LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Benetton “We played them in the league and just lost out by seven points but they scored an interception and before that we were right in the game.“It is a game we have targeted and, as it is our first in the Heineken Cup, it is very important to us. We know that they will come at us strong and they will be looking for a good win at home, but hopefully we can show them what we can do.”“The season is very long and the intensity is going to take its toll. We have had three hard games on the road, so we are being careful and resting our squad well.“Our squad is small and we need to look after all of our guys and target games we believe we can get something from and focus on those.“We have got about 11 players out injured but we are looking to get some of those back in time for Europe and that will increase competition for places, which is really healthy.“When you’re used to playing in the Super 10, the Italian domestic league, and then have to step up into Europe like Italian teams have done in the past, it is a culture shock.“It takes time to adapt your game and be ready for the difference in levels, but playing at a similar pace in the Celtic League means we can try and maintain our performances and take them into the Heineken Cup. Marius Goosen – Benetton TrevisoMarius Goosen is Benetton Treviso’s record points scorer – but now the former outside half is hoping to make his point as the assistant coach of the Italian club embarking on their 14th season in the Heineken Cup.Goosen scored 227 tournament points in 34 appearances, starting all six of last season’s Pool matches before hanging up his boots and joining head coach Franco Smith on the coaching staff.“We always look forward to playing in the Heineken Cup, it is a good chance for us to play and test ourselves against the best,” he said.“The Heineken Cup is always the highest level and we are going to have to be at our best. We are in a strong group, starting with Leicester Tigers, who have the won the competition a couple of times, so we know the challenges ahead.“We have had some good crowds and good atmosphere at home in the league so the aim is to replicate that for the Leicester match.“Hopefully we will benefit from playing in the Celtic League and, although it is still early days, we want to carry the intensity and experience from that to give us a good chance.”While Benetton Treviso are Heineken Cup stalwarts – the clash with the 2001 and 2002 champions will be their 73 match – fellow Italian franchise Aironi Rugby will be taking their bow when they travel to Ravenhill to play 1999 champions Ulster Rugby.The Viadana-based side also entered the Celtic League for the first time this season and are targeting their trip to Ireland to get their European campaign off to the best of starts.“We have got Ulster first up and we know them pretty well already,” said captain Quintin Geldenhuys. “As always, we are going to take the competition game by game, but this year we know we will have more experience.“It is vital to start well so we need to target the opening rounds and try and get a win in early.”
The South Africans hold all the cards here. They want their cake and they want a shovel to eat it with. With the rugby resources they have few can blame them, but at the moment it seems like a case of getting the amount of teams they want and playing more rugby, getting the amount of teams they want and facing trips to the northern hemisphere or not getting the amount of teams they want and scowling.Shake-up indeed. Whichever way this is split there will be grossly unhappy parties. It also looks like the international window in summer will head for a shift to July rather than June which means the Northern Hemisphere season will have to change, too. It is for the greater good of the game but we will still hear the moaners raging on when this change comes, as distracting and irritating as a shelf of mags dedicated to reality stars’ love lives. Of course even at the simple stages of suggestion this concept will anger some South Africans. Complaints about the length of season are as annoyingly constant as a library fine, with a Super Rugby season mixed in with a Currie Cup campaign and international rugby in November and the summer months. The human body can only take so much, regardless of how many notes are thrown at their feet. At some stage –normally at the dying moments of a Super Rugby season – it becomes unfair on travelling players. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The more plausible change being mooted, however, is that a Japanese and Argentine team are introduced to the mix and the currently three-conference system changes as the Super 15 becomes the Super 18. Two conferences of nine would suit the league better, with Australian and Kiwi teams in one division and the South African and Argentine teams in another, perhaps a Japanese side slipping in to the Australasian section.Does that then split to two completely separate section, or even two sections and then playoffs? What happens if Pacific Island teams are approached too? It is tough to predict. Pampas XV played Vodacom Cup rugby DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 26: Martin Landajo of ICBC Pampas during the Vodacom Cup match between Sharks XV and ICBC Pampas XV at Kings Park on April 26, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images) Two become one: The Lions bid farewell to the Southern Kings as the franchise replaces them in Super RugbyBy Alan DymockLIKE A Katie Price lecture on the life of Liz Taylor, it is hard to avoid talk of shocking splits.News is floating north from the SANZAR regions that the pressure to accommodate the extra Super Rugby franchise in South Africa, the Southern Kings – who recently lost the right to compete in the competition after losing a playoff with the Lions franchise – has created several new proposals for a Super shake-up in time for 2016.Obsolete badge?: They may need a new Super Rugby trophyThere are persistent rumours that in South Africa, a region considered to be so in love with their rugby that many commercial parties hope their audience will follow their teams anywhere, the teams may consider splitting from Super Rugby completely. With several shareholders, namely Premiership Rugby, holding firm and struggling to come to a resolution over the future of the Heineken Cup, an agreement over a competition with South African sides could feasibly come about.Time is running out. 2016 may seem like a long way off, but the current agreement with all the shareholders and ERC for the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups runs out after this coming season. Travelling would be difficult were South African teams to court the English and/or French sides, but the time difference would suit broadcasters. It is not impossible to suggest that two parties led by individuals who are driven could come to some understanding, regardless of whether it would be a long-term success or not.
