Springboks vs France

Springboks vs France : The Springboks must produce a backlash when they tackle France in Paris this Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS. With some relief, focus gradually has begun to shift back to on-field matters after the widespread fallout from last Saturday’s controversial 84th-minute refereeing decision that largely overshadowed the end result at Twickenham.

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The fact remains that the Boks’ 12-11 defeat to England has left their win-loss record for the year sitting at a measly 45%. Make no mistake, it’s turned this Saturday’s clash against France into a must-win match for the Springboks.

It’s no surprise then that Rassie Erasmus has looked to select his strongest available lineup, with all six returning overseas-based players named in the match 23.

Springboks vs France Rugby Live

In particular, the return of Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux and Franco Mostert will strengthen the spine of the starting lineup, with the Boks’ decision-making and lineouts having let them down last weekend.

It’s no coincidence that when De Klerk and Le Roux have been at their influential best as playmaking generals this year, the Springboks have generally come out on top.

De Klerk will certainly add some much-needed zip to the Bok attack, while Le Roux remains an ever-present danger when joining the line as another playmaker.

The loss of the injured Eben Etzebeth is a big blow for the Springboks, but the retention of Pieter-Steph du Toit in the second row means that the Boks will be pairing two highly-proficient lineout locks together.

This set piece will have been a central focus for the Boks this week after four lineouts went astray last Saturday, and in particular, Malcolm Marx is one of the players who Erasmus will be hoping can deliver an emphatic response.

Although France are in a rebuilding phase, they remain a team that boasts some influential and physical forwards such as towering No 8 Louis Picamoles, while the likes of Teddy Thomas and Camille Lopez offer an X factor among the backs.

What the Boks will be hoping to do is bottle up the frustration from last weekend and unleash it in a performance that is far more accurate.

There is no getting away from the fact that for all of the Boks’ gainline and territorial dominance, they should have had England dead and buried well before the officials could have a game-changing influence on proceedings.

This has remained one of the chief frustrations for the Boks this year, with Erasmus’ charges creating more than enough opportunities, but their finishing has left a lot to be desired at times.

It’s some consistency that the Springboks are still desperately searching for, while they will be looking to their substitutes to provide a more meaningful impact now that Vincent Koch, Francois Louw and Cheslin Kolbe have added some more experience to the bench.

The Boks come into this match on a six-match winning streak against France, and there is little doubt that they should have the firepower to claim another positive result if they can eradicate the basic errors and poor ball retention that haunted them last weekend.

SUPERBRU: SA Rugby magazine team’s picks

France – 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Damian Penaud, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Subs: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Gael Fickou.

Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.

France vs South Africa

France vs South Africa : A one-off Test is always important but when France and South Africa line up in Paris on Saturday (kick-off 7.45pm), winning on the night will not be the only item on the agenda.

France vs South Africa Live Rugby

Both sides will have one eye on the next World Cup in Japan which is now just 10 months away. Both coaches, the highly-experienced Jacques Brunel and former Bok flanker Rassie Erasmus, have come into their jobs in the last 12 months, taking over teams that were struggling with identity and results.

Their task is to mould two sides that can challenge the All Blacks in Japan. Brunel would appear to have the bigger challenge; he replaced Guy Noves last December, and since then France have won just two of his eights Tests in charge.

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“We are looking for the spine,” said Brunel referring to the traditional backbone of hooker, No 8, half-backs and full-back. In those five positions, only the hooker Guilhem Guirado looks a certainty for the World Cup.

“Guirado is the captain so that’s a vote of confidence,” said Brunel. “We want him to prove that he is immovable in his position.”

That means there will be plenty of scrutiny on the rest of the spine, all of whom are returning to the side after time away either through suspension, injury or lack of form.

Experienced No 8 Louis Picamoles returns at the back of the scrum but most eyes will be on the French half-backs, Baptiste Serin and Camille Lopez.

Serin has had a yo-yo year, going from first-choice scrum-half down to number five and back into the starting line-up, albeit with Morgan Parra, Maxime Machenaud and Baptiste Couilloud all injured.

Lopez, meanwhile, returns after an 18-month absence and a terrible foot injury. Brunel rates the Clermont fly-half highly and is desperate for him to lock down the No 10 shirt before the World Cup.

“He (Lopez) has to show us that he is the best in France,” said Brunel, who has also plumped for experience and horses-for-courses in choosing Maxime Medard ahead of Benjamin Fall at full-back.

“For the Springboks, territory is all-important. We think that Maxime has a longer kicking game than Benjamin. He is one of the most experienced players we have.”

Experience is also fundamental to Erasmus, who took over the Bok hot seat in February and has already led them to a rare victory in New Zealand.

