Lions 2013: Gatland stumbles into selection storm

first_img Stormy waters: Warren Gatland has ruffled feathers with quotes about picking English players for the Lions tourBy Alan DymockIF EVER there was a media brouhaha that your regular Australian rugby fan would want from the British Isles at this time of the year, then Warren Gatland’s purported ‘Anglo-gate’ fits the bill perfectly.In an interview with the Evening Standard yesterday Gatland was quoted as saying of the English. “If they do well in the Six Nations, there will be a reasonable contingent of English players, but that brings a certain element of – how do I say it? – other pressures that come with selecting a lot of English players.”After this little gem, the British and Irish Lions head coach qualified it by suggesting that with a larger English contingent would come more attention from the media on either side of the continent and that squad members from England would attract more attention than most.Winners: England look likely to have a large Lions contingentWhat is clear, is that any Lions squad, regardless of national makeup, would be targeted in Australia. Gatland was simply stating it as he saw it. It was a line from an wide-ranging interview and one that is interesting, regardless of context. However, just because it’s obvious, it’s possibly not something worth suggesting in February.Of course, Gatland is not the type to sit back when a media firestorm erupts, especially not for something he feels has been misrepresented for, especially after suggesting there will be “a reasonable contingent”.Today he told the Daily Telegraph that anyone saying this Standard interview implied he intended not to pick too many Englishmen for fear of an Aussie backlash was talking, “absolute bull****””. Leaving no stone unturned, Gatland reiterated a point he had made months before about squad balance, saying. “I would happily pick 15 English players in the first Test at Brisbane if I thought they were the best 15 players for the job. The only consideration for a Lions coach is to get the best 15 on the park to do the job. That’s paramount, I’m not remotely bothered which country they come from.”It is also worth noting that Gatland has already stated that he also wants representation from every single home nation.Scrum: Martin Johnson was heavily scrutinised at RWC 2011Of course, Gatland is used to throwing out a few barbs, it’s almost expected part of the Six Nations circus and music to the ears of the rugby public, rendered motionless by banal, meaningless quotes and for journalists behind the mics, but a furore like this must be causing furtive looks from the considerable Lions PR machine whose job it is to keep track of every howitzer fired by their figurehead.The Grand Slam winning coach is a fighter and the kind of man you want lighting fires under players backsides before a test. Nevertheless, when he takes that on before a squad is even selected, it means that he is likely to ruffle feathers in the coming months. Today he is at England’s training camp in Burton-upon-Trent and I’m sure, privately, at least,  he’ll be dowsing the fears of Stuart Lancaster’s in-form squad. AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – OCTOBER 06: Martin Johnson, manager of England speaks to the media during an England IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 team announcement at Crowne Plaza on October 6, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS I’ve no doubt he will pick a squad fit brimming with regional dialects from all four countries to go into battle for six weeks Down Under. He should not, however, be left on his own to fight battles and only a recording device away from a media furore. That will not help the British and Irish Lions. He is already being scrutinised  for every nuance of every sentence and come April, when his squad is picked. He will be in for another, more strenuous round of media boxing as his selections are pored-over.Hide him away and let the mystique of the Lions do the talking until they land Down Under, then let battle commence.last_img read more

