Under the IRB Recommended Sanctions for Offences Committed within the Playing Enclosure, contact with the eye/eye area in contravention of Law 10.4(m) carries the following recommended sanctions – Low End: 12 weeks; Mid Range: 18 weeks; Top End: 24 to 156 weeksCardiff Blues await written submission from the ERC and have no further comment to make on the matter until that is received. Wales’ back-up scrum-half Richie Rees is out of the Six Nations after having been banned until 31 March. Rees, the Cardiff Blues player, appeared before an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin on Thurs, 6 January aas a result of the citing complaint arising from the Heineken Cup Pool 1 match against Northampton Saints at Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday, 19 December, 2010.The citing complaint made by the Citing Commissioner for the match, Murray Whyte (Ireland), was for acts contrary to good sportsmanship in contravention of law 10.4(m) in that Mr Rees had made contact with the eye/eye area of Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley (No 2) 30 minutes into the first half.Rees pleaded not guilty to the complaint on the basis that any contact had been accidental. The independent Judicial Officer, Pat Barriscale (Ireland), reviewed all of the evidence, including several angles of the incident from television footage and medical statements relating to the injuries sustained by Mr Hartley.The Judicial Officer heard oral evidence from Mr Hartley (by telephone) and Mr Rees, and also heard submissions on behalf of Mr Rees from Cardiff Blues’ Chief Executive, Robert Norster, and on behalf of ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O’Connor. The Judicial Officer determined that Mr Rees was guilty of foul play in contravention of Law 10.4(m) in that he had made contact with the eye/eye area of Mr Hartley. The Judicial Officer found that the contact had been reckless and not intentional.The Judicial Officer found that the offending was at the low end of the level of seriousness for an offence of this type, and having taken into account all aggravating and mitigating factors imposed a suspension of 12 weeks. Mr Rees is free to play again on 31 March, 2011. TAGS: Cardiff Blues LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Auckland Blues Head coach – Pat Lam Blues coach Pat Lam says retaining the bulk of the 2011 squad for next year is one of the most pleasing aspects of the 2012 Blues squad– along with the arrival of some pretty exciting newcomers.“Going into my fourth year, what I am really excited about is the continuity of the squad. We have only four players joining the Blues for the first time. Having the core of our leadership group back led by Keven Mealamu is fantastic – they will continue to drive the Blues’ way. The abundance of experience these guys have will be vital for the Under-20 players who are stepping up to the next level.”“We are also looking forward to seeing the best from players such as Liaki Moli and Brad Mika who suffered horrific injuries last year which ruled them out of the season. There’s no doubt our squad is pretty special – to have in our side the three All Blacks nominated for the 2011 IRB Player of the Year, is not a bad way to head into this campaign.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Coaches – Pat Lam and Bryce Woodward AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 09: Head coach Pat Lam is interviewed during an Auckland Blues Super Rugby training session at Unitec on June 9, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images) Gareth AnscombeAnthony BoricLiaki MoliLachie MunroDaniel Braid*Ma’a NonuLuke BraidFilo PauloCharlie Faumuina*David RaikunaMichael HobbsRene RangerJerome KainoPeter SailiChris LowreyBenson StanleyTevita MailauSherwin StowersPauliasi ManuAngus Ta’avaoAlby MathewsonIsaia ToeavaTom McCartney*Piri WeepuKeven MealamuAli WilliamsBrad MikaTony Woodcock*George MoalaRudi Wulf* First time with the Blues franchise
