Fancy a quiet read when The Sound of Music is on again? Get stuck into this pile of literature…(going left to right…)1. Union, The Heart of Rugby,Stunning photography and insightful interviews with five giants of the game £25 VSP2. World Rugby Records 2012,Chunky and colourful and bursting with rugby records. One for the grandchildren £19.99 Carlton3. RugbyWorld Yearbook 2012,Celebrate the winners of 2011 with the popular yearbook in aid of charity Wooden Spoon £20 G2 Entertainment4. Southern Comfort,A tribute to the rugby passion of the Scottish Borders, and men like Telfer and McLaren £16.99 Birlinn5. Jonny Wilkinson – My Autobiography,Get heavy with the planet’s most famous player. The life story of a tortured soul £20 Headline6. Michael Owen – My story,Ex-Wales captain Michael Owen comes to terms with injury after a sparkling career £17.99 John Blake7. Rugby World Cup 2011,The story of RWC 2011 as it unfolded. You can still hear the sighs of relief in New Zealand! £20 G2 Entertainment8. Alun Wyn Jones’s World Cup YearRelive Wales’ heroic World Cup campaign through the eyes of lock master Alun Wyn £16.99 Gomer Press9. More Thoughts on Chairmin Moore,The irrepressible Brian Moore shares his sporting opinions – and wages war on a stalker £18.99 Simon & Schuster10. Chris Ashton – Splashdown,From Wigan to Wonderman. Ash the Splash talks tries, dives and RWC heartache £18.99 Simon & Schuster11. The Springboks and the Holy Grail,Dan Retief relates South Africa’s journey from outcasts to double world champions £15.99 Zebra Press12. Higgy – Matches, Microphones and MS,Alastair’s Hignell’s rollicking ride in sport and broadcasting – and his battle against MS £18.99 Bloomsbury13. The Greatest Welsh XV ever,Eddie Butler takes on the impossible task – selecting the best all-time Wales XV £16.99 Gomer Press For Back Issues Contact John Denton Services at 01733-385-170 visit LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS 14. Boots & Spikes,The first biography of Welsh legend Ken Jones – 60-odd years after he raced to glory £18.99 Sports Books15. Mad Dog – An Englishman,Regrets? I’ve had a few. England’s World Cup skipper on his rumbustious rise £20 Hodder & Stoughton16. Engage – The Rise and Fall of Matt Hampson,Tiger burning bright – Matt Hampson’s unforgettable account of life in a wheelchair £16.99 Simon & Schuster17. A Question of Sport Quiz book,You’ve seen Matt Dawson, now put your money where your mouth is. Questions galore! £9.99 BBC Books18. The Rugby Lovers Companion,Jocular fun in a quick read designed for the Christmas stocking. Less than a tenner £9.99 Summersdale19. Joking Apart,Test rugby is no cakewalk – Ireland star O’Callaghan lets us in on the frustrations £18.99 Transworld Ireland20. World Cup rugby Tales,Laughs and confessions from the World Cup in Dallaglio’s sequel to his 2009 best-seller £18.99 Simon & SchusterThis article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine. Would you like to sign up to Rugby World’s excellent weekly email newsletter? Click here. Find a newsagent that sells Rugby World in the UK. Or you may prefer the digital edition on your MAC, PC, or iPad.
