IRFU Club Sevens ChampionshipMay 7thIRFU Club Sevens – Munster ChampionshipIRFU Club Sevens – Ulster ChampionshipMay 14thIRFU Club Sevens – Leinster ChampionshipIRFU Club Sevens – Connacht Championship The IRFU Club Sevens kicks off this weekend with the Munster and Ulster legs of the championship taking place on Saturday. The action will be fast and furious in the host venues in Cork and Belfast.The championships kick off at noon in Cork IT and Belfast Harlequins and it promises to be an all action day as clubs vie to become the first IRFU Club Sevens Champions – the top two teams will qualify for the All-Ireland Club Sevens Championship which takes place on Saturday May 21st.Bateman All-Ireland Cup Champions Bruff will be one of the favourites to take the Munster title but they will face stiff opposition from the likes of UCC, Garryowen and Dolphin.In Ulster the newly crowned Ulster Bank League Division 2 Champions Ballynahinch will be hoping to end their season on a high but will face a tough challenge from the likes of Banbridge, who narrowly lost out on promotion last weekend, and Division 3 Champions City Of Derry.The Leinster and Connacht legs of the Club Sevens Championship take place a week later.IRFU Domestic Game Manager Scott Walker said: “The advent of Rugby Sevens as an Olympic sport will see a surge in interest and popularity for the game as a whole.“The IRFU Club Sevens programme aims to introduce the skills of the seven-a-side game at grassroots level with the emphasis on the development of Irish players.”“We conducted an extensive survey of players and coaches in recent seasons, and Sevens was high on the list of things that they wanted to see.”“The IRFU Club Sevens Championships will be a great addition to the rugby calendar, a wonderful social occasion and also a fantastic way for players to develop and hone their skills.”Information on the IRFU Club Sevens Championship is available on www.irfusevens.ie LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS May 21stIRFU Club Sevens – All Ireland Championship
When times are tough a bargain or two is just what you need to beat the financial blues. So Rugby World is coming to the rescue but scouring the web for some great bargains. This month we have swooped on three bargains – that we recommend – from rugbystore.co.uk, prodirectrugby.co.uk and lovell-rugby.co.uk. Grab them while they are still available! Under Armour’s Dominate Pros (centre) are now just £49.99 (RRP £119.99) at prodirectrugby.co.uk LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS This KooGa club suit jacket (left) is a bargain at only £14.99, down from £26.99. Buy from rugbystore.co.uk Tigers fans can snap up a Leicester shirt (right) for £19.99 (RRP £49.99) from lovell-rugby.co.uk
LA PLATA, ARGENTINA – SEPTEMBER 29: Richie McCaw, the All Blacks captain celebrates after his team win the inaugural Rugby Chamionship after their victory in the Rugby Championship match between Argentina and the New Zealand All Blacks at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata on September 29, 2012 in La Plata, Argentina. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) Their level of execution, strength-in-depth and obsession with being the best is the envy of very other rugby nation. What everyone else is wondering however, is are the All Blacks at their peak? And if so, can they be caught?Star Player: Owen FranksWhile McCaw may justifiably take the plaudits, Franks continues to develop into one of the world’s best props. Not solely an excellent operator at the set-piece, the Crusader is very useful around the paddock and made more tackles than any other front rower at an average of nearly nine tackles a game. Conceding only three penalties in six matches is another impressive statistic to back up his burgeoning credentials.Rising Talent: Luke Romano Replacing Brad Thorn is no easy task, but Luke Romano is making a pretty decent fist of it. The 26-year old Crusader held the No 4 shirt for the majority of this year’s tournament and finished it with enough stitches to his face to show that Thorn’s durability lives on. He faces tough competition from Brodie Retallick for his shirt, but for the moment he is the man in possession of the shirt.Follow Ben Coles on Twitter @bencoles_ LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The world’s greatest: Richie McCaw became the first player to reach 100 Test winsby Ben ColesFinished: 1stALL HAIL the All Blacks. Six wins out of six and a 14 point gap between the champions and second placed Australia show just how far ahead of the rest of the world New Zealand are right now. In fact, to rub salt into the wound, they nilled their Tasman rivals for the first time since 1962 with the 22-0 victory at Eden Park.The other major landmark was Richie McCaw reaching 100 Test wins, the first player to