READING, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 25: England rugby head coach Stuart Lancaster (R) poses with backs coach Andy Farrell (L) and Academy players (2L-2R) Maro Itoje, Anthony Watson Brett Herron and Kyle Sinckler during the launch of the BMW Performance Academy at Wokefield Park on September 25, 2012 in Reading, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for BMW) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster, who has overseen the development of English players over the last four years in his role as RFU Head of Elite Player Development, said: “The BMW Performance Academy will help equip our promising young players with the skills needed to succeed at the highest level. We’re working hard in conjunction with their club coaches to give them the individual support they need both on and off the pitch as we work towards the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and beyond.”BMW will also provide the players with personal development training, meetings with ambassador mentors, work experience across the company and advanced driver training. Andy Farrell and Stuart Lancaster with Academy players Maro Itoje, Anthony Watson, Brett Herron and Kyle SincklerTHE RFU has launched a new performance academy, sponsored by BMW, that will provide 30 young players with tailor made support to help them progress onto the elite England team.The scheme, which is part of the RFU National Academy Programme, will see an initial pool of 30 rising stars picked from the existing age-grade system (U16,U18,U20) work closely with their club, coach and the RFU to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP).
TAGS: Leicester TigersNorthampton Saints CARDIFF, WALES – DECEMBER 06: Glasgow fullback Stuart Hogg in action during the Heineken Cup Pool 2 round 3 match between Cardiff Blues and Glasgow Warriors at Cardiff Arms Park on December 6, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) Quite, and it’s not even Christmas… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Saints are sinnersThe Saints have sinned this week after 40-7 humbling at Franklin’s Gardens. You’d wager it was as chastening a match as Jim Mallinder can remember while in charge of the club. The beaten Premiership finalists, second in the league this time round, simply didn’t turn up as Matt O’Connor’s Leinster scored at will. In fact it could have been even higher if two clear-cut scoring opportunities weren’t spurned. Northampton skipper Tom Wood summed it up, saying: “We’re all pretty ashamed of what happened. To have fans call you an embarrassment as you leave the field is about as bad as it gets.”Judge for yourself by watching the match highlights via this link.French clubs – quelle horreur!It’s been clear for many years that the French clubs care more about their domestic Top 14 competition than the European tournaments and after three rounds only three of them have a realistic chance of reaching this season’s Heineken Cup quarter-finals after a weekend of chastening results. Racing Metro, Perpignan and Montpellier joined Toulouse in losing their clashes and three out of the seven French clubs in the Amlin Challenge Cup also lost. Toulon, Toulouse and Clermont Auvergne still top their pools and the halfway stage, but the nation needs a better showing next weekend to retain some fierté.The waiting game: Conor MurrayConor Murray has gone from strength to strength since his return from the Lions, performing superbly against New Zealand, but Saturday was a set-back. The Ireland scrum-half suffered a knee injury in the first-half of Munster’s win over Perpignan and faces a nervous wait to see if he can take part in the return match next Saturday. Munster and Ireland will be crossing all fingers and toes it’s not too serious.In a Stu: It was weekend of little progress for Scottish rugbyLittle Christmas cheer North of the BorderScotland’s premier professional team, Glasgow Warriors got the weekend off to a poor start with their 29-20 defeat against an injury-hit Cardiff Blues side, then Edinburgh were beaten 23-12 by Gloucester in Sunday’s Heineken Cup clash at Murrayfield and Scotland U19s went down 29-5 to the touring Australian School side.It led to an exasperated Tom English, Rugby World’s Scottish-based correspondent, exclaiming on Twitter, “Grim failure by Glasgow against a Cardiff side missing seven or eight first-choice players. Another Heineken season down the toilet.” Smiles for Miles: Wing Miles Benjamin showed Leicester what they’ve been missing during his injury by scoring two triesBy Katie FieldThe SaintsIn the name of BODIreland’s greatest player of all time is showing no signs of drifting quietly towards retirement. He was at his mercurial best as Leinster whupped Northampton 40-7 at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, creating two tries for Luke Fitzgerald and adding a third himself, for good measure.The centre began his masterclass by dinking a kick through a crowded defence in the third minute to set up the first of Fitzgerald’s hat-trick. His contribution to the second try a few minutes later was a spark of brilliance, as he flipped the ball with pinpoint accuracy between his legs to Rob Kearney, who set Fitzgerald away. And O’Driscoll put his own name on the scoresheet in the second-half, intercepting a pass and sprinting in from 30 metres out. Not bad from the old man. Catch