Getting out of the officeWhen rushed off your feet or working to a dead line it’s incredibly tempting to grab lunch at your desk but this can in fact be counterproductive. Getting away from your desk and even better out of the office gives your mind a break helping you become all the more efficient and effective to handle the task in hand upon your return. Taking a ten minute stroll around the block might not excite the mind but it can increase the heart rate and get the blood pumping to the brain. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS There are a number of caffeine replacements that claim to help us ditch the coffee habit and get us back on track to moderate rather than bucket load consumption. Derived from the native Brazilian herb Guarana it can be purchased and consumed in both tablet and liquid form and is said to replicate the caffeine kick. One tablet before breakfast or a few drops in water should have you cutting your coffee consumption without cutting your workload.Cold shower wake up callsA cold shower may be more closely associated with a boiler malfunction than a way to wake up feeling fresh and happy in the morning but there’s no denying the benefits of a cold water wake up. It may be hard to take the plunge into the ice water territory but it’s an age old trick to increasing energy levels helping you start the day refreshed and invigorated. Perhaps ironically, cold water showers have long been linked with helping strengthen immunity levels against colds and flu and may also be able to promote weight loss by increasing normal metabolism levels. What’s more to complement those sparkly whites you’ve got from drinking less coffee cold water can help keep skin and hair healthier – an all-around confidence boost! FUNCTIONING WITHOUT the morning coffee hit may seem like a distant memory but is it really as difficult as it seems to feel human in the morning pre latte, cappuccino or double espresso?Whether it’s the taste or the energy boost that has us hooked there’s no denying we could all benefit from a little less coffee in our lives. It’s been reported that too much coffee can lead to a whole host of unpleasant side effects from the obvious sleeplessness to headaches and irritability not to mention the not so desirable tooth staining. However, experiment with a caffeine free, busy day at work and if you’re not snoring at your desk before noon you are likely to be caught by the claws of the post lunch lull.So if not coffee, what else can we do to give us an energy boost and help power us through the day?Caffeine replacements
France’s fly half Francois Trinh-Duc (L) tackles England’s scrum-half Ben Youngs (R) during the Six Nations rugby union match between England and France at Twickenham stadium in London on February 23, 2013. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images) Hands full: England’s everyman Tom Wood will do battle with a bombastic Toby Faletau in the 6 Nations deciderBy Alan DymockTHIS SATURDAY Ireland do battle with the robust Italians while Scotland look to consign France to a surprising wooden spoon in Paris. So if you are wanting a Lions fix, looking for an actual one on one match-up where tour contenders try to obliterate each other, you have nowhere to look but the Millennium Stadium.Justin Tipuric/Sam Warburton v Tom Croft/Chris RobshawEffectively we have two opensides versus two blindsides, here. Which may sound unsophisticated, particularly with the rather un-nuanced belief that a good seven always trumps a good six, but in actual fact it will depend on the shape of the game and how momentum swings for us to say who is playing better.Pumped up: Sam Warburton gets animated at MurrayfieldWhat makes this more difficult is that we do not know who will be playing on which side for Wales, while we know Robshaw will want to get to the ruck before Croft and so will pack down on the openside. Last week Warburton suggested that Rob Howley preferred Warburton in defence and Tipuric in attack, so perhaps when England have ball Warburton will be open, and offensively Tipuric will take up the earlier phases of attack, rather than Warburton.So with momentum, should England be on top, expect Warburton to be a key figure as he aims to hit Robshaw as he takes those short balls he loves. Should Wales be on top there is a chance that Tipuric will act as tree chopper-in residence given Dan Lydiate’s absence and looking to impress with his work rate, covering Croft and Robshaw. Of course if this is the case – and it’s a big if – Warburton may be asked to play off Tipuric carrying, instead off tearing into the secondary tackler with ball in hand. Depending on his confidence levels he may oblige.What is so fascinating is that Warburton may be asked to play a fluid game against the synchronised-watch reliability of Robshaw.Toby Faletau v Tom Wood There is an evident difference in styles here, with Faletau fond of front foot action and Wood a master of spinning several plates at once. This is not to say that Faletau is one-dimensional; he is capable of amassing frightening statistics in terms of plunging directly ahead or trying to clap a tackle on as many foes as possible – just look at his 75 tackles in the 2011 Rugby World Cup finals. He can soar and is the pick of the eights in this tournament in terms of headlines.Wood is a man for all seasons, though. He can wear six, seven or eight on his back, and in truth he is really a six, but he offers utility. He is a catalyst more that anything else; a cog that holds things together. He is a leader too.Both of these men are fancied to tour in the summer, but on Saturday both will play a huge part in deciding the outcome. One because they are a generator of momentum; the other because they nit everything together.Hot-footed: Ben Youngs scuttles past Francois Trinh-DucMike Phillips v Ben YoungsBig talking, bold, brawny Mike Phillips may like shouldering responsibility when the game tightens up, but in Ben Youngs he faces an opponent who runs like a greyhound chasing a Ferrari masquerading as a rabbit.With this game set to ebb and flow, then, it will come down to which player makes the least errors. Or indeed infringes the least. After all, Warren Gatland will want someone who can facilitate his game plan for the Lions, not someone willing to gamble everything for 80 minutes. We all like our nines to be chancers, but with both men likely to tour they need to prove their intellect if we are to decide a hierarchy.George North v Chris Ashton The mountainous Scarlet may not be screaming up to the top of official yardage charts or thumping in with try after try, but balance and contribution tends to best stats in international rugby. He is a monstrous man to bring down and frees up space for others.Nevertheless, the statistics around Ashton’s tackling have brought many to question his actual contribution. He is also not scoring with any great regularity. So when these two clash, something will have to give. There is enough pressure on this fixture – that is patently clear from the different ways North’s “bloodbath” comments are being construed or misconstrued –but with North likely to be going on the tour and Ashton with a chance to make the plane should he impress this weekend, both will be trying their damnedest to make headway. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
“To be selected, players must consistently do the right things on and off the field. We’ll continue to assess James on that basis before any team decisions are made about a return.”Clawing a way back for this tormented player may be pretty hard indeed, regardless of talent. Plenty to shout about: After plugging away in the ITM with Auckland, Piri Weepu is back in the All Black foldBy Alan DymockIT’S NOT even a Rugby Championship weekend and there’s enough goings on to twist several pairs of knickers with all the whip of Lulu on repeat.The big news in New Zealand is that Richie McCaw has been brought back into the fold despite injuring his knee and despite him looking likely to miss the second game against the Pumas in Argentina next week. Such is his clout within the set-up that obviously reinstating him makes sense for the harmony of the group.However, it is also telling that Piri Weepu is welcomed back to the All Black camp after his dumping before the Championship. He has not played since the three-Test series against France in June, but is in as a replacement for the injured TJ Peranara and it is credit to New Zealand that in the unlikely event that Aaron Smith turns in a poor display or takes a knock there is vocal force in Weepu to come in.Dumped: James O’Connor is outA harsh truth would be that neither player are necessary against Argentina, but it can only add to the mystique of the All Blacks to have them in the wings, whispering in the ears of the youngsters. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS PERTH, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 14: James O’Connor of the Wallabies is tackled during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina at Patersons Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) One youngster that certainly needs a talking to but who is probably too far out in the wilderness to hear you now is James O’Connor. His place with the Wallabies is now forfeit.On Sunday the resident bad boy of the Wallabies took things a step to far when he was ‘escorted’ from Perth airport by the authorities after enjoying too much merriment at the expense of the defeated Pumas. Since then he has been punted from the Aussie squad for the remainder of the Championship.Head coach Ewen McKenzie said of the recent infraction and O’Connor’s prospects of a return: “We won’t be forced into making any decisions around his return until I’m satisfied that he can once again contribute positively to what we are trying to achieve as a group. The reality is that representing your country is the ultimate honour but also a week-to-week proposition.