Hence his pragmatic decision to bring in Willie le Roux at full-back and Faf de Klerk at scrum-half as soon as they were available ahead of Damian Willemse and Ivan van Zyl.

Lock Franco Mostert comes in for the injured Eben Etzebeth.

“It’s good to have the experienced players back in the starting team for France,” said Erasmus. “We are building squad depth for the Rugby World Cup and they (Willemse and van Zyl) will be back in the mix as the tour progresses.

“The big thing is to build caps and experience before next year’s World Cup.”

South Africa haven’t lost to the French since 2009 but Erasmus is not taking another victory as a given.

“Two years ago, people would have said that playing France was easy, they had a lot of weaknesses,” he said. “Since then they have changed coach and there is a positive wave.

“It’s going to be a tough one to come out here. Last year the Springboks did really well when they ground out a win (18-17). I think it’s going to be very much the same this year.”

France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Damian Penaud, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 1 Jefferson Poirot, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 5 Yoann Maestri, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 7 Arthur Iturria, 8 Louis Picamoles,

Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Danny Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Gael Fickou.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Malcolm Marx, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 5 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 8 Warren Whiteley.

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.

Ireland vs Argentina

Ireland vs Argentina : Talking points ahead of Saturday’s autumn international between Ireland and Argentina at the Aviva Stadium…

Ireland vs Argentina Live Rugby

Speaking to media this week, Joe Schmidt believes the next two matches will hand Ireland a clear World Cup 2019 yardstick.

Ireland host Argentina and back-to-back world champions New Zealand in Dublin on successive Saturdays, with head coach Schmidt expecting a stern battle against both nations.

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Argentina dumped Ireland out of the 2015 World Cup with a fine 43-20 victory in the quarter-finals, while the All Blacks have topped the world rankings since 2009.

Ireland could overhaul the All Blacks into world number one spot before the year is out, but only with victory in Dublin on November 17 – and Schmidt knows his side could be facing a defining few days ahead.

Asked how telling the next 10 days could prove with next year’s World Cup in mind, Schmidt replied: “Yes, where we are right now, it will tell us a lot and I think regardless of what happens in the next 10 days, everything is a benchmark.

“In particular, this is our first southern hemisphere game of this series and you saw in Australia (in June), the way that southern hemisphere rugby is played is worth a fair bit of freedom.

“The Argentines would probably be a little bit more combative at the ruck than some of the other teams.

“So we’re going to have to really be on our mettle otherwise guys like (Agustin) Creevy and (Pablo) Matera will get on that ball very quickly.”

Ireland lost a glut of frontline players to injury for that last-eight loss to Argentina at the last World Cup, with Johnny Sexton ruled out and replaced by Ian Madigan just days before the Cardiff clash.

Schmidt has diligently built Ireland’s depth since that day, in a bid to ensure no such possible repeat come the next global gathering in Japan.

Asked to chart the differences between facing Argentina in 2015 and now, Schmidt said: “Well our number 10 has trained all week; he hasn’t had a 20-minute intro to run the team and started six games in the previous 12 months.

“I thought that was really tough and I thought the kid really stood up and did a great job. We got back into the game after being hesitant.

“No matter how much you try to build that confidence, it’s men like Sean O’Brien that have a contagious confidence.

“He’s robust, he’s experienced and people see him do things on the pitch and think ‘yeah, I can get into this game on the back of that’.

“We didn’t quite have those players that day, losing the likes of Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony and Johnny (Sexton).

“One of the great things that’s happened to us is that we’ve had to make last-minute changes a number of times in the last three years.

“The players are incredibly excited about what’s coming up and they’re nervous about Argentina and how good they are. So there’s a bit of anxiety floating around which is not necessarily the worst thing.”

Schmidt also admitted he will have some selection headaches once Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose and Chris Farrell are all fit – each centre played a role in their 2018 Grand Slam success.

Ringrose will miss Saturday’s Dublin Test clash with Argentina due to a minor hip complaint but should be fit in time to take on New Zealand, while Farrell has been out of action with a knee injury since February.

Aki and Henshaw will link up in midfield against the Pumas, with Jordan Larmour retaining his place at full-back as Rob Kearney battles a shoulder injury.

British and Irish Lions centre Henshaw has this week been tipped for a run at his first senior position of full-back, but Ireland boss Schmidt does not feel shoehorning Henshaw in at 15 would solve the potential conundrum of fielding all his top talent at once.

Schmidt said: “He’s had very little time there.

“I know he played a lot of it and was described as favouring it in the week, but he favours contributing to the team to the best of his ability wherever he’s selected.

“Robbie’s the sort of guy you could pick at seven and he’d go out and do a good job of it. I think he’s great in the positions he’s played for us, both at 12 and 13.

Could Robbie Henshaw turn into an option at full-back for Ireland?