Australia– Try: Folau, Feauai-Sautia Con: Lali’ifano Pen: Leali’ifano 3 The one that got away: Israel Folau burst through against Scotland on a night the Wallabies just edged their hostsBy Alan Dymock at MurrayfieldIn a nutshellYou can never say you will get “more of the same” from Scotland or Australia, such is the tumult both sides seem to eternally ride out. So it was not too much of a surprise when both sides cut about Murrayfield with intent while the turf cut up. Australia did just enough to win the match.Israel Folau scored a tasty little try after a neat inside pass from Quade Cooper and it looked like this could be the same Scotland that was rattled by South Africa, but they sprung back. David Denton, Johnnie Beattie and Jim Hamilton in particular led a charge and Scotland whirred into contact with much more conviction than a week ago.Greig Laidlaw was the image of dead-eyed efficiency while Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland were sprightly. However, Australia hung in there with the odd kick from an off-kilter Christian Leali’ifano and they did just enough in the second half – including a swift try that ended in the corner with Chris Feauai-Sautia – to see Scotland off. Yet the hosts may come out with some credit as they earn their ‘brave losers’ tag all over again.Key momentScotland could have had a different result to ponder had they scored from a barnstorming move which had Beattie, Maitland and Sean Lamont hurtling towards the Wallaby line. Folau had other ideas, though, and in keeping out the Scots wing he set Scotland’s fate. Star man – Israel FolauHe was a constant nuisance and his defence was solid. Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen and Beattie deserve praise for their relentless self-punishment, and Cooper and Maitland did enough to ward off some grumbles about their form, but Folau was just too cool under the kick. So many of his runs created momentum and only a few times was he totally tied up.ScorersScotland – Pen: Laidlaw 5 EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – NOVEMBER 23 : Israel Folau of Australia breaks free from Moray Low and the Scottish defence to scores a try during the Scotland v Australia Autumn International Series Match at Murrayfield Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
A write result: Simon Halliday won the rugby prize last year. Who will it be this time? (Photo: Getty) Six books were short-listed by a judging panel of rugby writers, including Rugby World’s Alan Pearey and Katie Field. The contenders are Brian O’Driscoll‘s autobiography, The Test; Gareth Thomas‘s autobiography, Proud; Beyond the Horizon, by Richard Parks, an account of Parks’ journey from Welsh rugby international to extreme sports athlete; The Secret Life of Twickenham by Chris Jones; Undefeated: The Story of the 1974 Lions by Rhodri Davies and Behind the Rose: Playing Rugby for England by Stephen Jones and Nick Cain.Gareth Thomas’s Proud is also shortlisted for the CROSS Autobiography of the Year. The award for the best rugby book published in 2014 will be handed over tomorrow evening at the CROSS British Sports Book Awards in London. The winners of both awards, and eight other category winners, will be announced at a star-studded ceremony being held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, on Wednesday, 3rd June, hosted by Jonathan Agnew. The ceremony is being filmed for broadcast as a one hour Highlights Programme which will be screened on SkySports at these times:Saturday, 6 June: 10am on Sky Sports 4 and 1pm on Sky Sports 2Sunday, 7 June: 11.30am on Sky Sports 2 and 7pm on Sky Sports 5 Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio will attend the awards ceremony as his charity, The Dallaglio Foundation, is the highlighted charity for this year’s CROSS British Sports Book Awards. Founded in 2009 by Dallaglio, the Foundation exists to nurture and develop the essential skills of disengaged young people. Its RugbyWorks programme uses the game to engage the hardest to reach 14-16 year-olds over a two-year period to develop the essential skills to help them become more employable.Royal approval: Dallaglio with Prince Harry (right) after a Dallaglio Foundation fund-raising rides. (Photo: Getty Images)After Wednesday evening’s CROSS British Sports Book Awards ceremony, the individual category winners will be entered into an online public vote to determine the Overall CROSS British Sports Book of the Year. The public vote sponsored by National Book Tokens will held on the official website – www.britishsportsbookawards.co.uk with a prize draw of £100 National Book Tokens. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