NO: Brad Pitt. It couldn’t be anyone else.RW: Who would be your three dream dinner party guests?NO: Well Brad and I would talk about the role… I think Nelson Mandela would be good to talk to and I love old-school comedy so I would go for Ken Dodd.Memories: Nelson Mandela is all smiles as John Smit holds the World Cup above his headRW: Funniest moment in rugby?NO: When I look back there have been so many. Getting bowled over in 2010 while reffing South Africa versus New Zealand wasn’t funny at the time, but it is now. Then there was the “it’s not soccer” comment.RW: Any backchat from players?NO: I was refereeing a semi-pro game between Llanelli and Aberavon three years ago and we were setting a scrum. I said, “Don’t bugger about or we will never get this done.” One of the props grabbed my whistle out of my hand and said, “We’ll have a better game if you stop blowing this so much!”RW: Best game you have refereed?NO: I once refereed Pencoed U12 versus Cwmbran U12 the day after Leicester versus Ulster in the Heineken Cup. Seeing kids enjoy it, playing hard, scoring good tries, was brilliant.RW: Do you have any prized possessions?NO: My mum and dad gave me a watch when I was 18. Sadly my mother is no longer with us so that takes pride of place in my house.RW: Worst purchase you’ve ever made?NO: I’m not good with tech, but I bought a Blackberry tablet a few years back, took it out and haven’t used it once.RW: Do you have any hidden talents?NO: It’s not hidden, but whenever the referees get together and someone has to sing I’ll do it. I get through with showmanship rather than with being good.RW: How’d you like to be remembered? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS RUGBY WORLD: How much travelling do you get through?NIGEL OWENS: I do around 30,000 miles a year in the car. Mostly that’s heading to referee or going to the airport.RW: Do you have any phobias?NO: Snakes. I totally hate snakes. It beggars belief why anyone would want one as a pet.RW: What really winds you up?NO: Inconsiderate drivers who hog the outside lane when the middle lane is free. And people who work in airports or restaurants who are rude. Please and thank you costs nothing.RW: Do you have any superstitions?NO: I have a pair of Superman boxers that my little cousins gave me for Christmas that wear for every game.I always listen to the Welsh hymn How Great Thou Art before heading out. But I don’t let superstition affect the way I referee a game. Oh, and when I see a single magpie I salute it!RW: What are your nicknames?NO: At school I was called Pugsley, after the kid from The Addams Family. I was chubby.RW: Which referees are you friends with?NO: I get on with them all – guys like Craig Joubert and John Lacey – but I get on best with Wayne Barnes. I sang at his wedding. I was more nervous for that than anything else…RW: Are the referees really competitive?NO: We all push each other on, but it is a healthy competition.RW: Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?NO: I wouldn’t get stuck in a lift because I’m claustrophobic and always use the stairs!RW: Who’d play you in a film of your life? Day job: Nigel Owens sends England wing Marland Yarde to the sin-bin in New Zealand NO: Whatever people think of my style or how I referee, I hope people remember me for always being honest.This interview was published in the September 2014 edition of Rugby World. Click here for the latest subscription offers. The popular referee talks snakes, Superman and saluting magpies
Philippe Saint-André hasn’t been given much credit during his four years in charge of France but on one matter he deserves nothing but praise.He has brought Freddie Michalak back into the fold, rehabilitating the Toulon fly-half after his predecessor, Marc Lievremont, cast him into the international wilderness. Lievremont was not one of France’s more imaginative coaches; in fact he was downright dull, which, allied to his appalling communication skills, made for a man who was never going to be able to handle a maverick like Michalak. Not that he is alone in that regard. Guy Noves, Michalak’s coach for many years at Toulouse, was another whose inflexible outlook on life struggled to accommodate a player outside the norm.Double act: Philippe Saint-Andre and his fly-half Freddie Michalak. Photo: Getty ImagesEven the broad-minded Bernard Laporte has what Midi Olympique described recently as a “love-hate relationship” with Michalak. The pair came to metaphorical blows most recently in April, after Laporte had substituted his fly-half early in the second half of the Champions Cup semi-final against Leinster. It was a brave call by Bernie, and a correct one, as Michalak was in meltdown and needed replacing.Six months on and the Frenchman is on fire. He orchestrated France’s 41-18 World Cup win over Canada last week, kicking 14 points and creating a sumptuous try for Wesley Fofana with a delicious break and offload. When Freddie plays well so does Fofana, because the Clermont centre thrives on the shoulder of a fly-half who lives close to the gain-line. Of course, all fly-halves are crucial to how their team plays but none more so than Michalak. It’s his body language, more than anything, that’s an electrical charge of emotion: positive and it energises team-mates, negative and it enervates.Possibly no French player other than Louis Picamoles has benefited from the summer training camp as much as Michalak. He’s fit, he’s focused and above all he’s got the full support of his coach. Because Freddie needs to feel loved, it’s what gives him the confidence to express himself. He needs to know that if he does make a mistake in attempting something audacious he’s not going to have a coach on his case, carping, criticising, and eroding that fragile confidence.On target: Freddie Michalak practises his goalkicking. Photo: Getty ImagesPSA has always known the softly-softly approach works best with Michalak. One of his first acts on