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Home > Blogs > Rupert Bates - A weekly blog from the world of rugby
Your NewsRupert Bates - A weekly blog from the world of rugby

Saturday 06th November 2010
All Blacks triumph at Twickenham - Rupert Bates




England 16 New Zealand 26


At Twickenham


Pace, poise and precision were the differences between the two sides. England rallied strongly in the second-half, with the front-row to the fore dominating the scrums, but crucial errors and penalty concessions cost them the match, despite blunting an All Blacks side, who went off the boil after the sharpest of starts at Twickenham.

Maori wing Hosea Gear touched down for the game’s first try a heartbeat before his leg hit touch, after a lovely offload in the build up from debutant All Blacks centre and rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams.

No 8 Kieran Read with a second try and the unerring boot of Dan Carter stretched New Zealand’s lead and the All Blacks were really outflanking a narrow England defence in the wide channels with Carter ghosting through gaps and Gear a powerhouse threat.

It was 17-3 at half-time and England supporters feared the worst. But England props Andrew Sheridan and Dan Cole had their opposite numbers on toast and when Rotorua-born Dylan Hartley was introduced at hooker, he bought his fiery dynamism to proceedings and blasted over for England's only try, although it had more than a hint of a double movement.

Lock Dave Attwood, born in Bristol but now with Gloucester and Hendre Fourie, raised on a farm in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, both came on in the second half for their England debuts and both made their mark.

There are few sides at fit as the All Blacks, but England, with the outstanding Harlequins no 8 Nick Easter carrying with strength and purpose and Northampton pair Ben Foden and Chris Ashton sharp of feet and mind, finished far stronger, with bags of ambition and effort, but lacking that poise and precision.

Shontayne Hape, once a New Zealand rugby league team-mate of All Black Williams, was just thwarted in the corner when England had to score to set up a grandstand finish.

New Zealand had the threats where England expected them to come from, but their most impressive players, with huge work-rate in the tight and loose, were their unsung second-row pair of Brad Thorn, 35, and Sam Whitelock, just 22 and just over 24 hours after his elder brother George Whitelock lifted the ITM Cup as captain of Canterbury.

Next up for New Zealand is Scotland in Edinburgh, while England meet the Wallabies at Twickenham.




Try: Hartley

Con: Flood

Pens: Flood 3


New Zealand:


Tries: Gear, Read

Cons: Carter 2

Pens: Carter 4

Posted by: , on November 06th 2010 on 04:32pm0 Comments
Friday 08th October 2010
Prop Idol - Andrew Sheridan


Eat your heart out Simon Cowell. The show is Prop Idol, combining music with the British obsession for property, where front-row forwards, against the clock, sing while building a wall before demolishing it.

And the winner is: Andrew Sheridan. The Sale and England loose-head, billed as rugby's strongest man, would be the favourite for the title. Sheridan constructs walls, deconstructs opposition scrums, sings his own songs and plays guitar.

"I strum on the guitar and write the odd song. I suppose I fall into the folk singer category, but I am no Bob Dylan," said Sheridan.

At 6ft 4in and 19st you can be anybody you like. But have a listen to his album


"I recorded it at a studio in Manchester and when I played it to a few friends, they persuaded me to make it available on iTunes," said Sheridan, who wrote all the songs himself. He wrote the songs during his long shoulder injury lay-off, but is not fit and playing for Sale and hoping to make the England team for next month's Twickenham internationals against New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and South Africa.



If Sheridan ran a New Jersey pizza parlour, not even Tony Soprano's mobsters would come knocking for protection money. Sheridan's gym work is freakish and he has bench-pressed 215kg, or 34st in old money. Imagine lifting two Jason Leonards. I'm being kind, Jase. Leonard remains the prop's benchmark. "With Jason's achievements in the game you listen and learn."


Sheridan, having moved from back-row to lock to prop, realises he is still serving his front-row apprenticeship.

Like Leonard, a founder of The Construction Network, Sheridan is also in the building game. A few years ago he spent most Tuesday evenings at Salford College, studying for his NVQ course in bricklaying.

