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Author Archive for Michael Aylwin

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Webb Ellis didn’t even invent rugby, so why is his name on the World Cup? | Michael Aylwin

Rugby’s myth-makers have overlooked one catch in the game’s history. It’s time for a more appropriate name on the trophyEvery four years, with more than 100 million people watching, a big bloke hoists a golden trophy called the Webb Ellis Cup. Casual v…

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Rugby World Cup 2019: Scotland team guide

Without a Plan B Scotland loiter on the fringes of being World Cup contenders but on their day can be world beaters Continue reading…

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Premiership rugby 2018-19: club-by-club season verdict | Michael Aylwin

Fall of Newcastle reflects brutality of top flight while excellence of Saracens and Exeter continues to set the gold standardThey made Europe with the last kick of what has been an otherwise curious season, but they are used to those at the Rec. Rumour…

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Owen Farrell thumb injury deals blow to England’s Six Nations preparations

• England co-captain requires surgery on tendon • ‘He should be back in seven to 10 days,’ says McCallEngland’s preparations for the Six Nations have been dealt a grievous blow by a thumb injury to Owen Farrell. The England captain was announced on Fri…

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Leinster strengthen Champions Cup credentials with 27-point win over Bath

• Leinster 42-15 Bath• Jack Conan the first of six different try scorers for LeinsterThe two greatest teams of European rugby, with four titles apiece, go head to head at the top of Pool 1. Leinster remain the favourites, despite trailing Toulouse by t…

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Eddie Jones: ‘In the second half we finally got stuck in – that’s pleasing’

• England recover from poor first half to defeat Japan• Jones says he will miss departing RFU chief executiveEddie Jones has come out strongly in support of the RFU’s departing chief executive, placing his weight squarely behind Steve Brown, whose depa…

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Warren Gatland content with Wales’ World Cup momentum

Even though Wales are not playing well, ending Australia hoodoo augers well for Six Nations and World CupWales are not playing particularly well – their 9-6 victory over Australia and the previous weekend’s success against Scotland came after two of th…

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Rugby union: talking points from the European Champions Cup

Toulon’s nightmare speaks to French woes, Saracens are miles ahead of the pack and Freddie Burns had a weekend to forgetIt seemed as if all talking points would have to revolve around the 52-3 destruction on Friday night of the former multiple champion…

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Premiership elite players to be limited to 30 games a season

• Controversial limit of 32 to be reduced from 2019-20• Enforcement will need effective handling of England playersThe controversial 32-game limit for a Premiership player in a season is to change, the Observer understands. From 2019-20 elite players w…

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Maro Itoje says Saracens machine purring again before Wasps semi-final

• England flanker believes Saracens are firing at the right time• Billy Vunipola is back for Premiership showdown with WaspsSaracens have won the second halves of their past four matches by a 149-0 aggregate. Their average scoreline in the same four ga…

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Owen Farrell ready for England’s ‘brilliant tour’ to South Africa

• ‘The key is to be ready for anything,’ says tour captain• Saracens play-off with Wasps still uppermost in Farrell’s mindOwen Farrell is relishing the prospect of England’s summer trip to South Africa. The tour captain took time out of Saracens’ prepa…

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Leinster 15-12 Racing 92: European Champions Cup final player ratings

Who were the stars and who failed to shine as Leinster sealed their fourth European Cup success?Rob Kearney 7 Not quite the attacking force he once was, but never afraid of a cute counterattack. Remains as solid under the high ball as anyone. Reas…

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Leinster take Ireland’s assault on European rugby to new heights | Michael Aylwin

Leo Cullen’s side’s dominance over Scarlets was total, and an all-Ireland final against Munster now feels inevitable – and highly appropriateThe grip of the Irish on European rugby tightens ever more mercilessly. Ireland won the grand slam on the back …

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Second place in the Six Nations is no reason for Wales to pop any corks

• ‘We were happy to win ugly against France,’ says Taulupe Faletau• Coach Warren Gatland must explore new ideas on tour of AmericasLike all the coaches bar Joe Schmidt, like all the teams bar Ireland, Warren Gatland and Wales finished the Six Nations C…

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Ireland prepare for Scotland and chance to secure the Six Nations a week early

Joe Schmidt’s leading men face a tough task at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, when the ebullient Scots are in town and with title-winning ambitions of their ownIt could be over by Saturday evening. Ireland, indeed, could all but slam the door on anyone…

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Joe Schmidt: Ireland will still have to ‘roll up sleeves’ to win Six Nations

• Coach staying calm in face of expectation after weekend results• ‘We live in a bit of a bubble; the guys won’t get too excited’Suddenly this Six Nations is Ireland’s to lose. Take maximum points at home to Scotland – as, for example, Wales did, the t…

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Gregor Townsend shakes up Scotland as redemption sought against France | Michael Aylwin

Coach has made six changes after chastening defeat in Wales while the visitors look to salve their own pain of defeat by IrelandThe anguished will gather in Edinburgh on Sunday. France suffered the most agonising of defeats in round one, scuppered by t…

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France’s Matthieu Jalibert will end 50-year wait for a teenage No 10 | Michael Aylwin

The Bordeaux Bègles imp has carved up enough men in his first season in the Top 14 to make his selection for Saturday’s match against Ireland feel like a natural opening gambitNot even Jonny Wilkinson started a championship match at fly-half while stil…

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Levani Botia bags double as rampant La Rochelle swat aside Wasps

• La Rochelle 49-29 Wasps• French club take maximum points from first three Champions Cup gamesPrecedent would suggest that La Rochelle, as first-timers in this competition, will not win the Champions Cup but, swept away on delirium on the Atlanti…

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Jonathan Davies injury leaves Wales cursing their luck after latest Australia defeat

• Key centre could miss rest of autumn series after damaging his ankle • Kurtley Beale’s controversial try seals 13th loss in a row against WallabiesOne might have thought all would be overshadowed by a 13th consecutive defeat against opponents who, wh…