• Ireland forward had claimed a whitewash of the All Blacks was feasible• Wales coach rules out third spell in charge of Lions on 2021 tourWarren Gatland said he was hurt by Sean O’Brien’s public criticism of the coaching on the summer British & Ir…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/16/warren-gatland-sniping-lions-flanker-sean-obrien
The England captain will take nothing for granted when he goes head to head with the Sarries hooker in Northampton’s Champions Cup openerGood is the word Dylan Hartley eventually settles on when asked how his right hand was after bruising kept him out …
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/14/dylan-hartley-jamie-george-england-rivals-northampton-saracens-champions-cup
Hooker, who took advice off a magician last week, admits he needs to work on his leadership qualities to nail a starting place in the England teamJamie George started three Tests for the Lions in the summer, but the Saracens hooker looks destined to re…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/11/jamie-george-saracens-england-eddie-jones
The serialisation of a new book by Rob Andrew has taken discussions back a few years but England need to be looking to the futureOn Monday, the day before the second anniversary of his final match as England’s head coach, Stuart Lancaster was still dea…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/11/england-stuart-lancaster-eddie-jones-rugby-union
Last season’s finalists go to Saracens on Sunday having lost three of their five matches and their director of rugby, Dai Young, admits standards have slipped
Losing the Premiership final is becoming a curse. Like Exeter last season and Bath the year before Wasps have lost three of their first five Premiership matches and defeat at Saracens on Sunday would dump them in their worst run since 2014.
Wasps started with victories over two clubs who finished in the bottom three last season, Sale and Worcester, but then lost to Harlequins and Bath at home with a 14-point reverse away to the team who defeated them in the final in May, Exeter, sandwiched between.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/07/wasps-premiership-saracens-dai-young
• McCall: ‘It would be sensible to talk to all parties’
• Premiership Rugby proposing a 10-month season from 2019-20
Saracens’ Mark McCall, director of rugby at England’s most successful club this decade, believes coaches should be given a central role in the dispute over the length of the season that has prompted players to consider going on strike.
Premiership Rugby intends to run the domestic campaign over 10 months from 2019-20, starting in September and running until the end of June when international players will go on international tours. The Rugby Football Union has said it is a decision for the Professional Game Board, not clubs, but McCall wants those at the sharp end to have a say. “It would seem to be sensible to talk to all the parties who can contribute to the debate,” he said. “Directors of rugby should definitely be involved, the players as well. At the moment, you are reliant on your Premiership representative on the board to represent the collective view of the clubs, but this is an important issue for everyone.”
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/30/mark-mccall-saracens-premiership-rugby
• Eddie Jones’s starting fly-half says competition for places is good
• Ford tells teenage pretender to remember why the coach picked him
George Ford has told the latest player to challenge for his England fly-half jersey, the 18-year old Marcus Smith who trained with the national squad in Oxford last week, to be himself and never lose sight of why he was selected.
The pair faced each other on the day before the England squad met up when Leicester defeated Harlequins at The Stoop on an afternoon when the two outside-halves showcased their talent in front of the watching national head coach, Eddie Jones, although Smith departed early with a leg injury.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/30/george-ford-encouragement-england-no10-marcus-smith
Veteran Wales forward says Bath have taken measures to address last season’s terrible away record but they must cut out the individual errors at the Ricoh
Luke Charteris is one of international rugby’s longest‑serving players but in a season when he turns 35, and at a time when playing careers are getting shorter because of the physical demands of the sport, retirement is far from the Wales second row’s thoughts.
Charteris was first capped in 2004, two years after Juan-Martín Hernández, Sergio Parisse and Gethin Jenkins and the same year as Rory Best, and has won 74 caps. Tall (he is 6ft 9in) and lithe, he looks pretty much now as he did when he made his first appearance in senior rugby, for Newport in 2002, and in the last year of his contract with Bath he is looking to secure an extension.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/30/luke-charteris-bath-wasps-wales
• Organisers believe there is not enough ‘meaningful’ opposition
• Premiership clubs concerned about workload of leading players
The British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 will be cut to eight matches in a move that will be welcomed by England’s Premiership clubs, but future trips could be restored to 10 fixtures with the four home unions keeping their options open.
Talks with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa about an agreement to cover the three tours in the next 12 years are approaching a conclusion. The Lions have come under pressure from the Premiership, which secured the backing of the Rugby Football Union, to cut the duration of tours and reduce the load on leading players.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/24/lions-reduce-fixtures-2021-south-africa-tour
Head coach wants more attacking ingenuity in his team to close the gap on the All Blacks and he will cast his net wide to find exceptional talents
Eddie Jones has given himself a licence to skill. The coach who plucked Matt Giteau from the obscurity of club rugby in Canberra at the start of the decade to make him a Wallaby sees the same potential in the Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith, who this week links up with the England squad for the training camp in Oxford.
Marcus Smith has a feel for the game: he understands it and what he is going to do. He does things no one tells him to
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/23/skilful-marcus-smith-eddie-jones-england-vision
• ‘I was surprised and disappointed; it was a tour when everyone stuck together’
• Disciplinary action ruled out over view about coaches on New Zealand tour
John Spencer, the manager of the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand this summer, said he was “surprised and disappointed” at the critical remarks made by the Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien about Warren Gatland and one of the head coach’s assistants, Rob Howley, but ruled out initiating disciplinary action against the player, who started all three Tests.
The tourists drew a series they were widely expected to lose, becoming only the second Lions party not to lose a rubber in New Zealand, but in a radio interview O’Brien said he was critical of the management because he felt “we should have won it comfortably”. He claimed the players were overtrained on the Thursday before the first Test and said Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton took over the attack coaching for the second Test because Howley was struggling to get his message across.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/21/lions-manager-john-spencer-hits-back-sean-o-brien-criticism-drawn-series-new-zealand
Wasps’ director of rugby has taken charge of the scrum and raised standards but Ashley Johnson knows Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler will be a step up in class
Wasps lost last season’s Premiership final to Exeter two minutes from the end of extra time when they were penalised for collapsing a scrum and, at a time when sides are looking to play with more adventure following rule changes designed to stimulate attacking instincts, European rugby’s greater entertainers have gone back to basics.
Not that Wasps are turning into the Argentina of old, all set piece and sinew, but the not uncommon sight last season of a retreating scrum was too much for their director of rugby, Dai Young, who in his playing days as a prop went on three Lions tours and established a reputation as one of the game’s leading scrummagers.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/16/dai-young-wasps-forwards-harlequins-lions-ashley-johnson
Saracens still look the team to beat and Exeter have a lot to live up to while Newcastle and Worcester will be looking to maintain their progress of last term
Coach Todd Blackadder
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/31/premiership-2017-18-rugby-team-by-team-preview
Disparity in income generated in Europe leaves southern hemisphere countries hoping for some form of shared revenue from internationals
It has been another British summer when the jet stream has moved too far to the south and, as the European club seasons start, climate change is being felt with the southern hemisphere shivering in a chill wind.
Australia’s capitulation in Sydney a week ago, when they conceded a record number of points to the All Blacks, would ordinarily have led to strident demands for Michael Cheika to be sacked as head coach. Even if there was little excuse for some abject defending, especially after how the Lions took on the World Cup holders in the summer, there is an appreciation that Australia’s problems are structural.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/28/new-zealand-southern-hemisphere-player-exodus-shared-revenue
• Pair of South African sides entering Pro 14 not currently eligible for Europe
• ‘Our teams playing in Europe will be a process that will take two or three years’
The South African Rugby Union wants its teams who have joined the Pro 14 to compete in Europe in the coming seasons.
The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings linked up with the three Celtic unions and Italy after losing their places in Super Rugby, with the South African Rugby Union signing them up for an initial six years. If one of them wins the league this season, though, there will be no European Champions Cup place.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/23/sa-rugby-european-champions-cup-cheetahs-southern-kings
All Blacks captain with a reputation as one of the hardest, most uncompromising players in rugby union
Few sportsmen or sportswomen have so defined their country as did Colin Meads, the former New Zealand rugby captain, who has died at the age of 81. A man uncomfortable with fame, he early in his career described himself as a “country hick in the big time” and saw himself as a father first, a farmer second and an All Black incidentally.
Meads’ international career spanned 14 years and covered three decades, from his debut against Australia in 1957 to his final appearance against the 1971 Lions when he was 35. He broke his back later that year in a car crash and his body was encased in plaster, but typical of a man who had played on against Eastern Transvaal in 1970 after suffering a broken arm, and who had returned to the field against France in 1967 after being viciously kicked in the head as he lay on the ground, he was back on the field within five months. He was expected to tour the British Isles in the autumn of 1972, only to make himself unavailable because of differences with the New Zealand coach Bob Duff.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/21/sir-colin-meads-obituary