"Even if I am tired, I enjoy three hours of bricklaying. It is a nice escape from rugby and a useful skill to have. We build English and English Garden bond walls, cavity walls and arches. I enjoy the rhythm of laying bricks," said Sheridan at the time of his course.

Building is not just a distraction, it is a trade, and Sheridan only has to look at his own injury record, yet alone others in the front-row.

"You are one injury away from wondering how to pay the mortgage," said Sheridan, who was born in Petts Wood, Kent.

Sheridan, previously with Richmond and Bristol, is softly spoken, with a fine sense of humour. Once when looking to interview him I asked whether 7.30pm was alright to phone. "No. It's EastEnders." He would, in fact, be eating at that time, but not, as myth would have it, munching on a small herd of Friesians.

Sheridan was a schoolboy legend at Dulwich College where his age group side, including David Flatman and Jon Dawson, went seven years unbeaten from Under 11s through to the 1st XV.

"Mum, it is Dulwich away on Saturday. Can I have a sick note?" 

Be it rugby, singing or building, Sheridan's spirit levels are high.

Posted by: , on October 08th 2010 on 12:39pm0 Comments
Tuesday 05th October 2010
Delhi Diary - by England Sevens captain Ben Gollings

 England captain Ben Gollings's first instalment of news from the camp in India ahead of the Commonwealth Games Sevens on October 11-12. England face Sri Lanka, Uganda and Australia on the opening day.
We are into our second day in the Village here and the experience has been pretty awesome so far. There’s a great atmosphere, the food’s brilliant and things are being run pretty well.

On Sunday we had a good blow-out in the pool and then headed off to the opening ceremony. It was pretty hot work but good fun.

Then on Monday, we were straight into it with three sessions: wake up, swim, get breakfast, an upper body weights session and then a quick break and food before we got out on the field.

The temperature was up around 35 degrees and you wouldn’t want to play if it’s much hotter than that. It’s pretty intense when you’re still tired and it hit us hard but the boys worked well. Ben Ryan made us run around a bit but you can’t have any excuses in this game. We’ll be better for it as long as we rest and recover properly. All in all it’s been a good day.

It’s often said that the Village and everything going on in it can be a distraction from your competition but to be honest everyone’s getting on with their jobs. You meet other athletes in the food hall or walking around and catch up, but you’re all focused on what you’re doing. That means there is a real buzz about the place.

In terms of preparations, we take things pretty similarly to the way we do with other tournaments on the IRB Sevens World Series. You’ve just got to do the right thing. We’re over here in extreme conditions, hot, humid, and you’ve got to rest up and stay hydrated. The boys were losing 2-3kg in an hour’s training but if we do the right things we’ll put ourselves in good shape for next week.

Ben Gollings was talking to

Posted by: , on October 05th 2010 on 07:12am0 Comments
Wednesday 15th September 2010
England Rugby Sevens squad for Commonwealth Games

 BEN GOLLINGS will lead England’s Rugby Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi next month.

The 30-year-old from Bournemouth makes his third appearance at the Games after appearing at Manchester in 2002 and winning a silver medal at Melbourne in 2006.

Gollings is arguably the world’s greatest Sevens player, having scoring 2,374 points in the IRB Sevens World Series, a thousand more than his nearest rival, Waisale Serevi.

He captains the 12-man group named by head coach Ben Ryan at Twickenham today.

Seven players – Gollings, Greg Barden, Kevin Barrett, Chris Cracknell, Isoa Damudamu, Dan Norton and James Rodwell – were in the side that clinched the Wellington and London Sevens titles in 2009.

In Delhi, England face Namibia, Uganda and an eagerly anticipated game against Australia on the first day of the 16-team tournament staged on October 11-12.

Head coach Ryan said: "I’m pleased with the squad and we're looking forward to what should be a hotly contested Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens in Delhi.

"There will big guns like New Zealand, who have won three gold medals since Rugby Sevens was introduced to the Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, Samoa, who won the last World Series, and Australia will also be strong, so we’re certainly not going to be the favourites.