To find out how to upgrade to Windows 10 visit www.windows.com/10 I also like how the Action Centre gives you notifications, whether it’s messages on social media popping up or reminders you’ve set for the next kick-off. The accompanying Surface pen also has some innovative features – if you click the top of the pen, up pops OneNote, so you can take down reminders in seconds. It’s the attention to detail I loved.At home I did find myself asking Cortana more and more questions. It’s a virtual assistant, so when you say, ‘hey Cortana’, you can ask any question you want; if you want to locate documents, find the best training advice or keep up with the latest rugby news there’s no need to even start typing.I browsed the web using Microsoft Edge, which was pretty cool because you can take notes on pages or highlight the latest World Cup player ratings, which I’ve never seen before. I’m also a big gamer and love how Windows 10 integrates with Xbox Live to help me share my Rugby World Cup 2015 achievements with my mates. Whatever I was doing and however many apps I was running, there was never any lag, so you could see the raw power of the device. It all adds up to be a great productivity device that ticked all the boxes. I’m dreading the day I have to give it back! I do however like to keep a cheeky eye on Facebook or the match live updates while I’m working so Snap Assist was brilliant, I get to see two apps side by side on a split screen which is really handy. Living day-to-day with the Microsoft’s hybrid laptop replacement LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS This is a Rugby World advertorial.Safe to say, I’m a massive tech fan so I was thrilled to be given a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 running the new Windows 10 – now suitably armed for my rugby journey over the course of the World Cup! It looked sleek as I pulled it out of the box and the set-up was straightforward. After dipping into the Windows App store and downloading my critical array of social media apps, I was soon keeping up-to-date with all the Rugby World Cup news.During the week, I work in London so I’ve started using the Surface Pro 3 on my morning commute. It travels well and is much lighter than any laptops I’ve previously owned. The screen was pin sharp for catching up on the latest match video highlights and the audio top-notch for listening to my guilty pleasure, the Rugby World podcast. The Surface is definitely designed for people on the move and I found it light enough to lug around in my bag. It doesn’t feel like it needs to be sitting on a table or desk all day. At its heart, it’s a mobile device.In the office, it’s very satisfying being able to use both touchscreen and a mouse. Working in design mode, I found unclipping the keyboard really great to look at detailed layouts up close. It feels like a genuine replacement for a laptop because it’s such an adaptable hybrid.Window’s 10 Live Tiles allow you to see emails growing in your inbox rather than you having to open up a separate app – snapping the keyboard on to fire out a few emails quickly was also a big plus. And if you just want to immerse yourself in Word or Excel it’s easy enough to flip up the kickstand – simple.
Shades of blue: the two captains, Guilhem Guirado and Sergio Parisse, at the Six Nations launch (Inpho) Different sets of players, true, but there’s an underlying sense that Italian rugby is embarked on a healing process.The likes of centre Tommaso Boni, fly-half Tommaso Allan and scrum-half Marcello Violi are catching the eye, and at the helm as always is skipper and No 8 Parisse, who Will Greenwood summed up when saying: “He’s one of those players, like Dallaglio, who could go in with a pub team and still think he could win the World Cup.”Tough to beat: Italy centre Tomasso Boni tackles Maro Itoje in Rome (Getty Images)Italy coach Conor O’Shea has the faith. “I believe very much in this group and in the path we are taking together,” he said.“In Dublin in the first half we didn’t do what we expected, but it’s important for us this Friday to learn from our mistakes and show our game plan, show off our rugby throughout the game.“For us this is a new opportunity. We must not think about France, focus on ourselves and I hope we can offer ourselves and our fans a performance to be proud of.”Italy give flanker Maxime Mbanda his first start since last June and recall experienced hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini – another player prone to conceding soft penalties – and Andrea Lovotti. The visitors will do well to match the French scrum.Front-row dust-up: Leonardo Ghiraldini tussles with Rabah Slimani and Guirado last year (Inpho)Trash-talkGreenwood was perhaps being only slightly facetious when he said on Sky’s The Offload programme: “Italy will go there with a sniff because they know, if you look at the past few years, that whenever France make a load of changes they tend to be garbage.”Fly-half Lionel Beauxis returned to the fold at Murrayfield and in the six years since his previous cap, France had tried 26 different half-back combinations – a staggering figure. This lack of continuity in so crucial an area is being used to explain the regular Gallic downfalls. France haven’t even managed to score three tries in a match since the Italy game nearly a year ago.But there’s truth in the cliché – you never truly know what to expect from France. Fifty years ago, they used 27 players in four games and won their first-ever Grand Slam. By rights, they should be disjointed against Italy. But, in only the eighth Six Nations match to take place on a Friday, perhaps they will provide some of the famous élan that has been missing for so long.King Conor: “This is a new opportunity,” says Italy head coach Conor O’Shea (NurPhoto/Getty Images)The TeamsFrance Hugo Bonneval; Benjamin Fall, Mathieu Bastareaud, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Rémy Grosso; Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Machenaud; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Rabah Slimani, Paul Gabrillagues, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara, Marco Tauleigne.Replacements: Adrien Pelissie, Dany