him while you can (see below for a link to the match highlights).England speedsters waiting in the wingsThe list of injured England wings is longer than Veruca Salt’s latest tome to Santa, but fear not, Stuart Lancaster. Jonny May, who won one cap on last summer’s tour of Argentina, put in a Man of the Match-winning performance for Gloucester against Edinburgh on Sunday, including a jet-heeled, mazy run to set up a try for Martyn Thomas. And if that wasn’t enough, Miles Benjamin scampered over for two tries for Leicester to help them to a 41-32 win over Montpellier, showing his finishing instincts are intact after recovering from neck injury which threatened to end his career last year.Shock result: Connacht down ToulouseConnacht shock the French aristocratsIn the result of the Round, the unfancied Irish province stormed Stade Ernest Wallon and turned over four-time Heineken Cup champions Toulouse to blow Pool Three wide open. They were the first side to beat Toulouse on their own turf since Heineken Cup.Fast-paced, full-blooded rugby from Connacht created a try for Kieron Marmion and Dan Parks added 11 points with the boot to crush the four-time Heineken champions but this result was all about heart and is one of the finest wins of Pat Lam’s career.Blues are plastic fantasticThe Blues’ investment in their 4G pitch is reaping dividends as they staged an entertaining Heineken Cup match against Glasgow Warriors on Friday. The Blues kept their qualification hopes alive and, whatever the winter weather throws at Cardiff Arms Park, they can look forward to playing on a user-friendly surface that befits thoroughbreds like Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny. What the Edinburgh players wouldn’t give to say the same…The Sinners
RW’s proposed France XV v Scotland: Brice Dulin; Yoann Huget, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval; Jules Plisson, Maxime Machenaud; Thomas Domingo, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Yoann Maestri, Yannick Nyanga, Wenceslas Lauret, Louis Picamoles.Machenaud brought more pace to the French game when he replaced Jean-Marc Doussain so he gets the nod while Fickou deserves his chance in midfield after the uninspiring and one-dimensional performances of Mathieu Bastareaud. The pack get the chance to redeem themselves against Scotland. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Sam’s the man: Warburton stretches for the line to score his second-half try against FranceBy Sarah Mockford at Millennium StadiumThe match in 30 secondsWales did to France what Ireland did to them in Dublin two weeks ago. They brought huge intensity at the breakdown and in defence, none more so than captain Sam Warburton, and prevented France getting any rhythm. George North crossed in the first half, Warburton stretched for the line in a scrappier second half and Leigh Halfpenny’s boot did the rest.Wales – Tries: North, Warburton. Con: Halfpenny. Pens: Halfpenny 5.France –Pens: Doussain, Plisson.Rough and tumble: the hits were physical in CardiffPost-match bulletin– Shaun Edwards paid tribute to the work Robin McBryde had done in defending against the maul, believing the forwards had negated a typical strength of the French game.– Philippe Saint-André said: “Wales played well but they didn’t need to do much, just feed off our mistakes.” But he emphasised that France can still win the Six Nations.– France made nearly twice as many carries as Wales – 118 to 61 – with Louis Picamoles topping the chart on 17. They also made 372 metres to Wales’ 188.– France bust 26 tackles and made four line breaks but couldn’t score a try.– Wales made nearly twice as many tackles as France – 116 to 69 – and Dan Lydiate made the most hits with 14. – Wales’ scrum success rate was 56% while France’s was 33%, while they won eight turnovers to France’s six.What’s next?– More of the same for Wales – they need to match, if not better, the intensity shown here if they are to leave Twickenham victorious in a fortnight. They threw numbers at the breakdown, were extremely physical in defence and worked in unison.– Jamie Roberts was at his best in getting over the gain-line and giving Wales momentum – that’s what will be needed against England. If he can find holes around the Owen Farrell-Billy Twelvetrees channel, he will give his outside backs decent opportunities.– The scrum was the one area of concern, but on the better turf at Twickenham the front row should be able to get traction– France were flat and vast improvements need to be made before they travel to Murrayfield. They weren’t able to adapt to Alain Rolland’s rulings at the contact area and grew tetchy – Louis Picamoles applauding the referee as he walked off having been sin-binned a prime example.– They also need to make better use of their possession – more teamwork, less individual play.High five: Jake Ball made his first Wales startRW’s proposed Wales XV v England: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Rhys Webb; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau.Davies has two more weeks to prove his fitness and his creativity in midfield will bring a different dimension to Wales’ game against England, while Alun Wyn Jones will be welcomed back if he recovers from his foot infection. If not, Jake Ball has shown he can step in. Webb retains the No 9 shirt after releasing Wales’ back-line with his quick service.