“I wouldn’t have too much hesitation putting him back to 15. He’s got a lot of the attributes. It would be a very ad hoc preparation for him to slot back into 15, as in the last few years he hasn’t had too much game-time there.

“So I think you just need a little bit of time to recalibrate if you are going to play in a position. Now, is there anyone more capable of recalibrating? Probably not too many.

“So it is something that has been in the back of our minds for a long time as an option if we needed to go there.

“The one thing I would say, it’s probably not our first option, and it’s probably not something we’re going to necessarily suddenly default too.”

Garry Ringrose started against Italy last week but misses out this week due to a minor injury

And quizzed on how he can best combine his three top midfield talents, Schmidt replied: “When they are all fit I’ll let you know. I’m not sure myself at this stage.”

Having scored a hat-trick against Italy in Chicago last week in his maiden Test start, Jordan Larmour has a chance to impress at full-back again on Saturday in the absence of Kearney.

Larmour’s pacy attacking abilities have put him on a path to fulfilling his “scary” potential, according to Ireland team-mate Luke McGrath.

“He’s a freak; I get the opportunity to see him do that the whole time in training,” said McGrath.

Jordan Larmour starred for Ireland against Italy, notching a hat-trick

“Some of his tries, the one at the end (against Italy) was incredible. He set me up for one as well; he can do it all.

“It’s scary to think how young he is and the potential he could fulfil. He will keep the head down and keep going but he is definitely one to watch.

“He has such good feet, he can attack from everywhere. He can also kick. He carries that threat that if you do kick poorly to him he will run it back and make yards.

“He can step off both feet which is a huge talent. He puts any one-on-one defenders in trouble.

“He wants to get the ball in his hands all the time. That’s incredibly exciting and it’s great to play with because it gives you options. Two-sided attack; he’s getting better and better and it’s going to be exciting to see where he goes.”

Ireland: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rory Best (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Iain Henderson, 5 James Ryan, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 7 Sean O’Brien, 8 CJ Stander.

Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Andrew Conway.

Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 12 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Santiago Medrano, 4 Matias Alemanno, 5 Tomas Lavanini,5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 7 Guido Petti, 8 Javier Ortega Desio.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Rodrigo Bruni, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Matias Moroni.

Wallabies vs Wales

Wallabies vs Wales: Bittersweet Australia desperate to maintain hoodoo The hoodoo gurus of Australian rugby, aka the Wallabies, will be looking to extend their 13-Test winning streak against Wales in Cardiff tomorrow morning to kick off a successful tour of Europe and reignite their 2019 World Cup campaign.

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The Wallabies have had three coaches — Robbie Deans, Ewen McKenzie and Michael ­Cheika — since the streak started in 2009, while only a handful of players such as David Pocock, Kurtley Beale and Will Genia remain.
There have been some big wins and some narrow escapes. Do we have a psychological hold on the Welsh or are they due for a win against us?

Wallabies vs Wales Livestream Rugby Free

The most extraordinary thing about the Wallabies’ winning streak against Wales is that they are struggling against the other British and Irish teams.

Not so long ago, the Wallabies held long winning streaks against most of the British and Irish teams. Not anymore.

In recent years, England, Ireland and even Scotland have beaten Australia more times than we have beaten them.

But we are still Wales’s bogey team and apart from his periods as British and Irish Lions coach in 2013 and 2017, Warren Gatland has been Wales coach during the streak.

If Gatland has not figured out how to beat the Wallabies by now, he never will do. I know he did guide the Lions to a series win against Australia in 2013 with a strong Welsh contingent but that’s not quite the same thing.

I’m guessing Wales will adopt similar tactics to the ones they employed in their 21-10 win against Scotland in Cardiff last weekend.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend is trying to have the side play with the “highest rhythm” in world rugby, which means he wants them to play an extremely high tempo game.

Gatland instructed Wales’s tactical kickers to kick infield and relied on the rushing Welsh defence to nullify the fast-paced Scottish attack … and it worked.

The Scottish struggled to cope with the rush defence, a tactic the Wallabies have had difficulty with as well.

It was only towards the end of the game that Scotland started to use a kicking game to break up the Welsh wall, and I hope the Wallabies took note.

The Wallabies are also known for trying to play an up-tempo game.

Under Cheika, they have only known one speed — flat out — which has resulted in a lot of costly handling errors, particularly out wide.

But I get the feeling it has finally dawned on Cheika that the Wallabies need to vary the tempo of their game the same way that the All Blacks do.

After the Wallabies’ 37-20 loss to the All Blacks in Yokohama two weeks ago, Cheika made a very telling comment when he said they needed to “die with the ball” more often to build their attack rather than try to score off every play. Hallelujah!

