Luke McAlister – Blues, Harbour Rugby, Sale and New Zealand

first_imgLM: I miss my friends and family; the people. Ma’a Nonu is a good mate and he’s a real prankster, too. I’ve got a young daughter, Astyn, as well so I really miss her. She’s three-and-a-half now and I speak to her every day. She’s coming over in February. It’s tough being away from home and playing at this time of year is strange, but that’s why I’m here – to learn something different, adapt my game and play in a different environment.RW: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on the pitch?LM: When I was playing in an U19s game, a guy kicked the ball backwards from the kick-off. That was pretty funny. It’s hard to think of something right now. If I had a few hours I could probably come up with something better.RW: If your house was on fire, what three things would you save?LM: Photos and my hard drive. I’m just getting some photos ready to send back to Astyn actually so she can put them up in her room. I came over with just three bags of clothes, so they can burn. I can always get more clothes. Most of my stuff is back in New Zealand.RW: Do you have any phobias?LM: I’m not a big fan of heights. Being at the top of the Eiffel Tower is pretty scary. And I don’t think I’ll ever do something like skydiving or bungee jumping.RW: What’s your pre-match routine?LM: I’m pretty relaxed. I sleep a lot during the day and listen to music before the game. I like hip-hop and R‘n’B.RW: Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?LM: Eva Mendes.Check out his stats for New ZealandCheck him out making an impressive kick… TAGS: Sale Sharks LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Luke McAlister’s got his game face onBack in 2008 when the All Blacks back decided to try something new, he moved halfway around the world to Sale Sharks in the hope that it would benefit his game. He took some time out to talk to Rugby World about his new venture, eating chips and gravy for the first time and his daughter, Astyn. RUGBY WORLD: You’ve been at Sale a few weeks now. How are you settling in up in Manchester?LUKE McALISTER: It’s gone really well. There’s a good bunch of the boys here and they’ve made me feel really welcome. I hang out with Lee Thomas quite a lot. We’ve just got on since I first arrived really and we have a lot in common. Everyone gets on with each other well so it’s pretty awesome in that regard. I’m still getting used to the whole of Manchester, though, and finding my way around, especially when I’m driving. Luckily, I’ve got satnav!RW: So have you found a house?LM: Yeah, I’m living in Hale, renting a nice town house. A few of the boys live round there, like Rory Lamont, so I can keep myself occupied. I need to buy myself an Xbox, though. I haven’t got one yet. I like war games like Halo.RW: Have you had any problems with the local accents or northern slang?LM: It hasn’t been too bad. It’s sometimes hard to understand Chris Mayor and Dean Schofield but other than that it’s been fine. I’m picking up a new word everyday. Today I learnt ‘reddot’, which means hot.RW: A lot of the French players complain about the food in England. How have you found it?LM: It’s been fine. I had chips and gravy for the first time the other day. That brought back childhood memories of growing up in Oldham!RW: So are you going to treat yourself once a week?LM: I can’t do that. We’re rugby players, we’ve got to be healthy.RW: So who are the jokers at Sale?LM: Rudi Keil is quite a character. He puts these fake teeth in his mouth that make them stick right out and pretends to be someone else. They just make his teeth look too big for his mouth and it sounds hilarious. The hardest I’ve ever laughed is when Rudi puts in his teeth.Homesickness, Heights and Eva Mendes…RW: Do you miss New Zealand? Check out how the All Blacks got on in the Last Man Standing challenge…last_img read more

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James Hook to start at 10 against France

