MORE NAKED TRUTHS

2012

Guinness Made of More

Saracens Al Ain, Abu Dhabi

Scotland CC Winner T Shirt

Delon Armitage dropped

George Smith Stirling Mortlock

Dallaglio Foundation

RFU & GlaxoSmithKline

SBW Fight

Rory Lamont Twitter

Steven Shingler Story SB Pt 2

Gatorade Premiership Rugby

Willie Ripia

Bill's Bus

Steven Shingler Story

Danny Care

Mike Tindall Zara Phillips Darts

inspiresport

 


2011

Tindall's RFU AppealMike Tindall Appeal | England Rugby

Crisis Management

Crusaders v Sharks @ Twickenham

EQNZ...AftermathCathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand

NZ EarthquakeEarthquake - Christchurch, New Zealand

The Henson SagaGavin Henson

Turner SuspendedPaul Turner - Dragons Head Coach

Quins & The Biggest LosersQuins & The Biggest Loser

6Ns & The Black StuffGuinness & The RBS Six Nations

Physio Wins AppealStef Brennan - Bloodgate

Welcome Back MattyMatt Stevens

Pass The Bolly...Bollinger & the RFU

Wilko & BOD MischiefBrian O'Driscoll & Jonny Wilkinson - Gillette

BNTM & Black & GoldBritain's Next Top Model

And The Story Goes On...& On...Bloodgate

Former League Boy Not So RustyIronman UK

Pop Art Gets All BlackedAaron Tomlinson on Richie McCaw

Big Brothers Big SistersConnacht Rugby & Big Brothers Big Sisters

Mauger on NZ's New Wild Boy SBWSonny Bill Williams

Going Going Gone?...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
ELSEWHERE INKOLOGO

Rugby News

England Rugby: Lancaster or Mallett

Six Nations Unplugged

England Legends vs Ireland Legends 2012

Guinness Competition Wales vs Scotland

England Expects...

Live Like A VIP Italy competition

RFU Meltdown

England Legends vs Ireland Legends 2012

Johnno...The End Of An Era

Ultimate Rugby Calendar

Movies

Match Reports

Showbiz

Editor's Mark

RUTube

Sevens Unplugged

Competitions

Heroes Rugby Challenge 2011RWC Unplugged

Fashion

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The Ticket Office

Up Close & Personal

Harry Potter Special

Travel

Invictus Special

Beauty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naked Truth

NAKED Truth is the latest snippets of news and happenings on planet rugby. Be it Dan Carter modelling at New Zealand Fashion Week, or which English player has been caught where he shouldn't in Paris, or simply that a premiership club has landed yet another multi million pound sponsor, we'll have all the scoops -serious or trivial- that you could hope for...


2012

PADDY'S DAY...LIKE WE NEED AN EXCUSE FOR A DRINK!!!

15th March 2012

The RBS Six Nations draws to a close for another year this weekend, and since it's St Patrick's Day on Super Saturday, obviously the biggest match of the weekend is England vs Ireland at Twickenham which kicks off at 5pm GMT. So of course GUINNESS® Rugby Ambassadors Ben Foden and Jamie Heaslip have been getting a tad hot under the collar...

 

But just hang on there a sec...before we get to Paddy's Day, there's just the little matter of the England Legends taking on the Ireland Legends in the Stuart Mangan Memorial Cup the night before at The Stoop, so pop over here and check it out, and book your tickets if you're in driving distance of London...it will be a craicing night out!

England Legends vs Ireland Legends 2012

For all the latest from the Championship, click here:

Six Nations Unplugged

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GUINNESS...MADE OF MORE

8th February 2012

Guinness Made of MoreANOTHER Six Nations, and another year where GUINNESS® is the official beer of the tournament. So what's new you may ask...

Well, there's another fabulous Guinness viral which we have for your perusal, and also, how about a couple of tickets for walesWales vs Scotlandscotland? Check out the ad, and if you're a fan of either of the Celtic nations and can get to Cardiff on Sunday, enter the competition by clicking the link below!

Guinness Competition Wales vs Scotland 

For all the latest from the Championship, click here:

Six Nations Unplugged

Rugby Unplugged on FacebookFans can log onto Facebook by clicking the logo where GUINNESS® ambassadors, Ben Foden (England), Sean Lamont (Scotland) and Jamie Roberts (Wales) give fans the chance to see exclusive content and behind the scenes footage from the players as well as a chance to join in the weekly debates and enter prize draws.

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CAPE TOWN CANCELLED...SO IT'S OFF TO ABU DHABI...

7th February 2012

SaracensAl Ain Equestrian Shooting and Golf ClubAFTER the South African adventure got cancelled following in-fighting between the Cape Town authorities and Western Province, Sarries fans had to be content with watching Biarritz get beaten at Vicarage Road in the Heineken Cup rather than sunnier climes. But now the Saracens embark on a new adventure.

Saracens will play Nadroga Stallions, the Fijian champions, in Al Ain on Friday March 9th, 2012. It will be the first time the English champions have played in the United Arab Emirates.

Nigel Wray, chairman, said: “This is a hugely exciting opportunity for the club. We are looking forward to a tough match against a team packed with Fijian internationals and to experiencing the fantastic facilities created at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf club. The UAE is already established as a centre of excellence in world sport, and we eagerly accepted the invitation Al Ain Amblers RFC.”

Saracens will take a full-strength squad to Al Ain, Abu Dhabi.

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NOW WHO'S BEING ARROGANT?!

30th January 2012

scotlandNINE days ago, Scotland Head Coach, Andy Robinson branded England as “arrogant” when his team were beaten by a side that won all four of their pool matches. To put the matter in context, he commented on the win “I thought a number of the England players undermined this in the arrogance they showed.

Scotland Calcutta Cup Winner T-ShirtBut he may want to have a glance back at Scottish Rugby HQ before stoking the fire in the loins of the all new England side. A full five days before the Calcutta Cup is fought over at Murrayfield, the official Scottish Rugby online store was sporting a new T-Shirt being sold for the princely sum of £15 featuring the official Scottish Rugby thistle logo and a simple slogan... ”THE CALCUTTA CUP... SCOTLAND... WINNERS”. Erm...not since 2008!

In their defence, Scottish Rugby have said regarding the incident “Normally, these things are run past us before they go on the site. But this one wasn’t. It seems it was the work of an over-zealous marketing person at our retail partner [Greaves Sports] in Glasgow. It was absolutely nothing to do with us.”

Yes, England have not won at Murrayfield since 2004, though the teams scraped together a draw in 2010. But it may be prudent for Scotland to wait until around 6.45pm on Saturday 4th February before claiming the win against the Auld Enemy!

For full details and all the news, schedules, squads etc. from the RBS Six Nations, click here:

Six Nations Unplugged

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THE END OF A PROMISING INTERNATIONAL CAREER?

30th January 2012

EnglandDelon Armitage droppedDELON ARMITAGE has been suspended from the England Saxons Elite Squad this Monday after being arrested on Sunday in the early hours. The England player had been on a night out in Torquay after the Saxons’ victory the afternoon before, although he was not with teammates, and was taken into custody for suspected assault. Armitage is now on police bail and a final decision will be made on his place in the squad after the results of the Devon & Cornwall Police investigation. Head Coach Stuart Lancaster did not take the decision lightly, speaking with colleagues, London Irish coach, Toby Booth, and RPA CEO, Damian Hopley when enforcing the suspension.

Lancaster said “High standards of behaviour are required from England players on and off the field, and they also need to understand that they should not put themselves in a potentially vulnerable position or environment”.

Armitage BrothersIt is a huge blow to England to lose the 28-year-old, who had an excellent game against the Irish Wolfhounds for the squad, and would likely have been called up to the senior squad ahead of Matt Banahan had this incident not occurred. He also made up one of the three players on the team who played in the Rugby World Cup and so added experience to the young side. Delon is the second eldest of the four professional rugby playing Armitage brothers, not including youngest brother Joel (already tied in with London Irish) who is likely to soon follow the trend, and comes from a close family where talent is clearly not lacking. Along with a supportive family, the fullback’s early career has been a dream being fast-tracked into the England Senior Squad in 2008.

Armitage was a permanent fixture by 2009 and a young star but in 2010 he found himself out with a shoulder injury; this is where the trouble first began for the talented up-and-comer. He had not long been match-fit before he was banned for 8 weeks, early into 2011, for pushing an anti-doping official. Armitage was clearly frustrated, especially now he was playing second fiddle in the squad to Ben Foden after his injury, but this altercation certainly did not help his cause. There were also further citations for dangerous tackles and striking a player last season, gaining the fullback an undesirable image.