If the Wallabies learn to be more patient in attack in a multiphase game, the Welsh may need to resort to Plan B, which would be to kick for the corners and put pressure on the poor-performing Australian lineout.

In fact, this could very well be Wales Plan A. If the Welsh can force the Wallabies to throw the ball into the lineout in their 22, they have the potential to either steal the ball for themselves or create untidy ball for the Wallabies.

It was interesting to see Cheika show faith in hooker Tolu Latu after his ill-disciplined performance against the All Blacks. Latu needs to repay that faith with good discipline and straight throws.

With the pop-gun kicking of playmakers Bernard Foley and Beale, the Wallabies are in real danger of being pinned in their own territory for long periods.

The Wallabies poor lineout led to speculation during the week about the future of the so-called “Pooper” backrow combination of Michael Hooper and Pocock.

Readers of this column will be aware I have advocated Pocock start in his natural position at openside flanker with Hooper coming off the bench but I cannot see Cheika ever making that hard call, which puts the onus on the third member of the backrow.

It is good to see Jack Dempsey return to the Wallabies run-on side at blindside flanker but while he has great footwork, I’m not sure he is a genuine lineout option, putting added pressure on locks Adam Coleman and Izack Rodda.

The other problematic position for the Wallabies is outside-centre.

It was not surprising to see Samu Kerevi secure the gold number 13 jersey following his impressive performance off the bench against the All Blacks. But Kerevi is a potential weakness in defence.

If I were Gatland, I would be using classy Welsh outside-centre Jonathan Davies and the powerful George North off his wing to exploit the Wallabies midfield defence of Beale and Kerevi.

There are plenty of ways the Welsh can hurt the Wallabies but there have been in all of the past 13 Tests between them that Australia have won.

If the Wallabies are patient in attack, use attacking kicking to beat the rush defence and make their tackles, the hoodoo may last just a little bit longer. If they play into Wales’s hands, well, all good things must come to an end.

Wales vs Australia

Wales vs Australia : Five talking points ahead of Saturday’s autumn international between Wales and Australia at the Principality Stadium…

Wales vs Australia Live

This year marks the 10th anniversary since Warren Gatland began his reign as Wales head coach – and 2008 was also the last time Wales beat Australia.

That 21-18 success in Cardiff, underpinned by tries from Shane Williams and Lee Byrne, has been followed by 13 successive defeats – eight home losses, plus one each in London, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Six of the reversals were by five points or less, and it has been a case of prolonged pain for Wales against the Wallabies, with Saturday’s encounter providing another opportunity to end that sequence.

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The breakdown area is always a critical aspect of any Test match, whether in terms of teams’ attacking intent or slowing up possession when on a defensive back foot, and this weekend will be no exception.

On paper, Wales have their work cut out with Australia fielding two world-class openside flankers – Michael Hooper and David Pocock – in their back-row, but the hosts have a master openside of their own in Justin Tipuric.

Wales cannot afford for Hooper and Pocock to dominate or it could be a long day at the office.

Australia possess some of world rugby’s most dangerous broken-field runners in players like Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Dane Haylett-Petty – a trio with an ability to shred any defence. Wales, therefore, need pinpoint accuracy in terms of their tactical kicking.

Gareth Anscombe, who has been retained in the No 10 shirt ahead of Dan Biggar, and his half-back partner Gareth Davies will lead the way in terms of needing to keep their team in the right areas, while also minimising Australia’s considerable counter-attacking threat.

After Saturday, the next time Wales play Australia will see stakes infinitely higher, as they face a 2019 World Cup pool clash in Japan.

While a lot of water will flow under the bridge between now and then, there is no doubt a marker can be put down this weekend.

A Wales victory would not only end their losing run against Australia, but also potentially sow a seed of doubt in Wallabies ranks prior to a pivotal encounter in terms of both countries’ World Cup ambitions next September

Wales’ summer tour this year – when they beat South Africa in Washington DC and then toppled Argentina twice in South America – might have slipped under the radar for many, but it showcased a healthy degree of exciting young talent.

Wing Josh Adams, lock Adam Beard, prop Dillon Lewis and flanker Ellis Jenkins were among those who starred on that trip, and they are all involved against Australia on Saturday. They are a glowing example of Wales’ expanding strength in depth.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Nicky Smith, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Adam Beard, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams.

Australia: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 1 Scott Sio, 2 Tolu Latu, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 4 Izack Rodda, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 8 David Pocock.

Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Jack Maddocks.

All Blacks vs England

All Blacks vs England : There have been 40 matches played between England and the All Blacks and the score stands at 32-7 with one draw. But there have been some great moments in the 110 years of rivalry. We look at 10 of the best.