Priso, Cedate Gomes Sa, Romain Taofifenua, Galletier, Baptiste Couilloud, Francois Trinh-Duc, Gael Fickou.Italy Matteo Minozzi; Tommaso Benvenuti, Tommaso Boni, Tommaso Castello, Mattia Bellini; Tommaso Allan, Marcello Violi; Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, Alessandro Zanni, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, Maxime Mbanda, Sergio Parisse (capt).Replacements: Luca Bigi, Nicola Quaglio, Tiziano Pasquali, George Biagi, Federico Ruzza, Edoardo Gori, Carlo Canna, Jayden Hayward.What time does France v Italy kick off?Ireland v Wales, Friday 23 February, 8pm GMT, Stade VelodromeIn charge: Englishman Wayne Barnes has the whistle for this Friday night encounter (Getty Images)The RefereeWayne Barnes is the man in the middle, assisted by Luke Pearce and John Lacey and with David Grashoff as TMO. They were on duty at last weekend’s Leicester v Harlequins game and it’s to be hoped they monitor the offside line a little more closely – in too many games, defences are infringing with impunity.The TV Details All the team news, battle areas and TV details you need for the Six Nations match between France and Italy in Marseille – it’s a Friday night clash to savour Six Nations France v Italy PreviewFrench rugby has been wanting a shake-up and this game has it in spades: the first championship match they’ve staged outside Paris, a seldom-seen Friday-night billing, and 11 new faces in the match-day squad. Well, no point doing things by half.France and Italy meet at the 67,000-capacity Stade Velodrome in Marseille. Les Bleus have played Tests there sporadically – this will be their 12th visit this century – and Italy captain Sergio Parisse turned out there during the 2007 World Cup.But it’s hard to overstate this match’s significance because after 184 Five/Six Nations home matches within the sanctuary of their capital, France are upping sticks more than 400 miles.They should receive an outstanding reception and, for Italy in particular, coping with the local and vocal fervour represents a different challenge.Roman theatre: a scrum during last year’s clash at Stadio Olimpico, which France won 40-18 (Getty)Losing runsBoth sides will hope it inspires them to new heights – and how they need something to draw on. The sides occupy the bottom two places in the table and are on chronic runs.France are winless in their previous eight Tests, their last victory being that 20-18 steal at the death against Wales last March.Only four France teams in history have suffered longer winless runs and three of those were in the early years of the national side’s existence. The only postwar France team to similarly struggle was the side of 1968-69, but they had a series against both New Zealand and South Africa in their 11-match barren run.Italy, meanwhile, have lost their previous 14 championship games and defeat this weekend would be an unwanted record for the country.All changeOnce again, there’s been a changing of the guard for France. Coach Jacques Brunel swung the axe after a swathe of players went out drinking after the second-round loss in Edinburgh.My ball: France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina stands tall at Murrayfield (Action Plus/Getty Images)Five of the excluded players, Remi Lamerat, Arthur Iturria, Anthony Belleau, Louis Picamoles and Jonathan Danty, were questioned as potential witnesses by police in connection with an alleged sexual assault. All were cleared of any wrongdoing but they’ve been punished as “they failed to respect their duty as international players”, according to an FFR statement.Also omitted is wing Teddy Thomas, the tournament’s top try-scorer with three and the only Frenchman so far who’s looked capable of creating something out of nothing.Centre Mathieu Bastareaud returns after completing a three-week ban for a homophobic slur. Benjamin Fall, Remy Grosso, Hugo Bonneval and Paul Gabrillagues also come into the line-up.“Mathieu brings us his distinctive style of play and his experience,” said Brunel. “He seems to have taken on a new dimension (with Toulon).”Light moment: Francois Trinh-Duc and Mathieu Bastareaud (right) at training this week (AFP/Getty)There’s a familiar look to the pack but, only three games into the tournament, not one back has started every time. The new faces include uncapped 20-year-old Lyon scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud, a replacement.Paying the penaltyFrance made 253 tackles against Ireland in round one, a record for a Six Nations match. Only Johnny Sexton’s miracle kick denied them a shock victory, but against Scotland they subsided after Thomas’s first-half brace of tries.Their on-field discipline has been appalling. Sebastien Vahaamahina’s reckless disregard of the offside laws against Ireland resurfaced in team-mates at Murrayfield. Baptiste Serin took out a cleaner at the ruck to give Greig Laidlaw the chance to make it 17-20, and the Scot was gifted more points when Iturria tackled Stuart McInally beyond the ruck (20-23).By the time flanker Yacouba Camara strayed offside for Laidlaw’s sixth penalty (32-26), the game was up. Related: Scotland 32-26 France match reportWorried: Doesn’t that look say it all? A France fan at Murrayfield (MB Media/Getty)Pub mentalitySuch laxity again in Marseille could open the door for Italy, who got within two points of France on their last trip to Paris two years ago.BBC commentator Eddie Butler says: “Never before have Italy had such a good chance to win,” and one reason for Azzurri optimism is the improving fortunes of the country’s Guinness Pro14 sides, Benetton Treviso and Zebre.Last year they managed just eight wins between them in 44 league matches, but this season they’ve shared 12 wins already and last weekend both triumphed on the road – Treviso at the Dragons and Zebre at Connacht. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The game is live on the BBC.