However, no supporter, player or coach can deny his abilities. Delon has is a highly skilled fullback, if not one of the best, and this is shown in his point tallies for both England and London Irish. Voted England Player of the Year in 2008-9, his speed and power make him a dynamic and formidable player but it is a shame his hot-head attitude causes such problems. This is the first time Delon has been caught up in a non-rugby related issue and he is by no means the only one. England teammate Danny Care also will not be seeing England action in the Six Nations period due to a drink driving offence which happened in the New Year. Both these players have such brilliance to bring to the sport, let us hope that their careers will not be tainted by these unfortunate events, though now may just be the perfect opportunity for Delon to escape the national limelight and join his brother, Steffon at Toulon who have offered him a contract next season.

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AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS FOR WALLABIES

26th January 2012

George Smith Stirling Mortlock AustraliaAustraliaFORMER Qantas Wallabies Stirling Mortlock and George Smith have been appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM) as part of the annual Australia Day Honours for 2012.

Mortlock, who made his Test debut against Argentina in 2000 has secured 80 Tests caps, his most recent in 2009 against South Africa, is currently captain of the Super Rugby team, RaboDirect Rebels in Melbourne. Mortlock won the Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2002, and captained Australia from 2007 before handing over the reins to Smith in 2008.

Smith, who made his national debut against France in 2000, accumulated 110 Tests caps over his 10-year international career, seven of which were as Captain. He is the second most capped Wallaby behind only George Gregan (139), the 8th most capped player in the history of the game and the 3rd most capped forward.

Member of the Order of AustraliaSmith also holds the distinction of winning the John Eales Medal twice as Qantas Wallabies Player of the Year and won four consecutive Super Rugby Player of the Year titles from 2006 to 2009. Smith now plays his rugby at Suntory Sungoliath in Tokyo, Japan where he signed a 3-year deal in 2010 worth a reported US$1 million.

The former Australian team-mates, who both made their international debuts 12 years ago, have been congratulated by ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO.

"Both George and Stirling are more than deserving of this recognition with their appointments as Members of the Order of Australia," Mr O’Neill said.

"Over a long period of time they have both served Rugby at a State and National level as captains and have been good role models to both junior and senior players as well as contributing in the community.

"Since joining the Melbourne Rebels in 2010 Stirling has shown great leadership both on and off the field helping to guide Australia’s newest Super Rugby side through its first season as well as helping grow the game throughout Victoria.

"While George has played overseas for the past two years he has always kept an eye on what is happening in Australia and continues to lend a helping hand when needed.

"The most recent example was during last year’s devastating Queensland Floods when George, of his own accord, put together an amazing money can’t buy experience to help raise funds for the Premier’s Flood Appeal."


Between them Mortlock and Smith have enjoyed a series wins against the British and Irish Lions in 2001, Bledisloe Cup victories between 2000 and 2002, Tri Nations titles in 2000 and 2001 and two Rugby World Cup campaigns in 2003 and 2007.

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THE NEW LOOK DALLAGLIO FOUNDATION

24th January 2012

Dallaglio Foundation site goes live

LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO may have retired from professional rugby, but you just can't keep a good [slightly obsessive] man down. Following on from his 2010 Cycle Slam in aid of Sport Relief and the Dallaglio Foundation, where he and a large number of rather unruly and slightly mad cycling fanatics [or road hogs as we drivers like to refer to them(!)], spectacularly raised a over £1million by cycling 3,000km across Europe during the RBS Six Nations, they are at it again!

Officially launched by Sir Richard Branson, Lawrence Dallaglio & Freddie Flintoff last autumn, on the 23rd April 2012 the Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam, sponsored by Virgin Media, returns and this time Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff will join Lawrence as they cycle 2,862 km across Europe from Olympia, Greece to London.

 

Over 250 people, including a host of sporting and Olympian celebrities, will join Lawrence and Freddie on this epic journey through Greece, Italy, the Alps and Champagne region of France, taking in the legendary one day Paris-Roubaix ride before reaching London, with the ambition of raising over £2.012m for the Dallaglio Foundation, AF Foundation and Virgin Unite.

But there's plenty more going on at the Dallaglio Foundation, including a sparkling new website which launched today, so do pop over and check it out.

Dallaglio Foundation

We will keep you updated with all the new happenings at the foundation, and the latest news on the Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam. If you'd like to see how they fared last time, here's our coverage of the 2010 feat...

Dallaglio Cycle Slam 2010

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THE FUTURE IS PUMPED FOR THE RFU

17th January 2012

RFUDESPITE the rollercoaster England Rugby has been riding since last autumn, the future is looking brighter on the commercial front.

Stuart Lancaster Graham Rowntree RFU GSK partnershipThe Rugby Football Union (RFU) has today unveiled details of a new partnership with one of the world's leading consumer healthcare companies, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSK). The deal will run to 2016 and sees leading brands Lucozade Sport and Maximuscle, part of the Maxinutrition portfolio, partner with the Elite England Rugby Squads as Official Hydration and Sports Nutrition partners respectively. The deal represents the first collaboration between the two companies since the GSK acquisition of Maxinutrition in February 2011.

Maxinutrition productsThe UK’s number one sports drink and nutrition brands will fuel England Rugby, becoming official partners to the Senior, Saxons, Sevens and Women’s squads. Both Lucozade Sport and Maximuscle have an excellent reputation in research and development and as part of this strategic partnership the RFU will utilise their expertise to further develop world-class hydration and nutrition strategies, aiding performance optimisation, endurance and recovery.

Alongside elite rugby, the two brands are committed to supporting adult rugby outside of the professional game and will bring their enthusiasm and expertise to players and clubs throughout the country.

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SBW ANNOUNCES NEW OPPONENT

16th January 2012

THE Sonny Bill Williams camp have announced that SBW will fight Clarence Tillman III in Hamilton on 8th February.

SBW TillmanThe American, who is an Auckland resident, has been bought in as a replacement for Richard Tutaki who was dropped off the card after being arrested.

Thirty-four year old Tillman has recently starting sparring with Moyoyo Mensha and will prove to be a very tough opponent for Williams.  He has also previously beaten Tutaki.

SBW Tillman fightWilliams’ manager, Koder Nasser said "It is great that the Tillman camp have agreed to take the fight.  It is definitely going to be a great spectacle and a big night for Sonny Bill.

With the New Zealand Heavyweight title still up for contention, Sonny Bill Williams said "The fight is going to be a huge challenge.

Tillman is a quality fighter, so I will have to put in the extra yards over the next three and a half weeks and change my fight plan accordingly."

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TWITTER-GATE REARS ITS HEAD AGAIN...

14th January 2012

Rory Lamont Glasgow WarriorsNOT for the first time, a professional rugby player has ended up in hot water for tweeting in an allegedly unbecoming fashion. Glasgow Warriors' fullback, Rory Lamont, who has 26 caps for Scotland and played in two world cups, has had his wrist slapped by Scottish Rugby and his club for "inappropriate" language on his twitter account.

On 4th January, Rory tweeted "The rise of Ron Paul in the US has to be the most inspiring story in western politics. He doesn't work for wall street like that whore Obama." No doubt one holier-than-thou do-gooder of his 2,500 followers took offence and made a complaint. Yesterday, he tweeted "If I have ever caused any offence from the language used in my tweets I do apologise."

Well diddums. Frankly, it is quite a breath of fresh air having a rugby chap proffering an opinion on world matters whether one agrees with him or not, rather than the 1000s of inane tweets on the latest pointless reality TV show that is dumbing down the populace.

You can follow Rory Lamont on twitter here: Rory Lamont on Twittertop

 

 


THE SHINGLER SAGA CONTINUES...

13th January 2012

THE WRU and SRU continue to scrap over Steven Shingler a week after the Scotland RBS Six Nations squad was announced. The latest was an IRB Eligibility Clarification last night that stated:

IRBUnder IRB Regulation 8 a player is tied to a country if he or she has played for the senior national fifteen-a-side national representative team or the next senior national representative team or the senior national representative Sevens team against opposition of the same designation. The national Under 20 team can be designated as the next senior national team under the Regulation.  

The IRB has reiterated to both Unions that during 2011 both Wales and France officially designated their Under 20 team to be the next senior national team. As the IRB has been advised that Shingler represented Wales Under 20 against France Under 20 in 2011 it would therefore indicate that he is tied to Wales and ineligible to play for any other Union.  
 