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Point to prove: Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby is hoping that his side can upset some large odds to defeat UlsterBy Alan DymockPLAY-OFF RUGBY is as nerve shredding as it is rewarding. Months of hard work can be undone in one high-pressure showdown. It is completely different to regular-season rugby and for the four teams participating in the RaboDirect Pro12 semi-finals, winning the whole thing would mean a change in league fortunes.Table-toppers Ulster last won the league in 2006. Opponents Llanelli Scarlets last triumphed in ’04. Leinster have been waiting since 2008 to win the league and Glasgow Warriors have never lifted the trophy. Which undoubtedly makes for a tense weekend.Ulster v ScarletsDing-dong wingers: Bowe has a test against fellow Lion NorthShould Ulster defeat Scarlets tonight then they will be the home side for the final, a final that, due to capacity problems with Ravenhill, means that the province will opt for Dublin’s RDS as their ‘home’ venue.It is expected that Ulster will do it against a Welsh province that just squeaked into the play-offs at the expense of the Ospreys. Mark Anscombe’s side started the season in red-hot form and looked likely to steamroller their way to finals in the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup. They spluttered like a jumbo jet running on chip fat halfway through the season, but they still possess the potential to menace their way to the title.Scarlets, on the other hand, have the potential to counter-punch with vivid brutality but arrive off the back of a shambolic show against Treviso.George North is a known threat, as are Jonathan Davies and Aaron Shingler. However, Andrew Fenby on the other wing is a dangerous and undervalued striker and captain Rob McCusker and Ken Owens grow in stature when they are on the front foot. So in the fight for momentum it is the bankable talents of Ruan Pienaar, Paddy Jackson and a pummelling pack against the hustler Rhys Priestland and an array of forward-falling talents.If you are one fond of Lion watching, Tommy Bowe will line-up opposite North and Davies will bristle in the centre.Friday 10 May: Ulster v Scarlets. At Ravenhill, 7.45pm. Live on BBC NI/RTE/S4C For the first time in five years someone other than the Ospreys and Munster will lift the silverware. Which of these four will survive the semis?The June edition of Rugby World magazine includes interviews with Leinster and Ireland’s Cian Healy, Glasgow and Scotland’s Stuart Hogg, Leinster’s Isa Nacewa and Scarlets’ Liam Williams. Don’t forget to buy your copy! It’s on sale now, until 4 June. Leinster v GlasgowOn Saturday, Leinster will host Glasgow Warriors at the RDS – a place that, if they win, could host their remaining games as it would be the venue for the Amlin Challenge Cup final and perhaps the Pro12 final – as the leagues top try-scorers and second stingiest defence rush over from Scotland.There will be scant opportunity to catch breath in this semi with Lions Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland zipping around in front of future team-mates Cian Healy, Sean O’Brien (if he passes a late fitness test), Jamie Heaslip, Jonny Sexton, Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney.History boy: In ’08 Felipe Contepomi took Leinster to the titleThere will also be a heightened sense of importance to the semi-final, with Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt looking to finally win the Pro12 title with his side this season before moving on to take the Ireland job. Pro12 coach of the year Gregor Townsend and his squad of snappy rascals stand in the way.It is achingly beautiful patterns and plays against the all-action blitz of the Warriors. It will be quick and there will be a fine balance between balletic play and ugly slapping into hits. Much may come down to Sexton’s play against irregular stand-off Pete Horne.As well as this, Leinster have the knockout mentality and they have history behind them. Glasgow are the cheeky upstarts capable of sticking a wet finger in the Irish side’s ear.Saturday 11 May: Leinster v Glasgow Warriors, 7.45pm. Live on TG4 and BBC ALBA LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 06: Tommy Bowe of Ulster reacts during the Heineken Cup quarter final match between Saracens and Ulster at Twickenham Stadium on April 6, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
during the international match between Wales and Australia at the Millennium Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales. George North’s performance against Australia was world class. Genuinely world class. Not the ‘world class’ that is casually thrown around on sports phone-in programs.North was Wales’ top ball carrier (75 meters), top for clean breaks (two) and defenders beaten (three). His second try was a textbook illustration of his skill set – his power and lateral movement beat Christian Lealiifano, Scott Fardy and Will Genia in one fluid move. But whilst his second try was more intricate it was his first try that shows his impact on defenders. Having kicked through a reasonably innocuous low running kick, he chased the ball into the Australian 22 where the ever-reliable Adam Ashley-Cooper would ordinarily scoop up the ball and