Ugly Scenes As Spain Fail To Automatically Qualify For RWC 2019 Ugly Scenes As Spain Fail To Automatically Qualify… Cook Islands replace Tahiti in Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying Ugly Scenes As Spain Fail To Automatically Qualify For RWC 2019 Cook Islands replace Tahiti in Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying The eligibility of Belgium and Romania players has been called into question as Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying controversy continues Rugby World Cup 2019: Match schedule announced Cook Islands replace Tahiti in Rugby World Cup… Eligibility controversy in World Cup 2019 qualifyingThe Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying controversy has taken yet more turns in recent days, with the eligibility of players fielded by Belgium and Romania during the Rugby Europe Championship called into question.First, Germany coach Pablo Lemoine, who guided Uruguay to the 2015 World Cup, revealed on a Uruguayan radio show that the eligibility of Belgium hooker Victor Paquet was being investigated.Paquet made his Test debut as a replacement in the match against Germany and has been quoted as saying he qualified for Belgium through his great-grandmother.However, World Rugby’s Regulation 8 states that you can only qualify to represent a nation different to that in which you were born if that country is the nation of birth of your parent or grandparent, or you have lived in that country for 36 consecutive months. So having a great-grandparent who was born in Belgium would not make Paquet eligible.Up in the air: Romania in action during their recent defeat by Georgia (Getty Images)Second, the eligibility of Romania centre Sione Faka’osilea is also under the microscope.Born in Tonga, Faka’osilea made his debut for Romania in March 2017 having completed the three-year residency period.However, the Russian federation called for an investigation after it was reported that Faka’osilea represented Tonga on the 2012-13 World Sevens Series.Playing for a national sevens team in an international tournament ties you to that country and you’re not allowed to represent a different nation at international level.Rugby’s entry into the Olympics has opened a loophole to this rule – one that Tim Nanai-Williams used to represent Samoa at Rio 2016 – but is not relevant here as Faka’osilea has not played in any sevens events for Romania.MORE ON RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Expand Rugby World Cup 2019: Match schedule announced If investigations find that Paquet and/or Faka’osilea were ineligible to represent Belgium and Romania respectively, it could have far-reaching consequences for the 2019 World Cup.Last week Tahiti were kicked out of the qualifying process for Japan 2019 having fielded two ineligible players in their qualifier against Cook Islands. The match result was overturned and Cook Islands now move onto the Asia-Oceania Play-off against the winner of this year’s Asia Rugby Championship.If Romania and/or Belgium are also found guilty of breaching rugby’s eligibility regulations, they too could have their results from the past two years’ Rugby Europe Championships, which doubled as a RWC 2019 qualifying tournament, expunged.That could see Spain qualify automatically as Europe 1 and join Pool A at the 2019 World Cup rather than go into more qualifiers. They are currently due to play Portugal in a play-off, with the winner playing Samoa over two legs with the aim of securing the Play-off Winner spot, also in Pool A.Boiling over: Spanish players confront the referee after the Belgium defeat (Getty Images)Yet Spain could also find themselves in hot water, with the possibility of points deductions or fines, following the actions of their players after that Belgium defeat, where they surrounded the Romanian referee.Spain have also had the eligibility of two of their players questioned, according to Americas Rugby News. Two of their players, Thibaut Visensang and Mathieu Bélie, previously played for France U20, which used to be designated their next senior national representative team and thus would tie a player to France should they play against another U20 team that also had the same status, as in the case of Wales’ Steve Shingler in 2012.It appears Visensang did not play in any match against Wales, the only other U20 side as a next team at the time, so he is eligible for Spain. Bélie, however, did play against Wales U20 in 2008 and as such should be tied to France and ineligible. The crux of the issue could be whether France informed Bélie that by playing in the Wales match he would be ineligible for any other nation, as Wales had done in the Shingler case.Under scrutiny: Thibaut Visensang is tackled whilst playing for France U20 in 2011 (Getty Images)It is now a case of waiting to see the outcome of the Rugby Europe investigation and any statements from World Rugby, but action needs to be taken quicker than we saw in the Tahiti case. Their match against Cook Islands was in August 2017, with the investigation findings not announced until last week.With World Cup qualifiers coming up in the next few weeks and months, the governing bodies need to move swiftly so teams know where they stand. Expand Collapse All the fixture and venue information you need… The goal: Spanish fans pose with the Webb Ellis Cup during the trophy tour (Getty Images) For the moment, it’s something of a mess and does not portray rugby in a positive light at all.