Category Archive: Premiership Rugby

Premiership Rugby News

Sep 23

Mark Wilson swoops for Newcastle in thrilling last-gasp victory at Bath

• Bath 32-33 Newcastle
• Newcastle hold off Bath fightback

Just when it appeared as if stunning individual tries from the England outcasts Semesa Rokoduguni and Jonathan Joseph would prove enough to complete a Bath comeback, up cropped Mark Wilson – another overlooked by Eddie Jones – to clinch what was in effect the match-winning score for Newcastle.

Joel Hodgson still had to convert but it was Wilson’s close-range effort four minutes from time that allowed the replacement fly-half to kick Newcastle to a third away win in a row. It had appeared as if they would have to settle for two losing bonus points, despite having led 19-0 at one stage, but a late siege finally saw them crack Bath’s defence.

Related: Marcus Smith shines for Harlequins but Leicester Tigers turn the tide

Related: Saracens’ stroll to victory over Sale marred by Billy Vunipola injury

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/23/bath-newcastle-premiership-match-report

Sep 23

Marcus Smith shines for Harlequins but Leicester Tigers turn the tide

• Harlequins 28-31 Leicester
• Eddie Jones watches 18-year-old fly-half impress before injury

Eddie Jones was among the spectators a day after the England head coach named the Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith in the squad for a training camp in Oxford this week and overlooked the home side’s prop Kyle Sinckler. He had reflected the previous day that the rugby in the Premiership this season had been a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly, and here he was treated to all three in one sitting.

The 18-year-old Smith was having a growing influence on the game when he suffered a knee injury nine minutes into the second half having helped his side regain the lead. His departure, along with that of the England flanker Chris Robshaw, was a turning point in a game neither side managed to control.

Related: Saracens’ stroll to victory over Sale marred by Billy Vunipola injury

Related: Mark Wilson swoops for Newcastle in thrilling last-gasp victory at Bath

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/23/harlequins-leicester-premiership-match-report

Sep 23

Saracens’ stroll to victory over Sale marred by Billy Vunipola injury

• Saracens 41-13 Sale
• England No8 leaves field in distress after catching knee in awkward position

It is innocuous afternoons such as this – a routine maximum haul at home for the European champions – that can inflict the most damage. Billy Vunipola left the field just before half-time in evident pain, unable to put any pressure on his right knee. With England due to gather in Oxford tomorrow for a three-day camp in advance of the November internationals, the timing is particularly unfortunate – for player, club and country. And all this after a return last week from the injury that had cost him his place on the Lions tour. Early indications, too, were that he was back in fine fettle.

Vunipola went down when his knee was caught in an awkward position as he helped his team-mates defend a maul on their tryline. Saracens saw off the threat without too much trouble, gradually forcing Sale back with each collision until Juan Figallo won a relieving penalty, but the true extent of the damage became apparent only then, Vunipola clearly in much distress and helped off the field after a few minutes’ treatment.

Related: Carl Hogg questions Wayne Barnes as Worcester lose to Gloucester

Related: Marcus Smith shines for Harlequins but Leicester Tigers turn the tide

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/23/saracens-sale-premiership-match-report

Sep 22

Carl Hogg questions Wayne Barnes as Worcester lose to Gloucester

• Gloucester 24-19 Worcester
• Worcester fight back but home side hang on in exciting finale

After their narrow defeat to Gloucester Worcester’s head coach, Carl Hogg, was left to rue an early yellow card for Donncha O’Callaghan. Hogg described referee Wayne Barnes’s decision as “a tough call” and Worcester conceded 17 points while he was off the field before fighting back.

Hogg said: “We slipped off one or two tackles during that 10-minute period and it cost us dear. Wayne Barnes has ruled that Donncha wasn’t back 10 metres when they took the quick tap and go. By the letter of the law he’s probably right. I think it is a tough call in the first five minutes of the game and it cost us dear.”

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/gloucester-worcester-premiership-rugby-match-report

Sep 18

Joe Marler reprimanded but not suspended over James Haskell fight

• 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.

Related: Premiership, Pro14, international and Premier 15s rugby union talking points

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/18/joe-marler-james-haskell-fight-suspended

Sep 18

Premiership, Pro14, international and Premier 15s rugby union talking points

Gloucester must learn less is more, Denny Solomona presses his England case and the tussle to wear the No13 jersey in the autumn internationals hots up

When Gloucester’s head coach, Johan Ackermann, was asked if his honeymoon was over after a second successive defeat, he replied that it had never started. The club remain the Premiership’s enigma, capable of defeating the champions one week and then folding against a team looking for their first win the next. Leicester were expected to start with fury after meekly succumbing to Northampton the week before but Gloucester were unprepared for the onslaught, conceding an early sucker try on their way to a 21-point deficit after 20 minutes. They played with intent and made a number of line breaks, but moves broke down because of a lack of familiarity, overambition and poor handling as a heavy penalty count against them prompted attacks from deep. The ingredients are there but over the years they have been thrown together to serve up an unappetising mix. Less will be more for Ackermann. Paul Rees

Related: Wasps call for crackdown after England team-mates Marler and Haskell fight

Related: Damp squib in Philadelphia exposes distance of American rugby dream

Related: Marcus Smith helps Harlequins end Wasps’ unbeaten run in feisty affair

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/18/premiership-pro14-international-premier-15s-rugby-union-talking-points

Sep 17

Wasps call for crackdown after Joe Marler and James Haskell fight

• James Haskell sent off for grabbing Marler by the throat
• Wasps’ Dai Young incensed by Joe Marler behaviour

Wasps have called for rugby’s authorities to take further action following Sunday’s angry flare-up between the Lions and England team-mates James Haskell and Joe Marler. Haskell was sent to the sin-bin for grabbing Marler by the throat with both hands but Wasps’ director of rugby, Dai Young, believes the sport needs to crack down on the players who spark such incidents.

Quins subsequently went on to win a niggly Premiership game 24-21, inflicting Wasps’ first defeat of the season, but Young’s sympathies lay with Haskell after Marler, following a prolonged tussle between the pair on the ground, apparently squirted water at his England colleague’s face. “If someone rips your hat off and squirts water in your face, what do you expect?” said Young.

Related: Marcus Smith kickstarts Harlequins in hard-fought win over Wasps

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/17/wasps-call-crackdown-joe-marler-james-haskell-fight

Sep 17

Marcus Smith kickstarts Harlequins in hard-fought win over Wasps

• Wasps 21-24 Harlequins
• Marcus Smith kicks four penalties and conversion

Joe Marler goaded James Haskell into a yellow card as Harlequins squeezed past Wasps 24-21 at the Ricoh Arena.

Quins inflicted Wasps’ first Aviva Premiership loss in Coventry since a 26-16 defeat by Saracens in December 2015 in a bad-tempered affair.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/17/wasps-harlequins-premiership-match-report

Sep 16

Owen Farrell seals Saracens’ American dream with win over Newcastle

• Newcastle 7-29 Saracens
• Farrell kicks five penalties and a conversion in Philadelphia

On a hot evening at the home of Philadelphia’s soccer team, a Saracens side featuring six 2017 Lions won “away” against Newcastle, with a try by Chris Wyles, a penalty try at the death and 17 points from Owen Farrell’s boot, to end the two teams’ week in Pennsylvania.

Mark McCall’s double European champions are back on track after a defeat at Bath. Dean Richards’ Falcons, who had a breakaway Vereniki Goneva try converted by Sonatene Takulua, will regroup, deal with jet lag and prepare for their own trip to the Rec.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/16/newcastle-saracens-premiership-match-report

Sep 16

Leicester stop the rot as Ben Youngs’ double sinks sloppy Gloucester

• Leicester 24-10 Gloucester
• Tigers score three early tries for first Premiership win of the season

A contest between two of English rugby’s heavyweights, both scrambling to retrieve their reputations, was light and frothy. The Tigers, bidding to avoid three straights defeats at the start of a Premiership campaign for the first time, effectively won the match in the opening quarter, when they scored three tries.

The England scrum-half Ben Youngs claimed the first two, the opening one after he took a quick penalty 10 metres out while the Gloucester flanker Lewis Ludlow was stuffing his gumshield into a sock in readiness for what he anticipated was going to be a kick at goal.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/16/leicster-gloucester-premiership-match-report

Sep 16

Dai Young’s forward thinking faces acid test from Harlequins’ Lions props

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.

Related: Northampton get their big guns firing to overpower lacklustre Bath

Related: Billy Twelvetrees: ‘Welford Road can be intimidating – but it’s also why you play’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/16/dai-young-wasps-forwards-harlequins-lions-ashley-johnson

Sep 15

Northampton get their big guns firing to overpower lacklustre Bath

• Northampton 24-6 Bath
• Courtney Lawes, Dave Ribbans and George North on scoresheet

Two wins from three – and here a bonus point, to boot. What, Northampton must be thinking, is all the fuss about?

The jury waits. Such a summary glosses over the indignity of the one defeat – the humiliation, really – but consecutive wins over the two biggest names in English rugby is enough to be getting on with, should it be felt that rebuilding were required. “You remember what people say,” said Jim Mallinder, Northampton’s director of rugby. “You read things, and it hurts. We needed a reaction last week and got it. This week we’ve shown we’re a difficult team to beat.”

Related: Billy Twelvetrees: ‘Welford Road can be intimidating – but it’s also why you play’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/15/northampton-bath-premiership-rugby-match-report

Sep 15

‘We’re in the foothills’ – Premiership’s attempt to crack America reaches Philly

Newcastle’s fixture against Saracens in Philadelphia has not sold out but officials are hopeful that the sport will eventually get a foothold in the US

Premiership Rugby and the promoter of Newcastle v Saracens in Philadelphia expected the game to sell out. Expectations have been adjusted.

When the teams run out at the Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday, around 10,000 are expected to attend. That would be 8,500 below capacity and 4,800 down on the crowd for last year’s US game, when Sarries beat London Irish in New Jersey.

Related: Newcastle’s Dave Walder embraces Philadelphia challenge with spirits high

Related: Premiership expects Philadelphia sell-out for Newcastle v Saracens

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/15/were-in-the-foothills-premierships-attempt-to-crack-america-reaches-philly

Sep 15

Billy Twelvetrees: ‘Welford Road can be intimidating – but it’s also why you play’

The Gloucester centre returns to Leicester with plenty of fond memories for the atmosphere at his former club’s ground

Next time someone says rugby grounds are all the same, refer them to this description of playing at Welford Road. “The Crumbie Stand feels like it surrounds you. When you run out you feel like you’re coming through the crowd to play. You can hear their feet stamping above you when you’re changing.

“Going down the touchline the fans are there with you. You can smell the food and see the beers. Sometimes you’ll get sprayed on. It’s why I like goal-kicking there. They’re so close they’re sometimes tapping you on the back – or telling you you’re going to miss it. I absolutely love it. It can be intimidating – but it’s also why you play the game.”

Related: Jason Woodward’s late try gives Gloucester win over champions Exeter

Related: Premier 15s league will make huge difference to women’s rugby union | Katy McLean

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/15/billy-twelvetrees-gloucester-fond-memories-leicester

Sep 13

Newcastle’s Dave Walder embraces Philadelphia challenge with spirits high

The Falcons’ well-travelled head coach is confident his side can showcase the club’s resurgence when they face Saracens in the US

Newcastle and Saracens are in Philadelphia, preparing to play at the Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday. The game may be more of a must-win for the Aviva Premiership than for either team, but whatever the crowd size or the American TV audience, early-season points are at stake.

“We had a day to rest and recover but some of the boys were off recreating Rocky, running up the steps,” said Dave Walder, the Falcons’ new head coach. Some Saracens also ran to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, up the stone slope made famous by Sylvester Stallone. As they did, Walder was plotting to bring them down.

Related: Travel can broaden game but club trips to US and South Africa make little sense | Robert Kitson

Related: Rugby union: Premiership talking points from the weekend’s action

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/13/newcastles-dave-walder-embraces-philadelphia-challenge-with-spirits-high

Sep 12

Travel can broaden game but club trips to US and South Africa make little sense | Robert Kitson

This weekend’s Premiership match in Pennsylvania and Pro14 games in South Africa have more costs, fewer fans and a huge carbon bootprint

Before this week the most absurd away fixture in European club rugby history was probably Connacht’s 12,000-mile round trip to Siberia in November 2015. The Irish province did manage to beat their Challenge Cup opponents Enisei-STM in temperatures as low as -18C but a technical fault with a charter plane caused such travel chaos some players were stranded for days. “Energy levels at all time low … BO levels at an all-time high,” read the memorable tweet from the Connacht back-rower John Muldoon.

Once upon a time crossing the Severn Bridge was the most exotic cross-border club rugby experience available. Not any more. This week, Newcastle will abandon Kingston Park to face Saracens at the Talen Energy Stadium, a football stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. On Sunday, in the unofficial Sir David Attenborough derby, the Cheetahs entertain Zebre of Italy in Bloemfontein. On Saturday, Leinster will meet the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.

Related: Saracens to face Newcastle in Philadelphia under four-year US deal

Related: Mike Brown adds to condemnations of extending Premiership season

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/sep/12/travel-us-south-africa-newcastle-saracens-leinster-rugby

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