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Category: Rugby World Cup 2015

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Japan blossom and Baa-Baas take Brazil in decade of new horizons | Robert Kitson

The old order has shifted during the past 10 years with Exeter among those growing in stature while France fadedThe best way to measure the true impact of the past rugby decade is to count the number of significant moments few could have foreseen. By t…

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Olympics, World Cups and more: Tom Jenkins’ pictures of the decade

The Guardian and Observer sport photographer picks his favourite images from the thousands he shot during the past 10 yearsThis is a collection of images I have shot during the last decade. I wasn’t selecting them because they were necessarily the bigg…

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Japan’s famous Rugby World Cup win is coming to a screen near you | Robert Kitson

Films about Brave Blossoms and the story of Dan Carter plus a play about Bill McLaren make perfect curtain-raisersFor years it was widely assumed rugby would not translate easily to stage and screen. With the odd exception – Up ’n’ Under, Stand Up and …

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Sam Burgess: ‘egos’ and ‘selfish players’ behind England’s 2015 World Cup exit

• Tournament hosts England crashed out in pool stage• Burgess defends his performance after crossover from leagueSam Burgess has claimed “individual egos” and “selfish players” contributed to England’s painful 2015 World Cup demise.Burgess was part of …

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Sam Burgess: ‘The bottom line is that my heart didn’t lie in union’ | Donald McRae

The England captain talks about his greatest moment in rugby league, his friendships with Stuart Lancaster and Owen Farrell and the way some of his union team-mates hid behind the media glare on him at the 2015 World Cup

“They had to completely shatter my socket,” Sam Burgess says as, pointing at his x-rayed skull, his finger circles the black hollow of his right eye. Staring down at the image on his phone, Burgess relives the surgery that followed his greatest triumph when he played almost the entire 2014 Grand Final in Australia’s National Rugby League with a fractured cheekbone. The injury did not stop Burgess from inspiring the South Sydney Rabbitohs to their first NRL title in 43 years.

“There were complications in surgery and that’s why I was in hospital so long,” Burgess says as he remembers the operation which preceded the difficult days that marked his last two years. In that time Burgess switched codes and played for England in a disastrous 2015 World Cup before, amid controversy and vilification, returning to South Sydney and the sport he loves.

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Sam Burgess: ‘The bottom line is that my heart didn’t lie in union’ | Donald McRae

The England captain talks about his greatest moment in rugby league, his friendships with Stuart Lancaster and Owen Farrell and the way some of his union team-mates hid behind the media glare on him at the 2015 World Cup

“They had to completely shatter my socket,” Sam Burgess says as, pointing at his x-rayed skull, his finger circles the black hollow of his right eye. Staring down at the image on his phone, Burgess relives the surgery that followed his greatest triumph when he played almost the entire 2014 Grand Final in Australia’s National Rugby League with a fractured cheekbone. The injury did not stop Burgess from inspiring the South Sydney Rabbitohs to their first NRL title in 43 years.

“There were complications in surgery and that’s why I was in hospital so long,” Burgess says as he remembers the operation which preceded the difficult days that marked his last two years. In that time Burgess switched codes and played for England in a disastrous 2015 World Cup before, amid controversy and vilification, returning to South Sydney and the sport he loves.

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Rugby World Cup year yields record profits and revenues for RFU

• Rugby’s ruling body posts a retained profit of £3.9m
• A truly exceptional year, says RFU’s Ian Ritchie

England may not have reached the knockout phase of the Rugby World Cup last year but the Rugby Football Union enjoyed spectacular success off the field. The RFU’s annual financial report shows the union doubled its revenues to £407.1m with record profits for rugby investment of £102.3m, an increase of 37%.

The highest turnover in the RFU’s history was boosted by World Cup-generated revenue of £228.1m, with the tournament exceeding expectations on all fronts bar the host nation’s performance. Total revenue increased by £199.2m on the previous financial year, allowing the RFU to post a retained profit of £3.9m compared with a loss of £6.7m in 2014‑15.

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Rugby World Cup legacy provides boost for future as 30,000 take up game

The 2015 tournament was a disaster for the hosts England, but the RFU’s farsighted legacy programme has boosted rugby’s health at home and abroad

A year ago on Sunday, England opened their World Cup against Fiji at Twickenham. Even though that bonus-point victory was as good as it was to get for the team, the Rugby Football Union went on to deliver the most profitable tournament to date, allowing it to leave a lasting legacy on the game in England and beyond.

Related: Stuart Lancaster: I got Sam Burgess selection wrong in hindsight

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Imposing racial quotas is a vital step forward for South African sport

With black athletes still sidelined, minister’s threat to sporting federations can help reverse apartheid legacy

South Africa’s sports minister has announced that he will no longer “beg for racial transformation”, but will start forcing the country’s sporting federations to fulfil racial quotas.

Fikile Mbalula said in a speech on Sunday that the cricket, rugby, netball and athletics federations would be banned from bidding for any international tournaments until their numbers of black players improved.

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Craig Joubert reveals why he fled pitch after controversial World Cup call

• Referee ‘wanted to avoid confrontation’ after Scotland’s elimination
• With hindsight he would reconsider decision to award Australia penalty

Craig Joubert has admitted with hindsight he would have reconsidered his decision to award Australia a contentious penalty which saw them edge Scotland 35-34 in their World Cup quarter-final at Twickenham in October.

Related: Eddie Jones has little leeway for England changes on Australia tour | Dean Ryan

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Stuart Lancaster: I think about England’s Rugby World Cup failure every day

• Former England coach wants southern hemisphere job after time out
• ‘I sat in a caravan in Lorton and walked up fells in the Lake District’

Stuart Lancaster still thinks of England’s World Cup failure “every minute of every day” and admits he would love his next coaching job to be in the southern hemisphere.

England’s former head coach resigned in November after the host team’s failure to go beyond the group stage in the World Cup, with Twickenham defeats to Wales and Australia inflicting the damage.

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Chris Robshaw: ‘In sport you go through different times; it’s how you get back up’ | Donald McRae

Despite losing the England captaincy, Robshaw was part of the 2016 Six Nations triumph but admits he ‘will always have that scar of the World Cup exit’

Chris Robshaw pauses when he is asked if clinching the grand slam in Paris this month, after all the adversity he has endured, felt so much sweeter than if he had achieved the same feat at the more innocent age of 21. The hurt he suffered as England’s captain over four years, sinking to the low of a humiliating exit in the group stages of a home World Cup last October, was replaced by five successive victories in this year’s Six Nations.

The battered but resilient Robshaw not only overcame the public doubts of his new coach, Eddie Jones, who had dismissed his credentials as an international openside flanker, but he embraced a new position on the opposite side of the scrum and accepted his downgraded status when Dylan Hartley was chosen to lead the team. Despite losing the captaincy, Robshaw played a significant part in England’s first grand slam in 13 years when a wounded squad transformed itself under Jones.

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Mike Brown: ‘I didn’t want to sit around and watch the World Cup final’ | Donald McRae interview

The full-back sees some of his own traits in Eddie Jones and believes the new head coach, whom he is yet to meet, can lift England to a new level

“I just don’t know,” Mike Brown says ruefully when asked how he might discover whether he has been selected for Eddie Jones’s first squad as England’s new head coach. “I’m not sure whether we’ll get a text or a call. I really don’t know how he will do it.”

The England full-back rubs his shaven head and smiles, a little nervously, as he admits that he does not even know when the news might be broken to the players before the official announcement is made on Wednesday. It would be a shock if Jones excluded him, but Brown spreads his hands and opens his eyes wide to stress that nothing is certain.

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England face exciting future under Eddie Jones and his coaching team | Dean Ryan

The head coach has made strong decisions in appointing his staff and if Alex King joins them with Dylan Hartley as captain his foundations will be complete

After the undoubted disappointments of 2015 England rugby fans have some very good reasons to be cheerful as the new year begins. For the first time in nearly 10 years the Rugby Football Union has put an experienced head coach in charge of the England team. Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster (and to some extent even Brian Ashton) were appointed based on merits other than their head coach skills in the hope that they would learn on the job, but there is no substitute for time at the helm, and Eddie Jones has plenty. I look forward to seeing his plans.

The Australian is famous for his forensic attention to detail and in this sense his forwards coach, Steve Borthwick, is cut from the same cloth. I am always wary about assuming the qualities that made someone shine on the field will make them a great coach but as a player the former England second-row took lineout analysis to a new level. He was not the most mobile or physically imposing of forwards but his sharp mind has never been in doubt and that is what Jones has selected him for. With a guiding hand from the head coach I’m genuinely excited to watch his progress.

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2015 goes down as a stunning sporting year full of surprises and superlatives | Andrew Anthony

Tyson Fury, Leicester City and Japan’s rugby union side all produced astonishing successes while even England’s cricket team discovered how to entertain

2015 had a fair number of predictable results but overall it must go down as a year of surprises. Who back in January thought that Tyson Fury would end the year as the heavyweight boxing champion of the world? Who thought that Japan, those game novices of rugby, would beat mighty South Africa? And who, without access to strong hallucinogens, foresaw Leicester City’s incredible march to the top of the Premier League table? Or the champions, Chelsea, plummeting towards a relegation battle and the unceremonious exit of José Mourinho?

