SA rugby’s thoughts are with Joost van der Westhuizen

first_img“He was an outstanding Springbok and is a legend of our game – he will always have a place of honour in the history of Springbok rugby. He gave his all on the field for the teams he represented and – at his prime – was the best scrumhalf in world rugby. His current health problems are the cruellest twist of fate for one who was so athletic in his prime.”Van der Westhuizen retired from rugby after appearing in his third Rugby World Cup in 2003. He made what was a then record 89 Test appearances for the Springboks, captaining the team at the 1999 Rugby World Cup and on ten occasions in all. For a scrumhalf, he scored an extraordinary total of 38 tries in Tests, including two hat-tricks, and still shares the Springbok record with Bryan Habana. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union, offered rugby’s support and prayers to Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen on Friday, after it was announced that the former player had been struck done by a serious illness. The 40-year-old former Springbok captain was reported to be being treated for a serious muscle related neural disease.Mr Hoskins said: “We only have the media reports to go on at this moment, but the news about Joost’s health is distressing in the extreme. The thoughts and prayers of SARU, the Springboks and the South African rugby community are with Joost and those nearest and dearest to him at this challenging time.last_img read more

RBS 6 Nations: Wales analysis

first_imgNOT FOR FEATURED The ‘choke tackle’ seemed very aptly named after Saturday’s performance against Ireland – it suffocated much of Wales’ quick ball. It’s no secret that the Irish like to wrap the upper body in contact and force a maul, thereby increasing the chances of being awarded a scrum and their own feed. It was therefore genuinely surprising to see some of the Welsh ball-carriers approaching contact with such high body angles. Even when the Irish didn’t manage to keep the carrier in the air, it bought their defence an extra three or four seconds with which to reset their line. Sometimes getting to the ground is more important than making the extra yard.Shock at lock: Andrew Coombs impressedAndrew Coombs – take a bowAndrew Coombs was tremendous against Ireland and more than deserving of his first cap. In fact, they should present him with two caps for that one performance alone. Coombs had a 100% lineout completion and didn’t miss a tackle – but it was his ball-carrying that was so impressive. At points during the first half he wasn’t just carrying the ball, he carried the team, and his low body angle meant that he wasn’t once caught out by the ‘choke tackle’. Prior to the Ireland game Coombs’s selection raised a few eyebrows from Welsh fans; after Saturday’s performance the only raised eyebrows will be coming from his fellow second-rows in the Welsh camp. Coombs will be hard to drop for the France game.Handling errors are costly Too high: Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips is held up in a choke tackle by the Irish defence during Saturday’s defeatBy Paul WilliamsWALES’ DEFENCE of their Six Nations title didn’t get off to a good start with a 30-22 defeat by Ireland in Cardiff. Here are five things we learnt from the match…Too slow out of the blocksWales had a tremendous second half against Ireland. It was as well as they have played at any point during the last nine months. They dominated the entire period and forced the Irish to defend for 30 minutes. This unusually one-sided period meant that Wales finished the game with 65% of the territory and 63% of the possession. Wales carried the ball 512 metres compared to Ireland’s 210. They made twice as many clean breaks, beat nearly double the number of defenders and forced Ireland to make 176 tackles – Wales made just 101. But of course, none of this counts for anything and it masks the fact that Wales were out of the game after just 43 minutes. This disparity between first-half and second-half performance isn’t an isolated incident either – it was the same story against the All Blacks. A cure needs to be found for these schizophrenic first-half displays – and fast.Hands up: Toby Faletau makes a breakUp the offloadsWales’ offloading game was very impressive in the second half and it was as pleasurable to watch as it was effective. But there is something desperately frustrating about watching Wales offload the ball for parts of the game and not others. Currently the Welsh team only pass out of the tackle when they are desperate. But offloading the ball shouldn’t be a tactic that is dictated by emotion and desperation. Why should you only offload when the game seems lost? Wales are far more effective when they pass around defenders rather than simply running straight through them.Go low or get choked Jonathan Davies is a very good player. His angles of running are superb, so too his defence, but sadly at times, his handling isn’t. Not all of his passing should be called into question but he does occasionally struggle with his mid- to long-range passes. These are costly errors and stunted Wales’ ability to move the ball through the back-line. It’s the only aspect of his skill-set that’s stopping him from becoming one of the world’s top three centres. However, if Coombs is able pass the ball 20 yards, so too should your outside-centre.Follow Paul Williams on Twitter @thepaulwilliams LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Rugby Rant: Italy’s club game is dying!