first_img James Hook in training with the rest of the Wales squad in Auckland, New ZealandWales have made one change to the starting line-up which triumphed over Ireland last weekend for the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final clash with France at Eden Park on Saturday (Kick-off 9am).Perpignan-bound James Hook replaces Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland.Priestland injured his shoulder during Wales’ impressive 22-10 quarter-final victory over the Irish in Wellington last Saturday. He was not considered for selection this week and will now continue his rehabilitation over the next few days with a view to returning next week.On the bench 102-times capped Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones comes in for the promoted Hook, who himself brings 57 caps worth of experience to side.“Time was against Rhys, but we are happy that we have the talent and ability elsewhere in the squad to cover him,”said Wales head coach Warren Gatland. Starting XV:15. Leigh Halfpenny14. George North13. Jonathan Davies12. Jamie Roberts11. Shane Williams10. James Hook,9.  Mike Phillips;1. Gethin Jenkins,2. Huw Bennett,3. Adam Jones,4. Luke Charteris,5. Alun Wyn Jones,6. Dan Lydiate,7. Sam Warburton (C),8. Toby FaletauReplacements:16. Lloyd Burns17. Paul James18. Bradley Davies19. Ryan Jones20. Lloyd Williams21. Stephen Jones22. Scott Williams AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – OCTOBER 11: Utility back James Hook passes the ball during a Wales IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 training session at Mt Smart Stadium on October 11, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) “Rhys has done everything we have asked of him and more during this World Cup, but, when we have players of the calibre and experience of James Hook and Stephen Jones coming into the squad and starting line-up, there is no sense that Rhys’s absence leaves us any weaker.“We know that the people in Wales and the fans that have travelled here are excited about reaching the semi-finals of the world cup and we are too, but beating France on Saturday must be and will be our sole focus.“The time to reflect and to celebrate will come if we win our next two matches, until that happens our focus on the task ahead must be absolute.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

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Lancaster’s England in for a rocky ride

first_imgEDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – FEBRUARY 03: Chris Robshaw, the England captain, poses during the England Captain’s run at Murrayfield on February 3, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) Hooker Ross Ford will captain Scotland for the first time on SaturdayBy Bea Asprey, Rugby World WriterStuart Lancaster’s fresh-faced England side will attempt to beat Scotland at Murrayfield for the first time since 2004 on Saturday, but although the visitors beat their hosts twice in 2011, they will have their work cut out for them if they are to overcome this fired up Scottish side. The Scots have a horrible habit of losing games in their dying minutes, but here are the reasons why I pick them as favourites to come out on top on the opening weekend of the RBS 6 Nations. Chris RobshawEngland’s inexperienceEngland have a combined total of just 233 caps in their starting lineup, and Lancaster has picked three Test debutants – the midfield partnership of  Saracens Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell, and Northampton Saint Phil Dowson who will fill the No 8 jersey – and there are also five newcomers on the bench. Furthermore, new England captain Chris Robshaw has won just one cap so far, making him the most inexperienced skipper since Nigel Melville led the side on his debut in 1984, and this young team will have to find their Test feet fast if they are to keep up with Andy Robinson’s more experienced outfit, who have 499 Test caps between them. Lancaster’s tactic of picking four Saracens in England’s back line ensures these players are used to operating alongside one another, but they have never done so on the big stage, and expecting them to be able to live with the pace and intensity of the international game with no previous experience will be a big ask.Scotland’s growing confidenceEngland laboured to both their 22-16 Six Nations and 16-12 World Cup victories over Scotland last year, a factor that will stand out in the Scots’ minds. The boys in blue will draw confidence from the fact that they nearly beat England on their home patch last season, and will be determined to shake off their ‘nearly men’ tag and grind out that win. The Scots will have the backing of a passionate and packed out Murrayfield crowd, the heat of which a number of England’s youngsters will never have experienced before. Furthermore, in Leicester’s Heineken Cup battering by Ulster Ben Youngs and Dan Cole lost their cool, and it’s essential that the more experienced heads in the team are able to remain focused.Auld rivalries As if the Calcutta Cup doesn’t provide any Scotland team with enough motivation to perform at their best, their last defeat at England’s hands brought them an early flight home from the World Cup, and a win on Saturday would go a long way to healing those wounds. Furthermore, Robinson has voiced his anger in recent weeks at the England players’ arrogance towards his side in New Zealand, and it’s clear that the ancient rivalry between these two nations is very much alive and well.Key men Robinson’s first choice of skipper was Kelly Brown, but when the back rower got injured in Saracens Heineken Cup victory over Treviso he turned to his World Cup hooker, Ross Ford. The Lion will be determined to show that he is worthy of the job and lead a successful side, and he has demanded that his team start to close out tight games and produce victories. 23-year-old Edinburgh winger Lee Jones will also be one to watch, and Scotland fans will be hoping he can bring some tries to the home score sheet. Highlights of last year’s Calcutta Cupcenter_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS England captain Chris Robshaw is an unknown quantity at Test level, but Lancaster will be hoping he can transfer his leadership skills that have clearly been successful for Harlequins so far this season. Although there is a youthful streak about this team, it will be important for the more experienced players such as Tom Croft, Ben Youngs and Ben Foden to help Robshaw lead the side and make decisions.SCOTLAND V ENGLAND, MURRAYFIELD, SATURDAY 4 FEBRUARY, KICK-OFF 5pm, Live on BBC1SCOTLAND: Rory Lamont; Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Sean Lamont, Max Evans; Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford (capt), Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Alasdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie, David Denton.Replacements: Scott Lawson, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Mike Blair, Greig Laidlaw, Graeme Morrison.ENGLAND: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson, Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Mouritz Botha, Tom Palmer, Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (capt), Phil Dowson.Replacements: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown.Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)VERDICT: Experience will overcome youth this time. Scotland to win by 6.last_img read more