The SRU and WRU may wish the IRB Regulations Committee to consider this matter formally in accordance with IRB Regulation 2. The Unions are aware of the requirements of such a review.

The Welsh Union responded with:

walesThe WRU welcomes the IRB announcement which confirms that proper procedures were followed when informing the 2011 Wales U20 team to play France they would be solely Wales qualified at senior level after taking part in the game.

The case of Steven Shingler being named as an RBS 6 Nations Scotland squad player could not be left untested because of the impact on all other players.

And Scottish Rugby riposted:

ScotlandWe remain fully supportive of the player and his sincere desire to represent Scotland and we intend to refer this matter to the IRB’s Regulations Committee in order that it can consider the case formally in accordance with IRB Regulation 2.

And so it goes on...and on...More on this story

 

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GATORADE SIGNS 3 YEAR RENEWED DEAL WITH PREMIERSHIP RUGBY

12th January 2012

Gatorade Launch AP 2012PREMIERSHIP RUGBY announced today that it has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Gatorade as the Official Performance Partner of Premiership Rugby.

The deal, which runs until the end of the 2013-14 season, is an extension of the previous three-year partnership between the sports drinks giant and Premiership Rugby, celebrating a new era for Gatorade.

Gatorade - the brand that invented sports nutrition in 1965 with the world’s first sports drink, has changed the game again by launching G-Series Pro, an innovative three step approach to athlete nutrition.

Each product in the G-Series Pro range is designed to meet the distinct nutrition and hydration needs around workout or competition usage – pre (Prime), during (Perform), and post (Recover).

As part of the deal with Premiership Rugby, Gatorade provides product to the Premiership Rugby clubs to help with player hydration and the partnership will play an important part in the launch of Gatorade’s G-Force.

Potentially England Rugby’s new captain, Tom Wood, Ireland’s Roger Wilson, both of Northampton Saints seem to think it’s pretty slick...

 

And once we’ve checked it out, we’ll let you if it actually tastes as good as it looks...

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WILLIE RIPIA RESIGNS FROM WESTERN FORCE WITH GAMBLING ISSUES

12th January 2012

Willie Ripia Western ForceWILLIE RIPIA will not be part of the Emirates Western Force squad in 2012 after the club agreed on Tuesday to accept Ripia’s resignation, effective immediately.

The club investigated a serious breach of team protocols by the New Zealand born flyhalf after a series of thefts occurred. Ripia was suspected but it was CCTV that proved the repeated occurrences at the club’s HQ in Perth. The thefts were a direct result of Ripia’s gambling problem, and following a meeting this morning with senior management, when confronted with the evidence, Ripia offered his resignation later in the day. 

Ripia's management issued a statement saying,

“Willie has returned to New Zealand to be supported by his family in Rotorua as he works through serious issues relating to gambling.

Willie will be in a supportive family environment while he engages professional support to help him address his gambling problem.  

Willie is devastated with the impact gambling has had on him and is determined to work through his problem.  He is deeply remorseful for his actions and the damage and disruption they have had on those close to him and the Western Force.  

We would appreciate Willie and his family being given the necessary space and privacy to address and confront the matter.”

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BILL'S BUS TO HELP RUGBY CHANGE AFRICAN LIVES

11th January 2012

Bill McLaren FoundationEVEN after the passing of rugby legend Bill McLaren, his foundation set up in his name continues to bring smiles to the world.

In January 2012, Bhubesi Pride will embark on its first expedition, working with 15 schools in 10 African countries to use rugby as a tool for education and development. The Bill McLaren Foundation will be with them every step of the way, supporting the expedition with "Bill's Buses" - all terrain vehicles which will be used to transport coaches and equipment around the continent.

Bills Bus BhubesiThe initiative involves a highly qualified team of coaching staff driving through Africa during six-month missions, delivering mass participation rugby and education programmes in schools and communities. The programme also aims to empower young teachers and also build and grow personal relationships between children and staff between British and African schools.

Richard Bennett, Founder and Project Co-ordinator of Bhubesi Pride says "Rugby and its values - as highlighted so well through the Bill McLaren Foundation - is a brilliant way to drive social change and to change lives for the better through sports development. Through Bhubesi Pride's project work, we can use the sport in a meaningful way, where children in Africa can enjoy playing the game, but also learn about other important issues such as health and respect of themselves and others around them."

Brian Renwick, Grants Director at the Bill McLaren Foundation added “The Bhubesi Pride application really excited us - the aims of both charities are so similar; using rugby as the vehicle for improving life skills fits exactly with what we are all about. Bill was not only a great rugby coach and commentator to the rugby world, but for many others with whom he came into contact he taught fairness, discipline and respect for others. As a charity, we are also thrilled to show that we support rugby all over the world and we are really looking forward to hearing how Richard and his team progress in the coming months.”

Working in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the initiative contributes to three of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals:

Work is ongoing and will continue until at least 2014 as part of a long-term, sustainable programme.

To support their work, the Bill McLaren Foundation has launched a Supporters' Club that all rugby enthusiasts and fans of Bill are invited to join, please visit:

 BMF Supporters Club

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WRU THROW TOYS OUT OF PRAM OVER SCOTTISH RUGBY’S CLAIMING STEVEN SHINGLER

6th January 2012

Steven Shingler London IrishYESTERDAY Andy Robinson announced the RBS Six Nations squad for Scotland. But almost immediately the Welsh Rugby Union took exception to the inclusion of London Irish fly-half, Steven Shingler, who last year appeared for Wales U20 against both Scotland and England, both of which he qualifies to represent at senior level through his parents.

The WRU claim having represented Wales at a junior level [Wales have no ‘A’ team so use U20 as qualification for senior honours], Shingler [born in Wales] is ineligible to play for any other nation at the elite level. Shingler says he declined to sign a declaration from the WRU that he was committed solely to representing Wales at senior level, and made it clear that he wished to leave open his international eligibility as he was also eligible to represent Scotland and England.

So the WRU have had a hissy fit and Scottish Rugby are adamantly defending their position. The matter has been left to the IRB to adjudicate on, but there is a precedent set by their ruling in favour of Ireland when Wales held the same accusation against Matthew Jarvis and James Loxton.

Wales need to get back into their box and let Scotland move forward with their Six Nations campaign. We will post the outcome once a decision has been made.

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ENGLAND SCRUM HALF DANNY CARE DROPPED FROM EPS

4th January 2012

Danny CareDANNY CARE, who was so cruelly left at home at the Rugby World Cup no thanks to a broken toe in a warm up match, will now miss out on the RBS Six Nations Championship due to irresponsible folly.

In the early morning of New Years Day, Care was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol near Winchester Services on the M3. With this being his second alcohol related offence in 3 weeks –Care had to pay an £80 fixed penalty notice fine for appearing to be drunken and disorderly outside Noir nightclub in Weybridge, Surrey, but was released without charge– the RFU could no longer overlook his behaviour.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “I have met Danny and told him that he will not be considered for selection for the Senior or Saxons Elite Player Squads that are due to be announced on the 11th January for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign.”

Danny will also be fined £10,000 by Harlequins and be required to work on the club’s inner city coaching programme until end of pre-season 2012-13. This is in addition to his previous club fine for breaching the club’s code of conduct, which was donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at University College Hospital in London.

Accepting his punishments, Care stated: “I am devastated because my actions have let so many people down.

“I would stress, though, that at no time did I think I had drunk enough to be over the legal limit. However, I should not have got into the car and have to accept the consequences of that action.”

He will be pleading guilty to the offence on 16th January in court. The greatest shame is not that Care is being taught a lesson, but England Rugby are losing yet another valuable player through no fault of the team.

Care adds to a long list of rugby players who have been busted in the past including RWC winning Jason Leonard, Wales legend JPR Williams, Andy Powell, and the Queen’s grandson-in-law and former England captain, Mike Tindall. Rugby does not have a drinking problem, but seriously, ever heard the term, “Taxi!”

* * * * * * * * * * *

We got up close and personal with DC a while back...have a look:Danny Care

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JUNIOR ROYALS JOIN IN ON RUGBY’S NEW OBSESSION...DARTS

3rd January 2012

Mike Tindall Zara Phillips DartsTHE latest ‘sporting’ obsession of the rugby fraternity is that quintessentially British pub game, darts. Over the last few nights, twitter was set alight with rugby professionals - both past & current - letting the cyberworld know their thoughts on the progress of eventual winner, Adrian Lewis, who retained his PDC World Championship title at Alexander Palace for the second consecutive year.