first_imgBy Francesco Costantino ITALIAN RUGBY has sold its soul to the devil. In the name of high-level rugby, it has forgotten the club game.The development of players is now all in the hands of the federation (FIR) and the clubs’ power has been progressively erased, with the exception of Benetton Rugby, a black sheep not really loved by the establishment.Two wins in the Six Nations is a big thing, but new FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi should be worried about the terrible 17-12 defeat by Georgia in March in the U18 Championship. Who will be there after Parisse and Zanni? The reality is that there are no players in some roles; try to pick two Italian sides of the same strength. It’s impossible.The reign of Giancarlo Dondi, the ex-president, rewarded ineptitude. He surrounded himself with ‘yes-men’ more interested in money than Italian rugby, so the new government has been left with no able executives.In Italy there aren’t international rugby coaches or world-class executives, the standard of refereeing is bleak and national academies may not solve the problems. In Italian rugby at the moment, there are too many people interested only in money and not the growth of the game. Will Gavazzi give Italian rugby its soul back?This was published in the June 2013 edition of Rugby World. Click here to see what’s in the current issue. We’ve lost the values of rugby by chasing professionalism. The academy in Tirrenia is a hole where the boys don’t become men but only machines, a place where they train all the muscles except one: the brain.One of the federation’s worst ideas is progetta statura – that only big guys can play rugby. The academy focuses on building a physique – but what about other skills?The RaboDirect Pro12 is perfect for producing players for national sides, but in the most important club championship in Italy, the Eccellenza, the monetary reward for finishing in the top four means clubs field old players with much more experience rather than talented youngsters.The focus needs to be put back on the clubs, helping them to produce good players and good people. We’ve produced a generation of failed men, people without a scholastic education who hope to be a pro player – but in one of the world’s worst economic crises. Now we need to use rugby to educate players about real life.center_img LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Rugby Rant: European rugby letting down minnows

first_imgThe chances of outsiders rising to be contenders just receded further. Without games, how are they meant to step up? The first-ever European game involved a Romanian team but now, instead of opening up, the door’s pretty much been shut to them, and definitely to others like the Portuguese.With the top competition final being taken from Italy’s San Siro to Twickenham too, the pattern could not be clearer.Worse, established sides in Tier One nations are making it even less likely for lower-level clubs to step up. Brive, Saracens and Clermont have set up links in the Pacific Islands to feed into their academies. Cutting the European third tier harms the minnows, argues barrister Tim O’Connor Rare chance: Bucharest Wolves are one of the lucky few minnows to play European rugby LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Last year, one team in eight in Europe was from outside the three professional leagues. This year, it’ll be one in 20. At the most.Another day, another disappointment, as European Professional Club Rugby’s (EPCR) proposed third-tier event was quietly postponed until next year.The reserve price on French TV rights, ERC being asked back to run this year’s competitions, still waiting for fixtures for later rounds – missed targets are nothing new in EPCR’s brief history. This is particularly bad, though, because it hits the weakest hardest.Last season we heard a lot in the interminable fight over European club rugby – that the game had to be widened, new teams brought into the fold. The new regime promised a third tier to do just that. With the recent announcement – notably absent from EPCR’s site – that there will be no competition, we’ve seen that far from things getting better, they have got worse for those on the outside.We were told in March that Portugal, Russia, Spain and Belgium would all be joining the party. Instead, European rugby just became even more of a closed shop. Does anyone doubt Sarries’ signing up of teams in Romania and Georgia as feeders is any different, that the aim is to source players from Tier Two countries to feed their own needs?How Tier One unions and clubs treat their Tier Two counterparts is like a feudal relationship. Send men; know your place; be grateful for it. They are vassals, and are likely to remain so.last_img read more