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The Championship Blog – Week 3 round-up

first_imgThe Knights considered themselves unlucky with some of referee Mr Ian Tempest’s decisions, which resulted in yellow cards for props Brian McGovern and Andy Brown, a penalty try and a host of penalties, three of which Gopperth converted.At Goldington Road, winger James Stephenson scored a hatrick as Bedford Blues ran in eight tries to beat London Scottish 55-20 on Saturday. Director of Rugby Mike Rayer had made nine changes, one of which was to give the ex-Blackheath man his first start in Bedford coloursThe Exiles’ pack held the ascendency in the first period and the Blues led by just five points at the break. Former Esher centre Mark Atkinson also scored his debut try for the Blues. However, despite being reduced to 14 men for ten minutes, it was pretty much one-way traffic in the second period with the Blues rampant.At Brickfields on Saturday Leeds left with a try and a losing bonus point. However, Carnegie coach Diccon Edwards saw it as three points lost as he watched Joe Ford’s injury time conversion attempt, which would have won it for the visitors, sail wide.Leeds scored five tries to Albion’s four, losing 32-31 and held the lead for long periods of the game, but Plymouth, who are much improved this season, refused to go quietly into the night.On Sunday Bristol extended their winning record against the Cornish Pirates at the Memorial Stadium, pulling away to win 29-17 after turning round just 13-9 ahead in front of the largest Championship crowd of the weekend.And finally, on Sunday at Meadow Lane, Rotherham Titans proved too strong for the hosts winning 16-27, courtesy of a penalty try, a try from Eamonn Sheridan and the remaining 17 points from the boot of James McKinney. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS So after three weeks, this leaves things looking like this…Follow Richard Grainger on Twitter @maverickwriter NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 14: Falcons player Richard Mayhew makes a break during the RFU Championship match between Newcastle Falcons and Doncaster Knights at Kingston Park on September 14, 2012 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) Fine form: Newcastle’s Richard Mayhew (L) on the charge for the FalconsAFTER THREE weeks of Championship rugby it’s beginning to look as if the sides promoted and relegated to this division may have booked a return ticket back to where they came from, writes Richard Grainger.Much to the annoyance of Moseley Head Coach Kevin Maggs, there had been media speculation last week that this mid-September clash in the Channel Islands might be a relegation decider.With both sides failing to impress in their early encounters, the importance of this match could not be underestimated, and Moseley’s 15-31 victory now leaves the Channel-Islanders cut-adrift at the bottom.“I’m very proud of my boys,” Kevin Maggs told the Jersey club website,  “I knew this would be a tough game, with Jersey having a great home record,” he said. “It’s a long way to come, but the travel worked out fine and we had a great start.”But Moseley were far from convincing. It was two tries apiece until the final minute when Charlie Hayter scored his third to extend the 12-point lead that the Midlanders had held throughout the second period. Ollie Thomas kicked four penalties and two conversions for the visitors in reply to tries from Donovan Sanders and Glenn Bryce.Lack of discipline with a yellow card for Kingsley Lang for foul play and an 11-3 penalty count didn’t help Jersey’s cause.Jersey’s Donovan Sanders said: “We were on the back foot and there were lots of mistakes – you have to look after the ball at this level.”At the other end of the table at Kingston Park, Newcastle Falcons continued their perfect start to what they hope will be a brief sojourn in the Championship.On Friday night a crowd of over 4,000 watched Newcastle patiently wear down a stubborn Doncaster side. The Falcons left it late to collect their fifteenth point from three matches with tries from Mark Wilson and, deep into injury time, a fine solo effort from Jimmy Gopperth, adding to an earlier penalty try and a series of pick and drives finished off by John Golding.last_img read more