ever reach three figures with an astonishing win percentage of 89.28%. Regarded by many as the greatest flanker of all time, McCaw was outstanding throughout the inaugural Rugby Championship, making more tackles than anyone else with an average of 13 per game. It’s clear that before the most capped All Black of all time takes his sabbatical next year, he plans to leave everything out on the field.McCaw was not alone in producing peerless performances. Daniel Carter returned to finish as the tournament’s top points scorer with 58. Ma’a Nonu made the absence of Sonny Bill Williams feel completely insignificant. Cory Jane finished with five tries in six matches to bounce back after a disappointing Super Rugby tournament. Aaron Smith continued to show why he is the All Black No 9 for the future, scoring a try in each of the last three matches.At their best New Zealand are simply unplayable, but there were moments of concern when they conceded early tries against Argentina both at home and away, and also in the final match against South Africa. Those worries however, of course, were forgotten by the final whistle as the All Blacks hit the accelerator.Now unbeaten in their last 16 matches since their loss to Australia in the final of last year’s Tri-Nations, New Zealand will look to break the record for the longest winning streak in Tests on their tour of the Northern Hemisphere this November, with the current longest streak of 18 matches held by, surprisingly, Lithuania.
Lost: Tim Visser and Al Kellock look high and low for answers after Autumn disaster against TongaBy Alan DymockNECESSITY IS the mother of invention. That is what you are told, as if the hard times cannot be hard for too long. The toaster was invented because sliced bread just wasn’t good enough and you better believe that misery is easily cast aside by the ideas borne out of head-crushing pressure.Decisions made in haste, under constraints and pressure, are often the most telling of all. Your team sends out hospital passes and your coach sends himself to the rugby morgue; that’s the Scotland way.In the days following Andy Robinson’s decision to jump out of Murrayfield, it soon became apparent that his assistant, Scott Johnson, was going to get the nod. Scotland CEO Mark Dodson was willing to wait a few weeks –even travelling to London with Johnson and Kelly Brown for the World Cup draw – because he already knew his play. ‘Discussions’ were held with Johnson, alone, and lo and behold: he was unveiled as the interim boss.Bright spark: Scott Johnson will bring innovative new ideasThe Scotland way, in times like this, can seem a lot like the Wonga way. Act; think of the consequences later. Time and money tend not to last as long as regret or at least embarrassment.Of course, Johnson may well show that his maverick ways, can finally win over a team long-term as well as the yapping fans, starved of success for so long. He is an inventive soul without the pressure, so heaven only knows what he can pull out of the bag when the scale of his task becomes apparent.The portents are encouraging, Johnson has already seen one unexpected, and near masterful scheme come to fruition during the first few weeks of his tenure.With the appointment of Dean Ryan as forwards’ coach for the duration of the Six Nations, the high heid yins at Murrayfield have pulled off a coup. Much like a pay-day loan there is unlikely to be any longevity to the plan, but nonetheless there is a genuine thinker on the game headed for Edinburgh.Many have marvelled at Ryan’s astute reading of the game. In his guise as the whiteboard wizard at the Sky Sports studios he has demonstrated a keen eye for detail as well as a confidence in his understanding of the game. Often it’s hard not to find yourself nodding along as he talks. GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 19: Glasgow fly half Ruaridh Jackson kicks at goal during the Heineken Cup round 2 match between Glasgow Warriors and Ulster at Scotstoun Stadium on October 19, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) However, how he will fit with Johnson, or indeed scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta or skills coaches Stevie Scott and Duncan Hodge, remains an imponderable for now. We will soon find out.It is all part of a wild build-up to the Six Nations. There are deep-seated problems within Scottish rugby and it’s limiting structures, but the national team needed a change, panicked or not. Robinson could not mould the team in his own image after his years of toil and he was too proud to re-draw his plans using a spirograph.With a thinker like Ryan and an adventurer like Johnson in for a period of 12 weeks, such plans may look more like a Pollock attacked with a paintball gun. It could be beautiful or it could be eye-watering, but it will be the kind of ride that