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Saracens refocus with trip to Barcelona

7:48 AM GMT

Saracens flew to Barcelona just hours after reaching the Champions Cup final for a whirlwind 36-hour trip they hope will tighten the bonds needed to repeat last season's double.

The holders face Clermont at Murrayfield on May 13 after departing the Aviva Stadium - usually a graveyard of English ambition for club and country - with a thumping 26-10 victory over Munster. On Sunday morning at 4am the players set off for Barcelona accompanied by only a handful of management to enjoy each other's company ahead of the critical phase of the season.

The visit of relegated Bristol on Saturday provides the scope to recharge batteries before a key clash with Wasps, followed by the European final and the knockout phase of the Aviva Premiership that concludes the season.

"We're flying out to Barcelona for a day or two's team-building," hooker Schalk Brits revealed. "Of course we're...


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Barrett challenging Carter's status as best No. 10

Beauden Barrett sublime, Waratahs ridiculous (4:39)

Greg Growden is enjoying the way in which Beauden Barrett is playing rugby; not so much New South Wales. (4:39)

5:49 AM GMT
  • Greg GrowdenESPN Rugby

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    After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPN. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned writers.

Dan Carter stands proudly with Jonah Lomu, Richie McCaw, Sean Fitzpatrick and Colin Meads among the All Blacks' top 10 players of all time. For many, Carter is far and away New Zealand Rugby's greatest pivot.

Usually when such influential playmakers depart the scene, a drought follows due to the difficulty of finding someone, anyone, who can fill the void. Every alternative is compared unfavourably with the immortal...


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Read more: Barrett challenging Carter's status as best No. 10

The modernised Lions who revitalised New Zealand rugby

9:17 AM GMT
  • Huw Richards

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    • FT's rugby writer from 1995 to 2009
    • Also writes for the International Herald Tribune and the Sunday Herald

The team of 1950 were the first modern Lions, recognisable except in the matter of playing 30 matches to the eyes of 2017.

They adopted the red shirts which are now as synonymous with them as gold is with Australian rugby and Brazilian football, also late adopters. And they were much more representative than their predecessors of the strength of British and Irish rugby.

They were the first Lions to tour after the war, and the first to visit New Zealand since 1930. And just as the 1945-6 New Zealand Forces 'Kiwis' touring team had played their postwar matches in Britain, Ireland, France and Germany with the fearless élan of men just released from much greater perils than losing a rugby match, so the 1950 Lions defined an attacking style.

The...


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Read more: The modernised Lions who revitalised New Zealand rugby

Rassie Erasmus commits future to Munster

10:52 AM GMT

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has ended speculation linking him with a return to South Africa.

Erasmus has been in the South Africa Rugby Union's sights for a role with the Springboks, but he committed his future to the Irish province in the wake of their loss to Saracens on Saturday.

When asked whether he was asked if he was staying with the province, he answered with a definitive "yes", and then added "I've never been speculating about this".

Munster hooker Niall Scannell also revealed that Erasmus confirmed the players "a few weeks ago" that he was staying put.

"I'll be honest with you, at the time it was reassuring to hear, because himself, Jacques [Nienhaber], Felix [Jones] and Fla [Jerry Flannery], they're a top quality coaching ticket and they've done so much for us," Scannell said. "Obviously Axel had a big hand in that, but if you just look at the...


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Ireland legend O'Callaghan signs new Worcester deal

10:13 AM GMT

Ireland and British & Irish Lions lock Donncha O'Callaghan has extended his stay at Worcester Warriors.

O'Callaghan, 38, is in his second season with the Warriors and has recently captained the side to Aviva Premiership survival. He has brought a wealth of international experience to Worcester, having made 94 appearances for Ireland, while he has also made four appearances for the Loins.

O'Callaghan said: "Our recent form has been reasonably encouraging and that provides us with a decent platform for next season.

"People often talk about what Warriors can become but it really is time we started to deliver consistent success on the field. Nothing else is acceptable.

"I believe we have the staff and the squad to compete next season, and I am really excited by the challenge."

Worcester boss Gary Gold added: "Donncha is a phenomenon. He must be one of the most professional...


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Harlequins stalwart Karl Dickson to retire

12:03 PM GMT

Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson will retire at the end of the season.

