TAGS: Bath Rugby In addition to 2010 Heineken Cup finalists Biarritz Olympique, Bath will be up against 1999 champions Ulster Rugby and Italian newcomers Aironi Rugby as they bid to put a forgettable campaign last time, when they lost five of their Pool matches, firmly behind them.“I love the Heineken Cup and I am excited as an outsider coming into the competition,” said Watson. “I really enjoy the hype, the vibe and excitement created around it. It’s awesome to have a tournament where there are different styles, teams and patterns of play.“There are different countries and players from different countries all brought into one. It symbolises global rugby and I like that. It is both a high standard of rugby and also exciting.“As for my own experiences of the Heineken Cup I played in just a few games last season and at the time Bath were battling to find some form.“I had only landed in Bath just a week or two before that and we had one or two key injuries – it was not a happy time for the club. Bath’s Luke WatsonLuke Watson will lead Bath Rugby out to face Biarritz Olympique at The Recreation Ground on Sunday as something of a Heineken Cup novice – but singing the praises of the six-nations club tournament that the West Country giants won back in 1998.The South African international No 8 arrived at Bath during last season, playing in their final four Heineken Cup matches.“The Heineken Cup is the most prestigious club competition in world rugby,” he said. “Of course, the Super 14 is up there too but I would have to reach the final of the Heineken Cup to tell you about the quality although it is probably very close.“I played eight Super 14 seasons and only half of a Heineken Cup season so it’s difficult for me to compare the two but the sheer excitement is probably more international than Super 14.“I never made a Super 14 final. We narrowly missed out on the semi-finals but it’s a highly competitive competition that has been dominated by certain sides – which is pretty similar to the Heineken Cup.“The Heineken Cup is so strong that it does not matter which Pool you are in. They are all tough and for some reasons you will complain and for other reasons you will be glad.“Playing Biarritz Olympique first up will be a tough ask of the lads. But it will be a fair reflection of where we are as a side. If you want to reach the latter stages, you have to beat some good sides and it will be a real indication for us.”Bath Rugby are one of an elite group of just three clubs to have won both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup – in 1998 and 2008 respectively – with London Wasps and Northampton Saints the others to have achieved the Euro double. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “However, we are confident this is a new start. We have improved as a side, we have a talented group of players and depth in certain positions.“We have to translate that onto the field. We have started the Premiership pretty well and if we can carry that form into the Heineken Cup, and also develop and progress, then I am confident we will be competitive.”
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS For Back Issues Contact John Denton Services at 01733-385-170 Back row (from left): T Grey, A Lutton, J Lennon, T Mitchell, T Salisbury, M Miller, R Simpson. Middle row: J Haining, Z Muir, R Orr, G Brown, A Swan, J Bredin, J Brackenridge. Front row: F Smith, J Maclean, C Simpson, C Dean (capt), A Glashan, C Thomson, R SeydakEdinburgh Academy held off the challenges of Gower College, Woodhouse Grove, Tregib CS and Sedbergh after beating George Watson’s 12-11 in the Brewin Dolphin U18 Scottish Schools Cup final. It crowned a wonderful term’s rugby for the XV and their No 8 Chris Dean, who led his side to their 14th successive win.Hugely impressive wins over Robert Gordon’s and Merchiston Castle – wing Freddie Smith grabbing four tries in the latter tie – took them to Murrayfield.In front of a big Saturday crowd, they beat their old Edinburgh rivals by the smallest of margins after trailing 3-0 at half-time. The critical spell came when Smith and full-back Rory Orr crossed for tries when Watson’s had a man in the sin-bin, centre Alex Swan adding a vital conversion.Winners and runners-up in the past two U18 finals, the Academy had eight old colours and five players from last year’s winning U16 side and the experience gained proved important in the frenetic exchanges in the final.The Academy possessed strength all over the pitch but it was the pack’s back five of Chris Thomson, Jamie Maclean, Cameron and Rory Simpson, and Dean that was the key to success.Half-backs Alex Glashan and Alexander Muir combined wonderfully whilst the backs were not only quick in attack but defended extremely well.Click here to see October’s School Team of the Month This article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine. Back row (from left): T Grey, A Lutton, J Lennon, T Mitchell, T Salisbury, M Miller, R Simpson. Middle row: J Haining, Z Muir, R Orr, G Brown, A Swan, J Bredin, J Brackenridge. Front row: F Smith, J Maclean, C Simpson, C Dean (capt), A Glashan, C Thomson, R Seydak Would you like to sign up to Rugby World’s excellent weekly email newsletter? Click here. Find a newsagent that sells Rugby World in the UK. Or you may prefer the digital edition on your MAC, PC, or iPad.