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All the details you need about the new rugby tournament being played in Europe this November and December Familiar foes: England will play Wales on 28 November (Getty Images) Amazon Prime Video has the rights to broadcast the tournament in the UK – a first for the online streaming service – and coverage will be fronted by Gabby Logan and Bryan Habana.Every game, except Ireland’s home matches against Wales and Georgia, will be shown live on Prime Video.Channel 4 will also show three matches live on free-to-air TV – Ireland v Wales, England v Ireland and Ireland v Georgia – as well as highlights from all four rounds.Six Nations Rugby chief executive Ben Morel said: “A significant amount of time and effort has gone into delivering this new tournament format in testing circumstances and the spirit of collaboration amongst key stakeholders has been outstanding.“While the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic made the traditional autumn Test window unfeasible, we remained determined to deliver a unique and compelling tournament proposition which would ensure world-class rugby for our fans globally, and competitive matches for players, unions and federations.”As for whether fans will be able to attend these Tests, that will be determined by the restrictions in place in each country hosting matches. It’s unlikely that spectators will be permitted in the UK but it may be possible in France.Wales’ first two home fixtures will be played at Parc y Scarlets as the Principality Stadium is being used as the Dragon’s Heart Hospital. Coach Wayne Pivac says: “It has been a tough year for everyone so we are hoping international rugby can provide some relief and enjoyment for supporters and sports fans alike.” 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. Autumn Nations Cup Format ConfirmedA new eight-team rugby tournament will be played in Europe this November and December. The Autumn Nations Cup will involve the Six Nations teams – England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales – as well as Fiji and Georgia.It will take place over four successive weekends from 13 November to 6 December, with the eight teams split into two pools of four.Group A features England, Georgia, Ireland and Wales while Group B comprises Fiji, France, Italy and Scotland.Teams will play the other nations in their pool in a round-robin format before a finals weekend where the winners of each group will play each other, as will the runners-up and so on to determine final rankings.The tournament will kick off with Ireland hosting Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Friday 13 November. The following day England will play Georgia at Twickenham and Italy will face Scotland, while on Sunday 15 November France will play Fiji.Here is a full list of fixtures, although Some venue and kick-off information is still to be confirmed due to the pandemic…
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Scarlets v Munster live stream: How to watch the Pro14 match online from anywhereIt’s a new Guinness Pro14 season and right on cue, some well-recognised faces come back into our lives. Welcome back to the fray, Rhys Patchell and Jonathan Davies…Even former Scarlets lock Tadhg Beirne is back – making his first appearance at Parc y Scarlets since he left – but first let’s talk about the hosts. Johnny Williams missed out on prep for this match after self-isolating (he had come into contact with someone with Covid-19). He’s back, but couldn’t train properly this week. Full-back Liam Williams and props Rob Evans and Samson Lee are also unavailable, through injury. But Leigh Halfpenny is back.As well as Beirne, Munster bring with them Springboks star Damian de Allende, Pand eter O’Mahony and CJ Stander are part of a formidable back row.Sam Grove-White of Scotland is the referee.Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny; Tom Rogers, Jonathan Davies, Steff Hughes, Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (captain), Werner Kruger; Jake Ball, Sam Lousi; Blade Thomson, Josh Macleod, Sione Kalamafoni.Replacements: Ryan Elias, Phil Price, Javan Sebastian, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, Kieran Hardy, Rhys Patchell, Tyler Morgan.Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Darren Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (captain), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.Reps: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Gavin Coombes, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy, Rory Scannell.How to watch Scarlets v Munster from outside your countryIf you’re abroad, but still want to watch your local Pro14 coverage, like Scarlets v Munster, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network.VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Pro14 live stream you would at home.Our friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN and recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free – perfect timing to watch the end of the Pro14 season – or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.Check out ExpressVPNScarlets v Munster live stream: How to watch from the UKScarlets v Munster, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday 3 October, will be shown live on Premier Sports 2 in the UK.Premier Sports show every Guinness Pro14 match live in the UK. If you have a Sky or Virgin Media contract, you can add Premier Sports to your package from £9.99 a month. Seeing red: Scarlets v Munster last season (Getty Images) Or subscribe to Premier Player so you can stream matches online from £9.99 a month or £99 for 12 months, which would include the 2020-21 Pro14 season too. That is due to start on 3 October.See Premier Sports offersIf you’re from the UK but are overseas when there’s a particular match you want to watch, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN – see the information above.Scarlets v Munster live stream: How to watch from IrelandIn Ireland, eir Sport show every Pro14 match live, including Scarlets v Munster (kick-off 3pm eir Sport 1), and if you sign up for eir broadband you can watch eir Sport for free via the eir TV app and online player.Find out more about the eir broadband deals here.Or you can sign up for eir TV and broadband packages, which include eir Sport, from €39.98 a month.If you have Sky TV in Ireland but not eir broadband, you can add eir Sport to your package for €19.99 a month for three months (€29.99 after that) or for €240 for the year – here are the details of the Sky-eir package.Scarlets v Munster live stream: How to watch from New ZealandIf you want to tune in to Scarlets v Munster from New Zealand, a replay of the match will be shown at 5am on Sunday, on Sky Sport NZ 4.It costs $31.99 a month to add Sky Sport to your Sky Starter pack ($25.99) but if you sign up for 12 months before 30 September 2020 you’ll get your first month free. Plus, you’ll get Sky Go, which allows you to watch live rugby wherever you are.Sky Sport NZ offerScarlets v Munster live stream: How to watch from South AfricaSuperSport came on board as a Pro14 broadcast partner when South African franchises Cheetahs and Kings joined the competition in 2017.They primarily show matches involving those teams but are also showing Scarlets v Munster kicks off at 4pm on SuperSport Variety 2.There are various DStv packages available that give access to SuperSport, ranging from Access, which has the Blitz and Variety 4 channels, to Premium, which includes all 18 sports channels.We recommend VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service)Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroadWe do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing. All you need to know about the match at Parc y Scarlets 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.
But work must start now to ensure the women’s tournament is the best ever LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Also, that means players, the majority of whom are amateur, needing to take an additional two weeks off work. The tournament would essentially have lasted six weeks rather than four – and that’s before you account for the travel time to get to New Zealand and training camps etc beforehand. That much leave, most likely unpaid, would have a significant financial impact on players.And what if the worst happened and there was an outbreak of Covid in one of the camps, as happened with Fiji during the Autumn Nations Cup and France in the Six Nations? The tight turnaround between fixtures means that not only is there no room for postponements but a team could have to forfeit two or even three matches while isolating.As BBC rugby reporter Sara Orchard says, the World Cup should be won by the best team on the pitch, not the one that was lucky enough to avoid Covid. Packed stands at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast for the 2017 final (Inpho) TAGS: Highlight However, the cost of quarantine isn’t the only issue, it’s having to quarantine full stop. Tying in with the preparation point, two weeks in isolation, even if teams were given exemptions to allow some form of training, is far from ideal. Comment: Why postponing Rugby World Cup 2021 is the right decisionPostponing Rugby World Cup 2021 is the right decision.Of course, I appreciate the intense disappointment players and coaches and supporters are feeling following this week’s announcement that the women’s tournament will be put back until 2022 because of Covid-19 and all the associated challenges.People will have made major life decisions around the World Cup taking place this September and October, whether that’s to do with retirement or starting a family or career progression or all of the above.The sad reality of a possible 12-month delay (the dates for the postponed tournament haven’t yet been confirmed but it’s likely to be played in the same time slot in 2022) means that some players we expected to see competing in 2021 will not be around a year later. SupportersWhile New Zealand would obviously have opened its borders for the teams competing, no fans from overseas would have been allowed in unless they are NZ residents or citizens. Delaying it a year improves the chances of people from around the world being able to go. After all, organisers are aiming to set new attendance records with this tournament.Plus, we’ve