Sunday, 31 July 2011

Bibby the star of the show as Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks qualify

Newcastle Falcons booked their place in  the finals of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series  with a convincing display at Edgeley Park on Friday.

Falcons won three out of three  to cruise into next Friday’s final at the Stoop where they will be looking to go one better than their runner’s up spot to Saracens last year.

And they will be joined by  hosts Sale who booked their place with a win over Worcester in the final  match of the evening.

It was the Sharks who made the  brightest start to the evening opening the scoring through centre Will  Addison to take a 7-0 lead over Newcastle at half-time.

That was as close as anyone  came to troubling Falcons and they came roaring back after the break with  three tries, Joel Hodgson scoring the first and setting Ryan Shortland up  for the second before Luke Fielden sealed the 15-7 win.

A very inexperienced Leicester  side was then dispatched by Worcester 19-10, Danny Gray proving the  difference with two tries and two conversions while James Freeman grabbed  the Warriors’ other try.

Centre Ed Rolston scored two  tries for Tigers but it was not enough to avoid defeat.

Leicester were immediately back  in action and clearly unable to cope with back-to-back games as the Sharks  tore them to shreds 47-0.

Player of the round Danny Bibby  scored a hat-trick while Jordan Davies, Will Cliff, Addison and Tom Brady  also helped themselves to tries.

Newcastle then booked their  place in the finals with a comfortable 19-10 over Worcester, Hodgson again  scoring from an offload from Luke Eves.

Fielden again got on the scoresheet, along with Mark Wilson to put Newcastle clear before a Sam  Miller double gave the score some respectability.

Falcons were able to overcome  the challenge of back-to-back games in their following clash with Leicester,  crushing the Tigers 41-7 after conceding early on.

Tahir El Mahdi pounced to give Tigers the early lead but two tries from Chris Pilgrim, as well as scores  from Wilson, Richard Mayhew, Alex Tait, Will Chudley and Aaron Myers, were  enough for a convincing win.

That set up a winner-takes-all  clash in the final match between hosts Sale and Worcester, and the Sharks  gave the visitors no chance as they coasted to 45-12 win.

Interview with Luke Fielden, Newcastle Falcons

Martin Bayfield reflects on the performances of Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks

Interviews with Nick Heath - Talking Rugby 

Win 4 tickets for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Final

Photograph: onEdition

Onthetryline has teamed up with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, official sponsors of the Premiership Rugby 7’s Series 2011 to bring you an opportunity to be at the Stoop next Friday to enjoy the final round showdown between Harlequins, Bath, Saracens, London Wasps, Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks. 

For your chance to win four tickets all you have to do is answer the simple question below by 9.00 a.m. Thursday 4 August.

Send your entry to and provide contact details including a telephone number. Tickets will be collected at the ground.

At which ground did Saracens secure last year's J.P.Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s title?

a. Vicarage Road
b. Welford Road
c. The Recreation Ground

Tickets for the final of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s  are available through  Ticketmaster or by calling 0844 847 2492.

Follow the build up to the finals @jpmorganrugby7s and on facebook 

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Worcester bring in Betty

Worcester have secured the services of flanker Sam Betty from Cornish Pirates.

Betty moves to the Aviva Premiership club after failing to earn promotion with the Pirates last season and will join up with his new side for their pre-season tour of Geneva including friendlies against Melbourne Rebels and Argentina.

The promising flanker becomes Worcester’s 12th signing of the summer as they build a squad capable of securing their top-flight status following promotion from Division One last season.

Sports betting  pundits note how Betty is likely to be an ideal replacement for former captain Pat Sanderson, who is battling to be fit for the start of the new campaign due to a shoulder injury he sustained in the play-off final win over Bristol in March.

Worcester head coach Richard Hill. is remaining coy over Sanderson’s chances of being fit for the start of the Premiership season in September.

he said: "Pat has taken longer than he, and we, would have liked to repair, and he remains in rehabilitation with us.”

Wasps also have a new arrival with Paul Turner joining the backroom staff.

The 51-year-old joins the club as a consultant attack and skills coach and has been brought in by new director of rugby Dai Young.

Turner, who has represented Wales, has coaching experience after spending six seasons with Newport-Gwent Dragons in the Magners league and also having spells at top-flight sides Sale and Harlequins.