clear. However the presence of North turned Ashley-Cooper into a twitchy mess – the sight of 6ft 4in’ and 17 stone mass of sinew can even affect a 91 cap Wallaby.Stunning display: George North again shone against OzNorth capitalised on the mistake and scored Wales’ opening try. The Northampton winger wasn’t part of the IRB’s shortlist for World Player of the Year. But if he continues to play as he is North will surely win that title in the next decade.Incredible defenceA gap, no matter how small, clearly exists between Wales and Australia. But there certainly isn’t a gap when it comes to defence. Whilst there were slight issues with defensive positioning in the midfield, Wales once again had a tackle completion of 90%. Scott Williams made an incredible 16 tackles and the ever-impressive Toby Faletau made 18.But whilst the effectiveness and technical efficiency of the tackling was impressive it was the aggression of the hits that deserves comment. There was a time when you’d only see a single ‘show reel’ tackle in 80 minutes of rugby. On Saturday Wales made two in a matter of seconds. George North’s massive hit on Adam Ashley-Cooper was followed by Richard Hibbard’s monumental smack on Ben Mowen. Hibbard’s hit was particularly brutal. It was like watching the one of the Great White sharks of False Bay hitting a seal pup from the side… whilst wearing a resplendent blonde wig. Quite a sight. Struggling to come to terms with the loss: Wales have now lost nine of their last Test matches against AustraliaBy Paul WilliamsWe’ve been here beforeI was tempted to save myself a bit of work this week by cutting and pasting the opening paragraph from my previous six Wales v Australia articles. Yet again Wales lost by a narrow margin in a thoroughly engaging encounter.Wales were defeated 26 – 30, which is a point differential of 13%. This neatly sums up the difference between the two teams. With the exception of the Wales’ defence, Australia were 10% to 15% better in most aspects of the game. Wales secured 48% of the possession and 43% of the territory. And whilst both teams’ lineouts struggled to deliver clean possession it is fair to say the Welsh lineout had bigger issues with a completion of only 69.2%. But whilst Wales were only 10-15% off the pace in most areas, there were others where the gap was substantially larger.Unusually, Wales were bested at the breakdown. Michael Hooper’s agility and body position wreaked havoc with Wales’ ruck speed. The Wallabies’ handling was in a different class to Wales’. In close quarters the Wallabies’ offloads seemed to be almost magnetic – even 50/ 50 offloads were rarely spilled. This isn’t to say that Wales weren’t competitive – they were. But small margins are magnified in big games. Wales still have some way to go.An unsettling talent: Quade CooperUnstructured play unsettles WalesIn recent years Wales have fared better against teams who execute predictable patterns, but Australia’s unstructured approach unsettled them. With Quade Cooper at outside-half the Wallabies are wonderfully unpredictable and his decision to play an expansive passive game was a joy to witness. The Wallabies ran the ball an incredible 735m compared to Wales’s 375m.Cooper’s passing, combined with Israel Folau’s remarkable lateral movement, caused Wales huge problems. Cooper regularly fired 25 yard passes over the top of Wales’ blitz defence where space was plentiful. It explains why the Wallaby back-three each carried the ball over 100m. The Australian backline demonstrated their Super Rugby skillsets at every opportunity with Cooper delivering more ‘cat flaps’ than petsdirect.com. There are those who criticise Cooper for his defence, as was ably demonstrated when Mike Phillips brushed him aside in the 41st minute, however the odd missed tackle should be forgiven when you can throw ‘miss three’ passes with such accuracy.George North. Stunning LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS No scrumsThere were no scrums in the opening 46 minutes of the game, which is a remarkable statistic. There were only six scrums in total. When the first scrum did arrive it resulted in a reset which sucked over a minute of game time from the clock. The paucity of scrums had two implications. Firstly, the absence of Adam Jones from the Welsh team had a limited impact and therefore cannot be touted as an excuse for the loss. But more importantly it resulted in a thoroughly entertaining and fluid first 40 minutes. This isn’t to say that union can do without scrums; it can’t. But Saturday illustrated what a great game union can be when it doesn’t have to deal with such a needy and fickle set-piece.
