Lions 2013: The fans meet the legends

first_imgClick here for your chance to win an off-road driving experience with a Lion! The Lol-down: Dallaglio gets up close and personal with some Lions fans in Hong KongIT’S SQUEAKY-BUM time! The series is currently drawn at one Test win each for Australia and the Lions, and with the decider looming on Saturday rugby fans all over the world are losing their hair and biting their nails. Who’s going to win? These fans get a surprise when Will Greenwood, Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Waugh get into their cars… check out the video below to hear their views on who’s going to win the all important third Test match! LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Wales: Five things we learned from South Africa

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Feeling the effects of another Test loss: Sam Warburton reflects on the loss to South Africa at the MillenniumBy Paul WilliamsFrustrating – but not a desperate lossOnce again Wales lost to South Africa. The 24 -15 defeat to Springboks was their 25th in 27 attempts. There were issues at the lineout, where Wales lost four from 17, and the new scrum engagement protocols did seem to mean a marginally weakened the Welsh scrum, particularly when Adam Jones was replaced after 30 minutes.  Plus, and perhaps more worryingly, Wales failed to score a single try – yet conceded three.But whilst this loss was undoubtedly frustrating, there were many noteworthy elements. Wales secured 53% of the possession and 52% of the territory despite losing two players after just 12 minutes. Wales made more clean line breaks than the Springboks, beat more defenders and executed an accurate defensive game– they had a completion rate of 92%, missing just eight tackles in total. Although it is worth stating that the tackles which were missed proved particularly costly, directly contributing to the Boks first try. And, as always, Leigh Halfpenny produced a sensational goal kicking performance – five from five. There will be many in Wales who will tag this loss onto Wales’ embarrassing record against the Boks. But they shouldn’t.  This group of players aren’t responsible for past results, only the present. And presently they aren’t too far off a very good Springbok side.Springboks – immensely physicalMore than a little niggle: Vermeulen and Jones clashAmidst a cacophony of complicated offensive and defensive patterns and a mesmerizing dictionary of elite coaching terms rugby remains a simple game. It is very easy to be blinded by ‘drifts’,’ the blitz’, and ‘one plus one’ contact strategies.However, one simple and age old strategy is still as effective today as it was in the 19th Century – the ‘absolutely smash the bloke standing in front of you’ strategy. The Boks, thanks to their genes, are very good at it. Such is their proficiency they legitimately, it must be said, removed Liam Williams and Jon Davies from the field after just 12 minutes. The Boks’ impact in the tackle was as bruising as their carrying. Any Welsh ball carriers caught with lateral body angles were consistently driven behind the tackle-line – it’s not often that you see Alun- Wyn Jones being marched backwards. But the impact of the Boks physicality didn’t just leave a mark on the players that were removed from the field, it affected those who remained and how they played. Wales’ George North reacts after a mistake during the International rugby union test match between Wales and South Africa at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on November 9, 2013. South Africa won the match 24-15. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == (Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images) With 68 minutes left on the clock Wales were forced into a major rejig which left unfamiliar combinations in key areas of the field. Of course, this isn’t to say that Wales were completely blown away in the contact area: they weren’t. Richard Hibbard’s carrying was as combative as ever, as too was Bradley Davies’, and Sam Warburton’s strength over the ball was impressive. But it wasn’t enough. If you want to beat the Boks you really have to literally ‘beat’ them.Jon Davies. Big lossIt may seem a tad unusual to write about the performance of a player who was forced to leave the field after just 12 minutes.  However, Davies’ cameo does make you wonder what would have been had he stayed on the field. Whilst Davies’ injury shouldn’t be dwelled on it equally can’t be ignored. Despite missing 68 minutes of the game Davies was Wales’ most effective back by far. In just 720 seconds, Davies carried the ball further than any other player in the entire squad and beat more defenders and made more clean breaks than any other Welsh back in the rest of the game. Unfortunately, it also seems as though Davies’ 12 minutes may be all we’ll see of him during the Autumn Internationals. He’s reportedly set to be out for the duration, and potentially the Six Nations if he requires an operation on a damaged pectoral muscle. Not good, not good at all.Frustrated giant: George NorthWales missed their ‘Big Men’Jon Davies’ injury had an enormous impact on Wales’ game plan. However, the absence of Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert was equally damaging. Wales had ample amounts of possession and territory against the Boks, but were essentially left with just one ball carrier in the backline: George North.  The absence of two of Wales three ‘giants’ meant that Wales consistently struggled to make any meaningful line breaks in the central channels. Jon Davies was the only Welsh back to make a clean break. Missing two of their strike runners also reduced the number of meaningful decoys in the Wales’ attacking patterns and made North’s lines more obvious and easier to track. North was only able to carry the ball 23 yards from nine carries due to frequently being double and triple tackled. George North is a tremendous ball carrier  but even he can’t carry Wales on his own. Why send off two front row forwards?Alain Rolland’s decision to yellow card both Gethin Jenkins and Coenie Oosthuizen was unusual. Both props had been warned repeatedly about the stability of the scrum and in an effort to preserve the integrity of the set piece both were sent to the stands. However, the ‘passive scrums’ that resulted, due to the absence of specialists props, are the antithesis of a scrum’s integrity. Passive scrums should only be instigated if there is a genuine issue with safety; not merely because a referee can’t decide which team is genuinely at fault and brandishes a yellow for both. The sight of 14 forwards leaning on each other is a pathetic sight even at amateur level; at test level, in the Millennium Stadium it’s a travesty – it’s like watching a game of ‘Swingball’ on centre court at Wimbledon!last_img read more