The rise of the underdogs began back in March when New Zealand’s cricketers brought the World Cup to life with their wonderfully cavalier style of play. They carried on in the same vein against England, who had a disastrous World Cup, in a captivating couple of Tests and one-day series at the start of the summer. But not the least of the year’s surprises is that England, suddenly underdogs themselves, matched the Kiwis in spirit, focus and verve.

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Tonga’s Aleki Lutui takes different path to spend twilight at outpost Ampthill

The 37-year-old hooker, after spells with Worcester, Gloucester and Edinburgh is one of four Tonga internationals plying his trade with the not-so glamourous Bedfordshire club in England’s third tier

When Dan Carter took centre stage at the glittering BBC Spoty awards as he plays out his rugby career in Europe in well-remunerated Top 14 splendour, one of the southern hemisphere’s lesser known international stalwarts was picking his way along a more intriguing and less glamourous path.

A little over two months ago, a global audience watched Aleki Lutui scrum down for Tonga in his third Rugby World Cup. Last weekend, as Carter headed to Belfast to pick up an award for overseas sports personality of the year fresh from Racing 92’s match in Northampton, Lutui was celebrating a home win for Ampthill in the largely amateur third tier of the English league.

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Tonga’s Aleki Lutui takes different path to spend twilight at outpost Ampthill

The 37-year-old hooker, after spells with Worcester, Gloucester and Edinburgh is one of four Tonga internationals plying his trade with the not-so glamourous Bedfordshire club in England’s third tier

When Dan Carter took centre stage at the glittering BBC Spoty awards as he plays out his rugby career in Europe in well-remunerated Top 14 splendour, one of the southern hemisphere’s lesser known international stalwarts was picking his way along a more intriguing and less glamourous path.

A little over two months ago, a global audience watched Aleki Lutui scrum down for Tonga in his third Rugby World Cup. Last weekend, as Carter headed to Belfast to pick up an award for overseas sports personality of the year fresh from Racing 92’s match in Northampton, Lutui was celebrating a home win for Ampthill in the largely amateur third tier of the English league.

Continue reading…

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Tonga’s Aleki Lutui takes different path to spend twilight at outpost Ampthill

The 37-year-old hooker, after spells with Worcester, Gloucester and Edinburgh is one of four Tonga internationals plying his trade with the not-so glamourous Bedfordshire club in England’s third tier

When Dan Carter took centre stage at the glittering BBC Spoty awards as he plays out his rugby career in Europe in well-remunerated Top 14 splendour, one of the southern hemisphere’s lesser known international stalwarts was picking his way along a more intriguing and less glamourous path.

A little over two months ago, a global audience watched Aleki Lutui scrum down for Tonga in his third Rugby World Cup. Last weekend, as Carter headed to Belfast to pick up an award for overseas sports personality of the year fresh from Racing 92’s match in Northampton, Lutui was celebrating a home win for Ampthill in the largely amateur third tier of the English league.

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England World Cup review is RFU eyes only as spotlight hits Ian Ritchie

The Rugby Football Union review of the World Cup will remain confidential but its chief executive has been forced on to the defensive

None of the Rugby Football Union members who, this week, will see the findings into England’s calamitous Rugby World Cup campaign will receive a copy of the review in an effort to avoid of a repeat of four years ago when the inquiry into the flawed 2011 campaign was leaked.

The review interviewed 59 people, including most of Stuart Lancaster’s squad, and all those questioned were assured their input would be confidential. Ian Ritchie, the RFU’s chief executive, led the five-man panel and after Tuesday’s board meeting will focus on finding a replacement for Lancaster, who left his post last week, having stated that only the best will do for the richest union in the world.

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England’s Ben Youngs back from burnout and hungry for 2015 World Cup

The Leicester captain talks of his battle to be England’s No1 scrum-half and why he feels sharper as the World Cup approaches

Scrum-half has been one of the most unsettled positions in the Stuart Lancaster era even though only three players have started for England there: Ben Youngs, Lee Dickson and Danny Care. No one had made more than five consecutive appearances at No9 until this year but going into the World Cup, there is a sense of permanency in a key area.

Youngs, who was unable to get into England’s matchday squad as recently as the 2014 Six Nations, has started the past seven Tests for the men in white and with Care slipping to third in the rankings and Richard Wigglesworth overhauling Dickson, the Leicester captain looks destined to take the field for the tournament opener against Fiji.

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