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Six Nations in Rome: How Will Italy Fare Against England?

Six Nations in Rome: How Will Italy Fare Against England?

Seeing the Six Nations in Rome is an unforgettable experience. Beautiful architecture, iconic monuments, winding cobbled streets, vibrant colours and stunning food all combine to make Rome one of the most exciting destinations in the Six Nations calendar. The Six Nations 2018 fixtures have just been announced, and England will take on Italy for their first match of the tournament. Following a controversial clash between the two teams earlier this year, England will head to Rome to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on 4th February. What happened last time? England will be hungry for revenge next year after Italy gave them a scare with some controversial tactics during this year’s Six Nations. In a shock measure, the Italians repeatedly refused to commit any men other than the initial tackler to the breakdown, meaning no rucks were formed and offside rules became irrelevant. England were completely bamboozled by this unusual tactic for the first half of the game, and were left with egg on their faces when they walked back into the changing room 10-5 down at half time. The hosts came back after the break determined not to make the same mistake again, and managed to claw their way back to a 36-15 win. Six Nations in Rome: looking ahead to next year England have won the last two Six Nations titles and are strong favourites again. They’ll be looking to get off to a fast start against Italy in a bid to make it a third consecutive tournament win. Just beating Italy won’t be good enough, though. Under new rules introduced in 2017, teams get a bonus point...
Are England as Good as the All Blacks?

Are England as Good as the All Blacks?

Are England as good as the All Blacks? A year ago you’d have been locked up for asking the question, but after 14 straight wins we’ve finally plucked up the courage to ask. After Australia dumped England out of their own World Cup at the pool stage, obituaries were being written, Stuart Lancaster was out of work and the future looked bleak. Fast forward 14 months and England have followed up their Six Nations Grand Slam with a clean sweep in the Autumn Internationals – culminating in their fourth win on the trot against the Wallabies. And, whisper it softly, but New Zealand’s 40-29 defeat to Ireland in Chicago might just mean they are human after all. So we’ve got to ask: are England as good as the All Blacks? First things first: how have New Zealand done in 2016? Any side would struggle to cope with the retirements of Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Dan Carter and Keven Mealamu. Any side except New Zealand, it would seem. The All Black vintage of 2016 coasted through the Rugby Championship, with six wins out of six – opening up with an 8-42 mauling of Australia in Sydney and ending with a stunning 15-57 win in Durban. That shock in Chicago was the only blot on the copybook since an all-conquering New Zealand lifted the World Cup. So who are the danger men – and how do England compare? Are England as good as the All Blacks? Leadership Eddie Jones has worked wonders with this England group and has yet to taste defeat while in charge of his adopted country....
Five Reasons to Visit the Singapore Sevens

Five Reasons to Visit the Singapore Sevens

With just over two months to go until the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicks off, we thought we’d whet your appetite with a list of reasons to visit the Singapore Sevens. Singapore will welcome the World Sevens Series to its National Stadium in April 2017 for the eighth tournament of the competition. The series promises a non-stop thrill ride of exhilarating action and breathtaking athleticism in some of the world’s most exciting destinations. So why choose the Singapore leg of the series? Here are our top five reasons to visit the Singapore Sevens: Singapore is a city like no other Also known as the ‘Lion City’ and the ‘Garden City’, Singapore is the world’s only island city-state. Consisting of one main island and 62 islets at the southernmost tip of peninsular Malaysia, the city-state celebrated 50 years of independence last year. It’s one of the most influential cities in the world, and a global frontrunner in commerce, finance and social policy. But what makes Singapore so exciting is that, unlike any other in the world, it’s a city of contrasts. The phrase ‘melting pot’ was never so apt. With a multitude of different cultures influencing everything from architecture to cuisine, Singapore is a truly unique city. Futuristic skyscrapers rub shoulders with smoky temples; luxurious shopping malls give way to rainforests teeming with wildlife; cool cocktail bars sit beside vibrant street food markets. Singapore is a feast of culture, colour and contemporary luxury, and no matter how long you stay there’s always more to discover. Singapore is a global shopping destination   Singapore is world famous as a shopping...
Contenders for the World Rugby Sevens: Are Fiji Unstoppable?

Contenders for the World Rugby Sevens: Are Fiji Unstoppable?

Rugby sevens has just made a thrilling debut at the Olympics in Rio – and Fiji have made history by winning their country’s first ever Olympic medal. After breezing through the tournament, the Fijian dream team demolished Great Britain 43-7 to win gold in an embarrassingly one-sided final. Fiji’s power, flair and athleticism set them several classes apart and, for GB, there can be no shame in losing against such an outrageously talented team. The celebrations in Fiji are set to go on for some time, with rugby being something of a religion to the Pacific island nation. Marrying Fijian flair with English discipline English coach Ben Ryan has harnessed the Fijian side’s natural offloading game and brought order to their chaos with a more regimented approach to training. He banned alcohol, controlled food portions and confiscated phones for the duration of tournaments. And the discipline has paid off. Since the start of his tenure in 2013, Ryan has led Fiji to back-to-back World Series wins – and can now add Olympic gold to that collection of titles. Fiji recognised his efforts by awarding him one of the country’s highest civil honours. On Ryan’s return from Rio, President Jioji Konrote made him a Companion of the Order of Fiji at a ceremony in Suva. The World Rugby Sevens Series – who can stop Fiji? The 2015-16 World Rugby Sevens Series was the biggest to date. With sevens’ popularity at an all-time high after the Olympics, the next series looks set to be even bigger. The series’ iconic blend of exhilarating action, unforgettable moments, exotic destinations and a festival atmosphere...
Toulouse – La Ville Rose: A city guide

Toulouse – La Ville Rose: A city guide

Toulouse has much to offer everyone, whether you are a sports fan, history buff or wine connoisseur! Visiting the Pink City seems to be the easiest thing in the world. Just jump on the flight at London Gatwick and about two hours later you will find yourself at a modern airport suitable for a city the size of London. The first thing you will notice on arrival in Toulouse are the Belugas. No, not the marine mammal; that would be ridiculous. Looking like a massive metal dolphin, the Beluga is an Airbus cargo plane. Toulouse is not just famous for being one of the EURO 2016 hosting cities; it is also a renowned city of science and well known for its professional rugby team. What’s in Toulouse? If your travel comrades don’t happen to be keen on whoever will be getting through to the quarter-finals, there’s still a reason for them to travel along. There’s so much to do there! Toulouse’s aviation museum “Aeroscopia” offers displays of the famous Concorde and many other air vehicles, while the Airbus factory presents the exciting chance to see how planes are built. The interactive aerospace museum Cité de l’espace showcases the Mir space ship (that was used for training), real satellites, an IMAX cinema (showing different films about space) and so much more. In addition to this, Toulouse boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St Sernin. If that doesn’t do it for you then the countless châteaus offering wine tastings and restaurants with brilliant French food should do the trick! The buzz in the city The Pink City is definitely buzzing with...
England’s Six Nations squad announcement: Our thoughts

England’s Six Nations squad announcement: Our thoughts

Awaiting the announcement of England’s Six Nations squad is always an exciting time. But Wednesday’s press conference carried with it a media furore and sense of anticipation that hadn’t been felt in the hallowed corridors of Twickenham since before England embarked on their ill-fated WRC campaign last September. The reason? A new man in the driving seat: England’s first ever foreign coach, Australian Eddie Jones. And with a new boss comes a new culture, coaching team, and most crucially, personnel. There were a lot of talking points raised by England’s Six Nations squad, so we thought we’d chip in with a few of our own thoughts too. Giving youth a chance – one eye on Japan There are seven uncapped players in England’s Six Nations squad – with the eldest, Elliot Daly, only 23 years old. All seven have played big roles in the successful England age-group sides of late, with both Jack Clifford and Mario Itoje captaining England to Junior World Championship titles in 2013 and 2014. Will the new faces go straight into the side? Jerry Guscott thinks so, stating: “I would not be surprised if he puts a lot of these young guys straight in to face Scotland.” Indeed, now does seem the time to make a clean break from the World Cup debacle, and give fresh blood a chance. Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes has singled out Jack Clifford as the key new man in the squad – regarding him as a potential solution to the persistent questions that have surrounded England’s open-side since the retirement of Neil Back. Six foot four, and well over 17...