The greatest blindsides of all time: Jean Prat

first_imgEarly in his tenure France recorded their first success against the All Blacks, Prat himself scoring the only try of a Paris win in 1954, and three Five Nations victories that season conferred (shared) Championship honours on France for the first time. France’s Jean Prat TAGS: The Greatest Players Major teams: LourdesCountry: FranceTest span: 1945-55Test caps: 51 (51 starts)Test points: 144 (9T, 27C, 15P, 6DG)French rugby suffered an inferiority complex as international rugby’s ‘also-rans’ for nearly 50 years before Jean Prat became their skipper in 1953. The olive-skinned, Lourdes-born flanker was the leader they had been crying out for and Five Nations glory soon materialised.Prat’s credentials for captaincy were impeccable. He had already inspired the miracle city to two French club titles before picking up the national reins, while as a seasoned Test player of courage, determination and stamina – legacies of his rural upbringing and experience as a cross-country runner – he led by example. Jean Prat was one of the greatest blindside flankers to ever play, the Frenchman scored 144 points in 51 Tests LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS There was another shared title in 1955 when Prat took them to the brink of a Grand Slam, Wales depriving them of the holy grail at the end of the season. He instigated a tight-marking policy with an attacking base off the back row, but his exhortations to do this, that and everything sometimes left colleagues bewildered. At Twickenham, prop Amédée Domenech felt so overwhelmed that, finding himself unexpectedly in possession, he threw the ball at his captain remarking: “Here, what can you do with it?” Prat dropped a goal to seal a 16-9 victory!All told, Prat won 51 caps for France between 1945 and 1955, scoring 144 Test points (a then-record for a forward) and was remarkably adept at dropping goals. After retirement, he coached Lourdes to further successes, was France’s technical adviser for a famous Test win in South Africa in 1964 and was so revered by his countrymen that they called him “Monsieur Rugby”. No Frenchman was ever more deserving of the title.last_img read more

The greatest hookers of all time: Peter Wheeler

first_imgHaving made his first-team bow in 1969, Wheeler finished on 349 appearances for Tigers. His ability was not consigned to domestic duty, though – far from it.By the time he met France on his Test debut in 1975, Wheeler had toured the Far East with England and been on standby for the 1974 Lions trip to South Africa. Peter Wheeler of England Major teams: Leicester 

Country: England
Test span: 1975-84
England caps: 48 (48 starts)

Lions caps: 7 (7 starts)
Test points: 0Adopting the role of chief executive at Leicester Tigers in January 1996 and moving to a director position 14 years later, Peter Wheeler is known to the current generation as an administrative heavyweight of European rugby.Since the advent of professionalism, he has helped uphold the traditions of a hugely proud club while maintaining a steady stream of silverware. For slightly older aficionados though, his on-field prowess and lengthy list of honours were even more impressive.The extracurricular activity around the pitch truly set him apart. Captaining Leicester to three consecutive John Player Cups between 1979 and 1981, he was integral to an innovative, expansive style of play.“We didn’t have the biggest pack of forwards at the time,” he would say on reflection two decades later. “But we were playing an open, attacking style of rugby that inspired people. We scored a lot of tries from all over the place.’ TAGS: The Greatest Players Peter Wheeler was tough and technically proficient. The England hooker was rarely bettered in the tight exchanges LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Some outstanding form for his country – he took four strikes against the head in a 23-6 defeat of Australia in 1976 – earned him a spot in the 1977 Lions squad and the then 28-year-old usurped Welshman Bobby Windsor to face the All Blacks three times.Only poor back play prevented the Lions taking the series and Wheeler was the heartbeat of Bill Beaumont’s dominant pack three years later in South Africa, when a 17-13 victory at Loftus Versfeld allowed the tourists to end the season on a high.last_img read more

