2010 Heineken Cup Final LEINSTER & TOULOUSE are the joint 4/1 favourites to win the Heineken Cup next season according to Ladbrokes. Last year’s finalists Northampton are 9/1 chances with Leicester the shortest priced English side at 6-1 from Saracens (14/1) and Bath (25/1). Of the Welsh teams, the Ospreys are the shortest at 20/1. Cardiff are 22/1 shots. Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said: “Defending champions Leinster sit at the top of the market with French powerhouses Toulouse. It’s open at this stage but definitely appears to be between Irish & French sides with England’s best hope looking like beaten 2011 finalists Northampton.” Ladbrokes latest betting Heineken Cup Winner 2012 Leinster 4/1 Toulouse 4/1 Leicester 6/1 Munster 8/1 Northampton 9/1 Clermont Auvergne 12/1 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Saracens 14/1 Racing Metro 16/1 Biarritz 18/1 Ospreys 20/1 Cardiff 22/1 Bath 25/1 Harlequins 33/1 Gloucester 33/1 Ulster 40/1 London Irish 40/1 66/1 bar E/W 1,2 1/2 odds
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Headingley – Home to Leeds CarnegieHeadingley was the scene for the latest upset in what is proving to be a fascinating second tier competition, writes Richard Grainger. The penultimate week the Championship’s Stage One saw Leeds lose 22-24 at home to bottom-placed Esher on Sunday, a reversal which virtually ends Leeds’ Premiership dreams for this season. Of course, the Yorkshire side, currently in seventh place, have a game in hand and, with the play-offs to come, anything is possible, but they appear to be unable to string two consistent performances together.Leeds, who had not played for two weeks, fielded a full-strength side, including new-signing Halani Aulika, the Tongan international and former Highlanders prop. Additionally, England U20s forwards Chris Walker and Dominic Barrow returned to the fray alongside fullback Michael Stephenson.Leeds scored from the first set-piece of the game when Esher were shunted off the ball for Jacob Rowan to gather and sprint 65 metres to the line. Joe Ford missed the conversion, but the home side were in total control until Esher began to frustrate Leeds by slowing their ball at the breakdown. Carnegie conceded a string of penalties, one of which was kicked by Esher’s Nicky Little.Esher looked to put pace on the ball and were rewarded when poor Carnegie defence allowed second row Tom Alexander to cross at the corner. Michael Stephenson responded with Leeds’ second try after Little had missed a penalty. Ford added the conversion to give Leeds a 12-8 lead.A second Little penalty left Esher a point behind at the interval, and Ford and Little traded penalties before replacement back rower Richard Beck crashed over for Leeds, Ford converting to put Leeds 22-14 ahead. Esher replacement fly-half Martin Atkinson reduced the deficit to five points with a penalty and Jon Pendlebury was sent to the sin bin for a technical offence.Leeds squandered a kickable chance when Robbie Shaw tapped and went. The ball was turned over and Esher capitalized when Phil Mackenzie went over for the equalizing score. Atkinson added the extras to gave his side an historic win in stoppage time, although Ford pulled a drop goal attempt wide with the last kick of the game.At The Mennaye on Sunday the Cornish Pirates defeated leaders Bristol 18-17 in a bad tempered affair. Bristol went into the game knowing that they had done enough to win Stage One but Liam Middleton conceded that the Pirates were the better side on the day.Yellow cards for Mariano Sambucetti and Darren Compton – who had just come on as a replacement – made life hard for the visitors. Bristol took an 8-11 lead into the interval after Luke Eves registered his first try for the club: LEEDS, ENGLAND – MARCH 06: A general view of a line out during the AVIVA Premiership match between Leeds Carnegei and London Irish at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on March 6, 2011 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) This all leaves the Championship table looking like this… Earlier Dave Ward had scored for the Pirates to add to Grant Pointer’s penalty and Tristan Roberts was successful with two penalties.In the second period, Roberts and Rob Cook traded penalties before Chris Morgan exploited the Pirates’ man advantage to give them an 18-14 lead. Roberts got the visitors to within a point but the home side held on to send Bristol home with a second consecutive away defeat. Click here for extended highlights…It was a poor week for Doncaster who lost twice in four days. On Wednesday in front of a small crowd at Meadow Lane, the Knights slumped to a 40-14 defeat at the hands of Nottingham who scored four tries to pick up the bonus point. And on Saturday at Castle Park, over 4,000 spurned the Sky broadcast and turned out to see the Dons lose 14-15 to Rotherham with the last kick of the match. Garry Law, the Championship’s top points scorer saw his 88th minute penalty shot change direction late in its flight to finish inside the left upright, much to the joy of the Rotherham players and supporters.This leaves the Knights firmly placed in eighth place but comfortably ahead of Moseley who head up the relegation contenders, going down by four tries to two at home to Bedford on Saturday. Bedford managed to win on the road for the first time since early November with two tries from Luke Baldwin and a try a-piece from Darren Fox and Ian Vaas.Moseley competed well with tries from Mike Ellery and Adam Caves, and coach Kevin Maggs was pleased with his side’s performance despite conceding what he considered to be three soft tries.Nottingham completed a profitable week on Saturday with a 19-21 win over Plymouth at Brickfields, despite having winger Michael Penn sent off for an apparent head butt. This leaves the Green and Whites just outside the top four with a trip to second-placed Bedford on Saturday. Plymouth should get an idea as to how the relegation dogfight may play out for them when they travel to Esher on Saturday.Finally, in the battle of the Exiles, London Welsh recorded their third win over London Scottish at the Athletic Ground. Ben Russell crossed twice for the Welsh and, and Ed Jackson and Hudson Tonga’uiha bagged a try each in a bonus point win. The Welsh hang on to fourth spot while their neighbours remain one place from the bottom. Leeds travel to the Old Deer Park on Saturday and London Scottish visit Rotherham for their final outing before the play-offs.