Scotland fans have not experienced for a few years.In form: Glasgow Warriors will be confidentIt is hard to envisage a team under such leadership running oafishly into defenders and allowing cover to drift onto your only attacking option on the far flank. Indeed, it is the uncertainty about this team that make them exciting and dangerous, if only because they may give their heads and hands too much to do while they shoot at their own feet.The task at hand is for those schemers to get into the heads of the floundering Edinburgh players, while at the same time, harnessing the tenacity and propulsion of the Glasgow Warriors’ players without setting them off against each other and creating a stilted side. There is excitement and the clock is ticking, but invention and verve can often kill the most delicate of spirits. Scotland also need nurturing and they need their hand held before they can plummet, headlong into new plans.It will become obvious in March whether interim is to evolve into incumbent, but they will certainly be doing some exhaustive planning to cause a few upsets in the meantime. Ryan may be caught between punditry and sparingly assisting at the Newport Gwent Dragons, while no one could hazard what Johnson is thinking right now, but we’ve got some wonga, we’re carried away and we’re off to buy a big screen TV.We can worry about the consequences after the France game. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
What was patently obvious was that Gatland cared. In a week where his credentials and the Lions ethos the management were protecting, were questioned, they emerged reinvigorated and emboldened ready for a crack at New Zealand. From the noises the Lions management were making, they are hoping the straight-talking Kiwi will commit to them, but sport has a funny way of throwing up mouth-watering match-ups. It is not beyond comprehension to think that he could be leading an All Black side against the Lions after his extended Northern Hemisphere sojourn. Stranger things have happened.As they say, that’s a conversation for another day. Roll on, 2017. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Dreamland: Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Roberts bask in a Series succes that has strengthened the Lions conceptBy Owain Jones, in SydneyTHE ROAD sweepers were out in force in Sydney this morning, clearing away the debris from a heady night, as the sun rose for another flawless mid-winter’s day sunshine. What had passed before, just hours earlier, metaphorically, also merited a memory wipe from the proud Australian sporting pysche. It was a loss that they will doubtless be trying to expunge yet it could have lasting ramifications for the hosts long after the last bedraggled Lions fans leave this fair continent.Sitting up at the top table, Robbie Deans, their coach of five years, looked like a dead man walking at last night’s press conference. Even his trusted Lieutenant James Horwill stumbled over the right words for reasons as to why the curt New Zealander should be kept on. With Jake White and Ewen McKenzie reportedly waiting on the sidelines, it would surprise, and undoubtedly enrage certain members of the Australian rugby community if he is still at the helm come Australia’s November tour. The ARU have some important decisions to make but all is not lost, the Lions Tour has regenerated interest in a game in where it increasingly struggles for the oxygen of publicity with NRL, football and Aussie Rules in an overcrowded marketplace. The boys in Green and Gold will rise again.And what of the tourists? In the wake of last night’s soul-stirring victory, the overriding emotion, beyond weariness, is happiness and palpable relief to have got the job done after a 16-year wait.Scrutiny: Gatland has been scrutinised as never beforeElite sport is measured by the finest of margins and the Third Test was one such occasion where pivotal moments could be pinpointed; the uncharacteristic Will Genia spill from the kick-off, the flying tap-tackle from Geoff Parling as Jesse Mogg cut a fine line, and Toby Faletau’s majestic turnover five metres from the Lions line. Then of course there’s little Leigh Halfpenny, who threw his body on the ground to snaffle the ball as a last line of defence, with onrushing Wallabies in hot pursuit. It was as if his life depended on it. All these examples of bravery that will doubtless be etched into Lions folklore.Indeed, these were the moments that won the Series, in every way as much the unforgettable scores by Messrs Corbisiero, Sexton, North and Roberts put the scoreboard beyond reach of an increasingly moribund Wallaby outfit. Later, Warren Gatland and captain for the night, Alun Wyn Jones, were quick to praise the contribution of every squad member, from No 1 to 23. Richard Hibbard, did his best impression of Ram