Michael Aylwin

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Maro Itoje says Saracens machine purring again before Wasps semi-final

• England flanker believes Saracens are firing at the right time• Billy Vunipola is back for Premiership showdown with WaspsSaracens have won the second halves of their past four matches by a 149-0 aggregate. Their average scoreline in the same four ga…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/may/18/maro-itoje-saracens-wasps-premiership-semi-final

Owen Farrell ready for England’s ‘brilliant tour’ to South Africa

• ‘The key is to be ready for anything,’ says tour captain• Saracens play-off with Wasps still uppermost in Farrell’s mindOwen Farrell is relishing the prospect of England’s summer trip to South Africa. The tour captain took time out of Saracens’ prepa…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/may/16/england-captain-owen-farrell-south-africa-tour-saracens

Second place in the Six Nations is no reason for Wales to pop any corks

• ‘We were happy to win ugly against France,’ says Taulupe Faletau• Coach Warren Gatland must explore new ideas on tour of AmericasLike all the coaches bar Joe Schmidt, like all the teams bar Ireland, Warren Gatland and Wales finished the Six Nations C…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/mar/18/rugby-union-six-nations-wales-second-place-france

Ireland prepare for Scotland and chance to secure the Six Nations a week early

Joe Schmidt’s leading men face a tough task at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, when the ebullient Scots are in town and with title-winning ambitions of their ownIt could be over by Saturday evening. Ireland, indeed, could all but slam the door on anyone…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/mar/09/ireland-scotland-six-nations-rugby-union-preview

Joe Schmidt: Ireland will still have to ‘roll up sleeves’ to win Six Nations

• Coach staying calm in face of expectation after weekend results• ‘We live in a bit of a bubble; the guys won’t get too excited’Suddenly this Six Nations is Ireland’s to lose. Take maximum points at home to Scotland – as, for example, Wales did, the t…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/feb/26/ireland-joe-schmidt-six-nations-roll-up-sleeves

Gregor Townsend shakes up Scotland as redemption sought against France | Michael Aylwin

Coach has made six changes after chastening defeat in Wales while the visitors look to salve their own pain of defeat by IrelandThe anguished will gather in Edinburgh on Sunday. France suffered the most agonising of defeats in round one, scuppered by t…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/feb/10/scotland-france-six-nations-gregor-townsend-six-changes

France’s Matthieu Jalibert will end 50-year wait for a teenage No 10 | Michael Aylwin

The Bordeaux Bègles imp has carved up enough men in his first season in the Top 14 to make his selection for Saturday’s match against Ireland feel like a natural opening gambitNot even Jonny Wilkinson started a championship match at fly-half while stil…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/feb/02/rugby-ireland-france-six-nations-matthieu-jalibert

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

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

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

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

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