"But we’re fit and well prepared, and we have a hungry squad with a good blend of youth and experience who are desperate to wear the England shirt and will give their all to succeed in Delhi.

“The spirit is good, the players have fought for their places and they’ve put in lots of hard work. Those qualities will be our strengths and now it comes down to putting together a string of performances to get us on the medal podium.”

England chef de mission Craig Hunter welcomed the Sevens squad into the 550-strong England team today and said: “Rugby Sevens will be a great competition at the Games.  We wish the squad well in their final preparations and for the Games."

In 2006, England beat Australia 14-12 in their pool encounter and defeated Samoa 17-14 and Fiji 21-14 before going down 29-21 in a pulsating final against New Zealand.

England were 15-7 down at the halfway mark at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome before a try by Andrew Vilk, converted by captain Simon Amor, cut the deficit to a single point.

But Tamati Ellison broke English hearts with two tries in quick succession to ensure the Kiwis maintained their impressive record at the Games, despite a late try from Gollings.

The full England team for the 2010 Games is as follows:

Name/Club/DOB/Place of birth/Current residence

Greg Barden (Royal Navy) 08.02.81 Perth, Poole
Kevin Barrett (Saracens) 06.07.80 Ascot, St Albans
John Brake (England Sevens) 22.04.88 London, Towcester
Dan Caprice (England Sevens) 20.10.89 Chatham, Rochester
Chris Cracknell (England Sevens) 06.08.84 Windsor, Wargrave
Isoa Damudamu (British Army) 01.09.81 Fiji, Southampton
Ben Gollings (England Sevens) 13.05.80 Launceston, Bournemouth
Simon Hunt (Birmingham & Solihull) 22.7.81 Clapham, Birmingham
Dan Norton (Bristol Rugby) 22.03.88 Gloucester, Bristol
Tom Powell (England Sevens) 11.10.85 Rotherham, Sheffield
James Rodwell (England Sevens) 23.08.84 Wendover, Birmingham
Mathew Turner (England Sevens) 19.01.88 Cape Town, Twickenham

Posted by: , on September 15th 2010 on 01:18pm0 Comments
Tuesday 31st August 2010
England Women's team for World Cup semi-final v Australia

 England Head Coach Gary Street has named a strong squad of 22, which includes 741 caps, for Wednesday’s Women’s Rugby World Cup semi final against Australia at the Twickenham Stoop, kick off 8.15pm.

England head into the final four showdown as top seeds after winning all three pool games with a bonus points, while Australia qualify as best runner-up from the pool stages.

Street has made three changes in the backs with Alice Richardson, Fiona Pocock and Amy Turner all being given the nod to start, while up front Heather Fisher returns in the backrow and Rosemarie Crowley starts at tight head prop. No 8 Catherine Spencer will again captain England.

Street, whose side booked their place in the semi finals after wins over Ireland, Kazakhstan and the USA, said: “This is a huge game and as such we have picked an extremely experienced side to take on the Australian challenge. It’s certainly going to be exciting to play at the Stoop and we are hoping to have the same great support that we have enjoyed at the Surrey Sports Park.

“The Australian England rivalry is great in every sporting contest and I am sure it will be no different on Wednesday. This is going to be a tough semi final and we won’t be taking anything for granted. There are definitely no easy games in a world cup semi final.”  

In the other semi final reigning world champions New Zealand take on France at the Stoop, kick off 6pm.