DUBLIN, IRELAND – FEBRUARY 08: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland takes on fluid as the national anthems are played during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Yet what the Irish lacked in size they more than made up for in technique, bravery and game sense. Defensively O’Driscoll was outstanding and rather than run straight at the Welsh defensive line, he looked for offloads and space in behind to turn and tire them out. Schmidt’s decision to play D’Arcy was vindicated with both of them putting in a huge defensive display in the midfield. They tackled low but also worked in tandem to quickly contest the breakdown when the other had made the tackle. That’s what 206 appearances combined in an Ireland shirt gives you.One team: Ireland have left their provincial rivalry at homeFour becoming oneSince the Grand Slam year of 2009, the question has always been asked about why the national side could not replicate the success of the provinces? There was concern from some factions that with Schmidt having coached Leinster previously that his former charges would be given preference, with Munster and Ulster fighting it out to fill the gaps. But Schmidt isn’t interested in provincial pettiness, the only thing he cares about is winning.He’s brought all the provinces together and, judging by what O’Connell says, they are sharing their provincial secrets for the greater good, hence the incredible drive for the line yesterday which allowed Chris Henry to score his first International try at senior level. Across the pitch, Ireland won every one-on-one battle and yet still played as a collective. Once again the bench moved seamlessly onto the pitch and the fact that the coaches were able to take O’Connell off with twenty minutes still on the clock shows how comfortable they felt and confident in the ability of the replacements.Discipline and composure rewardedWales committed a vast number of mistakes and Ireland made the most of the resulting penalties. Technically speaking they are referred to as ‘unforced errors’ but really it was the physicality in the tackle and the lack of continuity from Wales which led to frustration on their part. The Welsh were isolated in phase play which led to penalties for holding on in attack and then they were desperate to get the ball back quickly and, as a result, lost composure in defence. This wasn’t a rip-roaring mauling of Wales fuelled by emotion and a sense of revenge, more an intelligent annihilation of a top opponent – showing that Ireland have much more to offer than ‘heart’ and at only five games in, this is only the beginning from Mr Schmidt. Kicking clever: Sexton gave a kicking masterclass in Dublin on Saturday and kept Wales’ defence guessingBy Claire Glancy It’s time to expect the unexpected from IrelandWho in their right mind could have predicted that part of Joe Schmidt’s game plan would be to attack Wales’ back three? Surely, the way to win this match was to make sure the ball was nowhere in the vicinity of Leigh Halfpenny, George North or Alex Cuthbert, right? Erm, wrong.Jonathan Sexton gave a kicking masterclass, varying his tactics and keeping the Welsh defence guessing from the start. Ireland’s kick-chase was excellent and they competed in the air superbly, dominating territory. It showed they had learnt from the All Blacks defeat by playing the game in the right areas and not turning ball over in their own half. The fact Halfpenny only had one kick at goal the entire match highlighted the desire of the Irish to play in Welsh territory.In the wings: O’Mahony is Ireland’s captain-in-waitingYoung stars are becoming leadersPaul O’Connell signing for another two years with Ireland and Munster brought a collective sigh of relief. But when ‘The Freak’ (as Ronan O’Gara affectionately calls him) eventually does hang up his boots, Peter O’Mahony will be there to take the black armband. Watching him play, it’s hard to believe the Munster man is still only twenty-four years old.From the moment O’Mahony starts singing the national anthem until the final whistle is blown, he plays as if his life and country depend on his performance. Knowing the passion and commitment O’Mahony usually displays, this is what made the Australia performance in the autumn so hard to comprehend. Just like O’Connell, he energises his team-mates and manages to teeter on the edge of the disciplinary line without often crossing it.Irish brains beat Welsh brawnThe Welsh attacking game plan was reliant on their huge backs getting over the gain line and forcing Sexton into making lots of tackles. Ireland however were outstanding in defence and prevented Wales from getting quick ball by attacking them at the breakdown and subsequently starving the Jamie Roberts and co. of front foot ball. With George North playing the majority of the match at centre, it meant the record breaking Irish pairing of Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy came up short by 28 centimetres and 34 kilos between them.
Powerhouse: Timmins first played rugby at Clongowes Wood College How long have you played for Ireland U20?Since last year’s Junior World Cup. I played this year’s Six Nations and went to the JWC.How are JWCs to play in?Tough physically. Playing games with four or five days off in between means you have to be in top shape going out there and strict with your recovery. Every match is a cup final – if you lose one you could be out of contention for the semis.What position are you?I played No 8 for my club and six for the U20s. I played loosehead prop in my first two years of rugby but then had a growth spurt and lost some weight so I couldn’t hold up the scrum. I don’t have any regrets about leaving the front row! The back row gives you more freedom.When did you first play? RW verdict: Chosen to lead Ireland U20 when the captain was injured, Timmins is seen as a great prospect.This was first published in the September 2014 edition of Rugby World. Click here to see what’s in the mag this month! LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS When I was 12, at Clongowes Wood College. I remember watching Dave Kearney in his final year when I was just starting.What do you do outside of rugby?I am studying biomedical engineering at UCD. I’m interested in the sports injury side of it and prosthetic limbs.What are your aims now?I have just joined the Leinster Academy and I want to progress through the ranks and get a senior opportunity for Ireland.