Man, throwing himself into contact without regard for his own safety, bringing winces from fans. Sean O’Brien played as if someone has stolen his prize-winning bull, rampaging around the pitch, racking up a dozen tackles before the break. He was ably assisted by chopper-in-chief Dan Lydiate. It was a night for heroes.Up in the stands, encased in a portakabin, surrounded by media, was the Lions coaching team, headed by Warren Gatland. From being relaxed in the opening half hour, as the Wallabies mounted their expected fightback came in the middle half hour to reduce the lead to three points, the impassive facial expression the New Zealande wears so well darkened and the brow furrowed until that oh-so magical 57th minute try by Jonny Sexton. The banging on desks, fist pumping and joyous grins alluded to the pressure Gatland had been under in the lead-up to the final Test, in which he had omitted Lions icon Brian O’Driscoll. It was the toughest of calls, but even the hard-nosed head coach was surprised by the firestorm that ensued, where every facet of his coaching pedigree was poked, prodded and openly questioned on social media and by a number of high-profile ex-players and commentators.Heartbreak: Robbie Deans ponders what could have beenIf privately Gatland could afford to cock-a-snook at his critics, publicly he wasn’t showing it post-game, only speaking of the hurt and surprise such vitriolic abuse brought. You would imagine that, in time, he will afford afford himself a wry-smile behind closed doors, among trusted allies. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 06: (L-R) Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies, coach Robbie Deans and injured Wallaby David Pocock look dejected after losing the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and British & Irish Lions at ANZ Stadium on July 6, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Stuart Lancaster’s side can certainly have no excuses about being undercooked or untested by the time RWC2015 starts and there will also be very little room for experimentation in that period as the big boys come knocking.How many of these games can the World Cup hosts win? LOUGHBOROUGH, ENGLAND – AUGUST 12: Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach looks on during the England training session held at Loughborough University on August 12, 2013 in Loughborough, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) England share a pool with Australia in that tournament and before all of this they will have played New Zealand three times in the upcoming summer tour and once in November 2014. They are not shirking any challenges before the World Cup kicks off.From today until that day, England will play 18 games against teams currently in the top 10 of the IRB World Rankings – which doesn’t include two games against Italy in the Six Nations in 2014 and 2015 because they are currently 12th in the world – and that also includes five matches against New Zealand in total. Racing towards the World Cup: England have announced some massive fixtures in the build up to RWC2015By Alan DymockENGLAND HAVE announced a doozy of a fixture list for next season’s QBE autumn Internationals.In 2014, England will play New Zealand on November 8, South Africa on November 15, Samoa on November 22 and Australia on November 29. It is a potentially bumpy ride.No excuses: Stuart LancasterThe first international match of the season leading up to Rugby World Cup 2015 will see the reigning world champion All Blacks take on the hosts before the beefy Boks soften them up further. Undoubtedly it is a deliberately stern challenge to lead up to the Cup, which starts with England playing the top qualifier from Oceania – almost certainly Fiji – at Twickenham on September 18.
Wing when you’re winning: Former All Black Hosea Gear impressed on the wing for Toulouse at the weekendBy Charlie Morgan15: Jared Payne (Ulster)A spluttering Friday evening at Ravenhill got easier on the eye whenever Ulster’s full-back was involved. Typical smooth running complemented some sublime handling, confusing courageous Montpellier – one flick to set up John Afoa’s try was delicious. Payne qualifies for Ireland this year. He must play Test rugby.14. Hosea Gear (Toulouse)Toulouse’s twin wings make a starkly contrasting pair – Yoann Huget’s demeanour akin to a laid-back cigarette smoker, Gear bristling with fast-twitch power. Both were effective on Sunday, though the rapid All Black looked more terrifying and scorched Stade Ernest-Wallon’s turf for over 100 running metres.13. Casey Laulala (Munster)Bouncing about: Wesley Fofana of Clermont AuvergneOn old school, blood-and-thunder nights like we saw at Kingsholm, cool heads are vital. While the contest around him descended into a high-octane arm wrestle, Munster’s silky skilled midfielder retained composure