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

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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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Rugby League World Cup blow for Newcastle as tournament to be postponed

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The Rugby League World Cup will be postponed by a year and played in 2022.

Following the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand, a series of emergency meetings have taken place between organisers and government officials, with a decision now understood to have been reached as key stakeholders are set to be informed.

Chief executive Jon Dutton confirmed last week that there was a ’50/50′ chance of the tournament taking place as planned and, following further talks over the weekend, a decision is understood to have been reached to delay the tournament which will allow all qualified nations to participate next year in England.

An official announcement is expected in the next 48 hours.

Newcastle is due to host England’s opening fixture of the tournament in October, plus three more matches at Kingston Park, with hopes that the event could give local businesses a much-needed £15m boost. That hope is now gone, with the council expected to be told this week of the delay to the tournament which has been years in the planning.

The decision is understood to have been made based on the impact to broadcast revenue along with a series of other logistical and financial reasons. The reluctance from NRL clubs to have their players attend was another factor, despite over 75% of players initially saying they had no concern about participating in a survey conducted by RLWC.

But a joint statement from NRL clubs last week put further pressure on both players and organisers.

“We all want to see a strong, safe and successful Rugby League World Cup,” Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner said.

“It’s clear that cannot be achieved in 2021, but we are in strong support for the tournament to be held in 2022. We want the players to come home healthy.”

Dutton confirmed a further player survey would take place over the weekend, which would play a major role in the decision.

Organisers will now have to rearrange all dates with the various venues.

As a result of the decision, it’s now likely that there will be calls to extend the Super League season. The competition has had its fixture schedule decimated by Covid-19 cancellations, with a number of games now set to be unplayed.

However, Hull FC owner Adam Pearson has already said the competition should extend the season if the World Cup was called off. Old Trafford, which hosts Super League’s Grand Final, was set to stage the World Cup Final on Saturday November 27th, seven weeks after the domestic season was due to finish.

However, there are already concerns that extending the season would only push back further challenges the year after, with another World Cup to consider.



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The cartoon joke that Woodward tried to make real in football

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Ex-England rugby coach Clive Woodward has reflected on his bizarre year in football’s Premier League, the 2003 World Cup winner linking up with Southampton in 2005 as part of a long-term plan to become performance director of the England Football Association. Woodward had been approached by FA CEO Mark Palios and the idea was for Woodward to be appointed along with Gerard Houllier coming in as technical director. 

Woodward, though, wanted to spend a year in club football to complete his badges and learn the ropes before making the step-up with the national association and that colourful adventure has now been recounted at length in an interview with The Athletic which begins with a humorous recollection of a back page newspaper jibe on the day that he joined the Saints in July 2005 after he had finished up with the Lions tour in New Zealand.

“On the back of the local paper the day I joined Southampton there was one of my all-time favourite cartoons,” remembered Woodward in the interview introduction in The Athletic. “There was a corner kick and two guys were lifting Peter Crouch like a second row in rugby. My immediate thought was, ‘Can you do that? Can you actually lift someone up?’. Nobody has been able to answer me to this day.

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Ex-Lions coach Graham Henry on what must be done if the Springboks are to be beaten in the third Test

“I’m thinking that if we had a guy who was as good as Jonny Wilkinson at taking a corner and we could get a touch off someone like Crouch who we would lift in the air, then we are going to gain an advantage. This all came from a cartoon that was taking the piss out of me. But I’m sat there thinking it could actually work.”

The FA’s long-term plan for Woodward was ultimately scuppered by Palios getting sacked before the time arrived to unveil the Woodward/Houllier partnership. “Trevor Brooking said, ‘This idea with Palios is gone. I don’t think football’s ready for you’,” recalled Woodward about how the idea didn’t work out as envisaged.

One thing the 2003 World Cup-winning rugby coach did pick up on, though, was a stark difference in how footballers and rugby players communicated in certain surroundings. “What I found in football was that during meetings, players wouldn’t say a word. They didn’t want to be seen putting their head above the parapet. In the modern language, that’s called ‘psychological safety’,” he explained in the interview.

“If you want to be a top coach or manager, you have to create an environment in the dressing room that allows players to feel confident enough to speak up and disagree with the manager. That is totally healthy. I was able to deliver that in rugby, but I never saw it in a football team. The players didn’t want to say a word.

“I remember Theo Walcott and his parents came to my house for dinner and you couldn’t shut them up. Stick them in a dressing room with other people and they go quiet. A few years ago (then-Bournemouth manager) Eddie Howe invited me down to speak to his team, which was fantastic, and I was hoping for loads of questions. But I hardly got any. Nothing has changed.”

