Jonny Wilkinson of Toulon reacts during the European Challenge Cup Final Rugby Union match between Toulon and Biarritz at Twickenham Stoop in Twickenham, England, on May 18, 2012. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages) Castres’ fans were shocked. Teulet is known to them as “Robocop” for his almost robotic ability to land his goals. Earlier this month the 34-year-old full-back set a new world record when he became the first player to score 3,000 points with one club and this season he’s converted 82.9 % of his kicks at goal. Asked this week if memories of last year’s blip haunted him still, Teulet replied: “That’s the life of a kicker: they can win the match or they can lose the match.”Montpellier, for their part, will be hoping to surf the wave that has swept through the Mediterranean City following their football club’s success. Last Sunday Montpellier – operating on a shoestring budget in comparison to the likes of PSG and Marseille – won the French First Division title for the first time in their history. It was a remarkable achievement and one the city’s rugby club will look to continue on Saturday. Almost heretically (for such is his standing in France), Midi Olympique took Jonny Wilkinson to task for his failure to drag Toulon out of their malaise last Friday evening. Wilkinson’s inability to produce a plan ‘B’ mid-match when his side was struggling was a criticism levelled of him during the latter stages of his England career, when he had neither Mike Catt nor Will Greenwood in the centre to offer their advice. According to Midi Olympique Wilkinson is looking tired, mentally and physically, after a season that started with England’s World Cup warm-matches last August. “Will ‘Wilko’ be able to rediscover his best form against Racing-Metro?” wonders the paper. We’ll find out on Saturday evening.The other ‘barrage’ offers Castres’ Romain Teulet the chance for redemption against Montpellier. The two sides met at the same stage last season and Teulet had a shocker, missing a series of kickable penalties – including an easy shot at goal on 78 minutes – to hand the match to Montpellier. Game over: Can Jonny shake off his Amlin Challenge Cup disappointment in time for Top 14 play-offs?IN FRANCE they call them ‘les barrages’, in English we’d call them ‘play-offs’; perhaps the best description is the Top 14 quarter-finals, which is in effect what unfolds on Saturday when Castres host Montpellier and Racing Metro visit Toulon, writes Gavin Mortimer.At stake is a semi-final place the following weekend with the winner of the first tie facing Toulouse and either Racing or Toulon taking on Clermont. Daunting prospects, both, particularly for Toulon following last week’s horror show in the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup.Somehow Toulon have got to get themselves back up after slumping to a miserable defeat to Biarritz in a match that was a shocking advertisement for the game of rugby. What followed 24 hours later at Twickenham put French rugby firmly in its place as two Irish sides produced a performance that was light years ahead in pace, power and perception.“We’re going to bounce back,” declared Steffon Armitage to Midi Olympique this week, the England flanker all too aware that it’s 20 years since Toulon last won the Top 14 title. Asked if the defeat had been a blow to the squad’s morale, Armitage replied in the negative: “We’ve got a squad capable of achieving great things…and against Racing Metro you’ll see a different Toulon to the one you saw against Biarritz.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
TAGS: Exeter ChiefsHarlequinsLeicester TigersLondon IrishNorthampton SaintsSaracens PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 09: Michele Rizzo of Italy and Rabah Slimani of France are sent off during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Italy at Stade de France on February 9, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) Brown’s in the pink: Mike Brown is delighted to score his second try for England and help them to defeat ScotlandBy Katie FieldThe SaintsMighty MikeYou wait 21 matches for your first Test try, then score two in two weeks. That’s what has happened to England full-back Mike Brown, who is in the form of his life and played a major role in his nation’s Calcutta Cup win over Scotland on Saturday.Brown scored the second of England’s two tries, was their best ball-carrier, making 114 metres in 11 carries, and also defended well on the few occasions that Scotland did ask questions of their visitors. There were plenty of other star performers for England in their emphatic 20-0 win, but Brown was deservedly named RBS Man of the Match and will hope to do it all again in front of a Twickenham crowd, versus Ireland on 22 February.The Johnny and Joe showIn the week long build-up to the Ireland v Wales match, former Wales internationals talked on television and in the newspapers about Wales not needing a “plan B” because none of their Six Nations rivals had worked out how to stop their “plan A”.Bootiful: Johnny Sexton’s kicking was superbThere won’t be so much smugness in evidence after Ireland’s 26-3 demolition of Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.New Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has