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Author Archive for Michael Aylwin

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Saracens plead their innocence but rugby union’s whole structure is on trial | Michael Aylwin

The punishment for Nigel Wray’s team has caught many by surprise but it has exposed problems the game facesPioneering darlings of English rugby or hateful cheats? The verdict on Saracens continues to swing to impressively wild extremes, even by the sta…

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Saracens docked 35 points and handed £5m fine for salary cap breach

Premiership Rugby hands champions maximum punishmentInvestigation found Saracens had breached salary capThe Premiership champions, Saracens, have been handed a 35-point deduction and fined £5m after they were found to have breached salary cap regulatio…

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Rugby World Cup 2019: five things to look out for in the knockout stage

Tighter matches and record TV viewing figures will be evident as the World Cup jamboree approaches its crunch stageUnsightly thrashings by the vastly superior of the hopelessly under-resourced remain a thing at World Cups. The days of the three-digit h…

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Rugby World Cup 2019: five things to look out for in the knockout stage

Tighter matches and record TV viewing figures will be evident as the World Cup jamboree approaches its crunch stageUnsightly thrashings by the vastly superior of the hopelessly under-resourced remain a thing at World Cups. The days of the three-digit h…

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Rugby World Cup power rankings: breaking down all 20 teams in Japan

England, Ireland and Wales are among the throng pushing to challenge New Zealand as the World Cup enters crunch timeNormal service has been resumed. After the surreal scenes of the All Blacks not being No 1 (Wales were, then Ireland!) they enter the qu…

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Rugby World Cup: how the quarter-finalists shape up | Michael Aylwin

Ireland and Australia can upset the odds but Japan have probably gone as far as they canSaturday 8.15am, Oita, ITV1 Continue reading…

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Rugby World Cup pool permutations: who needs what in the last week?

Pool A has a winner-takes all finale, Pool B was finished before it started, Pool D can only have a late twist if Fiji surprise Wales and who actually wants to finish top of Pool C?Story so far Who would have thought it? The Pool of Death. Actually, th…

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Rugby World Cup pool permutations: who needs what in the last week?

Pool A has a winner-takes all finale, Pool B was finished before it started, Pool D can only have a late twist if Fiji surprise Wales and who actually wants to finish top of Pool C?Story so far Who would have thought it? The Pool of Death. Actually, th…

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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…