might not be around in 2019 does not mean he can’t do a job in the next year or two.Back in the day: England last won a Grand Slam in 2003England have got out of the habit of winning trophies, barring the odd one-off pot such as the Cook and Calcutta Cups and it is about time they had one to put on the shelf at Twickenham.England have not nailed a Six Nations title since 2011, and we all remember what happened that year, so the focus should move to winning that now. Park all thoughts of Japan in four years’ time and just go out and win a medal or two. They are called the All Blacks and they have mastered the trick of filling their boots whilst slowly introducing players to Test rugby.England have nicked quite a few ideas off the New Zealanders over the last few years, this is one Lancaster or his successor should pinch immediately. In the last four years England have come second in the Six Nations every year and have lost Test series away to South Africa and New Zealand whilst winning one in Argentina in 2013. It is time to get some silverware for the cleaners to polish in South West London.Lancaster’s first game in charge was at Murrayfield in February 2012 and a cuddly toy for anyone who can name the men who made their Test debuts that day. For the record they were Brad Barritt, Lee Dickson, Phil Dowson, Owen Farrell, Ben Morgan, Geoff Parling and Jordan Turner-Hall. The week after, in Rome, Rob Webber made his first appearance and England finished runners-up in the championship.Elsewhere Charlie Morgan has picked a possible 23 for 2019 and his crystal ball gazing looks like it may have come up trumps.But whoever is England coach in the New Year should not pick that 23 to run out in Edinburgh on 6 February next year.Still going: Mike Brown is 30 but is still performing at the right top levelMike Brown will be 34 at the next World Cup and you wouldn’t want to be the person telling him he is finished as England build for the future. If an old dog like Nick Easter would help win the Six Nations then pick him, likewise Dylan Hartley. Then the coach can gradually bring in players like Henry Slade – who makes a belated World Cup debut at the weekend – Jamie George, Paul Hill, Maro Itoje and Jack Clifford.There is a model to follow in all of this. Since 2011 there is a side who have given international debuts to 37 players but managed to maintain their place at the top of the world rankings and won three Rugby Championships in the meantime. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS England’s World Cup exit has led to calls for yet another cull of the playing staff – but they have been down that road before. How about winning something first?last_img read more

Fiji home in on Sevens World Series title

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Four in a row: Fiji lift the London Sevens trophy after defeating South Africa 21-17 (Getty Images) In the knockout stage, Canada (40-7) and Ireland (40-7) were never likely to bar Fiji’s progress to the final and that pulsating clash with South Africa, who – make no mistake – are also producing exceptional rugby and still have a shout of the series title in Paris this weekend.“It’s not over yet, we still have a chance and will not stop playing for this jersey till the very last play,” said Blitzboks captain Philip Snyman, whose cause wasn’t helped by injuries to Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez on the first day.WORLD SERIES STANDINGSPosition                      Team                  Points1                                Fiji                          1672                              South Africa           1603                              New Zealand          1334                              Australia                 1185                              USA                          1056                              England                   103If Fiji and South Africa are head and shoulders above the rest right now, Ireland deserve equal plaudits for bagging the bronze medal on their first series appearance since 2004.After squeezing through to the Cup quarter-finals on points difference – with Ireland, Wales and Spain all losing two of their three pool games – the Irish stunned USA 22-12 in the quarter-finals and hosts England in the bronze-medal match after a hat-trick by Jordan Conroy. Conroy’s pace was such that when he was put in space near his own line for what proved to be his second try, the English defence gave up the chase almost immediately.Hat-trick hero: Jordan Conroy eludes Ollie Lindsay-Hague to give Ireland the bronze medal (Inpho)The 24-year-old, who has excelled on the low-profile European series and plays his 15s rugby for Buccaneers in the All-Ireland League, finished with eight tries over the weekend – matching the figures of Dan Norton, Carlin Isles and Collins Injera.Quite what Irish expectations were going into this tournament are hard to know, but the way the bench leapt up after Mark Roche’s winning touchline conversion against England was delightful to see. You wonder just what Ireland