a reputation for being a master tactician and he delivered in spades, coming up with a game plan to blunt Wales’s strongest attacking weapons. Then, Johnny Sexton executed the plan to perfection, taking all the right options and kicking accurately out of hand and from the tee to pilot Ireland to the most comfortable of wins.Absolute zeroNew Zealand’s Sevens team were disappointed to lost 12-7 to Fiji in their first pool match of the Wellington Sevens on Friday. They responded in the best possible fashion by winning their next five matches without conceding a single point, and so taking their home tournament title in style.The Kiwis beat Spain 55-0, France 47-0, Canada 24-0 in the quarter-final, England 31-0 in the semi-final and South Africa 21-0 in the final. Sherwin Stowers scored eight tries and Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson ran in four each.Their legendary coach, Gordon Tietjens, said: “To bounce back and have no tries scored against us after losing to Fiji was really pleasing. It was a case today of making no mistakes and we coped brilliantly.”By George!London Irish skipper George Skivington did something no other Aviva Premiership captain has done so far this season – led his side to victory at Saracens. Skivington, who was celebrating his 150th appearance for the Exiles, made it a day to remember by scoring one of Irish’s three tries as they defeated the league leaders 22-13 at their Allianz Park home.His try was one of two which came just minutes before half-time, crucially enabling Irish to go into the break 22-8 up instead of just 10-8.London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith was understandably delighted with the win, saying: “We came into the game with a very simple plan but we had to execute it. We knew if we were to have a chance today we would have to out work them and because they’re a massive work rate team.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Two players were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time this week. Exeter Chiefs No 8 Kai Horstmann let George Pisi slip past him to score the late try which Stephen Myler converted for Northampton’s 17-16 win at Sandy Park, and Worcester replacement Leonardo Senatore was the unfortunate man who was penalised by referee Andrew Small for not rolling away when the Warriors were leading Leicester 22-20 in the final stages of their clash.Toby Flood stepped up to kick the difficult penalty and Worcester’s hopes of a first Premiership win were dashed once again. Sport can be very cruel sometimes. The SinnersFar from Bonny ScotlandIf Scotland fans thought their team played badly in Dublin last weekend, there was even less to cheer this week as the home side were downed 20-0 by England at Murrayfield. Any loss in a Calcutta Cup match is bad for Scotland, but a whitewash is unforgiveable and there are bound to be recriminations.Grim: Sean Lamont looks far from happy at the lossWhat possible reason can there be for so many Scotland players to play so badly at once? Have they lost confidence in caretaker coach Scott Johnson, who controversially dropped his skipper Kelly Brown for this match? Vern Cotter is due to take over as coach at the end of the season, allowing Johnson to become director of rugby, so is this period of limbo having an adverse effect on the players?One of the worst areas, for the second week in a row, was the lineout, Scotland losing five of their own throws, just like in Dublin last weekend. In 2006 they went through the whole Six Nations without losing a single one of their own lineouts. How times change.Scotland were poor in all areas, with only David Denton looking at all threatening going forward. They missed 27 tackles, conceded 16 penalties, and spent barely any time in the England 22.Everyone in the Scotland camp needs to shoulder their share of the blame for the shambles and find some answers – fast.Losing their headsIn these days of television match officials, there is no hiding place, so quite what possessed Italy prop Michele Rizzo to head-butt and then punch his French opposite number Rabah Slimani as a scrum broke up in the final ten minutes of their Six Nations match is anybody’s guess. And Slimani blotted his own copybook by butting Rizzo back before the punches came in, so both players were sent off by South African referee Jaco Peyper.Off we go: Rizzo and Slimani head for the early bathYes, rugby is a brutal contact sport and foulplay is far from unusual, but head-butting is one of the less acceptable forms of illegal physical contact, and in this instance the double red card took the gloss off some truly magical rugby by France in their 30-10 victory.Critical errorsThe results of three of the weekends Aviva Premiership matches swung on late, late scores, with Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints and Harlequins all snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.It is cruel when individual errors at the death cost a team dear, but such is the nature of sport and players know that a moment of brilliance can make you a hero – such as Sam Smith’s wonderfully taken winning try for Quins against Wasps – whereas a single error at the wrong time can make you a villain.