Graham Rowntree has England’s forwards in fine order. Without Alex Corbisiero and Tom Croft, they still bullied the world’s best at times this month. Even so, when your backs’ best shot at making metres is from kick-returns, it might be time to deploy a better distributor than Farrell at ten – especially when tactical kicking is also a concern.Cockerill’s primary agenda is easily exposed. Flood is out of contract next year. As club captain, he is a valuable piece of the Welford Road furniture – passing 1,000 Premiership points during Saturday’s lacklustre defeat of London Irish – and will open negotiations for a new deal after Christmas.With little left to tick off on a gleaming domestic CV, Flood will have no qualms about heading over the Channel if a role in England’s bid for the 2015 Rugby World Cup is not forthcoming. Those are the club particulars. They highlight a wider sensibility at international level.An untimely casualty: Marland Yarde pulled out of playingA raft of untimely injuries to Brad Barritt, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Trinder, Christian Wade and Marland Yarde stunted Lancaster significantly. Yarde and Wade were certainly in line to play the Pumas at least. Still, apparent reluctance to hand a start to Flood or Freddie Burns spoke volumes.For England, these autumn Tests were win-at-all-costs as a largely settled group looked to accumulate victories two years out from an assault on the Webb Ellis trophy. Lancaster wants his sides at the World Cup to contain around 500 caps (the one against the All Blacks featured just 315), so some continuity is expected. It’s the tinkering that will prove vital.Take Wales and Warren Gatland’s attitude to his own fly half berth over the past three weeks. Free from expectation thanks to a dire autumn record – four years of straight losses before the 40-6 thrashing of the Pumas 10 days ago – the New Zealander cannily saw a chance to hold auditions in problem positions. Under critique: Stuart LancasterRhys Priestland was given a shot at redemption against the Springboks on the back of sparky Scarlets form and even James Hook had a chance to translate his Top 14 excellence in the utterly abysmal Tonga game. While Dan Biggar was an important part of the Six Nations triumph, he has had to prove his unfussy skills all over again. The true must-win for Wales is the Saturday’s date with a weary Wallabies outfit and Gatland will choose his fulcrum with the benefit of a three-week trial.Lancaster is undoubtedly bringing England on nicely and the trust he shows in players is a central aspect of his unassuming leadership. But in two years’ time, Wales and Australia visit Twickenham on successive weekends. England must know their best team. Even if Farrell has undoubtedly developed into a tenacious Test match performer who usually lands his goals unflappably, that might not be enough. Blowing off the dust: Toby Flood has come on in all three of England’s November Tests, but looked a little off the paceBy Charlie MorganThe resumption of the Aviva Premiership wouldn’t have felt quite right without a strong-minded soundbite from Richard Cockerill, so it was no surprise when the Leicester honcho mischievously pondered England head coach Stuart Lancaster’s autumn selection policy in a press conference last week.His main gripe was how little Toby Flood was used during this month’s QBE Internationals and, as usual, the abrasive former hooker was provocative while making his point.Outspoken: Richard Cockerill“England still have not quite solved that 10, 12, 13 area, have they?” Cockerill said with a dash of understatement. “I’m a little bit disappointed Toby didn’t get to start. He had to enter the fray in a really important game [New Zealand] and he looked a little bit rusty because he hasn’t played.“You probably need to have a little bit more rotation and see what players can do. Owen Farrell’s clearly the first-choice ten and that’s fine, but there were opportunities to play Toby and different people in that midfield and see if there were combinations that would make it tick.”There is a point here. Across three matches at Twickenham, Flood was only afforded 13 minutes at fly-half – when an exhausted England had seen their pack’s ascendancy evaporate and were chasing a game from a standing start with the resurgent All Blacks 27-22 ahead.The Tigers man did pick up scraps of game-time against the Australia and Argentina – a combined total of 32 minutes, to be exact – but replaced Billy Twelvetrees on both occasions.This policy did instill calm in the win over the Wallabies. However, it was also a worrying echo of the 2011 World Cup quarter-final when Martin Johnson flung Flood the number 12 shirt as a frantic final resort. Flood is not a solution to indecision in the centres. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS during the QBE International match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium on November 16, 2013 in London, England.