taking up his appointment as France coach was to dial up a player who had last started a Test in October 2007. “When I called him in 2012 to see if he was still interested in playing for les Bleus, I understood immediately from the tone of his voice that he was,” he explained.Michalak rewarded PSA’s faith with a sublime performance against Australia in November 2012, scoring 15 points as France crushed Australia 33-6 for their first win in seven years against the Wallabies. Michalak struggled to kick on from that display, partly because of injury but also because even when fit Michalak was Toulon’s second-choice fly-half behind Jonny Wilkinson. PSA could only look on in frustration, aware that he was to some extent to blame having signed the Englishman during his time in charge of the Cote d’Azur club. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Break time: Freddie Michalak bursts clear during France’s win over Canada. Photo: Getty Images TAGS: Highlight But Michalak, who turns 33 next week, has learnt much from Wilkinson, a player with less natural talent than the Frenchman but with a work ethic second to none. In Monday’s Midi Olympique, Michalak’s team-mate and friend Yannick Nyanga explained the positive effect Wilkinson has had on the French fly-half.“Undeniably being around him (Wilkinson) has had an influence on his goalkicking,” said Nyanga. “Working on a daily basis with him has altered his approach to this part of his game. He’s been inspired by his methods, the extra sessions, where he worked alone for hours on end.”Good mates: Freddie Michalak and Yannick Nyanga. Photo: Getty ImagesMichalak has also grown up. Hailed as the golden child of French rugby when he made his Test debut in 2001, a month after his 19th birthday, he sought neither fame nor fortune but was burdened by both. In the end the glare of the spotlight became too much and he fled France for South Africa, enjoying two stints with the Sharks. When he came home in 2012 after the second spell, he did so at the behest of PSA, the World Cup in both their sights. “I’ve returned to France to win it,” declared Michalak.There remains in Freddie the magician’s touch, but there’s also now a maturity. “He’s lost the boyish carelessness,” said Yannick Bru, France’s forwards coach, last week. “He is a lot more professional, influenced by the great players with whom he’s mixed. With his understanding and feeling for the game, he’s really helped us.” The reasons why France fly-half Freddie Michalak has rediscovered his best during this World Cup Or as Freddie’s great friend, Yannick Nyanga, put it: “Like a good wine, he improves with age.”For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.
There were plenty of international players in the dock this week but maybe the disciplinary process should be in the dock as well.Another week of autumn internationals, another round of citings and yet another round of puzzling decisions by the men in blazers when the disciplinary hearings got underway. And before we get going this is not just a rant against the All Blacks who seem to have attracted most of the ire on social media since their win over Ireland in Dublin last Saturday which was probably the most physical game seen this calendar year.Talking point: Sam Cane’s tackle put Robbie Henshaw out of the gameThere were four players up before the beak this week – England’s Joe Launchbury, Argentina’s Nicolas Sanchez and the New Zealand pair Malakai Fekitoa and Sam Cane. They were charged variously with booting an opponent in the head, striking an opponent and a couple of dangerous tackles and got a variety of punishments, some of which were of the head-scratching variety.Rugby is a hurly-burly game and you can’t expect referees – or journalists, for that matter – to see everything and there was hardly a mention of the first two incidents in the aftermath of the matches. The first most people knew that Launchbury and Sanchez could be in bother came when the disciplinary emails dropped a couple of days later.But when incidents and the non-sending off of players change the results of games then something needs to be done and if that needs a change in the laws then it needs a change in the laws. Different definitions of a high tackle are being talked about, but that won’t be introduced into the elite game any time soon – maybe they current laws should be refereed properly.In the dock: Joe Launchbury has been suspended for two weeksRugby administrators always have an eye on playing numbers and no-one wants to play a game where you could get decapitated. No mother is going to let her son or daughter get involved in a sport where there is a real danger of getting your block knocked off.And if someone does something that could take an opponent’s head off the lawmakers should throw the book at them and they should have thrown the book at at least one of the four players last weekend.But sometimes it seems they chuck a load of balls in the air and see what numbers come down first when deciding the length of bans. There are guidelines but it often seems these are pretty meaningless and there are too many things to be added and taken away from the entry points when they finally come to the conclusion that most blokes are available to play next week.Head high: Malakai Fekitoa is carded for his high tackle on Simon ZeboLaunchbury was first up and the three-strong disciplinary committee ruled that his kick to the head of Fiji centre Asaeli Tikoirotuma was reckless, but not deliberate, but deserved a red card at the time and gave him a four-week ban. This was reduced to two weeks as Launchbury had held his hands up and pleaded guilty; he was contrite and had a clean record. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Shown the card: Jaco Peyper brandishes a card in Dublin With another raft of citings from the weekend, there is a growing cacophony of commentators getting increasingly confused by the inconsistent disciplinary process… Sanchez, the Argentina fly-half, admitted he had struck a Scotland player, as he was trying to get free from an ‘illegal grasp’ but pleaded that it did not merit a red and was not banned at all.The two New Zealanders, Cane and Fekitoa, had different cases to answer, both involving dangerous tackles that could conceivably have ended in red cards and with no-one getting their marching orders you wonder what World Rugby’s directive earlier this month was all about.No case to answer: Nicolas Sanchez was exonerated from a striking chargeThe governing body told referees to be strict on tackles, charges or kicks that can cause concussion but what happens if they card a player who is then let off on the Tuesday afterwards? They truly do have the impossible job.World Rugby’s match officials selection committee chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “The laws of the game clearly state that the necks and heads of players are sacrosanct. When it comes to foul play, the game is cleaner now than ever before but referees must constantly be alert to head-high hits.”Cane’s hit on Robbie Henshaw, in the game against Ireland, which knocked the centre out is a tough one to call, even after looking at the video. He doesn’t seem to make a huge effort to wrap his arms around the Irishman, it does look high and Joe Schmidt’s reaction in the coaches’ box is pretty instructional as Ireland only got a penalty out of it.But Steve Hansen, the New Zealand head coach, saw it differently, the All Blacks contested the citing and Cane was not banned – although he was injured and out of the next game New Zealand game anyway. Long ban: Chris Ashton is someone who some feel has been hard done by disciplinary panelsFekitoa was sinbinned for his tackle on Simon Zebo which was does not getter any better the more you look at on the video. Fekitoa, who should have seen red, came back on after his 10 minutes in the cooler and scored his second try of the game. He should have been nowhere near the pitch and was given a week’s ban at his hearing despite saying he didn’t think his tackle deserved a red. As it was he got a two-week ban, reduced to seven days, when mitigating factors and contrition were taken into account.Surmising the game, you can be sure that it was not the greatest day at the office for referee Jaco Peyper and his assistants. Fekitoa’s was a blatant high tackle, you can argue the toss about Cane’s challenge but how Launchbury got four times – originally before it was reduced – the ban the New Zealand centre got is baffling. Just ask Chris Ashton. He could tell you a bit about the lottery of suspensions and how long you are going to get.
What you need to know about the 12… MORE ON THE 2019 WORLD CUP So Samoa have booked their place in Japan while Germany will have one last chance to join them at the repechage tournament in France.Follow Rugby World on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Expand Rugby World Cup Fixtures The 2023 Rugby World… Samoa qualify for 2019 Rugby World CupSamoa beat Germany 42-28 in Heidelberg to secure a place in Pool A at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.The second leg of this RWC 2019 play-off was far more competitive than the first in Apia, which Samoa won 66-15, but the islanders still came out on top. The 108-43 aggregate win earns Samoa a place in Pool A which features hosts Japan as well as Ireland, Russia and Scotland.Try time: Samy Fuchsel goes over in the corner for Germany (Getty Images)Germany’s hopes of qualifying for Japan 2019 are not extinguished yet. They will head to France in November for the four-team repechage tournament, the winner of which will secure the final spot at the global showpiece. Canada, Hong Kong and the runners-up of the Africa Gold Cup (that competition reaches its conclusion next month) will also take part.Related: Rugby World Cup repechage tournament to be held in FranceWhen Ed Fidow touched down after just 28 seconds in Heidelberg, it looked as though Samoa would canter to a comfortable victory, as they had in Apia two weeks previously.However, Germany responded with two tries of their own. A series of pick-and-gos from the forwards close to the line leading to the hosts’ opening try for Jacobus Otto before tighthead Samy Fuchsel was put into space around five metres out and touched down in the corner to put Germany in front.Despite a try from Samoa’s livewire scrum-half Melani Matavao, Germany led at the break 15-14 thanks to a penalty from Christopher Hilsenbeck. Rugby World Cup Venues Job done: Samoa celebrate booking their place at the 2019 World Cup (Getty Images) Rugby World Cup Venues Rugby World Cup Groups Expand The second half ebbed and flowed until the final ten minutes when Samoa pulled away. The Samoa lineout again struggled to function effectively while missing touch with penalty kicks out of hand did Germany no favours.Matavao had put Samoa back in front with his second try in the 46th minute but Germany hit back immediately with No 8 Jarrid Els crashing over.Nice touch: Melani Matavao scored a brace of tries for Samoa (Getty Images)Germany, clearly looking to secure arguably the most significant victory in their rugby history, then turned to their kickers to increase their lead, Hilsenbeck and Marcel Coetzee – a long-range specialist – both slotting penalties.Three tries in the final stages saw Samoa pull clear, however. Fidow crossed for his second while full-back Ah See Tuala, whose goalkicking was faultless, also scored a brace. Rugby World Cup Groups Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 Collapse A rundown of the Rugby World Cup groups… Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2023 TAGS: Samoa LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Win over Germany in Heidelberg gives Samoa a place in Pool A at Japan 2019
Having to rely on a play-off win against Germany, Samoa found it very tough to qualify for Japan Samoa Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, GuideIt wouldn’t be a Rugby World Cup without Samoa but they found it tough to qualify. Having been overtaken by Pacific rivals Fiji and Tonga, they had to get through a two-legged play-off against Germany.They started their tournament with a win against Russia but lost their other three pool matches.How They QualifiedAfter coming third in the Pacific Tri-Nations behind Fiji and Tonga, Samoa had to go into a play-off with Germany to secure their qualification for the tournament. Over the two legs the islanders proved too strong and secured an aggregate win of 108-43 to go into Group A.Key PlayersBack-rowers Jack Lam and Piula Faasalele will be central to Samoa’s uncompromising defence. Chris Vui – the man who guided Samoa through their World Cup qualifiers – adds leadership to the group. In the backs, Melani Matavao is a livewire at scrum-half and look out for the footwork of Tim Nanai-Williams.Rampant: Forward Jack Lam for Samoa (Getty Images)The Coach – Steve JacksonThe former New Zealand Maori lock, who played for Auckland, North Harbour and Southland, was appointed Samoa head coach in September 2018. He has coaching experience with Massey, Tasman, Counties Manukau, North Harbour and Super Rugby franchise the Blues. He describes himself as a “players’ coach”, pointing to the importance of building connections with all the individuals in the squad so he knows how to help them perform.Top man: Steve Jackson is the Samoa coach (Getty Images)Major Work-onsThey have incredible power but can they direct it? Team cohesion is key. And that is not helped with a lot of Samoan talent playing club rugby in Europe rather than at the World Cup.Samoa Rugby World Cup Warm-upsSaturday 27 July 2019: Samoa 25-17 TongaSaturday 3 August 2019: USA 13-10 SamoaSaturday 10 August 2019: Fiji 10-3 SamoaSaturday 7 September 2019: Australia 34-15 SamoaRelated: 2019 Rugby World Cup Warm-ups Expand Russia Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Samoa Rugby World Cup GroupSamoa are in Group A alongside Ireland, Scotland, Japan and Russia.Related: 2019 Rugby World Cup GroupsSamoa Rugby World Cup Kit Physical: Ireland last played the big Samoans in 2013 (Getty Images)Samoa Rugby World Cup SquadSamoa have named their Rugby World Cup squad below;Forwards (17):Afaesetiti AmosaTJ IoaneJack LamPiula FaasaleleJosh TyrellChris VuiTeofilo PauloKane LeaupepeSenio ToleafoaMichael AlaalatoaPaul Alo-EmileJames LayJordan LayLogovi’i MulipolaMotu Matu’uRay NiuiaSeilala LamBacks (14):Ed FidowTim Nanai-WilliamsAh See TualaBelgium TuatagaloaHenry TaefuAlapati LeiuaReynold Lee-LoKieron FonotiaAJ AlatimuTusi PisiUlupano SeuteniDwayne PolotaivaoMelani MatavaoScott Malolua (replaced by Pele Cowley on 9 September after dislocating his shoulder)Related: 2019 Rugby World Cup FixturesPrevious World Cup Results and RecordSamoa’s Rugby World Cup Record: P32 W13 D0 L191991 Quarter-finals1995 Quarter-finals1999 Quarter-final play-offs2003 Pool stages2007 Pool stages2011 Pool stages2015 Pool stages2019 Pool stagesFollow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. Ireland Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Russia’s qualification for the tournament was a shock… Scotland failed to reach the quarter-finals for only… Russia Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Scotland Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Hosting their first World Cup, Japan made history… Scotland Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide A lot was expected of Ireland, but they… Japan Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Expand Ireland Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Collapse Expand Japan Rugby World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide Samoa Rugby World Cup FixturesTue 24 Sep Russia 9-34 Samoa (Kumagaya) Match ReportMon 30 Sep Scotland 34-0 Samoa (Kobe) Match ReportSat 5 Oct Japan 38-19 Samoa (Toyota) Match ReportSat 12 Oct Ireland 47-5 Samoa (Fukuoka) Match Report Also