For WRWC 2010 tickets visit the Ticketmaster website or call 0844 844 2010. The semi finals and final will be held at the Twickenham Stoop. Rugby fans who buy tickets for the WRWC 2010 will also be put on a priority ticketing information list for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. For a full schedule of fixtures and to follow England in the WRWC visit


15 Danielle Waterman (Worcester)

14 Charlotte Barras (Saracens)

13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)

12 Alice Richardson (Richmond)

11 Fiona Pocock (Richmond)

10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) 

9 Amy Turner (Richmond)

1 Rochelle Clark (Team Northumbria)

2 Amy Garnett (Saracens)

3 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield)

4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

5 Jo McGilchrist (Wasps)

6 Heather Fisher (Worcester)

7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)

8 Catherine Spencer (Bristol) Captain


16 Emma Croker (Richmond)

17 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)

18 Becky Essex (Richmond)

19 Sarah Beale (Lichfield)

20 La Toya Mason (Richmond)

21 Rachael Burford (Richmond)

22 Michaela Staniford (Wasps)

Posted by: , on August 31st 2010 on 10:08am0 Comments
Tuesday 31st August 2010

Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons

The new Aviva Premiership rugby season begins at Edgeley Park for the second successive year: Sale beat Leicester there 15-12 twelve months ago. The Sharks finished off last campaign with four successive defeats. Newcastle Falcons only victory in round one of a new Premiership season since 2004 was 33-12 at home to Sale in 2007. The Falcons’ most recent away game was also at Edgeley Park, where they beat the Sharks 32-30 in round 21 last season.

Sale and Newcastle meet in round one for the fourth time in the last six years, whilst the Sharks have not beaten the Tynesiders since a 14-9 victory at Kingston park on 7 September 2008. Newcastle have won on three of their last four visits to Stockport.

London Irish v Saracens

London Irish have a won four, lost two record in the six previous seasons of the London Double Header. The Exiles finished off last campaign with an unwanted run of three straight defeats, and have won just once at Twickenham in their last six visits in all competitions. Saracens’ record in previous London Double Headers is an even won three, lost three. Sarries, who were Premiership runners-up last season, won their last four regular season matches of 2009/10, whilst their recent record at Twickenham is two wins and four defeats.

In five of the last six encounters between the two teams the defeated side has obtained a losing bonus point.

Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester

Exeter Chiefs join Aviva Premiership rugby and become the 19th different club to play Premiership rugby following their promotion from the Championship last season, and contest their first ever game in England’s top division. Their home ground, Sandy Park, will be the 29th different venue to stage a Premiership match.

Gloucester’s only defeat on the opening weekend of a new Premiership season since 2000/01 was 8-20 at home to Leicester in 2008. Gloucester have won three of their last four matches in the Premiership. The two clubs have met just twice before in competitive rugby, both at Kingsholm, with Gloucester victorious on both occasions: 34-3 in the 4th round of the John Player Cup in February 1982, and 35- 6 in the 6th round of the Powergen Cup in December 2002.

London Wasps v Harlequins

London Wasps’ record in previous London Double Headers is won three, lost three. Wasps become only the second team after Leicester Tigers to play in 300 Premiership matches, with Wasps record in the competition standing at won 176, drawn 12, lost 111. Harlequins’ record in previous London Double Headers is won 2, lost 3. ‘Quins are winless in their last three visits to Twickenham, since their 24-21 victory over Saracens there in September 2008. London Wasps have won their last three encounters with Harlequins and have also won on both previous occasions that the clubs have met at Twickenham.

Leeds Carnegie v Bath 

Leeds Carnegie have not won on the opening weekend of a Premiership season since they defeated Leicester 26-13 at Headingley Carnegie in 2002. Leeds have won three of their last four home matches. Bath play away from home on the opening weekend for a third successive season, and visit Headingley Carnegie in round one for the third time, losing 6-10 in 2001 and winning 44-32 in 2003. Bath’s only defeat in their last dozen Premiership regular season matches was 20-43 at Leicester in April.

The two clubs also met in the final round last season with Bath victorious 39-3 at The Rec. Bath have won their last five matches against Leeds in all competitions.

Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers

Northampton Saints have lost their opening game of a Premiership season just once since 2002: 0-32 at Leicester in 2005. The Saints suffered just two home defeats in all competitions last season – both inflicted by Saracens in their last two matches! Leicester Tigers play away from home in round one for a fourth successive season. The defending Premiership champion club has in fact lost their opening game of the following season in three of the last four years. Tigers have won seven of their last eight games in the Premiership.