Winners’ smiles: Parmiter’s School in Hertfordshire won our Zero to Hero competition Don’t miss the January edition of Rugby World to see what Parmiter’s first XV learned when we took an IRB coach and Lucozade sports scientist down to put them through their paces! The magazine goes on sale on Tuesday 2 December.Did you know you can still enter your team into Lucozade Sport’s Kit-Out Project? Simply go to lucozadesport.com/kitoutproject and register your team’s name. You can also browse the kit catalogue and select the kit you want to collect for. Then, all you need to do is enter the codes (one code per every bottle of Lucozade Sport) into the website and start watching your collection grow. The more codes you collect, the more kit you can get. Make sure you get your team-mates involved! LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS We teamed up with the Lucozade Sport Kit-Out Project to give away £3000-worth of kit, plus expert nutrition and training advice. Meet our winners… WE WERE overwhelmed with interest from our amateur readers when we announced that we were teaming up with Lucozade Sport’s Kit-Out Project at the start of this season. The scheme is designed to give away kit and training equipment to grass-roots clubs, from match-day and training strips customised in the club’s colours, to balls and bibs, water bottles and ladders to help make those training sessions count. When Rugby World heard about the project, we had to get involved, so we added the Zero to Hero element, to give the club with the most codes who entered our competition £3000-worth of additional kit, gear, and training and nutrition advice from the pros.Zero to Hero: Parmiter’s School are the winners of this competition!Our winners, Parmiter’s School in Hertfordshire, are leading a leading light for schools rugby in the state sector, with the younger pupils desperate to get involved in their successful first XV, in favour of joining the football ranks.Acting Head of PE and Games Bradley Hughes said: “Our 1st XV has been pivotal over the last few years as we have looked to develop rugby at the school. We have created an environment where students are extremely proud to represent our 1st XV and they provide exceptional role models to our younger students, often leading training sessions for our younger boys.”
Date of birth: 3 April 1996. Country: Ireland. Breakthrough: Stockdale scoring his first Pro12 try for Ulster. (Photo: Inpho) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS How was the U20 World Championship?Not many experiences compete with it. It was incredible to be part of a team that made history by beating New Zealand and reaching the final.What are next season’s aims?To get as many Ulster caps as I can and help them push on and get silverware.What interests do you have outside rugby?I started a criminology degree but postponed it when I got into the senior side. I’ll go back in January. TAGS: Ulster Tell us about your rugby background…My dad and grandad played and I started when I was about six at Ballynahinch. Then I played schools rugby at Wallace High in Lisburn and since I came into Ulster I’ve played for Queen’s and (Belfast) Harlequins. Now I’m going back to Ballynahinch.Do you play in different positions?I had a short stint as a forward but it didn’t work out too well! Since I was 11, I’ve been an outside back.When did you join Ulster?My first time was with Ulster U18 and I was lucky to then get an academy contract straight out of school.Who have been your mentors?My Wallace High coach Derek Suffern, who is the Ballynahinch coach too. He brought me through. When I was 15, I was 5ft 4in and by 17, I was 6ft 1in, so you could say I was a late bloomer!Did 2015-16 go well for you?I tore my groin and was out for five months but it was brilliant to come back and get a few Pro12 games. It is by far the highest level of rugby I have played. RW Verdict: At 6ft 3in and almost 16st, with plenty of pace, Stockdale is a real handful for opposition defences. Four tries at the Junior World Championship underlined this young Ulsterman’s potential.First published in the August 2016 edition of Rugby World magazine.
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS On his way: Conan O’Donnell running out to play for Connacht in Europe. (Photo: Inpho) TAGS: Connacht How did you get into rugby?My first sport was Gaelic football, which I started when I was three or four, with St Mary’s. I played until U18s and we won lots of county titles. I started at Sligo rugby club when I was six or seven. I enjoyed it but I wasn’t any good when I was younger.Have you played in many different positions?I used to be a winger until I was nine or ten, then Four Star Pizza came to town and that turned me into a front row! I’ve bee a prop since I was about 12 and can play on both sides of the scrum.Do you prefer one side?I have played a lot of loosehead this season but I’m way more used to playing tighthead and that is where I would like to be in the long term.When did you start to take your rugby seriously?When I got into the Connacht squad at U15s. I started to put my mind to it more and more. I started taking better care of myself. I didn’t go to a rugby school so I did a lot of extra training by myself.Are you still studying?I am at NUIG (National University of Ireland in Galway) doing business, part-time. Date of birth: 23 May, 1996. Country: Ireland What has it been like playing in the Pro12 and Challenge Cup this season?There were a lot of injuries at Connacht so I got a chance. It’s a great experience. I’ve learnt loads already. The Connacht Eagles and Ireland U20 matches prepared me well for it, but it’s still a step up.What are your aims now?To be part of a wining team in the U20 Six Nations and World Championship. The talent is there but we will have to work very hard. Hopefully I’ll get more Connacht caps too.RW Verdict: O’Donnell has played for Ireland U18 and made nine appearances for the U20s last season. With Pro12 and European rugby experience under his belt now too, he should kick on in the green of Ireland and Connacht. First published in the March 2016 edition of Rugby World magazine.
