Tag: six nations news

France blow best Grand Slam chance in a decade…

There will be no Grand Slam. France’s best chance in a decade to pull that off was ruined at Murrayfield by a stellar Scottish performance, featuring a brace from Sean Maitland and a back-breaking red card for the France tighthead prop Mohamed Haouas for a punch at the end of the first half, from which the visitors never recovered. 

The outcome also capped off a good weekend for England, who have now gone top of the Six Nationstable on points difference ahead of France with one round to go.

As Haouas departed here, rightly sent off for a punch to the head of Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie after the two came together in a ruck, you sensed that France were once again destroying another golden opportunity. Haouas’ mindless act brought back memories of Sebastian Vahaamahina’s own implosion in Oita at the Rugby World Cup, red carded for an elbow on Aaron Wainwright that killed off France’s hopes of progressing to the semi-finals.

Haouas’ exit, a third penalty by Scotland fly-half Adam Hastings and then a well-worked try to put Maitland over in the corner all came in the space of less than five minutes. Collectively it felt like a knockout punch, not only in the context of the match but for France’s Grand Slam hopes as well, even with the second half still to come. Maitland’s second try shortly after the interval – made by a fine break from Chris Harris, slipping past Paul Willemse then combining with Ali Price – hammered that point home.

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Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

England decision to exclude Mako Vunipola, unnecessary…

England’s decision to exclude prop Mako Vunipola as a precautionary measure against coronavirus was “unnecessary”, says Public Health England (PHE).

Vunipola was stood down for England’s Six Nations match with Wales after recently travelling through Hong Kong.

The prop has trained with Saracens this week and will start against Leicester in the Premiership on Saturday.

“PHE current guidance on coronavirus is clear on when self-isolation is necessary,” a PHE tweet said.

“Earlier this week the RFU asked a player, having returned from travel overseas, to not attend the camp to avoid the risk of spread, which was not necessary as he was not displaying any symptoms. 

“The RFU accept this and this clarification.”

On Wednesday, England assistant coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Our medical team looks at our team environment, not other people’s.

“And that’s the advice we followed. We are a camp-based environment and we stay in together 24 hours a day effectively.

“Mako didn’t come into camp on the advice of our medical team, who looked into the situation closely and as a precaution they advised us that the best thing for our environment was for him not to come in.

“Mako is not ill, he is not in self-isolation, but the advice we got for our environment from our medical team and the relevant parties they consulted was that he should not come into camp, and that’s the advice we followed.”

‘Heightened awareness around hygiene’

Vunipola’s Saracens teammate Jamie George says the England squad have had a “heightened awareness around hygiene” because of the virus,

England host Wales at Twickenham in their final Six Nations game on Saturday, after their trip to Rome was postponed because of the outbreak in Italy.

“In a rugby environment a cold would go around the team a lot quicker than in the general public,” said the hooker.

“It’s an unfortunate situation with Italy but I presume the health experts are doing exactly what’s required.”

No England players have been symptomatic or tested, and George says the squad are taking “simple” measures to guard against the outbreak.

“We have to have a heightened awareness around hygiene and it’s the simple things that need to be done, like washing your hands,” he added.

“It definitely hasn’t been a distraction, rather it’s been a reinforcement that we need to prepare for this week properly.

“We have to pay our respects to Wales and prepare in the way we need to win the game.”

Victory for England will secure the Triple Crown and keep alive their hopes of a third title in five years, and George says the hosts are “preparing for a proper battle”. 

“We’ll be back at Twickenham and you can’t take away the edge that this fixture brings,” he added.

“I’d say it’s our strongest rivalry historically. If you look back at the big games throughout my career they’re the ones we get most excited about.

“There’s a different edge to it. The Welsh fans when you play in Cardiff make it petty hostile, so we’re looking forward to welcoming them to Twickenham and want to make it as tough for them as we possibly can.

“We’re aware Wales are coming in off the back of two losses and will be hungry as ever to get that victory. They’ll be as physical as anything so we’re preparing for a proper battle.”

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Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations Rugby | Bono and O’Connell visit Ireland camp ahead of England clash

Bono meets up with Ireland squad

Former captain Paul O’Connell is also with Ireland this week
Andy Farrell’s side are looking to make it three wins from three against England
With two wins from two, Ireland could not have hoped for much more from their start to the Guinness Six Nations.

Ireland Main News
LIVE: Kick-off approaches at Twickenham Preview: England v Ireland Jamie Heaslip: My Greatest XV
And ahead of a potentially pivotal trip to Twickenham to take on England, Andy Farrell’s side have been preparing with a visit from Irish pop royalty.