Dickson, 34, has been training as a referee and took charge of a Championship clash at the end of last year, but he will take time before confirming any future plans.

He joined Harlequins from Bedford in 2009 and has made 167 appearances for the club.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to hang up my boots at the end of the season," Dickson said. "The time is right for me and I feel very lucky to be able to make this decision on my own terms.

"I am able to look back at my playing career with great pride and I will cherish the memories that Harlequins has given me, both on and off the field.

"Harlequins has been a big part of my, and my family's, life and I would like to thank everyone at the club, including our supporters, all of whom have made it very special.

"It will be difficult to...


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A history of British & Irish Lions captains

Why will Warburton lead the Lions, but not Wales? (2:01)

Sam Warburton explains his reasoning behind returning to captaincy with the Lions, after not leading Wales at the Six Nations. (2:01)

9:00 AM GMT
  • John Griffiths

    Close

    • Widely respected rugby historian
    • Contributor to the Daily Telegraph for 19 years
    • Written for Scrum.com since 1999
    • Author of several books and co-author of the IRB International Yearbook

Sam Warburton captains the thirtieth Lions to leave the Home Unions on a major overseas tour of Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.

The Wales flanker is only the second man to skipper the Lions twice, joining Martin Johnson who led the tours to South Africa in 1997 and Australia in 2001.

It is the fifth time that the Principality has been honoured with the captaincy of a Lions squad and the first time Wales has provided the leader for successive tours.

It was often...


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Read more: A history of British & Irish Lions captains

Want to improve rugby union? Then change these rules - The Sydney Morning Herald

Tennis, we hear this week, is about to look at changing their rules, or at least trialling some rule changes, including "sets of first to four games, sudden-death deuce points and no service lets ..."

Good luck to them.

Late Kriel try sinks the Cheetahs

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Rebels steal late...


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Read more: Want to improve rugby union? Then change these rules - The Sydney Morning Herald
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Australian rugby union needs a bit of Mummy love to survive - The Sydney Morning Herald

There is a very broad theory in politics that most democratic political systems will usually have two broad parties that political analysts characterise as "Left" and "Right", but which can also be understood – if you can cope with culturally outdated, cliched, stereotypes – as "Mummy" and "Daddy" parties.

This theory has it that just as kids need the succour of Mum and the firm hand of Dad to grow into balanced adults, so too does a country's population need regular bouts of both parties in power to prosper and grow. The Mummy Party of the left will be excellent at ensuring that the nation's apple pie – its gross domestic product – is fairly divided. It will ensure cuddles for everyone, regardless, and display endless understanding even for kids that behave badly. No child will go unloved, or unfed, even if Mum herself has to go hungry.

Late Kriel try sinks...


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Read more: Australian rugby union needs a bit of Mummy love to survive - The Sydney Morning Herald
Tags: sydney,morning,herald,survive,love,rugby,union,bit,mummy,australian

Souths Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire slams Bunker and 'rugby union rules' after loss to Brisbane Broncos - The Sydney Morning Herald

An incensed Souths coach Michael Maguire has scolded the NRL's multi-million bunker and claimed he would call Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to brush up on the rules of rugby union after two controversial refereeing moments plagued the Broncos' wild win over the Rabbitohs on Friday night.

Anthony Milford snapped a dubious 78th-minute field goal after appearing to fumble the ball in the lead-up to settle the contest 25-24 at ANZ Stadium - barely 10 minutes after also being the centre of attention in Tautau Moga's bizarre try that levelled the scores.

Walker: Banter made it sweeter

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Read more: Souths Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire slams Bunker and 'rugby union rules' after loss to...
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Canberra sports hub: Local rugby union match stopped and moved after injury - The Canberra Times

Yass Magpies coach Steve Naughton. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Yass Magpies coach Steve Naughton. Photo: Jamila Toderas 

After two big losses to start the season, the Belconnen United Sharks are starting to absorb some of the grit that characterised their coach's NRL career.

They still lost, but Sharks coach Scott Logan was much happier with the fight shown in their 26-22 loss to the Woden Valley Rams at O'Connor on Saturday.

It looked like the Rams were going to run away with it after second-rower Michael Gilmour scored the opening two tries of the game, but the Sharks fought back into the game and pushed the visitors to the end.

