Prop lays into fullback with big shot


Richard Hibbard & Kalamafoni double hit


Step and unbelievable dummy sets up try


Rugby's first ever OWN TRY in NRC


Sam Burgess breaks cheekbone, plays on


Hala'ufia crunches then slaps Wilson


Springboks edge All Blacks in thriller


Ben Flower red card for vicious punches


Samu Manoa Huge Hit on Billy Twelvetrees

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A pint or two with Harlequins flyhalf Nick Evans

A pint or two with Harlequins flyhalf Nick Evans

Nick Evans was kind enough to take time out to catch up with RD ahead of a big rugby year, particularly in his native New Zealand. Among other things, he touched on his golfing prowess, an incredible dropgoal, and what it will take for the All Blacks to win the World Cup at home.

RD: Youve been in the UK a while now how different is everyday life to what you experienced in New Zealand as a professional player?

Nick: Rugby is the same wherever you are in the world. Its all about running, kicking and contact and that doesnt change whether you are playing in New Zealand, England or anywhere else for that matter.

Off the pitch New Zealand is definitely more relaxed, that's for sure. No traffic, no stress and if you want Sky installed you can get it the next day. In England it's never that easy!

With you seemingly out of the Test rugby picture, who would be your choice from the current crop to A) Play second fiddle to Carter at the World Cup, and B) Be the man to take over in the long run?

Graham Henry has already gone with Stephen Donald as back up and it looks like he will be there for the World Cup. From a personal point of view I'd go with Colin Slade. He can play at both 10 and 15 and I'm a big fan of versatility. You never know what might happen in terms of injuries so quality cover in all positions is important and that's what Colin provides.

In terms of the man to take over from Dan Carter I think it's still a bit early to tell. It's a tricky one because those are going to be big boots to fill so let's wait and see.

With next years World Cup in mind, what do you think will be the best way for New Zealand to deal with the immense pressure that will be placed on them at home, and who is best placed to challenge them?

The best way to deal with the pressure is to embrace it. In 2007 we shut ourselves off and by doing that it became more intense. It's going to be a huge occasion but it's important for the guys to try and enjoy as much of it as they can.

South Africa and Australia are probably best placed to challenge New Zealand. Both have beaten the Kiwis in the last couple of years and will take a lot of confidence from those results. Having said that I don't see anyone stopping New Zealand in their own backyard next year.

Was the decision to not return to NZ - to give the World Cup a shot - a difficult one to make, or one that was never really something you considered?

It was the hardest rugby decision Ive ever had to make. I knew when I signed a three year deal with Quins that I would be hard pushed to get back in the team for the World Cup however, looking back I dont regret the decision at all.

Englands forgotten man, Danny Cipriani, will play for the Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby tournament next year what advice would you give to Northern Hemisphere players who make a similar move?

Its a great move for young and upcoming players to experience life and rugby in the southern hemisphere. There are noticeable differences in the way the game is coached with real emphasis placed on developing the core skills.

Its a gutsy move for Danny to make but if he applies himself in the right way hell return to England a better player. No one individual is bigger than the team in Australia and if he finds himself in the spotlight for non-rugby reasons that wont go down well.

Whats life at Harlequins like since Bloodgate? Forgotten about, or a valuable lesson thats made everyone closer as a result?

Its forgotten about and now it is up to us, as players, to continue rebuilding the reputation of the club on the pitch by performing well in both domestic and European competition. The feeling around the training ground is very good at the moment and long may that continue.

Talk us through that dropgoal you slotted against Stade Francais in 2008.

Where do I start? It was one of the most exciting games Ive been involved in and the finish wasnt bad either! I still wonder how that final play lasted 29 phases in such terrible conditions. We could have dropped the ball, we almost scored in the corner anything could have happened. I thought about the drop goal twice but both times decided we were still a little too far out.

The team dug deep and thankfully I was able to get it over. It was a great moment for the players, the fans and the whole club.

Having turned 30 a few months back, have you put a number on how much longer you aim to play professional rugby?

You do think about it but as long as I am enjoying training and working with the guys then that is what matters. I would be happy with four or five more years but as long as the body holds up the sky is the limit.

Do you manage to get out on the golf course much these days, and whats your handicap?

Yeah I do. Myself and Tom Williams play together and usually take on the forwards, Matt Cairns and Mark Lambert. I play off 15 but Matts handicap is 6. Just for the record the backs are 5-2 up at the moment!

Brendan Venter comedian, headcase, or revolutionary?

As a rugby man you have to give him a lot of respect for what he has achieved in the game. I did see the interview he gave the other day and it was very strange but heh, thats the sort of thing that makes him who he is.

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We spoke to Nick at The Red Lion pub in Isleworth over a pint of Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of Harlequins and England Rugby. Get behind the scenes access and win tickets to see Quins in action at www.greenekingipa.co.uk

Posted at 10:02 am | 34 comments

Harlequins beat Stade Francais with a most dramatic finale

Viewing 34 comments

Anonymous December 18, 2010 1:23 pm

first! hhahahah

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Phil December 18, 2010 3:34 pm

I really like these interviews, keep 'em coming RD.