and made full use of the ball that came his way. Prominent in the lead-up to Keith Earls opening try, Laulala oozed class throughout.12. Wesley Fofana (Clermont)Fofana is probably the best attacking inside centre on the planet, so the quicksilver stepping and slick distribution he showcased against Harlequins in this crucial Heineken Cup match came as no surprise. Holding up Nick Easter to force the final whistle and rescue his pack (who had just lost a scrum against the head) was slightly out of the ordinary – and just as impressive.11. George North (Northampton) A total no-brainer. The autumn doubts about North’s form have now long evaporated, and the Liberty Stadium was treated to an absolute masterclass. Utilised initially as a first-phase battering ram, he began hunting the ball and beat two defenders before galloping 80 metres for Saints’ opening score just after half-time. The prolific Welshman hardly even celebrated – it comes that naturally.10. Jimmy Gopperth (Leinster)Rhys Priestland gave Warren Gatland a big nudge by guiding Scarlets past an abject Racing Metro and outplaying Jonny Sexton, but Gopperth’s brace of tries on the way to a 21-point haul simply cannot be ignored. Picked ahead of Ian Madigan, the Kiwi proved his worth in comprehensive style.A boot from beyond: Jimmy Gopperth9. Rhys Webb (Ospreys)Danny Care’s moment of genius to set up Matt Hopper almost snuck in the Harlequin, and Clermont might have been sunk had Harlequins’ scrum-half not picked up a foot injury. Instead, Webb is a worthy selection after a spiky, urgent effort on the back foot that included a sniping try.1. Andrew Sheridan (Toulon) It takes a special sort of strength to create the illusion that a rival scrum is on roller skates. When the mood takes him – as it did on Saturday – Sheridan can deliver that level of freakish brutality. Departing the scene on 57 minutes with Toulon 36-13 up, he left complete destruction in his wake, having also added some barreling runs to the cause.2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Treviso)Treviso made life extremely tough for Leicester Tigers and their tenacious hooker was at his combative best. Ten tackles, 25 trundling metres and a solid lineout return evidenced his effort, while a snarling face-off with Dan Cole defined his desire.3. Salesi Ma’afu (Northampton)Aided by the outstanding Alex Waller, Ma’afu was the bomb that obliterated Ospreys’ scrum and put Saints in firm control. When he was replaced and Adam Jones came on for the hosts, the game turned upside down for a spell before Dylan Hartley and co. regained their grip.4. Elliot Stooke (Gloucester)A bright future: Elliot Stooke impressedPaul O’Connell was handed Sky Sports’ official man-of-the-match gong from Munster’s West Country visit, but opposite the iconic Irishman was a lock at the other end of his shelf-life. Barely out of his teens, Stooke possesses a massive engine and a good dose of spite. He shone despite defeat and can be a cornerstone around which to rebuild Gloucester’s pack.5. Jocelino Suta (Toulon) A prickly powerhouse, Suta was abrasive before the rest of Toulon’s forwards woke up in the first half and a full-blown bully after the break as Cardiff were blown away. A hat-trick of penalty tries from scrums and driving lineout mauls indicates an utterly dominant front five – this 31 year-old led the landslide.6. Cornell du Preez (Edinburgh) Edinburgh’s entire back row were eye-catching in their victory over Perpignan – Roddy Grant and David Denton could both have made this team easily. However, in a brilliant defensive display by Alan Solomons’s side, Du Preez’s energy, encompassing 13 tackles and a try, was essential.7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) The trendy thing to say about Robshaw these days is that he doesn’t produce any moments to change games. Because tireless tackling and consistently excellent breakdown work isn’t enough for some people. Well, in a gut-wrenching defeat, the England skipper brought his usual industry – contributing at least three choke-tackle turnovers – as well as a sublime chip for Hopper’s score. He certainly left his mark. GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 11: Elliot Stooke of Gloucester wins the ball in the line out during the Heineken Cup Pool Six match between Gloucester and Munster at Kingsholm Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS 8. Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)One instance summed up Picamoles’ immense influence on Toulouse’s bruising defeat of Saracens. The ball squirted free from the back of a ruck, Schalk Brits buzzed back to retrieve it, only to be flipped over by the chasing French eight. Not content with that, Picamoles then stood astride the ensuing ruck to win a penalty. He also popped up in possession everywhere to devastating effect.