Look out for Alivereti Veitokani off the bench, too. The fly-half has won huge plaudits for his performances for Fijian Drua in their National Rugby Championship triumph.What have the coaches said?Scotland coach Gregor Townsend: “They pose huge threats off turnover ball, utilising some of the best individual players, one-on-one, in the world.“We have to be physical and accurate, play to our strengths and put them under pressure in areas they don’t want to go into, to make sure the game is open for us but not for them.”Fiji coach John McKee: “We approach every Test match with the belief that we can win. We have had success over Scotland at home but it’s important for us to nail some results against Tier One teams away from home.”Related: The opportunities and the obstacles for Pacific Islands rugbyLast meeting: Fiji beat Scotland in Suva in June 2017 (Getty Images)Any interesting statistics?Fiji have beaten Scotland twice in seven Tests, including their most recent meeting in 2017 (27-22), but both those victories came in Suva.Exeter lock Sam Skinner will make his Test debut for Scotland, starting in the second row alongside Grant Gilchrist, and Setareki Tuicuvu earns his first cap for Fiji at full-back.Scotland’s starting XV contains 110 more caps than Fiji – 446 to 336 – but Fiji’s pack is more experienced. Fiji’s eight have 221 caps compared to Scotland’s 141.In their last five Tests, Scotland have scored 22 tries and Fiji have scored 25, so expect plenty of attacking rugby in Edinburgh!What time does it kick off and is it on TV?Saturday 10 November, Scotland v Fiji, BT MurrayfieldThe action in Edinburgh kicks off at 2.30pm and the Test is being broadcast live on BBC One.Who’s the referee?Ireland’s Andrew Brace has the whistle at Murrayfield, with an English double act as his assistants in Luke Pearce and Karl Dickson. Kiwi Ben Skeen is the TMO.What are the line-ups?Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Pete Horne, Sean Maitland; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Ryan Wilson, Jamie Ritchie, Matt Fagerson.Replacements: Stuart McInally, Alex Allan, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.Fiji: Setareki Tuicuvu; Metui Talebula, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatabua, Vereniki Goneva; Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani; Campese Ma’afu, Sam Matavesi, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Cavubati, Leone Nakarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), Peceli Yato, Viliame Mata. TAGS: Fiji Autumn Internationals Scotland v Fiji PreviewScotland coach Gregor Townsend has described Fiji as “the Brazil of rugby” in the lead-up to Saturday’s game at BT Murrayfield and he knows only too well the attacking threats the islanders possess having seen his side lose 27-22 in Suva in 2017.Townsend wants his team to play an all-court attacking game but he will be wary of things becoming too loose this weekend because that will play into the hands of the Fijians, who love to launch counter-attacks and take advantage of badly organised defences.Scotland’s defensive flaws were exposed by Wales last weekend and Fiji have the players to exploit any sign of a gap.Pete Horne, who starts in Scotland’s midfield on Saturday, is well aware of the talent at Fiji’s disposal: “It’s going to be a hell of a game. They beat us the last time and they’ve got an incredible team. They’ve got so many good players that if they can click on the day they can be a match for anyone. It will be a huge challenge but very exciting.Losing cause: Pete Horne tries to find space against Wales last weekend (Getty Images)“Peceli Yato, the back-row from Clermont, is awesome. Leone Nakarawa is certainly the best player I’ve ever played with; I’d probably say he’s the best player in the world. He’s incredible. It’s exciting to have these guys coming to Scotland to play.”Horne has fond memories of touring Fiji in June 2017, saying: “I have a lot of time for Fiji. When we went out to schools, the reception you got from people was incredible. It’s just such a brilliant place.