Michael Aylwin

Author's posts

Nov 12

Jonathan Davies injury leaves Wales cursing their luck after latest Australia defeat

• Key centre could miss rest of autumn series after damaging his ankle • Kurtley Beale’s controversial try seals 13th loss in a row against WallabiesOne might have thought all would be overshadowed by a 13th consecutive defeat against opponents who, wh…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/nov/12/wales-jonathan-davies-injury-australia-autumn-series

Oct 31

New Zealand’s Jerome Kaino ready to return after ‘a lot of lessons’

• Flanker back in All Blacks fold after losing place following extramarital affair• Kaino keen to face Barbarians, his first opponents for New Zealand in 2004The All Blacks’ first match after a defeat is a sufficiently rare event to raise expectations …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/31/new-zealand-jerome-kaino-barbarians

Oct 08

Bloodied Jack Nowell an injury concern for Exeter as Sam Simmonds impresses

• Exeter unsure of extent of damage to Nowell’s cheek• Simmonds’s try against Newcastle was his fifth in as many appearancesExeter’s brief return to the top of the Premiership, of which they are the champions, was marred by the uncertainty over an inju…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/08/exeter-jack-nowell-injury-sam-simmonds

Sep 07

Premiership’s brilliant start should not blind us to rugby’s yellow fever

The modern first-class player is the cleanest incarnation of the breed and yet by far the most punished by the referee. The sanctification of the airborne player is especially ludicrousRugby is brilliant these days. There are more than a few out there …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/07/the-breakdown-premiership-yellow-cards

Jul 10

It won’t happen any time soon but why shouldn’t the Lions tour Argentina? | Michael Aylwin

If rugby in the Americas continues to improve, a Lions tour of Argentina, USA and Canada in 16 years’ time should be seriously considered

The concept of the Lions is glowing in the aftermath of an exhilarating series, but give it a few months and the usual questions will return. One of the trickier ones is, what is the Lions for?

It was, after all, born in the amateur era, when men were men, and jobs were inconveniences from which to take a three-month break for some rugby in a far-off land. Times have changed, and so have Lions tours, those long, immersive adventures through another country, building slowly and deliciously towards a Test series, now compacted into a furious six-week fling of suffocating intensity.

Related: Lions 2017: Guardian writers present their awards for the New Zealand tour

Related: Lions did themselves proud against New Zealand – a draw was a fair result | Nick Evans

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/10/lions-tour-argentina-usa-canada-rugby-union

Jul 08

Warren Gatland’s achievements make case to be the next All Blacks coach | Michael Aylwin

Critics attack his teams for playing Warrenball but as the only unbeaten Lions coach of the professional era Gatland has shown yet again he gets results

He would not rule it out, but nor was he chomping at the bit for another shot. Warren Gatland refused to be drawn on the prospect of another Lions tour. “I don’t know,” he said. “There’s been a lot of water under the bridge.” For now, obviously, he is just thinking about Wales, the autumn and preparing for the World Cup in two years’ time. Whether he is in position to take on another Lions tour in 2021 remains to be seen.

It is a scarcely guarded secret that he has his eye on the All Blacks job. And the All Blacks are said to have theirs on him. His contract with Wales runs to the World Cup, Steve Hansen’s with New Zealand until then, too. Hansen has said he will step down, sparking the mother of all struggles for the job.

Related: Lions and All Blacks tie thrilling final Test and series

Related: New Zealand 15-15 British & Irish Lions: third Test player ratings

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/08/warren-gatland-lions-all-blacks-next-coach

Jun 03

Dylan Hartley puts Lions behind him to lead young England side in Argentina | Michael Aylwin

The England captain insists he has no regrets over missing the Lions squads in 2013 and 2017 and is focused on guiding a youthful squad on tour

If he had a cap for every week he has been banned, Dylan Hartley would still be a veteran, on 60. As it is, the England captain – barring injury, Lions call-up or, perish the thought, suspension – is about to win caps 85 and 86. Had he been a good boy, he would be on 100-plus by now. And he would be a Lion, certainly in 2013, possibly even now.

Regrets? “No,” he says, quietly but firmly. “It doesn’t define me. I’m OK with it.”

Related: Matt Mullan stakes England claim as Eddie Jones seeks edge over Argentina

Related: Nathan Earle gets inexperienced England started in win over Barbarians

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/03/dylan-hartley-puts-lions-behind-him-to-lead-young-england-side-in-argentina

May 26

Wasps’ Danny Cipriani takes ‘better brain’ into Premiership final | Michael Aylwin

The fly-half has matured and curbed his more rebellious instincts with the club looking for their first Premiership title since 2008 as they face Exeter

It is a common storyline in sport, and it is common in life, legend and literature. The brilliant youth; the effortless, vertiginous rise; the prosaic, enraging restrictions; the exile and fall.

And then – well, it depends on our hero. Icarus fell straight into the sea, but Danny Cipriani came again. As he prepares to step out at Twickenham for Wasps’ first tilt at the Premiership title since the final days of the Lawrence Dallaglio era in 2008, he is better than ever, more measured, more in tune with those around him, more of a fly-half.

Related: Wasps go to Premiership final as Josh Bassett’s late try floors Leicester

Related: Leinster zip past Wasps in Champions Cup as Joey Carbery impresses

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/26/wasps-danny-cipriani-better-brain-premiership-final