England U18 Anthony Watson shortlisted for BBC prize

first_imgThe BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award is in its 10th Anniversary year. It is awarded to the outstanding young sportsperson of the year, who is aged 16 or under on 1 January 2011, selected from nominations made to the BBC and by sports governing bodies via the Youth Sport Trust. Previous winners include Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Andy Murray.The shortlist is drawn from the nominations by a panel of judges chaired by BBC Sport’s John Inverdale. The panel also includes BBC Sport presenters Jake Humphrey, Ore Oduba and Sonali Shah, two representatives from the Youth Sports Trust, former Young Sports Personality of the Year winner, Amy Spencer and three representatives from the Sports Personality of the Year production team.The judging panel will meet again on Monday 6 December to shorten the list down to three contenders and then choose a winner by secret ballot. The winner will be announced live at BBC Sports Personality of the Year, taking place this year at MediaCityUK, Salford Quays on Thursday 22 December. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS SALE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Anthony Watson of England is tackled by Alessandro Tartaglia of Italy during the England U18 and Italy U19 International match held at Haywood Road on February 27, 2011 in Sale, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) Anthony Watson in action this year for England U18 against Italy England U18 full back Anthony Watson was today shortlisted for the prestigious BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2011 after a stellar year of rugby.Watson, 17, is the youngest ever London Irish player to play in the Aviva Premiership, making his debut against Newcastle Falcons in September 2011.He also picked up gold for England Rugby Sevens at this year’s Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man, and represented England U18 in the FIRA/AER Championships, scoring a last-minute try in the semi-final to beat Wales.On December 3, he will represent a ‘Northern Hemisphere XV’ at Twickenham for a special charity match, playing alongside the likes of Serge Betsen and World Cup winner Will Greenwood, with all proceeds going to Help for Heroes.Watson said: “It’s a massive honour to even be considered for this award. A quick look down the list of previous winners is quite humbling and I’ve got massive respect for them all. I’ve enjoyed my rugby this year, and to be shortlisted has really capped it off.”The 10 contenders shortlisted for the prestigious BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2011 award (in alphabetical order) are:Liam Broady, TennisSally Brown, AthleticsTom Daley, DivingLucy Garner, CyclingJack Laugher, DivingPat McCormack, BoxingLaura Robson, TennisEleanor Simmonds, SwimmingLauren Taylor, GolfAnthony Watson, Rugby Union Young Sports Personality of the Year will be awarded to the outstanding young sportsperson aged 16 or under on 1 January 2011, selected from nominations made to the BBC and by sports governing bodies via the Youth Sport Trust.Previous winners:2001   Amy Spencer2002    Wayne Rooney2003    Kate Haywood2004    Andy Murray2005    Harry Aikines-Aryeetey2006    Theo Walcott2007    Tom Daley2008    Eleanor Simmonds2009    Tom Daley2010    Tom Daleylast_img read more

Edinburgh sign South African prop Nel

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 18: WP Nel during the Cheetahs Captains run at Mr Price KINGS PARK on February 18, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images) Since then Nel’s stock has continued to rise as he established himself as an ever-present in the Cheetahs’ front-row, starting all of the 29 matches in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.Looking ahead to his summer switch Nel said: “My experience at the Cheetahs has been fantastic and I can’t thank coach Naka Drotske enough for all that he has done for me but when I got the chance to go to Edinburgh Rugby, it was an opportunity to gain new experience and develop my game even further.“Edinburgh Rugby play a fantastic brand of rugby and I’m really looking forward to lining up alongside some of their world-class players and living in a great city like Edinburgh.“To be involved in that set-up and experience northern hemisphere rugby and conditions can only improve my game in two great competitions – the Rabodirect PRO12 and the Heineken Cup – and I’m certainly looking forward to the challenge.”Edinburgh Rugby Chief Executive, Craig Docherty, said: “The signing of WP Nel is a clear statement of intent from Edinburgh Rugby as we look to retain and recruit the right players that will help us build on the many strides made this season and to ensure that we continue this momentum into future years.“Nel is a world-class performer as he has shown in one of the toughest club rugby environments, the southern-hemisphere’s Super 15 and for the Barbarians, in that famous win over the All Blacks. Edinburgh Rugby revealed details of a major overseas signing, announcing that they have recruited South African prop WP (Willem Petrus) Nel from Super 15 side Free State Cheetahs on a three year contract until 2015.An immensely powerful scrummager and dynamic ball carrier, Nel is held in high esteem in the southern hemisphere, with his capture seen as a major coup for the ambitious Heineken Cup quarter-finalists.Subject to visa, the 25-year-old front-row will join the club this summer after a final season in Super Rugby, with the season running from February to July.Edinburgh Rugby head coach Michael Bradley said: “We’re delighted to have signed WP Nel for the next three seasons; a player of the calibre, experience and expertise that we seek to attract to the club and to serve our ambitions to put Edinburgh Rugby among the top clubs in Europe.“He has a lot of experience for a 25-year-old prop and will bring a huge amount to our performance on the pitch and to the development of the talented young props we have at the club.”Nel goes into the 2012 Super Rugby season with three year’s experience of the southern hemisphere’s top club rugby division, having made 32 appearances since his debut against the Waratah’s at the tail end of 2009.He then starred in the club’s journey to the Currie Cup final in which his highlight was undoubtedly a semi-final overpowering of Natal Sharks’ South Africa internationalist Tendai ‘the Beast’ Mtawarira.These fledgling performances paved the way for Nel’s selection for the Cheetah’s narrow loss to the British & Irish Lions in 2009 (24-26), where he packed down against soon-to-be colleague Ross Ford, before starting as the only non-capped player in the Barbarians’ win over the All Blacks at Twickenham (25-18). “I’m sure he’ll be big hit with supporters and will serve as an excellent addition to the club as we ramp up our search for silverware.”WP NELDate of Birth: 30/04/86 (25) – in Loeriesfontein, Northern CapePosition: Tighthead PropHeight: 1.82m (5’10”)Weight: 120kg (18st 9lb)Honours: Barbarians v All Blacks, Twickenham (2009)last_img read more

World Cup 2015: The deadly trio

first_imgREADING, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 30: Christian Wade of London Wasps leaves the pitch after a suspected ankle injury during the Aviva Premiership Rugby match between London Irish and London Wasps at the Madejski Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Reading, England. (Photo by Rob Munro/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Busting over the gain-line on numerous occasions, Billy Vunipola also exposed a lack of brawn that may hinder the Wallabies. Former captain James Horwill cannot find form and though Ben Mowen is a canny tactician, he is not an intimidating specimen. Interestingly, in each of their tour matches except the 50-20 thrashing of Italy, Australia missed more tackles than their opponents. Now, if only the northern hemisphere boys were more clinical…oh, we’re back to the start.These three teams have patent flaws, which will make Pool A an even more fascinating place. With some 21 months to run until Rugby World Cup 2015’s opening ceremony, there is plenty of scope to iron them out through wise selection and coaching, but predictions this far out are impossible. One absolute certainty is that the quarter-final qualifiers will deserve their prize. For the runner-up, that is probably a tie against South Africa, too. It doesn’t get easier. Full-blooded encounter: England and Australia have been in a few feisty contests in their time – and will again in 2015By Charlie MorganThe confirmation of kick-off times last Wednesday reaffirmed it before Saturday’s Millennium Stadium ding-dong drove the point home. Pool A at Rugby World Cup 2015 is going to be phenomenally tight and utterly compelling – not to mention deadly.First things first, there are still two more spaces to fill, officially termed ‘Oceania 1’ and ‘Play-off winner.’ Fiji are likely to fill the former, and should bring a cocktail of shuddering hits, erratic attacking brilliance and ill-discipline if their performances over the past month are anything to go by.Big fish wriggling free: Warburton for Wales v EnglandThere is still a long way to go for the final spot to be decided via a complicated repechage, but the likes of Russia, Spain and Sri Lanka remain in contention. Whoever makes it has a seriously tough task. A trio of big fish will thrash furiously to escape this claustrophobic pool into the last eight.The high-stakes round robin between Australia, England and Wales heads to Twickenham on three consecutive weekends from Friday September 26, 2015. Crucially, Warren Gatland and co. are only in Cardiff for the two more straightforward assignments. Each fixture takes place under floodlights, so while later starts are sure to cause carnage on post-match public transport, the encounters will get the electric atmosphere they merit.Boxing sages often say contrasting styles make fights. This is no different. You only have to glance at the meetings between these sides in 2013 to establish that. Back in March, Stuart Lancaster’s charges capitulated under a tsunami of passion, power and Justin Tipuric’s energy. Six months later, England ground Australia down in a stuttering performance salvaged by Mike Brown’s spark and the pack’s strong scrummaging. Then Wales got beaten by the Wallabies’ best on Saturday.Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate were out-worked at the breakdown by Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy, Will Genia fizzed and Quade Cooper wreaked havoc by releasing his wrecking-ball, Israel Folau. Worryingly for Gatland, the game could still have been won but for crippling lineout inaccuracies and concentration lapses. An 18-game losing streak against southern hemisphere opposition clearly creates psychological snags. Not far from the breakdown: Scott FardyWere these results to repeat themselves in two years’ time, it would be England heading for the exit (under the  assumption that Wales’ 2007 loss to Fiji does not repeat itself). As hosts of the tournament, that is simply unthinkable.Much has been made about the dearth of creativity behind Graham Rowntree’s world-beating pack, and rightly so. Long-term injuries to Marland Yarde, Christian Wade and Manu Tuilagi now mean England’s three game-turning talents won’t play together until at least the June tour of New Zealand. Stunted by indecision and inadequate skills, the midfield presents more problems. But the same could be said of Wales there.Lions Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies have been conspicuous by their absence this month. Davies broke the South African line twice with two carries during a 12-minute cameo before he damaged a pectoral muscle and although Scott and Owen Williams have had their moments, they cannot offer the same incision. Likewise, fly-half is an issue. Rhys Priestland is calling odd shots – evidenced by his last-gasp grubber on Saturday – and Gatland doesn’t appear to trust James Hook. Like Owen Farrell, Dan Biggar churns out the basics in an unfussy manner without ever threatening to rule the match.Compare that with Australia’s three-quarters. Handed extra responsibility by former Reds mentor Ewen McKenzie, Cooper is being managed expertly and consequently hitting the very heights of his considerable powers. Outside him, Christian Leali’ifano and exceptional 91-capper Adam Ashley-Cooper have all bases covered. With Fardy and Hooper hugely effective at manufacturing quick ball – don’t forget David Pocock is still to return as well – they thrive in fast-paced clashes. But despite undeniable momentum on the back of a year that did seem doomed, weaknesses remain.Game-changer chopped: Christian WadeRichard Hibbard spent last week insisting that the Australian scrum is not an Achilles heel any more. Frankly, I don’t buy that. Mako Vunipola and Dan Cole made it look very flimsy, while Wales were extraordinarily denied a chance to attack the set-piece before 46 minutes had elapsed. Had he been fit, Adam Jones would have certainly fancied his chances of forcing a couple of early penalties out of James Slipper.last_img read more

Pro 12 transfers 2015-16: Comings and goings

first_imgNewport Gwent DragonsA ninth placed finished by the Dragons was not enough to keep prodigious talent Jonathan Evans at the club. The scrumhalf enlisting for Bath in a move that will enthuse purists as a potential union with George Ford nears closer. Elsewhere veterans Ian Gough and Lee Byrne announce their retirement from the game leaving the club light on grizzled international experience. Centre Ashley Smith also hangs up his boots after 129 appearances due to a series of concussive events. The Dragons have however announced six signings to strengthen the side. Scrum-half Sarel Pretorius makes the Dragons his seventh club while emerging Wasps pairing Ed Jackson, backrow, and Charlie Davies, scrumhalf, seek regular first team action at Rodney Parade. Adam Warren will endeavor to discover the form that earned him a Wales call-up after moving from the Scarlets while Nick Scott and Shaun Knight will introduce valuable topflight experience from spells at London Welsh and Gloucester respectively.OspreysLeader: Gareth Delve will bring experience and ball-carrying threat to the OspreysJust one point off top spot last season, the Ospreys remain the only Welsh region with genuine title aspirations. Paul James joins from Bath, in what might prove to be the club’s finest signing. The tighthead will ballast the front-row with his renowned scrummaging ability although, at the age of 33, is not a long-term investment. Gareth Delve and former All Black scrum-half Brendon Leonard will also provide further experience when they link up with Steve Tandy‘s squad. The region’s only youthful signing comes in the form of Kristian Phillips, the 24-year-old speedster returning to his home region after three years away over the Loughor with the Scarlets. Furthermore Ospreys have let a trio of young talents go as prop Nicky Thomas, 20, flanker Sam Lewis (who left for Worcester before the end of the season), 24, and No 8 Morgan Allen, 25, depart the Liberty Stadium, aggravated by the lack of first team opportunities. Cult-figure Duncan Jones retires after making over 300 appearances for the region while Aisea Natoga swaps the club for French side US Carcassonne.ScarletsA late surge by the region established an admirable 6th place finish in the Pro12, yet Rhys Priestland couldn’t be persuaded to stay, seeking fresh pastures in Bath. Other notable departures include Joe Snyman, who was vital to the revival of the forward pack at Parc y Scarlets, and fellow South African Jacobie Adriaanse who both are both playing French. Backrow Sion Bennett, Wales’ cap Adam Warren, Scotland qualified Javan Sebastian and wing Kristian Phillips also bid farewell to the club. In response, the Scarlets have snapped up Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe from champions Glasgow and Welsh qualified prospects Tom Price and Dylan Evans. Former Barbarians fly-half Aled Thomas adds depth in the halfbacks while age group representatives Will Taylor and Morgan Allen look to establish themselves in the Scarlets’ squad.Ulster-bound: Charles Piutau is a jet-heeled All Black wingUlsterUlster fell just shy of the Pro12 final last season as Finn Russell‘s boot condemned the side to an unbearable play-off defeat. The club has reinforced by adding former academy openside Willie Faloon and first-team challenger Sam Windsor at fly-half. Paul Rowley offers a leftie option from scrum-half after arriving from London Welsh and is joined by former teammate, and versatile forward, Peter Browne. Centre Michael Allen exits the club after limited first team appearances whilst longstanding prop Declan Fitzpatrick retires after a series of concussions.Zebre“The second highest Italian finisher” is never an enviable tag. Zebre finished the season with just 15 points and have rightly rung the changes with a cataclysmic shift in personnel; 16 players in and 14 players out. All Blacks legend Mils Muliaina is the most recognisable name on Zebre’s new-fangled team sheet and he is joined by Wallabies international Luke Burgess in Parma. Bruno Postiglioni brings gnarly front row experience and versatility to the Zebre’s pack, covering the loosehead and hooker berths. And watch out for South African quartet Kayle van Zyl, Jean Cook, Ulrich Beyers and Johan Meyer all of whom are 24 and under armed with Super Rugby experience. Zebre will however loose a number of talents as Brendon Leonard, Fijian-born battering ram Samuela Vunisa and wing Giovanbattista Venditti. Italian fly-halfs Luciano Orquera and Tommaso Iannone also leave with Mauro Bergamasco retiring after a stellar career.To see the latest subscription offers, click here. The new season is still weeks away but that hasn’t stopped agents and players moving around the Pro12. Here are the movers and shakers ahead of the big kick-off LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS In a game of inches, sides with an established foundation of pragmatism usually emerge clutching the etched handles of oversized silverware. For once it was a debonair attitude to open green spaces that prevailed as Glasgow thundered their way to an inaugural Pro12 title. Since then, teams have toughened, honed and fortified their ranks ahead of next season’s assault while others have said farewell to ageing club servants and bruised fan favourites. We take a look at the ins and outs of Pro12 transfer business…Benetton TrevisoThe Italians were the Pro12’s busiest team in the off-season, signing no less than 16 players and scrapping 18. Treviso have added Samoan Filo Paulo from Cardiff and the grizzled ex-England lock Tom Palmer to the engine room. Meanwhile, Italian internationals Robert Barbieri, Alberto De Marchi and Luke McLean rejoin the club after a single season in England. Former All Black Chris Smylie offers Super Rugby familiarity at scrumhalf and Tomaso Iannone will provide cover across the backline. Retired former captain Antonio Pavanello is now at the helm but will have to manage without flanker Simone Favaro and highly-regarded centre Michele Campagnoro. Other notable departures include Corniel van Zyl, who retires after eight seasons with club, Paul Derbyshire and Albert Anae who leave for Zebre and the Brumbies respectively.Cardiff BluesBack home: Tom James will return to the Arms Park after two years with the Exeter ChiefsNewly appointed coach Danny Wilson will be eager to recover from Cardiff’s dismal tenth place last season after signing a three-year contract at Arms Park. The region has wasted no time in recruiting former Blues’ wing Tom James, Samoan centre Rey Lee-Lo and American duo Blaine Scully and Cam Dolan. Adam Jones and the released Matthew Rees are huge losses in experience in the scrum with further strengthening required in the second row after Filo Paulo’s departure to Italy. Argentinean Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino has been released with fellow countryman Joaquin Tuculet joining the Puma’s Super Rugby franchise. Fans will be saddened to hear of Rory Watts-Jones and Dafydd Hewitt’s forced retirement through injury.ConnachtAfter an impressive season in Galway, Connacht have recruited just five players, all under the age of 25, for next season’s campaign. The trio of Quin Roux, John Cooney and Ben Marshall all join from Leinster adding further top flight experience before a congested European fixture list. Pat Lam has also enlisted the help of openside prospect Nepia Fox-Matamua, known from his time in Auckland, and Api Pewhairangi who represented Ireland in Rugby League. Eight players have departed the club including flanker Willie Faloon, All Black Mils Muliaina, emerging second row Mick Kearney and fly-half Miah Nikora. Lock Michael Swift also retires, at the age of 37, after making a record 269 appearances for the club.EdinburghLeader: The Highlanders vice-captain Nasi Manu is a big-name capture for EdinburghIt was a season of progress for Edinburgh but also heartbreak. Just a converted try short of claiming Scotland’s first European crown and only one win away from making the European play-offs. To make amends for last year’s shortcomings Edinburgh have signed Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu, fresh from claiming the Super Rugby crown, Tongan centre William Helu, and utility back Michael Allen. Wing Tim Visser leaves for Harlequins after a five-year spell in Scotland with Tom Heathcote and Ollie Atkins also following suite moving to the Premiership. Grayson Hart also departs after failing to wrestle the scrum-half jersey from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.GlasgowThe champions have added nine players to their roster over the summer including the thundering Taqele Naiyaravoro – if he doesn’t stay in Australia. The Fijian-born wing is arguably the most impressive, signing by any Pro12 club and will strike dread into defenders across the field. Glasgow will also welcome Simone Favaro on the flank, Mike Blair at scrumhalf and Kieran Low from London Irish. Departures include Sean Maitland, DTH van der Merwe, Jon Welsh and Euan Murray who seeks one last hurrah at newly promoted Pau. Crowd favourite Niko Matawalu is moving on to Bath, after a magnificent performance in the Pro12 final. Meanwhile captain Alastair Kellock and Dougie Hall retire after substantial stints at the club.LeinsterLeinster may still be without a coach ahead of next year’s Pro12 but two familiar faces hope to invigorate a side that last season disappointed. Jonathan Sexton arrives in Leinster after failing to impose himself at Racing and Isa Nacewa returns from a two-year sabbatical from the sport. The club has managed to nab development prospect Mick Kearney from Connacht but will bid farewell to a couple of provincial stalwarts. Shane Jennings and Gordon D’Arcy have both played their final match for the side and will, no doubt, prove tough to replace in the long-term. Meanwhile Fly-half Jimmy Gopperth will be the club leaving for Wasps after a two successful years.Running man: Isa Nacewa will bring excitement and a winning mentality to LeinsterMunsterMunster have omitted 13 players from the club’s books over the summer after being thwarted by Glasgow in the Pro12 final. The quartet of Sean Dougall, Alan Cotter, Patrick Butler and the exalted Paul O’Connell have all emigrated south to join French sides. While the province has seen Hooker Damien Varley retire through injury and rising star JJ Hanrahan poached by Northampton. In terms of recruitment, Munster have enlisted the physical attributes of 24-year-old All Black Francis Saili, Division 1A Player of the Year, Matt D’Arcy and Leinster academy product Jordan Coghlan on a development contract. Tomas O’Leary has also been drafted to provide competition for Conor Murray at scrum-half.center_img Shouting the odds: Leinster will see the return of the prodigal son in Johnny Sexton TAGS: Highlight last_img read more

Eddie Jones takes England back to the scene of his greatest triumph

first_imgEddie Jones finally got his hands on some of his England players again in Brighton but, even with a Grand Slam under his belt, the challenge is only just beginning LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Eddie Jones was back at the scene of his greatest triumph in rugby this week when he took a 26-man training camp in Brighton, where his Japan side beat South Africa in the Rugby World Cup, and now after six months in the job he knows what it is like to be England coach. It pays the big bucks, but boy, do you have to work for it.No-one expected Japan to beat South Africa but with the largest playing numbers and the most cash-rich union in world rugby everyone expects England to right up there in the rankings – somewhere they haven’t been for a while now. The Australian has catapulted them back up to fourth, with the Grand Slam, and they have got to remain there, or climb higher, until at least the pool draw for the Rugby World Cup next May.Last time the draw was made – ludicrously in December 2012 – Wales had slipped out of the top eight, thanks to a last-minute defeat to Australia in the last autumn Test, and England were not in the top four. So Australia, then ranked third, England and Wales all ended up in the same group and we all know what happened then. Anyway, moving on…In the spolight: Danny Cipriani, as usual, was at the heart of the questioningJones then has a game with a depleted team against Wales, three Tests in Australia, autumn Tests against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and the Wallabies and a Six Nations campaign to keep England where they are. Or risk another pool of death by a thousand passes.As he commented in Brighton while he tried to finalise his squad for Australia: “We can’t have any excuses because this is a key part of the calendar and they’re ranking Tests, so they’re super important. The news has come out that the World Cup draw is being done in May 2017 which gives us 13 Tests.”“Our main goal was to get better and improve over the Six Nations and to win the tournament and we did that. We went up in the world rankings. The next step is to play the number one and two sides in the world in New Zealand and Australia and we’ve got the Wallabies.”Last time out: Australia gave an out-of-sorts England a heavy beating at World CupEngland have played the so-called ‘big three’ 17 times away from home since winning the 2003 World Cup and have won once in the southern hemisphere, and drawn once. The win was against Australia, in Sydney in 2010, and the draw came against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 2012. In between some of the defeats have been eye-watering for England fans and no way to build your world ranking ahead of a World Cup draw.Jones has a no-excuses way of working but the distractions mounted up this week as he was grilled in the Malmaison Hotel in Brighton Marina. He might be playing down the significance of the next 13 games but those people scarred by the last World Cup won’t be for sure.After the statutory questions about Danny Cipriani and Steffon Armitage, Jones semi-dealt with the Joe Marler issue.He told us the prop sat out training because he had a hip niggle. About 24 hours later Marler pulled out of the Aussie tour to get his house in order, after his couple of aberrations this season.Absent with leave: Joe Marler has asked not to be selected for the England tourThen there’s his captain Dylan Hartley, who has played 17 minutes of rugby since the Grand Slam game in Paris and Sam Underhill, who seems to be his favoured long-term option at openside but willl not be considered in England colours until the autumn. Throw in the fact that an England coach only has his players for about 16 weeks a year and he is up against it.center_img Plotting: Eddie Jones was in Brighton for a training camp with the England squad As he admitted: “We have to relearn how to be part of an England side. All of the players have been back playing for their clubs and doing as their clubs have asked them to do and now they’ve got to learn to play how England wants them to play.”The Slam, a make-do-and-mend job, was the easy bit and the hard bit is just starting. But that is why the top man gets the cigar and if Jones keeps England in the top tier of the rankings he’ll have earned every Aussie dollar.last_img read more

Hotshot: Yorkshire Carnegie flanker Josh Bainbridge

first_imgWhat are your immediate aims?To play as many first-team games as I can and gain promotion. We’ve signed a lot of good players. What are your interests outside rugby?I’m in the second year of a part-time degree and do voluntary coaching at Moortown U15 – it’s really good working with the kids. So Josh, when did you start rugby?I joined Guisborough from U10s because a lot of friends played and my grandad used to play. I had a season at U15s for Middlesbrough, then two years at Prince Henry’s Grammar School. When did you join Carnegie?At 15. I got a call on 1 April 2011 asking me to join their academy and my grandad wondered if it might be an April fool! Have you always been a seven?I was a centre but the academy said I had the fundamentals to be a good back-row, so I switched to openside. Andy Rock (academy director) has been a massive influence.Has your game improved a lot playing senior rugby for Carnegie?Yes. One of the biggest factors is being with players of all ages, not just those in your age group. And we had Kevin Sinfield, who you could speak to about anything.You got five tries against Bristol last season…I’d scored two against Doncaster the week before and everyone was joking that it would be amazing if I got a hat-trick at Ashton Gate! It was all down to the forwards as they were lineout drives, but I’m proud of it. Date of birth 17 April 1996. Country England LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img RW Verdict: Bainbridge has racked up more than 25 first-team appearances for Carnegie yet only turned 20 in April. A county-standard athlete at school, the England U20 forward has the talent and application to go far.First published in the September 2016 edition of Rugby World magazine. Forward motion: Josh Bainbridge on the attack for Yorkshire Carnegie. (Photo: Getty Images) last_img read more

Six Nations: France still lacking “elan”

first_img A penny for Philippe Saint-Andre’s thoughts as he watched France batter Scotland into submission at the Stade de France on Sunday. PSA was pilloried for much of his four-year reign as France coach for the sterility of his teams, preferring power over panache, but have Les Bleus improved that much in 13 months under Guy Noves?There’s been much talk about a French renaissance under the former Toulouse coach, about a new ambitious and expansive game plan where players are given licence to express themselves in a way they never were under PSA. “Elan, initiative and freedom” was what Noves promised when he succeeded the former Toulon director of rugby.There was little elan and initiative on show on Sunday. It was brutally reminiscent of how France played two or three years ago when Mathieu Bastareaud would launch himself at the opposition three-quarters.Noves has so far resisted the temptation to hand Bastareaud his first international appearance since the 2015 RWC, although he did call him up to his squad earlier in the month when the similarly unsubtle Yann David withdrew with injury.In fairness to Bastareaud, he may not be the most agile of centres, but he would surely have touched the ball down over the Scottish try-line, unlike Remi Lamerat, whose clumsy drop was one of numerous mistakes by a French team almost as butter-fingered as the one that made 29 handling errors against Italy in the 2015 Six Nations. For all France’s dominance up front, they were outscored two tries to one and had the reliable boot of Camille Lopez to thank for their 22-16 victory.France have scored two tries in this year’s championship, the same number as Italy, and in total they have managed just nine in seven Six Nations matches under Noves. In contrast England and Scotland have racked up 16 tries in the same period with Wales numbering 21 and the Irish up to 27 following Saturday’s thrashing of an abject Italian side. Noves is doing his best with a mediocre bunch of players, probably the most technically deficient French generation in living memory. But don’t expect the next generation to ride to his rescue any time soon. France U20s were crushed 59-17 by their English counterparts recently, a result that reinforces the gulf in quality between the men in white and the boys in blue.For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Plenty of grunt: France relied on weight advantage from players like Sébastien Vahaamahina One of two: Rabah Slimani scored against EnglandNoves succeeded Saint-Andre with a promise to make France a world power once more yet there are few signs that they are progressing. They failed to put away a second-string Australian side, were comfortably kept at arm’s length by an exhausted All Blacks and didn’t beat England at Twickenham when the hosts were well below par. Against Scotland, they won because of size, not skill, and for the first time since his appointment, Noves is being subjected to some critical questioning from the French press.Have you the impression that the game plan has taken a step backward? asked one. “I’ll leave you to your impression,” replied Noves. “I’m not sure how winning sets us back…and given everything we’ve done in the last few matches, to suggest from one match that we’ve gone backwards, that annoys me a bit.”Noves’ defensiveness is understandable. After losing three matches by less than a converted try each it was important for France to grind out a win against Scotland, no matter how unconvincing. But next up for France is a trip to Dublin and it’s hard to see how they can beat an in-form Ireland. The home side may struggle for parity at scrum-time, particularly if Rabah Slimani starts in place of Uini Atonio, but the crisp handling, incisive running and precise finishing of the Ireland backline is far to superior to the French three-quarters. One fears for the defensively suspect Virimi Vakatawa and Noa Nakaitaci if Ireland really click out wide on Saturday week.Can’t see the wood for the trees?: Guy Noves in camp with FranceNoves made his name as coach of Toulouse at the beginning of the Millennium when they boasted a backline of extravagantly-gifted backs such as Poitrenaud, Clerc, Michalak, Heymans, Ntamack and Jauzion. But that was the era when the Top 14 was defined by its flair and not its physicality and clubs put entertainment before profit. The win at-all-costs mentality that now pervades the Top 14 means players aren’t encouraged to play with the “elan, initiative and freedom” of which Noves nobly speaks.last_img read more

The Ultimate Rugby World Cup 2019 Guide

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Plus, there’s all this…Analysis of Ireland’s two-phase playBill Beaumont and Gary Gold debate the scrum law amendmentNational Hero – Canada’s DTH van der MerweA rant about the Nations ChampionshipExclusive interview with Georgia’s Vasil LobzhanidzeJonny May’s counter-attacking tipsRising Stars Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler and Josh HodgeThe Secret Player on playing banana-skin teamsFollow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. TAGS: Highlight The Ultimate Rugby World Cup 2019 GuideThe new issue of Rugby World magazine has everything you need to know about Japan 2019 – it’s the ultimate guide to this year’s Rugby World Cup.The 148-page bumper magazine features a team-by-team guide, exclusive interviews, technical analysis, a North v South debate and much more.Plus, the edition comes with this World Cup wallchart so you can keep track of all the fixtures and fill in results along the way.Here are another 15 reasons to pick up a copy of Rugby World’s October 2019 issue…1. Every team analysedThere are 20 teams competing for the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan and we have in-depth, three-page guides to all of them. From facts and stats to key men and tactical insight, we have you covered.2. Jonny Bairstow’s viewpointThe opening batsman who helped England win the Cricket World Cup is also a big rugby fan. He tells us about his love for the sport and picks his England back-line for Japan.3. South Africa’s Faf de KlerkThe Springbok on how Sale Sharks have helped him achieve his international goals.Star man: All Black Beauden Barrett clears against Australia (Getty Images)4. All Blacks playmaker Beauden BarrettThe New Zealander, who has twice been crowned World Rugby Player of the Year, talks dancing, dinner guests and dairy farming in our exclusive Q&A.5. Argentina’s Pablo MateraCaptain, totem, powerhouse – there will be no missing the Pumas flanker in Japan.DOWNLOAD RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE’S DIGITAL EDITION6. Tonga coach Toutai Kefu“I’ll have 20 players sitting on the sidelines watching the World Cup when they should have been playing for us.” He explains why he wants changes to be made to rugby’s eligibility rules.Key figure: Maro Itoje is part of England’s World Cup squad (Getty Images)7. Inside the mind of… Maro Itojecenter_img Get to know the Saracens, England and Lions lock as he gives his thoughts on podcasts, musicals, sleep and more.8. Samoa’s Chris VuiThe Bristol lock was a latecomer to rugby but has been quick to make an impact. He talks through his journey.9. Wonder of the WallabiesAustralia are renowned for peaking for World Cups and Dane Haylett-Petty has taken a successful, if unusual, route to the top too. We find out more.Fans’ favourite: Peter O’Mahony with Ireland supporters (Getty Images)10. The making of Peter O’MahonyFrom Cork Con to icon, the Munster flanker is integral to Irish hopes at the World Cup. We talk to those who have witnessed his rise.11. North v South debateIt’s 16 years since England’s World Cup triumph – the only time the southern hemisphere’s monopoly has been broken. Stephen Jones assesses the North v South divide in the hunt for rugby’s biggest prize.12. Fiji’s Jale VatubuaThe hard-hitting Pau centre talks Fiji, family and the future.On the ball: Ali Price in action for Scotland against France (Getty Images)13. Scotland’s Ali PriceAfter a few ups and downs in recent seasons, the half-back is hoping to hit new heights in Japan.14. Wales fly-half Gareth AnscombeThe No 10, who has sadly been ruled out of the World Cup by injury, talks pressure, changes in mindset and his move to the Ospreys.15. England’s Mark WilsonThe back-rower proves that good things come to those who graft. We find out more about his work ethic and he provides insight into his team-mates, including who is the best dancer. The new issue of Rugby World magazine has everything you need to know about the tournament in Japan, plus a wallchart!last_img read more

Carol Vorderman – “I wouldn’t have missed watching Wales for the world”

first_imgAs Wales prepare to launch a new era against the Barbarians on Saturday, TV celebrity Carol Vorderman discusses the Rugby World Cup and her long-felt love of the sport LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS A couple of years ago, I started going to watch Gloucester playing at Kingsholm. I fly my plane out of Gloucester airfield, am rarely away from the (Cheltenham) racecourse, the best in the world, and know James Hanson and his lovely wife Ashley. I love ‘The Shed’. Gloucester is probably one of the few English clubs that is more like a Welsh club in that it’s properly part of the whole community. I like that, it matters to the people of Gloucester.This year, though, I’ve gone home to Wales and I couldn’t be happier. I started to host a show on BBC Radio Wales show in Cardiff on Saturday lunchtimes and I’m not off air until 1.30pm, so I have lots of Welsh rugby to rush off to see straight afterwards now.Passionate: Gloucester supporters in The Shed in full voice during a Premiership match (Getty Images)I’m a big Wales women’s rugby supporter and get the girls on the show quite a bit. My best girlfriend in America, Colleen, is the Head of Science at NASA (we’re both nerds) and she had never seen a rugby game, so she came over in March and we went to the Grand Slam match, Wales-Ireland at the Principality Stadium.The women’s team had just had their captain’s run that morning and the WRU asked Colleen and I to present the girls with their shirts as a surprise. I told our team that when I was a girl in North Wales I played netball, rounders and hockey as that was all girls were allowed to do.I desperately wanted to be a fighter pilot in the RAF but wasn’t accepted because I was a girl, so to see the opportunities they have now lifts my heart. It’s fantastic that they can play rugby in the Six Nations. However, the England women’s team are full-time and are paid to be a part of the team, and really good for them. But it concerns me that the other teams aren’t, which means it isn’t a level playing field.On the board: Siwan Lillicrap celebrates scoring for Wales during the Women’s Six Nations (Getty Images)Many of our girls have to drive an eight-hour round trip to Cardiff three times a week for training, as well as keep full-time jobs. I hope our team will be allowed to become professional soon because then the world will see what they can do. I can’t tell you how important it is for young girls in school to see that happen and to find their role models, it shapes our future society.The Grand Slam game itself was golden. Ireland had chosen to have the roof off, and it was bucketing down, cold and horrible. Our tiny mascot had walked out with the team, the greatest day of his and his family’s life, and he was getting soaked.So before the anthem, Alun Wyn (Jones) took his fleece off and put it around the little boy’s shoulders, then stood up proudly and belted out Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the best anthem in the world obviously. That feeling of protecting the weak, that’s what I love about our Welsh spirit, it’s very honest. There’s no ego there, no showboating. Big in Japan: Carol Vorderman with fellow Wales fans prior to the RWC match v Uruguay (Getty Images) center_img We love our team deeply and our hearts broke in those final minutes in the RWC semi-final [at Japan 2019], but we will be there loving them just as much every time they play. Bring on the Barbarians, I’ll be one of the tens of thousands singing in the stands. Can’t wait.Jump lead: Carol at Kumamoto Stadium. She’ll be watching Wales again this Saturday (Getty Images)Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Carol Vorderman – “I wouldn’t have missed watching Wales for the world”Wales begin a new era on Saturday when they face the Barbarians in a non-capped match at the Principality Stadium (2.45pm). It will be Wayne Pivac’s first game in charge and pits him against his predecessor Warren Gatland, who is coaching the Barbarians.New Zealand-born wing Johnny McNicholl makes his Wales debut, and hookers Rory Best and Schalk Brits play their final professional matches, in a game that is part of a double header – the teams also meet in a women’s fixture that kicks off at 11.45am.Carol Vorderman will follow proceedings with interest. The TV personality and former Countdown star attended two of Wales’ World Cup games and RW caught up with her to find out more about her Japan experience, her rugby roots – and her devotion to the Wales teams. A shorter version of this column by Carol appears in our December issue.All smiles: Cornal Hendricks of the Barbarians gets in the spirit during training in Penarth (Getty Images)OH MAN, JAPAN, I’m going back! I’ve travelled the world many times but Japan surprised me in so many ways. The culture, the geography, the kindness and beauty are all extraordinary… Not forgetting the bars. Wild!My friend and I went to see a couple of Wales pool games and I wouldn’t have missed them for the world. Everything was so well and happily organised, even down to where the end of the toilet queue was, there was somebody there with a sign. And the toilets… Anyone who’s been will know what I mean… lol!Mutual respect: Wales and Uruguay players bow to the crowd after their pool game in Kumamoto (Getty)Everything runs beautifully in Japan because the people respect what they have. We saw four cities and drove for hundreds of miles and there was not a single piece of litter, not one. The Japanese people seemed so friendly and calm. Japan suffered a devastating typhoon and yet still staged a wonderful World Cup.I’m from good Welsh farming stock and grew up in North Wales, but my interest in rugby really started when I was 17 and at Cambridge University. I started going out with a big Yorkshireman when I was working underground as a junior engineer over one summer, so I moved to Leeds in the early ’80s, where Andy played second-row for Headingley and Yorkshire, and for a while I was on the social committee for the club. Peter Winterbottom was in the team and Geech (Sir Ian McGeechan) was such a huge part of it too. I adored watching rugby, including rugby league, which was much faster than union then.Proud moment: Justin Tipuric will captain Wales against the Barbarians this weekend (MB Media/Getty)A gang of us were at Twickenham on the day Erica Roe decided to display her magnificent wares (1982). At half-time Andy went off for the beers while we got the best half-time entertainment of our lives. He missed it all! The beer was good, though.And back in 1988 I was in Australia for six months, filming a BBC travel series. The film crew and I were in a bar near Cairns and who should walk in but the Lions [rugby league] team… I discovered tequila that night. Ouch.last_img read more

The Art of Losing In Rugby

first_imgIn 2002 Leeds – then the Tykes – finished rock bottom of the Premiership. But they were not relegated as Rotherham, who topped the division below, didn’t have the requisite facilities for England’s top flight. The very next season Leeds finished fifth; they went from 12th to a Heineken Cup place.“We really had nothing to lose,” explains Dan Scarbrough, who played full-back both seasons. “The first year everyone was getting used to (the Premiership) and we had a good crack at it, but sadly we didn’t quite make it. But we’d stayed up by default. We felt like we deserved to stay up.“We were given that sort of grace period of another year and it left us as underdogs.On a roll: Dan Scarbrough scores against Leicester in 2002 (Getty Images)“That first game of the season we beat Leicester (26-13). And being the underdogs probably puts you in a position where you are willing to take more risks and be willing to have a go. If it didn’t work out then people would expect it and if we did stay up, fantastic.”Damian Hughes believes that the 2002-03 Leeds Tykes outfit perfectly demonstrates the effect of using failure as feedback. Going on to what changed the following year, Scarbrough adds: “We’d been there, we’d tried it and we’d failed, so clearly there was more focus on ‘how do we keep going for the whole season rather than BANG and just fizzle out?’“There was probably more rotation in positions where we could rotate. Training did change. Training was still incredibly hard, but we did learn lessons. Like how to win a game. People talk about how games are won and lost in the last ten minutes and that was a big focus as well.“We were probably quite an inexperienced group. In that second year, Braam van Straaten probably gave us an edge we didn’t have before by slotting over 60m winners. We had a slightly different game plan we could look at.“I remember asking him after one win about how he kept his focus and he just said, ‘I know I won’t miss. That’s my 16th game I’ve had 16 match-winning kicks and I’ve hit them all.’ In his mind he couldn’t miss.Related: Fear and anxiety in rugby“We had a mix of lads who were gonna get the head down and crack on. We had a lot of team players who would put their body on the line, they’d been flogged for years by Phil Davies and they would do anything for the club. And then you bring in that little bit of experience.“We went against good teams and knew we could beat them. And that was more so in the second year, it wasn’t so much of a surprise.”Getting more cracks at Jonny Wilkinson and Jason Robinson could only help. If handled the right way, then opportunities to keep climbing back on the horse may help. Look at Shota Horie.Big character: Shota Horie of Japan (Getty Images)Alongside skipper Michael Leitch, the Japan hooker was part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup squad that lost every game. In the build-up to the 2015 World Cup, he went and plied his trade in a tougher field, leaving Japan to play NPC with Otago before joining the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby.In 2015 he helped the Brave Blossoms shock the world, beating South Africa 34-32. And although Japan missed out on getting beyond the pool stages for the first time ever, at the next World Cup Horie played a starring role as Japan created history to make the knockouts.What a loser, eh?Scarbrough, who works at Bradford Grammar now, believes learning what setbacks are, early, can help developing athletes. It is a sentiment shared by Jamie Taylor, who was an academy head coach at Leicester Tigers and now works as a senior performance pathway scientist for the English Institute of Sport.In our special report Too Much, Too Soon, he explained of recent findings that “what is widespread is those who have it too easy falling away” and that it’s a disaster if any kids cruise through school as a rugby rockstar, because the first loss, first shock in training or first proper hurdle could blow their world apart.The value of experienceWhat may be ignored here though, is the value of those who have known losses through several stages of their careers. Because they cannot be defined by purely that aspect of their working history.In the mix: Leonardo Ghiraldini against Ireland, 2019 (Getty Images)Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini won less than 20% of his Test matches, losing 84 of 104. And yet he has enjoyed a long and varied career in Italy, England and France. As he explains to Rugby World of his mindset: “I always want to win, in every game, in every workout, in every training session. But if you are good at understanding how and why you made a mistake, you come out much stronger from the difficult times.“Every day I work to become a better athlete in all aspects but the tough moments can be a spring that makes you grow even more. The winning attitude is very important.”Then there is Tom May, who lost 141 Premiership matches between 1999 and 2015 but has enjoyed an exciting career that flew from Newcastle to Toulon, to Northampton and lastly London Welsh.Asked if he thinks the greater sporting world undervalues the experience of tough times, he responds: “Yes, because the immediate reaction is probably the reaction you got from me initially – everyone plays the sport to win. So when you do lose you ultimately look at that as a failure. Actually when you step back from that or when you become a bit older and a bit more experienced, you understand a lot more about what you’re learning.”Look further down the list of Premiership players with a lot of losses and some names jump out. Phil Dowson has 124 losses. He is now an assistant coach at Northampton Saints. Stuart Hooper has 117, he is the director of rugby at Bath. Micky Ward has 112 losses and he’s the forwards coach at Falcons.Talking about these former players, May goes on: “There are so many examples of what these guys can offer players from what they’ve experienced. Because everyone experiences the highs of winning at some point, and in some fashion. But do that many people experience the tough times that really steel you for not only life as a professional sportsman, but also for what comes when you leave the game?Playmaker: Tom May attacks Saracens with Newcastle (Getty Images)“The lessons I learnt from Newcastle made me the player that I was. We flirted with relegation a couple of times. At the time we were pretty young so we didn’t really think too much about the negative side. And there was a negative side clearly.“But Philippe Saint-Andre tried to sign me for Sale before going to Toulon. So I guess he spotted something and if you look at people that he signed when we went to Toulon, it was a load of people that just grafted. Yeah, there were some big names like Sonny Bill Williams but the guys that he took, he knew that they had a good training ethic.“When things don’t come easy as a professional sportsman you have to evolve. You either just chuck hands up in the air and go, ‘We lost, we can’t do anything about it,’ or you knuckle down and you find a way to solve it.“That’s made me much more of a solutions person as opposed to someone that says ‘Oh, I can’t deal with it.’ I’m trying that now. I’m much more of a person that will say yes to something and then find a way to do it.”When taking over a new gig, Hughes recommends coaches conduct a ‘pre-mortem’, where you identify as many of the possible horrible moments that could lie ahead, so you and the board are ready for fight time.Yet for many of the veteran players, it was a case of adapting on the hoof and reflecting later in life. What is best practice today could well nestle in the vast grey areas.For the rest of us, it’s about appreciating that there can be intrinsic value in playing through those horrible defeats. Because the moments to savour are so hard earned. (iStock, edited by Rugby World) The Art of Losing In RugbyLosing sucks.We all know that feeling in the pit of your stomach – the misery of realised dread – when the final result betrays you. For the competitive spirit, it’s hell.And yet, in a world where only one real winner’s medal is handed out each season in each competition, the minor and major losses can queue up. Indeed, throughout a career, every elite athlete can catalogue all manner of defeat.It does not magically become a sanguine sensation because of familiarity, though. Maybe there is an art to losing? Not in perfecting the blunder but in harnessing the lessons available once the loss has wrung you out. Take a step further and those who are no stranger to a setback may offer an awful lot more than you would first suspect.Understanding the process“The term ‘failure’ leads us into a bit of a binary world of black or white; you succeed or you fail and you miss the nuance,” says Damian Hughes, who has specialised in organisational development within elite sport and who has worked extensively with the Scotland national team. “Maybe we should be somewhere in the middle. That term ‘failure’, there’s no subtlety to it. It sounds like a bit of an American motivational speaker phrase, but there’s some credibility in the idea that failure should be viewed as feedback.”Hughes laughs that you fall into the reality TV speak of X Factor when you talk about going on a journey, but he believes that creating a successful environment means having the room to change behaviours based on your experiences.He gives the example from his time in rugby league, with England at the 2008 World Cup in Australia. Having lost in the semi-finals, the coaching group discovered how ruthless they needed to be, which selections could work best, the time demands needed for big competitions. But with a subsequent coaching shake-up, all that knowledge “went out the building”.Hughes explains that any journey to the top has five stages.The first is the ‘dream’ stage, where a new boss comes in, there’s a big press conference and rhetoric flies about your thrilling future. Stage two is the ‘leap’ stage. This is where you ask people to change how they do things. It is at this point teams often get the early bounce with a new coach in charge, it is explained.Big defeat: Scotland after losing to Japan at Rugby World Cup 2019 (Getty Images)Then comes the ‘fight’ stage. This, Hughes says, is where issues come in for the first time in the regime. Losses. Disagreements. Player disillusionment. Fan unrest. Board pressure.Hughes says that more often than not in sport, this is when the coach is sacked and we all tootle off back to phase one. Teams can spend decades just cycling through the first three stages, he adds.Hughes goes on: “However, if you view it as feedback, some of those things at the ‘fight’ stage might be cultural, as part of the club and problems any coaches are going to face, so getting through that means you get to the ‘progress’ stage.“When you get through the difficult bits and start to see the seeds of change, that’s going to move you forwards. And then the last stage is you get to the ‘arrival’ stage where you do start to record successes. And then the idea is you go through a regeneration, where you start the process again.Related: The long road to recovery from long-term injury“The frustrating thing is if we only view failure as terminal. When somebody starts to fail in that fight stage – and they will hit it ­– that’s when you sack them and bring somebody in to excite you again. Nobody ever learns from that.”The interesting paradox at the heart of this cycle could be that you want athletes who are fired up and passionate, willing to fight for what they care about, but they may need to be won over when times are tough. Hughes cautions that coaches should be judicious when they approach an athlete to discuss failures but the prime example he can find is when you ask boxers if they have a plan should they hit the canvas.Those who have contemplated failure may handle it better, he suggests. They may stay down for longer in the count, catch their breath, take a beat to assess. He follows up that some believe a mistake is only a mistake if you repeat it.Drawing attention: Lee Blackett for Leeds against Gloucester. (Getty Images)Changing perspectivesWasps head coach Lee Blackett was relegated from the Premiership as a player for both Rotherham and Leeds. By his own admission his first experience was not so stinging. He was pleased to prove he could cut it at that level, following his rise through the ranks.However, after years of yo-yoing, his last of three relegations with Leeds, in 2011, was crushing.He explains: “I knew at the time where Leeds were and they were not so likely to bounce back the following year. We were (tenth) in the Premiership the year before and we wanted to try to get into the top six and we ended up getting relegated. There were a lot of very, very close friends of mine who were going to leave as a result of that. There were about eight of us on two-year deals and we were the only ones who really stayed.“You put everything into a season and we went down on points difference. It was pretty gut-wrenching… Still is to be honest.”After six seasons with the club, something special was coming to an end. What made it so rough was that they finished on the exact same points as Newcastle. Leeds have not been in the top flight since.How have those experiences shaped Blackett as a coach?“I would say detail,” he replies. “Games are so close. When you’re at that position in the bottom and you have to fight and scrap, every tiny little thing (helps).“We were potentially the worst team in the league. We knew we had to scrap and we had to fight and dig. We had to do anything to try and find that win. And it was special every time we did get that win.“When I was first asked by the club (Wasps) to talk about this, my first instinct was ‘Ugh, I don’t know if I can do that interview’. But then I started thinking a little bit more and it’s actually a pretty simple conversation to have. Because you are used to scrapping and fighting to find a way to get across the line, then the little details are massive because we just have to be the best at the unseen, talentless stuff. So when you become a coach you naturally take that over.Positive play: Wasps celebrate a score back in March (Getty Images)“In that season with Leeds, we kicked ridiculously well, we chased hard, we were competitive and we rocked up every single week. As a coach that’s what you ask for as a minimum. Obviously at Wasps we’ve got a more talented squad, but still those foundation levels are what you’re looking for. Then we go from there.“It’s the tiny little details like what line we run in attack, or if it’s two men hitting the ruck, who’s doing what role. Because that detail is the difference between winning and losing.”One of the other things that is key for Blackett is taking a positive approach to improvement. He believes that there is enormous pressure on players weekly, from media and fan attention to strivng to make your family proud and stressing over contracts and career trajectory. So game week has to be enjoyable.Related: The life of a journeymanThat does not mean there’s no critique and these are elite athletes, expected to deliver on the biggest stage. However, more often than not, if there is a game-swinging error, the player knows what they did wrong. Blackett is an incredibly competitive person too, he admits. Therefore how Wasps’ coaches deliver messages is something they think about deeply.When things are positive and there is the right team environment, Blackett adds, team-mates rally to help individuals bounce back. It’s something that can only help the collective.A second chanceA period of tying together errors is no indicator of irredeemable rot, either. There is another example from Leeds which proves just this. As a society, do we undervalue the experience of losing? We take a deep dive into the positives rugby stars can salvage from defeatcenter_img Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more