Yet for all Kockott’s talent the French public have yet to warm to him the way they have their other adopted South Africans, full-back Scott Spedding (below) and flanker Bernard Le Roux. Kockott’s problem is his sang-froid, that temperament of his that enables him to keep his composure even in the tightest of matches. The French are more hot-blooded than cold-blooded, a people whose passions run high in all walks of life. They loved it when Spedding wept at news of his call-up to the squad but Kockott’s inscrutability unnerves them.Midi Olympique in an article on Monday said the scrum-half had an “intouchable confiance”, a term he himself rejected: “It’s not me I believe in but in God,” he told Midi. “It’s him who gives me this conviction. This is what makes it unbreakable.” That reply probably won’t do much to endear him to the French. They, like the British, prefer in general their public figures to keep their views on God to themselves.Elsewhere PSA has kept faith with the core of side that appeared in the November internationals, which means the exciting back three of full-back Scott Spedding and wingers Teddy Thomas and Yoann Huget is reunited. Mathieu Bastareaud partners Wesley Fofana in the centre and with Remi Lamerat on the bench there isn’t much creativity in midfield. PSA obviously prefers his centres big, strong and direct to the more subtle footballing skills of Gael Fickou and Maxime Mermoz.Meanwhile in the pack, PSA has brought in Rabah Slimani for Nicolas Mas on the tighthead. It’s a big call by the French, omitting the 76 caps of Mas (who doesn’t even make the bench) and replacing him with an inexperienced international who has only started two Tests for his country. Final fling: This will be Philippe Saint-Andre’s last Six Nations (Pic Action Images) Perhaps the pressure is no longer on the shoulders of Philippe Saint-Andre [PSA]. Or at least not to the same extent it has been at the start of his three previous Six Nations tournaments. His tenure as France coach ends after this year’s World Cup, and he won’t be renewing his contract. According to some reports in the French press earlier in the week, PSA – still only 47 – is likely to return to the club scene, with one paper suggesting it might not be beyond the realms of possibility to see him take the reigns at Toulouse. Time will tell.In the short-term, however, PSA is focused only on preparing France for the Six Nations, a tournament in which he has been spectacularly unsuccessful in his three years in charge. Fifteen matches played in that time, and just six victories along with a wooden spoon in 2013. That humiliation was bookended by fourth place finishes in 2012 and 2014 to leave PSA as the most underachieving coach of the Les Bleus in the professional era.Finisher: Huget will be hoping to dive for the right reasons in the tournament (Pic Action Images)In the past PSA has lamented – with some justification – the lack of time he’s had with his squad, contrasting France’s preparation with that of Home Nations. This year there can be no Gallic grievances. There is relative harmony between the FFR and the Top 14 clubs with an accord agreed last season that limited the 30 top players to a maximum of 30 matches a season.PSA has had the bulk of his players in a training camp for the last ten days, and together with the squad sessions they enjoyed in September and October, France are as well prepared as their rivals.As for injuries, France go into the Six Nations relatively unscathed, certainly compared to the A&E Department that is England. Of the XV that started France’s last international, the defeat to Argentina in November, only scrum-half Sébastien Tillous-Borde is on the injury list. Racing Metro centre Alexandre Dumoulin would have likely started if he hadn’t been beset by niggles these past few weeks, while the two back-rowers Louis Picamoles and Charles Ollivon would have been in contention for a place on the bench.Route one: Bastareaud offers ballast in midfield for Les Bleus (credit Action Images)Tillous-Borde has lost some of his early season snap since the winter kicked in, and even had he been fit the Toulon man would have likely lost out to Rory Kockott, who’s selected at scrum-half inside Clermont’s Camille Lopez. Kockott hasn’t played this season for Castres with the same conviction he’s shown in the past two Top 14 campaigns; no surprise given their collapse in form. Nonetheless he remains a supremely gifted scrum-half, and a reliable goal-kicker (he was the leading points scorer in the 2012-13 Top 14 season with 376). In his final Six Nations, Phillippe Saint-Andre has confounded his critics and picked a powerful side that will have the other nations shifting uneasily in their camps LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS But isn’t that what the Six Nations is all about? Big calls, brave calls and bullish predictions. And here’s one for you – France to win the Six Nations.Check out what’s in our 156-page Six Nations March 2015 special issue – in shops now!