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Draw in Brisbane shows signs of an Australian recovery

first_img Bouncing back: Kurtley Beale has stepped in at fly-half for the depleted Wallabiesby Ben ColesLIMPING INTO this year’s final Bledisloe Cup match, Australia were not given a hope. Take away the quality of Will Genia, James Horwill, David Pocock and James O’Connor from any team and they will struggle.Patched up and back at Suncorp Stadium, the setting for Super Rugby success for the Reds and Tri-Nations success for Wallabies, Australia did enough to stop New Zealand going for a record-breaking 17th win in a row to come away with a draw. Tries were not the order of the day, with Kurtley Beale, Mike Harris and Dan Carter kicking all the points in an 18-18 draw, but for the Wallabies this was a big result.Australia were 8/1 to win before the match, record high odds for an Australian win against New Zealand at home. With a fully-fit squad the Wallabies struggle to win against the All Blacks anyway – before Saturday they had only won two out of their last 16 matches against New Zealand. What was different on this occasion was that although New Zealand were slightly off the boil, Australia executed in key areas.They missed 16 tackles to the All Blacks 18, won 60% of their own lineouts and caused problems for the opposition. More importantly, Australia held onto the ball more by kicking 19 times to the New Zealand’s 26. All throughout The Rugby Championship criticism has been fired Australia’s way for persistently kicking away possession with no beneficial outcome. By holding on to the ball for longer, they denied New Zealand the opportunity to attack from deep. BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 20: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies runs the ball during the Bledisloe Cup match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) Keeping the ball away from New Zealand in the air however means taking them on at the breakdown. With Richie McCaw, Liam Messam and Kieran Read all so adept at both legally and illegally causing problems at the ruck, Australia gave up nine penalties in the contact area. Their age-old problems at the scrum saw them only win four out of a possible nine on their own put-in, which when you factor in the lack of Horwill’s grunt in the second row and losing Ben Alexander in week before comes as no surprise.Despite those problems at the scrum and breakdown, this was Australia’s best performance of the summer. With more ball in hand they broke the gain line more consistently – Tatafu Polota-Nau and Ben Tapuai impressing along with wrecking ball Pat McCabe. That momentum caught the All Blacks out on the back foot and proved that they are beatable.The result in Brisbane eases the pressure on Robbie Deans ahead of the November Internationals. It also gives Australia some hope, because having gone toe-to-toe with the All Blacks they can now welcome back key stars. Horwill, O’Connor and Genia will not travel but Pocock, Stephen Moore and Berrick Barnes may all return. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Kurtley Beale is performing at fly-half and the Wallabies young stars – Michael Hooper, Tapuai, Harris and Sitaleki Timani – are improving with every game. The depth of their squad will continue to be tested against France, England, Italy and Wales, but they will arrive in the Northern Hemisphere with a new burst of confidence.Follow Ben Coles on Twitter @bencoles_last_img read more

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Inside the England camp: Part 3

first_imgDid you hear the one about… Brad Barritt and Chris Ashton share a joke during England training this weekENGLAND WERE brought down to earth by Saturday’s loss to Australia, but away from the preparation for this weekend’s game against South Africa the players have found time to relax and unwind. Find out how by watching this video… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img

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Will Carling on England v France

first_img“If they’re in the right frame of mind, have the right attitude and the right amount of fear, then they’re good enough to win. But every game is a huge hurdle, both physically and mentally. Especially when you’re English.”Will Carling (@WillCarling) will be hosting a Twitter Q&A from 1-2pm this Friday, ahead of the big game. To get involved, submit your questions using the hashtag #AskCarling. He’s also hosting a Q&A every Monday from 12.30-1.30pm to discuss the weekend’s action. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Not for featured For all that, Carling believes England are in a good place right now, and thinks their own selection tweaks are spot on: Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes come in for Tom Youngs and James Haskell up front, while centre Manu Tuilagi returns for Billy Twelvetrees after impressing off the bench in Dublin.“Dylan offers a bit of experience and technical ability. The French are the most powerful scrummagers in the championship, and the lineout and scrum areas will be crucial.“Courtney has a great physical presence and is a hell of an athlete; he also provides an extra lineout option. And when Manu’s on form he gives us intent and direction. He will counter Mathieu Bastareaud. So all those changes are fairly logical.”Match-up: Bastareaud will clash with TuilagiDespite not starting in Rome, Bastareaud tops the chart for most defenders beaten in this championship, having bashed and battered his way through nine opponents. His collisions with Tuilagi will be but one attraction in a match Carling thinks will go the way of the hosts.“England have struggled for eight or nine years to find a game plan but this is the most coherent team since the World Cup winners of 2003, and it shows the most potential. Back in the fray: Dylan Hartley’s front-row technical expertise will be invaluable against France on SaturdayBy Deputy Editor Alan PeareyENGLAND are 1-5 on to win the Six Nations and evens to claim a first Grand Slam for a decade – but such odds cut no ice with Will Carling.Abject as France have been ahead of Saturday’s visit to Twickenham, the former England captain sees only a flashing danger light for Stuart Lancaster’s side.“It’s the worst possible scenario for England. France will be unrecognisable from the first two games,” he says. “The pressure is off and that’s when they’re at their most dangerous and when they tend to perform. They could just come and surprise us and be superb – that’s very French.”France are reeling after losing their first two championship games for the first time since 1982. Fly-half Freddie Michalak has paid for his lethargy, giving way to Francois Trinc-Duc in a team showing eight changes from a fortnight ago. Morgan Parra is installed as scrum-half and Wesley Fofana – who scored a try against everyone bar Wales in last year’s tournament – returns to his favoured centre position from the wing.During the heart of his 72-cap England career, Carling was on the winning side against France on eight successive occasions. But he never once took the field against them without fear in his bones.“It wasn’t a physical fear, it was a fear of being humiliated. If they were in the mood, they could destroy you,” he says.“Test rugby is pretty intense but against, say, Scotland or Ireland you might have five minutes where the concentration wasn’t quite as intense. But against France that could never happen. You had to watch them every second, for a quick lineout or an attack from behind their line. They had not only the mindset but also the ability to do it.”last_img read more

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Rugby Rant: Leave kids’ rugby alone!

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Allyson Pollock, professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary University of London, is meddling with our game.For the second time in four years she is openly questioning the sport’s existence with a report, ‘Should We Ban Rugby?’, claiming it is too brutal. She is determined to see rugby’s physical nature checked, particularly in the mini game.That children are owed a duty of care is unquestioned. I regularly take my six-year-old son to tag rugby, where contact is negligible and only introduced at U9 level, when youngsters are ready for the rough and tumble, which they enjoy so much. Compare that to my youth in South Wales. At six, I’d already (accidentally, I hasten to add) had two teeth knocked out by a rogue ankle-high Patrick boot during a full-contact game.My point is that rugby is evolving into a safer game. At elite level, it’s true, collisions can be wince-inducing, and I’ll admit I have fleeting concerns about my son’s safety pursuing rugby as a pastime, but any such doubts are far outweighed by the sport’s benefits.It is also unfair singling out rugby. There is an element of risk with most sports. Is Professor Pollock calling for a ban on skiing, cycling, cricket, horse riding, football or, that perennial favourite, boxing? I think not. Our sport’s physical and social benefits far outweigh its dangers, says RW’s Owain Jones in the May edition of Rugby World What overrides any worries is what rugby gives you. Physical fitness is dropping at an alarming rate amongst this generation of children – a recent study said they are a whole lap slower around four laps of the school pitch than the generation that has preceded them.And the merits go way beyond the physical. Rugby increases a child’s sociability and sense of fair play, engenders respect, self-confidence and the ability to work as a team. Win or lose, you are taught to pick yourself back up out of the mud and try again. These are important lessons for life in general and the life-changing injuries which some players suffer are still extremely rare among the 6.6 million registered players in 119 countries.If Pollock travelled the UK, I’m sure she would hear the same argument for protecting the sport we love so much.last_img read more