Meanwhile, Yass co-coach Steve Naughton finally returned to the field after a five-year battle with firstly osteitis pubis and then a crippling back condition. 

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And he returned with a win - the Magpies beating reigning premiers West Belconnen 18-14, while the Queanbeyan Blues beat Goulburn 44-18 and...


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Read more: Canberra sports hub: Local rugby union match stopped and moved after injury - The Canberra Times
Tags: canberra,moved,injury,times,stopped,union,sports,hub,local,rugby,match

What the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand says about Australian rugby - The Sydney Morning Herald

The announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad during the week for the tour of New Zealand drew plenty of comment, perhaps more for the players that were left out. They did appoint the same captain, Sam Warburton, just the second player to skipper the Lions twice, yet debate about selection is always a matter of opinion.

What it did remind me was just how important consistency is to success. Sixteen of the 41 players in the Lions squad were on the tour of Australia in 2013. That's nearly 40 per cent. In the context of a four-year cycle, that is a massive advantage.

Still in Wallaby gold: Israel Folau has survived from the 2013 Lions tour, but few others have. Still in Wallaby gold: Israel Folau has survived from the 2013 Lions tour, but few others have. Photo: Getty Images

Teams that can stay together for longer are invariably more successful. They work and thrive off each other.

My old teammate Ben Darwin reckons he has a way to quantify the success of a team using...


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Read more: What the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand says about Australian rugby - The...
Tags: rugby,sydney,morning,herald,australian,zealand,irish,british,lions,squad,tour,2017

The Alan Jones interview: 'There's AFL goalposts at GPS schools ... it's a crisis' - The Sydney Morning Herald

About two years ago, Alan Jones heard a knock at the door of his Macquarie Street home. 

The then 74-year-old slowly pushed himself out of a chair and trudged over to the door. 

Crisis management: Alan Jones says rugby in Australia is in dire straits. Crisis management: Alan Jones says rugby in Australia is in dire straits.  Photo: Wade Laube

On the other side was Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver. 

Overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, in one of the best vantage points in Sydney, Pulver came into the room and took a seat opposite Jones, the former Wallabies coach turned long-time broadcaster. 

"I said: 'Bill, shut up, I just want you to listen to this bloke'." 

That bloke, also in the room, was former Wallaby Brett Papworth, who played under Jones from 1985 to 1987 in 16 Tests. 

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Papworth is club rugby personified. President of Eastwood, he has been a vocal critic of the ARU for many years, adamant they have...


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Read more: The Alan Jones interview: 'There's AFL goalposts at GPS schools ... it's a crisis' - The Sydney...
Tags: crisis,sydney,morning,herald,schools,gps,jones,interview,afl,goalposts,alan

Arks Rugby Union Club overcomes shaky start to beat Swan Suburbs - Community Newspaper Group

ARKS Rugby Union Club overcame a slow start to beat Swan Suburbs 30-12 at Harrisdale Field in Round 4 of the Rugby WA Pindan Championship.

Testing out some new combinations in the backline ensured a shaky start for the hosts, although a second-half onslaught made it three wins from their opening four games.

After a slow start, ARKS worked their way into the game, only to waste several scoring opportunities which saw them enter the break locked at 5-5.

However, coach Josh Upson’s half-time team talk seemed to do the trick, as second-half tries to Corey Broughton, Joseph Kapua, Kayne Cassidy and Manaia Tukere Walker sealed victory.

ARKS’ B Grade side overcame a spirited Bunbury Barbarians side to claim victory 24-12, despite a host of absentees.

An early try to Troy Laurent was quickly matched by the Barbarians’ Jayden O’Dea, and an even first half saw the two sides enter the break...


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Read more: Arks Rugby Union Club overcomes shaky start to beat Swan Suburbs - Community Newspaper Group
Tags: suburbs,swan,community,group,newspaper,beat,start,union,rugby,club,overcomes,shaky,arks

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says Australian rugby plagued by player development issues - The Sydney Morning Herald

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has come out swinging by suggesting four local Super Rugby teams is the right way forward and that Australian rugby has a major problem when it comes to developing players and coaches. 

Following the Waratahs' shaky start to the season, Gibson returned serve to comments made by Bob Dwyer to Fairfax Media that NSW have few players of Super Rugby standard.