Those clever folk at Air New Zealand have taken a rugby conversion to a new level LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS All in the name of fun, and a viral video – watch a rugby conversion with a difference. Here an adrenalin junkie, or madman, depending on your view, has been coerced into dressing as a rugby ball and be driven behind a skidoo at speed towards a set of rugby posts implanted in the snow, with a beautiful mountain backdrop only adding to the aesthetic. Fair play to the thrill seeker, he has cojones of steel.
TAGS: FijiSamoaTonga Huddle up: Fiji’s women’s sevens team get ready for a match on the World Series (Getty Images) Don’t miss Rugby World’s Pacific Islands special – the September 2018 issue is on sale until the end of August. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Women’s rugby growing fast in Oceania“People ask me, ‘Why do women want to play rugby?’ I say, ‘Why do men want to swim?’”Those are the words of Cathy Wong, the Oceania Rugby Women’s Director who was also appointed to the World Rugby Council recently. Her role is to oversee the development of women’s rugby in the region, at junior and senior level, in sevens, tens and 15s.It’s a big brief and there are challenges. Wong worked behind the scenes earlier this year to enact a turnaround in Tongan policy after the education ministry banned girls from playing rugby in schools.Related: Tonga ban girls from playing rugbyWong says understanding the local culture is key. “In the Pacific we have a matriarchal society and when it comes to sport things can be very traditional,” she says. “Respecting and working within the boundaries of those cultures is very important, as is not thinking of culture as a barrier.Sevens tussle: Cook Islands take on Fiji at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games (Getty Images)“As a Pacific Islander I’m accepted when I go into those situations and have that understanding of the culture, so that’s a benefit when working at a governance level and mediating.”Another challenge is numbers. Women’s rugby may be growing in Oceania but a country like Niue could not support a 15-a-side rugby so there is more of a focus on sevens. It’s also about creating inter-island competitions so players get to test themselves. Rugby World gets the lowdown on the Pacific… Pacific Combine creates new player pathway on islands Expand Pacific Combine creates new player pathway on islands Expand Collapse Rugby World’s Pacific Islands special issue Why there needs to be a Pacific Islands Super Rugby team Rugby World finds out what the state of play is with women’s rugby in the Oceania region World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby programme is introducing more children to the sport and there is now a 15-a-side women’s league in Fiji. Wong’s next goals include creating similar leagues in Samoa and potentially Papua New Guinea, where they have the numbers to do so, as well as week-long sevens and tens tournaments between smaller islands so they get more exposure to competitive fixtures.Support network: Papua New Guinea fans at the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco (Getty Images)As participation levels increase, taking part in the Women’s World Cup becomes a possibility. Fiji and Papua New Guinea competed in the recent Sevens World Cup, but further progress is needed in the longer format.“My role is making sure unions at Tier Two and Tier Three level can move up to the next level and be competitive,” says Wong. “Right now, in bigger nations we’re seeing women’s players being contracted at sevens and 15s. That’s a big ask, but if I can get the women the same player welfare support system as the men, then I’ve done my job.” Rugby World’s Pacific Islands special issue Rugby World finds out what those in the… “In Oceania, the biggest growth has been in women’s rugby with a 48% pick-up in women’s participation,” explains Wong, who points to the 2016 Olympics as a key factor. “Fiji’s win in Rio really opened things up, with people thinking if boys can do it so can girls.”MORE FROM RUGBY WORLD ON THE PACIFIC ISLANDS LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS A celebration of Pacific Islands rugby – and… Why there needs to be a Pacific Islands Super Rugby team