…and more fine ball presentation keeps the phase-play going:Dirty workTipuric has carved a deserved reputation as a breakdown menace for the Ospreys. That said, Ireland shut him down on Saturday.Moving onto the less glamorous aspects of Heaslip’s shift, we begin with a canny block on the Wales openside:As debutant Ross Moriarty spills in contact, the ball is up for grabs. Heaslip and Tipuric converge:Although the ball bounces clear of them, the Irishman continues on his path, blocking his rival……so Donnacha Ryan can spin it out:These are the one-percenters that Schmidt relishes. The Kiwi coach is meticulous, so he would have loved this tackle on Dan Baker from a lost restart:Wrapping up his opposite man, Heaslip stops any chance of an offload:Falling on the Welsh side of the ruck, he makes it impossible for Wales to recycle quickly……before rolling away just early enough not to concede a penalty:This approach did not always come off. Heaslip shipped a penalty just after half-time for something very similar following a tackle on Taulupe Faletau:However, he made up for it minutes later with this hit on Hallam Amos to cap off a dogged kick-chase:Put onside by provincial ally McFadden, Heaslip charges upfield with his head down……and makes contact on Amos with his shoulder, driving the legs through:Clear-out and counterThe underrated Jordi Murphy enjoyed another industrious shift, but Heaslip also added massive graft and precision to Ireland’s breakdown performance either side of the ball.To illustrate this point, we will look at two rucks. At this first one, a trademark spot-hit from Hibbard has put the visitors under pressure:As the Wales hooker fells Tommy O’Donnell, there is a sniff of a turnover. Aaron Jarvis hones in on the tackle area as Heaslip realises he must react:Jarvis is closer and wins the race to the ball, but Heaslip gets into a strong position……and dumps the tighthead behind the breakdown:Though Ireland were stopped behind the gain-line, they retain possession. Wales had a tougher time finding fluidity, thanks largely to moments such as this:The best pests are opportunistic. Hovering on the blindside, Heaslip realises that only wing Eli Walker is protecting the ball:He powers through in a counter-ruck amid the presence of Tipuric and gets a boot to the ball, forcing it into touch:Heaslip proved a thorn in Warren Gatland’s side until he left the field.Link man supremeSpecial players often elevate those around them. Heaslip is certainly a facilitator is this regard. A delicious inside pass here sent Strauss into a scurrying break:Heaslip dextriously punishes Hibbard for getting disconnected and creating a dogleg:Another well-judged pass fed Mike Ross after Heaslip had confounded Wales at another ruck:Pouncing when he sees the ball has rolled out of the ruck – and benefitting from a marginal Jackson call, it must be said – Heaslip pumps his legs through the tackle of Lloyd Williams. He only releases Ross when it is certain the pass is on:Heaslip left the field on the back of this try from Jones:Typically, he had an under-the-radar responsibility. By running at the line and offering himself to Simon Zebo, he ties in Tyler Morgan. That way, the long miss-pass finds its target unmarked:Heaslip was effervescent and diligent. O’Connell and Jonathan Sexton are widely regarded as the indispensable figures in the Ireland set-up. Their No 8 is extremely close to that bracket too. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The list of honours compiled by Jamie Heaslip reads like a comprehensive catalogue. Now over a decade into his professional career, the 31 year-old No 8 boasts three Pro12 titles with Leinster as well as a trio of Heineken Cups and the 2013 Challenge Cup.At international level there is another distinguished treble. Heaslip can reflect on three Six Nations victories with Ireland including a Grand Slam in 2009. That summer saw his first British and Irish Lions tour, four years before he headed to Australia and helped secure a series success over the Wallabies.On Saturday in Cardiff, one of Joe Schmidt‘s central henchmen seemed eager on adding a Rugby World Cup to his glittering horde. Against an undercooked and inexperienced Wales, Heaslip – handed the captaincy in Paul O’Connell‘s absence – personified an Ireland performance of vastly superior accuracy and intelligence.Here is a run-down of how he bossed the warm-up match before heading to the bench on 54 minutes.Set-piece skillA rock-solid set-piece platform would have been just one encouraging aspect Schmidt took away from the Millennium Stadium. Watch Heaslip rise to take this early lineout from Richardt Strauss:Quick ball off the top of a line out usually provides a great attacking opportunity, and so it proves here as Darren Cave careers over the gain-line.Generally, a throw to the middle or to the tail is needed to manufacture this situation. However, Heaslip’s slick transfer infield to scrum-half Eoin Reddan means Ireland can manoeuvre a midfield carry from a low-risk throw to the front:Wales are probably expecting a maul after Heaslip’s take, but a rapid transfer means