Youth getting its chance to shine with the Regions

The raid on the regional academies continues apace this season – but only in the best possible way! With budgets squeezed and squad sizes reduced, all four regions are giving youth its chance and reaping unexpected benefits as a result. Cardiff Rugby head coach Matt Sherratt has handed 19-year-old flanker Lucas de la Rua a […]

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Alfie Barbeary: ‘I’ve been honest that I’m not the biggest fan of the gym’

The Bath No 8 on why he is not an identikit sportsman and his aspirations to make the international grade with England

By his own admission Alfie Barbeary is “different”. He is certainly refreshingly honest. Ask him to describe his perfect day and, having already revealed his dislike of the gym, he does not hesitate. “I’d probably be at home watching the rugby, have a couple of pints with my dad and then finish it off with a curry.” Lob in a game of darts – “My dad isn’t any good so I’d have to get my brother back and play him” – and he would be in absolute heaven.

A mischievous grin, a pair of sparkling studs in his ears – “Mum wasn’t too happy” – and an obvious lust for life are further clues that this might not be an identikit professional sportsman with his nutritionist on speed dial. Stick the fun-loving Bath No 8 on a rugby pitch, however, and – boom – there are few more compelling forces of oval-ball nature in the English club game.

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Lions announce historic rugby first with Dublin match against Argentina

  • British & Irish Lions have never played in Ireland before
  • June 2025 match is warm-up for three-Test tour of Australia

The British & Irish Lions will take on Argentina in Dublin in preparation for their 2025 tour to Australia in what will be their first ever match in Ireland, the team said on Thursday.

The game will be held at the Aviva Stadium on 20 June 2025, and the two teams will play for the Lions 1888 Cup, which marks the first year British teams toured the southern hemisphere.

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Stuart Lancaster: Arundell has big England call to make and I’ll back him

  • Racing 92 wing risks missing out under the RFU’s eligibility rules
  • Former England coach says overseas players issue is ‘very tricky’

Stuart Lancaster has warned “there’s a decision to be made” by Henry Arundell on his future and says the debate about eligibility for England internationals playing overseas is “very tricky”.

The former England head coach became director of rugby at Racing 92 this season after several years coaching at Leinster, and the French club host Harlequins in the opening round of the Champions Cup on Sunday. Arundell joined Racing following the demise of London Irish, with the Rugby Football Union exempting him to play at the World Cup because of those exceptional circumstances.

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Two new teams to represent Wales in expanded Celtic Challenge

The Welsh Rugby Union has revealed the latest investment and innovation for Women’s rugby with the announcement of the two Welsh teams in the expanded Celtic Challenge this season. The two new Welsh teams to play in the cross-border competition will be Gwalia Lightning and Brython Thunder. Developed in collaboration with current players, the brands […]

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Alfie Barbeary double helps Bath sink Exeter to claim derby spoils

  • Bath 41-24 Exeter
  • Underhill and Spencer also shine for home side

At the end of another turbulent week for English rugby there was a collective need for some wintry cheer beside the River Avon. Warm it was not but there was enough crackle and bite to this West Country tussle to hold everyone’s attention right up until the final quarter when a free-flowing Bath properly cut loose.

The second of two tries for the energetic Alfie Barbeary helped to put the icing on an increasingly productive home performance which should also encourage the England management as they look ahead to 2024. Sam Underhill, in particular, was a reliable menace at the breakdown for Bath, and currently looks the obvious replacement for the sadly injured Tom Curry at openside.

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RFU must step up and pay best players to stay in England, insists Lawes

  • Hybrid contracts could be introduced in next agreement
  • Premership’s precarious finances hinder future planning

A casual viewer of English rugby might consider this season notable for the World Cup at the start of it, but the really meaty exchanges for the future of the sport in the country will take place off-stage. The Professional Game Agreement, an eight-year deal between the Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby, is up for renewal in the summer. Negotiations are ongoing.

The whispers have it that hybrid contracts for certain England internationals will be initiated as a means of sharing the players’ salaries between club and country. This is a huge question, particularly if you are a director of rugby trying to weigh up so much uncertainty around finances, recruitment and, simply, the state of mind of your players.

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