Try and stop me: Julian Savea scores the second try of his hat-trick in New Zealand’s 17th win LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS That meant Morne Steyn could line up his match-winning conversion from in front of the posts, instead of wide on the right, and he duly put the Boks 31-30 up and they hung on for a victory they didn’t really deserve.Flip by name…South African lock Flip van der Merwe lived up to his unusual first name on Saturday when he flipped Alun Wyn Jones’s foot into the air when the Wales second row was already off balance after a lineout. Victor Matfield had challenged for the ball and knocked Jones out of the grasp of one of his lifters, Gethin Jenkins. As he toppled backwards van der Merwe arrived and flipped up his foot with his hand. The South African was quite rightly sin-binned for dangerous play. The SinnersMidfield messEngland tried a new midfield combination on Saturday, playing Kyle Eastmond and Manu Tuilagi in the centre with Freddie Burns at fly-half. Yes, the trio had never played alongside one another in a match before, but their colletive defensive effort was embroiled in such confusion during the first half that it looked like they had never trained as a unit either.Gaping holes appeared between them and the New Zealanders didn’t need a formal written invitation to gallop through. The shortcomings of the midfield trio caused the wings to drift in, which then exposed gaps out wide.Hole lotta trouble: Malakai Fekitoa blasts through the England midfield, past Kyle EastmondThe fact that Eastmond was replaced by Luther Burrell at half time said it all. England’s rearguard improved a lot after that, although Marland Yarde still missed a tackle on Cory Jane which led to Aaron Smith’s first try.There is a lot of debate at the moment about which of the four centres – Burrell, Tuilagi, Billy Twelvetrees and Eastmond – should start for England. It is by no means certain that all four will be fit come World Cup time, but if they are then the squad as a whole should be sufficiently well-drilled to mean any one of several combinations can work on match day. That is clearly not the case right now.Too eagerIt was done with the very best of intentions. Liam Williams saw Cornal Hendricks hurtling down the right wing towards the Wales try-line and his understandable instinct was to try to stop him scoring, as Wales led South Africa 30-24 with a couple of minutes of the game to go. However, it would have been better for Williams if he had concentrated on stopping Hendricks getting close to the posts, rather than trying to take him in to touch, for as the Wales full-back arrived on the scene at full tilt, having made a huge amount of ground, he hit Hendricks in the head with his elbow and gave away a penalty try for an illegal tackle. The SaintsUnstoppableNew Zealand’s 36-13 win over England was their 17th consecutive Test triumph and equalled the record winning run for a top tier rugby nation. They are playing scintilating rugby, and seem to keep plucking new players from the talent trees to add to the depth of their squad.Leading the way for them on Saturday was wing Julian Savea, who would have had a hat-trick inside the first 15 minutes if the potential scoring pass for the third try had not been forward. He did complete his hat-trick at the very end of the match, while scrum-half Aaron Smith chipped in with two tries.Can the All Blacks maintain this world-beating, winning run all the way through to the 2015 World Cup? If not, will they be able to bounce straight back to winning ways after a slip-up, whenever it comes, or will they slide away, out of contention for the sport’s biggest prize? Time will tell.Dragons roarWhat a response from Wales to last week’s 38-16 stuffing by the Springboks. In the second Test they came out of the blocks like an Olympic sprinter, took the game to South Africa with pace, power and precision and were only denied a memorable win in the closing minutes.Alex Cuthbert was outstanding going forward and got his team on the front foot. The Wales wing made 66 metres during the match, which was bettered only by Springbok