Paddy Jackson has plenty of time on receiving the ball:Of course, Ireland can exercise another option with a short throw to Heaslip. Their lineout maul was devastating during the Six Nations, and looked very strong in this match too:Heaslip’s take enables a robust, structured drive that finishes up well over the Wales 22:At the scrum, where Ireland really dominated, Heaslip’s expertise at the base helped reinforce his side’s superiority.In this instance, as a shove from the men in green splinters Wales, Heaslip calmly controls the ball:Referee Glen Jackson orders a re-set and the hosts hold firmer this time:Heaslip still has an important role. Look at his left foot slip back to block Mike Phillips as Reddan clears the ball:This is the sort of subtle intervention that defines Heaslip. And there were plenty more across his display.Clever carryingAn athletic specimen weighing 110 kilograms, you would expect Heaslip to win plenty of collisions. Indeed, he steam-rollered James Hook early on:This seems like a brutish, route one play. If we take a closer look though, we can see how Ireland seek out fly-half Hook in the defensive line with a flat pass from Jackson:The result was quick ruck ball. Not long afterwards, Wales were stretched to breaking point.Heaslip was the scorer. Fittingly, he had a say in the turnover that led to the try as well:The No 8 dives on the ball as Scott Williams spills……before slicing over a couple of phases later:Rewinding slightly, it is telling to track Heaslip as Jackson darts onto the blindside:Trusting his colleagues to resource the ruck, he curves left around the corner and calls for Fergus McFadden to stay wide in order outflank Justin Tipuric – the only Wales defender to remain on the right-hand side of the breakdown:Tipuric must step in to cover the trio of forwards following Heaslip around the corner and Reddan’s pass produces an easy walk-in:Support and decision-makingFor all the noise Wales have made about their gruesome fitness schedule, it was Ireland who appeared livelier. Heaslip epitomised that. This break was perhaps his most eye-catching moment:Full-back Felix Jones sparks everything by waltzing through a non-existent Wales kick-chase, but Heaslip demonstrates his awareness very quickly.He begins sprinting even before Jones goes past him, pre-empting the Munsterman’s path and supporting accordingly:Such anticipation is matched by composure. After receiving the ball and sprinting into the open, it would be easy for Heaslip to panic. Instead, he clocks that Wales have scrambled well……and takes the ball into contact rather than releasing a low-percentage pass. The upshot, with Heaslip’s textbook ball presentation, is continuity:Heaslip never stopped working and never stopped thinking. Follow his path once more during this attack:After taking a line out at the front and feeding Reddan – as highlighted earlier in this piece – Heaslip sweeps round to join the attack. He offers himself as an option off Jackson’s left shoulder……then, unperturbed as the fly-half selects another runner, attends the ruck to help retain possession:Wales were generally outplayed around the breakdown – as we will get onto later. Even so, they made life difficult for Reddan here…until Heaslip intervened:Taking this short sequence step-by-step, we can see that Tipuric is causing trouble as Heaslip moves away from the previous ruck:Attempting to move the ball away from the danger zone as quickly as possible, Heaslip picks the ball up and trundles narrow to the breakdown:He beats guard Richard Hibbard… During a comfortable win over Wales, Jamie Heaslip put in an exceptional display that underlined his importance to Ireland’s Rugby World Cup campaign. On the charge: Jamie Heaslip storms into open against Wales
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Stuart Lancaster with Chris Robshaw (Getty Images) Moquet was a teenager who was captured by the Nazis during the Second World War and would later become a symbol of the French resistance.One of the reasons for that was a letter he wrote to his parents just before he was executed by the Germans. In it he said his goodbyes and begged them to be strong.“My darling Mummy, my adored brother, my much loved Daddy, I am going to die! What I ask of you, especially you Mummy, is to be brave. I am, and I want to be, as brave as all those who have gone before me,” begins the letter.