RWC 2015: Scotland squad talking points

first_imgGrit and desire: After impressing at the Scarlets, John Barclay fully deserves his call-up after two yearsAlso back in the fold and chasing a third tournament are Chris Cusiter and Jim Hamilton, part of a group who can provide valuable advice to their younger colleagues experiencing it for the first time. We know the young backs can play, but as we saw in the Six Nations, mental stability is often the issue. Even if the old hands only stick around for the initial camp, the experience they bring could be invaluable.The InjuriesOr as we like to refer to it in Scotland as ‘the midfield’. Centre has gone from a position of strength to something that will add worry lines to the brow of Coter, with Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott and Mark Bennett all on the physios couch.Richie Vernon impressed with his pace as a back row in Invercargill in 2011 and returns this time as a centre. He is sufficiently impressive (and versatile) to expect he’ll give Saracens’ Duncan Taylor a run for his money if Cotter wants a bash-up centre. Worryingly Pete Horne remains the only midfield conjuror, unless the medical team can work some magic of their own.Form of his life: Finn Russell has finished the season brilliantly (Pic Inpho)Large chunks of the second row contingent are also on the way back from injury and short of match fitness, as are two thirds of the fly-halves. Ruaridh Jackson and Duncan Weir aim to challenge Finn Russell, but following approximately 86 minutes of brilliance across the last two Glasgow games, he is the first name on the team sheet now.Before the tournament the squad will be trimmed to 31, but with many differing reports on who will be ready in time for either the warm up tests in August or the tournament in September – allegedly they all will be – the exact makeup of that group is hard to guess. Man with a plan: Vern Cotter has a summer to get the best out of the Scotland squad On Tuesday Vern Cotter rolled out his ‘long list’ of 46 players to deliver the undeliverable: the oft-mocked SRU aim of Scotland winning the Rugby World Cup. An extensive and no doubt, intense, training camp – a spell in the clouds at altitude in France and then two months grunt in Scotland. It will represent the longest continuous period Cotter will have with the squad since taking the reins.Now is his chance to really put his imprint down on his squad; could we see a quite different Scotland come the autumn?Go-forward: Josh Strauss adds considerable muscle to the back-rowThe Foreign LegionThere is talk of foreign imports whenever a Scotland squad is announced these days. Hugh Blake – object of controversy from the Six Nations – survives, or should I say returns, despite having had no more game time at Glasgow than he did at Edinburgh, save a cameo at the Melrose Sevens. Blake is already qualified, through no fault of his own, but faces criticism for having done little (yet) to merit the call-up.Scotland fans welcome the inclusion of the first two “project players” a little more pragmatically, as Josh Strauss and WP Nel have performed regularly and well for their clubs. Even if Strauss won’t be eligible to don the navy blue until the tournament proper, his consistent ability to make ground with the ball would see him walk into most people’s Scotland XVs and Nel should fit the tighthead spot left by the retiring Euan Murray nicely. That is, assuming he can get past Mike Cusack, a hard-scrummaging Yorkshireman who has also qualified on residency.Missed the cut: Kelly Brown was one of the big-name absenteesThe AbsenteesThere are a good group of names left out: Johnnie Beattie, Ben Toolis, Kelly Brown, Chris Fusaro, Geoff Cross and Edinburgh favourite Roddy Grant. Beattie and Brown have apparently been left out due to lack of form, Grant for a perceived lack of versatility. Grant has played 6, 7 and 8 for Edinburgh, but perhaps like Fusaro he suffers from misplaced worries about his size – both are 5’11” but in mitigation, tackle like demons. The exclusion of both outrages some fans especially when “form” is used to exclude some players but others get a pass, but, we know Cotter likes his opensides beefy.The Old DogsWhich leads us to the return of John Barclay, the Scarlets Management Player of the Season. Despite featuring mostly at No 8 when we need him as a 7, many Scotland fans are just glad to see him back in a squad for the first time since 2013. His versatility gives him a good chance for a long campaign like the World Cup, but expect a tussle with Blair Cowan for that openside shirt. Realistically he may be more valuable off the bench and for his experience – this would be his third World Cup. At 28, he’s never wholly fulfilled his early potential at test level, but I wouldn’t bet against a late renaissance now he’s been given another chance LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Vern Cotter has brought in the muscle for the Scotland squad in a period where he hopes to shape Scotland into a team able to surprise a few people… Guinness PRO12 winners Glasgow provide 22 of the 46 places, and you wouldn’t bet on that extra confidence ensuring plenty representation when the World Cup rolls around in September.last_img read more

World Cup 2015: Argentina 15-29 Australia

first_img TAGS: Highlight WHAT’S NOTLavanini’s yellow card – Argentina lock Tomas Lavanini was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Israel Folau with 25 minutes on the clock and while he was off, Australia exploited the extra man to set up Ashley-Cooper’s second try. But it was a harsh yellow card, as when referee Wayne Barnes first looked at the television replays in real time he contemplated just awarding a penalty. Then he looked in slow motion and decided Lavanini was more culpable, saying “he came at it from a distance”. These things always look worse in slow motion and Barnes should have stuck with his original instinct to give the lock the benefit of the doubt. The referee was treated to a chorus of boos from the crowd for his pains.Falling Folau: This tackle from Tomas Lavanini resulted in a yellow card. (Photo: Getty Images)Australia’a anthem – The choir were a few bars ahead of the band when the anthem was played before the kick-off. The Aussie players still joined in with gusto and it obvioiusly didn’t put them off. How the World Cup semi-final clash between Argentina and Australia was won and lost. Argentina‘s dream of reaching a World Cup final for the first time was left in tatters by a terrific performance from Australia, who can now look forward to their fourth final.The Wallabies suffocated every break the Pumas made with outstanding defence and created a hat-trick of tries for Adam Ashley-Cooper with some dynamic running and pin-point passing. Argentina threw everything at the game, especially in the second half, but could not crack open the Australian defence.Fast start: Rob Simmons heads for the line to score Australia’s first try (Photo: Getty Images)Australia made a smart start with a try in the second minute from Rob Simmons, Nicolas Sanchez hit back for Argentina with a penalty five minutes later, but Ashley-Cooper then took the Wallabies into a 19-6 lead with a matching pair of tries, diving over in the right-hand corner for his first and in the left-hand corner for his second.Two Sanchez penalties either side of one from Bernard Foley brought Argentina back to 22-15 after the break but Australia held them at bay and a magnificent diagonal run from Drew Mitchell created the third try for Ashley-Cooper and took the Wallabies safely into next Saturday’s final.Full flight: Adam Ashley-Cooper dives in for his second try. (Photo: Getty Images)WHAT’S HOTAustralia’s golden start – The Wallabies opened the scoring with just one minute on the clock, when Simmons intercepted a ponderous pass from Sanchez and galloped in from the 22 to score. Before ten minutes were up, Ashley-Cooper had latched onto a long pass from Foley and dived in at the right-hand corner for the Aussies’ second try, and with Foley converting both, they were 14-3 up.Argentina’s scrum – The Australia scrum has earned plenty of praise during this tournament as it has been so much stronger than in the past, but today Argentina outscrummaged them and forced four scrum penalties.Wallaby speed – Australia’s line speed caused the Pumas all kinds of problems.Spooked by Simmons’ interception try, several times after that Argentina looked to give a pass, but changed their mind when they saw Wallabies right up in the faces of their supporting runners.Heartbroken: Nicolas Sanchez sheds a tear after the final whistle (Photo: Getty Images) 10 – Australia proved to be the masters of the breakdown again, winning then turnovers. David Pocock claimed four of those.81 – In the final ten minutes of the match Argentina has 81% of possession and 81% of territory, but could not break the Aussie line.89 – Nicolas Sanchez took his total of points scored in this tournament to 89 with his five penalties today, making him the leading points-scorer of RWC 2015 with two matches to go.73 – Australia prop James Slipper won his 73rd cap in this match, making him Australia’s most-capped prop of all time. STATISTICS908 – The combined number of metres made by both teams in this very open game was 908, with Argentina making 556m and Australia 352m, Santiago Cordero accumulated the highest individual total, with 100m.center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Final flourish: Drew Mitchell makes the break to create Australia’s fourth try (Photo: Getty Images). Argentina: J Tuculet; S Cordero, M Bosch, J-M Hernandez (J de la Fuente 43), J Imhoff (L Gonzalez-Amorosino 17); N Sanchez, M Landajo (T Cubelli 55); M Ayerza (L Noguera Paz 60), A Creevy (capt, J Montoya 30), R Herrera (J Figallo 60), G Petti (M Alemanno 57), T Lavanini, P Matera, J-M Fernandez Lobbe, L Senatore (F Isa 48).Pens: Nicola Sanchez 5Sin-bin: Tomas Lavanini 25.Australia: I Folau (M Toomua 64); A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, M Giteau (K Beale 46), D Mitchell; B Foley, W Genia (N Phipps 66); J Slipper (T Smith 52), S Moore (capt, T Polota-Nau 58), S Kepu (G Holmes 52), K Douglas, R Simmons (D Mumm 66), S Fardy (B McCalman 55-60, 70), M Hooper, D Pocock.Tries (4): Rob Simmons, Adam Ashley-Cooper 3,  Cons: Bernard Foley 3. Pen: Foley.Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)Man of the Match: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Australia) Attendance: 80,025For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.last_img read more

Hotshot: Saracens and England U20 lock Joel Kpoku

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS All smiles: Big things are expected of Joel Kpoku (Getty Images) Your twin brother, Jonathan, is also at Saracens. What’s that like? He plays lock too and we both came on together against Worcester in the Premiership Cup last month. It was the first time we’d played together this season. It gives you confidence to have a relative with you, who plays the same position as you. We can talk about what I need to get better at or what he is doing well. It’s also nice to have someone who will always have your back.My younger brother, Junior, is with Saracens Amateurs. I hope he wants to push on and play professional rugby.What are your big goals?This season I want to push into the Premiership side and get more regular game time. And long-term I want to play for the England senior side.To do all that I need to keep pushing hard and keep asking questions of guys like Maro Itoje and Nick Isiekwe.RW VERDICT: Despite starring for England U20 at the last Junior World Championship, Kpoku was surprised to be included in the senior England training squad in August. Expect Saracens to call on Kpoku more and more this season. Get to know the latest highly-promising second-row off the Saracens production linecenter_img Saracens and England U20 lock Joel Kpoku Date of birth 22 June 1999 Born East London Club Saracens Country England Position LockWhat got you into rugby?I got into it at school but I was initially scouted by London Skolars in rugby league. I started there at U12s. I then went to Saracens Amateurs and joined the Sarries U17 academy.Were you always a lock? I started off at prop in U14 level and then I moved to second-row when I got bigger. I played at prop in rugby league as well.Did you play any other sports when you were growing up? I also played basketball when I was around eight to ten. I was playing at guard – I was sort of like the centre-back, so I was protecting things under the hoop. That meant slapping balls away and using my frame. It’s something I like to do now with rugby.Who were your heroes growing up?I was a massive fan of Thierry Henry when I was younger. He was a great player for Arsenal, who I support as they are quite close to Southgate, in North London, where I grew up.My dad, Jose, was also a big influence on me. He used to come home from work at 6am, grab about three hours’ sleep and then drive us to training or a game on Saturdays. He didn’t have to do it. He had plenty of sleep to catch up on after working the night shift from 9pm to 6am in a warehouse in North London. I just want to give back to him after all he has done for us. This article originally appeared in the January 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.last_img read more

The 100 Best Players In The World: 90-81

first_img Expand The 100 Best Players In The World: 2 Beauden Barrett The 100 Best Players In The World: 80-71 The 100 Best Players In The World: 40-31 The 100 Best Players In The World: 50-41 Only Way Is Up: Bamba is so young and still makes the number 86 spot (Getty Images) The 100 Best Players In The World: 100-91 Expand The 100 Best Players In The World: 60-51 Our next section of the 100 best players… Our next section of the 100 best players… The 100 Best Players In The World: 80-71 Expand Our next section of the 100 best players… The 100 Best Rugby Players In The World: 90-8190 Lukhanyo AmSpringbok Centre: Lukhanyo Am has made a starting spot in South Africa’s backline his own (Getty Images)Age 25 (28.11.93) Position CentreHe’s not a familiar name in the northern hemisphere but Am is South Africa’s silkiest midfielder. He runs great lines, has superb vision and has the skills to put team-mates into space. He’s the best defensive reader of the game in SA too. Not huge but a strong tackler and midfield general.89 Beka Gorgadze Georgia’s Leader: Gorgadze has the weight of a nation on his shoulders (Getty Images)Age 23 (8 February 1996) Position Back-rowFormer England prop and current forwards coach for the Georgia national side Graham Rowntree said; “I call him ‘Rock Star’. He’s one hell of an athlete and an exceptional player – you forget how young he is. He picks things up very quickly, is very dynamic, a good footballer and a hard worker. He’ll be a star of world rugby.”88 Ramiro  MoyanoLate Developer: Moyano took his time, but he has now become a big part of Argentina’s backline (Getty Images)Age 29 (28 May 1990) Position Back threeBump into Moyano on the street and you wouldn’t imagine he is one of Argentina’s best players. His 5ft 10in and 13st frame is not as muscular as your average professional player, but his inner strength, hunger and personality make up for any perceived size issues there may be.As an up-and-coming full-back, he was so badly knocked out during the U20 World Cup of 2010 that doctors started resuscitation procedures. He subsequently missed a lot of rugby and his career briefly stalled. Then he took the longer route to Test rugby through the sevens circuit, on which his marvellous skills shone.After excelling in the shortened game, he was in the frame for England 2015, despite playing only six Internationals against regional opposition in the previous four seasons. He missed the cut but was selected to play against the Barbarians soon after the World Cup, scoring a try at Twickenham.He has since become a regular on the wing, scoring a stunning try against the All Blacks in Nelson last year and contributing to many others. With the ball in hand, he is quicker than what his body language suggests; in defence, he is totally committed. He recently became a father and is destined to have a great Japan 2019.87 Darcy GrahamElectric Runner: Graham excites whenever he gets the ball (Getty Images)Age 21 (21.6.97) Position WingThe diminutive Hawick native’s gone from sevens to starring for Edinburgh and finishing off international scores in no time, stepping, sprinting and punching above his weight the whole time. None more so than in that mad Six Nations draw against England.86 Demba BambaFrance’s Future: Bamba has risen up the French rugby hierarchy quickly (Getty Images)Age 21 (17.3.98) Position Prop The 100 Best Players In The World: 3 Mako Vunipola The 100 Best Players In The World: 1 Alun Wyn Jones Collapse The 100 Best Players In The World: 1 Alun Wyn Jones Our next section of the 100 best players… The 100 Best Players In The World: 60-51 The 100 Best Players In The World: 20-11 The star of France’s U20 World Cup win last year, he took up rugby at 14 and has enjoyed a rapid rise to the Test ranks despite playing in the French second division. The age-grade judo champion makes his power tell in the scrum and loose – he battered his way past 14 defenders during the Six Nations!85 Franco MostertFan Favourite: Mostert has found instant acclaim at Gloucester (Getty Images)Age 28 (27.11.90) Position LockThe Bok has picked up where he left off in 2018 Super Rugby, when his tackle and lineout stats blew everyone else away. He’s formed a formidable pairing with Ed Slater at Gloucester, his physicality and work-rate gaining him instant acclaim from The Shed.84 Ghislaine LandryCanada’s Finest: Landry is now the Women’s Sevens Series’ highest all-time point scorer (Getty Images)Age 31 (27.4.88) Position SevensOriginally told she was too small, 5ft 4in Landry has been on a hard road. But she is now the Women’s Sevens Series’ all-time point-scorer and Canada captain. Coach John Tait has compared her to Shane Williams in attack and Neil Back in defence, adding: “The thing that drew me to her was her love for the game.”83 Ngani LaumapePowerhouse: Laumape has been scoring tries with ease for club and country (Getty Images)Age 26 (22.4.93) Position CentreThere’s an immensely powerful Marvel superhero called The Thing; Super Rugby’s version is Hurricanes’ Laumape. He’s been scoring tries at will, carrying with intent and enjoying an unflinching battle for an All Blacks squad berth with Ma’a Nonu.82 Aphiwe DyantyiBig Breakthrough: Dyanti has incredible talent and the only way is up for him (Getty Images)Age 24 (26.8.94) Position WingWhen asked about the Lions wing last summer, Rassie Erasmus said: “He’s got X-factor.” The Boks boss handed Dyantyi his South Africa debut and a few months and six Test tries later, the electric back was named World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year. His natural attributes are undeniable – and frightening.81 Jordie BarrettOther Barrett: Often in the shadow of Beauden, Jordie is also a lethal attacking threat (Getty Images)Age 22 (15.2.97) Position Full-back Our next section of the 100 best players… Expand Has all the tricks, including a raking punt and a long-range goalkicking option. He is comfortable anywhere from inside-centre out, with his best position thought to be full-back. When he minimises errors in his game, he’s a lethal attacking threat. Expand Beauden Barrett narrowly misses out on top spot… Our bronze medallist in the list of the… Expand Expand The 100 Best Players In The World: 70-61 The 100 Best Players In The World: 40-31 The 100 Best Players In The World: 10-4 Expand The 100 Best Players In The World: 30-21 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The 100 Best Players In The World: 70-61 The 100 Best Players In The World: 50-41 We kick off our list of the 100… The 100 Best Players In The World: 2 Beauden Barrett Take a look at who has made it… The 100 Best Players In The World: 20-11 The 100 Best Players In The World: 100-91 The 100 Best Players In The World: 30-21 Expand Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 90 to 81. Take a look at who makes the cut The 100 Best Players In The World: 10-4 Expand Our next section of the 100 best players… Our next section of the 100 best players… Don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook and Twitter. The 100 Best Players In The World: 3 Mako Vunipola Welsh talisman Alun Wyn Jones takes the top… Expandlast_img read more

What Is The Highest Ever Score In A Rugby World Cup Match?

first_img Who Has Scored The Most Points In The Rugby World Cup? Owain Jones takes a look at the oldest… Here is a breakdown of some record results in the Rugby World Cup Who Has Scored The Most Tries In The Rugby World Cup? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Squeezed: Namibia yield against the relentless Wallabies in 2003 (Getty Images)Talking to Rugby World earlier this year, former Namibia prop Kees Lensing said of that rough day in 2003: “I remember going into the changing room at half-time – the score was 69-0 – and we had to walk to the left of the pavilion. I was thinking, ‘We’re in big trouble’. Because the first half was when we were fresh and had our better players on. The second half was when they would open the taps. Follow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features.Also make sure you know about the Groups, Warm-ups, Dates, Fixtures, Venues, TV Coverage, Qualified Teams by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Who Has Scored The Most Points In The Rugby World Cup? A South African and Kiwi share this honour,… Unstoppable: Marc Ellis on his way to six tries against Japan in 1995 (Getty Images) Expand Lensing admitted that he did think of the record defeat Japan suffered in 1995 during the Wallabies onslaught. They conceded fewer points, but the margin was bigger. And being nilled is never pleasant.On three occasions – against Australia in 2003, Georgia in 2007 and South Africa in 2011 – Namibia have failed to score a single point in a Rugby World Cup match. They will hope they can fair better this time around. Collapse “Weather-wise it was a perfect day. The weekend before we played Ireland in Sydney and it was raining. Ireland were a really good team as well and I’d say if it hadn’t rained, we probably would have had a very similar result. We kept the score more respectable (64-7). It was a big hiding, but the rain maybe meant they played more conservative. In Adelaide, you couldn’t complain about the weather at all.” What Is The Highest Ever Score In A Rugby World Cup Match?There have been some incredibly one-sided fixtures throughout Rugby World Cup history. However, one stands out above the rest. So what is the highest ever score in a Rugby World Cup match?You have to go back to 1995 to find the points bonanza between New Zealand and Japan, with the All Blacks running away with the game 145-17. That means there was a whopping 162 points scored in the match held in Bloemfontein. There were 21 tries for the All Blacks and Japan also got two of their own.In the match, Marc Ellis also claimed the title for most tries in a single World Cup match, with six to his name. As well as this, debutant Simon Culhane got himself a haul of 45 points from fly-half, converting 20 of 21 tries and scoring a five-pointer too.Big haul: Eric Rush also scored a hat-trick in that game in 1995 (Getty Images)He has since said of the game, which was the final in the pool stages for New Zealand, who had already made the quarter-finals by then: “We were basically the ‘B’ team and it was unheard of to rotate in those days. We were pretty determined we weren’t going to let the All Black jersey down.“Momentum was important. We had a game-plan in place we’d tried to achieve all World Cup. It was about momentum and maintaining it for the World Cup.”Of course, there have been other record scorelines in World Cups gone by.The record for biggest winning margin is held by Australia, who hammered Namibia 142-0 in Adelaide in 2003. They also pipped the 1995 All Blacks’ record for tries scored, getting 22 that day. Chris Latham got five tries himself that day. Who Are The Oldest And Youngest Rugby World Cup Players? Who Has Scored The Most Tries In The Rugby World Cup? Expand TAGS: JapanNamibia Who has scored the most in the tournament? Who Are The Oldest And Youngest Rugby World Cup Players? Do you think there will be a record winning margin or haul of points this time around? Let us know on our social channels. “The main talk was that we needed to slow it down and keep possession. For that whole game there was maybe five minutes where we managed to keep the ball, but you must remember they had guys like George Smith. Our ball security wasn’t good enough, we weren’t strong enough.Taking a break: Lensing has a moment during the Aussie onslaught (Getty Images)last_img read more

Six Nations Round One: Five Things We Learnt

first_imgAnd yet Scotland lost. And the Irish back row was the primary reason why, popping up with a crucial turnover almost every time Scotland entered their 22.First there was van der Flier, whose centre of gravity is lower than a snake’s belly, followed around the pitch by a rampant Peter O’Mahony, smarting from being left out for the unfortunate Caelan Doris, who had to leave the field after just a few minutes.Another Lions tour may be a bridge too far for O’Mahony, but CJ Stander is always capable of a big-game moment, as his crucial final turnover demonstrated. Don’t be surprised to see him return home to the Western Cape for the first match of the 2021 tour to South Africa.France are back – and much earlier than we thought It wasn’t meant to happen this quickly. The 24-17 win over England was the best French performance since the 2011 World Cup final, and in the intervening eight years they’d given precious little joy to their fans, producing neither results nor style. Indeed, the only joy had come from the U20 team’s back-to-back World Championship wins.Yet that all changed against England in Paris. Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont and Gregory Alldritt were at the heart of France’s sensational victory. Half-backs Ntamack and Dupont both had brilliantly controlled displays, setting up the first and third tries respectively, while Alldritt outshone much-lauded counterpart Tom Curry around the breakdown.France play Italy at home next week before facing a tough trip to the Principality Stadium. The question now on everyone’s lips is whether a fancied France can pull out a performance under the weight of expectation.The World Cup hangover is realEngland played much worse against France than in the World Cup final defeat by South Africa, with the seven-point losing margin flattering the men in white. George Ford and Jonny May emerged from the game with some credit, but with a coach as ruthless as Eddie Jones most of the squad will need to produce far better performances – and quickly.Downbeat: England players look dejected after their defeat in Paris (Getty Images)George Furbank and Charlie Ewels deserve further starts, whilst other England stars guilty of poor games – such as Kyle Sinckler and Owen Farrell – surely have enough credit in the bank to start against Scotland in Edinburgh. But it will be interesting to see how Jones deals with Manu Tuilagi’s expected absence too.The game against Scotland suddenly takes on major significance: win back the Calcutta Cup against a bruised Scotland and they are back on track; lose and their aim to be ‘the greatest team rugby has ever seen’ will lie in tatters. Happy day: Nick Tompkins celebrates scoring on his Wales debut (Getty Images) The March 2020 issue of Rugby World magazine – a Six Nations special – is on sale now.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Jacob Whitehead reflects on the big talking points from the opening round of the 2020 championshipcenter_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Nick Tompkins is a better centre than George NorthI’m not saying that George North had a bad game for Wales against Italy in the first match of this year’s Six Nations. He carried hard, made no defensive errors, and showed his experience by not shooting up against the tricky Carlo Canna. He even added a late try.But wow, what a debut for Nick Tompkins. There was more fizz on his first-half pass to put Leigh Halfpenny away down the left wing than an explosion at a Champagne factory.Having returned to the bench after Johnny McNicholl’s HIA, he came on again for Hadleigh Parkes with 30 minutes left. Saracens fans have seen his swerving runs and his shoulder-dip sidesteps for years, and Tompkins duly obliged with a brilliant 40m score.Setting up a try for North – later disallowed for a knock-on – the centre showed that he could star in Dublin against Ireland on Saturday.Time to think of reasons why Georgia should be in the Six Nations After their lopsided 42-0 defeat by Wales, Italy have now lost their last 23 Six Nations matches. It’s not a pretty stat and has led to calls for Georgia’s inclusion, possibly through a play-off against the bottom-placed team each year.However, every time this suggestion gets mooted, people immediately find reasons to argue against Georgia’s inclusion. “It’s too far away.” “They’d just become the new whipping boys.” “TV revenue won’t be high enough.”Ignoring the fact that both Italy and France were afforded long periods to improve once they joined the tournament, it feels as if people look at Georgia’s inclusion in an extremely negative light. Why not focus on what they could offer the Six Nations?Celebration: Georgia beat Romania 41-13 at the weekend (Getty Images)Italy imploded in Cardiff, whilst back in 2017 Georgia lost only 13-6, albeit against Wales’ reserves. Nevertheless, have they not earned a chance to show how good they are? Their inclusion would shatter a glass ceiling placed on Tier Two nations – how are they meant to improve by regularly thrashing Spain and Romania?In any case, a formal pathway between the Six Nations and the Rugby Europe Championship would benefit those countries. Let’s say that Italy were relegated – the teams in that second division would then have a chance to test themselves against a famous rugby nation, comparing where they are to a Six Nations regular.Back-row competition for the Lions tour will be frighteningThe first thing that struck me when watching the Ireland v Scotland game was how well the Scottish back row played. Hamish Watson was like a honey badger wearing a tartan No 7, a rip on opposite number Josh van der Flier the highlight. Jamie Ritchie was a lone bright spark in the World Cup and carried on that rich vein of form, while debutant Nick Haining gave Scotland a ball-carrying option they’ve missed.last_img read more

How to fix the Women’s Six Nations

first_imgThis article originally appeared in the May 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Prop star: Sarah Bern en route to scoring against France (Getty Images) Wasps Ladies’ director of rugby Giselle Mather gives her verdict on the championship LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Jade Konkel and Chloe Rollie stand out for Scotland because they receive SRU support and train full-time at Harlequins. Imagine what Scotland could achieve if all their elite squad had that support?Great Scot: Jade Konkel touches down for Harlequins (Getty Images)Edel McMahon and Cliodhna Moloney were Players of the Match in Ireland’s first two games. While receiving no financial support from their union, both moved to England to play in the Premier 15s and take part in daytime training at Wasps. It is no coincidence that extra time with ball in hand has seen a marked improvement in their development and in turn their impact on the international stage.Siwan Lillicrap and Keira Bevan are extremely talented Welsh internationals, but how can they be the best versions of themselves on the pitch if they have to do a full day’s work before training?I appreciate that finance in rugby is tight but if these unions cannot afford to make their female athletes full-time professionals then make them part-time; two days a week is better than none.We are investigating ways to move the Premier 15s from amateur to semi-pro over the next three years to again raise standards. If we in club land, with limited resources, are doing our best to find ways to support our athletes in this way, why can’t governing bodies do likewise?The Six Nations is not a level playing field. Unless the Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Italian unions act now to follow England and France’s lead by investing in the product on the field and giving athletes the chance to release their potential, I fear talk of bigger stadiums and sponsors will fade away because a tournament should never just be a two-horse race. How to fix the Women’s Six NationsThe curtain has prematurely fallen on the Women’s Six Nations, but has it been a success? Without doubt interest has hit new levels, with every match televised, more column inches written and podcasts devoted to the women’s game. New audiences are being reached and crowds have risen dramatically. All of this is fantastic.That said, there are issues surrounding the tournament. Poor scheduling, substandard facilities and a glaring lack of a title sponsor are all topics that have surfaced. But for me, the biggest threat to the future success and growth of the Six Nations is none of those things; instead it lies in the product on the field.When I was entrusted with leading Wasps Ladies in the Tyrrells Premier 15s in 2017, I received a pearl of wisdom from an experienced rugby man: “Keep the main thing the main thing. The product on the field is everything and if you get that right the rest will take care of itself.”I’ve kept that at the heart of all the decisions I make and feel it rings true for the future success of the Six Nations. A tournament that appears to hinge on one game (England v France) to decide the Grand Slam champions is only thinly disguised as a competition. If we don’t address this it potentially becomes more an exhibition of the women’s game than heated rivalry between sporting foes.England and France unquestionably lead the way with their attitude to on-field performance. The RFU and the French federation have their elite squads on full- and part-time contracts respectively and surround their players with all they need to be the best they can be – S&C, analyst support, high-quality coaching and medical staff.On top of that is the precious commodity of time that athletes need to allow proper rest and recovery.Both nations have also invested in an elite domestic league where players are supported and participate in pressure games. The two environments of club and country are seeing the English and French players thrive. The product they put on the field is improving year on year while Tests between the two nations are high quality, engaging and competitive.For the Six Nations to take its next step, other unions must support their female players in action and not just in words.last_img read more

Rugby World magazine’s Stars of 2021

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSSkip AdAds by What a nightmare! It goes from bad to worse for the Dragons Cameron Woki helps himself to the tap back from kick-off and Santiago Cordero scores his second try of the match #HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/M6oAnMKKio— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 19, 2020One of France’s 2018 U20 World Cup winners – he scored a try in the final – he’s set to move closer to the RWC 2023 squad this year.Fabien Galthié has myriad back-row options at his disposal but the 6ft 5in Woki, who plays for the Bordeaux-Bègles club, is putting huge pressure on those who have been first choice up until now.Charlotte Caslick (Australia)Caslick could well be the face of the women’s sevens event at the Olympics. When the Sevens Series was obliterated by Covid, the Olympic champion played in the NRL Women’s competition and in just two games for Sydney Roosters, league fans saw how special she is. She left 11 tacklers flailing and made three offloads – more than any team-mate.Her time in league was cut short as she sustained two small fractures in her lumbar spine, but she has signed up to be with Australia Sevens as they hunt successive Games golds. Against Scotland, the loosehead earnt rave reviews for nabbing a few turnovers and slamming in the tackles. But taking big strides is what he’s all about.A product of the Capitolina club, this Roman used to work on building sites. But he has toiled and when he helped Calvisano win the league, the front-row was named Player of the Year. Now the biking and motocross enthusiast, who – as the Italian press gleefully reported – takes on 4,600 calories a day, is with Zebre and revving up for the Azzurri.Luke Pearce (Referee)Referees will tell you they don’t want to be noticed in matches because the game is about the players. In that respect, Pontypool-born Pearce failed miserably during this season’s Bristol v Northampton Premiership match.At a time when rugby is receiving a few brickbats for negative play and wasted time, the 33-year-old earned rave reviews for his efforts at speeding up proceedings at Ashton Gate.He injected energy into the scrum set-ups – something we first saw in September’s Northampton-Exeter game – and even resorted to counting down aloud the five-second ‘use it or lose it’ limit for box kicks. He impressed again in the Ireland v France match. Here’s who we’re predicting to make waves in what will be a big year of rugby The centre’s debut against Georgia at an empty Parc y Scarlets may have contrasted sharply with the atmosphere at the Wales matches in Cardiff that his father took him to as a child, but the 24-year-old still made his mark.Wales coach Wayne Pivac believes Williams can fulfil a similar role to Hadleigh Parkes in midfield but with “a little bit more X-factor”. He gets over the advantage line with the ball in hand, is a dominant presence in defence and could become a focal point in Wales’ back-line going forward.Stacey Fluhler (New Zealand)If the Black Ferns win Olympic gold, it will be in no small part due to the work-rate and finishing of Fluhler. The Sevens Series may have been curtailed last season but she was top try-scorer, Impact Player – a stats-based award for best all-rounder – and in the Team of the Year.Fluhler is also the subject of one book in a series of profiles on Māori and Pasifika women and has worked to promote the work, as well as studying for a post-graduate diploma in business. She has co-hosted a bilingual sports show on Māori TV too.But it’s on the pitch that Fluhler is most impressive, and she is stretching ahead of rivals. Take last season as a yardstick: she made 38 clean breaks while her nearest competition, Ellia Green, had 24.Folau Fakatava (Tonga) That is all the more significant when you consider the two countries are in the same World Cup pool. If France are to end their losing run against the Red Roses, then Sansus will be to the fore.Jonny May (England)He is destined to score beauties, even if the lines about them are unlikely to impress. “I didn’t have enough time to think about it when it is like that, off quick turnover ball,” May said matter-of-factly about his ludicrous try against Ireland last autumn – one of two he scored that day.Catching the ball in his 22, the wing shaped to cut right then quickly stuttered left, bamboozling defender Chris Farrell. Then when free, he chipped over the defence, beat a scuttling Jamison Gibson Park to the ball, footed it a little further in front and finished off a scorching score.It’s the lines he cuts that stand out. His fluency of running. In the space of a few years, he has made himself a must-pick for his country and he looks certain to tour South Africa with the Lions.May is now England’s second-highest try-scorer with 32 but has a way to go to hit Rory Underwood’s record 49. You wouldn’t bet against him though…Johnny Williams (Wales)How quickly things can change. At the start of last year, Williams was taking his first steps back into rugby after being treated for testicular cancer. Now, having swapped Newcastle and the Falcons for Llanelli and the Scarlets, he’s hoping to become a regular pick for Wales. Coach John Manenti says: “We saw how world class Charlotte is across the codes and it’s a credit to her the way she attacks every opportunity both on and off the field.”Ali Price (Scotland)Who will be the Lions nines this summer? Scottish Lions have been thin on the ground under Warren Gatland but in a position that is arguably more up for grabs than any other, Price could become his country’s first Lions Test starter since Roy Laidlaw in 1983.At 27, the scrum-half has matured since the early days when occasional rushes of blood could undermine his efforts. The spurts round the fringes and line-breaking offloads have been supplemented by greater control and composure; he looks like he’s in charge. TAGS: Highlight Rugby World magazine’s Stars of 2021There’s a lot on the rugby calendar this year – hopefully – with a British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, an Olympics and a World Cup all scheduled. That’s without mentioning all the domestic competitions or the Six Nations.So we’ve compiled a list of those we think will be making headlines over the next 12 months. From the men’s and women’s games, sevens and 15s, and even a referee, these are the names to look out for.Rugby World magazine’s Stars of 2021Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)We are in that frenzied period when name after name is thrown into the Lions hat. So why not throw in the Scotland winger?As Lion No 752 Tommy Bowe tweeted: “I think van der Merwe could be starting 11 on the Lions.” Two-time Lions captain Sam Warburton listed the wing as a starter at 14 when he picked a touring team he’d like to see play the Springboks after the Autumn Nations Cup.What sets the Edinburgh man apart is his acceleration and power through contact; his ability to thunder on with hands grasping at him. Just making the plane would be a huge achievement, but he now seems to have reached the stage where, whether Edinburgh are on their mettle or fumbling around, his own game is bankably physical and his hunger for work undeniable.Garry Ringrose (Ireland)Unlucky to miss out on Lions selection in 2017, Ringrose will be firmly in the midfield mix for this year’s tour to South Africa. Warren Gatland’s team will need guile as well as grunt to beat the world champions – and that is what the Leinsterman delivers.Garry Ringrose is becoming an integral player for Ireland (Sportsfile/Getty Images)Ireland have a wealth of powerful centres – Aki, Farrell, Henshaw, McCloskey – but it’s Ringrose who offers something different, a contrast, the deft hands and gliding runs. That will allow the Lions to run around opponents rather than simply trying to run through them, which is hard to do against a team as physical as the Boks.The 26-year-old, who was voted Ireland’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2020, is also developing his leadership credentials. He led Leinster to their Pro14 triumph last season, while Rory Best believes either Ringrose or James Ryan will be Ireland’s long-term captain post-Johnny Sexton.Marco van Staden (South Africa)While some players have struggled to adapt to the renewed emphasis on the breakdown laws, this flanker has thrived to become a standout performer for the Bulls.As his coach Jake White says: “His breakdown skills are phenomenal. The way that he understands the role and understands the timing of what he does – whether he goes in, or folds around the corner and waits for the next breakdown – he’s getting better and better at that all the time.”Van Staden, 25, won three caps for the Boks in 2019 and while he may struggle to usurp Siya Kolisi or Pieter-Steph du Toit if the World Cup-winning pair are fully fit, he’ll certainly be in the selection conversation when it comes to the British & Irish Lions series this summer.Harry Wilson (Australia)Wallabies fans have been