None other than Bono, the lead singer of U2, was in camp with Ireland this week, chatting to the Ireland squad after being asked in by Farrell.

And the Ireland head coach explained that bringing in the music legend was more than just a chance to rub shoulders with a superstar.

He told IRFU TV: “We’re unbelievably privileged. He was top of the wish list. He was great, he put real time and effort into it. He’s a private guy who doesn’t really do these things. But he loves his rugby. His wife Ali came along as well and she loves her rugby as well.

“He told us some stories and we got a lot out of it. He’s a proud Irishman so we connect to that. The key for us is making sure we do the homework and the guests that come in, we get something out of it. So the lads certainly did their homework and asked the questions and got the answers that they wanted from it.”

Bono was not the only person to join up with Ireland this week, with former skipper Paul O’Connell also attending training.

O’Connell, who called time on his playing career in 2016, has spent time coaching in France and took the opportunity to come into the camp and chat to the players.

And Farrell believes the former Ireland captain can help his players, while also getting something out of the experience himself.

He added: “It’s great to have Paul with us. We invited Paul in to see what he thinks about the environment, just get a general feel, to be there as a sounding board from the lads.

“We’re getting some good feedback from him and he might learn a few things along the way himself. It’s great to have some past players and somebody that the boys really respect.

“We have an environment that loves people coming in. We like people asking questions so we can answer them and explain them to ourselves as well. It’s great to have him in and he’ll be here until Friday and he’ll give us some feedback.”

— Read on www.sixnationsrugby.com/2020/02/19/ireland-call-on-rock-and-rugby-royalty-to-prepare-for-england/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

England vs Ireland preview:

England vs Ireland preview:

This is going to be a massive game and probably the game to watch this weekend. If the conditions are better than what they were against Scotland this game is going to be a thriller. The English who bounced back against Scotland after losing to France in their first game are coming in onto this game with some confidence.

The Irish who are unbeaten this far are going to Twickenham on a high and will want to keep their grand slam hopes alive. Neither one of these teams have found their best form, but if there was ever a game to do so, this would be it. The English are going to try and use their forward pack to set up a good base to attack from and in free play they will want to clean out rucks quickly and give quick ball to their very dangerous backline.

Ford who is playing at 10 again will have a massive job on his shoulders because he is the person that is responsible for distributing the ball to his outside backs. If the Irish are able to put him under pressure like the Bokks did in the World-Cup final he will not be able to get the ball out wide and it will make it easy to defend against them. The Irish will look to do the same and their flyhalf Sexton is also the key to their attacking structure. He will direct the traffic and if his team can’t get go forward he has the know how to put the ball on the boot and start playing deep inside the English half again. Both teams are matched up perfectly and it is very hard to see one team dominate one faze of the game. That is why this is going to be one of the most exiting games to watch this far in the comp.

Key match ups:

Maro Itoje vs James Ryan: These two are two of the best locks in the northern hemisphere and they will battle it out for supremacy. They are both great line out jumpers and are two of the best defenders in the world. Maro is a very great defender and one of the things that he brings to the game that not a lot of locks do is his work at the breakdown. He gets more than his share of turnovers and penalties and that makes it easier on the teams loose forwards and they share their work load between all of them. James gives this team a hand up in the physical part of the game and will carry hard and try to get over the gain line. He will also help his team clean out the ruck quickly so that they can get quick ball and get their backline moving.

George Ford vs Johnny Sexton: The teams play makers. These two will have to control the game with the boot and their decision making. Both of these are world class 10’s and can take the game away from the other team in a matter of seconds and that is why the defending team will have to keep an eye on them. I believe that these two players are going to be the vital point of each team. They will control the game and the player who gets the upper hand in that department of the game will give their team a great chance to win.


Starting XV

Joe Marler


Cian Healy

Jamie George


Rob Herring

Kyle Sinckler


Tadhg Furlong

Maro Itoje


Devin Toner

George Kruis


James Ryan

Courtney Lawes


Peter O’Mahony

Sam Underhill


Josh van der Flier

Thomas Curry


CJ Stander

Ben Youngs


Conor Murray

George Ford


Johnny Sexton

Jonathan Joseph


Jacob Stockdale

Owen Farrell


Bundee Aki

Manu Tuilagi


Robbie Henshaw

Jonny May


Andrew Conway

Elliot Daly


Jordan Larmour


Luke Cowan-Dickie


Ronan Kelleher

Ellis Genge


Dave Kilcoyne

Will Stuart


Andrew Porter

Joe Launchbury


Ultan Dillane

Charlie Ewels


Caelan Doris

Ben Earl


John Cooney

Willi Heinz


Ross Byrne

Henry Slade


Keith Earls

My Prediction:

I think this is going to be a thrilling game and definitely worth watching. I also think that the Irish are going to win the game and keep their hopes of a grand slam alive.