During the finals, no end of rugby peeps were in the audience too, including the inimitable legend Brian Moore with his glamorous wife [and Head of Athlete Engagement at the British Olympic Association - not just a pretty face!]. But the most famous faces were those of Mr & Mrs Mike Tindall, the grandchildren of Her Majesty, The Queen, who looked like they were having a ball!

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YOUNG PLAYERS TO BENEFIT FROM EXPERIENCE OF PREMIERSHIP RUGBY WITH INSPIRESPORT

3rd January 2012

INSPIRESPORT, the specialist team sports tour operator, has forged a new partnership with Premiership Rugby to provide a range of exciting new development experiences for groups of young players from schools and clubs throughout Europe.

London Wasps coachingThe Cardiff-based company will join forces with the Premiership Rugby clubs to provide development programmes for youngsters of all ages and abilities. Residential camps, delivered by Premiership Rugby club coaches, will develop and test youngsters over the course of 3-5 days.

The programmes will include skill development, tactical awareness, game management, strength and conditioning help and advice from club physios and nutrition coaches about diet, recovery and rehab. Another exciting part of the package will see youngsters getting the opportunity to attend an Aviva Premiership match and the chance to mix with players and coaches.

Tom Shorey, Managing Director of Inspiresport, said: “This is the first time the Premiership Rugby clubs have opened their doors to provide this opportunity for groups and we are delighted to become their official partner chosen to deliver these experiences in collaboration with the clubs. The packages are much more than rugby tours - they are education and development experiences that take a serious approach to improving the skills of young players.”

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2011

MIKE TINDALL...THE APPEAL

EnglandMike Tindall England RugbyMIKE TINDALL appealed his ridiculous £25,000 fine from the RFU as a result of disciplinary action regarding breaches of the England Elite Player Squad Agreement during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when he was also removed from the Elite Player Squad. Following is the statement issued by the RFU on the outcome of his appeal, the result of which is a massive u-turn reinstating him to the EPS & reducing the fine to £15,000:

Mike Tindall's fine for breaches of the England Elite Player Squad Agreement during the 2011 Rugby World Cup has been reduced from £25,000 to £15,000 and he has been reinstated into the England Elite Player Squad.

Regarding Mike Tindall, Martyn Thomas, Acting Chief Executive Officer who heard the appeal, said, “We accept that there were mitigating factors which do not appear to have been taken into account to the extent that they might otherwise have been. These include;

i. Mike did not intentionally mislead the RFU team management when he stated that he could not remember where he was on the night of September 11, and that he was relying on other people’s versions of events which were relayed to him

ii. That there was no evidence of any suggestion of sexual impropriety of any nature with the woman in question and we accept the fact that she is a family friend who he has known for a long time

iii. That Mike expressed deep regret during the appeal meeting about his behaviour and that he had apologised to Martin Johnson and the team for the events which unfolded as a consequence

iv. That there was no evidence that Mike had been involved in any incidences in the past which could contribute as aggravating factors.

“Taking all these factors into account we have decided to reduce the fine to £15,000 and reverse the decision to remove Mike from the England Elite Player Squad. It is however important to stress that we believe Mike’s behaviour fell way below that to be expected of somebody of his calibre and experience. He exposed himself to a very compromising position and exposed the rest of the team to damaging publicity.” 

“We are aware that the EPS Squad will be reviewed on January 1, 2012 and wish to make it clear that this decision does not prevent those deciding the composition of the EPS Squad from taking into account this incident when making that decision.”

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CRISIS MANAGEMENT - THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE

WITH the proverbial hitting the fan across the rugby world - be it unions self-imploding due to ill-management at the helm, Zac Guildford teams getting caught out stretching the rules, players doing nothing out of the ordinary but the the press take it upon themselves to drag them through the mire regardless, or professionals childishly bigging themselves up to impress what they have no idea is a tabloid sting, crisis management is a vital part of any rugby organisation's armoury.

ENSSo we have tapped into some invaluable advice from one of the UK's foremost PR Agencies, ENS Ltd to bring you the essential guide to dealing with a crisis in order to maximise damage limitation and minimise bad press.

1. IN the normal course of business, take time to work out where your business is vulnerable. Determine what choices you may have to make, for example,

Bath Rugbya) if you had a positive drugs test would you ask for the ‘B’ sample to be tested
b) at what point do you part with an employee if they have made an error of judgement that sparks media interest
c) which of your team would be the media spokesperson on what topic
d) etc.

2. DETERMINE a chain of command for responding to a crisis and ensure the Senior Management Team understands it, fully supports it and has explained it to their reports

Harlequins3. MAKE sure anyone who is likely to take a call from the media understands how this process works – for companies, this includes the switchboard or receptionists

4. ESTABLISH the levels of crisis expertise your business currently has in (internally or externally) and decide if you need to source additional resource. Make sure you have out of office numbers for these employees/ suppliers

5. TRAIN people to know what decisions they can make and empower them to make them

6. CALL the lawyers as soon as possible, invariably it saves money in the long run (and most companies - if you have a relationship with them - will give you top line advice free)

7. NEVER, ever lie – either to the press or to your advisors

8. SAY something once, make it powerful, then refuse to be drawn on an issue again

England Rugby9. UNLESS it is immediate and positive ask those around you not to comment – even if they are coming out in support – all they will do is give the story a longer shelf life

10. DON'T assume that all journalists are against you, especially if you have invested in a good PR Team

* * * * * * *

ENS are running a workshop on Day Two at this year's Rugby Expo: Workshop 7: How to do your talking off the pitch. Click here for full details of Rugby Expo 2011 & to contact ENS directly:

Rugby Expo 2011 ENS Ltd

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ALL BLACKS FINEST CALL TO ARMS FOR LONDON

LIVING legends of New Zealand rugby, and core members of the Crusaders, captain Richie McCaw, arguably the world's foremost No. 10 Dan Carter, and the multi-talented Sonny Bill Williams have recorded a message for all southern hemisphere expats in London so have a squizz then get booking if you haven't already!

Crusaders CRUSADERS vs SHARKS Sharks

INVESTEC SUPER RUGBY

TWICKENHAM SUNDAY 27th MARCH 2011 KO 4pm

BOOK YOUR TICKETS RIGHT NOW!

Crusaders vs Sharks @ Twickenham | Investec Super Rugby 

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CHRISTCHURCH – ONE OF THE SAFEST CITIES IN THE WORLD – REELS BUT BEGINS TO REGROUP

By Kip Brook, Word of Mouth Media NZ [7th March 2011]

Christchurch was known as the most English of New Zealand cities. It was the Garden city and one of the most liveable and safest places in the world.

Christchurxh New Zealans - pre-earthquake

None of that applies any more. It’s etched in the unnerving faces of people who still remain; those that believe in fight, not flight.

It will be become known as of now as the city that suffered two the worst earthquakes on record in New Zealand.

On the streets, cafes, restaurants and supermarkets, you don’t see many smiles any more. People talk more to etch others. They just say to someone they may not know: "how did you get on?"

Some answer: "We’re OK. We’re living with our in-laws", or "with friends. We lost our house." Anything less doesn’t matter. Sadly for many hundreds and thousands they have lost family and friends. We have seen and heard too much horror. We yearn for normality.

Few people in Christchurch don’t know a friend or friend of a friend who perished in the terrible February 22 earthquake in a city which until six months ago was a peaceful, thriving business and tourist gateway to the South Island’s tourist trail.

The city’s tourist website says Christchurch has a heritage heart, a sense of adventure and plenty of 19th century stone buildings.

Christchurch, New Zealand: Earthquake Aftermath

The soul of Christchurch’s heritage has been buried in the wreckage after the terrifying quake at 12.51pm on February 22 which claimed hundreds of lives. The sense of adventure has turned into fear, sadness, anger and despair, for many people.

But keep in mind a lot of the city is still intact, many suburbs and many parts of the cordoned central city will be revived and will resume business again soon; someday soon. There is a resilience and emotional attachment by the proud people of Christchurch that staggers visitors. You can see the determination in the whites of their eyes. The majority of Christchurch people are still here, working, boxing on, rebuilding – with help from thousands of outside helpers, volunteers, emergency crews. We are not running away. We are overwhelmed by the nation’s support and concern.

Sadly, this is no ordinary city any more. The annual Ellerslie Flower show in Hagley Park was expected to attract more than 65,000 visitors next week. Many of the tents put up for the show have been used to house the homeless who have to flea they shattered homes ruined by the earth’s menacing ruptures and fissures.