Leicester’s only previous visit to Franklin’s Gardens in round one was in 1999 when the Saints won comfortably, 46-24. The last four encounters between the two teams in the Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day.


Stats: SFMS




Posted by: , on August 31st 2010 on 10:03am0 Comments
Thursday 01st July 2010
England Squads announced

England today named the 32-man Senior and Saxons Elite Player Squads for the 2010/11 season.

The changes made to the Senior EPS since the last announcement in January include the elevation of forwards David Attwood, George Chuter, Dan Cole, Paul Doran-Jones, Hendre Fourie and Tom Palmer. The backs promoted are Chris Ashton, David Strettle, Mike Tindall, Dominic Waldouck and Ben Youngs.

Players who appeared in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations stepping down into the Saxons EPS include Steve Borthwick, who led the side against Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland, Ugo Monye, Mathew Tait and Louis Deacon.

England Team Manager Martin Johnson said: "This was undoubtedly the most difficult EPS selection we've had to make in my time in the job. I think we've picked the best players and the fact that some experienced guys have missed out goes to show the depth we've now got.

"Leaving Steve Borthwick out was a very hard decision. He's done a fantastic job for England over the last couple of years and it's the most difficult call we've had to make. It is very tough on Steve but it goes to show the depth of talent we've got in that area.

"We want to build on what we've done this summer and a Southern Hemisphere tour that was hugely beneficial and a really positive experience for the group. We were able to give lots of opportunities to players and expose them to a high level of rugby."

New faces who have won call-ups to the Saxons EPS are forwards Jon Golding, Luke Narraway, Geoff Parling and Tom Wood, and backs Anthony Allen, Charlie Hodgson and James Simpson-Daniel.

England have a week's training camp at Twickenham from August 8 and four Investec Internationals this autumn against New Zealand (November 6), Australia (November 13), Samoa (November 20), South Africa (November 27).

Tickets for England v Samoa are on public sale priced from £25 for adults and from £10 for Under 16s. For more information visit


David Attwood (Gloucester Rugby)
George Chuter (Leicester Tigers)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester Rugby)
Nick Easter (Harlequins)
Hendre Fourie (Leeds Carnegie)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Stade Francais)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Lewis Moody (Bath Rugby)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
Tim Payne (London Wasps)
Simon Shaw (London Wasps)
Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks)
Steve Thompson (Leeds Carnegie)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Joe Worsley (London Wasps)

Delon Armitage (London Irish)
Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
Riki Flutey (London Wasps)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby)
David Strettle (Saracens)
Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby)
Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps)
Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)


Steffon Armitage (London Irish)
Duncan Bell (Bath Rugby)
Steve Borthwick (Saracens)
Alex Corbisiero (London Irish)
Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)
Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers)
Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)
Jon Golding (Newcastle Falcons)
Lee Mears (Bath Rugby)
Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)
Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Rees (London Wasps)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Andy Saull (Saracens)
Dan Ward-Smith (London Wasps)
Rob Webber (London Wasps)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Shane Geraghty (Northampton Saints)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Dan Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers)
Paul Hodgson (London Irish)
Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby)
Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

Posted by: , on July 01st 2010 on 03:00pm0 Comments
Wednesday 16th June 2010
England Under 20s v Australia - RFU press release

England Under20s face Australia tomorrow, Thursday June 17, in the semi-final of the IRB Junior World Championships in Argentina.

Having won both semi-finals in the previous two tournaments in Wales and then Japan, England know what it takes to make the final but will be wary of a very impressive Australian side.

Full back Tom Homer (London Irish), the leading points scorer of all time in the IRB Junior World Championships, with 115 points, proved he is human after all by missing a couple of kicks against France but is not concerned:

"I get on the pitch and try and do the best I can. The two kicks I missed against France, weren't an issue, though I may have been focusing too much on other parts of my game. Fortunately Freddie was knocking them over pretty well that day."

"Australia will be very tough opponents, I've never played against them before so looking at them in our analysis has been key for me. We've obviously been looking very hard at whatever it will take to beat them."