Late Kriel try sinks the Cheetahs

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Read more: Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says Australian rugby plagued by player development issues - The...
Tags: issues,development,sydney,herald,morning,player,plagued,daryl,coach,gibson,australian,rugby,waratahs

New Zealand Team of the Week

9:00 PM GMT
  • Nick Bewley

Former All Blacks prop Craig Dowd wrote in his column for ESPN following the British & Irish Lions squad announcement midweek that we would begin to see the contenders for All Blacks selection starting to make their presence felt in Super Rugby.

We certainly saw that from the Hurricanes and the Crusaders, but perhaps the Highlanders and Chiefs didn't get the memo.

While the four New Zealand sides who played over the weekend all recorded wins, it was last year's champions and the most successful side in the competition's history who stood out from the pack, with some front-line All Blacks showing promising form ahead of the Lions series.

With that in mind, here is the New Zealand team of the week.

BACKS:

15. David Havili (Crusaders)

Very elusive on the counter...


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British & Irish Lions Team of the Week

12:49 AM GMT

With Warren Gatland's British & Irish Lions squad confirmed, ESPN looks at the form of the players he's picked -- and with the inevitability of injuries -- who could still make the plane to New Zealand.

PRO12 and Aviva Premiership had an off-week, so European competition took centre stage.

If there was any doubt over the string of Saracens forwards picked, their defensive masterclass against Munster has vindicated Gatland.

And even in defeat, Munster's Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander showed why they will make the trip south.

BACKS

15 Alex Goode (Saracens)

With his consistency for Saracens, playing at the top of European club rugby for a number of seasons, his limited exposure at international level is somewhat puzzling. His attacking threat could provide something off...


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Read more: British & Irish Lions Team of the Week
Tags: team,week,lions,irish,british

Want to improve rugby union? Then change these rules - The Sydney Morning Herald

Tennis, we hear this week, is about to look at changing their rules, or at least trialling some rule changes, including "sets of first to four games, sudden-death deuce points and no service lets ..."

Good luck to them.

Late Kriel try sinks the Cheetahs

null
Video duration
01:22

null
Video duration
01:22

Late Kriel try sinks the Cheetahs

Late Kriel try sinks the Cheetahs

The Bulls run down the Cheetahs with a late try in Pretoria.

Rebels steal late draw in Durban

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Video duration
01:22
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01:22

Rebels steal late...


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Read more: Want to improve rugby union? Then change these rules - The Sydney Morning Herald
Tags: sydney,morning,herald,rules,rugby,union,change,improve

Australian rugby union needs a bit of Mummy love to survive - The Sydney Morning Herald

There is a very broad theory in politics that most democratic political systems will usually have two broad parties that political analysts characterise as "Left" and "Right", but which can also be understood – if you can cope with culturally outdated, cliched, stereotypes – as "Mummy" and "Daddy" parties.

This theory has it that just as kids need the succour of Mum and the firm hand of Dad to grow into balanced adults, so too does a country's population need regular bouts of both parties in power to prosper and grow. The Mummy Party of the left will be excellent at ensuring that the nation's apple pie – its gross domestic product – is fairly divided. It will ensure cuddles for everyone, regardless, and display endless understanding even for kids that behave badly. No child will go unloved, or unfed, even if Mum herself has to go hungry.

Late Kriel try sinks...


Read full article on Sports GN Rugby Union News


Read more: Australian rugby union needs a bit of Mummy love to survive - The Sydney Morning Herald
Tags: sydney,morning,herald,survive,love,rugby,union,bit,mummy,australian

Souths Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire slams Bunker and 'rugby union rules' after loss to Brisbane Broncos - The Sydney Morning Herald

An incensed Souths coach Michael Maguire has scolded the NRL's multi-million bunker and claimed he would call Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to brush up on the rules of rugby union after two controversial refereeing moments plagued the Broncos' wild win over the Rabbitohs on Friday night.

Anthony Milford snapped a dubious 78th-minute field goal after appearing to fumble the ball in the lead-up to settle the contest 25-24 at ANZ Stadium - barely 10 minutes after also being the centre of attention in Tautau Moga's bizarre try that levelled the scores.

Tigers win ends turbulent week

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Read more: Souths Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire slams Bunker and 'rugby union rules' after loss to...
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