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Loss of Wellington’s two All Blacks tests ‘another unavoidable consequence of Covid’, says Sky Stadium boss

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The All Blacks won’t run onto the pitch at Wellington’s Sky Stadium this year, following an announcement on Tuesday. (File photo)

Phil Walter/Getty Images

The All Blacks won’t run onto the pitch at Wellington’s Sky Stadium this year, following an announcement on Tuesday. (File photo)

Wellington has lost its two All Blacks test matches of the year, with fixtures against the Wallabies and Argentina being moved elsewhere due to the closure of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Auckland’s Eden Park will now host back-to-back Bledisloe Cup matches, meaning the highly-anticipated Beervana-Rugby test match double-header at Sky Stadium next weekend will no longer take place.

The revised schedule means Wellington will no longer host its Rugby Championship test match between the All Blacks and Argentina set down for September 18.

This scene from last year’s Bledisloe Cup match between Australia and the All Blacks won’t be repeated in 2021.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

This scene from last year’s Bledisloe Cup match between Australia and the All Blacks won’t be repeated in 2021.

The last year Wellington went without an All Blacks test was 2015 when the reigning world champions were preparing for the Rugby World Cup defence in England.

READ MORE:
* Venue for Bledisloe Cup II to be known soon as stadium sought for All Blacks test
* All Blacks lock in Bledisloe I, but in a froth over Wellington followup and Argentina tests
* All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup tests up in the air after government pauses travel bubble

Sky Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon says the decision to revoke hosting rights for the capital’s two All Blacks test matches was “another casualty in another brutal year of events”. (File photo)

Rosa Woods/Stuff

Sky Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon says the decision to revoke hosting rights for the capital’s two All Blacks test matches was “another casualty in another brutal year of events”. (File photo)

Sky Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said while he was aware of the possibility the tests might be moved over the past few days, the final decision – which he described as “one of the unavoidable consequences of Covid” – wasn’t delivered until Tuesday morning.

“It’s just been another casualty in another brutal year of events and frankly, none of this has been a surprise given the number of cancellations we’ve had to date.

“Even when bigger events are announced, you do – in the back of your mind – wonder whether they’re going to happen. A test match for Wellington is still the iconic sporting event of the year, so very, very disappointed for all the ticket-holders, the Wellington hotel and hospitality industry,” Harmon said.

All Black fan Maika Kauika, 3, being carried by uncle Wesley Chase from Lyall Bay as they make their way to Sky Stadium ahead of last year’s Bledisloe Cup match.

Robert Kitchin/Stuff

All Black fan Maika Kauika, 3, being carried by uncle Wesley Chase from Lyall Bay as they make their way to Sky Stadium ahead of last year’s Bledisloe Cup match.

When asked about the financial cost of the two test loss would be to the stadium, Harmon said he was yet to run the numbers. However, Harmon said he “didn’t entertain” moving the two-day Beervana craft beer festival to accommodate the Bledisloe Cup.

Ticket sales for the Australia-New Zealand match were sitting around the “mid to high 20,000s” with Harmon confident all 34,500 seats would’ve been sold come kick off.

WellingtonNZ chief executive John Allen said All Blacks’ tests pumped $6 million to $8m into the local economy, and losing both tests was a “significant economic blow for Wellington”.

“Tests against Australia are generally at the higher end because fans know an All Blacks v Wallabies match will be a fast-paced competitive environment. They attract thousands of people from out of town, who make a weekend of it staying in hotels, shopping and enjoying themselves in our eateries and bars,” Allen said.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson says Wellington officials did “everything they could” to keep next weekend’s Bledisloe Cup fixture in the capital. (File photo)

Hannah Peters/Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson says Wellington officials did “everything they could” to keep next weekend’s Bledisloe Cup fixture in the capital. (File photo)

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson​ said while the organisation was pleased to have some certainty around venues, it had come at the capital’s expense. However, Robinson was adamant the All Blacks will return to Wellington next year.

“We feel for our Wellington fans who will miss out on two tests … Sky Stadium, Wellington Rugby and WellingtonNZ did everything they could to try and keep the test in Wellington, but ultimately we needed to play on Saturday, August 14, and we had to make the difficult decision to shift the match to Auckland.

“It is particularly disappointing we will not be able to play in Wellington this season, and we share the disappointment of fans, the venue and the city, but at short notice following the closure of the travel bubble with Australia it just proved too difficult,” Robinson said.

The eight-week pause to the travel bubble meant it was not possible for the Argentinian rugby team to get into the country, with the two tests now set to be played in Australia. Details of the matches will be announced by SANZAAR “in due course”.

Fans who have tickets to either match will receive a full refund, and should expect to be contacted by the relevant ticket providers soon.

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