Other parts of Hagley Park are full with motorhomes and portaloos for temporary living. The eastern suburbs have been heavily hit with broken stormwater and sewer pipes. The health risk of a ‘poo-nami’ out east is often talked about.  Many badly-hit streets are a ghost town, as people who could get out have left.

Supermarkets are open and these have been re-stocked to feature extra shelves of bottled water, torches, batteries, antiseptic hand cleanser and toilet paper – the five most sought-after survival items.

Thousands of people are still without electricity, water or access to toilets. Trying to fetch for basic provisions is difficult because of the buckling damage done to roads. It is dark at night in areas without power and people are feeling vulnerable. Around 27,000 houses are still without power around white powdered dusty embattled streets.

Thousands of portaloos are needed out east. No one says how long they will be deployed. All of Christchurch people – other than then 40,000-60,000 that fled after February 22 – still need to boil water before drinking or cleaning teeth.

Waterways are contaminated with untreated sewage. Liquefaction silt – just like sand which rose out of the ground across the city as the earthquake struck – is sewage-contaminated. High winds this week have whipped up the dust blanketing the shaken city. Dust masks are a common sight. Threat of disease lingers.

Schools remain closed. Some may not re-open this year. Some doctor’s surgeries and pharmacies are closed. People are anxious; but fear decreases daily.

Like its iconic entombed cathedral, Christchurch will rise again.

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CHRISTCHURCH...A NIGHTMARE IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

By Kip Brook, Word of Mouth Media NZ [22nd February 2011]

KIP Brook is a fellow member of the Rugby Union Writers' Club of the United Kingdom, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. This is his story on the tragedy that hit his hometown today...

This is a war zone; but no sign of the enemy.  People crushed to death; people trapped; people missing. Friends are missing. People’s lives shattered forever.

Christchurch’s latest earthquake just before 1pm yesterday is New Zealand’s worst natural disaster.

The mood and atmosphere around the streets and suburbs of Christchurch is one of anxiety, fear and shock.

The first I knew about what was to come was an ascending and violent rumbling noise. A 1.8 metre high wall to wall bookcase behind my desk tumbled down on me. Bricks flew right across the room like paper darts. I was trapped for a time but in between the jolts managed to squeeze under a desk before being thrown to the other side of the room.

Big heavy bookcase down, but I was lucky; so many were not so lucky. I feared for my family and rushed to my ex-wife’s work she is an executive officer at a disabled school. The roads were leaking sand and liquefaction. Some cars had fallen into holes as the ground had opened up. The power was down, traffic lights out and mayhem at intersections. A big dog, spooked, was hit by two cars but didn’t survive the third hit.

At her school, Chrissy was out in the field with the students and their biggest issues was how to ferry disabled ones home – no buses, taxis under pressure, no phone or text contact with parents. No way of contacting parents. They had no idea of the catastrophe around them – especially in the city.

As I drive to our house another after-shock and the ground, the power poles, walls and earth wobbles around violently liked fiercely shaken jelly. At home like everyone else’s our contents and so many of our treasures and worldly possessions shattered in front of my eyes. It’s is no different to any other home in Christchurch --- windows, mirrors, glasses, crockery. All broken. But we are alive and will rebuild.

The streets are gridlocked as those that can leave the central business district (CBD). People abandon cars and start running or walk away from danger, desperate to get home to check on family.

For hours the phones are out and texting or calls are out. I have a half hour's walk to my office but I come across an 87 year old pensioner Irene Grenfel. The buses are out. And she is walking 8-9km to her home. She is frail and cold, pushing a supermarket trolley with two bags. I help her on her way home. We can’t push the trolley through the liquefaction as it’s like soft wet sand. I lift and carry and help her over intersections where water from the liquefaction is flooding the roads. St Andrews College playing fields are awash. Hundreds of students stranded, not knowing how to get home or exactly what to do. Irene despairs as she looks at some of Christchurch’s grandest old homes gapping, collapsed, totally ‘bombed out’ looking.

I have not heard if my children are safe and Irene edges closer to home. I flag down a police car and tell her of Irene’s plight and they go to her rescue.

Power still out, no phones working, and no water. I feel the bruising coming out in my back from the bookcase and feel a little dazed and disorientated. Everything is closed, more buildings collapse in front of my eyes.

By night fall, texting is restored. All my family are fine but we have not heard from one of my daughter’/s friends in the CBD. We prepare for a long night.

People are trying to be positive; so many help each other. This is a special and strong community. But a lot of tears to be shed yet. I am still shaking and in shock.

 

New Zealand Earthquake How You Can Help

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HENSON...A COMEDY OF ERRORS?!

[February 2011]

ONE has to now feel a tinge of pity for Gavin Henson. His story is turning into a bit of a farce, and a French one at that! Life is definitely leading him a merry dance...

Gavin Henson Strictly Come Dancing

So it all started in 1982 when he was born in Pencoed, South Wales and discovered rugby early on. He played for his school in Bridgend before signing for Swansea in 2000. At some point he began his addiction to St Tropez self tan...we've never seen an untanned pic yet!

But that didn't blind the WRU to his potential and by 2001 he had played his first game for his national side against Japan, and was awarded the prestigious title of IRB Young Player of the Year. So this strapping 6' 14st lad starts to make his mark on world rugby...

Swansea RFC becomes Neath Swansea Ospreys and then just Ospreys and much branding and rebranding occurs for the club and the player. He gets picked for the British & Irish Lions tour to SA in 2005, plays one game, gets injured, comes home; gets busted for elbowing on the pitch and gets banned; publishes the most ill-advised biography in rugby history in which he slags off his team mates and the Lions Tour and is baffled at why he's not liked much.

Around the same time he started seeing Welsh 'Voice of an Angel' turned wild child, Charlotte Church. Despite her antics, she has always been popular and rightly so since she's so endearing, even if she is ever so slightly a control freak...many successful women are you know!

From then on it's pretty much downhill for his reputation at least...maybe he missed the lesson at Bridgend on teamwork, camaraderie, having your teammates' back, but anyway. So he's fairly rude, quite obnoxious, but is involved in both of Wales' Grand Slam wins. But a pattern starts forming in that he plays really well, starts to impress on the pitch at least, then picks up a nasty injury and is out for ages!

Somewhere along the line he must have acquired a guardian angel albeit temporarily as he gets busted again...this time by the cops for disorderly conduct on the London-Cardiff train, but the charges are dropped by the CPS due to insufficient evidence.

Gavin Hen 71 Degrees NorthSo, a celeb girlfriend, two kids and a country manor later, and something possesses Henson to 'take a break', and reality TV is that break...he comes runner up in some obscure programme called '71 Degrees North', where 10 'C' list celebs need a career revival so try to get to the North Cape...wherever that is! Not the wisest move since rumour has it that fiancée, Miss Church was not best impressed with Henson's friendship with fellow contestant, Ultimo bra queen, Michelle Mone, and the Wales' answer to Posh & Becks are no longer an item.

Despite all this, Henson somehow survives until week 10 on rather more popular 'Strictly Come Dancing', whilst making all the right noises for his imminent return to rugby. During 'Strictly', Saracens announce the signing of 'Welsh International Star' Gavin Henson...bells, whistles, blah blah blah. And after 'Strictly' comes the big comeback at, of all stadiums, Wembley - famous for Wales' historic defeat of England in 1999.

So 21 months away from premiership level rugby and Saracens have Henson on the bench; he sees 29 minutes of uneventful play, and is only participant in 4 games, so now it's February 2011. And it appears Sarries have no intention of playing him in his ideal positions either.

Gavin Henson Saracens

A calf tear in January rules him out of the Wales Six Nations squad before even any announcements are made, but Henson must realise that if he is to prove himself to Wales coach Gatland as a contender for the Rugby World Cup 2011, he needs to play some serious rugby, and that ain't happening in England. Meanwhile, a certain club in France with a Black Amex is making all the right noises...so hi ho, hi ho, it's off to France we go!

And it's not like Toulon are a two-bit nobody team - they can boast the world's best fly-half, Jonny Wilkinson as their star player, along with some serious French talent too. But Jonny is busy on international duty on the bench for England for the next 7 weeks; their other star 10 Felipe Contepomi and winger Clément Marienval are both out with injuries, so cover is required immediately, especially since Toulon topped their Heineken Cup pool and are facing Perpignan in the first quarter final.

Gavin HensonSo now everyone's happy [except maybe Saracens]. Quicker than one could possibly score a try, Toulon have a new utility back, Henson has a shiny new two and a half year contract in a place where he can throw out the bottled St Tropez if Jonny's year-round tan is anything to go by, and life is good...