“I was blown over by how friendly the people are, how amazing the whole country was.”Horne and his team-mates will just be hoping they are not blown away by the skill of Fiji’s rugby players on Saturday afternoon.Best in the world? Fiji lock Leone Nakarawa on the attack for Racing 92 (Getty Images)What’s the big team news?Gregor Townsend has made a significant nine changes to the starting team that lost to Wales last week, including bringing in Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw at half-back. The France-based duo were unable to play last week as the Test fell outside the official international window. Laidlaw will captain the side on Saturday.Elsewhere in the backs, Stuart Hogg returns from an ankle injury to start at full-back, Sean Maitland comes in at wing and Pete Horne has been promoted from the bench to start at inside-centre, with Huw Jones dropping out of the 23.Up front, Fraser Brown starts at hooker with Stuart McInally moving to the bench, there is a new second-row combination in Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner, while Matt Fagerson will wear the No 8 shirt.Fiji haven’t played since losing to Tonga in June and compared to that side, there are six personnel changes as well as two positional ones.Related: Rivalry and friendship on show as Tonga beat FijiVereniki Goneva moves back to his familiar position of wing from centre while Viliame Mata, who has been so impressive for Edinburgh, moves from the second row to No 8.Star performer: Viliame Mata has impressed for Edinburgh (Getty Images)Semi Radradra comes in at 13 with the other changes in the backs being Setareki Tuicuvu at full-back and Metui Talebula on the wing. The half-back pairing of Ben Volavola and Frank Lomani is retained, with the former going head-to-head with his Racing 92 team-mate Russell.Up front, Sam Matavesi starts at hooker – his first Test since 2013, Tevita Cavubati is at lock and the dangerous Clermont flanker Peceli Yato is at openside. Double act: Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw team up at half-back (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS It could be all-out attack as Scotland take on Fiji at Murrayfield this weekend – here are all the details you need Replacements: Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Kalivate Tawake, Albert Tuisue, Semi Kunatani, Henry Seniloli, Alivereti Veitokani, Eroni Vasiteri.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
With the prospect of blending the healthy balance Jones struck in November and the availability of his favourite powerhouses, Jones must drastically rethink the manner in which he deploys his fit-again ammunition.Most important is the role in which Billy Vunipola is employed once restored to the No 8 jersey. The success of Wilson alongside two capable breakdown components – and not an out-of-position second-row – must be replicated as closely as possible.Since returning for Saracens, Billy has reminded the England coaching staff of his aptitude at the breakdown and his ability to mix it with the backs when required – and not solely as a battering ram, as he has most often been deployed under the Jones regime.The unrivalled physicality Billy provides England must be treated as a luxury and not the stable diet of hypothetical success. If this side once again become overly reliant on the No 8, history will repeat itself, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy that sees Vunipola enjoy a short period of destructive jubilation before once again being driven into the ground and onto the physio bed.Having the likes of big brother Mako, Sinckler, Te’o and Tuilagi in the squad allows a significant weight to be lifted from Billy’s shoulders, spreading the responsibility of gaining front-foot ball across the XV and permitting the wrecking ball of a No 8 to flaunt his full skillset and enjoy some semblance of longevity of fitness in the lead-up to the much coveted World Cup campaign later this year. Rethink: How will Eddie Jones use Billy Vunipola on international duty? (Getty Images) Opinion: Eddie Jones Must Rethink Billy Vunipola’s England RoleThe excitement, fiery debate and drama of the 2019 Six Nations is beginning to unfold as a nervous energy begins its crescendo. No one will be more aware of the importance of the last Six Nations before the Rugby World Cup than England coach Eddie Jones, whose most important task this year must be to rethink Billy Vunipola’s role for the sake of both player and nation.The headlines may be dominated by yet another classic Jones soundbite, suggesting Exeter wing Jack Nowell would be able to play at openside flanker for England, but the true narrative of note surrounds the staggering firepower now at the Australian’s fingertips.Related: England Six Nations SquadThe sight of a fit Manu Tuilagi or Billy Vunipola has become a rarity over the past three years, with England’s most destructive carriers destined to send the supporters’ hopes through a roller coaster of emotions, a never ceasing circle of ‘will he won’t he’ be fit for national duty.But this year not only does Jones have both Billy and Manu fit and firing, he has Mako Vunipola (Billy’s older brother), Worcester’s physically imposing centre Ben Te’o and even the luxury of Bath’s colossal winger Joe Cokanasiga to choose from.Criticism has been laid at Jones’s door over the past two years in regard to relying far too heavily on big ball-carriers, with last