“I think it’s an incredible opportunity and there’s no real testimony without a test. So it’s not hard to make peace with it. It happened, now move on and make the best of it. Even if you dwell on it, it isn’t going to change the outcome it just staggers with the process of recovery.”Even at a young age, Velleman’s career has been about scrapping hard. He forged a reputation trying to steal ball off much bigger opposition in better-resourced sides. It can boil over – in February he earned a red card for an elbow to a Cheetahs try-scorer, a moment he will have learnt from – but the tenacity is what has seen him come back from injury torment before.Digging in: Kings battle against Glasgow this season (Getty Images)So can he explain what he has learnt on the sidelines?“I’ll need more than just a page in a book,” he laughs. “The main thing has just been the psychology behind injury. How strong you can come back with a new mindset is incredible and hopefully I’ll be able to show that off in the future.“For other injured players I’d say: don’t feel too sorry for yourself, it could always have been worse. The sooner you get your recovery plan in motion and do not dwell on what happened, the sooner you’ll be back.”Which sounds like the ‘pcoket battleship’ is already tearing into his recovery. The young Southern Kings flanker has picked up a series of freak injuries Long-term injury: CJ Velleman and his run of bad luckSometimes, bad luck just follows you around.Thrust into the intensity of Super Rugby in 2016, CJ Velleman looked born to play at that level, with the fetcher earning rave reviews and even being compared to Sam Cane and David Pocock. But after making good progress in his recovery from a long-term knee injury sustained that same year, Velleman was struck down again, damaging the same knee at training in 2017. In the year the Kings pivoted to Pro14 rugby, he did not play a minute.The highly-rated loosie made his long-awaited Pro14 debut in his side’s first victory of the 2018-19 season, against Glasgow Warriors in September 2018, but suspension and another leg inury meant that he has been limited to just ten league games in total. Yet, at only 24, there was a confidence he could begin to realise his immense potential.The battler was set to make another comeback against Edinburgh on 4 January 2020 after that last leg injury. He was training fully. Then disaster struck. Again.“CJ was involved in a freak accident at training when he slipped and tore his ACL on his left knee,” Kings head of athletic performance Wayne Taylor told the world. The cruel run continued.Hanging out: Velleman (left) at a photocall in 2017 (Getty Images)When asked what the hell happened, Velleman tells Rugby World: “I often dwell on this because all of my main knee injuries have happened before any contact, so all of them have been kinda freakish to be honest with you. I guess it’s just a run of super unlucky blows that will hopefully turn now!“I just keep reminding myself that I’m still super blessed that it’s not career-ending yet. I still have the opportunity to go back in nine months and give it another go. Until the doctor says I must consider stopping, I still have an opportunity to go back to an awesome union.Related: Read Henry Trinder on recovery from long-term injury in the new Rugby World LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Grabbing hold: CJ Velleman against Benetton in 2018 (Inpho) To read our long-read on long-term injury, check out the new issue of Rugby World.Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Seismic moment: Dallaglio offloads in the build-up to England’s try in the 2003 World Cup final (Getty) Later, he was picked by England coach Jack Rowell as a No 7 ahead of Neil Back, but in time he found his niche as a six or eight – and he played magnificently in both those positions for the Lions during their 1997 series triumph in South Africa. Rugby’s Greatest: Martin Johnson Expand LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Expand Rugby’s Greatest: Martin Johnson Collapse That’s not just down to his career achievements – for Wasps, England and the Lions – but the heart-on-sleeve passion with which he represented both his country and his family, including the sister he tragically lost to a ferry disaster when he was 17. He is a people’s champion.