Championship blog: Round 21 wrap

first_imgAnd finally…Don’t forget there’s plenty of action GKIPA Championship action on telly this Easter weekend! What it is all about: Below are the latest comings and goings in the ever competitive Championship It was a case of deja vue for Plymouth at Headingley on Sunday. Albion shipped 40 points against a Carnegie outfit who look a good outside bet for promotion, for the second time in eight days.Leeds, who led 28-0 at the interval, and in all ran in six tries against Albion, now face a tricky trip to Rotherham, also in from of the cameras on Saturday, with kick off at 5.15pm. This could well be a dress rehearsal for the play-off semi for both clubs.High five for Exiles as Bright thwarts the BluesLondon Scottish 19, Bedford 15Bright spark: Scottish’s Mark BrightDespite No8 Mark Bright’s fine individual try two minutes from time that gave Scottish the lead for the first time at the Athletic Ground on Sunday, the Exiles now cannot progress to the play-offs. However, they are assured of fifth place, which will be their highest Championship finish to date.In a scrappy game where both sides eschewed conditions perfect for adventurous rugby, Bedford held a 15-7 lead in the final quarter, thanks to tries from Pat Tapley and Brendan Burke, before Sam Stuart finished off a trademark driving maul and Bright nicked it at the death.Titans pace punishes tiring PiratesCornish Pirates 20, Rotherham 40Despite leading 20-7 shortly before the interval at the Mennaye Field on Sunday, Pirates were unable to dispel the blues from the previous week’s late defeat at the hands of Pontypridd in the British & Irish Cup. Rotherham upped the pace in the final quarter, adding a further five tries against a visibly wilting Pirates outfit.Relegation worries deepen for IslandersLondon Welsh 45, Jersey 7Relegation battlers Jersey were unable to build on a 3-7 lead at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday, as the Exiles underlined the gulf in class between the top and the bottom of the division, running in six tries in the process.This was Welsh’s seventh GKIPA Championship win on the bounce with two tries from John Quill and one each from Joe Ajuwa, Tyson Keats, Matt Corker, and Toby L’Estrange, and sets them up nicely for Friday’s trip to Bristol. By Richard GraingerEaling earn chance of reprieveEaling Trailfinders 37, Nottingham 35Ealing looked dead and buried three weeks ago, but this fine win against Nottingham leaves them just three points behind Jersey, who were put to the sword at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.To make things even better for the west Londoners, they picked up a try bonus point in this four-try apiece thriller at Vallis Way.Scrapping past: Calladine and Manu Tuilagi in 2012Ealing looked to have put daylight between themselves and the Green and Whites, leading 37-23 going into the last 10 minutes, before Tom Calladine and Harrison Lee-Everton crossed for the visitors. But when Matt Jarvis’ attempt struck the upright and stayed wide, Ealing were able to run the clock down. But these late scores, when Ealing were reduced to 14 men meant that Nottingham, who are not entirely disengaged from the relegation dogfight, travelled home with two vital bonus points.Ealing look forward to hosting play-off bound Rotherham next Saturday, who won 79-9 back in September at Clifton Lane, and then a trip to Plymouth for the final round of matches. One win will be enough to keep then in the second tier unless Jersey can take a four-pointer from either London Scottish or Bedford.Bristol beat the Billesley BogeyMoseley 24, Bristol 33Bristol notched their eleventh consecutive victory in the GKIPA Championship, ending a run of four winless trips to Billesley Common. Following their usual script, Bristol permitted Mose – cast in the role of Lazarus – to rise from the dead with a second half comeback that brought a collective sigh of relief from had the visiting support, come the final whistle.With an interval lead of 7-26 and the bonus pint in the bag, Bristol allowed the Midlanders to cross for three tries and to come within eight points of a major upset.After four tries in the opening quarter, director of rugby Andy Robinson had every expectation of a rout, but Moseley had other ideas.“Our discipline was poor and that’s an area that let us down on Saturday,” said Robinson. “We will look at that because we conceded too many penalties in that second half.” Bristol welcome both London Welsh and the Sky cameras to the Memorial Ground on Good Friday, kick off 7.45pm.Two in a row as Carnegie class showsLeeds 40, Plymouth 14center_img With comfortable wins for the top four clubs cementing their play-off slots, attention turns to the titanic struggle for survival at the foot of the Greene King IPA Championship table. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: Chris Cracknell