TAGS: Highlight The Top 14 season is close to reaching its 2013/14 end-game and there is still much to play for 1.Toulon 2.Montpellier3.Clermont 4.Racing 5.Toulouse6.Castres What a day we have in store this Saturday in the Top 14. It’s the last day of the regular season yet after 25 rounds of competition only two clubs have nothing to play for. Biarritz are already relegated to Pro2 and Brive are nestled in the cosy confines of mid-table, neither in danger of the drop nor in with a faint hope of finishing seventh and qualifying for next month’s European Champions Cup play-off place against one of their English rivalsThe relegation permutations were covered in last week’s column and while nothing has obviously changed in that regard, it will be intriguing to see how Clermont react to Saturday’s  Heineken Cup humiliation when they host Perpignan. Twelve months ago the Auvergne club lost to Toulon in the Heineken Cup final and a week later slumped to a spiritless defeat against Castres in the Top 14 semi-final.Rescue act: Clermont need star centre Wesley Fofana to help them bounce back from Heineken Cup humiliationThe fact Clermont are at home is crucial. Right now they are in need of some TLC and their raucous supporters will be there in numbers to help lick their wounds against relegation-threatened Perpignan. Clermont must win against the Catalans if they’re to stand any chance of qualifying automatically for the semi-final of the Top 14.As it stands, Toulon are top of the table on 73 points, then Montpellier on 71 and Clermont and Racing Metro on 69. Assuming Jonny Wilkinson’s side don’t slip up at home to Stade Francais (though the match is actually being played along the Cote d’Azur in Nice), they’ll finish the regular season as champions. Montpellier have a difficult match at home to Racing Metro, who have been the form team in the second half of the season.The Parisians have lost just twice in the league since the start of December and there’s a pragmatism now to their game that has echoes of Toulon. They have the best defence in the Top 14 – having conceded 404 points in 25 matches – and while they don’t run in tries from all four corners, they have the boot of Johnny Sexton on which to rely. Quite possibly Racing are timing their run to perfection and could emulate Castres’ achievement last season in going all the way.Tough at the top: A star-studded Toulon will be fighting on two fronts as the season climaxesBut if one was to go with Top 14 tradition and assume the home sides win on Saturday, then Toulon and Montpellier would go through to the semi-finals on the weekend of May 16/17. Clermont would have a home tie in their Barrage on May 9/10 against the team that finishes sixth. That could be any one of Toulouse, Castres, Stade Francais or Racing, depending on how other results pan out. Toulouse are currently sixth (so slated to face the side finishing third) but they host struggling Grenoble on Saturday and should finish with a comfortable win. Castres also face one of the relegation threatened sides in Bayonne, but a trip to Basque country could be tricky for the defending champions.Stade Francais are seventh and, given that they play Toulon, unlikely to finish in sixth so they are in line to face off against one of the English clubs in the European play-off match. But the Parisians could yet be edged out of that encounter by eighth-place Bordeaux Begles, who entertain Biarritz.Now pay attention because this is where it gets very complicated: Bordeaux trail Stade Francais by five points with an inferior points difference of 13. Yet if Bordeaux secure a bonus point win against Biarritz and also win by more than 14 points – and Stade Francais lose to Toulon without a bonus defensive point – then they will finish seventh and Stade will drop to eighth.The drama unfolds on Saturday afternoon with all matches kicking-off at 1.45pm BST and agony and ecstasy ensuing in the 80 minutes to follow.Final top six if home sides all win on Saturday (but with Racing & Castres collecting a bonus defensive point) Clermont v CastresRacing v Toulouse Upturn: Johnny Sexton’s Racing Metro have been the form team of the Top 14 as the season comes to a close LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Barrages:
He has an intriguing skill set. His ability to force defenders to set their feet and then step around or through the back of the tackle means that he regularly makes ten yard gains – and his desire to look for simple offloads is laudable. His emergence as a genuine ball-carrying No 8 is great news for the Ospreys who will soon need to find a replacement for Ryan Jones. Baker’s legitimate rise is also very good news for Wales, who will need two quality No 8s for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The Great Duane: Springboks powerhouse Duane Vermeulen carries for the StormersOpenside issues for WalesWales have been very lucky during the past two seasons. Whereas many of the home unions are desperately scraping around to find a genuine test quality No 7, Wales have two. Both Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric are legitimate opensides and their value to the Welsh squad has been enormous. However, April saw the possibility that Justin Tipuric may also miss Wales’ tour to South Africa along with Sam Warburton.It is a big issue for Warren Gatland. Wales’ ball carrying is very direct and is becoming easy to read. Gatland relies on a ‘fetcher’ to make sure that easily read running lines don’t lead to even easier turnovers. However the injury situation may not be quite as gloomy as it first appears. Strangely, the Bok’s may be the easiest of the ‘Top three’ to face without a fetcher. Facing the mobile McCaw, Cane, Hooper or Gill would be a far more daunting task than the monstrous but less mobile, Vermeulen, Louw and Alberts. Getting to the ball first in South Africa may not be the biggest problem. Having the strength and size to remain ‘parked’ over the ball with 58st of Bok back row ‘clearing out’ may be a more pressing concern.Swansea RFC. Relegated. The issues that affect Welsh rugby aren’t merely affecting those at the top table. Welsh rugby is currently an ‘omni-mess‘– affecting all levels. None more so than the Welsh Premiership, where April saw Swansea RFC relegated. Founded in 1873, Swansea could now find themselves in the third tier of Welsh rugby. Of course this isn’t an issue that just affects Swansea RFC. Neath, Bridgend and Aberavon were all involved in the relegation battle and have equally rich histories.The relegation of any of the aforementioned clubs would have been sad. Regardless of who was relegated the role of the Welsh Premiership needs to be redefined. Is it purely to feed players into the regions or to be a competitive league where the needs of the club takes precedence over the region above? Currently the role of the Welsh premiership is blurred. One thing that is clear though. Unless there is a significant U-turn from the WRU, Swansea RFC are going down. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Breaking through: Dan Baker makes a burst for the Ospreys against Leinster Cardiff Blues turn a cornerApril was a successful month for Cardiff Blues. Arguably their most successful period of the season. Admittedly the wins against Toulon and Ulster were highlights in their own right, but those victories were one-offs. April saw Cardiff Blues stitch together their first three game winning streak of the season. It may seem like an insignificant achievement, but it is gargantuan when viewed alongside the pre-Christmas performances. The three game winning-streak has validated the Blues’ decision to change their head coach and to appoint Dale McIntosh and Paul John, but the winning streak isn’t the only positive at Cardiff Arms Park. The return of Cory Allen has made an enormous difference in midfield. Allen’s triple-threat skill set of carrying, passing and kicking has brought a variation to the Blues backline that has thus far been missing.Making a difference: Dale McIntoshAdd to this the signing of Jared Hoeata and the reported hunt for Gareth Anscombe and Mark Hammett and the Cardiff Blues are moving in the right direction. Silence between the WRU and the regionsApril has seen very little movement between the WRU and the regions. In fact, the Eurasian tectonic plate has probably moved further during the last four weeks than negotiations between the WRU and Regional Rugby Wales. The silence is worrying. It’s like watching a failing marriage. We’ve witnessed the shouting stage, been through the screaming stage.Now we’re in the bit where both sides have become so unhappy and devoid of care that the talking and even the plate throwing has stopped. The silence is aiding David Moffett’s campaign, whose constant presence on social media, and at his recent debate in Cardiff, is feeding people’s desire for solutions while they are seemingly unforthcoming from other bodies. Wales’ participation agreement ends in a matter of weeks and without it Welsh rugby will struggle to function. Unless the relevant bodies begin talking again, this divorce could get messy.Dan Baker has arrivedDan Baker has been threatening to genuinely break into Welsh rugby for the last 12 months. His performances for Wales’ U20s combined with a place on the senior tour to Japan looked set to propel Baker’s career earlier than it has. Injury put pay to that. But with those injuries behind him and a ‘highlight reel’ performance in April, Baker is finally fulfilling his potential.