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. After a disastrous home World Cup in 2015,… Richard Hill goes down as one of the… One of the greatest second-rows to play the… TAGS: The Greatest Players Club: WaspsCountry: England Test span: 1995-2007England caps: 85 (70 starts)Lions caps: 3 (3 starts)Test points: 85 (17T) Rugby’s Greatest: Richard Hill England Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Rugby’s Greatest: Lawrence DallaglioIt seems strange to say this after his garlanded career, but Lawrence Dallaglio’s finest hour was probably the 2004 tour ordeal in New Zealand. England travelled south as world champions and lost the Tests 36-3 and 36-12, yet you shudder to think what the scores would have been without their captain Dallaglio, whose courage and ferocious commitment in a hopeless cause was astonishing.Dallaglio was never better when the chips were down, a point acknowledged by his former Wasps coach Shaun Edwards. “Like a great heavyweight in a dangerous title fight,” he adds, “he was at his best when it was all on the line.”Ironically, England’s most-capped No 8 started life in the backs. At Ampleforth, whom he helped to a National Schools Sevens double in 1989, he was a skinny wing/centre and even his first few appearances for Wasps were as a replacement for England flyer Chris Oti. England Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Dallaglio was a classic ball-carrier, often the man to truck it up after receiving the kick-off. And as well as his fiery competitiveness and skills from the base of the scrum, he possessed a huge engine. He was the only Englishman to play every minute of the 2003 World Cup, when he added a winner’s medal to the sevens equivalent collected in 1993. Only he and Matt Dawson have achieved this prize double.Once a Wasp… celebrating a Heineken Cup triumph for Wasps, the club he served his whole pro careerDallaglio once lost the England captaincy after a scurrilous tabloid sting, yet it speaks volumes that such a high-profile fall from grace is all but forgotten. Rugby’s Greatest: Richard Hill
Man at No 10: Billy Burns starts at fly-half for Ireland against Georgia (Getty Images) #TeamOfUs 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗔𝗻𝗻𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 Andy Farrell discusses his selections for #IREvGEO, a first Test start for @BillyBurns10 and opportunities for players this weekend #ShoulderToShoulder #GuinnessSeries #AutumnNationsCup pic.twitter.com/HGm62qYhtc— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 26, 2020Georgia coaching consultant Neil Doak told the Irish Independent: “We want to win the games, but you’ve got to be realistic. Wales was one game we thought we could keep it really tight and we did, but we, unfortunately, missed four or five counter-attacking opportunities that we didn’t identify.“That’s the biggest thing I’ve tried to change in their mindset. That’s what Levan (Maisashvili, head coach) was focused on in this tournament, their attack structures and counter-attack. Trying to grow that part of the game, because he realises they have to have a little bit more in their game plan to stretch teams because it’s very hard to dominate teams physically.”Any interesting statistics?Ireland have averaged the most possession (60%) and territory (60%) of any team in the Autumn Nations Cup while Georgia have had the least territory (35%).Georgia haven’t lost four successive Tests since 2015.Georgia made the joint most dominant tackles (26 – the same as England) in the first two rounds of the tournament.Four of the top five ball-carriers in the first two rounds of the Autumn Nations Cup play for Ireland – Caelan Doris, Chris Farrell, Hugo Keenan (all 25) and James Lowe (22). Georgia back-row Beka Gorgadze is the other player in the top five with 24.Standout performer: Beka Gorgadze has impressed for Georgia (Getty Images)What time does it kick off and is it on TV?Ireland v Georgia, Sunday 29 November, Aviva StadiumThe match kicks off at 2pm and will be broadcast live on Channel 4 in the UK and RTE in Ireland.If you’re outside the UK and Ireland, check out our guide to Autumn Nations Cup coverage around the world.There’s a multicultural officiating team for this match. Mathieu Raynal (France) is the referee, Luke Pearce (England) and Andrea Piardi (Italy) are the assistants while Marius Mitrea (Italy) is the Television Match Official.What are the line-ups?Ireland: Jacob Stockdale; Hugo Keenan, Chris Farrell, Stuart McCloskey, Keith Earls; Billy Burns, Conor Murray; Finlay Bealham, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, James Ryan (captain), Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander.Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Quinn Roux, Peter O’Mahony, Kieran Marmion, Ross Byrne, Shane Daly.Georgia: Soso Matiashvili; Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (captain), Tamaz Mchedlidze; Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Beka Gigashvili, Nodar Cheishvili, Lasha Jaiani, Beka Saginadze, Tornike Jalagonia, Beka Gorgadze.Replacements: Giorgi Chkoidze, Lexo Kaulashvili, Giorgi Melikidze, Giorgi Javakhia, Mikheil Gachechiladze, Mikheil Alania, Demur Tapladze, David Niniashvili. 