Except - because Henson signed with Saracens, who registered him with the ERC to play in the Heineken Cup, and then he did play for Saracens in said Heineken Cup in January, albeit as a replacement, the ERC rules say he cannot be registered a second time in the same tournament in the same season for a different club.

"The rules are clear," said an ERC spokesman. "Once a player has been named in a match 23 for a Heineken Cup match, he may not play for another club in the tournament that season. He does not have to step on to the pitch. Gavin Henson is cup-tied and Toulon have been informed of that."

Oopsie! Did someone forget to read the small print? You could not have made it up. And what happened to that entire PR story of moving to London to be closer to his children...top

 

 


DRAGONS COACH SUSPENDED PENDING DISCIPLINARY

[January 2011]

Paul Turner - Dragons Head CoachNEWPORT Gwent Dragons Head Coach Paul Turner has been suspended pending a hearing into disciplinary matters.

Turner's outspokeness infuriated the powers that be at the WRU following flanker Dan Lydiate returning from HQ injured enough to be withdrawn from the league game against Connacht, which Dragons narrowly won; a win that has become a rarity for the South Wales side who have managed to lose 13 of the 19 matches they have played this season, including not winning a single Heineken Cup game.

Dragons CEO Mike Jenkins will personally be conducting the inquiry, and in the meantime, the LV= Cup games against Sale Sharks this weekend and next weekend’s game against the Scarlets will be led by the Assistant Coaches.

The club has confirmed, "There will be no further comment on this issue until disciplinary proceedings have been completed."

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QUINS JUMP ON THE TV BANDWAGON IN THE BIGGEST LOSER

[January 2011]

On the evening of Monday 31st January, if you're in the UK, you can watch Harlequins, England and All Black players Nick Easter, Danny Care and Nick Evans help contestants of the ITV Show The Biggest Loser face their latest challenge.

Harlequins players Nick Easter, Nick Evans & Danny Care on the set of The Biggest Loser at Twickenham

The Biggest Loser challenges the show's 13 contestants to undergo dramatic physical change without any kind of surgery – just sheer sweat and hard work.

The contestants weigh from just over 15st to an incredible 31st 6lbs and are made up of six pairs, including a mum and daughter, best friends, fiancées, husband and wife, twin sisters, sisters-in-law and work mates, plus Rob, whose partner hurt his knee on the first show and had to be eliminated.

Quins Players Nick Easter, Nick Evans & Danny Care with trainers Richard Callender and Angie DowdsMonday’s episode sees the internationally capped players being appointed as team leaders and guiding the contestants through a gruelling challenge at Twickenham Stadium.

"All the contestants were amazing, the dedication and commitment which they showed was incredible and to be honest I’m not sure if I could have even managed to complete the challenge they did!" Danny Care, Harlequins & England Rugby Player.

The Biggest LoserITV

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RBS 6 NATIONS...GUINNESS BRINGS IT TO LIFE

[January 2011]

GUINNESS® is proud to become the first beer partner in the one hundred year history of the leading annual international rugby tournament in the world - the RBS 6 Nations.

Lewis Moody - Sean Lamont - Lee Byrne Diageo Guinness

The RBS 6 Nations rugby campaign is fronted by England flanker and Rugby World Cup winner Lewis Moody, Welsh full-back Lee Byrne and Scottish speedster Sean Lamont, who will give fans the inside track on their team via exclusive video diaries. On Guinness on Facebook you can watch how international teams prepare for their big matches, debate who the best players of the week are and win rugby related prizes.

So whether you're at the game, in the pub, at the clubhouse or at home, there's no better way to enjoy a stonking International than with your mates partaking in a pint or three of the black stuff!

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BLOODGATE PHYSIO WINS DISMISSAL APPEAL

[January 2011]

Stef Brennan - BloodgateFORMER Harlequins physio, Steph Brennan has won his High Court battle against being struck off for his part in the "bloodgate" scandal of 2009.

In mid-September last year, Brennan appeared before a Disciplinary Panel at the Health Professions Council (HPC), admitting to five instances of faking a blood injury whilst at Harlequins between 2006 and 2009. The Panel admitted "on the issue of current impairment of fitness to practise, the panel has been keenly aware that Mr Brennan's clinical ability is not in question", but they struck him off anyway.

Brennan -who had to resign his England Rugby position and has been in private practice since his 2 year rugby ban- had his lawyers appeal the ruling on the basis that the "one strike and you are out for good" approach was too severe even though he was guilty.

Sitting at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Ouseley quashed the HPC's dismissal and ordered the Council to reconsider the case.

More on this story

 


THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS...

[January 2011]

Matt Stevens - England-British Lion-Saracens32 year old Matt Stevens has made his long-awaited return to rugby following his two-year ban for positive drug testing in December 2008. And what a welcome..open arms from Saracens and the drug testers on day one!

"They're supposed to be random these tests," he said with a smile. "But I was kind of expecting it."

The slightly older, hopefully much wiser now husband and father of twins can hold his head high with pride, having paid his dues.

Matt Stevens with Sharon Osbourne - X FactorStevens first almost became a capped British Lion when selected in the squad but played no test matches [not a bad thing considering it was so awful!], next he almost conquered world rugby as part of the 2007 RWC England side that were finalists. Matt then almost conquered the UK as runner up in X Factor - Battle of the Stars. Now he's overcome his cocaine habit, become British intermediate champion in jiu-jitsu...next stop... Rugby World Cup 2011 England squad? The omens are looking good since none other than Graham Rowntree, England's scrum coach, came by at Saracens to watch his first session. On Monday, Matt makes has comeback debut against Wasps for Sarries A team. Good luck Matt!

It's just a crying shame that certain other Bath players deserted like rats off a sinking ship when they were almost busted partaking in the Bath coke party just six months after Matt was randomly tested at their end-of-season shindig in West London.

Former Bath co-captains Michael Lipman and Alex Crockett, along with Andrew Higgins were charged with "conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game" and were all banned when found guilty for refusing to take drug tests repeatedly within the timeframe prescribed; this was after they all resigned the club the same day they were to appear in front of a Bath Rugby internal disciplinary having gone AWOL beforehand. And former Wallaby, Justin Harrison admitted to cocaine abuse; the three musketeers received 9 month bans and Higgins retired from rugby immediately; Harrison also retired after being ordered to served an 8 month ban from playing and coaching rugby.

Stevens was not the first rugby player in history to mess with charlie, and more have been brought to light since then, but lets hope he is the last. What is far more intriguing though is how Bath managed to smother their coke affliction so cleverly in the media whilst all the attention was shifted onto a blood capsule in Twickenham...top

 


IT'S ALL SPARKLES AT TWICKERS

[January 2011]

BollingerJAMES Bond's favourite celebratory tipple, Bollinger, has renewed its association with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and England Rugby. The new six year deal ensures that Bollinger remains the official champagne of England Rugby until 2016, including the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.

The agreement includes matches during the RBS 6 Nations, the Investec Internationals and Rugby World Cup warm ups and also England versus Barbarians in June 2011. The premium champagne is also often used for ‘Man of the Match’ awards and celebrations.

The good news is if you're going corporate at Twickers, the Bollinger marquee in the West Car Park will be even bigger, and they should be absolutely no reason for the bubbly to run dry in the Exec boxes!

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BOD & WILKO POUNCE ON UNSUSPECTING GENTS...

[January 2011]

Cheeky Brian O'DriscollI'VE known for many years that Ireland's illustrious captain, Brian O'Driscoll is a mischievous little sprite since the first time I had the fortune of meeting him at the infamous Sun Inn on the last day of the Six Nations in 1999. Whilst Scotland was summarily kicking the bejeezus out of England in the torrential rain at Murrayfield on the big screen and destroying any Grand Slam hopes, he spent much of the afternoon trying to convince me he was Simon Easterby! But I had no idea that Jonny was cut of the same cloth...

Gillette has brought together these two rugby gods to launch a new multi-media UK advertising campaign; Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O’Driscoll are promoting the brand’s Fusion ProGlide product range.

In case you're not in the UK or Ireland, here's the teasers...but keep going coz there's more!

For the first time ever Gillette ambassadors Wilkinson and O’Driscoll are appearing together in a national television advert, which will be broadcast across channels including ITV, Sky Sports, ESPN and C4 over the coming fortnight.

The new ad is part of a teaser campaign for the upcoming launch of Gillette Fusion ProGlide on the 25th January, with Wilkinson and O’Driscoll challenging men to take the ProGlide Challenge - Gillette’s challenge to men to experience the new Fusion ProGlide razor.