Battle to standstill: Nothing could separate Wales and Ireland Rob Jenkins is a superb player. This is not a typo.Many were surprised that Rob Evans was selected ahead of Gethin Jenkins for the Ireland game. Despite a very good past 12 months at the Scarlets, it seemed that the seniority of Jenkins would command the number one shirt in this year’s opening Six Nation’s fixture. However, Evans was immaculate. Immaculate to the point where Rob Evans became Gethin Jenkins. Warburton and Tipuric didn’t quite work.Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric are hugely impressive opensides – yet very different. Their selection alongside each other seems as logical as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. However, the practical realties, against Ireland, were very different. Warburton, at blindside, meant that he was roughly five to six yards further away from every breakdown situation than he would have been at seven. Five to six yards may not seem like a lot, but in terms of elite open-side play it equates to roughly one second.Nullified: Sam Warburton effectiveness was blunted with the No 6 jersey on his backA second in which Warburton isn’t able to set his feet wide, lower his back, drop his shoulders and clamp onto the ball like a three-year-old on an Easter egg. Tipuric is also a hugely effective openside and his link play, speed and ability to penetrate the wider channels is hugely desirable – his performance, particularly late in the game, was sensational. But Wales need Warburton’s turnovers more than Tipuric’s ability to break in the thirteen channel. To have both would be the perfect situation, but Warburton remains the priority.Well played Rhys Priestland The most ‘drawy’ draw, in the history of draws.Ireland 16 – Wales 16. You would think that those numbers alone would adequately define a draw. 16 – 16 would seem a sufficient indicator of equality of performance, particularly in a game, such as rugby, where the largely ‘odd’ numbered scoring makes a draw highly improbable. But the parity between Ireland and Wales, on Sunday, extended way beyond the scoreboard and was buried deep within both teams’ key performance indicators. Wales and Ireland scored a try each, a conversion each and three penalties each. Nothing too statistically surprising there.Nobody likes a draw: both sides look dejected at the final whistleYet, both Ireland and Wales also had a 100% scrum completion and an 89% lineout completion. They also both had impressive tackle completions separated by just 1%. Both teams also won 98% of their rucks. It was as if a rugby egg was produced in a fallopian tube, when the teams were announced mid-week, then fertilized at 3pm on Sunday afternoon and the identical twins were born 80 minutes later. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the birth.Jamie Roberts’ nuclear defence.Jeremy Corbyn’s talk of the UK reducing its nuclear Trident programme needn’t be a concern. A potential replacement could simply be the cloning of Jamie Roberts, a thousand times, which would deliver largely the same impact. His defensive effort against Ireland was insane. 21 tackles at inside centre is weapons grade defending. It was as fine a defensive display as I have seen from a 12.The clamp: Jamie Roberts put in a titanic defensive display against IrelandMake no mistake, these weren’t run of the mill leg tackles – these were tackles that made Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne feel like they had strolled into a Polar Bear enclosure in a neglected Ukrainian Zoo. Perhaps the greatest compliment to Roberts’ tackling is that he outshone Taulupe Faletau – who also made 21 hits. But world-class backrow forwards are expected to reach those numbers – centres aren’t. Some may point to Wales not making a single clean break against Ireland but until Roberts is told to play otherwise, he is doing his job. Awesomely. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Heir to the throne: Rob Evans did a passable impression of Gethin Jenkins in some areasThey are very similar players. Very mobile, good skillsets and an ability to operate at the breakdown like a fourth backrow forward. Gethin Jenkins still has a lot to offer Wales during this Six Nations and the three test tour to New Zealand, but so does Rob Evans. A 60/ 20 minute playing between either looks very promising for Wales during the next six months. Well played Rob Jenkins, I mean Rob Evans. Sides could not be separated, Jamie Roberts’ iron-clad shield, work-to-do with the Warburton-Tipuric experiment and Rob Evans’ performance are all dissected Rhys Priestland had an impressive game against Ireland. The fact that he had a 100% goal kicking rate, a part of his game with which he has struggled historically, was particularly pleasing. But above all Priestland deserves praise mostly for playing so well in amidst a Welsh rugby public that simply doesn’t appreciate his quality, nor contribution.Assured performance: Rhys Priestland let no one down with his kickingIt is difficult enough playing test rugby when you have the support of your country, to do so amongst sneering comments must be a nightmare. Priestland has had a good season and has been a stabilising force at Bath – where stabilising forces are in short supply. Whether at 10, 12 or 15 Priestland hasn’t put a foot wrong for Bath. Barring a key drop goal, he did the same for Wales against Ireland and it should be recognised. Well played Rhys Priestland.
