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George Ford’s advice for England’s new attack coach: Keep it simple, please

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Exclusive interview: Fly-half says he is looking forward to working with Simon Amor at Six Nations but does not want a revolution in style

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 9:31 am

Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 9:43 am
George Ford is one of three England fly-halves selected for the Six Nations (James Robinson/Land Rover)

Eddie Jones has yet to reveal his hand at fly-half for England’s Six Nations opener in France this Sunday but the coach’s cards are the same as the ones he dealt himself at the World Cup three months ago – a choice between George Ford and Owen Farrell to start at No 10, unless the Wasps youngster Jacob Umaga is about to receive a very unlikely promotion.

Where England are doing things differently to their rollercoaster run as runners-up to South Africa in Japan is in their line-up of coaches. Matt Proudfoot, previously with the Springboks, is now in charge of the England forwards, with Steve Borthwick redesignated as skills coach. And the biggest change is Simon Amor as attack coach in succession to Scott Wisemantel, who left for the same role with his native Australia.

As Amor’s coaching experience has been almost entirely in Sevens, it is a highly unusual appointment, leading some to identify a connection with the 40-year-old being on the books of the Rugby Football Union already, at a time when the Union is looking to control its costs.

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Almost all the England back division including the scrum-halves Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz also carried over from the World Cup, adding to the sense of player continuity at the pre-Six Nations training camp currently in Portugal. Just before the England squad left for the Algarve, Ford told i what he was expecting from Amor, who worked with the team at a handful of pre-World Cup sessions when Wisemantel was indisposed.

Simon Amor was England’s sevens coach before joining the men’s 15-a-side team (Getty Images)

“He [Amor] has a background in sevens, which is a very attacking game,” said Ford. “It is completely different and they probably think about the game a bit differently so I am massively intrigued in some of the ideas we will be doing with Simon. He is a positive guy, constantly giving you feedback. I am sure he’s watched loads of 15s, even if he might not have coached it that much.”

According to Ford, players are never consulted about the hiring of coaches, whether it is with England or with his club Leicester, where Borthwick will become head coach later this season. But Ford loves coaches who can put across the game’s inherent simplicity – and he says Jones is “incredible” at that, and Borthwick is “the best” at explaining “what you are doing and why you are doing it”.

Ford explained: “There is a lot spoken about systems and little links and intricacy, and I get all that. But I have been in environments where you focus too much on that stuff, working towards that one special move which might not even be there anyway. So what about the bloody rest of it? Rugby is an incredibly simple game. When you get the ball, where is the space? There has to be space somewhere.”

England and South Africa scrum down during the 2019 Rugby World Cup final (Getty Images)

And is there a change rugby could make to enhance that search? Ford went along with my joke that forward passes would make life simpler, and he referred laughingly to rugby league’s uncontested scrums. But then he said, more seriously, he would like union scrums restricted to two sets.

“I am not saying stop the set-piece by any stretch of the imagination,” Ford said. “But we could see a lot more ball-in-play attacking and defending if we sorted the scrum out. Maybe have a rule that you stop the clock while the scrums are reset. Or a rule that the maximum we can reset a scrum is twice. Everyone would know you have a scrum and if it goes down you have got one more chance and then it’s ‘boom’, play on, and it’s the referee’s call whether it’s a free-kick here or a free-kick there – and you can’t re-scrum, by the way, you’ve got to tap it.

“You might see less messing around. It’s something just to say you can’t come up with your little dark arts and your tricks, slowing the game down. You know the ball is going to come out and you get to play some rugby. The forwards still get their opportunity to scrum and win penalties because they get two shots at it. But it’s just not five minutes’ worth of… nothing really. Well it is something for them. But not for us.”

George Ford is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has been helping rugby fans discover the sport for over twenty years. Visit LandRover.co.uk

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7s World Cup

Blitzboks arrive early in LA for American leg of the World Sevens Series

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World Sevens rugby returns to Los Angeles and the familiar format of three knockout games after the group stage. LA plays host for the first time since 2005 after the tournament was held in San Diego and then in Las Vegas where the Blitzboks finished a lowly 7th last year. Neil Powell’s squad will have an extra day of preparation after they flew directly to Newark and on to the west coast, instead of a layover in London. The coach was satisfied with his team which shows only three changes from the Australasian leg of the World Sevens Series. He has bemoaned the postponement of the Hong Kong and Singapore tournaments due to the coronavirus which has disrupted his preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The squad will be without game time for 8 weeks between the end of the Paris tournament in May and the Rugby Sevens competition at the Olympics in late July. But he could be welcoming back a former Blitzbok stalwart. On Sunday, Rapport newspaper said Kwagga Smith would be available for the London and Paris tournaments as well as the Olympics. A member of the World Cup-winning Springbok team, Smith is currently playing in Japan for Yamaha Jubilo. – David O’Sullivan

From SARugby

Branco du Preez will play in his 74th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament, Cecil Afrika his 63rd and Werner Kok his 50th, so it is fair to say that the Blitzboks will rock up at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles with some serious experience for the HSBC LA Sevens on Saturday and Sunday.