2019 Rugby World Cup: Australia 27-8 Georgia

first_imgAustralia pulled off a lacklustre win against the Georgians in Group D 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. Follow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Related: Rugby World Cup TV CoverageThe reactionAustralian captain for the match, David Pocock:  Expand Japan 2019 was the Lelos’ fifth World Cup Australia Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Australia always seem to raise their game for… Georgia coach Milton Haig;  Georgia Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Expand TAGS: Georgia Rugby World Cup Groups The TeamsAustralia: Kurtley Beale (Dane Haylett-Petty 13); Jordan Petaia (Christian Lealiifano 57), James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Matt To’omua, Nic White (Will Genia 50); Scott Sio (James Slipper 57), Tolu Latu (Jordan Uelese 65), Sekope Kepu (Taniela Tupou 45), Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold (Rob Simmons 57), Jack Dempsey, David Pocock (captain) (Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 60), Isi Naisarani.Tries: White 23, Koroibete 60, Dempsey 76, Genia 79     Con: Toomua 2       Pen: Toomua 1Sin-bin: Naisarani 35Georgia: Soso Matiashvili; Giorgi Kveseladze, Davit Kacharava (Tamaz Mchedlidze 57), Merab Sharikadze (Lasha Malaguradze 71), Sandro Todua; Lasha Khmaladze, Gela Aprasidze (Vasil Lobzhanidze 50); Mikheil Nariashvili (Guram Gogichashvili 50), Shalva Mamukashvili (Jaba Bregvadze 50), Beka Gigashvili (Giorgi Melikidze, 50), Giorgi Nemsadze (Otar Giorgadze 60), Kote Mikautadze, Beka Saginadze, Mamuka Gorgodze, Beka Gorgadze (Giorgi Tkhilaishvili 57).Tries: Todua 70  Pen: Matiashvil 1 Australia Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Collapse Rugby World Cup Groups A rundown of the Rugby World Cup groups… 2019 Rugby World Cup: Australia v Georgia2019 Rugby World Cup: Australia 27-8 GeorgiaHead-to-headPlayed – 1Australia wins – 1Most recent meeting – This was the first meeting between the two sidesDid You Know?Mamuka Gorgodze got his 14th World Cup start and retired for the second time after the final whistle.Australia started their 11th different half-back combination since reaching the final at RWC 2015.Australia have won all 19 matches of their Rugby World Cup matches against Tier 2 nations.Related: Rugby World Cup FixturesIn a nutshellIt was a match largely dictated by tough conditions in Shizuoka today as the Wallabies laboured to a less than inspiring victory over Georgia. Wind and swirling rain, coupled with the humidity made the 80 minute affair error-strewn and very stop-start.Throughout the first 20 minute the Wallabies knocked on the European door consistently and with varying degrees of force but the men in white managed to hold them at bay. Unbelievably after just 23 minutes they had made 111 tackles. Unfortunately for them, probably the smallest player on the pitch, Nic White managed to burrow over the line to get the first try and first points of the match.The Georgians quickly responded with a penalty, and then gave one right back to Matt To’omua who slotted and gave the Australians a 10-3 lead heading into half-time.Coming back out for the second half the Wallabies had to play the first 5 minutes with 14 men as Isa Naisarani was finishing off his sin-binning after a high tackle on the 35th minute. Michael Cheika would have been pleased that they did not conceded any points in that period, but what he will be less pleased with was how disjointed and lacklustre the men in gold were.Marika Koroibete then put clear daylight between the two sides with a fine solo effort that illuminated his threat in broken play, and just how exhausted the Georgians looked. 10 minutes later Sandro Todua scored for Georgia which them the slimmest of hopes but they were dashed in the final five minutes as the Australians sealed the bonus point with tries from Jack Dempsey and Will Genia.Georgia will go home after failing to qualify for the knockouts whereas Australia will face England in the quarter-finals provided Wales beat Uruguay which seems pretty certain.Star man – Marika KoroibeteIn a game as difficult as this it is always problematic to pick a star player but Koroibete’s solo try and ability to create something out of nothing gets the nod for us. Georgia Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guidelast_img read more

Wales centre Nick Tompkins: “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made”