All Blacks vs England Rugby Live

The 15-0, 5 tries to none, demolition was one of a number of extraordinary performances by the first New Zealand national rugby side, “the Originals” on their tour of the British Isles.

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It was their third test in three weeks but became known as the benefit match for All Black wing Duncan McGregor. He scored four tries, then worth just three points each. His record for the All Blacks was to stand until 1987 when both John Gallagher and Craig Green scored four each against Fiji at the 1987 Rugby World Cup.

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The match was played at Crystal Palace before a then record crowd of at least 50,000, with some crowd estimates being as high as 100,000 – a record for a rugby or football match in London.

The All Blacks were superior, better organised, had better tactics and simply overpowered the English.

It was to set a precedent for much of the rest of the England-New Zealand history of encounters. Generally, the All Blacks have won and won easily, punctuated by occasional English victories.

For a long time, Prince Alexander Obolensky’s first try, against the All Blacks in 1936 was considered the greatest try scored by England. The problem for the All Blacks was that his second try wasn’t half bad, either. The Russian prince’s two tries set up England’s 13-0 win, their first over New Zealand.

Obolensky was also the fore-runner of rugby’s longest-running dispute; who can play for a country? He was born in St Petersburg and his family fled the Communist Revolution in 1917 when he was just one. They settled in Muswell Hill, London. He was sent to boarding school, where he encountered rugby, and then Oxford where he appears to have done little study but much sport. He was selected for England to play the All Blacks while still technically a Russian citizen, though he became a naturalised British subject two months after the New Zealand test.

In his first try, Obolensky takes the ball and cuts inside wrong-footing all the defence then sprints to the line.

He died in 1940 during training in his RAF Hawker Hurricane.

His two tries were captured on the old Pathe newsreels. What stands out, apart from England running onto the pitch while the All Blacks stalk on, is his speed.

That 1967 All Black team was ahead of its time. Arguably, the best team in world rugby they set out, under coach Fred Allen, to overturn the reputation of rugby to be a battle of dour forward struggles. The aim was running rugby but winning rugby.

And it all came together for a glorious 45 minutes against England. Here’s how Alex McKay described it in his book, the Team that Changed Rugby Forever: the 1967 All Blacks.

“At halftime in the first test of the tour, the scoreboard read New Zealand 18, England 5. As the All Blacks took their five minute break on the Twickenham turf and sucked on the traditional slices of orange, they could rest content.

“Earle Kirton had celebrated his first test cap with two tries. Chris Laidlaw and Bill Birtwistle had scored one apiece. Bob Lyold had crossed for England just before halftime, but so sublimely had the All Blacks played that the game was in danger of turning into a rout.

“The stunned English crowd could only applaud. On the other side of the world, New Zealanders rugged up against the night listened in wonder as Bob Irvine’s commentary on Radio 2YA described the glorious carnage. No sooner had the game restarted than Malcolm Dick scored another try for the All Blacks. Five tries in 42 minutes at Twickenham was paradise gained.

“That was as good as it got. The new model All Blacks had arrived, and where better to announce it than the home of rugby?

“Then it all changed. For the 35 minutes until the final whistle blew, the All Blacks laboured and threatened but scored no more.

“In the end, it was 23-11. The All Blacks had touched glory, held greatness in their hands for 45 minutes before England replied with spirit and determination.

“At the end of the day, there was mutual respect in the handshakes.”

Fast forward through the haka, look for the running rugby and the interview with Brian Lochore at the end, who answers the questions of the interviewer. Those were different times.

They lost to Taranaki. They lost to Wellington. The English lost to Canterbury.

They played four matches in New Zealand and one just won. The big one. The test at Eden Park, 16-10.

This was proof that for all the rugby pontification, upsets can happen. It was also part of the once much-discussed lore that bad things happen to the All Blacks in years ending with a three.

It was the making of a superstar. That moment – the moment Lomu runs over Mike Catt – lives on in sporting lore in the way that very very few sporting incidents ever do. It showcased the power of the All Blacks. It made Lomu a superstar, known beyond the small boundaries of rugby, a minority world sport. And, it was to do with genius – and physics.

Clay Wilson, now a reporter for Radio NZ, but then working for Stuff, described the try like this: Lomu hands off opposite wing Tony Underwood and outpaces England centre Will Carling at the 22m line, leaving stranded fullback Catt as the last line of defence.

Staggered by a desperate Carling ankle-tap, Lomu has nowhere to go but directly at the comparatively diminutive England No 15.

It is around 120kg in close to full flight versus around 80kg with not an ounce of momentum. Physics is physics, and there would only be one winner.

What is it they say? Momentum equals mass x velocity.

And this was just one of Lomu.’s four tries that day as New Zealand beat England 45-29 in the 1995 Rugby World Cup semi-final.