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. Autumn Nations Cup Ireland v Georgia PreviewThe Autumn Nations Cup has delivered Georgia’s wish of more Tests against top-tier nations. However, the Lelos have not yet delivered the competitive performances they were hoping for.In fact, they have not scored a single point in their two matches in the competition so far – this after previously failing to score in a Test only twice in their history. Add a 48-7 defeat by Scotland in October to their Autumn Nations Cup losses to England (40-0) and Wales (18-0), and an aggregate scoreline of 106-7 does not make positive reading for Georgia. #8ერი | The Lelos are getting ready for their round three match vs @IrishRugby #AutumnNationsCup 2020 ირლანდია vs საქართველო | 29/11/20 | KO 18:00 (GMT+4) pic.twitter.com/HInO6HeCBw— Georgian Rugby (@GeorgianRugby) November 26, 2020So can Georgia change their fortunes in their final Group A game against Ireland in Dublin this weekend? The omens are not good.In their three previous Tests in Dublin – the most recent in 2014 – Georgia have lost by a margin of 42 points or more. Ireland have also won 19 of their previous 20 Tests at home, their most recent defeat at the Aviva Stadium coming against England in February 2019.Still, Georgia will be hoping to channel the spirit of Bordeaux in 2007 when they pushed Ireland close before losing 14-10 at that year’s World Cup.They may see the selection of Finlay Bealham at loosehead as a potential area to exploit given that most of his international experience has come at tighthead, but Georgia’s scrum has not yet lived up to its reputation this autumn.Following the 18-7 loss to England, Andy Farrell has made wholesale changes for this match as he tests new combinations, but it is still a strong team and one that looks more than capable of overcoming the Lelos.It’s unlikely Georgia will produce as resolute a defensive performance as England did last weekend, but the challenge for Ireland is to be more clinical in taking their opportunities. Given their possession and territory stats in the past two games, they should have scored more than three tries.What’s the big team news?Another Autumn Nations Cup game, another fly-half for Ireland, with Billy Burns wearing the No 10 shirt after Johnny Sexton had it against Wales and Ross Byrne against England.This is a first Test start for the Ulster playmaker and he is joined in the back-line by provincial team-mates Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey, who is making his first international appearance since 2018.Comeback: Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey will play his first Test for two years (Getty Images)Conor Murray starts at scrum-half while the pack features a further five changes to the team that lost at Twickenham, with Finlay Bealham, Rob Herring, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne and Will Connors coming in.Munster full-back Shane Daly, 23, could make his Ireland debut from the bench while Georgian scrum-half Mikheil Alania, 20, and full-back David Niniashvili, 18, are in line for their first caps too.Georgia have made six changes to the starting team. Soso Matiashvili is at full-back and Tamaz Mchedlidze is on the wing while in the pack Shalva Mamukashvili, Nodar Cheishvili, Lasha Jaiani and Tornike Jalagonia all start.What have the coaches said?Ireland coach Andy Farrell: “We’re excited about this team going out and giving a performance. Righting a few wrongs from last week.“The obvious ones are getting some continuity from our set-piece. When we’re given the amount of possession that we had, making sure we play with our heads up and see the opportunities. Deliver on executing those opportunities.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Georgia The tournament’s group stages conclude in Dublin on Sunday afternoon