full-back Willie le Roux. Up front Gethin Jenkins was outstanding in the loose, but there were standout performers all through the team.So it was heartbreaking to see the Springboks awarded a penalty try in the last two minutes, which enabled them to sneak ahead 31-30. Even then Wales could have snatched a win as Dan Biggar went for two long-range drop-goals, but his team should have been more patient and worked him closer to the line before taking the shot. Clive Woodward’s England used to talk about TCUP – thinking clearly under pressure – and that is a skill Wales need to learn.Top of the class: Maro Itoje lifts the World Championship trophy surrounded by his teamWorld beaterMaro Itoje did something on Friday that at least one other English sporting captain would like to have done this summer – he lifted a World Cup. The captain of England U20s piloted his team to a second successive Junior World Championship, beating South Africa 21-20 in a nail-biting final.The 19-year-old Saracens lock was in his first year at the U20s age group and went into the tournament in New Zealand as England’s BMW Man of the Tournament from the Six Nations after scoring a try in every round. He continued to impress throughout the World Championship but was still shocked to get the chance to lift the trophy at the end.“It doesn’t feel real at the moment. It feels pretty special,” he said. “It’s something I dreamt of when I heard about the Under 20 Championship and I am so happy.”Weir has no fearWith wins over the USA and Canada behind them, Scotland travelled south to meet Argentina but looked like they were heading for defeat as they trailed 19-10. However, Grant Gilchrist’s team battled back to trail just 19-18 in the closing stages in Cordoba, then won a penalty.The clock had ticked past 78 minutes and as Duncan Weir teed up the ball close to the 10m line, and 15m in from touch on the right, the Argentine crowd whistled, bayed and booed to try to put him off.However, the Scot blocked out all the distractions and doubts and slotted the ball sweetly through the uprights to claim a 21-19 win for his team. The man has nerves of steel.Never-ending story: Victor Matfield flies highest at this lineout during the win over WalesVintage VictorHe is 37 years old and actually retired from rugby in October 2011, but Victor Matfield has rolled back the years on a return to the South Africa side and on Saturday he became the most capped Springbok of all time when he made his 112th Test appearance. There were more talking points than ever as England and Wales rounded off their summer tours and Scotland took on Argentina. The lock came out of retirement earlier this year to play for the Bulls, having recovered from the knee injury which helped end his career at the end of the last World Cup.With Jean de Villiers injured, he was then called upon to return to the South Africa team as captain, and he led them to a 2-0 series win over Wales. Matfield might be old, but he is far from a passenger in the Springbok side as he made ten tackles and won ten lineouts during Saturday’s 31-30 victory.South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said: “When he returned to the game earlier this season, he set his goals on becoming a Springbok yet again and he’s worked extremely hard to get there. I don’t think anyone can doubt that he deserves his place in the team.”Silver liningYes, England lost their Test series in New Zealand 3-0, but the news wasn’t all bad as they ran the hosts close twice and, even in Saturday’s 36-13 defeat, had the character to come back from a truly dreadful first-half display to tie the second half 7-7. Ben Youngs was among the leading lights in that revival and there is no doubt a lot of this England party will be wiser players next season for their experiences on tour.There was another major plus to come out of their trip – England managed to spend the best part of four weeks in New Zealand without being involved in any kind of off-field scandal. No one was caught staying out late at night, there were no kiss-and-tell stories and no one jumped off a ferry. I’ll drink to that – or maybe I shouldn’t!