You won’t miss a single issue of your favourite magazine: we send it to your front door every month – no effort required on your part there!With this offer you can become a subscriber for HALF PRICE. This means you pay significantly less for your magazine than you would at the newsagent buying individual mags, with the lower price guaranteed for 12 months.You get full access to the iPad/iPhone editions thrown in at no extra cost.You can download your first digital issue of the magazine right away.Is that not a stonking enough deal for you? Well how about this to sweeten the pot. For the first 20 people to sign up as a subscriber to Rugby World, they will receive a free gift alongside the regulat mag – a copy of our coffee table bookazine, the Greatest Players, which looks at the best competitors to play the game of rugby. Snap this up soon – we won’t be this generous for too much longer! You may be a faithful reader of Rugby World magazine and buy each brilliant issue at your local supermarket or newsagent as soon as it’s out. However, have you ever considered joining us, hassle free, by taking out a subscription? Here is what’s in it for you: LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
With the tournament set to begin soon, our friends at SA Rugby Mag take a look at players to watch for each team. Expand Six Nations Fixtures 2022 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS In this piece we take a look at… Six Nations Fixtures 2022 Super Rugby Players To WatchSuper Rugby is back this week! The competition, featuring teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, has many of the finest players in the world competing in it.All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies, Pumas and Brave Blossoms are plentiful so to celebrate the return of this brilliant competition Jon Cardinelli, Craig Lewis, Dylan Jack & Mariette Adams from SA Rugby Mag have put forward their players to watch for each team.BLUES ￼- ￼Karl Tu’inukuafeNew Pastures: The All Black has moved from the Chiefs to the Blues (Getty Images)￼He completed a remarkable rise from nightclub bouncer to All Black in 2018 and was a nominee for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award. The 25-year-old mustachioed loosehead prop began playing rugby as a way to lose weight and was first spotted playing for North Harbour by Chiefs scouts.After an impressive 2018 campaign, Tu’inukuafe could have signed for the Blues, Chiefs or Highlanders for the 2019 season, but his close family ties to Auckland and Tom Coventry’s appointment as Blues forwards coach lured him home. He is a powerful scrummager and fearless ball-carrier.BRUMBIES – Peter SamuDynamic Brumbie: Peter Samu has moved from the Crusaders to the Brumbies (Getty Images)The Brumbies traditionally boast strong, competitive loose-forward trios and the addition of Pete Samu has boosted their back-row stocks for the new season. The former Crusader, who was at the centre of a tug-of-war between Australia and New Zealand, is a dynamic player whose pace and power are complemented by his vision and skill execution.The 27-year-old’s career has been hampered by injuries but he finally made his Wallabies debut, against Ireland, last June. And now that he’s based in Australia, you would expect his cap tally to increase at a rapid rate, provided he stays fit and in form.BULLS ￼- Embrose PapierBig Potential: Papier will be looking to build on his fantastic 2018 season (Getty Images)￼The Bulls boasts plenty of great backs, but it’s the prodigiously talented scrum-half Embrose Papier who will be determined to build on an unforgettable 2018 season. The 21-year-old was backed by then Bulls coach John Mitchell as one of three young nines in the squad last year and grabbed his opportunity with both hands.His potential was also recognised by South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus, who drafted him into the national set-up before handing the youngster two starts on the end-of-year tour. Papier came of age with composed performances against Scotland and Wales, whichwill stand him in good stead for this campaign.He will once again face competition from Ivan van Zyl and André Warner for the Bulls’ No 9 jersey, but he can expect to receive plenty of game time this season.CHIEFS ￼- Angus Ta’avaoHard Worker: Angus Ta’avao has risen up the ranks quickly in New Zealand (Getty Images)Having started 2018 without a contract, prop Angus Ta’avao more than exceeded expectations after being called into the Chiefs squad as injury cover. The former Waratah became an integral part of the team and went on to make his All Blacks debut later in the year.Coach Colin Cooper singled out Ta’avao as one of the hardest-working members of the Chiefs squad and with a pack containing the likes of Brodie Retallick and Nepo Laulala, the Hamilton-based franchise could inflict plenty of damage up front this season.CRUSADERS – ￼Jack GoodhueDependable Centre: For the Crusaders and NZ, Goodhue has shown his class (Getty Images)￼A mainstay in the Crusaders midfield, Jack Goodhue followed up his breakthrough 2017 season with an excellent 2018, helping the Crusaders successfully defend their title. Yet he will remember 2018 as the year he managed to break into the All Blacks squad and make his international debut, in the June Test series against France.The centre made six Test starts, slowly proving his worth alongside franchise team-mate Ryan Crotty. A deadly finisher with an eye for a gap, Goodhue will be hoping another excellent Super Rugby campaign is enough to seal a spot in the All Blacks’ World Cup squad.HIGHLANDERS ￼- Liam SquireInjury Struggles: Hopefully Squire can remain fit throughout the year for club and country (Getty Images)￼A cornerstone of the Highlanders pack when fit, Liam Squire has had a tough time with injuries. He has started only 40 of a possible 95 games for franchise and country over the past three years, due to knee, hand and shoulder issues.Dynamic with ball in hand and always keen to use his big frame to good effect, the blindside flanker is still a favourite of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. If he has a good run of games, 2019 could be a big year for the 27-year-old.HURRICANES – ￼￼Ngani LaumapeTough to Stop: Laumape may not be the biggest, but he knows his way to the try-line (Getty Images)￼Ngani Laumape scored nine Super Rugby tries in 2018, including four in an outstanding display against the Blues, and was named the Hurricanes Player of the Year for the second season in a row. The centre’s form over the past two years has seen him earn ten Test caps, his debut coming in the series decider against the British & Irish Lions in 2017.While not the biggest midfielder in Super Rugby, Laumape is still a devastating ball-carrier with a low centre of gravity that has helped him evade tackles throughout his career.JAGUARES ￼- Domingo MiottiOrchestrator: Miotti is taking over from Nicolas Sanchez as fly-half for the Jaguares (Getty Images)￼As Nicolás Sánchez’s replacement, fly-half Domingo Miotti has big boots to fill, but the 22-year-old is talented and level-headed enough to take the pressures that come with senior rugby in his stride. Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2021 Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2021 Rugby World Cup Player Watch Rugby World Cup Player Watch Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2021 This year’s Women’s… Expand Six Nations Fixtures 2022 The 2022 Six Nations… Captain Fantastic: Michael Leitch will take the reigns for the Sunwolves again (Getty Images) Collapse Miotti first rose to prominence at the 2016 Junior World Cup when inspiring Argentina to two wins against South Africa. He is an accurate goal-kicker, but it’s his ability to orchestrate an attack from anywhere on the field that could make him an instant hit in Super Rugby LIONS ￼- Aphiwe DyantyiBig Impact: Dyantyi has incredible speed and can finish well (Getty Images)￼On the back of several potent performances for the Lions last year, Aphiwe Dyantyi was brought into the Springbok mix as Rassie Erasmus looked to harness the 24-year-old’s speed and finishing ability.The wing started in 13 of the Boks’ 14 Tests in 2018, and his impact was recognised when he was named World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year. Now the challenge is to replicate the form he showed in his breakout season.His attacking play has undoubtedly boosted the Lions and the Boks over the past 12 months, but he has room to improve in defence and under the high ball. What’s been encouraging to note is the youngster’s attitude and work ethic.REBELS ￼- Adam ColemanSenior role: The time has come for Coleman to become a leader (Getty Images)￼Former Reds fly-half Quade Cooper will have a point to prove as he tries to resurrect his rugby career in Melbourne, but it’sAdam Coleman who could play the biggest role in this team’s season.He joined the Rebels in 2018 and has made 12 appearances for them, mainly off the bench, but the experienced Geoff Parling’s move to the coaching team means the Wallaby is now the most senior lock in the Rebels’ ranks and will have a greater responsibility.The 27-year-old can be hot-headed at times and will need to exercise more self-discipline. But he is a great lineout exponent who likes to exert pressure.REDS ￼- Caleb TimuWandering Youngster: Caleb Timu will look to repay Brad Thorn’s faith in him (Getty Images)￼Caleb Timu is a threat to any defence with his power-running game. A Mormon who asked for an early release from his Brisbane Broncos contract as he was required to play on Sundays, Timu joined the Reds in 2016. A pre-season injury left him in limbo for most of the next two years, during which time he worked as an Uber driver to provide for his family.The 24-year-old back-rower, who is studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree, will hope to repay coach Brad Thorn’s faith in him this season.SHARKS ￼- ￼Akker van der MerwePoint to Prove: Van der Merwe will look to become a Springbok again in 2019 (Getty Images)￼Akker van der Merwe will head into the 2019 season with a point to prove. The explosive hooker featured in three Tests for the Boks last June, then fell by the wayside. However, the 27-year-old sent out a stark reminder of his class with a couple of standout performancesduring the 2018 Currie Cup play-offs.He will be more determined than ever to make the Sharks’ No 2 jersey his own and force his way back into the South Africa reckoning before the World Cup.While Van der Merwe is renowned for his mobility and robust ball-carrying, it’s in his primary set-piece role where he’ll be looking to establish real consistency.STORMERS ￼- ￼Damian WillemseLast line: Willemse will likely act as the Stormers last line of defence at full-back this year (Getty Images)￼Damian Willemse, 20, troubled the better defensive sides with his speed, stepping ability and distribution last year, then received a call-up to join the Springboks. Rassie Erasmus compared him to Frans Steyn and captain Siya Kolisi confirmed that Willemse’s mental strength would stand him in good stead at the highest level.The youngster made his first Test start at No 15 against England at Twickenham and Erasmus has made it clear that he wants Willemse to receive more game time at full-back for the Stormers before the Boks travel to the World Cup. With more time and space to work his magic, Willemse should provide the Stormers with plenty of impetus from the back.SUNWOLVES ￼- Michael LeitchLooking Ahead: Leitch will look to have a big year with the Rugby World Cup looming large (Getty Images)￼After a solid debut season for the Sunwolves last year, Michael Leitch has a big role to play for franchise and country in 2019. The loose forward has never been short of work-rate, with his ability to force turnovers and physicality in the tackle often proving his strongest assets.The 30-year-old Japan captain will also have to stand up as a leader in what could be a defining season for his teams. The spotlight will be firmly fixed on the Sunwolves and their future in the competition, as well as on Japan as World Cup hosts, so Leitch will have to draw on his experience to guide his franchise and country to new heights.WARATAHS ￼- Jake GordonFirst Choice: Gordon will likely be the starting scrum-half for the Waratahs (Getty Images)￼In 2018, Jake Gordon eclipsed Nick Phipps as the Waratahs’ first-choice scrum-half and while he didn’t set Super Rugby alight, he didn’t disappoint either. He played in 17 of the Waratahs’ 18 matches, amassing a total of 757 minutes. With a crisp passing and strong running and kicking game, 25-year-old Gordon brings unpredictability to the No 9 position. He does have defensive frailties but the Waratahs conceded 67 tries in 2018, so the same can be said of several of his team-mates.Don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
First up: Sean Maitland crosses for Scotland’s opening try (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The Scots get their World Cup campaign back on track with a bonus-point win over Samoa Showboat! Stuart Hogg finesses a drop-goal over the posts from the just shy of the halfway line. Colossal kick#RWC2019 #ITVRugby pic.twitter.com/zagNZw7WLG— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) September 30, 2019The Scots pushed for a third try from a series of lineouts in the Samoa 22 once the gong for half-time had sounded but couldn’t get across the line.The second half started much like the first, both sides struggling to keep possession and build phases through their own errors.Samoa had a decent period in the Scotland 22 but another knock-on allowed the Scots to clear their lines.Scotland then had a spell in the Samoa 22, first putting on pressure through scrums and then five-metre lineouts. They eventually got their third try in the 57th minute when they were awarded a penalty try. TAGS: Samoa Drama!When the bonus-point win looked all but lost, a crazy double-knee challenge gives Scotland a crucial penalty try late on#RWC2019 #ITVRugby pic.twitter.com/HVZZVAtRwP— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) September 30, 2019Samoa tried in vain to get a try in the closing stage but they came up short and become the first team to be nilled at this World Cup.Star manIt’s hard to pick out a standout in a match so devoid of quality. Tim Nanai-Williams and Sean Maitland showed flashes with ball in hand for Samoa and Scotland respectively, but Jonny Gray got the official nod and as the only tight-five forward to play all 80 minutes for the victors it seems only right. He got through a ton of work and that is even more impressive in this heat.The ReactionScotland coach Gregor Townsend: “We defended with real passion, putting big hits on very big men time and time again. That knocked the confidence of the Samoan carriers. They’re a very dangerous team and they still caused us problems right at the end, so the effort at that last lineout maul and few phases in defence was outstanding.“Going into the game a win and a better performance was what we were targetting. Anything extra would be an exceptional performance and that is what it was, especially in the first half.”Samoa coach Steve Jackson: “You’re trying to stop two tries, it’s risk and reward, but we’re not intentionally going out there to get yellow cards and by no means do we coach or train that.“Credit to Scotland, they were hungry, the set-piece went well, defensively they were outstanding and showed a different side in attack tonight. We had opportunities to score tries but there was poor execution. That was probably down to the fact they defended extremely well.”Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson (Duncan Taylor 64), Sean Maitland; Finn Russell (Adam Hastings 76), Greig Laidlaw (George Horne 64); Allan Dell (Gordon Reid 13), Stuart McInally (captain, Fraser Brown 52), Willem Nel (Zander Fagerson 58), Grant Gilchrist (Scott Cummings 52), Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury (Ryan Wilson 72), Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson.Tries: Maitland 30, Laidlaw 34, penalty try 57, 75. Cons: Laidlaw 2. Pens: Laidlaw. DG: Hogg.Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams; Belgium Tuatagaloa (Kieron Fonotia 45), Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow; Tusi Pisi (Ulupano Seuteni 54), Melani Matavao (Pele Cowley 71); Logovii Mulipola (Jordan Lay 44), Ray Niuia (Seilala Lam 54), Michael Alaalatoa (Paul Alo-Emile 47), Teofilo Paulo (Piula FaFaasalele 51-79), Kane Le’aupepe, Chris Vui, TJ Ioane (Josh Tyrell 66), Jack Lam (captain, Josh Tyrell 3-13).Yellow card: Ed Fidow (57min). Red card: Fidow (75min).Follow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. 2019 Rugby World Cup: Scotland 34-0 SamoaHead-to-headPlayed – 12Scotland wins – 10Samoa wins – 1Draws – 1Did you know? Adam and Gavin Hastings are the first father-son combination to represent Scotland at the Rugby World Cup.Stuart Hogg’s first-half effort was the first Scotland drop-goal since Duncan Weir’s winner against Italy in 2014 and the first for a Scotland full-back since 1996.This is the first time Samoa have been nilled in a Rugby World Cup match.Related: All hail the return of the Rugby World Cup drop-goalIn a nutshellAnother sweltering night in the Kobe Misaki Stadium, another litany of handling errors. This was anything but a classic under the lights of this enclosed stadium – two fans took it into their own hands to try to entertain the crowd by running onto the pitch on separate occasions – but Scotland left with the all-important bonus-point win, albeit that their top try-scorer was ‘penalty’.Gregor Townsend has often talked about wanting Scotland to play the fastest brand of rugby in the world, but trying to do so in this sort of humidity also means that things get loose and errors are frequent. They did get traction when turning to their lineout maul from penalties and they defended strongly.Line time: Greig Laidlaw scores despite Ed Fidow tackling him (Getty Images)Scotland took the lead with an early Greig Laidlaw penalty but it took them half an hour to score a try with both sides dropping balls in the slippery conditions. Jack Lam described it as “a bar of soap” post-match and it was almost as if neither team wanted to retain possession, with turnovers leading to a fractured display.Sean Maitland, who had looked dangerous from the start, scored the first try, plucking a Finn Russell cross-kick out of the air and going over.The second came just four minutes later. Russell made a half-break, offloaded to Jamie Ritchie, who then found Laidlaw and the scrum-half bounced out of a tackle to make it to the line.Stuart Hogg made it 20-0 when he managed to keep his cool in the oppressive heat to slot a drop-goal from close to halfway after Maitland had taken a quick lineout. Even though they had got over the line there was no clear grounding, but because Ed Fidow had come in from the side to collapse the maul referee Pascal Gauzere ruled a penalty try and yellow-carded the Samoa wing.Wrapped up: Tim Nanai-Williams is tackled by Allan Dell and Jonny Gray of Scotland (Getty Images)Samoa did have a chance as the game entered the last ten minutes, gaining territory from penalties and Ulupano Seutini releasing Alapati Leiua into the 22 with a lovely inside pass. But Seutini then undid all his good work by overcooking a later penalty kick to touch, allowing Scotland to clear.Then came Scotland’s bonus-point try – in controversial circumstances. Maitland broke down the wing and looked to have lost control of the ball as he dove for the line. Yet when the officials reviewed it with the TMO, they deemed that Fidow had dived in with ‘knees to the back’ and that was the reason Maitland had not scored. So a penalty try for Scotland and a second yellow for Fidow, which meant he was red-carded. 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.