might be able to achieve if they can gain core-team status for the series.England’s long wait for a home tournament win continues – they last won in London in 2009 – and there will be furrowed brows too in the USA camp with the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco some seven weeks away.England coach Simon Amor said: “It was incredibly frustrating as there were times when we got some great rugby played together – we attacked well, we defended well – but there were also times we really got it quite wrong.” Fiji home in on Sevens World Series titleMidas will be eyeing Gareth Baber with envy. Victory in the London Sevens secured a fourth successive gold medal for the Welshman and his Fiji team, who thus stretched their lead at the top of the HSBC Sevens World Series table to seven points with just Paris to come. South Africa, beaten finalists at Twickenham, must now be considered an outside title bet having led the 2017-18 series for so long.The final didn’t quite match the last-gasp drama of Fiji’s win in Singapore, but it remains a privilege to see sevens of such astounding quality. Fiji were under the pump early, losing outstanding forward Sevuloni Mocenacagi to the bin straight from the kick-off and falling behind to Stedman Gans’s try.Baber’s men, however, are currently irrepressible. Josua Tuisova bulldozed through Siviwe Soyizwapi to level and Paula Dranisinukula completed a sublime team score.Too strong: having beaten Siviwe Soyizwapi, Josua Tuisova shrugs off Ruhan Nel on his way to the lineRuhan Nel, on early for the injured Werner Kok, replied but at the restart the long-striding Jasa Veremalua loped deep into Blitzboks territory and exchanged passes with Josua Vakurunabili for the try that put Fiji two scores ahead.Zain Davids scored with enough time for one last play but Fiji gathered the restart and their army of noisy followers were able to celebrate.“We’ve tried to emulate what South Africa did last year in terms of consistency,” said Baber. “They were fantastic last year and credit to them again here as they pushed us all the way. By the bounce of the ball it could have gone the other way.”Lots of love: Fiji fans haven’t seen their team lose since Las Vegas at the start of March (Getty Images)Aside from a couple of blips in Las Vegas, including a semi-final defeat to USA, Fiji have been invincible since their indifferent performance in Sydney in January.Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore and now London – Fiji have racked up four successive tournament titles for the first time and in the process gone 25 successive matches unbeaten. Considering the fine margins of elite sevens, it’s a remarkable run.The outrageous offloads and thumping tackles have been a trademark for years but to the great series-winning sides forged by former coach Ben Ryan appears to be even higher levels of fitness, which helps not only physically but with the crucial decision-making when things are getting tight.And if Fiji needed a little luck they got it in their opening match on Saturday, when Argentina missed a penalty that would have taken them two scores clear with 90 seconds remaining.Fiji came through that match 28-19, brushed Scotland aside 39-12 and then, a week after they tormented England in Barbarians colours, let Tuisova and Semi Radradra loose against New Zealand (27-7). Radradra was later awarded the Player of the Final prize.center_img Gareth Baber’s Fiji team racked up a fourth consecutive gold medal in the Sevens World Series by winning in London. With just Paris to come, the world title is theirs to lose Fiji’s next task is to emerge from a pool also containing New Zealand, Kenya and Samoa in Paris. Were South Africa to win the tournament, Fiji would need a semi-final place to clinch the series. The job is not done yet.Stunning effort: guest side Ireland celebrate their third-place finish at Twickenham (Inpho)Rugby World’s Sevens World Cup coverage in association with Tudor Watchlast_img read more

What the players think about rugby’s biggest issues

first_imgThat English structure also includes a maximum of 30 full games for players, yet the majority view of those surveyed is that 21-25 is the optimum number.Former Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton, who retired this year because he felt his body could no longer deliver the high standards he strived for, agrees on that point.“The game is okay, it’s the amount of games that is the issue,” he told The Ruck podcast. “Rugby is never going to be safe – people might not want to hear that but you can’t get 30 big blokes running around a field and make it safe. You can’t make a ruck perfectly safe or a tackle perfectly safe. But what you can change is the workload on players.“It’s more the volume that players are playing. On the Lions tour in 2017, some of the English guys were approaching 40 games – you can’t do that. I think 25 starts a season is ample.”Another common talking point in recent years has been the amount of contact training undertaken by teams. With the increase in physicality, more strain is put on players in games and training. It was a common theme in survey responses.