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Royal Wootton Bassett RFC given leg up by local Henchman ladder company to practice lineouts like Gallagher Premiership stars



ROYAL Wootton Bassett have taken a page from the Premiership playbook as the first team from outside the top flight to use a unique ladder for lineout practice.

Eddie Jones’ England team, as well as a host of Premiership outfits, use a Henchman tripod ladder for working on lineout throwing – and now Bassett are among them.

Wiltshire-based safety ladder specialist Henchman donated the ladder to the club during the recent Rugby World Cup, the formal presentation made by the company’s general manager, Michael Byers, before Bassett’s recent victory over Buckingham.

The club, which was recently named the groundroots rugby level six club of the month by the RFU, is going from strength to strength. They have over 900 members and a full range of teams, including thriving youth boys and girls sides.

Director of rugby Alan Low said: “We have definitely seen an improvement in lineout performance since Henchman kindly donated the tripod ladder to our club.

“Hookers across all teams in the club are getting a lot of use out of it and in this recent spell of bad weather players have been able to use it indoors to practice on their own.”

Henchman sent the England Rugby squad a ladder to its Pennyhill Park training ground after managing director Tom Kitching saw footage of forwards coach Steve Borthwick wobbling on a traditional stepladder during lineout practice before the 2019 Six Nations.

A tripod ladder was used by England in Japan during the Rugby World Cup and a Henchman is now a key part of training in top-level rugby.

The ladder was used for a BBC Radio Wilshire photocall at Bassett earlier this year as part of its Rugby World Cup coverage.

Byers said: “I had no idea what to expect, so when we turned up to this amazing facility, full of enthusiastic club members and players we were very impressed.

“As a local company we are keen to support the community we serve and when a club official asked me how much it might cost to buy the ladder we were more than happy to say, ‘keep it – with our compliments’.”

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World Cup

Andrew Mehrtens claims New Zealand should not get to host games in 2027 Rugby World Cup



Crusaders and All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens (L), pictured with Justin Marshall in 2015, says New Zealand should not get World Cup games if Australia hosts the 2027 tournament.

Martin Hunter/Getty Images

Crusaders and All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens (L), pictured with Justin Marshall in 2015, says New Zealand should not get World Cup games if Australia hosts the 2027 tournament.

Former All Blacks star Andrew Mehrtens says Australia should host the 2027 Rugby World Cup in its own right and not allocate pool games to New Zealand.

Australia are bidding for the right to stage the tournament for the first time since hosting the 2003 event.


It would be the first time the All Blacks have ever played at the rugby league fortress.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan told Sky TV’s Breakdown programme last year that he was open to New Zealand hosting some pool games.

“We want to win it and if you got a few pool games or a pool, I’d be up for that,” McLennan said. “At the end of the day there is a lot of history between.’’

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Mehrtens wrote in his Sydney Morning Herald column on Saturday that he thought New Zealand would be “expecting to be given some matches but, realistically, that would be nothing more than an act of goodwill because financially Australia would lose out significantly. We’re talking tens of millions of dollars.

Caleb Clarke of the All Blacks makes a break during a 2020 Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies at Eden Park.

Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Caleb Clarke of the All Blacks makes a break during a 2020 Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies at Eden Park.

“Kiwis, if you’re prepared to go to France for the 2023 tournament, you can make your way to Australia. Three weeks in France will cost about the same as attending the whole tournament here, and throw in a Pacific island holiday on the way home.

“Do yourself a favour, get across the ditch, get some sun and enjoy the tournament.’’

New Zealand was due to jointly host the 2003 Rugby World Cup, but had its sub-hosting status stripped by the International Rugby Board after failing to meet some key criteria, including the ability to deliver “clean’’ stadia devoid of advertising and sponsorship content.

Mehrtens, who played in the 1995 and 1999 Rugby World Cups in his 70-test career – wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald that there were “so many advantages to having the World Cup in Australia and the marquee tournament needs to come back to the southern hemisphere”.

“It will be 16 years since New Zealand hosted it in 2011, with the tournaments in between having been hosted by England, Japan and then France in two years’ time.’’