The ad sees the rugby stars surprise unsuspecting rugby fans in a changing room, asking them whether they are “Ready to take the ProGlide Challenge?”, with seven hidden cameras capturing the stunned reactions ranging from the startled to the euphoric.

Speaking about the ad, Jonny Wilkinson quipped, ‘It’s not my usual thing to surprise people in toilets, but we met some good people and got some great reactions, and hopefully it will turn out to be a very good thing for this launch’.

And just for you, here's the bonus behind-the-scenes footage as well as the thoughts of Jonny and Brian...

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ANOTHER HARD DAY AT THE OFFICE(!)
SUPERMODEL ELLE MACPHERSON TAKES CHARGE AT WASPS AS TWYFORD AVE IS OVERRUN BY BNTM

[September 2010]

Elle Macpherson: Britain's Next Top Model HostLONDON Wasps have gone seriously ‘A’ List as the boys appear in the world-renowned entertainment show, Britain’s Next Top Model. BNTM is a part of the Top Model franchise created by supermodel, Tyra Banks, and this sixth cycle is hosted by Elle Macpherson.

It’s week 10 of Britain’s Next Top Model and the 5 remaining contestants participate in some high-stakes photo shoots...

First the girls take part in an unusual challenge where the tables have turned and the girls must stand on the other side of the camera and play the role of photographer. Under the guidance of photographer Nicky Johnston, seen in the first episode of Britain’s Next Top Model at the Model Academy, the girls strive to create the most amazing picture of each other, but some cope better than others.

Then, stakes are high as the models take part in a photo shoot with George Lamb for Company magazine. All the girls are eager to impress as the winner of the competition will receive a cover of this magazine.

For the last challenge, the pressure is on when the contestants have a photo shoot in the company of well-known photographer Terry O’Neill, the London Wasps rugby team and Elle Macpherson. Which girls will Elle think are becoming working models?

Britain's Next Top Model @ London Wasps

The elimination room is very tense this week as the end of the competition is getting near. But, Elle and the judges have one more shock in store for the girls…

Casting their critical eye over the contestant’s progress, and making and breaking dreams along the way, are a fresh panel of judges, headed up by Elle, who together contribute a wealth of knowledge and experience – acclaimed designer Julien MacDonald, the Stylist of the Year 2009 Grace Woodward and leading male model Charley Speed.

So if you’re in the UK, make sure you tune in to Living at 9pm on Monday 6th September to see how the black & gold measure up to real life supermodel wannabes...

Britain's Next Top ModelLiving TV Monday 9pm

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THE PLAYER HIS BOSS THE PHYSIO & THEIR DOC

[September 2010]

IT'S been 16 months and it still drags on...”bloodgate” happened on 12th April 2009 and we’re still hearing about it. Now unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for a fairly long time, you probably don’t want to hear the details yet again, so we shall forgo the narrative and get to the point.

Dean Richards –probably the best thing that happened to Harlequins up until 12th April 2009, and likely the greatest loss to England rugby for the foreseeable– got his knuckles most severely rapped with a 3 year ban – and this after he’d been cleared of any wrong-doing a month earlier, alongside physio Steph Brennan and Dr Wendy Chapman.

Bloodgate @ Harlequins

Once the Telegraph spilt the blood so to speak on “the cut”, it all went pear-shaped with Deano’s complete rugby ban, Tommy Williams’ playing ban reduced from 12 to 4 months for grassing, the club’s reprimand increasing considerably to £258,000, Brennan –England physio by this point– was banned for 2 years, and Dr Wendy Chapman was immediately suspended from practicing medicine until her official General Medical Council enquiry this August.

And amongst all that mess, Doc Chapman had to deal with not knowing if she had cancer or not. But it’s mostly over now...Tommy got off lightly, Quins were fairly harshly treated for cheating – yes of course it’s wrong, but if they were the only ones to do it possibly the severity could be justified – but cheating to bring on a sub has been going on since time immemorial across the globe...stones and glasshouses come to mind from the reaction of some corners of our illustrious sport; Deano was treated extremely harshly, and though it’s a good thing Doc Chapman didn’t get struck off, overall I’m thinking mountains and molehills. After all, if a spot of fake blood is bringing the game into disrepute, then how is it that the story of a significant number of another premiership team allegedly messing with Class A drugs got conveniently buried at just the same time?

Lastly, you remember a while back the mention of ‘mostly over’? There’s more to come unfortunately...Steph Brennan is to face a medical Health Professions Council misconduct hearing in a couple of weeks. Maybe once that’s done we’ll hear the end of it...which can only be a good thing since Quins are still feeling the fall out even though all involved have now either quit or been suspended bar Tommy Williams, who bless him is busy organising the Shooting Star Charity Cricket 6's event day on September 5th, with all proceeds going to the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice. Aaahh...

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LEAGUE & UNION PLAYER/COACH TURNS HIS HAND TO UK IRONMAN

[August 2010]

CONNACHT have appointed former Great Britain rugby league player Mike Forshaw as defence coach. The 40-year old joins Connacht for the new season after a career which also included a spell in rugby union for Saracens. Forshaw joins the Irish side from Wigan Warriors where he has been strength and conditioning coach for the past few years. He played for Wigan Warriors, Wakefield Trinity, Bradford Bulls and Warrington Wolves during his career.

Defence Coach Mike recently completed the UK Ironman, we caught up with him to ask him about the experience.

Mike Forshaw (right) pictured with Head Coach Eric and Brian Melrose

Hi Mike, you’ve just completed the UK Ironman, how long have you been training for this event and where was it on?
I started training in the middle of November ’09 in the very cold English weather, I had about 9 months of training which varied from bike and swim sessions and long run known as ‘brick sessions’ in the triathlon world! The Ironman event was held in Bolton, England on the 1st August this year.

Was it difficult to fit training around your work schedule?
Schedule is the key, I would usually train at 6am followed by an evening session so in reality I was working out for around 15 hours a week and I didn’t really have a problem with work in the middle!

Mike ForshawYour experience as a professional player and coach must have helped with the preparation, was there much of a crossover?
I suppose my background helped me but it’s very hard mentally to get into the pool and swim 3 kilometres, 3-4 times a week I love the bike training and running as I am pretty strong in those areas.

How did you get on in the Ironman?
My time of 12hrs 38mis was pleasing as it was a real tough bike course, not helped by strong winds! My split times were Swim (2.5miles) 1hr 17mins, Bike (115miles) 6hrs 50mins & Run (Marathon 26.3miles) 4hrs 2mins and I came 68th in my category!

Would you do it again? What’s next?
I’m not planning anything at the moment, my focus is on work and helping Connacht be as successful as can be in the Magners’ League. I may at some point do another Ironman, probably abroad in a warmer climate!

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ALL BLACKS, DAN CARTER AND OTHER RUGBY STARS FEATURE IN LEADING NZ POP ARTIST’S EXHIBITION

By Word of Mouth Media NZ [July 2010]

ALL Blacks, Dan Carter and other rugby stars will feature in a rugby-themed art exhibition to open in Christchurch later this month.

Aaron Tomlinson – with some of his rugby-art works, to be unveiled on July 31A leading young New Zealand pop artist, Aaron Tomlinson of Christchurch, has incorporated All Blacks into his works partly because of the country’s strong support for the national game.

The exhibition will open at the Miles Toyota new car yard in the city on July 31 and close on August 14. The event will be a highlight during the Bledisloe Cup week with Robbie Deans’s Wallabies taking on the All Blacks at AMI Stadium on August 7.

A number of All Blacks and noted rugby players are likely to visit the exhibition at some point. Tomlinson said today his works tied in with Canterbury’s strong rugby associations. 

“I can remember watching rugby with my dad as most kids have. We have such a strong rugby culture in NZ and it often dominates the news and attitudes of the country. Rugby has always been a part of my life, although has never extended beyond watching it, either live or on TV. Living in Canterbury takes it to another level as I believe Canterbury produces some of the best rugby players on Earth.

“The old school rugby players are etched permanently into my mind: Sean Fitzpatrick, Zinzan Brooke and Grant Fox etc. These days I am inspired by people like Dan Carter, someone who comes from just a small town but ends up having such a huge impact on the game internationally. To me he is one of the most recognised faces of rugby – hence including him in the pop art images.

“Most of the pieces are a parody in some way or another – for example, taking the typical comic heroine character and adding something that indicates she has a deep love of rugby, or that she needs to leave because the game is about to start - that concept just seems funny to me.