“Uncontrolled contact in sessions is problematic,” said one player. Another said: “Contact at training, whether in a club or international set-up, needs to be limited by time. There is enough contact week to week in games, so I don’t see why there is any in training.” A third player added: “Training is sometimes like match intensity.”Interestingly, the NFL have established rules around training that limits the number of full-contact practice sessions in the regular season to 14, with 11 in the first 11 weeks, so a maximum of one a week. Team training is attended by independent observers to ensure these regulations are not breached.So should rugby introduce something similar? Adam Beard, who has worked in rugby as a strength and conditioning specialist for Wales and the Lions and is now director of high performance at Cleveland Browns in the NFL, believes that cutting contact training back too much could actually mean that players’ bodies aren’t prepared for matches.“It’s like UFC or boxing: you need contact, you need to prepare for contact,” says Beard. “These games are contact-orientated. We used to have a really big run-in for contact preparation for Wales. You would have a progression all the way through to bone-on-bone and some weeks we’d pull back, but we’d build it all the way through and guys’ bodies would be ready for that. It’s important for timing but also body conditioning. It’s a big thing, getting the body prepared.”International Rugby Players are working with World Rugby to assess training load and whether players would benefit from restrictions.It’s worth highlighting mental pressures as well as physical ones. Looking at the England structure from 2019-20 and those aforementioned breaks, Warburton insists it will still be hard to totally switch off in the middle of an intense season.“There might be breaks but it’s a long time mentally,” he said. “Even if you’re physically helping a player, you’re not helping a player emotionally and mentally. It’s a long time in competition.”The survey threw up similar concerns. One player said: “The season is too long mentally and physically.” Another said: “When you are on the fringe of your international side, doing the mental prep and playing limited minutes, then having to play in your break, it puts massive strains on relationships at home.”Change: Quins prop Joe Marler has retired from international rugby (Getty Images)You couldn’t describe Marler as a fringe international – he played 59 times for England between 2012 and 2018 – but the effect playing for his country had on his family life saw him call time on his Test career in September. How did that manifest itself?“I’d be at home in a pretty dark place, not talking, not interacting with the kids or the wife,” says the 28-year-old. “My wife would say, ‘Any danger of you being here with us?’“I’d be thinking about going away (with England) and having to leave Daisy and the kids. I’ve used the word anxiety because that’s how it felt. There’s a lot of pressure in any England environment and top-level elite rugby.”He admits that when England opened their autumn campaign against South Africa, he woke up wishing he was playing at Twickenham. “But I quickly realised I didn’t miss it enough to do everything in order to get to game day – the three weeks beforehand, the time away from home. I make sacrifices for my club, for the team, but I also get to come home each night.” Find out what Test stars think about workload, concussion, money, agents and international rugby What the players think about rugby’s biggest issuesPlayer welfare: two words that are now heard in rugby conversations almost as regularly as ‘try’ or ‘scrum’. Yet the people uttering the words are often in suits rather than kit, when surely it’s the opinions of the players themselves that are most important.That’s why Rugby World magazine teamed up with International Rugby Players, the global body that represents the game’s professionals, to find out what their members think about the sport’s biggest issues. We’ve previously reported on the men’s sevens survey and women’s survey; now it’s time for the verdict of the men’s 15-a-side players.More than 350 Test players from the 20 teams that will be involved at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, plus the other three nations involved in the repêchage and Romania, completed an anonymous survey on topics including workload, concussion, international rugby, agents and money.Here are their views, as published in Rugby World’s January 2019 edition…What the players think about rugby’s biggest issues: WORKLOAD“Is what we’re doing to our bodies sustainable?” That is just one of the comments from those surveyed regarding the physical and mental load placed on players in the modern game.It echoes the sentiments of Jonny May in the December issue of Rugby World, the Leicester and England wing saying: “I suspect that professional careers will grow shorter as players place increased loads on their bodies. The athletes will continue to get better, more powerful and more highly-tuned, but it will come at the price of not being able to do it for as long.”People talk about how professional players are so much fitter and faster, bigger and stronger than the amateur era but, as May says, at what cost?With improved physical specimens playing more high-intensity matches, players’ bodies are sure to feel the effects, whether in the long or short term. A third of the players surveyed by International Rugby Players missed six or more matches last season due to injury.Even more shocking is that 45% of players – that’s basically one out of every two – admit to being pressured by coaches to play or train when not fully fit. Players often talk of carrying niggles throughout a season and with so much riding on matches it’s easy to understand why coaches want their star performers on the pitch, but players’ health should always be the top priority.Clubs and governing bodies continually say player welfare is of the greatest importance, yet these results would suggest otherwise. Players should not have to train or play under duress, when doing so could cause more long-term damage. As one player surveyed said: “Players need to be protected from under-pressure coaching staff.”International Rugby Players chief executive Omar Hassanein says: “Despite the constant reminder that player welfare is the game’s number one priority, it’s hugely worrying that a large amount of players have felt pressured to play when not fully fit. This leads to a spike in injury rates and we know from the survey that the biggest mental pressure comes from being injured.”While 33% of players feel matches played is what has the most impact on physical workload in a season, it’s interesting that 30% cited the lack of recovery time, with this particularly high among Tier Two players.People often praise the Irish system, where players are centrally contracted and rested at points in the season. The new season structure in England from 2019-20 will introduce in-season breaks for players, too, in an attempt to address the issue, but that plan still includes only two weeks of complete rest in the off-season.Harlequins prop Joe Marler raised concerns about the new structure when it was first announced, but having spoken to his clubmate and RPA chairman Mark Lambert, he has revised his opinions – at least on some points.“I think it’s good generally but there’s still work to do for England players,” he says. “The league is asking them to be available for more high-intensity Premiership games, to go toe-to-toe in full-on games as well as all the England games. So that needs to be looked at.” Conversations around mental health are a lot more prevalent these days, not only in rugby but the world as a whole, with the sport’s player associations providing support programmes in this area. However, if changes in the game, such as the length of the season or number of Tests, would also help inthis area, they must be addressed. 1. Introduction2. Page 23. Page 3Page 1 of 3 – Show Full ListIntroductionPage 2Page 3 TAGS: Investigation LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Rugby stars celebrate Mother’s Day

first_imgJamie Heaslip had this heartfelt moment. Rugby stars celebrate Mother’s DayIt may be a time of self-isolation, social distancing and quarantine; a time when we cannot visit loved ones while we all deal with the fallout of the spread of Covid-19. But that doesn’t mean that on Mother’s Day, star names from the game of rugby are not celebrting mothers and partners.This is what social media should be for in tough times like these. Plenty of names from the game are paying homage to the mothers out there! Glasgow Warriors wing DTH van der Merwe had thanks for his wife and several generations. Amy Wilson Hardy posted this blast from the past. The above video of Maro Itoje doing a cooking session with his mother is the first prime example of top Mother’s Day content.Of course club sides and international teams have gotten in on the act too. Hello to the Leinster mums! This is from Sarries (and look who makes another appearance!). Chris Robshaw posted this:center_img This is one of a few posts from Scott Baldwin. Dev Toner had this to say about a particular superhero. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!No doubt there will be plenty of other great Mother’s Day moments out there. And of course there is lots more going on beside.If you want to let us know how you are getting your rugby fix during this difficult time – or you have any other views, videos or photos to share with Rugby World – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at [email protected] You could possibly feature in the next issue of the magazine. Sul y Mamau Hapus! And then, at the end of it all, there’s this wee gem below… A message for the Munster mams. The April issue of Rugby World magazine – focusing on a new generation of Six Nations stars – is out now.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more