Off the pitch the England U20s side work hard at getting their recuperation and preparation right and away from the gruelling schedule, Homer himself particularly enjoys following the basketball stars of the NBA:

"I'm a huge fan of the NBA, I'm a Boston Celtics supporter, unfortunately last night we lost to the LA Lakers, so it's all down to the last game tomorrow. Coming back tomorrow having won to sit down and watch the Celtics win would be great. I play basketball with my brothers at home where we have a hoop, it's a nice way to relax. It's my passion away from rugby."

Centre Tom Casson of Harlequins, also reflected on the positive attitude surrounding England's training base in Rosario:

"The mood in the camp is great. We noticed from the start that it's a very friendly positive squad. We've all got a lot of friends here and that gives us a lot of confidence which is really important going into a big game."

Casson, like every member of the England squad and management team is wary of the threat posed by the junior Wallabies and has a large amount of respect for them as a team:

"Australia is a huge hurdle for us, we've come through a lot of tough games and this one will be another massive one for us. Looking at them they clearly have a lot of strength and depth in their side so they'll be difficult to overcome. It should be a really good challenge for us."

The game will be a huge personal challenge for me, I'm delighted to have been picked. It looks like it's got to be a really tough game but that's what we're here for."

The game, which sees England return to the Stadio Coloso del Parque, home of Newell's Old Boys FC, kicks off at 2.10pm local time. That makes it a 6.10pm start back in the UK, where it will be shown live on Sky Sports 2.

England U20

15. Tom Homer (London Irish)
14. Christian Wade (London Wasps)
13. Andrew Forsyth (Leicester Tigers)
12. Tom Casson (Harlequins)
11. Sam Smith (Harlequins)
10. Rory Clegg (Harlequins)
9. Charlie Davies (Stade Francais)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2. Jamie George (Saracens)
3. Shaun Knight (Gloucester)
4. Calum Green (Leicester Tigers)
5. Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)
6. Jamie Gibson (London Irish)
7. Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie, captain)
8. Jackson Wray (Saracens)

16. Arthur Ellis (London Wasps)
17. Lee Imiolek (Sale Sharks)
18. George Kruis (Saracens)
19. Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons)
20. Sam Harrison (Leicester Tigers)
21. Freddie Burns (Gloucester)
22. Jonny May (Gloucester)

Posted by: , on June 16th 2010 on 03:46pm0 Comments
Tuesday 11th May 2010

The Senior England EPS and Saxons squads have been announced today.

The Senior England squad will be taking part in a five match tour of Australia and New Zealand and the Saxons will be participating in the Churchill Cup in June.

*Prior to the Senior EPS tour England will play the Barbarians for the MasterCard Trophy at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday May 30 (kick off 5.00pm).



Steffon Armitage (London Irish)
**David Attwood (Gloucester Rugby)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester Rugby)
Nick Easter (Harlequins)
David Flatman (Bath Rugby)
**Hendre Fourie (Leeds Carnegie)
**Jon Golding (Newcastle Falcons)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Stade Francais)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Lee Mears (Bath Rugby)
Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
**Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Tim Payne (London Wasps)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Simon Shaw (London Wasps)
Steve Thompson (CA Brive)
**Dan Ward-Smith (London Wasps)
**Rob Webber (London Wasps)
Dave Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Joe Worsley (London Wasps)


Delon Armitage (London Irish)
Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
Olly Barkley (Bath Rugby)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Shane Geragthy (Northampton Saints)
**Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby)
Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
**Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
David Strettle (Harlequins)
Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks)
Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby)
**Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps)
Richard Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks)
Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

All fans are welcome to attend an England open training and autograph session at Twickenham Stadium, which starts at 2.30pm on Tuesday May 18.

Further details are available on

*Tickets for The MasterCard Trophy, England v Barbarians match are available at tickets or call 0844 8472492. Tickets priced from £25.00, U16s £10.