Unclean ball: Georgia make a mess of an Irish scrum during today’s Autumn Nations Cup match (Inpho) Ireland fail to impress as Georgia register points at lastIreland got the Autumn Nations Cup win that all predicted but drew little comfort from their performance at the Aviva Stadium.At a time when the entertainment value of rugby is being questioned because of a proliferation of kicking, Ireland’s 23-10 defeat of Georgia did little to assuage concerns.The second half was desperately poor, with a rash of penalties, handling errors and substitutions disrupting the flow of the game. In addition, there was a serious injury to Georgia’s excellent No 8 Beka Gorgadze.Coming off the back of defeat at Twickenham, Ireland vowed to fix the set-piece. They were half-successful because the lineout functioned like clockwork, albeit throwing to the safer areas. They achieved scrum parity in the first half but fell away after the break against a Georgia side finally delivering this autumn on their assumed area of expertise. Rob Herring also came close, from a lineout drive, and credit to Gorgadze, so often Georgia’s best player, for getting underneath the hooker to deny the score. The Lelos’ captain, Merab Sharikadze, also had an outstanding match, making more than 20 tackles to go with his powerful ball carrying.For Ireland, there will be last one opportunity this autumn to try to prove that they can produce the goods in the collision area. Georgia will hope that Fiji will be available to play their scheduled play-off game next weekend. It has been a tough few weeks for the East Europeans but today’s performance will give them much encouragement.Special moment: fly-half Billy Burns celebrates his first Test try as Ireland make a strong start (Inpho)Ireland: Jacob Stockdale; Hugo Keenan, Chris Farrell, Stuart McCloskey, Keith Earls (Shane Daly 63); Billy Burns (Ross Byrne 46), Conor Murray (Kieran Marmion 57); Finlay Bealham (Cian Healy 57), Rob Herring, Andrew Porter (John Ryan 41), Iain Henderson, James Ryan (capt, Quinn Roux 62), Tadhg Beirne (Peter O’Mahony 62), Will Connors (Dave Heffernan 67), CJ Stander.Tries: Burns, Keenan. Cons: Burns 2. Pens: Burns 2, Byrne.Georgia: Soso Matiashvili; Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (capt, David Niniashvili 67), Tamaz Mchedlidze (Demur Tapladze 65); Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze (Mikheil Alania 74); Mikheil Nariashvili (Lekso Kaulashvili 50), Shalva Mamukashvili (Giorgi Chkoidze 9-19, 65), Beka Gigashvili (Giorgi Melikidze 71), Nodar Cheishvili (Giorgi Javakhia 62), Lasha Jaiani, Beka Saginadze, Tornike Jalagonia, Beka Gorgadze (Mikheil Gachechiladze 63).Try: Kveseladze. Con: Abzhandadze. Pen: Abzhandadze. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS 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. Ireland book a play-off match with Scotland as they complete the Autumn Nations Cup pool phase with a 23-10 win in Dublin. But it was the Lelos who emerged the happier The highlight of the match was Georgia’s first try of their Autumn Nations Cup campaign, having been nilled by England and Wales over the past fortnight. And it was a beauty, Kveseladze taking an inside pass just inside his own half and embarking on a swerving run past Billy Burns and beyond the sprawling reach of Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey.Ulster fly-half Burns had opened the scoring after nine minutes, darting across from ten metres for his first Test try on his third appearance. He added two penalties and two conversions for a 15-point haul by the break, before giving way to Ross Byrne.Hugo Keenan scored Ireland’s other first-half try from Stockdale’s perfect long left-hand pass. However, Ireland were left aggrieved that another effort was ruled out.Stockdale produced another peach of a pass to find McCloskey wide on the left and the centre scooted up the touchline to dot down. But the try was controversially chalked off for a ‘forward’ pass after TMO intervention. Worryingly for Ireland, Georgia also won the physical battle, as typified by their try-scorer, Giorgi Kveseladze, driving back Irish prop John Ryan powerfully in midfield. In the closing moments, the centre resisted CJ Stander’s close-range drive in similarly robust fashion.Andy Farrell’s team was never in danger of losing the game and, having clinched second place in Pool A, they now advance to a play-off with Scotland at the same ground next Saturday.But major doubts persist about their ability to get gain-line dominance. The stats show that Georgia made a higher number of dominant tackles and also of turnover tackles, although in fairness they went through a heap more work in that department. Ireland had 68% of the possession, along with 63% of the territory. Jerry Flannery, commentating for Channel 4, said: “Ireland were physically dominated in the one-to-one battles. Georgia do not go away. How well they pitched against an Ireland side that has underperformed has been admirable.”