“There isn’t that much rugby-art out there, which seems strange to me because it is such a huge part of our culture; so in a way these paintings are a way of honouring the game as part of our heritage in a contemporary style.”

Richie McCaw by Aaron TomlinsonTomlinson was initially influenced to become an artist painting by seeing the works of UK street artist Banksy, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. He grew to love the concept of pop art. Taking popular themes or topics and using them to create a work of art was almost like a snapshot of time, showing current trends, people and what influenced culture at the time, he said. Tomlinson said he had no ambitions to become rich or famous like a rugby player.

“In fact I love the anonymity – something that Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and co must miss at times. I just want to be able to make a simple living off producing art, which is my passion in life. I think Kiwis, and particularly Cantabrians, can be a little one-eyed when it comes to art and will only consider purchasing a landscape for their living room wall. I would love to inspire the public to be a little more open minded and consider something a little less traditional and edgy,’’ Tomlinson said.

**********

For further info on Aaron Tomlinson, visit his official website here: ATOM1746: Aaron Tomlinson

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CONNACHT SUPPORTS BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS

[July 2010]

FEAR not....Connacht Rugby has not lost the plot and sent all the wags of its first rate team into the Ultimate Big Brother house! They’re busy doing their bit for charity... Big Brothers Big Sisters is a global charity who’s mission it is "To make a positive difference in the lives of young people through a professionally supported one to one relationship with a caring older volunteer. The volunteers, as Big Brothers or Big Sisters are friends, mentors and positive role models who assist these young people in achieving their unique potential".

John Muldoon (Connacht Captain), Darren Murray (Little Brother), Paul Tannian (National Manager BBBS), John Burke (Big Brother), Eric Elwood (Connacht Head Coach)

Connacht’s Eric Elwood and John Muldoon presented the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ireland with two family season tickets for the upcoming season at the Sportsground.

Eric and John presented the tickets to National Manager Paul Tannian along with Big Brother John Burke and Little Brother Darren Murray at the Sportsground on Monday.

Connacht Rugby Head Coach Eric said “We are delighted to present these tickets to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Charity, Connacht Rugby are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to interact with the community and this is a very deserving cause. We look forward to welcoming all the volunteers to the Sportsground over the course of the season.”

Alan Quinn, Project Officer with the Galway office helped arrange the exchange and he gives some insight into the programme:

Big Brothers Big Sisters Charity Official Site"Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentoring programme that matches an adult volunteer to a young person (10-18 years). The basic idea is that a friendship will form, between the young person and adult volunteer that will promote the positive development of the young person.

The young person and adult volunteer are matched-up based on common interests and personality. They meet once a week for a year and together they decide on the type of activities that they would like to do. Activities include; watching/playing football, having a chat, listening to music, playing sport, going for a walk, etc. We are delighted that Connacht Rugby have sponsored us with a number of season tickets for our volunteers and their "littles" to use throughout the year. We have no doubt they will be among the loudest and most enthusiastic supporters of Connacht Rugby throughout the new campaign. We would like to thank Eric, John and Connacht Rugby for all their support and we look forward to strengthening the already good relationship we have with the club in the future".

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SONNY BILL WILLIAMS COULD BEGIN HIS NZ RUGBY CAREER AT CENTRE, SUGGESTS FORMER ALL BLACK AARON MAUGER

By Word of Mouth Media NZ [June 2010]

SONNY Bill Williams may begin his New Zealand first class rugby career at centre, former All Black Aaron Mauger said today.

Sonny Bill WilliamsMauger, only just back home in Christchurch after nearly three years playing for Leicester in the UK, says Williams could be first seen at 13 for Canterbury as he develops his game.

The Canterbury ITM Cup squad will be named next Monday and AMI Stadium may be a sell-out if Williams is named in the first game against Hawke’s Bay on July 30.

“I didn’t play against him in Europe but I have seen him play and he looks a big excellent prospect. But he is still learning and second five probably requires more tactical awareness and appreciation of the game,” 45-test All Black Mauger said.

“So 13 might be good to start with where he could have a little more space to go wide and feed the fullback and wingers.”

He said it was unlikely the All Black coaches would be tempted to pluck Williams out of Canterbury for the latter part of the tri-nations campaign. Mauger said the big young league convert and ex-Toulon player should have a full campaign for Canterbury so he can adjust to New Zealand style of play.

Canterbury is a good place for him to grow his game and it will be beneficial for him to play week and week out in the ITM competition. If he goes well really well he could get an end of year All Blacks tour.

“Time will tell what influence he will have on the All Blacks World Cup chances. He only just started to become successful in France and there is a lot of competition for midfield places with established pairing of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu complimenting each other so well. Luke McAlister is starting to come back into form and Richard Kahui is strong too so it will be interesting to see what develops.”

Aaron MaugerThe irony is that Mauger, had he not retired from all rugby in March because of a serious back injury, could have been competing with Williams for a Canterbury, Crusaders and All Blacks spot as well.

“It is just so gutting not to be involved again.  But I have moved on. I suspected there were serious problems last season when I couldn’t feel my toes or down the side of my leg after an English premiership game against Newcastle.

“I loved playing for Leicester. People in New Zealand often under estimate the strength of the premiership competition. There are no easy games and the Heineken Cup has an edge; it has real intensity. But down here the pace of the game is much is faster with a higher skill level.”

Heading into the tri-nations, South Africa was looking strong having embraced the brighter counter-attacking game in recent years, he said. The All Blacks should not worry about results so much this year but focus on picking the right side in preparing for the world Cup next year.  He said the squad for the tri-nations looked good but he was among the majority of New Zealanders surprised Hosea Gear had not been selected.

“It’s hard to see any winger in the world playing better than Gear at the moment. But if he keeps producing, he cannot be ignored. I also feel for Zac Guildford too.”

Mauger said he had begun his first steps on a new career of coaching by helping out various teams in Christchurch and was keen to climb the coaching ladder next year.

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GOING GOING GONE?

THE New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has come under fire from one of the world’s most famous former rugby players, Sid Going, for axing four teams from the top provincial competition next year.

The Air NZ Cup provincial championship has been the backbone of New Zealand rugby and conveyor belt of All Blacks for more than 30 years. Fourteen teams are battling out the competition this year but NZRU chief executive Steve Tew wants to remove four teams for 2010 on a weighted-financial-historical and performance formula, But Going, one of the most respected voices in NZ rugby, has deep concerns.

“How does the NZRU think that NZ rugby is going to get stronger by cutting the number of teams from 14 down to 10 and reducing the number of players playing at a higher level? But on the other hand they want to increase the number of teams in the Super 14 to satisfy and build the strength of other competing countries.

 “It really doesn’t make sense. It is very clear that the interest and commitment to the current competition is working very well and is building strength and providing quality and experience to players. This is vital so NZ can return to the top in world rugby.

“So why cut it down? Just look at the teams that they are looking to cut who have been able to beat the major franchise-unions. The hierarchy needs to look at where they can cut costs in other areas instead of the provinces.’’

Going said the NZRU seemed happy to help Australian and South African rugby needs possibly at the detriment of NZ rugby. South Africa will not let anything interfere with their Currie Cup competition. He also said the All Blacks’ style of game was too similar to that of other countries and their game had become too stereotype.

“We have become too confrontational. We used to try and put players into space. Today everyone tries to hit up and create space by taking people out. I don’t like the maul rule because that creates a wall where the player with the ball can hide behind and it slows down play. In my opinion it is shepherding.  Scrums have become a shambles. Look at the time it takes to reset scrums when they could just carry on as the ball is almost out or the halfback is about to clear it.

“The All Blacks upcoming six-test tour – against the Wallabies (Tokyo), Wales, Italy, England France and the Barbarians – will be real litmus test of how NZ is looking in the run up to the World Cup.

“We have strength in most positions but not necessarily depth which needs to be fully developed – like halfback, first five and centre. Lineouts are an issue and we lose confidence in our backs when we get close to the line.’’

Going who had a 10 year career with the All Blacks still helps on the 400-cow Maromaku family dairy farm three hours drive north of Auckland Airport.

He is a pivotal figure in the local Mormon Church and treasures family values and respect, two qualities often missing in modern day society.

Going said he would love to catch up with past player from his era especially Gareth Edwards, Ian McGeechan, Jo Maso, Andy Irvine, Walter Spanghero and the Ella brothers. He sees his old All Black mates from time to time but is keen to track down an old teammate Wayne Cottrell.

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