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Author Archive for Robert Kitson

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Rugby players fear for future as Covid ‘typhoon sweeps through sport’

Rugby Players’ Association has warned the pandemic threatens to crumble rugby union’s professional structure in monthsThe Oxford dictionary definition of a crisis is a time of danger. Alternatively just listen to the words of Damian Hopley, chief execu…

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Exeter’s Rob Baxter calls for end to coronavirus tests for rugby players

Coach believes there are medical and cost reasons to stopPremiership Rugby recorded five positives in latest 1,056 testsExeter’s Rob Baxter believes it is time to stop testing professional rugby players for Covid-19 amid growing evidence that few posit…

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Rob Baxter steels Exeter for ultimate peak after 10-year journey to the top | Robert Kitson

Momentum is with Exeter after their win against Toulouse but they know they can take nothing for granted against RacingIt will soon be the 10th anniversary of Exeter’s inaugural trip to France to play the first European away fixture in their history. T…

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‘We’ve waited a long time’. Exeter’s two Jonnys relish Toulouse test

Devon club’s Jonny Hill and Jonny Gray will pose a formidable challenge to Toulouse in their European semi-finalThe best rugby players live for weekends like this. Playing for your country is a huge honour but a major European club semi-final, alongsid…

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From top to bottom, rugby union is now staring into the abyss | Robert Kitson

From the best-run Premiership club to the grassroots, all parts of the game are in peril but not all its ills can be pinned on CovidThere is nothing quite like a pandemic for exposing hard, uncomfortable truths. And, give or take stand-up comedians, ni…

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Champions Cup semi-finals can transform idle perceptions of rugby union | Robert Kitson

The irresistible Anglo-French affairs of Racing v Saracens and Exeter v Toulouse are the pick of this weekend’s sport and can puncture myth international rugby is the only show in townOccasionally it is worth pausing for a moment and asking why people …

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End of Saracens era looms as European Champions Cup returns | Robert Kitson

Whether or not Leinster beat them on Saturday, a defining period in English and European rugby is about to concludeThis is the endHold your breath and count to 10Feel the earth move and thenHear my heart burst againAdele – SkyfallNo great sporting dyna…

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We must show against Leinster what being a Saracen means, says Goode

Champions Cup may be Barritt’s and Wigglesworth’s last hurrah Goode warns Saracens have harnessed anger over relegationSaracens are looking to pour all the frustrations of the past year into one definitive 80-minute statement in their European quarter-…

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Leinster may be favourites but the rest of Europe is out to get them | Robert Kitson

A fired-up Saracens will present a formidable test in Dublin but they may be the least of the Irish province’s problemsSuccess in rugby is generally mined from the painful depths of failure. Look at the most recent European champions and a glint of sil…

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Rugby union turns to Amazon Prime for Autumn Nations Cup to boost finances

Streaming service set to broadcast new November tournamentEngland to play Ireland, Wales and Georgia in eight-team eventRugby union’s bid to build a more sustainable financial future is set to see Amazon Prime unveiled as the broadcast partner for the …

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Owen Farrell handed five-game ban and will miss Saracens’ Leinster clash

England captain pays price for high tackle against WaspsHe can play again on 5 October as 10-game ban avoidedOwen Farrell will miss Saracens’ European Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster in Dublin next week after receiving a five-game ban for …

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Owen Farrell needs to clean up his act to become England all-time great

The fly-half’s sending-off will mean he misses Saracens’ trip to Leinster and raises questions about the international captaincyEven as he made ugly contact with the head of Wasps’ young fly-half Charlie Atkinson, Owen Farrell knew he had messed up. Ba…

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‘If it’s an act, it’s unsustainable’: rugby union’s answer to Ant and Dec | Robert Kitson

Mark Durden-Smith’s and David Flatman’s blend of serious analysis and humour strikes the right note on Channel 5Welcome back to the show. Only 3,500 people, carefully spread out around the Twickenham Stoop, will be allowed in to watch Harlequins play B…

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Champions Cup squeezes schedule to kick off week after eight nations

EPRC reveals new 24-team tournament for next seasonLittle rest for international players involved in tight scheduleEuropean Professional Club Rugby officials have revealed the format of a revised 24-team tournament for next season, with two-leg quarter…

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Eddie Jones turns to numbers game as he plots England’s bold new future | Robert Kitson

The England coach is fascinated by the way football teams use analytics but can raw data really give him the whole picture?Eddie Jones did not get where he is today by idly sitting around gazing at his navel. Perhaps the most telling line in his autobi…

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Eddie Jones wants England to be ‘dominant force’ of Lions in South Africa

Coach says he wants to see England break call-ups recordEngland to operate in ‘severe biosphere’ in OctoberEddie Jones hopes England will supply a record number of British & Irish Lions players when Warren Gatland’s squad fly out on tour to South A…

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Twenty-five years of professionalism: skill levels rise but at what cost? | Robert Kitson

On-field action has come on massively but questions remain around player protection and the futures of smaller clubsTwenty-five years ago this week a group of men sat in the Ambassador Hotel on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris and acknowledged the game was…

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Exeter ring changes for top-two meeting but Bristol stick with Semi Radradra

Premiership leaders make 14 changes for match on TuesdayChiefs’ veteran Phil Dollman will face Radradra at centreIt is worth pausing for a second to recall that the last time a Bristol v Exeter fixture attracted as much neutral interest was in the Cham…

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Lockdown spirit has been admirable but rugby badly needs the fans back | Robert Kitson

Covering professional rugby during the Covid-19 crisis has at times felt like a glimpse of a nightmarish dystopian futureFinally this week will see spectators permitted to return to a rugby union ground in the UK. A few hundred souls will be allowed in…

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Ruaridh McConnochie: ‘I just want to get back into England contention’

The Bath winger insists he is fitter than he has ever been and is determined to rediscover the best of himself on the fieldThe rise of Ruaridh McConnochie has been among English rugby’s most heartwarming stories. From lower-league obscurity with Nuneat…