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Juggernauter December 18, 2010 5:14 pm

Awesome player... Stephen Donald isn't half the player Nick is, it's a shame he can't play for the AB's. He's done so much for english rugby just playing in the Premiership, Jordan Turner Hall owes him big time.

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JC December 18, 2010 9:54 pm

From 1 England supporter (so I don't get raped for being 'biased') Danny cipriani is going to get f'in screwed down south! I think if jonny wilkinson went down south a few years ago (apart from being hated for the 2003 drop goal) I think he'd fit in quite well or not be a media whore, cipriani as we know is a media whore, I figure his big head or big mouth is going to get him broken (I hope)

I like the interview section too :) good work RD!!

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Anonymous December 19, 2010 4:45 am

see even evans watching from the other side of the world realises that slade is the better option. Hopefully Graham Henry reads this.

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Anonymous December 19, 2010 9:19 am

It's obviously going to be quicker to get Sky installed in New Zealand, most people still have black and white sets. Only 8 people can afford satellite TV.

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bob December 19, 2010 11:08 am

From 1 England supporter (so I don't get raped for being 'biased') Danny cipriani is going to get f'in screwed down south! I think if jonny wilkinson went down south a few years ago (apart from being hated for the 2003 drop goal) I think he'd fit in quite well or not be a media whore, cipriani as we know is a media whore, I figure his big head or big mouth is going to get him broken (I hope)

----

Is that a bad thing? You realise Rugby is almost a dead sport in Australia. The game needs all the media attention it can get if it's going to survive.

The refusal of NH cock-jocks to embrace professionalism is laughable

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WelshOsprey December 19, 2010 5:04 pm

Unless god himself replaces carter nobody will be able to fill those boots.

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JC December 19, 2010 9:35 pm

Bob, I dont quite understand :/ I mean the NH cock-jocks not embracing professionalism....what do you mean by that?

As for cipriani being the saviour of Aussie rugby because it is somewhat dead....I don't think so....the kind of attention that followed cipriani was 'he had sex with a transexual' 'his team mate punched him in a training session and knocked him out' etc etc....now I don't know about you, but, do you think a mother reading about that would think 'oh bonza just the sport to get my little Codey into!'

cos I really don't.....

It might be a good thing for cipriani to get a bit broken, it might make him a better player if it gets knocked down a peg or two.... But I doubt it will yield greatness for Australia....

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mooloo December 20, 2010 12:07 am

Anonymous said...
It's obviously going to be quicker to get Sky installed in New Zealand, most people still have black and white sets. Only 8 people can afford satellite TV.

Your team beaten by NZ again this year? Poor thing, but bitterness is not a good look.

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Tom December 20, 2010 12:50 am

Rugby is not actually dead in Australia.
It's not the most popular but it is still popular with alot of people.
And Cipriani is apparently already getting on nerves.
Apparently he's homesick already, having a cry. Apparenly he goes out all the time too, always in clubs or pubs. He'd better learn what real proffesionalism is or he just won't get played.

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Pierre Cardigan December 20, 2010 6:20 am

Rumours of the death of Australian rugby are greatly exaggerated, just ask France.

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JC December 20, 2010 10:49 am

Thats what I mean, whatever state Australian rugby is in (dead or otherwise) Danny cipriani is not goin to bring out positive media, unless ofcourse it gets all the Aussie guys united and patriotic when some fucker knocks cipriani out in a bar....

Cos I guess you could call that positive for 2 nations.....

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Anonymous December 20, 2010 11:52 am

Rugby is dying in most countries, fewer kids are playing in Australia, England, France, Wales and just look at the miniscule attendances in Scotland to see how the game is doing there.

People turn up for some internationals but even now they're not getting the crowds they used to. Wales couldn't sell out games vs South Africa and Australia.

Football is getting bigger, rugby is going backwards.

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Anonymous December 20, 2010 11:58 am

You can't blame kids for not wanting to play rugby, it has to be the only sport that has 20 rule changes every year. It wont be long before they push through a throwing the ball forwards rule.

Rugby is only consistent in that laws are consistently being changed

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Jackson December 20, 2010 12:17 pm

Two misinformed anonymous twerps within 6 minutes of each other who seem to have wandered into the wrong site by mistake. Maybe they are (he is) just not very bright.

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Anonymous December 20, 2010 12:33 pm

Quoting facts is not being bright?

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Jackson December 20, 2010 12:33 pm

I am not very bright.

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Anonymous December 20, 2010 12:42 pm

"Wales couldn't sell out games vs South Africa and Australia."
Because the ticket prices were fucking ridiculous even tickets for the fiji game were 40+
Come the six nations every game will be sold out.

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Jackson (original) December 20, 2010 12:48 pm

@Anonymous person: Thanks, you've just proven my point and no doubt will continue to do so. What's the matter, is the corruption and greed in your own football making you uneasy? Gotta lash out? Got no friends to talk to about it?

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Anonymous December 20, 2010 12:49 pm

The abiding memory of the recent autumn internationals was not the excellence of the All Blacks or England's inconsistency, the courage of the Scottish forwards in matching the South Africans or the lamentable performance of some referees. The stand-out feature of the recent spate of Tests in Britain and Ireland was in the stands - great swathes of empty seats in every direction.

Just 31,318 souls parted with their money to watch the Barbarians take on South Africa while 58,186 people watched the teams at the same stadium in 2007 (even though the ticket prices on average were less this time around).

Wales attracted 53,000 to their recent match against Australia, a dramatic reduction on the 74,000-plus fans who watched the Wales-Australia encounter in 2009. The average ticket price was the same.

Ireland's policy of bundling tickets together and then pricing them at the cost of a small house meant that the brand-new Aviva Stadium in Dublin had a lukewarm welcome on its opening, with 20,000 empty seats at one international. As a result, the IRFU has had to slash ticket prices by as much as 60 per cent in some cases ahead of the Six Nations.

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Jackson (original) December 20, 2010 12:51 pm

I'm not very bright.

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Anonymous December 20, 2010 12:53 pm

In the UK Some 66 per cent of schools offer rugby union, falling from 74 per cent four years ago.

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Jackson (the origina December 20, 2010 1:35 pm

Turns out the anonymous person's opinion is based entirely on an article he found that even describes itself as a "quick and less than scientific look". Although he posts it as if he wrote it, naughty. It's a complex issue Anon, so it's best you leave it to others.
And using other people's nicknames really does prove my point.

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Jackson (the origina December 20, 2010 1:46 pm

Aviva Premiership sides are concerned over a steep drop in attendances in the first three rounds of the competition, compared with last year. Spectator numbers at club grounds have fallen by 12%.

In Australian sports people know that between AFL, NRL and the A-League, rugby union is a very poor fourth cousin and going backwards at a rate of knots.

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Anonymous December 20, 2010 9:50 pm

"Wales attracted 53,000 to their recent match against Australia, a dramatic reduction on the 74,000-plus fans who watched the Wales-Australia encounter in 2009. The average ticket price was the same."

Wrong, the ticket prices last year were priced by the seating location (so better seats = more expensive)
This year they were 55 regardless of the seat you get, which pissed off a lot of welsh fans leading to smaller crowds.

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TG December 20, 2010 11:24 pm

If smaller crowds this year means its dying there will not be a soccer ground in Australia in 10 years time. The A-League crowds are pitiful at the moment. But it's not dying and rugby isn't either. Anyway a real sports fan wouldn't be glad to see any of the football codes die out. They all give us something different and great.

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Tom December 21, 2010 7:44 am

Australian Super rugby average attendences are about 20,000.
Not too bad for a dead sport.

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Anonymous December 21, 2010 10:21 am

I think it's pretty obvious to see that rugby is in decline. My wife works for the education board and nearly every school in our area has dropped rugby.

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Bauer December 21, 2010 10:47 am

You know it's not looking good when people boast about figures of 20,000, especially considering those figures are mostly boosted by South Africa where tickets cost peanuts and the population is huge.

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pickle December 21, 2010 11:03 pm

They need to televise Super15 (Superrugby) on free-to-air television in Australia. Make it more accessable to the main stream.

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secondfive December 22, 2010 1:31 am

Around the world crowd figures for different sports go up and down, schools take up sports or drop them, media gets excited then doesn't then does again, one thing you can be sure of is that there are always people saying such-and-such a sport is dying. It's been going on for ages and yet years later people are still playing and watching, arguing about and enjoying that particular sport.
To quote an online article from a couple of years ago headed The Decline of Football: Beautiful Game, Ugly Evolution: "From the inside-out and top-down, football is rotting to its core. It is dripping in the money of a band of individuals whose actual interest in the game itself is marginal at best." etc etc.. there's been plenty more of that over recent years and from long before. If you want to make this kind of argument you can always find statistics that will support you.
Those attacking rugby on here don't seem to realise that every major sport in the world can be analysed in a way that makes it look to be in trouble. All the traditional first rank sports are challenged by many factors; the obscene amounts of money that slosh around despite the precarious financial structures of even the most successful clubs, the increasing priority given to corporations over regular fans, the ever growing alternatives people, especially kids, have for spending their time, whiffs of corruption and similar issues affect major sports all round the world. If a hugely popular international sport like Rugby Union, that is deeply ingrained in the social and historical fabric of many countries is in decline, then the other major sports are also in trouble because the probable causes can be found in them all. Assoc. Football is a much bigger beast, the problems can be more easily hidden and take longer to have effect, but there are plenty of people who love the game will also tell you it is heading for big trouble. Only time will tell, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
The saving of all games is the game itself. Personally I've enjoyed the international rugby this year as much as I have for quite a while. It's got its problems, it always has, but it will evolve and thrive for a long time yet. And anyone hoping to dance on its grave, should that time come, can only expect to see other graves being dug very nearby.

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Jackson M. December 23, 2010 8:18 am

@second five. Well said, although it's way too many words for the anonymous person to handle.

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Juggernauter December 24, 2010 5:17 am

Well said secondfive... anyway, the people who play the sport actually MAKE the sport, so if there's just on guy in Wales playing rugby and enjoying it, rugby is fine. All this talk is nonsense. Enjoy the sport and the else will follow.

Cheers

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