— Read on rugbydissect.sport.blog/2020/02/23/england-vs-ireland-preview/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations RESULTS: France see off Wales to keep Grand Slam hopes alive, Scotland cruise to victory against minnows Italy

Six Nations RESULTS: France see off Wales to keep Grand Slam hopes alive, Scotland cruise to victory against minnows Italy

Shaun Edwards was given a Cardiff return to remember as France stayed on course for a Six Nations Grand Slam as they got the better of Wales with a 27-23 win.

Former Wales defence coach Edwards, who is now performing the same role with France, looked on as his team ran in tries from full-back Anthony Bouthier, lock Paul Willemse and fly-half Romain Ntamack.France are looking more and more like Grand Slam winnersNtamack added three conversions and two penalties for a 17-point haul, with Les Bleus claiming a first win on Welsh soil since 2010.And it proved richly deserved despite Wales clawing back to one point behind early in the second period through prop Dillon Lewis’ first try for his country and fly-half Dan Biggar touching down late on.

Biggar booted two conversions and three penalties, collecting 18 points, yet Wales could have few complaints after falling to a second successive defeat under new head coach Wayne Pivac.The reigning Six Nations champions suffered a first home reversal in the tournament since England toppled them three years ago.

They now have to pick themselves up for a Twickenham appointment with England in two weeks’ time, while resurgent France will complete a Six Nations clean sweep if they see off Scotland at Murrayfield, followed by Ireland in Paris.France looked like they were going to run away with things but Wales stayed in touch with a late fightbackScotland cruised to a straightforward 17-0 victory over Italy to claim their first victory of the 2020 Six Nations campaign.Scotland had failed to score in either of their opening defeats to Ireland and England, but Stuart Hogg – guilty of horror spills in both those losses – made amends after 23 minutes with a brilliant individual solo try as he darted 50 yards to score in the corner.

Scotland celebrate their first victoryTomasso Allan then fired a penalty against the post as Italy wasted a late chance just before the break to trim Scotland’s 5-0 lead.The visitors got their second score on 47 minutes as Chris Harris squeezed over as Italy’s brave resistance gave way after 17 phases of sheer Scottish grunt.Italy had to play out the final stages a man light after Federico Zani was sin-binned for a tip-tackle on Grant Gilchrist.

— Read on talksport.com/sport/rugby-union/673016/six-nations-results-france-wales-grand-slam-scotland-italy/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations 2020: Lawes sports spectacular shiner and stitches ahead of England’s huge Ireland clash

Six Nations 2020: Lawes sports spectacular shiner and stitches ahead of England’s huge Ireland clash

COURTNEY LAWES denied that he had already been scrapping ahead of tomorrow’s massive fight with Ireland.The England lock turned flanker is nursing a massive black eye and needed stitches after a clash in training on Thursday.

Courtney Lawes has been sporting an impressive shiner but will be keeping an eye on Ireland in the massive Six Nations testEngland face Grand Slam-chasing Ireland in the Six Nations, hoping to light up Twickenham for the first time since reaching the World Cup final.Tough-tackling Lawes equals legendary World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson’s 84 caps at Twickenham, sporting a war wound that Johnno would be proud of.Lawes, 31 tomorrow, said: “It’s just a boo boo. Nothing too serious, it is all fine. . . just a clash, my head on something, not sure what.“I am hoping it will go down a bit. It’s all right – I got through today so I was all right.“We’re expecting a pretty physical battle. Up front Ireland have got a really good pack, a big pack, so that is a big area for us to front up and show we want it.“We want to get out there and get at them.

I’m really looking forward to it.”Ahead of Lawes’ milestone game, ex-England captain Steve Borthwick, Eddie Jones‘ skills coach, remembers the Northampton Saints enforcer making his debut alongside him.He added: “I remember Courtney when he first started coming into the England squad and the way he carried, hit and the line out force he was. That was twelve years ago.“Also the way the other players follow him is absolutely magnificent.“To still be doing it at this level as long as he has is a testament to him and how hard he has worked on the field but more importantly off the field to make sure that his body is in the best condition to play at the elite level every week.“I hope there are going to be many more years of him representing England.[article-rail-section title=”SIX NATIONS NEWS” posts_category=”350″ posts_number=”10″ query_type=”popular” /] “As an England coach and supporter to see a player who plays with such passion, determination and ferocity.“As a supporter that’s what you want to see.“Courtney embodies that every time he walks out onto the field.”Ireland can win a Triple Crown having already swept aside Wales and Scotland.And recalled second-row Devin Toner said: “It is the pinnacle of your career to play a game for Ireland at Twickenham.“We won the Grand Slam here, which was huge. They obviously got on top of us the last time.“There is always going to be a fear factor away from home and this is their first game back here so will have something to prove.“They haven’t fired a shot yet with the weather against Scotland and the loss to France.“We will have to get everything right as we know they are a hugely physical team from the one they have picked. They will come after us early.”