When did you start playing rugby?When I was about five or six, at Upminster rugby club. I didn’t play a lot of other sports when I was younger – I just really loved rugby. I stayed with Upminster until I was 15 or 16, then went to Oaklands College through Saracens and just played for them.Have you played in different positions?Growing up, I was a centre but when I first went to Oaklands I moved to wing and stayed there.You were also a good athlete…I was quick and I won the England Schools 100m when I was 14 and was second in it when I was 16. My mum ran for Wales – Diane Thorne.When did you think you could make a career from rugby?Halfway through the first year at college, when I was learning what you needed to do to be a professional player.When did you join Saracens?I was about 14 when I joined their junior academy, then I played U18s and joined the senior academy last year. Date of birth: 27 February 1996. Country: England. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Saracens Try time! Perkins scores for Saracens in an Anglo-Welsh Cup clash in November. (Photo: Getty Images) Who have been your mentors?Ian Vass at Saracens and Jake Sharp at Bedford Blues and Oaklands. I’ve been on a season-long loan at Bedford and it’s been fantastic. They play a really good brand of rugby.What memories do you have of the 2015 Junior World Championship?I really enjoyed the whole experience. Against South Africa in the semi-final we were underdogs and beat them quite convincingly. We came up short in the final (v New Zealand) but I think this year we could win on home soil.The Six Nations didn’t go well for England…That was disappointing but it made us stronger. Guys are coming back with Premiership experience. RW Verdict: Perkins had 15 England U20 caps before this month’s World Championship kicked off, plus five tries. Consistent rugby with Bedford Blues has brought him on and he will be a key man for England in Manchester.First published in the July 2016 edition of Rugby World magazine.
Injera, who has worked as a salesman in the past and has a degree in PR, sees the benefits of a group pulling together. He insists they have no “magical players”, although he and brother Humphrey Kayange have played a large role in marching Kenyan sevens upwards and demonstrating they have true quality. What he does concede is that a first-ever World Series triumph in Singapore has given the people of the country something to cheer. Forget the casual celebrity of it all, it was necessary in order to show kids what is possible.“We needed to believe in our system and create a real bond between the players. We have so many new boys in the set-up this season that we had to pull everyone together. We’ve had training camps at altitude, in the Nandi Hills, and have done plenty of activities together like mountain hikes. But that win helped us bond.“When we got back home to Kenya, everyone was talking about rugby. That could be good for youngsters. In the past, all people have known Kenya for is track and field at the Olympics but that was big – something to remember forever. It also shows we have something huge (with the Olympics coming up). The dream, a few years from now, is to wake up and see professional rugby as a reality for our players. So much of it is about getting the proper resources for us. To wake up and just play rugby? I want young boys to enjoy the funds of a sport we all love.”“We’ve had guys whose bosses have not allowed them to get away. I’m lucky that my boss is a huge supporter of Kenya rugby.”Just getting away from the big city to meet up is a big thing for the Kenya Sevens squad, and time spent abroad can help broaden horizons in terms of seeing different rugby styles. Since his debut in 2007, Injera has been a standout star for the side, but he has also improved markedly. Hence how he surpassed Santiago Gomez Cora’s try record. However, for some sevens sides, even competing on the yearly circuit is a triumph of teamwork over logistics. “Some guys in our team have to leave home at 4am so we can all make it to training for 6am,” says Kenya’s Collins Injera, the all-time top try-scorer on the HSBC Sevens World Series with 235.“It’s tricky to get people to training during the week. Some are students and most work. I’m lucky I work in public service, so I can get the time off. You’ve really got to have people who are understanding because you’re away for two weeks at a time, which is massive.