Turner was delighted with the move.

He said: “To join a club of Wasps' calibre is a great opportunity for me. Wasps have always been a club I admired and respected and I am delighted to be back coaching in the Premiership.”

Turner has had some controversy in the past and left the Dragons on the back of a run-in with the Welsh Rugby Union after criticising the handling of club players, while he has also had trouble with a journalist following the Dragons disappointing spells in the league and Heineken Cup.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Steyn running out of chances, says de Villiers

South Africa’s head coach Peter de Villiers has admitted that Springboks utility man Morne Steyn is fast running out of opportunities to prove his worth ahead of the World Cup later this year.

The fly-half has been switched to full-back for South Africa’s crucial Tri Nations clash against New Zealand this weekend with Patrick Lambie stepping into his position at ten after the Bulls player struggled to control the tempo of South Africa’s defeat in their Tri Nations opener against Australia last week.

De Villiers, whose own performance has come in for criticism of late after his decision to rest twenty players for the game against Australia, revealed that Steyn must show the form that made him one of the most feared players in the world in 2009 or face being left at home for the World Cup.

Speaking to IOL de Villiers said: “Sometimes tough decisions need to be made before a World Cup, and for Morné this could be the last chance, or the only chance, for him to get back the form that made him invincible in 2009,"

"All of us go through patches in our lives, especially rugby players, and then they need people to give them a chance.”

"One of his greatest (and unknown) attributes is his organisation skills within the team. From early on in his time with the Boks he contributed significantly to the discussion of senior players regarding game plans. He has been a great youngster to have on board." He added.

Whether Steyn’s future with the South African national side is at 10 remains to be seen. Lambie is being auditioned for the role against the All Blacks but Butch James may well be the man for the job come September, with the ex-Bath player’s boots for new season remaining unsoiled as he stays back at base as one of the many Springbok’s resting up with injury.

"We will make those decisions (about fly-half) in good time," de Villiers commented.

"I am not in a hurry, and there is still a Currie Cup to field players (such as James) and keep an eye on them.”

"I don't have favourites and I don't have friends because they tend to let you down, as do players, but if the players understand that they can bring hope to their country by playing well, they should go to the World Cup and not stay at home."

Newcastle look to be favourites for JP Morgan Rugby Sevens Success

Last year's losing finalists, Newcastle Falcons will be looking to secure their place in next week's final showdown of the J.P.Morgan Assest Managment Premiership Rugby 7s tonight at Edgeley Park.  They name a strong squad for tonight's third leg of the series.

Luke Fielden, the Falcons top try scorer last year is included along with Luke Eves, Chris Pilgrim and Alex Tait also with premiership experience. They will be joined by new signings Ryan Shortland, Will Chudley and Richard Mayhew along with talented fly half, Joel Hodgson.

Sale Sharks name a squad described by Sharks’ Academy / Transition Coach Pete Anglesea as a "young team, a highly energetic team and a highly skilled team."

Twenty two year old, Will Cliff captains the squad and he is joined by Will Addison who came to the fore at the end of last season with some fine performances on the wing in the premiership. Anglesea added:

“We’ve picked a squad that has got a huge amount of ambition. There are some faces whom people won’t have seen before, plus several who played for the Jets last year. We want to play exciting rugby at a quick tempo. We’re using this tournament as a stepping stone to put lads under pressure, to see where they’re up to at the start of the season.”

Leicester have named a youthful squad with Alex Lewington, the 19-year-old Academy wing and full-back, captaining the squad. Wing Lee Robinson, who scored 45 tries in just over 100 appearances for Bristol Rugby and made his Tigers debut in the Aviva Premiership fixture away to Saracens last season, provides senior experience.

Tigers also include lock Rob Conquest, centre Ed Rolston and back-rower Jethro Rawling, who all played their part in the success of the Tigers Development XV in securing last season's Aviva Premiership A League title.

Worcester Warriors hand their recent signing from Montauban and former England Sevens international, Danny Gray his club debut and the fly half will line up alongside utility back Mike Penn, who is named captain. Andy Short and Matt Kvesic who both impressed for England Under 20 in the Junior World Championships will also feature for the Warriors.