— Read on www.thesun.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/11018717/six-nations-courtney-lawes-shiner-england/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations 2020: Wales ratings as North’s concussion hell strikes again but Biggar shows heart of a dragon vs France

Six Nations 2020: Wales ratings as North’s concussion hell strikes again but Biggar shows heart of a dragon vs France

WALES came up just short as France recorded their first win at the Principality Stadium for a decade in a Six Nations thriller.

There were massive performances for some of Les Bleus’ young stars but how did the home side get on?George North went off with another concerning concussion scare, while Dan Biggar kept a cool head for the home sideHere is how SunSport’s Alex Terrell rated the Welsh in Cardiff.

BACKS – Leigh Halfpenny 7Has been almost faultless under the high ball and again did so little wrong under the closed roof.Perhaps the only difference between Halfpenny and absent Liam Williams is the extra finesse the latter gives the side at full-back.George North 5The winger is a legend in these parts, but he went off with another concussion.North has to start asking the question — is his future life and looking after his unborn child worth taking all these hits to the head?

Fingers crossed we see North back and he is OK, because that is the biggest concern for him right now.Nick Tompkins 8Close to being a top drawer test match player, but still little bits to work on, like passing the ball to an opposing player.His pass was the one that Ntamack ran on to and scored, the move that turned out to be the game changer.Was unlucky to get turned over by Camille Chat at the end.Hadleigh Parkes 6When he doesn’t kick, he’s fine, but maybe the centre should avoid getting boot to ball for a while.Josh Adams 6Unlucky to be kept quiet, or did he just not do enough?Looked in the groove and his battle with Teddy Thomas was a fascinating one.Dan Biggar 8Has the heart of a dragon, does the fly half.A dogged performance, chasing down his own kicks and trying to turn the momentum of the game.Gareth Davies 6Probably hasn’t done enough to wrestle the No9 jersey off Tomos Williams for the next game.

FORWARDS – Wyn Jones 6Solid in the scrum after last week’s uncertainty against Ireland.Ken Owens 6Hart to criticise the hooker, when the home side won 12 out of 13 line-outs and nine out of 10 scrums.Dillon Lewis 7Superb try from the prop, who is blossoming into a real talent in a red jersey.Just needs to keep his head in defence though, his penalty count was the highest among the Welsh players and that was costly.Jake Ball 7Just works so hard and doesn’t give an inch.Underrated outside Wales, but not west of the Severn.Alun Wyn Jones 6Not reached the giddy heights of last year and he could not convince the referee that it was a penalty try when Willemse appeared to palm the ball during a backs-to-the-wall passage.Ross Moriarty 7Was shifted around from blindside flanker to No8, but 13 tackles was the joint-highest among the Wales players.[article-rail-section title=”SIX NATIONS NEWS” posts_category=”350″ posts_number=”10″ query_type=”popular” /]Justin Tipuric 7Has been Wales’ best player this Six Nations and possibly the best openside in the competition, alongside Charles Ollivon.Taulupe Faletau 6Not back to his best since returning, but he is close and bubbling under the surface.Taken off after the hour and replaced by Aaron Wainrwight, with Moriarty shifting to No8, who brought more explosive running into the Wales back-line.

— Read on www.thesun.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/11017744/six-nations-wales-ratings-france/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Alun Wyn Jones caught in row over scrummaging with the French Coach 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🇫🇷🏉📰

Tensions are high as Wales prepare to take on France in Cardiff on Saturday, and Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has hit back at France’s claims that Wales were disrespectful with their scrum “cheat” claims.

France coach Fabien Galthie responded to Wales prop Wyn Jones’ suggestion the visiting scrum will “cheat” when the sides meet in Cardiff this weekend, saying the comments demonstrate a lack of respect for the whole country.

“It’s a lack of respect for our scrum, a lack of respect for our team, a lack of respect for French rugby but also for our nation,” he told a press conference.

“This is the Six Nations tournament and in the Six Nations tournament there is no room for these kind of remarks.”

But Alun Wyn Jones is not in agreement, admitting he felt the comments were born more out of respect than a lack of.

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