yearning for a strong, ball-carrying No 8 since the days of Toutai Kefu and in Wilson they may have found just the man.He was a talented cricketer in his youth, but has found his calling in Wallaby gold rather than the baggy green. Dave Rennie gave Wilson his debut at blindside flanker in Australia’s opening Test of 2020 and named him at No 8 in the following five fixtures.Labelled a “potential superstar” by the Fox Sports commentary team Down Under, the 21-year-old consolidated an impressive Super Rugby AU season for the Reds, in which he made the most tackles (120) and second-most carries (112). His carries tally during the Tri-Nations was 36 – joint second with All Black lock Sam Whitelock.Expect the ‘Rookie of the Year’ to become a permanent fixture in the back row for the Reds and Wallabies.Ellie Kildunne (England)A step and three broken tackles saw Kildunne score the try that would bring England Women within a penalty kick of defeating France, which they duly did 25-23 thanks to the boot of Emily Scarratt.And how did the livewire back-three star celebrate? According to team-mate Shaunagh Brown, the 21-year-old and prop Detysha Harper put on a karaoke and dance extravaganza in the team bubble.Energy is what the sevens-turned-15s star brings. Even when exposed – as she was by Cyrielle Banet in that France Test – she bounces back with renewed power, sometimes in a different direction, like a ball of rubber bands. Defences in different codes have been humbled.With the World Cup in New Zealand and the Tokyo Olympics the options this year, fans will be doing what so many disappointed defenders have done before: watch her pick her spot.Marcos Kremer (Argentina)If Argentina’s historic first victory over New Zealand was built on defence, that defence was built on Kremer. He made an incredible 28 tackles in the 25-15 win, as well as topping the carries with 14, and was central to stifling the All Blacks. Over the course of the Tri-Nations, he made 72 tackles – 26 more than any other player. Quite remarkable figures.center_img His ‘let’s go’ attitude has been quick to rub off on fellow officials and rugby wants more of the same in 2021.Giorgi Kveseladze (Georgia)Georgia have long been known for their prowess up front but they need to develop their back play if they’re to start seriously challenging the world’s top ten sides. In Kveseladze, 23, they have the answer.The centre stole the headlines with his try against Ireland last autumn, a sublime individual score. He gives Georgia much-needed creativity but is also defensively solid; he made 17 tackles against Ireland and 19 against Wales.Brian O’Driscoll knows plenty about midfield play and after the Ireland game he was full of praise for Kveseladze on Twitter. Just a bit of individual brilliance from Max Malins in European final A big score for @BristolBears!#ChallengeCupFinal pic.twitter.com/jqgz0JDBXe— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) October 16, 2020Malins’s club form may lead to the term ‘Lions bolter’ being applied in the coming months. Even if he doesn’t join national team-mates on South African shores, he’ll get more game time for England on July’s North America tour.Cameron Woki (France)France have incredible depth right now – the fact their team with 60-odd caps came within a minute of beating an England side with 700-plus in the Autumn Nations Cup is evidence of that. “It was not a French farce but a French force,” said Woki after that game – and he was central to that force.The 22-year-old’s ability to disrupt the England lineout and deny them clean ball was a standout and he also got stuck in at the breakdown. Max Malins (England)The sight of Malins straining every fibre as he goes hell for leather with ball in hand is nothing new for Sarries fans. But when he started to do it for Bristol, the on-loan fly-half turned full-back picked up more eyeballs.His Roadrunner act has found a nice fit at the Bears and he also possesses a fine double-pump dummy. He brought the same all-or-nothing running style off the bench for England in the autumn. Next on the 23-year-old’s agenda is helping Stade Français challenge for the Top 14 title – after lifting the Bouclier de Brennus four times in eight seasons in the 2000s they’ve only won it once since 2007. Then he should be on the Test stage once more, tackling opponents to a standstill, as the Pumas aim to improve on last year’s promising foundations.Trael Joass (New Zealand)It’s always interesting to hear who the pros really rate. “Trael Joass has been training bloody hard,” says Andrew Knewstubb, when asked who is in line for a big year of sevens. “If he doesn’t get injured, I reckon he’s in for a huge 2021. Our forwards are pretty solid, so it’s hard to break in, but he’s going to give (the year) a bloody good crack.”The more casual sevens watcher will have clocked Joass before, without ever noticing. It has become a tradition that whenever he is part of a big win, Kurt Baker strips naked and climbs onto the shoulders of a team-mate. After New Zealand’s men won the Sevens World Cup, it was Joass’s shoulders he was on.The forwards’ job is all about providing a platform. Healthy and firing, Joass could be the unsung hero in a formidable front three.Laure Sansus (France)Ah, how the French love scrum-halves; they build teams around the nine. Not long ago Pauline Bourdon was excelling in that role for France’s women but last year she shifted to ten and Sansus wore the No 9 shirt – and it’s the latter who is poised to star there at RWC 2021.She scored tries against England, Italy and Wales in 2020, as well as consistently making double-figure carries. She brings a real spark and verve to France’s attack, with World Cup winner Rachael Burford saying: “She seems to cause serious problems for England with her line breaks.” This article originally appeared in the February 2021 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Soon afterwards, Gloucester snapped him up so we’ll see more of him in 2021.Kennedy Simon (New Zealand)Comfortable playing across the back row, Simon’s versatility is sure to put her in the mix when Glenn Moore names his Black Ferns squad for their World Cup defence on home soil later this year.Simon excelled at No 8 for Waikato in last year’s Farah Palmer Cup, with her power game particularly notable. Her team may have lost to Canterbury in the final but her tackle on Phillipa Love was pushed out as a highlights clip on the Ferns’ Facebook channel. Plus, she surged though a couple of defenders from close range to score Waikato’s try.Then her performances at openside in the Possibles v Probables game and the two NZ Barbarians fixtures saw her nominated as Black Ferns Player of the Year. There’s more to come in 2021. A sumptuous chip from Ali Price finding Darcy Graham for the first score of the match! #GuinnessSixNations #SCOvWAL pic.twitter.com/MDokKoBuAX— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 13, 2021One Scottish blog last summer labelled him only as an “outside bet” to make the trip to South Africa, but dips in form or injury to others has altered the picture. A solid Six Nations could help Price lend a tartan tinge to the squad.Napolioni Bolaca (Fiji) Asked which Fijian star should light up 2021, sevens commentator Sean Maloney says, “Definitely Bolaca.” Giving more detail, England captain Tom Mitchell describes the playmaker as: “A classic smaller Fijian with pace and naughtiness. But don’t underestimate his strength either!”As happy to kick as to run, the 24-year-old was the top point-scorer on last season’s truncated World Sevens Series, made the Team of the Year and after day one of the last tournament, in Vancouver, the Fiji Sun declared it ‘The Bolaca Show’. A breakaway try against France, in which he fended off tacklers and powered under the posts, was held up as the highlight.The points machine said last year: “My target is to play at the Tokyo Olympics, And after that, I want to secure a contract overseas so I can earn a living for my family playing the game I love.” New Highlanders boss Tony Brown already has one of the game’s greatest nines at his disposal. But Super Rugby Aotearoa rivals will be sickened that the next big thing in ball-slinging, Fakatava, will also be representing the franchise in 2021.Brown says: “The way Folau’s playing, he’s going to start to put a lot of pressure on Aaron Smith. I think he’ll get more game time, and potentially we might see him coming on at the backend of games and being a real threat with ball in hand.”A breakout star for Hawke’s Bay in the Mitre 10 Cup, the Tonga-born half-back has the ability to light a fuse at the base of a ruck and – BANG – create havoc with his running. He may play slightly differently to laser-passing Smith, but Fakatava deserves our attention. His is a future studded with TNT.Danilo Fischetti (Italy)You might not realise how fresh Fischetti is. Then he takes to Instagram to tell a 25-year-old that: “It was an honour to play against one of my favourite players, who inspires me. Thank you for the shirt, Ellis Genge.”last_img read more