The Saracens front-rower talks laughs, lockdown and latte art This article originally appeared in the June 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. What else have you been up to? My partner, Katie, is working from home so Monday to Friday, nine ’til five, I’m trying to occupy myself. I’m finding jobs to do around the house, things I’ve put off. We also have a dog, Otto, so it’s been great to take him out.Will it be strange when rugby returns? It’ll take some getting used to again but I’m excited to get back to it. The reflection has allowed us to realise how great what we do is. I miss the boys and the competitive element.BUY RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE ONLINEWhat would you like to achieve outside of rugby? I’d like to further the physio business I’ve set up, Carter & George, to replicate what we’ve done so that three or four more are open by the time I’ve retired. That would almost allow me to phase out of rugby into my own business. Working for yourself is every retired rugby player’s dream. Downtime with… England hooker Jamie GeorgeHow have you found lockdown? I’m quite lucky because I have a home gym set-up to keep me ticking over and we also have some outside space, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the garden.Rarely do you get an opportunity to completely switch off rugby-wise. Even in the off-season, after about a week you’re thinking about pre-season and the season ahead, so it’s been good to sit back and reflect on what’s just been.How have you been training?I’ve got weights and a Wattbike at home, and it’s been nice training on my own schedule. I’ve done a few longer Wattbike sessions using Zwift to ride with others (virtually).We also have a Philosophy Club at Saracens. We have a topic, say the art of listening, and David Jones – personal development manager – presents on what philosophers’ theories would be so there’s an educational element. Then it opens up into a forum on whether you’re a good listener. We’ve been running that for years and now do it over Zoom.What about staying entertained? I’ve run a few quizzes with a Saracens group of six couples on a Friday night over Zoom, which is good fun. I was the initial quizmaster but now whoever loses has to run the next quiz.Lots of rugby questions? No. It’s a pub quiz-type vibe. I did ask what significant sporting event took place on 22 November 2003. No one got it right – Owen (Farrell) was playing and I thought, ‘You should know this’! Close-up: Saracens, England and Lions hooker Jamie George (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS If you could be any of your team-mates, who would it be? For a day? There are a few I’d want to know what goes through their mind. Richard Barrington is one. He is just constantly on the move and is the most sociable bloke ever.What’s the best practical joke you’ve witnessed? I’m not naming names but once someone’s car was completely covered in yellow Post-it stickers. He was raging – his car is his prized possession.What annoys you? I hate the sound of cutlery rubbing together or if someone bites a fork or a spoon. That sound sends shivers down my spine.Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with? A lot of people would say Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, but I don’t think you need to go for a big personality.You want someone who is a bit more relatable. Actually, having said that I’m going to go for someone completely unrelatable – Prince Harry – because then you’d get out of that lift quickly.Thanks for the lift! Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Getty Images)If your house was on fire, what would you save? Katie and Otto are safe. The coffee machine. With England, the coffee machine in the team room is a social gathering spot. Manu Tuilagi is the main barista – he can do swans and stuff on the top. Elliot Daly isn’t far off. I’m progressing. I gave a latte art lesson on a video call with Tim Streather, who used to play for us, the other day.What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate. It’s usually white but I’ve started on the 70% stuff flavoured with orange or sea salt. Reduce the calories in lockdown!If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Invisibility. Then you could creep into meetings you’re not allowed into. When a director of rugby takes a player into a room, everyone wants to know what is going on.How’d you like to be remembered? As someone who didn’t change regardless of success. Or failure. TAGS: Saracens
It has all been noticed off the park too, as Sky NZ presenter Honey Hireme-Smiler tells Rugby World: “He has quickly become one of the crowd favourites here, with his individual growth and ability to adapt his technical and tactical understanding of how we play the game. All to become a dominant force in the Highlanders.“His work-rate around the field, barn-storming runs with ball in hand, and punishing defence makes him an all-round player and earnt him the respect of his team-mates and the NZ fans.”It’s a sentiment that rings true with Collins’s recollections. The centre points to crucial turnovers as vital to their run this season, and he joins the small crowd gathering to mention Himeno’s carrying. The rise of Kazuki HimenoA buoy in the golden torrent, you would never believe that it was the 22-year-old’s Test debut. But as Australian points came thick and fast in the Yokohama exhibition, Japan’s next big thing Kazuki Himeno was getting through some impressive ugly work.“He made three turnovers on his own that game,” remembers lock Wimpie van der Walt of a day in 2017, when he and a green Himeno took their Test bows. “To do that against Australia, that’s world class, man. He scored an awesome try too.”In 2017, Himeno took a major step in his rugby journey. It was one of a few, chopping in at a percussive pace. Earlier that same year, Himeno had been a star for Teikyo University. Shortly after that, he was singled out by Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White as the man to captain Toyota Verblitz, despite his tender age. Then he hit that Test stage as a rookie Jamie Joseph had seen something in.Related: Japan coach Jamie Joseph on facing the LionsToday, he is a fixture for the Brave Blossoms, a workaholic No 8 respected outside of his country and within. He is a Super Rugby Trans-Tasman finalist with the Highlanders and a popular export into a game that is not always so forgiving for the uninitiated. He has not only taken to New Zealand’s game, but he has thrived.Yet in order to understand how he got here, you have to heed the signs he showed along the way.“His debut game for Toyota was unbelievable and that just led into a rookie season that got him rookie of the year,” explains former Verblitz team-mate Ruan Smith.“I was in my third year. When I first saw him, I couldn’t believe the size of him, as a back-rower, and his athletic ability, his skill. He’s first across the line, a strong lineout jumper… Just everything about him was an immediate standout.“The strength in his game has been ball in hand, especially in the wider channels, but he’s just explosive through contact. He has good footwork for a big guy, and he’s a natural leader. When he first came, Jake was the coach. He made him captain and in Japan that just doesn’t happen – there’s a hierarchy when it comes to age. Everyone was shocked, but he just ran with it; everyone just ran with it.Himeno scores on debut (Getty Images)“They just saw that he was a special player. The captaincy came so easy, so naturally for him. You just saw from day one.”Smith describes him as well-mannered and softly spoken off the field. “He loves kids,” the front-rower explains of the gentle brute. When Smith’s daughter was born, Himeno was always willing to distract the wee one. And respect: that shone through.What has impressed others is his willingness to take the pointers some provide and sharpen his game with them. 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. Joseph had already made history of his own, leading the Highlanders to a Super Rugby title in 2015, and it just so happens that his national assistant Tony Brown is also in charge at ‘Landers now (although Brown has been absent for the Trans-Tasman campaign due to his Japan commitments).Previously, Japanese scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka had become a cult hero in Dunedin. This season Himeno headed over. As Highlanders centre Michael Collins explains, the forward found a way – instantly – to make it work.“When Himeno arrived he fitted in straight away. He had learnt all the players’ names and nicknames in isolation, so he had a good intro.“He’s a really diligent trainer in the gym and on the field. He actually lived with me and another mate for the first half of the season and his English has improved massively. He fit in well at home, and he found a favourite Japanese restaurant so he had lunch and dinners there.” TAGS: HighlightJapan LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Van der Walt has seen Himeno play across the second and back rows. And while his lineout work may have been good for Toyota, it’s an area van der Walt saw the youngster drill the details on, with national coach Joseph.The lock laughs that back in the early days, his Japanese wasn’t great and Himeno’s English wasn’t either, but they could meet in the middle after a few beers. And then when they recently met in a Top League quarter-final, the national team-mates wagered a dinner on the loser. Van der Walt is still racking his brain for where to take the back-rower when they are both in the same country again…For now, though, Himeno is in New Zealand with the Highlanders.It was a move that made sense, if you assume that the now-26-year-old wants to continue climbing upwards. Smith has seen the steady improvement since the 2019 World Cup, when Japan made history by beating Ireland and Scotland on their way to getting out of the group for the first time, and then (according to Opta) he was the only forward to gain 200-plus metres with ball in hand. As he charges into a Super Rugby final with the Highlanders, we study the Japanese superstar Sure he had played in a previous guise of Super Rugby, with the Sunwolves, but in ‘Landers colours he has stood out for the Kiwis. This season, he was named their Rookie of the Year. Everything points to an impressive future. But should we appreciate him more now?Van der Walt interjects, surmising: “If he played for a (traditional Tier One nation) he would be recognised as one of the best in his position. That’s how highly I rate him. He is a world-class player, for me.”Whether you see him up there too is largely irrelevant at this point: you have to respect the hustle. In staying on to play the Trans-Tasman final, he is now likely to miss out on Japan’s showdown with the British & Irish Lions 2021. But he has taken a big step leaving his home to play amongst the best in New Zealand and Australia. As one of them. Kazuki Himeno carries into the Blues (Getty Images)