After only predicting two of the four qualifiers from the first two legs, I cautiously go for Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks to qualify for next next week's final at the Stoop.

Listen to a preview of the third leg of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Sevens including interviews from Nick Heath, Talking Rugby

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Please Saracens do not mess about with the Heineken Cup

Edward Griffiths, the Chief Executive of Saracens assertion that the club as "genetically innovative" is certainly laudable and a reflection of the club's desire to develop in the forthcoming years. Too often a "change is bad" mentality has pervaded rugby, but,and a big but, there are ideas and there are ideas. 

I have written previously on the subject of Saracens plans for an artificial pitch at their new stadium. In wake up Saracens and smell the plastic - shame about the pitch! I questioned whether rugby really needed a state of the art 3G pitch. What was even more disturbing for me was the support they seemed to receive from Premiership Rugby, The RFU and the IRB for such an idea.

So now we have the idea floated of Saracens playing their home Heineken Cup fixture with Biarritz in Cape Town in January. First revealed in Telegraph Sport, an ERC spokesman last week indicated that the “ERC has asked Saracens to provide further detail regarding the proposed fixture before any decision is reached,”

So Mr Griffiths and your board just a few questions.

  • Why would you wish in effect to surrender home advantage?
  • Why would you wish to alienate a supporter base who waived at times last season and deny them an all important home European game.?
  • Do you understand the essence and ethos of the Heineken Cup. Home games against French opposition in deepest January - just wonderful stuff!
  • Have you thought about Biarritz's mindset? Difficult game at Vicarage Road or the sun on their backs in Cape Town?
  • Finally - Will sense prevail?

Monday, 25 July 2011

Win 4 tickets for the J.P.Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series at Sale Sharks

While Saracens cruised through to the finals of the JP Morgan Asset  Management 7s it was the hosts and one of my pre-tournament favourites, Northampton Saints, who disappointed a vocal home crowd. In the end it was London Wasps who secured the second final place with a 19-7 win over Northampton.

James Short was the star of the show running in five tries in two drubbings of Wasps and Northampton before Scott Spurling’s last-gasp effort earned a third win in a cracker against Gloucester.

That late try was enough to end Gloucester’s hopes of making the final on August 5, an under-par performance in their second game against Wasps proving decisive.

But for former England U20s winger Short the evening was just more proof that Sarries are going to be a force to be reckoned with again this season.

“We came in after winning this event last year, and obviously the Premiership final as well, so every tournament we enter, we want to win,” said Short.

“I’ve really been looking forward to it, and it was a great performance for us.

“Pace is a massive aid to my game but at Sarries the key is work rate, we pride ourselves on it and I think that was on show again.

“Now we have the Stoop coming up, and we’ll be looking to win that.”

Hosts Northampton made a poor start to the tournament when they threw away a half-time lead against a Mark Woodrow inspired Gloucester and fell to a 26-14 defeat.

Scores from Anders Mogensen and Scott Armstrong had the home side in front but Gloucester responded with four tries of their own from Woodrow, Gareth Evans twice and Fred Burdon.

Saracens then opened up their defence with a convincing 22-14 win against London rivals Wasps, Short and Chris Wyles scoring two tries apiece.

Wasps bounced back from that defeat in style as they put Gloucester to the sword in a five-try 31-5 victory.

Scores from Will Robinson, Joseph Tariperiajua and Charlie Ingalls saw the London side take a comfortable lead before late tries from Mark Billings and Jonah Holmes added a touch of gloss to the scoreline.

Sarries' try-scoring form continued into their second game as Short really cut loose scoring a hat trick in a 29-7 win against a demoralised Northampton.

Then in the encounter of the night a last-gasp score by Saracens hooker Spurling saw the defending champions seal their passage through to the final at the expense of Gloucester.

In a quite enthralling game Saracens made it three wins from three as they emerged 28-22 victors against a Cherry and White side who pushed them all the way.

In the final game of the round a fine Tariperiajua try inspired Wasps to an impressive 19-7 win against hosts Northampton that confirmed their place in the final alongside Saracens.

The London side knew that to go through they had to beat a Saints outfit that were only playing for pride and they bounced back from an early Tom Collins score to emerge comfortable victors.