“We got the huge rewards after winning a series leg in Singapore, but we still needed understanding people. When we got back, guys had to catch up on their studies – some miss exam periods – and we’ve had guys whose bosses have not allowed them to get away. I’m lucky that my boss is a huge supporter of Kenya rugby.” That may sound like he is incredibly singular, but he is insistent on giving back to his squad. He is more than just a figurehead; going further, Kenyan rugby is so much more than a pair of exciting brothers in Injera and Kayange. A new generation is coming through, being nurtured and nudged by the veterans, but also getting used to competing for honours. Olympic dreams are earned the tough way. Training for the ultimate multi-sport, summer showcase comes at a cost measured in buckets of sweat and galleries of pained faces. Brothers in arms: Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange have long been the protagonists of Kenyan rugby For the latest Rugby World subscription offers click here and find out how to download the digital edition here. At the time he broke the record at Twickenham in May, Injera said: “I’ve played this sport since high school and when I started out I wanted to go for the record.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Record holder: Collins Injera is the highest try scorer in World Series history with 235 Much of the chat about Injera during the Olympics will revolve around two facts. The first, of course, is his record try-scoring feats on an ever-expanding and ever-improving sevens circuit. The second is that at Twickenham last year he scored a try, whipped a permanent marker pen out of his sock and signed a camera lens, accidentally destroying a bit of equipment worth £60,000. Woopsy, you may say.These titbits are both true but as the flyer describes the toil to get to training facing his team-mates from outside of Nairobi, the desire to bring everyone together and show them their worth, or the dream of a new era of professional sport for his younger compatriots, it is hard to see Collins Injera as a man defined by numbers – be they pounds or tries.“Coming into this season we knew it would be huge – it has been for everyone,” Injera says to finish this post-training chat. It could have been an opening line, it could be a PR slogan for the Sevens World Series. But there is also a sense of ‘more to come’.It is almost a promise that the Games in Rio will be the thrilling conclusion to a sevens season where everything has impressed. That includes Kenya – the ultimate surprise package.
Time for a truce: For the moment, there’s a ceasefire between Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen All tour, like two ageing prize fighters, Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland have kept each other at arm’s length, offering the odd verbal jab that, that has been seized upon by a sizeable media contingent befitting of rugby event that fires the imagination every four years.Earlier in the week, after the All Blacks had convincingly beaten the Lions in Auckland, 30-15, Hansen had taken the unusual step of phoning the local radio station, Radio Sport NZ, to witheringly dismiss Warren Gatland’s inference that Jerome Kaino had intentionally set out to target Conor Murray blindly coming through the ruck. He dismissed Gatland’s assertions as ‘desperate’, before adding: “It’s just really, really disappointing to hear him say that, and take the gloss off not only the Test match but from his own team’s performance as well. As a New Zealander, I would expect him to know the New Zealand psyche. It’s about playing hard and fair.”Setting the record straight: Steve Hansen struck a conciliatory tone in WellingtonIt led to the New Zealand Herald depicting Warren Gatland as a morose clown, something Gatland had himself been questioned about it after the Hurricanes game. He pertained not to know anything about it – he said recently that the Gatland household refrains from buying papers – but while the Hamilton-born coach is seen as a thick-skinned character, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think that behind closed doors, the Kiwi took an affront to the front page.Ambling into the Hotel Intercontinental, just yards from Wellington’s picturesque waterfront, many would have expected Hansen to continue the spiky diatribe, but after wading through a series of questions, the war of words between the coaches was inevitably raised, specifically the Herald’s depiction of Warren Gatland as a figure of fun. The two Kiwi coaches have indulged in some low-level sledging all tour but the mood changed when Gatland was depicted as a clown by a local paper LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Crossed the line: The NZ Herald’s depiction of Gatland was given short shrift by HansenWith nine days left of the Series, and fatigue setting in for the most hardened of tourists, it promises to be a fractious end to a tour, and when the times comes, you would wish to be a fly-on-the-wall when the two coaches crack open a craft beer and end six weeks of barbs and brickbats with a little bonhomie. Here’s hoping… Flash point: Jerome Kaino’s treatment of Conor Murray set off a war of words earlier this weekThe cartoon, which had been used before to lampoon Gatland and Australian coach Michael Cheika before, had clearly crossed the ‘Test coaches unwritten code’, as Steve Hansen launched into an impassioned defence of his fellow coach. “I think it’s really disappointing. It’s one thing to have a bit of banter but I have a lot respect for him and the Lions. They are a good team, so to come out and do that, you’re ridiculing someone who doesn’t deserve it. Sometimes people don’t agree with what we do, but that’s okay, you’re entitled to your opinion. It’s the media that ramp it up because it sells newspapers. Who am I to say stop it, but I do look at it and think that’s not actually how it went.”FOR THE LATEST SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS, CLICK HEREWith the pressure mounting on Gatland in a must-win Test, it was perhaps unsurprising that Steve Hansen could afford to take a moral stand at his coaches depiction but coming from the World Cup-winning coach of the best side on the planet, he knew it would permeate pretty quickly over to his opposing number. “Listen, I’m looking forward to having a beer with him and a chuckle to chat about life. We have a lot of common interests. He likes to race horses and so do I, he coaches Wales and I’ve been through that experience myself.”
Regardless of the result, this bounce of the ball for Teddy Thomas was magical!#bbcsixnations pic.twitter.com/sDkpVd30WU— BBC Rugby Union (@bbcrugbyunion) February 11, 2018The result was of little significance to these two rugby fans, though. Their love affair goes back 50 years after first meeting at a rugby game: It wasn’t all plane sailing for the Scots as Finn Russell struggled to settle into his kicking game. This didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter, including this tweet from former England centre Will Greenwood: Ireland won’t have enjoyed seeing Robbie Henshaw, who also contributed a brace of tries, go off injured, but his exit made way for Jordan Larmour‘s debut appearance: In the second match of the weekend a try double from Jonny May put England ahead and they had to fight hard to come out with a 12-6 victory.A brilliant offload from Launchbury set up May’s second try: Launchury received a lot of praise on Twitter for his performance after the game, including this message from former England prop David Flatman: Once again people turned to Twitter to express their disbelief: We’ve rounded up the best of social media from the second round of the 2018 Six Nations Another moment of the match, was that try-saving tackle by Sam Underhill: Scotland also failed to contain Teddy Thomas, who was once again on fire with two tries in the first 30 minutes. For the second one he seemed to be able to control the bounce of the ball to take it away from Laidlaw: The main talking point of the game, however, was the much debated TMO call. In the 22nd minute, with the score at 12-0, Gareth Anscombe was denied a try by the TMO on the basis that the ball hadn’t been clearly grounded.It caused much debate on social media and it’s probably fair to say the whole of Wales disagreed with the TMO’s decision, including Wales internationals: Although Billy Vunipola had a different opinion: The final fixture of the weekend was a ding-dong affair between Scotland and France. Scotland came from behind to see off France 32-26 at Murrayfield, where Greig Laidlaw took centre stage: The best Six Nations tweets of the weekOnce again we’ve trawled through Twitter to bring you the best Six Nations tweets of the week from the second week of the 2018 championship.The opening match of the round saw Ireland host Italy – and it rained tries in Dublin. Ireland had secured the bonus point by half-time and went on to run in eight converted tries by the final whistle. However, they also conceded three tries in the second half on the way to their 56-19 victory.Aer Lingus appreciated the take off of the first of Jacob Stockdale’s two tries: Whilst all this was going on, Danny Care was quietly becoming England’s most-capped scrum-half: LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS