Wednesday, February 06, 2013
O2 Inside Line heads to Dublin this week as England prepare for their Six Nations clash with Ireland at a packed Aviva Stadium. This week's show looks towards the game, and looks back on England's win over Scotland.
The good news for the visitors is that while new boy Billy Twelvetrees had a great debut, powerhouse Manu Tuilagi should be fit and ready to go should his services be be called upon.
"If you haven’t played for four weeks and there are guys who have performed exceptionally well at the weekend, then you need to make sure you have the tempo and the intensity when you do come in," said attacking skills coach Mike Catt.
"It's great to have a selection dilemma at this level," he added.
Brad Barritt will likely start, and in this week's show he discusses how the weather played a part in the win over Scotland, and touches on how England and Ireland's breakdown tactics differ.
James Haskell explains what women really want in a man, Joe Marler reveals how long he won't cut his beard for (and why), and England's communications manager talks us through his role.
Date: Sunday 10 Feb | Venue: Dublin | Kick off: 15:00 GMT
Posted at 6:12 pm | 5 comments
Brian O'Driscoll is fast becoming the bookies favourite to captain the Lions on their tour to Australia following Ireland's 30-22 victory over Wales on Saturday. Young winger Craig Gilroy, who also looks to be a star, could be joining him down under.
There was somewhat of a subplot to the Ireland win as O’Driscoll put in yet another Man of the Match performance, impressing fans and experts alike, and raising serious suggestions that he may now be a real contender for the captaincy role on the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia.
The 34-year-old set up a Simon Zebo try with a perfectly timed pass, and scored one of his own. He was typically bullish throughout, typified by the hit we see briefly below, where he took on big Ian Evans as Wales launched a full on assault on the tryline.
Sam Warburton and Chris Robshaw are the other two players in contention for Lions skipper honours, but if fit and playing well, O'Driscoll's experience would surely count in his favour.
"The big thing is trying to be fit and getting as close to 100 per cent fit as you possibly can when you take to the pitch," he said post match.
"I felt good against Wales, my ankles both felt good, as did all the other bumps and bruises. If you can start games that way you have every chance of putting in a half decent performance."
Craig Gilroy, who has had a good start to Test rugby, made a great hit on Alex Cuthbert just a minute after O'Driscoll's on Evans. Snubbing out the Wales overlap being the key element in it.
"It was a very physical game, real Six Nations stuff which you expect when you come to Cardiff.
"It was body-on-the-line stuff and there was a couple of times when guys made key decisions, stopping the ball when they had two or three men overlaps and that's what you have to do to win tough games," O'Driscoll added.
Who would you pick as captain for the Lions this year?
Posted at 12:28 pm | 14 comments
Monday, February 04, 2013
Last month we featured the first in a series that will lead up to what is arguably the most anticipated rugby event of the year, the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia.
Each month HSBC will be bringing you updates and features as the excitement builds ahead of what some are calling a must win tour for the Lions, having not won a series since 1997.
In this month's Lions Monthly:
- Warren Gatland interview in Australia following the Lions Coaching Team announcement
- Former Wallaby utility back Joe Roff reminiscing about the 2001 Lions tour
- Behind-the-scenes Total Rugby chat with Brian O’Driscoll, including some Gavin Henson 'secrets'
- Jason Robinson teaching young people from the Prince’s Trust the benefits of playing rugby
Has your ideal Lions XV selection changed following the opening round of the Six Nations?
Posted at 7:57 pm | 6 comments
In one of the most entertaining opening weekend's of Six Nations rugby for some time, the best was saved for last as Italy and France battled it out at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, with the hosts taking a famous 23-18 victory.
Italy beat France for just the second time in fourteen meetings between the two sides, showing yet again that they are no longer the whipping boys of the tournament, particularly not at home.
It's been two years since Italy beat France 22-21 in Rome and this was as big an occasion as that famous day, with Sergio Parisse showing yet again why he's considered by some to be the best number eight in world rugby.
Flyhalf Luciano Orquera also had a huge game for the hosts, playing a part in tries for Parisse and Martin Castogiovanni, as well as kicking two conversions, and a penalty and a drop goal.
"I'm really happy for the team and the fans, after two years we've beaten France again in Rome," Orquera said. "We were mentally extremely strong right from the beginning, we wanted to win at any cost and we were always in the match. We never gave up."
Italy join England and Ireland on two points, while Wales and France have it all to do next weekend when they meet at the Stade de France in Paris.
"It's hard to say what went wrong, but you have to congratulate them, they started better than us," said returning French number ten Frederic Michalak, while coach Philippe Saint Andre said that they lacked precision and accuracy.
"We didn't take advantage of our chances while we were in the lead and the Italians overtook us.
"The first half an hour was bad and the last half an hour was a catastrophe. It hurts but it's only one game. What we have to do now is concentrate on the Wales match on Saturday," he said.
Posted at 8:08 am | 32 comments
Saturday, February 02, 2013
It was a good day for England fans as they beat Scotland 38-18 at Twickenham to claim the Calcutta Cup for the fourth successive year. The Women’s team also kicked things off with a win over Scotland, 76-0, and the Sevens team won in Wellington.
Owen Farrell continued his good form as he kicked 18 points and picked up Man of the Match, while tries were scored by Chris Ashton, Geoff Parling, Danny Care and debutant Billy Twelvetrees.
"I'm really pleased with the start. I think we’ve got a lot of confidence, and we’ll try to build on that" said England head coach Stuart Lancaster.
Scotland new cap Kiwi Sean Maitland scored the opening try of the game, while Stuart Hogg crossed for a well taken try but England stepped things up in the second half and came away with a big win.
They travel to Dublin next weekend to take on an impressive looking Ireland team, who earlier today beat Wales 30-22 in Cardiff.
"Across the board and with Manu (Tuilagi) coming back into consideration there will be some selection decisions to make. We need to knuckle down to what will be a massive game against Ireland," said Lancaster.
"The last two weeks have been invaluable in going over the lessons we learned in the autumn. We felt prepared going into the game and while we are not satisfied with everything I thought our cohesion was excellent and it has given us a foundation to go into Dublin.
"Ireland are an outstanding side. They have quality players across the board so it is a big step up. We need to make sure we are ready mentally physically and mentally and technically."
Posted at 9:14 pm | 42 comments
Ireland fought off a determined second half Welsh comeback to win the opening game of the Six Nations championship 30-22 at the Millennium Stadium. The visitors led 30-3 early in the second half and held on thanks to their gutsy defence.
Despite the big second half effort, it was the defending champions’ eight successive Test match defeat, automatically ruling out the chance of retaining the Grand Slam they achieved last year.
Ireland scored through Simon Zebo, Cian Healy and Brian O’Driscoll, with the Healy try in particular coming about through a great bit of instinctual play by Munster winger Zebo.
Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny and Craig Mitchell scored for Wales in the second half as their superior possession allowed them to launch their comeback and narrow the scoreline, but Ireland held on and can now look forward to hosting England next weekend.
Wales head to France for an unforgiving encounter with the side that are many fans’ favourites for the title. They have many positives to take from the second half but they were always chasing the game after going 30-3 down.
"It was a game of contrasting halves - to score three tries and be on the losing side, you look back and that first 20 minutes was key," said Wales coach Rob Howley.
At Twickenham England beat Scotland 38-18, while Italy host France in Rome on Sunday.
Posted at 7:03 pm | 40 comments
England scored a late equaliser to take a thrilling Wellington Sevens Cup Final into extra time, and ultimately beat a numbers deprived, but spirited, Kenyan team 24-19. New Zealand beat Samoa to take third place.
Kenya were a prominent force on the second day of the IRB Sevens World Series as they beat South Africa 21-20 in a tense quarter final, then beat hosts New Zealand 19-14 to earn themselves a place in just their second ever Cup Final.
England beat a strong Samoan team 21-19 in their Semi Final, setting up what later became a highly memorable finish to another great tournament in New Zealand's capital.
Kenya fell behind early but later led 19-12, tackling like men possessed and all but holding out if it were not for two yellow cards late in the game. England equalised with time up, taking it into extra time and setting up a sudden death scenario, with Sam Edgerley scoring the winner.
"The Kenyan team were incredible. It’s one of the toughest games I’ve ever played in. The physical limits were pushed beyond today," added captain Mike Powell.
Kenya (56 points) now sit in second place on the overall standings, 21 points behind leaders New Zealand (77). England are in eighth place (37). France (51), Fiji (51), and Samoa (54) make up the rest of the top five. The next leg takes place in Las Vegas next weekend.
Posted at 12:31 pm | 10 comments