Could the best of Britain and Ireland play the Springboks Down Under this summer? The Lions are due to make a decision on this year’s tour by mid-February. Australia offer to host Lions v South Africa seriesAustralia has offered to host the British & Irish Lions’ series against South Africa, which is due to take place in July and August.The Covid-19 pandemic has put the tour at risk, particularly given the variant strains in both the UK and South Africa. SA Rugby and the Lions have been discussing alternative options, including playing matches behind closed doors in South Africa and moving the tour to the UK and Ireland.Now The Sunday Times is reporting that Rugby Australia has proposed staging the series Down Under.Australia has been hosting sporting events, both domestic and international, with crowds for the past few months, albeit with venues at reduced capacity. The Tri-Nations last year and the recent Australia v India cricket series have had fans in attendance while 30,000 spectators will be allowed in for the upcoming Australian Open tennis tournament.Watching brief: Fans at the Australia v India cricket Test in Brisbane (Getty Images)Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that a proposal had been put forward.“What we learnt from the Tri-Nations last year and the tennis that’s happening now is that Australia can successfully stage global tournaments in a Covid world,” McLennan told the SMH.“It’s particularly tough in the UK and South Africa at the moment and I believe the more international rugby that gets played here, the better. We’re here to help.”The plan would be for the Lions and South Africa to share profits from the tour once Australia’s costs had been covered. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS New destination: Could the Lions play the Springboks in Australia? (Getty Images) Red army: Lions fans during the 2017 tour of New Zealand (Getty Images)However, it’s unlikely that travelling supporters from the UK and Ireland – the heartbeat of a Lions tour – or South Africa would be able to attend matches even if the tour was moved to Australia.The country’s borders are currently closed to non-Australian citizens and that policy is set to remain in place throughout 2021. Special dispensation has been given to elite sports teams and players, but an influx of fans, particularly from countries with high Covid rates, would likely be blocked by the government.Still, McLennan believes matches would attract sellout crowds given the large expatriate population. He said: “There is a multi-generational ex-pat community for both South Africa and the UK out here.“I’m confident there would be great patronage for the Tests. Remember, they are some of our biggest communities in Australia. I’m sure we would get a fantastic turnout.” 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.
David Ribbans is a formidable lock for Northampton Saints (Getty Images) Who is David Ribbans: Ten things you should know about the England LockSouth Africa-born David Ribbans has become a mainstay in the second row at Northampton Saints alongside England team-mate Courtney Lawes. There’s a lot more to find out about the lock who came to England in just 2017.Ten things you should know about David Ribbans1. David Ribbans was born on 29 August 1995 in Somerset West, South Africa. He is eligible to play for England through his grandfather, who moved from Enfield to South Africa many years ago.2. Ribbans stands at 6ft 7½ inches (202cm) tall and weighs 18st 4lb (116kg).3. Ex-England cricketer Allan Lamb nicknamed Ribbans “Ribeye” after helping himself to four servings of steak at a barbeque.4. While playing for Western Province’s youth sides, he won the U19 Provincial Championship in 2014, quickly followed by the U21 Provincial Championship in 2015. 5. Super Rugby side Stormers included Ribbans in their squad at the start of 2016, although he didn’t make an appearance for the South African side.6. Managing just seven appearances for Western Province’s senior team across 2015 and 2016, Ribbans moved to Northampton Saints at the beginning of 2017. He was just 21 years old.7. In his first game for the Saints, in a friendly against Championship side Bedford, Ribbans scored a hat-trick to announce himself to the team.8. The South African native’s first call up to England’s training squad came in October 2020. One of 12 uncapped players, Ribbans then replaced Saints teammate Courtney Lawes at the 2021 Six Nations after the latter suffered a pectoral injury in training.9. David Ribbans’ Northampton team-mates voted him the club’s players’ player of the year for 2020, as the East Midlands outfit finished eighth. Facts and figures about the South African-born Northampton Saints second-rower LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS 10. Ribbans is highly competitive, admitting he isn’t the best of losers. “I’m pretty shocking, to be honest. It’s a weakness of mine. I’m not someone who is too fun to be around after we lose. I’m putting that lightly.Can’t get to the shops? Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet. Subscribe to the print edition to get magazine delivery to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.