• Club’s director of rugby also distances himself from 2021 Lions position• Toulon claim Rhys Webb has already signed for them for next yearMark McCall has in effect ruled himself out of contention to take over as England or Ireland head coach in 2019 …
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/17/mark-mccall-test-saracens-2021-lions-toulon
• RFU report shows rise in top-flight tackles and involvements since changes• ‘A full season of data will be needed to make a full analysis’ – World RugbyWorld Rugby says it is too early to draw a link between the spate of injuries suffered in the Prem…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/12/world-rugby-cautions-against-link-between-premiership-injuries-and-law-changes-rugby-union
• Dark grey design is 10th strip released in just over three years
• Marc dal Maso named scrum consultant on a 12-month contract
England have unveiled a dark grey alternate kit – the 10th replica shirt released by the Rugby Football Union in a little over three years – which is likely to be worn in just one Test by Eddie Jones’s side.
The new kit, which follows the release of a new home jersey in August, replaces the blue strip worn by England in both summer Tests against Argentina as well as last autumn against Fiji and the Pumas.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/06/england-new-alternate-kit-may-only-be-worn-once
The Harlequins player benefited from Billy Vunipola’s injury in returning to Eddie Jones’s squad and now wants to cement his international place
If James Haskell is “halfway down a cliff, holding on to a shrub” when it comes to his England ambitions, as the Wasps flanker remarked this week, it is less clear where Jack Clifford is positioned on the precipice.
The 24-year-old Harlequin was identified by Eddie Jones early in his tenure as one of the leading candidates for the No7 jersey, only for Haskell to find the kind of form that made him impossible to leave out. Clifford then slipped further behind by missing the June tour of Argentina after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/05/jack-clifford-england-harlequins-eddie-jones
• Sinckler calls incident against Northampton ‘genuine mistake’
• Harlequins man set to miss all of England’s autumn internationals
The Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler is almost certain to miss England’s autumn international campaign after receiving a seven-week ban for eye-gouging Northampton’s Michael Paterson.
The 24-year-old accepted the charge of making contact with Paterson’s eye last Saturday and will miss England’s autumn matches against Argentina and Australia. Sinckler is free to play again on 21 November, four days before England conclude their autumn fixtures against Samoa, but he is highly unlikely to feature in that match, considering the lack of game time he will have had.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/03/kyle-sinckler-seven-match-ban-making-contact-eye-harlequins-northampton-premiership-england-rugby
• 24-year-old out of contract next summer and wanted by the Chiefs
• Lozowski behind Owen Farrell at Sarries and keen for first-team action
Exeter look set to win the race to sign the Saracens and England fly-half Alex Lozowski in a deal believed to be worth £350,000 a year. Lozowski is out of contract in the summer and has been linked with a move to his former club Wasps but the Observer understands the Chiefs are poised to land the 24-year-old’s signature for next season.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/30/exeter-saracens-alex-lozowski-fly-half
Tigers once provided the blueprint for Exeter but the teams meet on Saturday with the Chiefs threatening to leave their opponents behind
When Leicester last won the Premiership title it was at precisely this stage of the season in 2012 that they welcomed Exeter to Welford Road and promptly sent them packing back down to the West Country, tails between their legs. In the five years since, the sides’ relative progress has been nigh-on diametrically opposed – Exeter have soared, Leicester stagnated.
The comparison between the two is relevant because their similarities are abundant. Both attempt to live within their means, there are rarely many empty seats when either play at home and both clubs have an earthiness to them. Not so long ago Leicester provided the blueprint for Saturday’s visitors, now the Chiefs are threatening to leave them behind.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/29/leicester-exeter-rugby-premiership-clubs-opposite-directions
• Harlequins full-back underwent a scan after recurrence of injury
• Brown could be doubtful for England’s autumn internationals
Eddie Jones could lose Mike Brown for England’s autumn internationals after the Harlequins director of rugby, John Kingston, conceded he is in the dark over the extent of the full-back’s ankle injury.
Brown underwent a scan on the ankle on Wednesday after reaggravating the problem, first suffered 10 days ago, against Leicester on Saturday. Kingston confirmed Brown required a protective boot following Harlequins’ loss against the Tigers and that he will miss out at Northampton on Saturday.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/27/england-mike-brown-injury-harlequins
• Teenage fly-half excelled in last week’s win over Wasps
• ‘What I would like to find is someone like a Milner-Skudder’
Eddie Jones has said the teenage fly-half Marcus Smith can be England’s “X-factor rookie” for the 2019 World Cup but warned the Harlequins No10 he will spend most of next week’s training camp “polishing boots”.
The 18-year-old has made only two Premiership starts for Harlequins, including a man-of-the-match performance against Wasps last weekend, but he was on Friday named in Jones’ 33-man squad for the three-day training camp in Oxford. In total Smith has played 196 minutes of Premiership rugby but he shone in the win over Wasps, kicking 14 points including two crucial late penalties.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/eddie-jones-marcus-smith-england-world-cup-x-factor-rookie
• 11 of England’s 15 Lions included in pre-autumn internationals squad
• Sinckler’s omission a surprise considering he played in all three Lions Tests
The British & Irish Lions Jonathan Joseph, James Haskell and Kyle Sinckler are among the high-profile absentees from England’s 33-man training squad with Eddie Jones also omitting Denny Solomona from the get-together in Oxford.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/england-rugby-union-squad-eddie-jones
• Ireland flanker says squad was ‘over-trained’ before Tests
• ‘I think we should have won the tour – probably comfortably’
Seán O’Brien has blamed Warren Gatland and his coaching staff for the British & Irish Lions’ failure to win their series in New Zealand over the summer, claiming they should have comfortably done so.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/20/lions-all-blacks-2017-tour-warren-gatland-sean-obrien-should-have-won
• RFU outvoted by five to one at Six Nations board meeting
• Victory for player welfare after opposition from Joe Marler and others
The Rugby Football Union’s hopes of reducing the Six Nations Championship from seven weeks to six are in effect dead in the water after it emerged the governing body was outvoted five to one at a Six Nations board meeting this week.
Despite widespread opposition from a number of senior England players, the RFU had been pushing for the removal of one of the two rest weeks during the Six Nations from the 2019-20 season onwards but failed to attract any support from the other five unions at the vote.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/20/rfu-attempt-reduce-six-nations-six-weeks-defeated
Our first power rankings since the 2015 World Cup mark two years to go until Japan 2019. England lead the chasing pack while Australia and Wales struggle
Before the All Blacks’ record 57-0 victory over South Africa, Steve Hansen felt the need to defend his side’s uneven performances in 2017. The response was emphatic. It used to be the case that the All Blacks peaked at this stage of the World Cup cycle but Hansen is adamant they will improve in the next two years. Twelve months ago they struggled to maintain their remarkable form through the autumn and as they have crammed five matches into their schedule this year, an upset is not out of the question. But if New Zealand’s halos have slipped just a little – on and off the pitch – they remain the standard bearers of world rugby.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/sep/20/rugby-union-international-power-rankings-all-blacks-england
• France bidding for 2023 tournament with Ireland and South Africa
• French bid leader: ‘I think rugby will die in five-10 years if we do nothing’
France has promised to prevent the “death of international rugby” if it is awarded the 2023 World Cup and has claimed a successful bid would help in attempts to stop its Top 14 clubs luring southern hemisphere players to Europe.
France, whose bid includes a guarantee to World Rugby of nearly £500m, is vying with Ireland and South Africa to host the 2023 tournament and each will make presentations to the voting unions next Monday before a final decision is revealed on 15 November.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/19/france-rugby-world-cup-2023
• Harlequins prop escapes censure for antics against Wasps at Ricoh Arena
• England and Lions team-mates had to be pulled apart
Joe Marler has been reprimanded for his spat with James Haskell during Harlequins’ victory against Wasps but the England prop is not facing a suspension.
Marler has been given a citing commissioner’s warning for his role in the incident – pulling at Haskell’s scrum cap and squirting his England and Lions team‑mate with water – in an acknowledgement that the 27-year-old was deserving of a yellow card at the time. Marler’s actions were considered to be contrary to good sportsmanship.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/18/joe-marler-james-haskell-fight-suspended
• Former Wales fly-half fills the void left by George Ford
• ‘I could see myself finishing up at Bath. I’ve got two years left’
Rhys Priestland has stepped “out of the shadows and into the light”, according to the Bath director of rugby, Todd Blackadder. However, the fly-half believes the prospect of a comeback for Wales this autumn remains bleak.
Freddie Burns had been expected to take the Bath No10 jersey but Priestland has been among the sharpest performers of the opening two weeks of the Premiership, guiding his side to consecutive victories, and he keeps his place at Northampton on Friday.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/14/rhys-priestland-bath-wales-rugby