Paul Rees

Author's details

Name: Paul Rees
Date registered: October 11, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/south-africa-rugby-team

Latest posts

  1. Eddie Jones says rugby can learn to improve fitness from other sports — August 5, 2017
  2. British & Irish Lions’ tour: Five things we learned from tour of New Zealand | Paul Rees — July 9, 2017
  3. The Lions are priceless: meddle too much and they will become an endangered species | Paul Rees — July 9, 2017
  4. Referee Romain Poite will be strict but fair in final Test of Lions tour | Paul Rees — July 7, 2017
  5. Five key issues ahead of decider between New Zealand and the Lions | Paul Rees — July 3, 2017

Author's posts listings

Aug 05

Eddie Jones says rugby can learn to improve fitness from other sports

• England coach spent time with team Orica-Scott during Tour de France
• ‘I am not saying rugby is soft but that we do not know how far we can go’

As he approaches the halfway mark of his contract as England’s head coach, Eddie Jones has spent the summer watching other sports and talking to coaches as he plots ways of improving the fitness levels of his players before the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Under Jones, England have risen from World Cup failures to second in the world rankings behind New Zealand. Part of their success has been down to their improved endurance, which has seen them finish matches strongly, a characteristic of the All Blacks, but their head coach is demanding more.

Related: Eddie Jones: Manu Tuilagi is only England player able to demolish All Blacks

Related: Two former NRL stars among seven uncapped players in Wallabies squad

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/05/eddie-jones-fitness-team-orica-scott-tour-de-france

Jul 09

British & Irish Lions’ tour: Five things we learned from tour of New Zealand | Paul Rees

Are the All Blacks, who are used to flattening every team they face, actually starting to flatline, as England close in on them at the top of the global rankings ahead of the 2019 World Cup?The players voted Jonathan Davies the Lion of the tour af…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/09/five-things-british-lions-tour-new-zealand

Jul 09

The Lions are priceless: meddle too much and they will become an endangered species | Paul Rees

The likely reduction of tour matches for the trip to South Africa in 2021 sets a dangerous precedent and overlooks the impact Lions series have both at home and abroadWhen Warren Gatland submits his report on the tied Lions series in New Zealand to the…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/09/lions-tour-priceless-2021-south-africa-rugby-union

Jul 07

Referee Romain Poite will be strict but fair in final Test of Lions tour | Paul Rees

Romain Poite is one of the best referees in world rugby and has shown he is not afraid to take difficult decisions in decisive Tests

French referees used to have a reputation for being homers, one reason away victories used to be so rare in the Top 14, but there are few officials New Zealand supporters dread seeing more than Romain Poite, who will take charge of the third and decisive Test against the British & Irish Lions, as he did in Australia in 2013.

Poite plays it straight and is not distracted by location or reputation, along with his compatriot Jérôme Garcès, who controlled the second Test in Wellington and had no compunction in sending off Sonny Bill Williams for a reckless, dangerous tackle despite the urging of a television match official to have a rethink.

Related: Lions beat New Zealand on tiniest of margins, and a thrilling finale awaits | Nick Evans

Related: Australia 16-41 Lions | Third Test match report

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/07/referee-romain-poite-strict-fair-final-test-lions

Jul 03

Five key issues ahead of decider between New Zealand and the Lions | Paul Rees

The British & Irish Lions have momentum after their memorable win in Wellington, but the All Blacks will be charged up by defeatNew Zealand rarely lose and hardly ever at home. Just as the British & Irish Lions burned with desire and determinat…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/03/five-key-issues-ahead-of-decider-between-new-zealand-and-the-lions

Jul 01

All Blacks 21-24 Lions: where the second Test was won and lost | Paul Rees

Warren Gatland’s men embraced the weather, played what was in front of them and dominated the breakdown to turn the tables on New Zealand

The turning point was not so much the sending-off of Sonny Bill Williams but the yellow card Mako Vunipola received 15 minutes into the second half, when New Zealand had taken control. The Lions had struggled with a man advantage, failing to take the initiative, but when it was 14 versus 14 they started playing like the All Blacks, scenting weakness and moving in for the kill.

Related: Mako Vunipola’s let off allows Lions to edge past ferocious All Blacks | Andy Bull

Related: New Zealand 21-24 British & Irish Lions: second Test player ratings

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/01/all-blacks-lions-second-test-tactics

Jun 26

The key areas the Lions must focus on to recover against All Blacks | Paul Rees

Outwitted rather than overpowered, the Lions now need to increase the intensity and work on other facets of their game if they are to stage a memorable fightback in the Test series Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/26/lions-all-blacks-test-series-wellington

Jun 24

Kieran Read spearheads enigmatic New Zealand’s latest surprise against Lions | Paul Rees

The All Blacks proved themselves masters of the unexpected during their 30-15 victory, dominating possession and reducing the Lions to counterattacks

When it comes to the All Blacks, what you see is not always what you get. The Lions had used their pressing game to telling effect against the Crusaders and the Maori, forcing them to play behind the gainline and making offloads hazardous, but by narrowing the point of attack and playing through their scrum-half rather than their outside-half New Zealand were able to recycle ball quickly and dictate the pace of the game.

Analysts play a major role in the preparation of teams, but trying to figure out New Zealand involves journeys up dead ends. The All Blacks are like a batsman in commanding form: move a fielder and the ball will invariably be dispatched into the space vacated. While their overall policy remains the same, manoeuvering the ball into space and giving the ball-carrier options, they are far from one-dimensional and have a mastery of the basics.

Related: New Zealand and Rieko Ioane run away with first Test against Lions

Related: Liam Williams’ 19 seconds of magic inspires Lions but proves false dawn | Andy Bull

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/24/kieran-read-spearhead-enigmatic-new-zealand-surprise-lions-first-test

Jun 21

Does the weakness of South Africa and Australia threaten future of the Lions? | The Breakdown

There is no longer a gap between the hemispheres but one between New Zealand and the rest – a shift that raises issue of the sustainability for the Lions

After the skirmishing comes the hand-to-hand combat. In an era when the expected is often thwarted, it is risky to consider the series between New Zealand and the Lions a foregone conclusion.

The All Blacks are the favourites because of their form this decade and the struggles the Lions have had there in the past, just two Test victories since winning the series in 1971.

Related: Lions strangled us and will test the All Blacks, says Chiefs coach

Related: New Zealand’s captain Kieran Read likely to be fit for first Test with Lions

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/21/weakness-south-africa-australia-threaten-future-lions-the-breakdown

Jun 18

Maro Itoje hot off the press and a must for British & Irish Lions Test | Paul Rees

Itoje has proved a vital element in the Lions’ ‘pressing game’ and is key to trying to frustrate Beauden Barrett, so should start in the first Test against All Blacks

The British & Irish Lions sealed victory against the Maori All Blacks with a try that was spawned by their relentless defence which resembles the pressing game favoured by many of the top football clubs.

Damian McKenzie – the Maori fly-half who is one of the most threatening runners in Super Rugby, where he operates mostly as a full‑back – received the ball in his 22 and was quickly closed down by the second-rows George Kruis and Maro Itoje 12 minutes into the second half, even though he was standing deep.

Related: Lions and Maro Itoje too strong for Maori All Blacks on niggly night

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/18/maro-itoje-british-irish-lions-first-test-all-blacks-beauden-barrett-rugby-union

Jun 18

Warren Gatland dreams of having last laugh but Lions must stay tight | Paul Rees

The Lions coach has come in for criticism in his homeland yet knows his side must resist the All Blacks’ attempts to provoke an open game in the first Test

History, ancient and modern, points to the Lions being outroared by New Zealand. The All Blacks warmed up for the series by amassing 78 points and 12 tries against Samoa. When asked what the Lions would need in Saturday’s first Test, the Samoa captain, Kahn Fotuali’i, replied: “Luck.”

As well as tries, luck has largely eluded them so far. The loss of the No8 Billy Vunipola before the tour was compounded by the thigh injury suffered by Owen Farrell in training, a Lion the All Blacks would find space for. It would be no surprise if Warren Gatland gave Farrell until the day of the game to prove his fitness, even if his chances of playing were minimal, to make New Zealand prepare for two different teams.

Related: Lions team to play Chiefs suggests Sam Warburton in frame to face All Blacks

Related: Warren Gatland defends Lions call-ups and says Hansen ‘is a little bit worried’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/18/warren-gatland-lions-all-blacks-first-test

Jun 12

Lions lifted by positive impact of Conor Murray and Owen Farrell | Paul Rees

The partnership, featuring Murray’s tactical kicking and Farrell’s distribution, led to the British & Irish Lions’ best performance of the tour against the Crusaders

The British & Irish Lions may have been rocked by criticism in New Zealand of their playing style, but their victory against the Crusaders showed they are not going to be swayed by it.

They pitched up in Christchurch with six players from the 2013 tour to Australia who were making their first starts in New Zealand: if it was not quite the A-team, they brought their A-game, led around the field by authoritative, pragmatic half-backs.

Related: Sam Warburton to return from injury and lead Lions against Highlanders

Related: Lions’ confounding win gives New Zealand reasons to be fearful | Paul Rees

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/12/lions-lifted-positive-impact-conor-murray-owen-farrell

Jun 11

Lions’ confounding win gives New Zealand reasons to be fearful | Paul Rees

The Owen Farrell-inspired victory for the British and Irish Lions against unbeaten Crusaders, after being tipped to not win another game on tour, will keep New Zealand’s analysts awake for nights to come

As the past few weeks on the election trail have shown, a campaign rarely runs in a straight line. What seems certain one day can look unlikely the next and a few days after being tipped to go through the rest of the tour without securing a victory the Lions not only defeated the previously unbeaten Crusaders but gave New Zealand some reasons to be fearful.

One disappointment for the Lions, which will kick in after the euphoria and relief of a win they needed with the majority of the side likely to start the first Test, was that they did not adorn it with tries. They created chances but a mixture of poor decision-making, a lack of understanding and slack passing under pressure cost them from the opening minute.

Related: Lions’ stoic defence sets up morale-boosting win over formidable Crusaders

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/11/british-and-irish-lions-new-zealand

May 30

Jeremy Thrush: opening Lions Test the only chance of win against All Blacks

• Former All Blacks lock says hosts could be ‘a bit cold at the start’
• Lions need to play to their traditional strengths, adds Thrush

Gloucester’s former New Zealand lock Jeremy Thrush believes the only way the Lions will win the series against the All Blacks is by playing traditional northern hemisphere rugby, dominating the set-pieces and driving mauls.

The 32-year old Thrush, who won 11 caps between 2013 and 2015, is expecting New Zealand to win the series 3-0, as they did in 2005, unless the Lions manage to exploit any rustiness in the World Cup holders in the opening Test.

Related: Dan Biggar eager to prove worth for Lions on and off field in New Zealand

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/30/jeremy-thrush-new-zealand-british-irish-lions

May 29

Remembering the Lions tour of 1971: the great awakening of British rugby | Paul Rees

The British and Irish amalgam were a mess until 1971 but then the philosopher coach, Carwyn James, led them to an improbable series win over New Zealand

It was the year, said the New Zealand captain, Colin Meads, when the Lions stopped believing in fairytales. He was speaking after the drawn final fourth Test at the end of a series his side had lost 2-1 and his words resonated with his opposite number, Willie John McBride, who had had to be persuaded to put his name up for selection after three trips, nine Tests and no victories. “On previous tours we hoped we would win,” said the Irishman. “This time we believed.”

Related: Warren Gatland fears Lions will lose up to 10 players to injury

Related: Cryotherapy chambers and trying to forget Billy: welcome to Lions training | Robert Kitson

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/may/29/remembering-heroes-lions-tour-1971

May 25

Wasps and Exeter ensure attacking rugby and ambition return to Premiership

The final at Twickenham between the two top try-scoring teams in the league this season should show how game has moved away from risk-averse tactics

The Premiership play-off semi-finals were a fitting summary of a league season high on ambition. The finishes at Sandy Park and the Ricoh Arena, two replacements scoring tries to win the match in the closing minutes, were dramatic but even the dullest matches can come alive at the end when someone is chasing a game.

What went before in Exeter and Coventry was as notable as the punchline. It was not that long ago when many Premiership sides were risk averse, kicking in their own half and rarely offloading, but with more clubs now training like Eddie Jones’s England, high on pace and intensity with an emphasis on handling and continuity, matches are being won rather than not lost.

Related: London Irish return to Premiership after thrilling win over Yorkshire Carnegie

Related: England players could face New Zealand in autumn Barbarians game

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/25/wasps-exeter-ensure-attacking-rugby-ambition-return-premiership-final-twickenham

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