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Argentina 17-29 Ireland: The Verdict

first_img All smiles: O’Connell lifts the Admiral Brown Cup after beating Argentina. Pic: Dan Sheridan/Inpho Ireland won their first Test match on Argentinian soil, beating the Pumas 17-29 in Resistencia on Saturday. Here are some of the talking points from the game… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Ireland won in Argentina for the first timeIreland made eight changes to the team that won the Six Nations in Paris earlier this season, yet they won their first Test on Argentinian soil. Captain Paul O’Connell rued the fact that assets of their performance could’ve been better on the day – the skipper said a few tackles were missed that should’ve been made, and a few balls were spilled forward – yet new combinations proved their worth while the old stalwarts put in a decent shift. Joe Schmidt said: “I thought Robbie Diack and Jordi Murphy worked very hard in the first half, and Iain Henderson is growing all the time. Paul O’Connell is a massive guy for us, as is Rory Best, and Andrew Trimble continued in his good form despite taking a dangerous knock early on.”There is life after BOD Darren Cave had the unenviable job of following in Brian O’Driscoll’s footsteps, and though he missed a couple of tackles his otherwise solid performance ensured that he’s still on the list of ‘possible replacements.’ Elsewhere, Zebo’s BOD-esque offload to Cave, which could’ve led to a try if not for a foot in touch, will have given Schmidt something to mull over, and the pack had a good day at the office. The front row of Mike Ross, Best and Jack McGrath held the scrum up well during some crucial moments, and a few lineouts were turned over under O’Connell’s watch. Considering the short amount of time this team had to gel together, Schmidt and co can be pleased with the result.Zebo time: the Munster winger earned his first cap under Schmidt on SaturdayThe Pumas took the game to IrelandMost of Argentina’s team had the visiting media scratching their heads when their names were announced earlier this week, yet the Consur Cup crew put up one hell of a fight. The Pumas were without their European stars, yet their defence was strong and they stopped Ireland from getting into a proper rhythm, putting in a performance that bodes well for their World Cup campaign next year and beyond. Argentina traditionally have a strong set piece, yet it was their backs who showed moments of flare during this Test match, and Manuel Montero’s finish for the hosts’ first-half try suggests he will become a household name one day.The game is growing A healthy crowd watched the game at the Estadio Centenario, which is usually a low league football club’s pitch in one of Argentina’s soccer heartlands. Playing this match in Buenos Aires would’ve been the easy option for both teams, but the Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) should be applauded for spreading rugby’s message. The ground staff have worked tirelessly for the last few days to get the ground ready for Test match standard. Just 24 hours before kick-off, they were working around the clock to install big screens at each end of the ground, make advertising boards look respectable, and put covering around the floodlights’ posts at the side of the pitch. However, the turf itself resembled a patchwork quilt, and though O’Connell insisted it held up better than it looked like it did, some work will need to be done if the UAR want to use this stadium for 2023 World Cup purposes, in the event that they win their bid, which Ireland also have their eyes on. World class? The teams line up for the anthems at Resistencia’s first ever Test matchPlayer to referee It’s been just four years since Glen Jackson was barking at the officials from his out-half position at Saracens, but the Kiwi is now in his fourth year of refereeing, having bucked the trend of former players going into punditry or coaching. Today’s game was uneventful from an officiating point of view, though no news is good news when you’re the man in the middle. Lets hope he inspires more players to take up the whistle… This Argentine scrum has been atrocious today. Remember the days when it was their biggest asset? 10-23 65′ #ARGvIRL — ByTheMin RugbyU (@ByTheMinRugbyU) June 7, 2014last_img read more

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RBS Six Nations: Wales 19-10 France