Russia are the only other country to have expressed an interest in staging the 2027 tournament.

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Covid concerns could force Rugby League World Cup postponement or Kiwi players pulling out



A decision will be made next month on whether the Rugby League World Cup will take place this year, but NZRL CEO Greg Peters is hopeful it goes ahead and also that New Zealand teams are involved.

The World Cup is scheduled to take place in England in October and November, with the Kiwis, Kiwi Ferns and a New Zealand team for the physical disability tournament all expected to be involved.

However, because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and the requirement for quarantine for two weeks on return from the UK, there’s no guarantee it will happen this year.

Given that so many of the players who’ll play in the World Cup will be heading there from New Zealand and Australia, if there is a significant number who don’t want to spend two weeks in quarantine after the tournament, it would force organisers to postpone it until 2022.

* No test for Kiwis in June, but clash against Tonga in Auckland likely in October
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* NZRL look at Kiwis playing in November as State of Origin dates open window

Peters says he remains hopeful that the World Cup will go ahead as planned.

“From the organiser’s perspective and the federations participating, we are working 100 per cent to try to make it happen, but we recognise the significant challenges that are still in front of us and the uncertainty of the current environment,” Peters said.

Kiwi players like Ken Maumalo, who are also with the Warriors, may decide they've made enough sacrifices over the last two season and could skip the World Cup.

Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Kiwi players like Ken Maumalo, who are also with the Warriors, may decide they’ve made enough sacrifices over the last two season and could skip the World Cup.

Although the UK does appear to be getting a grip on the pandemic, it’s unlikely the New Zealand and Australian governments will lift requirements for people returning home to spend two weeks in a managed isolation facility.

“We’ve spoken to our player groups and there are concerns,” Peters said.

“But the messages we’ve had back is that they would be prepared to do that for a World Cup.

“Having said that, that might not be 100 per cent of the people, because we haven’t spoken to everyone individually.

“We spoke to both our player groups as recently as this week and there was some positivity, but what they really want is clarity on what the Covid protocols are around attending will be.

New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters says players want to go to the Rugby League World Cup, but recognises that there are significant challenges to overcome.

Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters says players want to go to the Rugby League World Cup, but recognises that there are significant challenges to overcome.

“That’s the uncertain part, because a lot can change between now and October, November.”

Ultimately, it will be the NRL players who’ll decide if the World Cup goes ahead as planned.

If the Kangaroos and Kiwis send understrength squads, it would make the tournament pointless.

Lina Caccamo, general manager of elite women and international relations at the RLPA says they’ve been working closely with organisers, to get the players’ input into what should happen.

“With us being involved from the beginning, we have a lot of confidence in the work that they’re doing, but what’s difficult for them is that they don’t know what the situation is going to look like come October, November,”Caccamo said.

“So for them to make a hard and fast decision based on what’s happening now, is difficult because they don’t want to jump the gun too early, but when does it become too late for the players, who are trying to manage their lives and make plans?”

Caccamo said the players’ association won’t be the ones making the final decision on whether the World Cup goes ahead, but they are expecting organisers to make a call in a few weeks’ time.

“It’s not our place to enforce a deadline date, that’s for the nations to negotiate with the Rugby League World Cup.” she said.

“We do believe that we’re coming up to the time when players need to start making decisions.

“The World Cup has said to the playing group that June will be when they make a final decision, so we’re following up with them on that and it’s coming up pretty soon.”

Rugby League World Cup has agreed to cover the quarantine costs for players and staff once they return home, something which would have cost the NZRL over $300,000. However, the NZRL could have to keep paying the players for those two weeks.

Caccamo says it could be a case that the World Cup goes ahead, but with some players deciding to stay home.

“The World Cup will provide Covid protocols and biosecurity measures for them to give feedback on in the coming weeks,” she said.

“It will be interesting to see how players respond to that and if they feel that it’s something they could undertake in order to participate.

“That should help the World Cup form a view on if they are in a position to go ahead, or if they need to postpone.”

For Warriors players, they might feel they’ve already made enough sacrifices to play footy over the last two years.