**Denotes uncapped player



Duncan Bell (Bath Rugby)
Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby)
Alex Corbiserio (London Irish)
Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)
Graham Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
Stuart Hooper (Bath Rugby)
Tom Lindsay (London Wasps)
Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby)
David Paice (London Irish)
Tom Rees (London Wasps)
Andy Saull (Saracens)
George Skivington (London Wasps)
Rob Vickers (Newcastle Falcons)
Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby)
Tom Wood (Worcester Warriors)


Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Jon Clarke (Northampton Saints)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Paul Hodgson (London Irish)
Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby)
Ollie Smith (Montpellier)
Tom Varndell (London Wasps)
Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons)

Posted by: , on May 11th 2010 on 09:49am0 Comments
Friday 30th April 2010

Where’s the early money going to go on next year’s World Cup? It is in New Zealand, so, obviously - Australia.
The All Blacks and the World Cups have been a cycle of four-year nightmares since they lifted the trophy first time out in 1987. If they do not win it on home turf next year, then the New Zealand meltdown will make the Greek economic collapse look little more than a dip – Hummus probably.
It would be one thing not winning it after 24 years of hurt; quite another thing losing it on New Zealand soil to the Wallabies. That’s not the worst of it. Australia are coached by Canterbury legend and Kiwi Robbie Deans.
If the Super 14 is any form guide, the Wallabies are running into ominous form and crucially building up strength in depth across most positions. What’s more the Australian rugby public are catching on, with record crowds for Australian franchise games in Super rugby.
The Anzac weekend, with matches played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney was the highest aggregate Australian crowds ever recorded for a single round in the competition’s 15-year history – nearly 90,000 supporters in total. And there is more to come next year when the Melbourne Rebels join the competition.
The Australian revival starts, as it should, upfront. The Wallabies have a front-row for goodness sake. First-choice Wallaby props Waratah Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander of the Brumbies are, and need to be, top of their game, for Ben Daley and Laurie Weeks have been in awesome form, both in the tight and loose, for the team of the Super 14 to date the Queensland Reds. In between them, Reds hooker Saia Faingaa is a real contender for the Wallaby number two jersey. It is no coincidence World Cup winning prop Ewen McKenzie is in charge at Brisbane.
Put Force captain Nathan Sharpe alongside ever-improving Tahs lock Dean Mumm and you have a fine engine room, with James Horwill to come back from injury.
You know the Wallabies are strong when their two biggest names Matt Giteau and Rocky Elsom are hardly mentioned in Super 14 dispatches. Giteau made the headlines this week for the wrong reasons with a $5000 fine for criticising referee Steve Walsh, when most people would have given him a medal.
While Elsom, the supreme player in Europe last season on Irish province Leinster’s march to the Heineken Cup, has been quiet by his huge standards. By contrast Force blindside Matt Hodgson continues to seek and destroy on a mission to win a Test cap.
So grunt and grit in abundance in the pack. But the stars of the Super 14 season have been Reds half-backs Will Genia and Quade Cooper. Genia is George Gregan and much more and could take the Wallaby captaincy from Elsom, while Cooper is currently world rugby’s premier box office attraction. 
Cooper gets into trouble off the field; he causes no end of trouble on it, with sublime handling, running and footwork and his tactical awareness is growing by the week. Giteau is going to have to look to the number 12 jersey for Australia, if Berrick Barnes is not already wearing it.
Another Reds back causing waves is centre Will Chambers. How glad is Chambers that he is no longer plying his trade in rugby league with Storm. Wing Rod Davies is adding game sense to extraordinary pace and Peter Hynes relishing the counter-attacking freedom from full-back.
Having bigged up the Australian Super 14 sides, the Waratahs came a cropper today against the Highlanders to dent their semi-final chances. But tomorrow in Canberra it is the Brumbies v Reds and Giteau v Cooper.  
On Twitter, Cooper, on the eve of the match, said he was so hungry he could eat a cow. Perhaps he meant a Brumby. It should be a feast of rugby.
Rupert Bates

Posted by: , on April 30th 2010 on 02:56pm0 Comments
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