seen in the past week how quickly things can change, with Auckland going into a seven-day lockdown after a community case of Covid. If this had happened during a World Cup no fans would have been allowed into stadiums. With five-day turnarounds between pool games, an equivalent lockdown would have meant a third of matches being played behind closed doors. Still, on balance, the postponement is the right decision and ensures the integrity of the tournament remains intact – for several reasons.QualifyingTen teams are still in the running to qualify for the final three spots at the tournament and the window to get them played before a September 2021 kick-off was getting ever smaller. Both the Asian and European qualifying tournaments have been postponed several times, with no dates set on when they would be played.A play-off between Colombia and Kenya also needs to take place before the repechage can be staged.Colombia are still involved in RWC 2021 qualifying (Getty Images)When you consider that Colombia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and Samoa are also involved in the Olympic repechage in Monaco in June, with several players likely to straddle the sevens and 15s squads, it adds a further complication.PreparationThe impact of the pandemic on the women’s international calendar means even the teams that have qualified have been short of game time. For instance, Wales will have gone more than a year without a match when they face France in the truncated Women’s Six Nations in April while hosts and defending champions New Zealand haven’t played a Test since August 2019.Ongoing travel restrictions mean teams may also have struggled to arrange meaningful fixtures before the tournament. Take the situation surrounding the France-Ireland match last year.Ireland had to ask the French to move the game to Dublin because rules around ‘elite’ sportspeople playing in cross-border events meant players had to isolate for two weeks on their return. That was fine for the men’s team, who – as professionals – could isolate as a squad and continue to train. For the women’s team, with many squad members working in teaching or health services, a two-week isolation period wasn’t feasible.In the end the match didn’t get played because of Covid cases in the French camp, but it highlights the problems that exist in the current climate. Elite sport is covered by various government rules but the different circumstances of amateur and professional athletes means they aren’t always workable.QuarantineThis is a big sticking point, with many feeling the tournament was postponed because no one was willing to cover the costs of 11 teams (not to mention officials and tournament staff) having to quarantine on their arrival in New Zealand.Rugby commentator Nick Heath estimated that there would have been a $1.2m bill to clear this hurdle, but who would pay it? World Rugby, the New Zealand government, the teams themselves? It’s hard to see many of the latter being able to afford that. I actually think if this had been a men’s World Cup it may well have been postponed earlier as ticket sales and travel packages are so crucial in generating profits. New Zealand has said its borders may stay closed for the rest of 2021, so they would have needed to delay to ensure it remained viable.What next?As we await official ratification of the postponement decision early next week, plans need to be put in place to ensure women’s rugby doesn’t lose ground.Getting the remaining qualification matches played must be top of the agenda, ideally by the end of the year – even if they are later in 2021, with the hope that vaccine rollouts ease travel restrictions. That would ensure teams have nine months to prepare.Plus, can a full Women’s Six Nations be reinstated now there is more time to play the qualifiers? For those teams that have already qualified, an enhanced Test schedule should be put in place. Again Covid-19 makes this more challenging but if World Rugby has $4m they can pump into sevens programmes before the Olympics surely they could fund some women’s 15-a-side events.England were planning to tour New Zealand in the autumn of 2020 before the pandemic hit – could they do that in 2021 instead? Maybe get Australia involved too and play a triangular tournament.Or could an event be staged with five or six teams like the Super Series in 2019? Or a women’s Autumn Nations Cup?England and New Zealand in action during the 2019 Super Series (Getty Images)Again, World Rugby have scheduled sevens events for France in May, so it doesn’t look like the governing body is ruling out setting up international tournaments. It’s just finding the right place and time that reduces the risk of postponements or cancellations.Oh, and with all of the above as well as next month’s Six Nations, let’s make sure people can watch matches, whether via live streams or (preferably) TV deals. How good were the England-France matches broadcast on the BBC last November? More of that please.There are now 18 months to build momentum to ensure that women’s rugby is front and centre when the World Cup kicks off. Yes, postponing Rugby World Cup 2021 is the right decision – but only if the work is now put in to make next year’s event the best ever. Can’t get to the shops? Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet. Subscribe to the print edition for magazine delivery to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.