>>> France can thrive with English styleLaporte’s hope was to inspire his team and fire them up to give everything for their country, as Moquet had done more than 60 years earlier.Instead the player reading the letter is believed to have become so overcome with emotion that he burst into tears, and rather than getting the team up for the game, the French completely lost their focus.Up against an Argentine side which posed a greater threat than that of Fiji on Friday, France fell behind very early and never recovered, losing what is still the most memorable opening game of a tournament to date. England coach Stuart Lancaster will hope not to emulate Bernard Laporte’s attempts to motivate his team before the opening match of the World Cup – France lost to Argentina after a motivational speech backfired By Paul EddisonStuart Lancaster will have been preparing for the opening game of the World Cup against Fiji since he was given the England job full-time back in 2012.While he has already had his contract extended, a nightmare tournament could see his position come under pressure, and the opening night is one place where he can’t afford for things to go wrong.Fiji are an improving team, and have enough firepower to cause England problems out wide, but Lancaster should be confident that his players will get the job done.Eight years ago however, France found out that the opening match on home soil isn’t always plain sailing, and the struggles of Bernard Laporte’s side are a lesson to Lancaster.The England coach has always been very keen to use inspirational sports figures to motivate his players, former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss, and Jessica Ennis’s coach Toni Minichello are among those who have been invited to talk to the squad in the past.When he was in charge of les Bleus, Laporte took a rather different approach, with catastrophic results.>>> World Cup 2015: Why it’s dangerous to write off FrancePrior to taking on Argentina at the Stade de France in the opener in 2007, Laporte gathered his team around in the dressing room and got one of the players to read out a famous letter from resistance fighter Guy Moquet. Laporte clearly didn’t find the solution, because France went onto lose the rematch with the Pumas in the third place play-off.England fans will hope that Lancaster’s pre-match routine this evening produces very different results at Twickenham.
IT WAS a story that caught so many off guard in Australia. A few weeks back, Greg Inglis, a star at the NRL’s South Sydney Rabbitohs and an athlete considered by some to be amongst the greatest players in any code, had checked himself into a mental health clinic. It was a big call to allow the news to filter out there.After the news, Reni Maitua, ambassador for NRL’s State of Mind movement to raise awareness of mental illness, said: “This is Greg Inglis’s bravest act… admitting you need help is the hardest thing you can do. What he has done will save lives.”At the moment, in union in England, the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) has their Lift the Weight campaign pushing for more understanding of mental illness, as well as providing information, contacts and even a few case studies.Strong voice: former England prop Duncan Bell helped other pro players open up about depressionThat aspect is important – the more recognisable, relatable faces you can learn from, the more impact a message can have. In the past when former England and Bath prop Duncan Bell opened up about his own experiences with depression – which Rugby World covered in February 2013 – the RPA experienced an increase in the number of players contacting their confidential counselling service, Cognacity.To check out the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.With Lift the Weight being pushed by various and varied voices like Jonny Wilkinson, James Haskell, Nolli Waterman and Netani Talei, they have the chance to encourage more players to seek help. This is particularly important as in the past, while Rugby World have been compiling investigation pieces, there have been fewer testimonials on issues like substance abuse, gambling or mental illness from within rugby union. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS More and more voices from elite rugby union are talking about mental health, but inspiration and encouragement can come from other fields too Attacking the line: Greg Inglis attacks for Queensland in last year’s State of Origin In researching our long read on painkiller use in rugby, I spoke with former NRL player Joe Williams – who has just signed a deal for his autobiography, Defying the Enemy Within – to see what union can learn from those in league who have opened up about their problems.Back in the day: Joe Williams, playing for the Rabbitohs in 2004, will address drug issues in his bookWilliams explained that he would take “tray-loads of different prescription pills, anything that got me away from the terror in my mind”. As he clarified, Williams used prescription and recreational drugs and alcohol to dull the “voices in my head”. Before he came back from the brink, Williams would even attempt suicide.Powerful stuff and worth hearing about, regardless of your sport. However, when asked what union could learn from elite league on the openness of athletes to admit they have a prescription painkiller problem, Williams replied: “It’s not just sport, it’s a societal issue.” That is a specific example of an addiction. Nevertheless, mental health issues can affect one in four in the UK each year. It is a societal problem, too. No matter the sport, we have to applaud the candour of any top athlete willing to seek help. The more recognisable voices talking about mental health issues, the more likely we are as a society to open up.To find out more, please visit https://therpa.co.uk/lifttheweight/