make sure you know about the Groups, Warm-ups, Dates, Fixtures, Venues, TV Coverage, Qualified Teams by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Eyes on the prize: England’s Maro Itoje homes in on the ball (Getty Images) Analysis of the second-row’s skill-set from head to toe by former England fly-half Stuart Barnes This article originally appeared in the February 2021 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. England lock Maro Itoje analysedIf I was asked to name a World XV today, Maro Itoje would be my only automatic selection from the northern hemisphere. More than that, he would be one of the first selections on the team sheet.There are taller locks in the world and there are certainly more physically intimidating ones. Just think about the impending British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa (hopefully), the land of the towering colossus.Yet I cannot fail to reiterate what I have been writing for a number of years. This is the man who not only should – but will – lead the Lions.This would place him in the pantheon of leading Lions locks. Willie John McBride is too far in the past to merit comparison but Martin Johnson and Paul O’Connell are within the same timelines.Johnson had it all to prove as a rookie leader in South Africa in 1997 and did just that. The Irishman didn’t enjoy quite such a time of it against the twin power of Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield in 2009.High stakes: Paul O’Connell competes with Ryan Kankowski and Victor Matfield on the 2009 Lions tour (Getty Images)The Saracen and England international has – in a technical sense – more of the Munster man about him. He is yet to stand alongside Johnson as a captain but everything I have seen suggests he has the equipment to match the one man as a leader and the other as a technician.O’Connell’s display against England at Croke Park in 2007, a day loaded with symbolism, was one of the greatest 80 minutes I’ve seen from a European lock. Itoje touched similar heights in 2017’s second Test against New Zealand.What you see, and what remains intangible, combine to mark Maro as someone with the potential to do something truly special; to attain greatness, starting with legendary status as a Lion.Remember Johnson being beaten to that crucial late lineout by Justin Harrison in the deciding third Test in Sydney in 2001? Given Itoje’s capacity to get off the ground so rapidly, I don’t see him losing a lineout come the crucial moment.And I don’t see him suffering the sort of physical grilling the Springbok pack put O’Connell through eight years later.He is being compared with, in my view, the greatest Irish and greatest English locks of them all. Great leaders as well. He’s in lofty company. What some of you might read as hype today could become unarguable fact with the savage South Africa test awaiting him as a lock and, I reckon, a leader. He has what it takes.England lock Maro Itoje analysed from head to toeThe brainThere is a difference between an intellect and rugby intelligence. I have known and played with many clever people who were, how shall we put it politely, rugby stupid and some far from academic sorts whose rugby brain was razor-sharp.This School of Oriental and African Studies student is blessed with both. He reads the game well, while his intellectual faculties make him one of the most articulate men the game has seen in its pro era.The mouth LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Off the field the words are measured. He gives a mighty impressive press conference. On the field it can be used to more cynical effect.From the Saracens school of wind-up, he gets to opponents but has the right word for a team-mate. Quite the opposite to the silent school of Johnson leadership, but Maro’s mouth can both inspire those that follow and infuriate opposition.He is well spoken enough to enjoy the time of day with a Test-match referee too.The armsProbably the most obvious of his physical assets. At the lineout, they are one of the game’s most recognisable sights, especially putting maximum pressure on opposition ball.But that’s not even the half of it. Come the melee of the contact zone, they are vice-like over the tackle area and powerful obstacles to a team trying to set themselves up for the familiar catch-and-drive lineout. Long, strong and extremely irritating to those he faces.The stomachThe man must have immense core strength. He is a limpet over the ball yet lacks the cube shape of a master of the turnover like David Pocock.Someone as lanky as this lock shouldn’t be able to win as many penalties and effect so many turnovers in an area dominated by sevens, sixes and hookers. Suffice to say, Itoje is an extremely effective Test blindside.The thighsThe drive he brings to his game emanates from the thigh. His individual spring enables him to shift at the lineout in a way more cumbersome and less dynamic locks cannot.His lineout strength is a combination of his sharp brain and his speed getting in the air and across the ground. And any second-row would also impress the importance of a pair of powerful thighs when locking the scrum.Add these assets together and you have one of the potential greats. South Africa is the place, will it be the time for Maro Itoje to turn potential into reality?