On the other end of the Springbok Sevens scale you will find the likes of Sako Makata (seven tournaments) and Mfundo Ndhlovu (four tournaments), but both return to the USA leg of the circuit clear on what they need to do to add value to the Blitzboks’ effort on the weekend.

Makata is back in the tournament squad for the first time since June last year and Ndhlovu, the official reserve, also last played in Paris in 2019.

Makata made his World Series debut in Las Vegas a year ago and his second visit to the USA brings calm and determination to comply with his role and responsibility in the squad.

According to the former Sterling High School winger, now playing as a prop in the sevens code, getting back into the match day squad is a relief as well as a blessing.

He missed the start of the season due to an ankle injury and only made his return to the World Series last month, when he travelled to New Zealand and Australia as the official reserve. Makata was called into the squad in Sydney when Impi Visser was ruled out and played in the final against Fiji, which South Africa lost 12-10.

“I am excited to be back and that comes from some hard work behind the scenes, doing rehab and getting back to match fitness. I am pretty keen to contribute on the field now and give it my best shot,” the 22-year-old confessed.

The time off the field – excluding when he did rehabilitation and conditioning – was also spent watching the team play and learning from that, although only mentally.

“I watched the guys in my position in particular and what they were doing and what I would have done if I was in that situation,” said Makata.

“I am learning all the time and that worked for me, trying to put myself in their boots. There is often a different perspective from the outside and being in that match situation yourself and combining the two makes you better, I believe.”

Makata has now played in 26 matches and he is patiently adding to that tally: “I would have loved to have played more, but we have a big squad with a lot of quality players and coupled with my injury, I missed out.

“The importance though is grabbing this opportunity and showing that I can contribute to the squad and the system this weekend,” he said, adding that he welcomes the competition in the squad, as it improves his development as a player.

“It brings the best out in everyone and I can learn from some very experienced guys in the squad as well. It certainly improved me as a player and now I have the opportunity to convert that in the tournament.”

Ndhlovu, named as 13th player for this trip after being in the starting team last year, is also on a comeback trail after being sidelined for two months due to a hamstring injury. The laid-back Standerton-born outside back said his return to the squad is food for the soul.

“I am a religious person and believe that God will determine my destiny,” said Ndhlovu.

“I had some setbacks along the line with injury, but that made me stronger and more determined. It is great being back and I am taking in all of the experience and expertise from the senior guys.”

Ndhlovu made his debut in Hong Kong in 2018 and again featured in Paris in the same season. Last year, he played in Las Vegas and Paris and hopes for a longer run this time around.

“I certainly missed out on valuable game time in the last two years, but that was God’s plan for me, and I accept that. I am blessed to still be here and would like to make the most of the opportunities that will still come my way,” he said.

The Blitzboks are second seeds in the tournament and will play alongside Ireland, Canada and Kenya in Pool B.

Source: https://springboks.rugby/en/articles/2020/02/25/Young-Blitzboks-know-all-about-patience-and-determination



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Many achievements to be recognized at the Fiji Rugby Annual Awards – FBC News

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2019 has been a huge year for Fiji Rugby with many achievements that will be recognized this weekend at the Fiji Rugby Annual Awards.

FRU chief executive officer John O’Connor says it will be a night to recognize the hardworking staff and players under the Union banner.


“2019 has been a huge year for Fiji rugby, we celebrated the win from the HSBC World sevens series, Jerry Tuwai received the best sevens player in the world, we also had very competitive domestic competitions. Our under 20’s went and retained their position in the world rugby championship, then we had the women qualifying for the Olympics and also the Fijiana qualifying for the world cup so it’s a huge year.”

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There are 15 awards up for grabs including player of the year, the team of the year and sevens player of the year.


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7s World Cup

Star All Black Ardie Savea Considering Switch To Rugby League

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All Black loose forward Ardie Savea has floated the prospect of a shock move to rugby league, saying cross-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams inspired the idea.

Savea, whose contract with the All Blacks runs until the end of 2021, said learning a new sport would be exciting.

“I want to test myself and see if I can dominate, if I can play the way I do in union in league,” he told former NRL player Isaac John’s ‘The Ice Project’ podcast.

“Ive seen guys like Sonny do it, how it’s benefited him, and it’s kind of pondered my mind.”

Savea, 26, has a rugged, physical style would probably fit well into the 13-man code.

He is currently sidelined after suffering a knee injury during New Zealand’s semi-final loss to England at the Rugby World Cup.

Losing Savea would be a major blow for the All Blacks, who are keen to retain top talent after a string of high-profile departures following the tournament in Japan.

The bruising back-rower is seen as a likely All Blacks replacement at number eight for Kieran Read, who retired from international rugby after the England loss.

He has contemplated leaving the All Blacks before, agreeing to a deal with French club Pau in late 2018 only to stay in New Zealand after a last-minute change of mind.

Williams, 34, is currently on his third stint in rugby league playing for the Toronto Wolfpack, a sequence punctuated by two World Cup-winning periods with the All Blacks.

He also dabbled in rugby sevens and boxing.

© Agence France-Presse



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