It was called the tour from hell. England played seven games and won zero. They took on an impossible tour itinerary – and lost. Much of the side were newcomers. First game up was against Australia in Brisbane. They lost 76-0. They did improve over the next six weeks. By the last game – against South Africa in Cape Town – they lost only 18-0.

And in the middle of it all lay the All Blacks. They had been held to a 26-all draw the year before; it wasn’t going to happen again.

The All Blacks had twice scored more than 40 points against England. This was to eclipse that. At Carisbrook, Dunedin, the All Blacks scored 64 points, winning by a margin of 42 points, still their record to this day. Taine Randell, captaining the side for the first time, picked up two tries. So did Christian Cullen and Jeff Wilson with Josh Kronfield and Jonah Lomu picking up one each.

The final score was 64-22. Mind you four days later, the Maori All Blacks nailed a 62-12 win at Rotorua. It certainly was the Tour From Hell. Mind you, as singer Paul Kelly sang of Bradman, “In the darkest hour, the great avenger is being born.” Many of this team, including Jonny Wilkinson, would be key components in the 2003 Rugby World Cup winning side.

Check this out: Christian Cullen’s brilliant in-field flick to Jeff Wilson, and Taine Randell’s try-saving tackle.

England have only ever had a single two-test winning streak. The longest All Black streak is nine. But, in their own ways, these two tests in 2002 and 2003 were belters. For England.

The first match, in November at Twickenham, featured an astonishing second half. England went to the break ahead 17-14 and then blitzed the All Blacks in an eight minute scoring burst to go out to 31 points. The All Black fight-back was relentless. This could have turned out to be a famous victory with the All Blacks running at a tiring England side in the closing minutes, but England clung on.

Like it or not, this was a fine performances by Jonny Wilkinson. He even ran the ball and scored a try.

The next encounter in Wellington was almost exactly the opposite. It was windy. It was a terrible spectacle. No-one can remember a single moment from the test. Except that England, reduced to 13 players, just six forwards, somehow held out the All Blacks. At one stage, again and again the All Blacks opted for scrums to try to push back the English. And the English held. At the end of what felt like hours and hours of solid defence, England had won 15-13.

There are no known wonderful rugby moments in this match, just a relentless, relentless physical struggle.

The All blacks have pulled off the Grand Slam three times – beating the “Home Nations” of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England on one tour.

But this one was special. The All Blacks, trying to atone for their terrible result at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, in which they crashed out in the quarter-finals to France, were triumphant while holding all the Home Unions tryless. They beat Scotland 32-6, Ireland 22-3 and Wales 29-9. England were dispatched 32-6.

England were ill-disciplined where the All Blacks were disciplined. No fewer than four England players were sent to the sin bin.

England beat the All Blacks comprehensively 38-21. Let’s just leave it to England player turned commentator, Paul Ackford, to sum up:

“Stunning. Just stunning. The best team in world rugby, the best in world sport, some say, smashed by a tidal wave of white. Twickenham has known many great occasions in its long and distinguished history but there have been few to top this.

It wasn’t the fact of the victory which was so astonishing, but the manner of it. New Zealand were butchered, hung, drawn and quartered by an England side who played with passion, bite, style and, at long, long last, accuracy.”

The most recent series between England and the All Blacks ended in a whitewash. It was 2014, the year before the All Blacks won their third Rugby World Cup and their opponents would crash out in pool play. While the games were all fairly close – three were decided by five points or fewer – the four games nevertheless all went one way.

New Zealand were triumphant 3-0 in the three test June series and then headed north to repeat the win, 24-21 at Twickenham.

Perhaps the best moment came in the opening match at Eden Park. A depleted England side had played well to be 15-all with just three minutes left.

Everyone expected Aaron Cruden to take the easy penalty kick in the dying moments to secure the victory. He didn’t. He spun the ball and, eventually, Conrad Smith went over for the game’s only try. It was the final uplifting moment in an otherwise tense test.

Much of the rest of the four matches would be played in similar vein.

England vs New Zealand

England vs New Zealand : Coming off the back of two successive wins over South Africa, who beat the All Blacks in September and were desperately close to a second victory last month, he is doing all he can to show that the world champions are normal.

England vs New Zealand Livestream Rugby

New Zealand has won the last two World Cups, has been the world’s top-ranked side since 2009, and has won 23 of its last 27 Tests.

Lawes missed the South Africa game with a back problem but his presence bolsters the England lineout and general play fo the pack for what will be a draining game against New Zealand.

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New Zealand remain the outstanding team in global rugby although the All Blacks are not invincible. Then you realise “we can be in this”, but by then it’s too late.

“The experience they had over us was massive – nearly four times as many caps – but with that you’re almost not scared in some regards; you just think, ‘right, we’ll just go at it, try to express ourselves and throw everything at them to try and get the win”.

The All Blacks as a unit talk about the expectations on them, and Hansen and his staff encourage the players to “walk towards the pressure”.

When Jones was in charge of the Wallabies in the early 2000s he led them to five wins in 11 games against New Zealand, including the 2003 World Cup semi-final.

“I don’t know who’s writing them off, it would be foolish to do that”.

“Once you’ve acknowledged it’s there you can deal with it”, he said.

“At one stage, we were so close to them that they wanted to kiss the New Zealanders, but I told them to take it easy”, said Dusautoir afterwards.

If the often outspoken English coach was not already aware how highly motivated the All Blacks are to dominate at Twickenham tomorrow, he certainly should be now after Steve Hansen raised the stakes significantly by suggesting this match is more important than last year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

“(The) plastic surgeon has recommended six weeks and as our doctor described it, your eyelid is your window washer so if you’ve got half of it missing.it will impact your eyesight long term, so we need to make sure he is okay”.

“Jack has trained the house down so you’ve got to trust the medical people”.

“But we haven’t played them in four years and everyone is on the edge of their seat, can’t wait”.

“They’ll play a physical game up front, their kicking game is pretty good, their aerial skills to support that are pretty good”.

“Guys like that, the only thing you can do is stuff them up by coaching them”. They won’t go away so if you don’t take your opportunities that come when you’ve got momentum it’s going to be a dogfight.

Scotland vs Fiji

Scotland vs Fiji : The last time Scotland played Fiji was two summers ago in Suva, and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock – probably the best place to be on the day – then you’ll know how it ended. Scotland v Fiji: Ferocious visitors mind hosts not to rest stars in Autumn Test..


Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 10 November Kick-off:14:30 GMT

Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio Scotland, the BBC Sport website and app. Live text on BBC Sport website

Finn Russell has matured as a player during his time with Racing 92, says Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair.

The fly-half has delivered a string of fine displays since moving to Paris from Glasgow Warriors in the summer.

Blair believes the national team will see the benefit, starting with this Saturday’s meeting with Fiji.

“He’s enjoying himself. And, when Finn’s enjoying himself, that brings out his best rugby,” former scrum-half Blair said.

“Racing have been pretty good with him as well in terms of when he’s able to come in and work with us so that’s been great as well.

“I think he’s got a good balance to his game. He’s had to manage games, but he’s also had games he’s had to play a lot more.

“That game-management thing, they put a lot of onus and pressure on the nine and 10 in France to deal with those areas and he’s done that well.”

When Russell’s move to Racing was announced, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend expressed concern about players moving away from Scotland and being subjected to heavy workloads.

However, Blair says Russell’s move has benefitted the player and created opportunities for others to get some valuable gain time.

“You want to have as many of your Scottish players playing in Scotland, but if you’ve got five stand-offs all playing in Scotland then they’re not all going to be getting regular rugby,” Blair said.

“As we’ve seen, Finn’s gone and is doing a really good job at Racing and that’s opened up an opportunity for Adam Hastings at Glasgow to get starts. There’s a good balance to it.”


Scotland: 15-Hogg, 14-Seymour, 13-Dunbar, 12-P Horne, 11-Maitland, 10-Russell, 9-Laidlaw; 1-Dell, 2-Brown, 3-Nel, 4-Skinner, 5-Gilchrist, 6-Wilson, 7-Ritchie, 8-Fagerson

Replacements: 16-McInally, 17-Allan, 18-Berghan, 19-J Gray, 20-Strauss, 21-G Horne, 22-Hastings, 23-Harris

Fiji: 15-Tuicuvu, 14-Talebula, 13-Radradra, 12-Vatabua, 11-Goneva, 10-Volavola, 9-Lomani; 1-Maafu, 2-Matavesi, 3-Saulo, 4-Cavubati, 5-Nakarawa, 6-Waqaniburotu, 7-Yato, 8-Mata

Replacements: 16-Dolokoto, 17-Mawi, 18-Tawake, 19-Tuisue, 20-Kunatani, 21-Seniloli, 22-Veitokani, 23-Vasiteri

Match stats

Fiji beat Scotland 27-22 in their last meeting, in Suva, in June 2017

This is the eighth meeting between the nations, with Scotland winning five and losing twice

In their last five Tests, Scotland have scored 22 tries and Fiji have scored 25

Greg Laidlaw will make his first Scotland outing since the final match of the 2018 Six Nations and will lead the team for the first time under Gregor Townsend

Exeter lock Sam Skinner will make his Test debut for Scotland

Setareki Tuicuvu earns his first cap for Fiji at full-back

Scotland have won eight of their past nine matches at Murrayfield, their only defeat coming against New Zealand

Match officials

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

Touch judges: Luke Pearce and Karl Dickson (both England)

TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Italy vs Georgia

Italy vs Georgia : In a clash between the sides ranked 13th and 14th in the world – Italy will be eager to record a victory over their European rivals on home soil. In preparation for the tie at Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence, Italy head coach Conor O’Shea has made a string of changes from last weekend’s 54-7 defeat to Ireland in Chicago, with ten players coming into the starting XV.


Leonardo Ghiraldini will captain the side on Saturday after missing out last time out as the Toulouse hooker comes into a new-look pack.

Abraham Steyn is the only forward to keep his place, but he will switch from blindside flanker to No.8.

Italy vs Georgia Live Rugby 2018 Match

Sebastian Negri and Jake Polledri start in the back row alongside Steyn, with Dean Budd and Alessandro Zanni in the second row.

Andrea Lovotti and Simone Ferrari will start at prop to bolster the Italian scrum, while Benetton duo Tommaso Allan and Tito Tebaldi are the half-backs and Tommaso Castello comes into the centres alongside Michele Campagnaro.

Two more players from the Ireland defeat, Luca Sperandio and Mattia Bellini, have been selected by O’Shea with the latter switching to left wing as Tommaso Benvenuti starts.
Georgia haven’t seen international action since suffering a 28-0 defeat to Japan in June and head coach Milton Haig has made a host of changes from that encounter.
With a side boasting a mighty 469 caps between them, only Vasil Lobzhanidze, Lasha Khmaladze and Soso Matiashvili will start in the backline from the defeat to Japan.

While in the forward pack Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Otar Giorgadze and Jaba Bregvadze are the sole survivors as Merab Sharikadze gets the nod to captain the Georgians.

Italy v Georgia, Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Saturday 10 November 2pm GMT

Conor O’Shea (Italy head coach) said: “We know the importance of this match.

“The team has recovered well from the flight back from the USA and we are ready to take on Georgia. It will be a very physical game.

“We want to be at our best for 80 minutes.”

“Georgia have been doing great work for years, but we need to think about our process, our path.”

Milton Haig (Georgia head coach) said: “Italy are a tier one rugby nation with a huge history in Test rugby, Georgia are the ‘new kids on the street’ trying to create their own history.

“It’s going to be a battle for sure, but we are always happy when we are in a battle, maybe that’s when we are happiest.

“We also clearly understand that we are the ‘underdogs’ going into the game, but it’s a position that we feel comfortable with.”

Key battle: Set-pieces

Both sides will go into this game knowing that the result could hinge on a successful set-piece to pull off the win.

Georgia and Italy pack an almighty punch in their forwards and the result could come down to who is able to dominate what will be inevitably eagerly-contested scrums and line-outs.

Conor O’Shea talked up Georgia’s physical prowess in the run-up to the game and it could be an area that both sides will look to exploit.

With experienced figures like Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari and Alessandro Zanni marshalling the scrum, the Italians can certainly match the Georgian strength.

Stat watch

– Italy beat Georgia 31-22 in their last meeting in Asti in 2003.
– Three years earlier an Italy XV got the better of Georgia in a 51-7 win in Livorno.

Italy: 15. Luca Sperandio, 14. Tommaso Benvenuti, 13. Michele Campagnaro, 12. Tommaso Castello, 11. Mattia Bellini, 10. Tommaso Allan, 9. Tito Tebaldi, 1. Andrea Lovotti, 2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (c), 3. Simone Ferrari, Alessandro Zanni, 5. Dean Budd, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7. Jake Polledri, 8. Abraham Steyn

Replacements: 16. Luca Bigi, 17. Cherif Traorè, 18. Tiziano Pasquali, 19. Marco Fuser, 20. Johan Meyer, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Carlo Canna, 23. Luca Morisi
Georgia: 15. Soso Matiashvili, 14. Giorgi Koshadze, 13. Merab Sharikadze (c), 12. Tamaz Mtchedlidze, 11. Zurab Dzneladze, 10. Lasha Khmaladze, 9. Vasil Lobzhanidze, 1. Mikheil Nariashvili, 2. Jaba Bregvadze, 3. Dudu Kubriashvili, 4. Nodar Tcheishvili, 5. Lasha Lomidze, 6. Otar Giorgadze, 7. Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 8. Beka Gorgadze

Replacements: 16. Shalva Mamukashvili, 17. Zurab Zhvania, 18. Levan Chilachava, 19. Shalva Sutiashvili, 20. Beka Bitsadze, 21. Gela Aprasidze, 22. Lasha Malaghuradze, 23. Giorgi Kveseladze
Read more at https://www.sixnationsrugby.com/en/news/33628.php#rPBsu5gllfJMDdxy.99