first_imgThe other off-field challenge has been all the extra attention, whether it be in mainstream media or social networking sites. The bigger the stage, the bigger the hype, so he’s had to learn how to deal with it all. In that regard, coming into the environment at 25 helps.Being at a club like Saracens, he’s seen many of his peers advance to international level while he’s had to wait – impatiently at times! – for a call-up. Yet an increased level of maturity has ensured he made a smooth transition when taking that step.“I wasn’t ready back then. I wasn’t ready mentally and I maybe wasn’t ready physically. Every path is different. I’m the same age as Maro Itoje and looking at his success, I was thinking, ‘Why am I not making it?’ I started doubting myself.“Looking back on those years from 22 to 24, it helped me immeasurably. I was blaming other factors and other people, so I stopped doing that and put the onus on what I was doing. I took control, focused on myself and changed my life.“I realised I couldn’t go on four-week holidays and not do anything! I worked a lot harder on my fitness. I got two proper pre-seasons under my belt and feel that’s the foundation for me getting fitter and stronger. I think things like that have been the biggest difference.“Now I’m trying to enjoy every second of it (playing for Wales). It’s been brilliant, amazing. I’ve been fortunate to play in Champions Cup games and finals at Saracens where the standard is not far away from Test quality; it’s the pressure that’s so much more.“The big learning for me is how much noise there is off the pitch – it’s ten times higher than a club game. I feel a lot more pressure to play well. Every little mistake is magnified and it’s hard not to dwell on that but I’ve got to get the next action in. I can’t let moments like the intercept pass (against France) define me; that’s not who I am and I’ve got to bounce back if I want to be the best.”Silver service: Nick Tompkins lifts the Gallagher Premiership trophy last year (Getty Images)Tompkins may have made errors in the Six Nations matches that were played – and it’s always harder when you’re compared to someone of such class as Jonathan Davies, for so long a fixture in the No 13 shirt – but he remained one of Wales’ most impressive performers as the team got to grips with a more attack-orientated style implemented by Pivac and Stephen Jones.He embraced that willingness to keep ball in hand and was one of the big running threats in the championship, ranking third for carries (43) and metres (296) of all players. He also has a knack for taking the ball into contact and emerging still in possession; some have described it as him being wriggly, he puts it down to his “fight”.When we next get to see Tompkins showing his wares on a rugby field is up in the air due to the widespread postponements. What is expected is for him to join Cardiff Blues on a loan deal next season – one of several such agreements following Saracens’ relegation to the Greene King IPA Championship for salary cap breaches.For all the highs of starting his international career, there are the lows of the club’s situation. “My overriding feeling is genuine sadness. Sadness that this group will probably split up and I won’t be able to play with these guys again; for some lads this will probably be their last year and this is how it’s ended.“It frustrates me that people still believe the only reason we won is because of money; you still need collectiveness, you still need love, you still have to put it all in. I get why people are angry, but it’s not just about money otherwise French teams would be running riot.”This Saracens journey may be coming to an end but his Wales one is just beginning. Midfield competition will increase when Davies returns from injury but Tompkins has already done enough to ensure he’s in the selection mix. Expect to see more of his exuberance on the pitch once play resumes. Wales centre Nick Tompkins: “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made”Nick Tompkins is as much a bundle of energy off the field as he is on it. The speed with which he talks is reminiscent of the turn of pace he demonstrates when exploiting a gap in the defensive line; his enthusiasm is as evident in conversation as when celebrating a try. There’s a real exuberance to all he does.We opt for an elbow bump as a greeting in these times of coronavirus and decide to kick things off with his verdict on that try. It’s a few days after Wales’ 33-30 defeat by England at Twickenham when Tompkins launched the length-of-the-field move from the second-half kick-off that resulted in Justin Tipuric crossing the whitewash.It’s been described as one of the great Six Nations tries, but the score at the forefront of Tompkins’s mind is the one he touched down against Italy on his Wales debut. “I saw the gap and was screaming at Dan (Biggar) to give me the ball as soon as possible because I thought the gap would close,” says the 25-year-old.“It was still there and I just went for it; the rest is history. The feeling going over was amazing – you never get that kind of thing back – and the lads have got into me about the celebration. A double fist pump!”So what of the incredible try against England? He’s watched it back a few times. Elliot Daly over-chases, allowing Tompkins to run clear, then he fixes another Saracens team-mate, George Kruis, before passing to Josh Navidi – “I did think, ‘What if I dummy and go myself?’ because it was George!”.The pass was the right option and he kept in support to get the ball back and ship it on to Tomos Williams before being tackled by Manu Tuilagi. He recovered from that hit in time to see Tipuric finish things off.Reflecting now, he says it was all done in the moment, on instinct. What took a little longer was opting to play for Wales. He represented England U20 and Saxons but was never ‘captured’, meaning he was still eligible for Wales through his grandmother.Saracens coach Alex Sanderson suggested recently that Tompkins had been overlooked by England because he was adjudged to be too small for Test level, but that was the first Tompkins himself had heard of it.He had a great experience with the Saxons in South Africa in 2016, under coaches Ali Hepher and Alan Dickens, but there had been no communication over the years from Eddie Jones or the England coaches.In contrast, he first had conversations with the Welsh set-up last season, while Warren Gatland was at the helm. Things intensified when Wayne Pivac took the reins post-World Cup and he was named in the Six Nations squad after opting for the feathers rather than the rose.On the ball: Nick Tompkins passes against England in the Six Nations(Getty Images)“It was a year in the making,” he says. “It was a huge decision because it could affect me moving away and it was a big challenge, but it’s turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.“I was talking to friends and family, and they all had different views. Some said I should wait (for England) and then lots said it was an opportunity too good to pass up. I ended up agreeing with that.“I went to a couple of Saracens team-mates for advice and they couldn’t be more excited for me. Alex Goode has been a really good sounding board and he said, ‘Don’t even hesitate – it’s a great opportunity, do it’. The coaches at Saracens were really positive about it as well. That really helped my decision.”He admits to being a little nervous coming into camp as an “outsider” but the warm welcome put him at ease, plus he had Saracens team-mates Liam Williams and Rhys Carré to help him settle in. Alun Wyn Jones’s faux pas in calling him ‘Neil’ when talking to Owen Farrell at the Six Nations launch ensured he was quick to receive a nickname too.Then there was his work on the anthem. He has a lot of Welsh cousins – he talks of fond memories of going to Llandudno Pier with gran Enid – and they gave him a phonetic version to help. “It took me an hour a day for two weeks to learn it and I was still terrible, so I got some pointers off Ken (Owens). I couldn’t come in and not have learnt it.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Nick Tompkins has no regrets about opting for Wales instead of England. Here the Saracens centre opens up on an eventful seasoncenter_img Debut delight: Nick Tompkins celebrates his try against Italy (Getty Images) This article originally appeared in the May 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more

Borthwick will get Tigers roaring again

first_imgSean Holley has analysed Steve Borthwick’s technical coaching in our August 2020 edition. If you can’t get to the shops to buy a copy, you can now order single issues online and get the magazine delivered direct to your door – click here and select Rugby World’s Aug-20 issue.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Make some noise: Jonny May, now back with Gloucester, celebrates scoring for Leicester in January (Getty) TAGS: Leicester Tigers LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Borthwick will get Tigers roaring againThe pandemic has hit Leicester Tigers in the pocket and on the pitch. Along with heavy losses and staff redundancies, star names Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May and Telusa Veainu are among those to have left the Gallagher Premiership strugglers this year.There is some bright news, however, because this month saw Steve Borthwick commence his tenure as head coach in a revamped coaching structure. On being appointed, he said: “What has been evident to me is that the pain caused by Tigers being where the club is on the table has been felt by everyone associated with this club – players, coaches, staff and supporters.“This is something we need to change. We will do so by pulling everyone who is a part of this club even tighter to the team and taking on opponents together.”Sean Holley, the former Ospreys and Bristol coach now working as a TV analyst, worked with Borthwick in 2015. He believes better times lie ahead for the Tigers, as he explains here…Much respected: Steve Borthwick holds court at an England press conference last spring (Getty Images)For many, the speedy rise to a head coach position for former England forward Steve Borthwick has not come as a surprise, writes Sean Holley. The uncompromising lock captained Bath and later led Saracens to their first Premiership title in 2010-11. He made 265 Premiership appearances, a record at the time, and played for England at every level.His undoubted leadership qualities were targeted by the then Japan coach Eddie Jones and Borthwick was catapulted into international coaching. Now, after nearly five years with the England set-up, two Six Nations titles, a Grand Slam, a Wallaby whitewash on Aussie soil, a successful Lions campaign and a World Cup final, Borthwick has become head coach at underachieving Premiership giants Leicester Tigers.There are few, if any, within the coaching fraternity that have anything other than good words to say about Borthwick’s coaching. I was lucky enough to work with him, albeit for a short period, at Bristol between Borthwick’s roles at Japan and England. His attention to detail is his USP. The often quiet and subtle way in which he empowers and galvanises his troops is something he has taken into his coaching ethos from his playing and captaincy days.Borthwick doesn’t have a gregarious personality – he doesn’t need to – as his work ethic, understanding of the game and the requirements to succeed are inspiration enough.Step by step: Borthwick up the ladder during England lineout training at Oita Stadium (Getty Images)As a forwards coach the old adage of ‘been there and done it’ does carry weight with a lot of players. That’s unquestioned with Steve Borthwick. As a player, his forensic understanding of the set-piece, and the almost nerd-like interest in the lineout in particular, was always going to lend itself to a coaching career.But imparting that knowledge and understanding to others as a coach is something quite different. He has a unique way of presenting information to a group of forwards that is not only informative but also entertaining and motivational. He is not afraid to use good examples of technique and tactics from other teams. Whilst he is very firm on the basics of the game, Borthwick is innovative and willing to listen but also challenge. The latter would have been mandatory under Jones, renowned as the hardest-working coach in world rugby and the most demanding on his staff. In Borthwick, Jones found the perfect understudy with a like-minded attitude, ethic and principles.Publicly Jones has lauded the detail with which Borthwick goes about his work. On Borthwick’s departure from the England set-up, the Australian was quoted as saying: “He created a great lineout for England and really developed the young guys.“If you look at someone like Maro Itoje, he’s become a world-class lock under Steve. He has also turned our maul into a weapon for us and he’s done brilliant work co-ordinating the England programme. We will miss him greatly.”Rare jewel: Maro Itoje developed into a world-class lock under Borthwick’s tutelage (Visionhaus/Getty)And yet prior to his departure, Jones moved Borthwick from England forwards coach to skills coach, allowing room for Matt Proudfoot. Many saw this as a demotion for Borthwick but Jones was simply making the most of Borthwick’s eye for detail – to further improve his players and on a more microscopic and analytical level.Leicester have been English champions ten times since leagues began in 1987-88 and been runners-up seven times. They have twice lifted the European Cup but had won only four of their 13 top-flight games before the 2019-20 Premiership season was suspended.In their radical and much needed shake-up, Geordan Murphy moves to director of rugby. Rob Taylor joins as attack coach from Sydney University and Mike Ford switches to defence coach. Brett Deacon will assist Ford and also Borthwick with the forwards, while Boris Stankovich continues as scrum coach. There’s a new head of physical performance in Aled Walters, a Welshman who helped steered the Springboks to World Cup glory.Staying put: scrum-half Ben Youngs has signed a long-term deal at Leicester Tigers (Getty Images)You sense the Tigers are ready to roar again. This will be a completely different challenge for Borthwick but I’m sure one he will embrace, still with tracksuit on, and bring the best out of the fallen giants.To move from Test coaching to club rugby is a risk for Borthwick. But he is clearly someone who loves a challenge and there is no better time to go to Leicester and make a difference.The Tigers are a proud club that is hurting but will quickly have to accept that some of their old ways just don’t work anymore. They will need to adopt the relentless scrutiny and harsh reality that is the attention to detail Steve Borthwick will bring. It may take some time but expect Leicester to be up there again. Steve Borthwick has swapped the hothouse of Test rugby for the pressure cooker of the Premiership. SEAN HOLLEY says Leicester have chosen their new head coach wiselylast_img read more

Who is Stuart Hogg: Ten things you should know about the Scotland full-back

first_img4. Hogg received back-to-back Player of the Six Nations awards, in 2016 and 2017, and is one of only two men to be given the accolade consecutively. The other is Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll, who was given the award in 2006 and 2007.How old is Stuart Hogg?5. He was born on 24 June 1992 in Melrose.6. Hogg was first called up by the British & Irish Lions in 2013 for their tour of Australia, when he was the youngest squad member and played five matches. He was also part of the 2017 tour to New Zealand, but played only two matches before being ruled out by a facial fracture – an injury suffered in an accidental collision with team-mate Conor Murray.7. Hogg’s brother Graham played for Scotland in the World Sevens Series.8. JK Rowling once said Hogg would be a squib in the Harry Potter universe, which means he is wizard born with no magical powers. However, the author later changed her statement and said the Scottish star would be a wizard.Related: Downtime with Stuart Hogg9. His guilty pleasure is watching Countdown and he says: “I’m the king of three- or four-letter words.”10. Hogg has a phobia of snakes. From famous relatives to his family life, we give you insight into the Scottish star Who is Stuart Hogg: Ten things you should know about the Scotland full-backStuart Hogg has been a regular for Scotland since he made his international debut aged just 19 against Wales in 2012 and he became captain of his country for the 2020 Six Nations.Here are a few other interesting facts about the full-back.Ten things you should know about Stuart Hogg1. Stuart Hogg is distantly related to England football legend George Best. Interestingly, he only found out the news after making his debut for Scotland in 2012 as a relative of Best saw Hogg play on TV.Hogg said at the time: “It turns out my granny’s granny was the sister of George’s great-grandfather.”2. Hogg got married in 2016 to long-term partner Gill and they have three children together, Archie, Olivia and George.Who does Stuart Hogg play for?3. He has played for two clubs in his professional career – Glasgow Warriors (2010-19) and Exeter Chiefs (2019-). He helped Exeter to do the double in his first season as the club lifted both the European Cup and Premiership trophies. Stuart Hogg is selected to play out of position at fly-half against Italy (Getty Images) 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