While they have had some family with them this season, that’s usually just partners and children and they’ve been away from their parents, other close relatives and friends for most of that time.

“It’s a huge sacrifice they’d be making,” Caccamo said.

“For us, it’s about ensuring they have all the information and understand the process that would have to be undertaken in order to participate.

“They’re the ones who understand the sacrifices they’re making and know how long they haven’t seen their families for.”

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Documentary follows the adventure of men who cycled 20 000 kms to deliver 2019 Rugby World Cup match whistle



The 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) will forever be etched into the memories of South Africans, but more so for two men without whom the opening match would not have taken place. Ron Rutland and James Owens took up the challenge to deliver the whistle used to signal the start of the opening match and they did so by cycling 20 000km from London, across Europe and Asia.

Fast forward almost two years, and Showmax and SuperSport will later this month, host the sport documentary Everything in Between, which follows Owen and Rutland’s epic journey.

Producers said the film delves deep into the fortitude, both physical and mental, it took to pedal across 27 countries. Also called The Race to the Rugby World Cup, it provides an inspirational exploration of human connections that transcend cultural differences and highlights how the rugby world helped raise more than R1 million for the official RWC charity, Child Fund.

Some two years in the making, the documentary was co-produced by Andrew King and Greg Fell from Cape Town production house Fell + Co.

The chief executive of World Rugby, Alan Gilpin, said what started as a rather simple but very ambitious plan turned into an epic saga.

“This film tells one of the great stories of human endeavour and sport for good, and is a fantastic tribute to Ron, James and the people they met during their race to the Rugby World Cup 2019,” he said.

Set against the backdrop of some of Eastern Europe and Western Asia’s most spectacular and rarely-seen landscapes, and overlaid with music by international composers Jason Tse (Hong Kong) and Nathaniel Edgar (Canada), as well as tracks from local South African artists Wild Eastern Arches and Alice Phoebe Lou, the endearing tales of Rutland and Owens’ encounters with the local peoples will resonate with a broad audience. According to Fell, viewers can expect a grand celebration of life from the film.

“The expedition was a mega adventure and that’s not necessarily what everyone is going to go out and do, but if you really want something badly enough – as much as Ron wanted to get that whistle to the World Cup – you can make it happen. Ron inspires people to expand their own universe,” said the production house.

The duo said the whistle idea wasn’t their first choice but turned out to be the more practical one.

“The original idea was to see if we could take a plastic replica of the RWC trophy itself, and use that as a symbol of our journey from London to Tokyo. But when I discussed this with Alan Gilpin, who being a keen cyclist himself, and therefore understanding the challenges of ‘space’, or the lack thereof, suggested we rather consider delivering the match whistle for the opening game – a much more sensible idea! This of course tied in with our expedition sponsor DHL, who are all about ‘delivery’,” they said.

While every RWC has a commemorative whistle, produced for the opening game of each tournament, this was the first time it was delivered in such a way. Planning and prepping for such a huge undertaking took the duo nine month, and to get in shape for a trek that would last 231 days.

The pair said the hardest part of their journey was being away from family and putting work on hold.

“The biggest cost is the opportunity cost of leaving your job behind and spending eight months on the road, as well as the personal cost of leaving family and friends for an extended period – but of course, these are more than outweighed by the priceless experiences of a journey like this. The people we met,and every human interaction, was a reminder of the goodness of people,” they said.

While it did take them a few months to rest their weary bones, the six weeks they spent in Tokyo and watching the Springboks win, made their adventure that much sweeter.

When they are not delivering whistles and cycling across continents, Rutland, who lives in KZN, spends his time planning future adventures and working the corporate speaking circuit.

Owens, who lives in Hong Kong, is in the Sport for Development space, working for the Hong Kong rugby community. And without giving too much away, the pair said plans are already in the making for the next Rugby World Cup in France in 2023.

Rutland and Owens concluded that Child Fund Rugby not only promotes the right to play in communities where children face challenges accessing organised sport, it also provides important learning opportunities where children can practise positive attitudes and behaviours supporting gender equality in their communities. Their adventure and the tournament itself, raised R2.5 million for Child Fund Pass It Back .

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