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Glad to be back: the Guinness Pro12 sides are ready for a tough season (courtesy of INPHO) Like a spilt pint, most at the Guinness Pro12 launch tried to cover as much of rugby’s surface as possible, with a variety of subjects covered by the coaches and captains of the sides. Things eventually got a little sticky, too.Mark Hammett and Matthew Rees of the Cardiff Blues were corralled into talking politics, even though Hammett protested that they were “just two rugby men” and Rees feels the wrangling between the WRU and Regional Rugby Wales “doesn’t change our working week!”Ulster’s pair had to field questions about the make-up of their coaching team and their tumultuous break.The English journalists asked if the bigger clubs would stop resting players, now the league was more ‘competitive’.Irish journalists fitted in that this was just an excuse when English sides lost in Europe, as a passive aggressive add-on to their own follow-up questions.However, the stand-out subject was of a man not due to play Pro12 rugby at all this season. No, not brilliant Brian O’Driscoll, though his name was brought up in passing (according to Jamie Heaslip he had dropped by training just the once to pick up some bits and bobs). Johnny Sexton was the man hanging over the event.The man everyone is talking about: Johnny Sexton is linked with a Leinster returnIt is hard to call a current competing international a ghost. However, his spectre was everywhere, haunting the Leinster officials amid rumours that he may return to the Province after the summer. Throughout the day his name wrapped up the Dubliners, like a ghoulish hand from under the bed. There is plenty of other playing matters to cover, too, but this close to the big kick-off, maybe it’s best to ignore the same questions over and over again, hide from the politics and keep selection matters close to chests.We’ll all see the proof soon enough, once the contact comes in and balls are spilt rather than launch-day pints. Heaslip tried to politely face down the queries about Sexton returning to Leinster: “He drives standards. Anyone who’s played with Johnny would love to have him in their side. Half (of Leinster) are his really, really good mates,” he said. He also batted off the notion that losing O’Driscoll to the armchair and Leo Cullen to coaching would harm his side, saying: “Rugby is one of the few last great team sport,” explaining that the side where greater than a few special players and that the team kept evolving.Of course, as far as the baying mob are concerned, it’s time to talk about one special player: Sexton. Perhaps talk of ghosts is fitting, because the fly-half was talked to death without actually being there. Yakka yakka yakka.It is true that it would be a real coup for Leinster, if Sexton opted to return to Ireland. According to Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor, a return would be “a great statement about the league, a great statement about Irish rugby and it (would) speak volumes about Leinster in particular, in that he wants to be a part of that environment.“If that happens, fingers crossed, it’s a huge statement.”Set to break out? Madigan has the talent, but will he be given a chance?No doubt Sexton brings a specific style with him. With Jimmy Gopperth’s contract conveniently set to run out in summer 2015, there could be a nice round return to how things were before Sexton left. However, as repetitive as the questions were at the launch, Leinster’s coaches will perhaps be pleased few questions were asked about Ian Madigan’s role this season, with Gopperth starting big contests last season but Madigan exciting in small doses at centre. Will it be more of the same this season?
There was also an air of anticipation among the 1000 supporters present on Tuesday for the official launch of Toulon’s pre-season training. Dominguez, Dal Maso, Delmas and Meehan were present but the Argentine hardly exuded an air of bonhomie. “I’m here only to speak about sporting matters,” he snapped, when asked about the coaching controversy. “What’s happened this summer is a matter only for those directly concerned. I have nothing further to add.”Dominguez had a reputation during his 76-Test career for composure. He’s going to need all his sang-froid at Toulon because it looks like the heat is already on. There’s rarely a dull day at Toulon, even during the off-season, and this summer a bumper crop of colourful stories has emanated from the Cote d’Azur.At the end of last month it looked as if the club would creep quietly off for its holidays, in need of some rest and recuperation after losing to Racing 92 in the Top 14 final and so finishing a season without a trophy for the first time since 2012.That final brought down the curtain on Bernard Laporte‘s five-year stint as coach, a reign during which Toulon won an unprecedented three consecutive European titles and their first Top 14 crown in 22 years. As the players packed their beach towels and stocked up on sun cream they must have assumed there would no need to keep in touch with events at the club. After all, they knew that Diego Dominguez had been shadowing Laporte since the start of the year and was primed to take over as director of rugby.Uneasy truce: Reports say Dominguez feels undermined by Mourad BoudjellalBut within a fortnight storm clouds swept in over Toulon. Initial reports alleged that Dominguez had walked out on the club after a disagreement with president Mourad Boudjellal about his decision to bring on board Marc Dal Maso as forwards coach. The former France hooker was a vital component of Eddie Jones‘ coaching team with Japan during last year’s World Cup with a reputation as an astute analyser of the game. Dal Maso was hired not to replace Jacques Delmas but to work alongside him with Steve Meehan the third member of Dominguez’s coaching team. However, according to the French press, Dominguez felt undermined by Boudjellal’s decision to bring in Dal Maso.That prompted feverish expectation in the press about who would replace the Argentine with the usual suspects – Graham Henry, Heyneke Meyer, Mike Ford, Stuart Lancaster and Fabien Galthié – all touted as possible successors. But reports of Dominguez’s demise proved premature and it was soon announced that he would, after all, be leading the coaching team for the 2016-17 season. With Bernard Laporte vacating the role that brought Toulon three European Cups, his successor appears to be Diego Dominguez, but all is not running smoothly In the frame: Stuart Lancaster was said to have had a Parisien rendezvous with BoudjellalBut still the drama wasn’t over. For no sooner had Dominguez been confirmed in his job than last Thursday the WRU announced it was blocking Shaun Edwards‘ part-time job with Toulon, saying in a statement that it would be “an unacceptable compromise” to his Wales duties as defence coach.Given all the turmoil it was no surprise to find Boudjellal in combative mood in an interview in Monday’s edition of Midi Olympique. Revealing that he had first tried to hire Dal Maso as a coach in 2008, the Toulon president was asked about Dominguez’s opposition to the appointment: “From the moment where I made a decision, the people who work [for me] should accept it. Dominguez has therefore two options: either he works with Dal Maso or…he leaves.”Working relationship: Time will tell whether Dominguez and Dal Maso can work togetherIntriguingly, Midi Olympique claimed that Boudjellal met Lancaster in Paris last Thursday and discussions between the pair went well. For the moment, says the paper, “Boudjellal has not followed up. He’s waiting to see how the Argentine behaves.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Incredibly, the centre made her international debut at the age of 15 against Great Britain in London in 1986. It was the start of what would be a stellar career, spanning three World Cups in 1991, 1994 and 2002 – the latter at which she captained the team. She also led her country to a Five Nations Grand Slam and was a member of the French team that won the European Championships in 1988, 1996, 1999 and 2000. Her attacking brilliance at centre terrified teams who were forced to come up with strategies to halt her enormous influence.Unsurprisingly her 20-year club playing career was also a success and was divided between Narbonne, where she started out, and Saint-Orens, for whom she played from 1992 until her retirement in 2002. She won 56 caps and has since coached numerous senior men’s teams, joining the French national women’s set-up in 2009 and becoming one of the lead coaches last year.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. Every success the women’s game in France has had over the past three decades has Nathalie Amiel’s handprint marked firmly all over it.Her remarkable 16-year career as a French international ended in 2002 but her involvement in the national coaching set-up since has been highly influential as she’s helped the French to numerous accolades, including a third-place finish at the World Cup and a Six Nations title in 2014.Right from the off, Amiel was set to be rugby star. Something of a child prodigy, she was playing rugby from the word go having attended the local rugby school in Capestang as a 12-year-old. While there, her skills, knowledge and potential were spotted by former France international Olivier Saisset, at the time Beziers’ head coach, and on his recommendation she was brought into the Languedoc Rugby Academy, where she was the only girl among several aspiring male players. Major teams: Narbonne, Saint-OrensPosition: CentreCountry: FranceTest span: 1986-2002 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: The Greatest Players
In the first Test in Dunedin, he tormented Fergie McCormick so much with his tactical kicking that the full-back never played for his country again, and an early drop-goal, two conversions and another try – finishing off an instinctive break from Edwards – paved the way for the 13-3 third-Test win in Wellington that ensured the Lions couldn’t lose the series.John made just as big a splash in the provincial fixtures, once taunting Hawkes Bay opponents with sleight of hand and even sitting on the ball in protest at their foul play.Only John Dawes played more games than him on that tour and he finished it with 194 points in 17 matches – a Lions record. Two compatriots from that team sum up John’s rare gifts. Gerald Davies suggested “the game would bend to his will and no one else’s”, while Edwards marvelled at his “cool superiority that spread to others”. Major teams: Llanelli, CardiffCountry: Wales Test span: 1966-72Wales caps: 25 (25 starts)Lions caps: 5 (5 starts)Test points: 120 (6T, 9C, 18P, 10DG)It was the New Zealand press that coined Barry John’s nickname – ‘The King’ – and the All Blacks were certainly subject to some of the fly-half’s seminal displays over a fleeting but celebrated career.Alongside half-back partner Gareth Edwards, he would become the scourge of the Kiwis, starting in 1967 when the duo combined to great effect for East Wales in a 3-3 draw – the closest New Zealand would come to losing all trip.John’s gliding running style earned him Barbarians selection before four starts in the 1968 Five Nations and a