first_imgWhat’s hot and what’s not from Wales’ 2016 Six Nations encounter with France at the Principality Stadium Get in! George North celebrates after scoring Wales’ only try against France. Photo: Getty Images TAGS: Highlight Wales remain unbeaten in the 2016 Six Nations after seeing off a turgid France side at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. It was far from a classic and Sam Warburton’s side should have been far more convincing winners; a late Guilhem Guirado try added a gloss to the French total but Wales dominated this contest and should have put more points on the board. The boot of Dan Biggar and a George North try – created by Jonathan Davies’s kick ahead and an unintentional assist from Jules Plisson – proved enough and they will head to Twickenham in two weeks with confidence, but they need to be more clinical.WHAT’S HOT…Leading figures – Sam Warburton, back at openside, was the standout player on the pitch. Not only did he produce his usual work-rate in defence, crucial in stopping a French maul close to the Wales’ line, and get over the ball at the breakdown, but he was far more prominent as a ball-carrier. Early in the second half he got within a metre of scoring a try and he took the ball into contact regularly and at pace, making yards. He was at the heart of Wales’ performance.Follow the leader: France captain Guilhem Guirado tests the Welsh defence. Photo: Getty ImagesThe French struggled but their skipper Guilhem Guirado, the hooker, drove them forward throughout. The scrum was a nightmare for the full 80 minutes – reset after reset – but France got the nudge on a few times and Guirado continually offered himself as an option with ball in hand, be that as a link man or the man driving the maul. The try he scored in the final minutes was well deserved.High-ball jinks – Both Dan Biggar and Liam Williams again showed their strength under the high ball with commanding takes, either from their own kicks or French ones. There’s little concern for their own safety when they leap into the air and sometimes you wonder how they come away with the ball, but some of their takes against France were simply sublime.High jump: Dan Biggar and Dijbril Camara compete for a high ball. Photo: Getty ImagesRob Evans – Many were surprised when Test centurion Gethin Jenkins was usurped by Rob Evans, but the Scarlets loosehead has applied himself extremely well in the Wales’ No 1 shirt. It’s the skills he brings in the loose that mark him out as a long-term prospect. In the opening set of phases from Wales, Evans must have been involved five or six times, be it with a carry, a soft pass or sharp offload. He has a big future ahead.WHAT’S NOT…Clinical edge – 67% territory and 59% possession. Those were Wales’ stats for the first 40 minutes, yet they had only six points on the board. They were dominating the game in terms of the collisions, putting multiple phases together and playing, as modern parlance goes, in the right areas, but had little to show for it. Gareth Davies was lively and made a couple of sharp breaks, but his decision-making at times was questionable. Until Wales can get across the gain-line more regularly, be it with brawn or guile, and then score tries, they will continue to struggle against the world’s best teams.Break man: Gareth Davies bursts clear against France – but it didn’t result in a try. Photo: Getty ImagesLikewise France had a concerted 12-minute spell in Wales’ 22 midway through the second half, but their tactics involved driving mauls from 5m lineouts and trying to burrow over from scrums. ‘French flair’ seemed a long way off their agenda, with players bereft of ideas and inspiration. As my colleague Gavin Mortimer said on Twitter: “This French XV suck the soul out of opponents. So bad they drag everyone else down to their level.”Tackle technique – Dan Lydiate was penalised for a no arms tackle on Guilhem Guirado, Jonathan Danty was pinged for taking Alex Cuthbert beyond the horizontal and Antoine Burban had to go off for an HIA having taken a big knock from Sam Warburton after getting his head on the wrong side as he attempted to stop the Wales captain. These players need to work a little on their technique, for their own and their opponents’ safety as well as to prevent conceding needless penalties.Tipping point: Alex Cuthbert is upended by Jonathan Danty. Photo: Getty ImagesThe stadium! – The roof was open for the duration of the match because engineers couldn’t resolve a technical problem, so the Principality Stadium was a little chillier than usual. It’s usually a cosy place to watch a game but we definitely needed another layer given the cold weather. From a playing perspective, at least it didn’t rain so the teams had decent conditions. It must also be said that the days of this pitch cutting up after a single scrum look long gone.STATISTICS Man of the Match: Gareth Davies (Wales)For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS 14 – The number of penalties Wales conceded compared to eight by France.11 – The number of turnovers Wales won compared to six by France.20 – The number of tackles made by Taulupe Faletau, twice as many as France’s top tackler Guilhem Guirado.144 – The number of ball carries made by France compared to 91 by Wales.Wales: Liam Williams (G Anscombe 74); A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, G North; D Biggar (R Priestland 71), G Davies (Lloyd Williams 78); R Evans (G Jenkins 56), S Baldwin (K Owens 67), S Lee (T Francis 67), B Davies, AW Jones (J Ball 78), D Lydiate (J Tipuric 78), S Warburton (capt), T Faletau.Try: North. Con: Biggar. Pens: Biggar 4.France: M Medard; V Vakatawa, M Mermoz (G Fickou 64), J Danty, D Camara; J Plisson (F Trinh-Duc 64), M Machenaud (S Bezy 71); J Poirot (U Atonio 64), G Guirado (capt), R Slimani (V Pelo 64), P Jedrasiak (Y Maestri 44), A Flanquart, W Lauret, A Burban (L Goujon 30-36, 53), D Chouly (C Chat 64).Try: Guirado. Con: Trinh-Duc. Pen: Plisson.Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)Attendance: 74,160last_img read more

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