year’s fifth-place finish in the Six Nations piling a mountain of blame on his doorstep.Fortunately for both supporters and Jones himself, England enjoyed a positive autumn campaign. The most important narratives of Jones’s second November campaign came in the nature of his selections, completely changing the face of his team’s balance – all for the good.Bereft of the bulldozing Billy or Wasps man Nathan Hughes at the back of England’s scrum, Jones turned to Newcastle Falcons blindside Mark Wilson, who went from the unseen Premiership workhorse to, arguably, the year’s biggest success story. Combined with a breakdown-proficient flanker pairing of Brad Shields and Sam Underhill, the problem areas Scotland and France exploited to devastating effect nine months ago were nowhere to be seen. England Six Nations Squad 2021 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Last year’s Champions will be hoping to retain… England Six Nations Fixtures 2021 Ali Stokes argues that Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola needs to be deployed in a different way by England England Six Nations Fixtures 2021 Jones must learn to deploy Billy Vunipola as a luxury and not a crutch.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. England’s Six Nations ends with defeat in Dublin Collapse England Six Nations Squad 2021 Expand With this new-look unit operating with explosive tighthead Kyle Sinckler and Owen Farrell’s return to his preferred ten jersey, alongside the substantial presence of Te’o, balance was restored for the current England team.
Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Please follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Best Rugby Boots for Speed 2021How do you reach max speed? You put as much power out as possible with as little weight as possible. The power part of that equation is all down to you but the right rugby boots can help with the weight. A light boot not only helps increase your speed, it also helps you stay agile and dance past defenders. If speed is your only focus then go light.There are other factors to consider, however. A very flexible boot will reduce the power you can generate as instead of driving through the ground your power will go towards bending and flexing the boot. Modern boots targeted towards improving player speed will tend to offer a solid, or even reinforced, sole that ensures all that power turns into speed.The last thing to look at is grip. Bigger studs are heavier and that will slow you down, but, you can’t reach top speed if you are slipping around in the mud. In bad weather you are well advised to choose grip at the expense of lightness.Best Rugby Boots for SpeedNike Mercurial Superfly Elite DF SG Boots(Nike)Let’s kick off with something a bit different. The Mercurial Superfly Elite is an example of where boots for backs are heading. The knit upper is exceptionally lightweight, it is basically just a slightly over-engineered sock. That means two things: unrivalled comfort and unrivalled agility.No matter what boot you were wearing before, these will be a monumental step up. Add plenty of traction, thanks to the combination of stud types, and a perfect kicking surface, designed for a football, and these boots are ideal for a winger looking to break open the game.+ Built for football, these boots are ideal if you plan on making kicking a part of your game+ These soft-ground boots have a stud pattern which should allow for year-round use– £200+ for boots is extraordinarily expensiveBuy Now from Lovell Rugby for £260Buy Now from Sports Direct for £138.50Buy Now from ProDirectRugby for £260Gilbert Kaizen 1.0 SG Boots(Gilbert)Designed for speed and agility, these are ideal for fleet-footed outside backs. A knitted upper, brought over from football boots, hugs the foot without adding more than the bare essentials in weight. Perfect for some dazzling footwork and a sprint into the open field.The offset laces mean that, even when your only option is to kick, you can do it with confidence thanks to an unbroken kicking zone.+ Very lightweight but still offering a solid and secure fit+ A raised heel ensures you are always in the most powerful position when you need to surge by the last defender– The knitted upper and lightweight construction means you can expect a few bruised toes, even if you avoid rucks as much as possibleBuy Now from Lovell Rugby for £45Buy Now from ProDirectRugby for £40Buy Now from Amazon from £83.84Mizuno Morelia Neo 3 Beta SG Boots(Mizuno)This offering from the Japanese firm just screams pace. The Morelia Neo 3 Betas weigh in at an almost impossibly light 190g. The barefoot knit material around the collar reduces weight but a series of beta mesh windows mean the weight reduction doesn’t come at the expense of either comfort or stability.Mizuno have even toned down the logo to save weight, all in the pursuit of a perfect boot for the quick players.+ A perfect mixture of lightweight without compromising foot security+ A mix of plastic and metal studs should offer enough traction, without the discomfort of full metal studs, for year-round use– This is a premium boot with a price tag to matchBuy Now from ProDirectRugby for £215Buy Now from Amazon from £106.12Puma Future 5.3 Netfit FG/AG Boots(Puma)The Future is aptly named, this is what rugby boots will become. Part sock and part boot, the Future is super lightweight but with a lacing system which keeps the foot firmly locked down.That means despite the flimsy looking exterior they will allow you to dance around with as much confidence as any ‘normal’ looking boot. Unsurprisingly, for a football boot, the contact area is ideal for kickers.+ Perfect for powering through the line or dancing past a defender, thanks to excellent foot security+ Great on hard surfaces and synthetic ground, this offer usage in all but the worst conditions– The colour scheme might be a bit out there for some, although the Battenburg styling will appeal to those who like to stand out Buy Now from Amazon from £22.49Buy Now from ProDirectRugby for £40Buy Now from Puma for £70Adidas Predator XP FG Boots(Adidas)As a kid the Predator was the boot you had to have if you were playing football. That boot has evolved to this. The Predator XP has a knit upper to provide breathability but that is combined with foot security so you can dart left and right and know that your foot will be held in place.Asymmetrical laces increase the contact patch so you can be confident of a consistent outcome when kicking.+ Extra padding around the ankle cuff will protect your ankle joint from any impact+ Lightweight and comfortable but with a secure fit to allow for fast footwork– The firm ground studs probably won’t offer enough traction in the midwinter so you will need a second pair for soft groundBuy Now from Sports Direct for £120Buy Now from ProDirectRugby for £127Buy Now from Lovell Rugby for £170Adidas X.Ghosted 1 FG Boots(Adidas)Ideal for speedy backs who steer clear of the rough stuff or prioritise accurate kicking over the odd bruise. Exceptionally lightweight construction and sock like comfort will leave you feeling like you’re not wearing any shoes at all.A carbon-fibre insert under the foot means that all power is sent straight through the turf to fire you forward rather than lost in a bendy sole. There is plenty of space on the toe and instep for consistent and accurate kicking.+ Exceptionally lightweight but more than comfortable enough to wear for hours on end+ Ideal for kickers who want a clear contact patch between boot and ball– Right at the top end of the budget for most and, unless you live somewhere warm and dry, unusable in the winter monthsBuy Now from Adidas for £179.95Buy Now from Sports Direct for £179.99Buy Now from Lovell Rugby for £180Canterbury Speed 2.0 SG Boots(Canterbury)A blend of pure speed and lightweight agility with enough grip to keep you planted even when the weather turns bad. A locked in toebox and collar ensures the wearer can be confident when dancing around in the backfield but cushioning on the ankle means these boots feel more like slippers than jail cells.Six metal studs on the outer, with seven additional molded studs, allows these boots to be worn throughout the whole year. They are comfortable on cricket pitch-esque touch grounds and quagmire like December surfaces.+ A reasonably priced boot that can do it all+ Eye popping colour scheme which is noticeable without being over the top– As the name suggests, these don’t come with much in the way of protectionBuy Now from Canterbury for £18Buy Now from ProDirectRugby for £15Buy Now from Sports Direct for £27.50Under Armour Speedform CRM Leather SG Boots(Under Armour)The anatomical heel cup keeps your foot firmly planted while the foam interior ensures that close fit doesn’t translate into discomfort. The synthetic leather exterior gives the same comfort without overstretching or taking on more water which would adjust the fit.They are designed for soft ground but the combination of metal and plastic studs mean these will be perfect virtually all year round.+ The all-white colour scheme is breathtaking and will stand out on any pitch+ A well mixed set of studs allows for comfort on hard ground and traction on soft surfaces– With an RRP of £180, hese are nearer the top end of most people’s budgetBuy Now from ProDirectRugby for £55That concludes our guide to the best rugby boots for speed in 2020. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS A buyers’ guide to the best boots for flying wingers and full-backs