place on the Lions tour to South Africa, where he broke his collarbone 15 minutes into the first Test.Injuries were a constant concern for John due to his slight frame, though two tries – one in a 30-9 thrashing of England – book-ended the 1969 Five Nations. Two years later he rubber-stamped a Welsh Grand Slam by ghosting through France’s blindside defence for a 9-5 victory.That foreshadowed John’s coup de grace, a starring role in the Lions’ 2-1 series success against the All Blacks. TAGS: The Greatest Players Following 35 points in comprehensive triumphs over England, Scotland and France to begin 1972, John walked away, consumed by the claustrophobia of public adoration. A head cashier curtsied to him at a bank and John retired to escape the ‘goldfish bowl’.Though only 27, his 30 Tests had forged a prodigious legacy. Another world class Welsh fly-half… Barry John Barry John playing for the Lions LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
The silliest thing you’ve ever bought?A Segboard (hoverboard). I bought one for me and one for my sister – and they were a couple of hundred quid each. I don’t think my sister used her one and I hardly used mine.It was probably about ten years ago and I was living at home, but outside my mum and dad’s it’s not a smooth surface, there are stones, so it was impossible to use them outside the house.Who would be your three dream dinner party guests?The UFC fighter Conor McGregor – he’s a good entertainer. Stormzy. And Dan Bilzerian. He used to be an American actor but is now a professional poker player and social media influencer. He’s a multimillionaire and has got houses all over the world.If your house was on fire, what would you save (people and pets are safe)?My PS4 monitor.What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?To have a healthy family and lots of dogs. My girlfriend has a chihuahua, Winnie, and I have a bulldog, Pete. This article originally appeared in the January 2021 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Downtime with… Scarlets and Wales scrum-half Gareth DaviesAny practical jokes you can tell us?Rob Evans was going on a date in the summer, had his shorts laid out ready, and I cut a hole in the gooch area. He went off and only realised there was a hole as he arrived for the date, so he had to tell her. She laughed it off – and, for the record, he did have pants on.What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on the pitch?Lou Reed making cow noises during a scrum. Rhodri Jones, the Ospreys prop, was playing for us (Scarlets) at the time and his nickname is ‘Cow’. Lou was pushing behind him and mooing.If you could have one superpower, what would it be?Teleporting. I’d want to go to Barbados.Do you have any phobias?Quite a few. Heights is my worst one.So you wouldn’t appear on I’m A Celebrity…?I’d be nowhere near that. Snakes are probably my second worst, so I’d stay away from that.Who are the jokers in the squad? In the Wales squad, Callum Sheedy is full of confidence and likes to think he’s a bit of a joker. He’s only been here a few weeks but he’s settled in pretty well and is a bit of a character.With the Scarlets, I’ve got to give James ‘Cubby’ Davies a mention. Him and Rob Evans try to be the jokers.Do you have any superstitions?I get asked that question a lot but I don’t have any.What about nicknames?Sheepdog. It’s my Call of Duty handle.What has been your most embarrassing moment?When I was younger and playing for Llanelli RFC, I once had to run off the pitch to go to the toilet in the middle of a game. Nigel Owens was reffing so I told him and he said to me “Off you go” in Welsh.I was 18 at the time and luckily there weren’t that many people in the crowd watching and the game wasn’t on TV.Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?Ricky Gervais, in character as David Brent. I’m a big fan of The Office. The No 9 talks pranks, dogs and unwise purchases Ground work: Scrum-half Gareth Davies in action for Wales (Getty Images) You live together – do the dogs get on?They do, in a weird way. They have a strange relationship – they love each other but argue quite a bit. The little one gets jealous if Pete sits on my lap.What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?Probably what my father told me when I was younger – the more you put in, the more you get out.What’s your guilty pleasure?Cheese and onion crisps. Walkers.How’d you like to be remembered?As someone who gave their all. And scored unbelievable tries! LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Six Nations Team of Round ThreeThere may have been only two Six Nations games this weekend, but there was plenty of controversy to make up for it.Both winners hit the 40-point mark as Wales secured an unlikely but well-earned Triple Crown and Ireland came alive after a tough start to the tournament.What players stood out across the two matches, contributing to one of the highest-scoring days in Six Nations rugby?Six Nations Team of Round Three 15. Liam Williams (Wales)He’s nicknamed the ‘bomb defuser’ and he lived up to it this weekend not only from his ability under the high ball but from dismantling dangerous England attacks.His positioning stopped Maro Itoje profiting from a chargedown and he pluckily hoovered up a couple of turnovers. 14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)Another excellent outing, despite not getting that many carrying opportunities.He saved one try by tackling Elliot Daly man and ball when the England full-back had Jonny May screaming up on his outside and should have scored himself after Callum Sheedy’s intercept. 