first_img Old hand: Cracknell played in 33 series events before retiring last season LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS By Chris Cracknell NOT SO long ago, the highlight of the sevens circuit was the Commonwealth Games, which gives the game the international viewing platform it deserves. However, as we enter the 2014-15 HSBC Sevens World Series, there is an even greater sporting competition on everyone’s minds – the Olympics in 2016. It’s the dream every sevens player has been waiting for.I’m sure any player, from any team, will be playing down the Olympics, trying to convince us that the focus is only on the next game or tournament. This will not be entirely true. The next year is the most important for every team on the circuit, with pressure to secure an Olympic place by finishing in the top four of the final standings.So who will reach these top-four spots? I predict Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa to get three. Fiji will be stronger now Ben Ryan has a more full-time structure. Although I don’t think New Zealand will take the title this year, I do think they’ll end up in the top three. Their ability to perform on day two of tournaments keeps them there. South Africa continue to get stronger and are a growing force; they unearth raw talent and, mixed with veterans, they have a formidable platform.Danger men: Ryan is in his second season in charge of FijiThis leaves one spot up for grabs. Eyes will be on England and Samoa, who are rebuilding, while the other contenders are Australia and Canada, who both finished strongly last season.For me, Australia will take fourth spot because Ed Jenkins and his men will not have to rebuild as they had to in the early part of previous seasons. This will make a telling difference to the men in gold.Even without the carnival of Rio 2016 on the horizon, this is sure to be another cracking, action-packed Sevens Series. It kicks off in Australia this month and here are my five individuals to watch…Kyle Brown, South AfricaInjured at the Commonwealths, the talismanic captain is back. He has the complete game. He marshals troops in defence, alongside Frankie Horne, and is a shrewd operator at the breakdown.Aisake Katonibau, Fiji The former England Sevens player on who to watch in the 2014-15 HSBC Sevens World Series, and Olympic qualification… center_img A forgotten man of sevens. After a sabbatical from the international stage, he is playing at centre and is set to cause havoc, as he did in London in 2012.Black magic: Mikkleson in action at the Commonwealth GamesTim Mikkelson, NZNominated for Player of the Year twice, he’s won once and is key to his team’s success. The most instrumental player on the circuit.Christian Lewis-Pratt, EnglandWith Tom Mitchell out, the pressure of playmaker falls to him. He is certainly capable; he can win events almost single-handedly.Geraint John, AustraliaA coach I have greatly admired over the years. He has a calmness about him and a fantastic man-management ethic. Watch highlights from the Gold Coast Sevens below! This column was published in the November 2014 edition of Rugby World. To subscribe to the magazine & get the pros’ views every month, click here.last_img read more

Samson Lee on his Wales team-mates

first_img TAGS: Scarlets Funniest:“Bradley Davies.”Best singer:“I’ll say Mike Phillips. I sang a song for my own initiation – the old song Country Roads – but that didn’t go down to well. Terrible!”Most intense:“James King. He’s the most focussed in camp.”Most exciting player:“George North. I played with him through the age-grades, and to be back with him would be good. Oh my god, he’s a monster. It’s the only way to describe him. And there’s definitely more to come from him.” THE SCARLETS tighthead is one of the hottest properties in rugby, and one of the fastest-rising Test stars in Wales. He is featured in Rugby World’s Six Nations special, but as well as that, Lee took some time to tell us all about his Wales team-mates.So as we build up to England’s visit to Cardiff for the opening game of the Six Nations, who, in the prop’s eyes, are his country’s best movers and finest singers?The snappiest dresser:“Rhys Webb. But, no, I didn’t see that picture of him in his pants with Prince William…”Worst dresser:“Jake Ball. He wears old man slippers. I just don’t like the shoes he wears!”Best dancer:“Alun Wyn Jones. He just does it…looks in your eyes!” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img To read exclusive interviews with Samson Lee and Bradley Davies, check out the March 2015 edition of Rugby World magazine – in shops now! Scrum on down: Samson Lee in at No 3 for Wales in November last_img read more

SANZAAR Boss Calls TMO use a “Major Concern”

first_imgIt will be interesting to see how World Rugby react to this approach from SANZAAR. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The boss: SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos SANZAAR Boss Calls TMO use a “Major Concern”With the Super Rugby group stages now wrapped up and the play-offs on the horizon, the competition’s organisers – SANZAAR – have taken the opportunity to air their misgivings about the current Television Match Official (TMO) system.In a public statement, the group has acknowledged “challenges” experienced throughout the season due to interpretations of the laws by the current crop of officials. The last month of action, and in particular the last fortnight, has seen increased criticism of Super Rugby referees.Things came to a head at the weekend when opposing coaches, Brad Thorn of the Queensland Reds and Tony Brown of the Sunwolves, both condemned a “soft” red card for Ed Quirk after a punch he threw made minimal impact.Weighing in on the statement, SANZAAR chief Andy Marinos has had his say: “A major concern for us at present is the practical implementation of the Television Match Official (TMO) protocols. The protocols are clearly not working and a specific review is required in this area.”The incident: Ed Quirk of the Sunwolves is given a red cardHe went on to say: “We need better consistency in the application of the protocols and most would agree that perhaps this is not the case. The aim of the review will be to drive some operational changes to the protocols to ensure this consistency so that better outcomes are delivered.“SANZAAR is not empowered to adjust any protocols that have a direct effect on the Laws of the Game. However, we are keen to lead the discussion in this important area and following our review we will take our recommendations to World Rugby, the guardians of the Laws of Rugby, to ensure beneficial outcomes are achieved for the game.”center_img Earlier in the statement the group said: “Match officiating is a very important component of our game that undergoes continuous review to keep abreast of law changes and specific directives passed down from World Rugby.“The performances of the guys in the middle and those on the sidelines, and behind the TV monitor, are regularly reviewed and appraised to ensure the best referees and officials are officiating in Super Rugby matches. “Like a player, match officials who consistently do not perform to the level required are stood down from time to time, with specific game related work then done to get them back to performing consistently.”With one final clarification on the sanctity of the match officials it was stated: “SANZAAR believes the appointed referee needs to remain the key decision maker on the field and that TMO interventions only provide context to the match officials’ decision making.”last_img read more

What’s inside Rugby World’s autumn Tests special

first_img TAGS: Highlight What’s inside Rugby World’s autumn Tests specialThe autumn Tests are upon us and the December 2018 edition of Rugby World is the perfect off-field accompaniment to the world-class on-field action. We’ve even produced FOUR covers to celebrate the upcoming Internationals.It is packed with big-name interviews and expert analysis of the game’s major talking points. Here are 15 reasons to pick up Rugby World’s December 2018 edition…1. New Zealand’s Brodie RetallickWith the All Blacks touring Europe, former England fly-half Stuart Barnes explains why he thinks Brodie Retallick is the best player in the world and how he has redefined the second-row role.2. England’s Jonny MayHe’s not the biggest wing at Eddie Jones’s disposal but Jonny May is England’s most attacking threat. The Leicester Tiger discusses size and why he thinks players’ careers will become shorter.Danger man: Jonny May on the attack for England (Getty Images)3. South Africa Does South Africa hold the key to rugby’s future? The country’s ability to be part of both northern and southern hemisphere competitions could alleviate concerns over the sport’s financial sustainability.4. Team GB SevensWith this season’s World Sevens Series acting as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics, Stephen Jones says the home unions need to put a proper Team GB structure in place for sevens to succeed in Britain.5. Ireland’s Rob Kearney                               The full-back is Irish rugby’s most decorated player and he has plenty of off-field business interests too. He covers both topics in this interview.Keeping busy: Ireland full-back Rob Kearney at his Ballsbridge pub (Inpho)6. Japan 2019Rich Freeman reports from Japan on the inspiring story of Kamaishi and assesses how the host nation is shaping up for the World Cup on and off the field.7. Repechage lowdownThe final qualifier for the 2019 World Cup will be decided in Marseille in November – and we have all the info you need. Plus, Brett Beukeboom talks about Canada’s last shot at reaching Japan.DOWNLOAD RUGBY WORLD’S DIGITAL EDITION HERE8. Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw The December 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine is packed with big-name interviews and expert analysis ­– find out more here Hot topic: All Blacks perform the haka in Yokohama (Getty Images)PLUS, THERE’S ALL THIS…Inside the Mind of… Harry WilliamsWhat it’s like to… Go viral at the Olympics, by Brazil’s Izzy CerulloGlasgow and Scotland fly-half Adam HastingsThe new TMO trial explainedClub Hero – Ulster centre Darren CaveRising Stars Dan Davis and Caelan DorisLeigh Halfpenny’s goalkicking tipsGrass-roots club news in Club FocusSouth Africa Sevens star Chris DryJasmine Joyce on an exciting autumn series for Wales WomenFollow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Centre point: Jonathan Davies has been in decent form for the Scarlets (Huw Evans Agency)12. Georgia’s Merab Sharikadze“We won’t grow if we don’t get opportunities.” The centre explains why Georgia’s progress could stall without better fixture.13. Ben Ryan’s World Cup squadThe gold medal-winning coach turns selector and picks his 31-man England squad for next year’s World Cup – be prepared for bombshells!14. Cory HillThe Dragons and Wales lock talks Liverpool, lineouts and leading men.15. Should the haka be banned from rugby?Former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan and ex-All Blacks prop Ben Franks present different sides of the argument.  LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “I don’t mind being written off. I enjoy it actually.” The Scotland scrum-half talks about competition, Clermont and the World Cup.Highlight: Greig Laidlaw celebrates beating England earlier this year (Inpho)9. Argentina’s Bautista Delguy“Super Rugby fits my game. I like it fast and open.” The Pumas wing gives us an insight into his background and assesses his breakthrough season.10. Australia AnalysedSean ‘The Analyst’ Holley looks at the three areas the Wallabies are vulnerable – and offers solutions to their game’s deficiencies.11. Wales’ Jonathan DaviesThe centre is back from a long-term injury lay-off and in our ‘Downtime’ Q&A covers guilty pleasures, dinner guests and Ryan Giggs.last_img read more

Hotshot: Brive and France U20 prop Demba Bamba

first_imgGet to know the prop who stole the show at this year’s U20 World Cup and has been named in the France squad for the 2018 autumn Internationals – Demba Bamba LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Brive and France U20 prop Demba Bamba Date of Birth 17 March 1998 Born Paris Club Brive Country France Position Tighthead propYou grew up in Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb known more for football than rugby… I discovered rugby at school when I was 14 and played in a small regional tournament. Someone from the Saint-Denis club saw me and invited me over.Have you always played prop? No, I was No 8 in my first year. At 15 I switched to prop, but I still like running with the ball.You were a national judo champion at 14. Has that sport helped your rugby?Yes. Both require great upper-body strength and good technique to bring down your opponent. I also played a lot of handball, which has helped my rugby.How hard was it to move from Paris to a country town like Brive? I was only 16, so it took time. Everything’s different but I adapted and I love it here now.You’ve signed for Lyon and will join them next season. Why Lyon? It’s a very professional club. Their facilities are excellent and I think it’s a club that is excellent at developing young players. Prop star: Demba Bamba celebrates during France’s win over New Zealand at the U20 World Cup (Getty Images) center_img This article originally appeared in the November 2018 edition of Rugby World.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. How do you relax? I love listening to music and going on my PlayStation, and I play a lot of other sport, particularly football. I support Marseille.Your performances in France’s U20 World Cup win made headlines… It’s not something I’ve been used to, so it was a surprise, but a nice one. It’s made me more motivated because it’s nice to see those sort of headlines.What’s your main ambition for this season? To have a big season for Brive in the ProD2. I’m now too old for France U20, so it’s going to require a lot of work to make the next step into the senior squad. But I’m patient and it’s a question of working little by little towards that goal.And the 2023 World Cup in France? Yes, that’s a dream. Not just because it’s in France but the final will be at the Stade de France. I grew up about five minutes from the stadium so it’s really home for me.RW VERDICT: Bamba stands 6ft 1in, weighs 18st 7lb and runs like a back-row. A regular in Brive’s pack, the 20-year-old is now learning his scrummaging craft in the ProD2. Once he’s honed his technique, he’s going to be one the world’s most feared prop forwards.last_img read more

Japan 2019 Transport Guide: JR West Japan

first_imgThe Foodie The Seto Inland Sea is known for its fresh seafood – conger eel and octopus among the favourites.Hiroshima is also Japan’s biggest producer of oysters, so they are a must-try when in the area. There are various ways to enjoy them – fried, steamed, grilled, raw or with miso (kaki-no-dote-nabe).The Adventurer Head to Miyajima, a small island in Hiroshima Bay. This provides one of Japan’s top three scenic views and the island is home to the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site with a ‘floating’ torii gate. There are plenty of hiking trails from which you can explore the island too.The Rugby World Cup also coincides with the autumn dates (28 September to 4 November) of the Setouchi Triennale art festival. The theme this year is Restoration of the Sea and you can reach the main venue, Naoshima Island, by train and ferry in only one-and-a-half hours from Okayama.Neon streets: Nagarekawa has great nightlife (Image is for illustration purposes)The Party Animal Floating view: Okayama’s Korakuen Garden TAGS: Japan LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Take a bullet train to discover the area near the Seto Inland Sea For the best nightlife, head to Nagarekawa in Hiroshima. Once a creative centre for artists and writers, Nagarekawa’s narrow streets, which are something of a maze to traverse, are now full of food and drink establishments. There’s even an Irish pub, Molly Malone’s!Other top bars are the Ofuku Kimono & Sake Bar, where you can not only try local dishes and drinks but be fitted with a kimono, and Tropical Bar Revolucion, which is renowned for its cocktails. Advertising FeatureJapan 2019 Transport Guide: JR West JapanFrom the rugby venues in Kobe and Osaka or Tokyo and Yokohama, you can reach the Setouchi area by shinkansen…THE TICKETSA JR-West Setouchi Area Rail Pass is a great option if you plan to travel around the Seto Inland Sea region by train. It covers five days and you can purchase it from travel agents outside Japan or in the region itself. Many other rail passes are available. See westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticketThe Culture Vulture Okayama’s Korakuen Garden is rated one of Japan’s three best gardens and dates back 300 years. Tie in a stroll there with a visit to Okayama Castle, also situated on the Asahi River.The Bikan Historical Area in Kurashiki is the most picturesque merchants’ quarter in Japan and you can take a traditional boat trip down the canal.Historical site: Hiroshima Peace Memorial ((c) Hiroshima Pref.)In Hiroshima, you’ll find the Atomic Bomb Dome, which remains as a reminder of the 1945 attack. You can also visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, opened in 1955 to advocate world peace while charting the build-up and aftermath of the bombing.last_img read more

Autumn Nations Cup Wales v Italy preview

first_img Autumn Nations Cup Wales v Italy previewA chance for Wales to bookend a miserable year with victory over the Azzurri, the side they walloped back in February at the proper start of Wayne Pivac’s reign. Since then only Georgia have been overcome and after coming fifth in the Six Nations, Wales are now aiming for the same finishing position in this Autumn Nations Cup play-off at Parc y Scarlets (4.45pm).There was a mixed response to the 24-13 defeat by England last weekend. Defensive intensity was the biggest plus against the world’s No 2 ranked side, but there was little to relish in Wales’ attacking game. No gain-line, no creativity, no penetration was the nub of it, to which could be added renewed set-piece fragility after a brief respite in that area against Georgia.Pivac wants game-to-game improvement and greater squad depth from the campaign, and on those criteria he’s doing okay. Wins, however, are taking a little longer. “It’s going to come,” said centre Nick Tompkins. “If we keep chipping away, the rock will crack.”Big day: Kieran Hardy box-kicks v Georgia. The No 9 starts at his home ground on Saturday (Getty)After a bright if losing start against Scotland, Italy had a week off because of Fiji’s Covid outbreak. They then got tanked 36-5 by France last Saturday night. That match in Paris contained 89 kicks from hand, the sort of stat that is sending a shudder through rugby and fuelling debate about the attractiveness of the sport.Italy haven’t won in 2020 and another (expected) failure in Llanelli this weekend will see them finish barren in a calendar year for the first time in the professional era. Head coach Franco Smith has had even less to cheer of late than Pivac, but at least one of them should be in better spirits come the end of this match.What’s the big team news?Wales again ring the changes from the side beaten by England. George North is recalled at outside-centre – where he last featured against Italy in the Six Nations – and Liam Williams returns following the lip wound against Georgia that required 15 stitches. Jonathan Davies was also a late change at inside-centre after Johnny Williams was ruled out by injury.Up front, there’s a first start for Ospreys hooker Sam Parry after three appearances from the bench and a recall for flanker Justin Tipuric after his concussion against Georgia.Cardiff Blues back-row Josh Navidi has still to overcome his concussion issues. He took a knock in training at the end of September and hasn’t played a match since August.Kieran Hardy and Callum Sheedy get a second run together this autumn at half-back, Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar dropping out of the match-day 23.First start: Sam Parry gets a chance at hooker after more lineout problems against England (Getty)Italy make three changes from their Paris line-up. There’s a debut for Benetton wing Monty Ioane – nephew of former Wallaby Digby Ioane – after he qualified recently on residency. Calvisano’s Jacopo Trulla switches from wing to full-back.And Pembrokeshire-born scrum-half Stephen Varney, the son of ex-Neath flanker Adrian, makes his first start. The 19-year-old Gloucester scrum-half qualifies through his mother and wins his third cap after coming off the bench against Scotland and France.Paolo Garbisi returns to the country where he began the year by helping Italy beat Wales in the U20 Six Nations. The stand-off kicked 12 points that day in Colwyn Bay.Warhorse: Leonardo Ghiraldini has extended his international career for Italy (Getty Images)Among the replacements is Leonardo Ghiraldini. The veteran hooker, just a few weeks shy of his 36th birthday, broke down in tears at last year’s World Cup after the cancellation of the New Zealand match denied him a farewell Azzurri appearance. A year on, he will win cap number 107 if and when he replaces captain Luca Bigi.What have the coaches said?Wales coach Wayne Pivac: “This is another opportunity for these players and for us as a squad, another opportunity to build and see the results of all the hard work in training.“We have blooded eight new caps this campaign. Importantly by the end of the match each will have had a number of appearances to their name. From the outset we wanted this campaign to be about giving players opportunity and we have done that.“The hard work in training is coming through and we want to show that again on Saturday and finish the campaign on a high, with the performance and result we want.”On his fly-half selection: “We know what Dan (Biggar) can and can’t do and he played pretty well against England. This match and the Georgia game was always going to be the type of game we continued the trend towards giving guys an opportunity.“We believe Callum went well against Georgia and this will be a step-up.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Gas man: Wales wing Josh Adams runs at Carlo Canna during the 42-0 Six Nations win this year (Getty) With only two wins between them all year, both teams will be desperate to end 2020 on a high note. Wales hold all the aces for this weekend’s fifth-sixth play-off in Llanelli center_img 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. On picking George North at 13: “We played George there against Italy at the outset back in February. We know Jonathan Davies has had some injuries over the last few years. It’s about who is going to be in behind Jonathan and take that role when he is not there.“Nick (Tompkins) has had an opportunity and George gets a second go at it. This is the time to ask the questions and get the answers.”Loose ball: Italy’s Matteo Minozzi goes flying during last week’s defeat at Stade de France (AFP/Getty)Italy coach Franco Smith: “We want to end the tournament in the best possible way. We have a new opportunity to take the field and try to show our worth. Wales are an experienced team and need no introduction. The focus must be on our performance.”On starting teenager Stephen Varney: “It was never a big call. He’s a very level-headed guy who is a pleasure to work with. His work ethic is excellent.“If you are good enough, you are old enough. He has put his hand up for responsibility.“We have kept things reasonably normal. We’ve had a chat and we know there is a lot of emotion but the more you talk about it, the more it becomes an issue.“He must think on what he can do to have a good game and his emotional intelligence mustn’t take over. He has excluded everything on the outside and just focused on what he has to do. It is beneficial there will be no crowd and he can just find his feet.”New nine: Stephen Varney on his way to a try for Gloucester against Saracens in August (Getty Images)Any interesting statistics?Wales have won their past 14 matches against Italy, including a 42-0 shutout in this year’s Guinness Six NationsTheir overall win success in the fixture is 89% – they were last beaten by Italy in 2007Wales have won just two of their last 11 matches, against Italy and GeorgiaItaly are on an eight-match losing run. Defeat this weekend would mean failing to win a match in a calendar year for the first time in the pro eraThe Azzurri have the highest average possession time in the competition, at 19min 4secOnly France (41) have used more players than Wales (38) in the Autumn Nations Cup. Italy (26) have used the fewestWales have the worst lineout success (72%) and scrum success (70%) in the tournament. Their 12 lost lineouts on their own throw is twice as many as any other sideGeorge North needs one try to stand alone as Wales’ second highest try-scorer behind Shane Williams. He is tied on 40 with Gareth ThomasThe omens are good – the winger has scored nine tries in nine matches against ItalyItaly have made nearly three times as many offloads as Wales in this year’s competition – 17 against sixThis will be Italy’s second Test against Wales in Llanelli. Their first, in 1998, saw them lose 23-20 in a match that marked the 72nd and final cap for Ieuan EvansOne of many: George North races away to score in 2016 – one of his nine tries against the Azzurri (Getty)What time does it kick off and is it on TV?Wales v Italy, Saturday 5 December, Parc y ScarletsThe match kicks off at 4.45pm and will be broadcast live on Amazon Prime and S4C. There is also match commentary on BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.If you’re outside the UK and Ireland, check out our guide to Autumn Nations Cup coverage around the world.There’s an Anglo-French officiating team for this one, with England’s Wayne Barnes the referee and Luke Pearce (RFU) and Alex Ruis (FFR) his assistants. TMO is Pascal Gauzere.In charge: Wayne Barnes sends off Italy’s Andrea Lovotti at last year’s Rugby World Cup (Getty Images)What are the line-ups?Wales: Liam Williams; Josh Adams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Louis Rees-Zammit; Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), James Botham, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Jonah Holmes.Italy: Jacopo Trulla; Luca Sperandio, Marco Zanon, Carlo Canna, Monty Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Luca Biga (capt), Giosué Zilocchi, Marco Lazzarone, Niccolò Cannone, Maxime Mbandà, Johan Meyer, Abraham Steyn.Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Simone Ferrari, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Cristian Stoian, 20 Michele Lamaro, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Federico Mori.last_img read more

Wales Autumn Nations Cup Squad 2020 – Team to Play Italy

first_imgThere’s a mix of the old and the new in Wayne Pivac’s selection for this campaign LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Backs Josh AdamsDan BiggarGareth DaviesJonathan DaviesLeigh HalfpennyKieran HardyJonah HolmesIoan LloydGeorge NorthRhys PatchellLouis Rees-ZammitCallum SheedyNick TompkinsOwen WatkinRhys WebbJohnny WilliamsLiam WilliamsWales Autumn Nations Cup Fixtures 2020Dates, kick-off times and TV details for Wales’ four Autumn Nations Cup matches…Round OneFriday 13 Nov, Ireland 32-9 Wales Related: James Lowe scores in Ireland’s win over WalesRound TwoSaturday 21 Nov, Wales 18-0 Georgia Related: Louis Rees-Zammit gets his first Test tryRound ThreeSaturday 28 Nov, Wales 13-24 England Related: England reach Autumn Nations Cup finalFinals WeekendSaturday 5 Dec, Wales 38-18 Italy Related: Old heads come to the fore as Wales beat ItalyHead here for the full Autumn Nations Cup fixtures list. World-record holder: Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones warms up at Parc y Scarlets (Getty Images) center_img  Wales Autumn Nations Cup Squad 2020Wales endured a disappointing Six Nations under new coach Wayne Pivac, losing four of their five matches, so they are looking to get back to winning ways in the Autumn Nations Cup.The tournament runs from 13 November to 6 December, with Wales travelling to Dublin to face Ireland in the opening fixture at the Aviva Stadium before playing three matches at Parc y Scarlets (their usual home venue, the Principality Stadium, is being decommissioned having been used as a field hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic).After losing to Ireland in their first match, Wales beat Georgia to end their losing run before being beaten by England. Now they will play in the fifth-place play-off against Italy.Pivac has made nine changes to the starting team for the visit of Italy, with Callum Sheedy and Kieran Hardy teaming up a half-back as they did against Georgia and George North starting at outside-centre. There’s also a new front row of Nicky Smith, Sam Parry and Tomas Francis.Wales Team to Play Italy – Saturday 5 DecemberLiam Williams; Josh Adams, George North, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit; Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), James Botham, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, Aaron Wainwright, Gareth Davies, Ioan Lloyd, Jonah Holmes.Wales Team to Play England – Saturday 28 NovemberLeigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Lloyd Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Taulupe Faletau.Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Aaron Wainwright, Rhys Webb, Callum Sheedy, Owen Watkin.Wales Team to Play Georgia – Saturday 21 NovemberLiam Williams; Johnny McNicholl, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit; Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Seb Davies, James Botham, Justin Tipuric (captain), Aaron Wainwright.Replacements: Sam Parry, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Davies, Rhys Webb, Ioan Lloyd, Jonah Holmes.Wales Team to Play Ireland – Friday 13 NovemberLeigh Halfpenny; Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Shane Lewis-Hughes, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Lloyd Williams, Callum Sheedy, George North.Wales Autumn Nations Cup Squad 2020ForwardsJake BallLeon BrownRhys CarreJames DaviesSeb DaviesElliot DeeRyan EliasTaulupe FaletauTomas FrancisCory HillAlun Wyn JonesWyn JonesSamson LeeDillon LewisShane Lewis-HughesJosh MacleodRoss MoriartyJosh NavidiSam ParryWill RowlandsNicky SmithJustin TipuricAaron Wainwright 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.last_img read more