Competition to win 4 tickets for this Friday

Once again Onthetryline have has teamed up with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, official sponsors of the Premiership Rugby 7’s Series 2011 to bring you an opportunity to be at Edgeley Park, Stockport this Friday to see Sale Sharks, Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons and Worcester Warriors  in the third leg of the series.

For your chance to win four tickets to this evening of summer rugby, all you have to do is answer the simple question below by 9.00 a.m. Thursday 28 July.

Send your entry to and provide contact details including a telephone number. Tickets will be collected at the ground.

How many tries did James Short score against Northampton Saints last week?

a. 1
b. 3
c. 2

Tickets for every round of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series are available through  Ticketmaster or by calling 0844 847 2492.

Highlights from Franklin Gardens

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Tough start for Heineken finalists

2010/11 Heineken Cup winners Leinster have been handed an away tie at European top flight newcomers Montpellier to begin their defence of their continental crown. Montpellier, who were Top 14 finalists last season, have already confirmed that they intend to move the fixture to the city’s football stadium, the 32,000+ capacity Stade de la Mosson.

Meanwhile, the Irish province have also moved quickly to confirm their round four match of the tournament, against Aviva Premiership Bath, will be moved to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the scene of respective quarter-final and semi-final triumphs over Leicester and Toulouse in 2011.

2011’s beaten finalists Northampton Saints also face an unenviable away trip to kick off their challenge to go one better next year, as they travel across the Irish sea to tackle Munster at Thomond Park.

The tournament, which begins on 11 November, is kicked off by Racing Metro and Cardiff Blues in France, whilst Harlequins will welcome tournament new boys Connacht of the RaboDirect PRO12  on the same evening.

English champions Saracens kick off their European campaign with a home tie against Italian outfit Benetton Treviso.  Sarries have also confirmed that their clash with Welsh region Ospreys will be played at Wembley, continuing the link between the club and the home of football, which will now head into its third season.

Sports betting pundits are also reporting that the club will also move their Aviva Premiership home game against Harlequins to the 90,000 capacity ground.

Elsewhere, the opening round of fixtures pits Aironi against Leicester Tigers, London Irish at home to Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors hosting Bath and Gloucester away to Toulouse.

Welsh teams Ospreys and Scarlets are at home to Biarritz and Castres Olympique respectively, whilst Ulster will welcome ASM Clermont Auvergne to Ravenhill.

The 17th Heineken Cup final will be played at Twickenham in 2012, on the weekend of the 19-20 May.  Place your sports bets now!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

First trailer released for the official video game of the Rugby World Cup 2011

Yesterday saw the launch of the first trailer for the eagerly awaited Rugby World Cup 2011 video game for the  Xbox 360 and PS3™ and everything points to it being a great gaming experience.

From HB Studios who are the creators behind Rugby 08 and International video game publishers, 505 Games, this first trailer shows all the heavy hitting action fans will experience from the official video game of this years Rugby World Cup.

Launching on 26 August , the game promises to give rugby fans what they have been waiting for.  From the warm ups right through to the finals, players will have to take on the world as they negotiate their way through 20 teams in stunning national stadia, official strips and logo’s and uncanny player likeness and minute detail.

Rugby Spectator got to try out the game a couple of weeks ago and read his review here. It was thumbs up with an 8/10 rating.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Saints and Saracens look to be favourites for the JP Morgan Sevens

Last year's winners, Saracens have once again shown a commitment to the  J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series by naming a strong looking squad for tonight's leg of the series at Franklin Gardens.

While Nils Mordt who captained the side last year is unavailable as a result of recent surgery, he will be on hand as he coaches the squad tonight. Experienced American international and first team regular, Chris Wyles will captain the side and he will be joined by flying winger, James Short, Rodd Penney, Jackson Wray and England Under 20 full back, Ben Ransom. Josh Bassett, playing as a guest from partner club, the Bedford Blues, also joins the squad.

Northampton Saints will be hoping that a vocal home crowd will get behind their squad which is a true mix of players including two seventeen year old players  from the club's Junior Academy, Tom Collins and Jordan Husband, with the former only reaching his 17th birthday earlier this month. Experience is provided by winger Scott Armstrong, who will captain the squad and he is one of three players to have tasted first-team action for the Saints along with Academy Coach Mark Hopley and scrum-half Ryan Glynn. Alex Day, the St Joseph's College and England Under 18 scrum half in his first year in the senior academy also makes the squad.

The Saints Academy Manager Alan Dickens agreed that the tournament provides an excellent testing ground after a tough few weeks’ grafting.

“The lads have all been working incredibly hard in pre-season,” he said. “This Friday night will be a good break for them from fitness and gym work and a chance to play a highly entertaining form of the game.

“I’m sure the lads will enjoy the evening but that’s not to say we won’t be taking it seriously. It all counts towards our preparation for the 2011/12 season and we will be looking to advance to finals day again.”

London Wasps name a predominately young squad and have not included any of their players who featured in the recent Junior World Championships for England U20. Recent signings, Chris Mayor and Ryan Davis will be expected to provide leadership and experience.

With the first team squad flying out to Portugal for a pre-season training camp early next week, Gloucester name a young and inexperienced squad made up players from the academy and Hartpury College along with Waylon Glasson, the former Bristol, Dings Crusaders and Moseley scrum half and the very experienced England Counties player, Mark Woodrow. Dan Robson who featured in the tournament last year, plays his first rugby since representing England U20s in the Junior World Cup.

Harry Ellis, the former Leicester Tigers scrum half reflects on the JP Morgan Sevens Series - Listen

Audio courtesy of Talking Rugby 

Tickets for every round of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series are available through  Ticketmaster or by calling 0844 847 2492.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Win 4 tickets for the J.P.Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series in Northampton

As I anticipated in my pre-tournament post,  Harlequins duly secured a place in the final of the  J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series with a commanding performance on Friday evening. A young Quins side showed themselves to be a potent sevens outfit racking up 15 tries and only conceding three scores in beating Bath 24-5, a disappointing Exeter 36-0 and London Irish 26-12.

After finishing last season by lifting the Amlin Challenge Cup, full-back Ross Chisholm believes there’s no better way for Quins to kick start their new campaign than adding another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet.

“It would be massive if we could back up the Amlin Challenge Cup by winning at the Stoop. “It keeps that buzz going and the whole aim of the club is to win as many trophies as we can and the J.P. Morgan Sevens Trophy is a very important priority to us." he commented.

“I think playing in front of a home crowd at the Stoop will be a big advantage because they always support us well.

“It will be a good chance to run out in front of our own fans and show them what we can do.

“Hopefully this will be the start of more opportunities to perform at the Stoop because everyone at Quins loves playing there. We are really well followed and that gives you a massive buzz.”

Surprise package of the evening was a very young and inexperienced Bath side. While Quins’ progress to the final was a procession, Bath’s place was only secured by points difference ahead of Exeter who beat them 21-17 in the final match of the evening.

Tom Heathcote’s double helped secure the hosts’ passage by the narrowest of margins as they were roared on by the majority of the 4020 crowd inside the Rec. That spelt the end of both London Irish and Exeter’s campaigns despite the best efforts of the Exiles’ 17-year-old livewire Anthony Watson and the Chiefs’ Jack Arnott.

Once again Onthetryline have has teamed up with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, official sponsors of the Premiership Rugby 7’s Series 2011 to bring you an opportunity to be at Franklin Gardens this Friday to see Northampton Saints, Gloucester Rugby, London Wasps and last year’s winners, Saracens in the second leg of the series.

For your chance to win four tickets to this evening of summer rugby, all you have to do is answer the simple question below by 9.00 a.m. Thursday 21 July.

Who was named as Man of the Tournament for the first leg of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series at Bath last Friday.

a) Will Skuse
b) Charlie Walker
c) Jack Arnott
d) Ross Chisholm

Send your entry to and provide contact details including a telephone number. Tickets will be collected at the ground.

Tickets for every round of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series are available through  Ticketmaster or by calling 0844 847 2492.

Highlights from Bath

What's is your sports bag Danny and Mark? A black shirt?

Recently onthetryline reported on Danny Care's new role as a Social Media Ambassador with Eden Park. Along with his role Danny will be featured in the brand’s latest PR campaign wearing Eden Park’s official RFU Collection.

We now feature him in an equipio video explaining the contents of his kit bag and we also have a video of Mark Cueto being interviewed at the recent National Tag Festival.

The big question for both players is whether they will be pulling on the newly coveted Black Shirt on Saturday 10 September in England's opening World Cup game against Argentina in Dunedin.

Friday, 15 July 2011

England's new change kit is black!

JP Morgan Sevens gets underway with Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins favourites to qualify tonight

The much awaited JP Morgan Asset Management Sevens gets underway tonight at Bath and it promises to be an action packed four weeks ahead of us. Last year's inaugural competition drew some good crowds and the organisers are hoping that once again supporters will once again enjoy some highly entertaining evenings of rugby.

As was the case last year, the majority of the squads will consist of Academy players or players on the fringe of first team squads. It will also be interesting to see whether some of the England Sevens squad are drafted in to the competition from next week.

Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins will go in tonight's leg as favourites with both teams looking a little more experienced than both London Irish and hosts Bath.

Exeter will be captained  by hooker, Chris Whitehead who joined the Chiefs prior to the 2010/11 season from London Wasps. Their squad also includes first team players, Mark Foster and James Phillips. England Under 18 fly half, Henry Slade is also selected along with Exeter University students, Matt Goddard, Giles Archer and Mike Canty.

Harlequins are able to draw upon the experience of England Sevens player Ollie Lindsay Hague who has competed in eleven World Series events. The 20 year old former Millfield student who has spent the last two seasons on loan to Rosslyn Park is looking forward to challenging for the title and using the tournament as a stepping stone for a place in the 15 a-side squad come the start of the season.

 "I've never competed in the JP Morgan before but from what I have heard about the players involved it's going to be tough.

"I really enjoy sevens and have got a good amount of experience playing it so hopefully this will be a chance to prove myself and get a chance in the 15-man format of the game."

Guy Armitage will return to action following his successful involvement with the England U20’s team at the Junior World Championships to take his place in a young looking London Irish side. Dave Sisi, who made his first appearance for London Irish last season in the LV=Cup against Sale, has been selected along with Jack Moates, Ben Pritchard and James Lightfoot-Brown.

London Irish coach Neal Hatley said: “We are relishing the chance to test ourselves against three very good teams. It is an important opportunity to involve some of our young players and give them the experience of playing competitively against some top quality opponents.”

Bath Rugby Academy fly half Paul Roberts, who recently represented England Students, will captain a youthful side, made up of current and new Academy players, eight of which who have represented England at various age group levels. Back row forwards, Will Skuse and James Stephenson look to be key players for a Bath side that will certainly be seen as underdogs on the night.

Sam Smith, the Harlequins winger reflects on the challenge of adapting to the shorter form of the game. Listen

Chris Whitehead comments on the Chiefs preparation for the forthcoming season. Listen 

Audio courtesy of Talking Rugby 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

RFU to close

After a difficult period of in-fighting, subterfuge and mismanagement, reports which as yet remain unconfirmed, are emerging from Twickenham that the RFU is to close with immediate effect.

It is understood that the startling decision is a consequence of a number of recent events rather than specifically the result of Sunday's acrimonious RFU Council meeting. Critics of the RFU are likely to see this latest decision as a cynical manoeuvre to prevent the publication of Judge Jeff Blackett's damning 52 page report on the sacking of John Steele and the procedures for the recruitment of a Performance Director. One of the eleven recommendations of the report included a call for the Chairman and eight of the none non-executives of the RFU board to stand down.

A reliable source has indicated that the timing of Sunday's meeting proved to be a bit too much for some of the council members after a jolly at the Middlesex Sevens and then the President's dinner in the evening. In addition to those who failed to even read the report before the meeting, a handful were asleep and missed the dramatic moment when Blackett interupted his presentation to read out an email from Martin Thomas's solicitors.

How the vacuum caused by the closure of the World's greatest rugby union is to be filled is not yet clear. Fellow red top rugby union, the Welsh Rugby Union could  be interested in subsuming the RFU, although they may have to compete against some of the other home unions. We may also see a move to split the amateur and professional game and new governing bodies emerge from the wreckage of recent months.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Win tickets for the J.P.Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series in Bath

Onthetryline has teamed up with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, official sponsors of the Premiership Rugby 7’s Series 2011 to bring you a storming night out. 

We are offering one lucky reader 4  tickets to watch Bath at The Recreation Ground take on London Irish, Harlequins and Exeter Chiefs on Friday 15th July (kick-off 7.30pm).  The top two Clubs will win a place at the Series final on Friday 5 August at the Stoop. 

The 2011 Series promises to be full of high octane, fast paced rugby giving you the chance to see some of the UK’s finest sevens players in action. With six games during the evening, family entertainment and live music it is the place to be to get your summer rugby fix.

Friday 22nd July, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton 
Gloucester Rugby, London Wasps, Northampton Saints, Saracens

Friday 29th July, Edgeley Park, Stockport 
Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks, Worcester Warriors

For your chance to win four tickets to this evening of summer rugby, all you have to do is answer the simple question below. 

Who won the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7’s Series 2010?

(a)  Sales Sharks
(b)  Saracens
(c)  Leicester Tigers

email you answer and contact details to

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Onthetryline “Old School” guide to Rugby World Cup preparation

In contrast with the extensive and costly preparation enjoyed by some of the leading rugby nations, a number of the lesser countries who frankly have not got a hope of World Cup glory have adopted the Onthetryline “Old School” Rugby World Cup Preparation Programme.

The programme was offered to Wales and Scotland but they have currently adopted a different approach.

The  programme is certainly more cost effective and relies on some of the key elements of the good old amateur days with the motto -  “Non Painus Plentius Gainus ”

Training /Fitness Testing 
It would be good to get together around mid August initially for a bit of touch and then starting to build up for the tournament – some moves might be introduced for the backs and it will be good to have decided on four or five line out moves by early September. It should be possible to organize three sessions a week and expect each player to be present for at least two of them.

There is no need to worry about any fitness testing as players can get fit through some touch and by playing in the early group matches. There are bound some players who have enjoyed some time off so coaches should not worry about those who have put on a bit of weight. Remember rugby is a game for all sizes – fatty props are ok.

Team Bonding
Little need to go on expensive camps or to employ some fancy so called experts. If you want your players to experience the cold send them to the nearest meat packaging factory. If you think it is useful to climb on a stack of crates just let them drink a load of beer and then try some balancing games. The long flight also offers excellent opportunities for the development of team spirit – we fully endorse the hydration programme used by Australian cricketer, David Boon in 1989 en route to England for an Ashes Tour.

Video Analysis
Not required – it can be depressing watching your next opponents knowing that they are going to give you a good beating. Just play your own game and see what happens.

It might be good to watch some sports films and in particular some boxing movies – Rocky should get the boys going.

Team Base
Seclusion and privacy is not required. It is better to be in a city and part of an entertainment complex. It saves on travel and meets all the important post match requirements. A bit of land to train on is useful but not totally essential.

Code of Conduct
It is unlikely that such a code will be required – the programme allows for the squad to go with the flow. Adaptability, flexibility and tolerance are important. Players should be actively encouraged to communicate via all social media channels – transparency is the watch word.

Pre-match Warm Up
Stay in the changing room. It creates some doubt in the opposition, helps save energy and avoids injuries. Players can do their own stretching and then come together for some very loud stamping of studs and aggressive chanting of one to ten.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Rugby and Blogging - not a happy combination in China

I have spent the last couple of weeks in China and I had hoped to update onthetryline as I visited various cities. This was not to be the case as it soon became apparent after crossing from Hong Kong in to Guandong Province that I was no longer able to access the site or Blogger. The B word is clearly not appreciated and while I was aware that a ban had been put in place as early as 2006, I had thought that things had moved on I am now coming to terms with the fact that my plan for expansion in the most populous country in the world will have to be reviewed. Little did I know that my utterings on rugby might be seen as being inappropriate or even subversive!

There is clearly a surge in interest in rugby and in particular in sevens. As with many emerging rugby nations it is the shortened game that has captured the imagination possibly to the determent of the  development of the 15-a-side game. While I was in China, the national side defeated Guam 28-18 in the final of the HSBC Asian Five Nations Division Three Tournament in Jakarta. The victory not only earned China promotion but also a jump of two places in the world rankings to 63.

With the government backing the sevens game, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the 15-a-side game to access the funds and the players in order for further development. A strong advocate of the 15s game in China is veteran 38 year old player Johnny Zhang Zhiqiang who was recalled from retirement to lead the side in Jakarta.

"I still hold out hope for the 15s game in China, although everything today is about sevens" commented the veteran who scored a hat trick of tries against Guam.

"This is what China needs: a strong and domestic 15s competition. It is only the universities and the Peoples Liberation Army who play 15s" Zhang said.

The current national team mainly consists of students from China Agricultural University in Beijing some of whom have very little experience of the game. One example is 21 year old, Li Haiyang who has only been playing for two years and is in his first year at the university.

There is no doubt that the inclusion of sevens in the Olympics has been an important catalyst for the growth of the sport across the country. Twelve of China's twenty two provinces have taken it up in preparation for the highly important 2013 China National Games in Liaoning Province. Each of the competing provinces have strong governmental support with the players selected being considered of an elite level and being provided with a "guaranteed lifestyle" until 2013.

There is a sense that China is on the move when it comes to sevens and it will be very interesting to see the pace at which the national squad develops and truly competes on the world stage whether it is the Olympics or the IRB World Series.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Danny goes digital for Eden Park!

While the All Blacks have put a ban on all social media channels for the duration of the World Cup it looks like that England scrum half, Danny Care will be rather busy on Twitter and Facebook as he takes on the role of Eden Park's new Social Media Ambassador.

Eden Park, the official formalwear supplier of the England rugby team hope that Danny Care will be keeping rugby fans up to date on all the activity happening during the forthcoming Rugby World 2011 Cup via Facebook and Twitter.

With a strong Twitter following in existence it is anticipated that Danny Care can now offer his followers and Eden Park’s Facebook fans, a whole host of Eden Park freebies plus insider knowledge into his training and preparations ahead of the tournament.

Along with his role Danny will be featured in the brand’s latest PR campaign wearing Eden Park’s official RFU Collection. The collection features a selection of England Rugby branded shirts, chinos, jackets and polo shirts and is available for fans to purchase at Eden Park stores and the RFU store in Twickenham.

Franck Mesnel, Eden Park Founder commented:

"Working with Danny means Eden Park can keep rugby fans up to date with the latest rugby and fashion news on Facebook and via Twitter. Danny’s personality reflects the brand’s irreverent style and sense of fun and we can now offer our UK consumers some exclusive behind the scenes pictures and news.”

Danny Care, commented: “I have been a fan of Eden Park ever since I started playing rugby, because of their unique heritage and style. Working as the online ambassador I hope I can give Eden Park consumers and rugby fans a good insight into what is happening over the summer and what life is like off the pitch during the IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand."

For more information check out and follow the England Scrum Half on his twitter page.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Ben Ainslie joins Harlequins Sevens Squad to stay fit for purpose

Triple Olympic gold and silver medallist, Ben Ainslie CBE, joined Premiership Rugby Club Harlequins for a pre-season training session late last week.

The sailor was at the club’s training base at Surrey Sports Park to compare fitness programs and to see how the club’s sevens squad are preparing themselves for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series 2011 which kicks off on Friday 15 July at The Recreation Ground in Bath. 

Ainslie, who is focusing on his fitness training in his bid to compete at the London Olympic Games in 2012, joined England sevens player Ollie Lindsay-Hague and the rest of the club’s sevens squad for an intensive, four hour training session. The training included a conditioning session, aimed at the athlete’s aerobic fitness, followed by a session in the Sports Park’s science unit to test Ainslie’s vision and decision making ability. After a short break the training continued with some strength work in the gym and a series of ball handling drills on the club’s practices pitches.      

Harlequins winger and England sevens player, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, commented:

“It’s not every day you get to train with a world class athlete so today has been a very special experience for me and the lads. As an Olympic athlete Ben keeps himself very fit, so we weren’t the least bit surprised with how well he coped with the conditioning training and some of the gym work. He’s a very impressive man and a fine athlete. It was great to get a few stories out of him about his Olympic experiences and how he prepares both physically and mentally ahead of competition. The lads in the sevens squad will certainly take a lot out of today as we prepare for the J.P. Morgan sevens in July.”

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series 2011 kicks off on Friday 15 July at The Recreation Ground in Bath where Harlequins face Exeter Chiefs, London Irish and the home side Bath. Quins will be hoping to qualify for the finals at The Stoop on Friday 5 August.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at or by calling 0844 847 2492.