13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)Probably now the frontrunner for the Lions outside-centre jersey. Made 100 metres with ball in hand, second most in the Ireland team, and picked a weak shoulder for his side’s first try. Jacob Whitehead selects his best composite team from this weekend’s two matches TAGS: Highlight Good work again from Ireland with Will Connors finishing perfectly. #GuinnessSixNations #ITAvIRE pic.twitter.com/7lnrtCcd2O— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 27, 2021Two tries for the openside, who can’t stop scoring against Italy, but the highlight as ever were his trademark chop tackles. A human bear-trap. The pressure pays off! Garry Ringrose picks a great line between two defenders and stays low to burrow over the line for the try.#GuinnessSixNations #ITAvIRE pic.twitter.com/01W5S6Ov4g— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 27, 2021Even more impressive was his offload for Hugo Keenan’s try, the two Leinster men combining with aplomb. 12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)It was his 50th cap this weekend and one of the most unsung players in European rugby deserves some recognition.Flourishing from starting a run of games at 12, Henshaw made the most tackles of any back this weekend, shutting down an Italy attack which looked far less potent than in recent weeks. 11. James Lowe (Ireland)Made the most metres of any player in the third week.He’s been given grief for not transferring his club form onto the international stage, but Lowe forced Luca Sperandio to be hauled off at half-time and gave replacement Mattia Bellini a torrid time too. Unlucky to have a try ruled out. 10. Callum Sheedy (Wales)No, he didn’t start, and yes, Dan Biggar’s ingenuity set Wales on their way. But Sheedy looked so calm when he came on, with him at the helm Wales comfortably sailed through a minor English storm at 24-24.His clean break showed the running game that Wales have been missing since Gareth Anscombe’s injury and he kicked his goals superbly. 9. Kieran Hardy (Wales) How good was this from Will Connors?Expert chop tackle Quickly back to his feet Wins the turnover and pops the ball up to Tadhg Beirne rather than diving on it Connors had a cracking game today.Unlucky not to be named man-of-the-match imo. pic.twitter.com/iC3AgcFk03— Cian Tracey (@CianTracey1) February 27, 2021 8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)An obscenely busy day. Nobody made more ground for Wales in Cardiff than Faletau, and make no mistake – these were attritional metres.Billy Vunipola was also brilliant – their battle, the highlight of Saturday afternoon’s game, will continue until the moment the first Lions Test kicks off.Who would make your Six Nations Team of Round Two? Email [email protected] to let us know. hesitation from the Wales scrum-half! Watch the third Welsh try of the match, right here #GuinnessSixNations #WALvENG pic.twitter.com/wTSO1WIJDz— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 27, 2021Jamison Gibson-Park, Ben Youngs, and Kieran Hardy all had impressive games, but Hardy, in the biggest match of his career, was the star nine.His try was impishly brilliant, but most crucially his box-kicking was the match of Youngs’s efforts, putting the English back three in trouble throughout. 1. Dave Kilcoyne (Ireland)Won a key scrum penalty for Ireland when they were encamped on their own line and made himself a constant nuisance in the loose.Doesn’t get that many opportunities with Cian Healy and Ed Byrne about, but Andy Farrell will hope the injury which forced him off after 50 minutes isn’t serious. Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “We’re happy to give something back to the fans” ️Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones reflects on his side’s victory over England pic.twitter.com/fA671WiQvc— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) February 27, 2021 5. Iain Henderson (Ireland)Scorer of the try that wasn’t, ruining fantasy teams everywhere. That said, Henderson was even more impressive in defence.Ireland’s choke tackles were key to slowing Italy’s ball, and it’s difficult to think of another player in world rugby as good at this singular skill. 6. Tom Curry (England)I’ve been a bit cheeky here, shifting Curry to blindside, but the Sale flanker was a permanent menace.Made 18 tackles, the most of anyone in the game, and seemingly warped space and time in the first half to catch his own chargedown on the full. Unbelievably durable. 7. Will Connors (Ireland)Tadhg Beirne won Man of the Match but that feels very harsh on Connors – maybe the Italian commentators confused the two rampaging blue scrum caps! 2. Ronan Kelleher (Ireland)Had a few issues in the lineout, but omnipresent in the loose.Plays with the dynamism of a young Jamie George and could be beginning to nose ahead in his battle with Rob Herring for the starting jersey. 3. Kyle Sinckler (England)Kyle Sinckler made 12 carries against Wales – only Billy Vunipola made more for England (Getty Images)At his bullish best in Cardiff. Made double-digits in carries and tackles, and had his fingers all over Anthony Watson’s first-half score.Also managed to avoid being wound up by Alun Wyn Jones. 4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)Speaking of the man, Jones had his best game of the championship so far.Wales won 16 of 17 lineouts, with their captain at the heart of it. He made a stack of carries, but most impressively seemed to be the first player to every other breakdown. Could probably clear out the Hulk. Taulupe Faletau was Wales’ standout performer against England (Inpho) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS