Ben Ryan: Pacific Islands becoming Rugby’s ‘Wild West’ says ex-Fiji sevens coach

Having taken Fiji to Olympic gold and thus being awarded a plot of land and a tribal name, you can imagine that Ben Ryan has some love for the Pacific Islands.

In this article on the BBC, Ryan argues on behalf of the Island nations- that the plundering of players, often at a young age, needs to stop. Will World Rugby step in and take action to protect these great Rugby Nations?

You can read the full article on the BBC, here.

Also worth a read is Sean Longstaff, ex-Scotland International turned rugby agent’s ‘fears and revelations’ of being a Rugby Agent and what many agents are doing in the Pacific Nations. That article is also on the BBC, linked here.

The Scribbler, 22nd September, 2016

Twitter: @RugbyScribbler

 

 

 

 

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The Guinness Pro12- It’s better than you think

“I’m not naïve enough to think that the league isn’t facing significant challenges. But for me the whole conversation around it needs to change. It needs the national media in the four nations and fans to get behind the league and highlight the positives.”

I’ve long been in this camp. Sure, the league has its problems and it has things to improve on, but for those of us who get down to the grounds and take a step back from talking rugby for once in a while and just watch, we realise that we actually have a pretty good product.

In the full article, linked below, Kevin O’Brien goes on to demonstrate the strength in depth of the league and identify the differences between the European leagues. Whilst this is a positive article, it doesn’t ignore the problems which the Guinness Pro12 is facing. He ends with this ‘call-to-action’.

“So get out to a match. Bring your wife, your kids, your family and friends. Go see speedsters like Hogg, Williams, Healy and Seymour scorching to the try line or bruisers like O’Donnell, Henderson or Hardie as they tackle all in sight. Enjoy the awesome power of the likes of CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien or Nick Williams mowing down the opposition. Spread the word that the Guinness Pro12 is a quality league full of top class, exciting players. You never know you might enjoy it.
Your league needs you.”

The full article is available, here.

Rugby World also recently did a head-to-head of players in the Pro12 and Aviva Premiership to see which team would boast the strongest players in each position. You can read that, here.

Finally, you can check out my overall thoughts on the Pro12, from January, here.

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts, either in an email, comment or on Twitter!

You can tweet the author of that piece too- @marywards

The Scribbler, 22nd September, 2016

Twitter: @RugbyScribbler

 

EXCLUSIVE: Jade Konkel Interview

Jade Konkel

Place of Birth: Inverness

Position: Number 8

Senior 15’s Caps: 23 (Debut 2013)

Sevens Caps: 2

Club: Hillhead Jordanhill

Jade Konkel is, at present, the only full-time professional women’s rugby player in Scotland. She signed a deal with the SRU to take her onto a BT Sport academy level three contract in June of this year.

How did you react when you got the call telling you the news?

Funnily enough, it wasn’t a call. I got taken in to the office”

I thought I was in trouble, my manager and physio and everyone was there”

Then they offered me the stage three contract. I know quite a lot of people would say ‘Oh I didn’t expect it’, but I genuinely did not have a clue. I actually tried so hard not to cry”

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, something I never thought was an option anytime soon”

It’s not a moment I’m going to forget anytime soon”

What does the role involve?

You get invited to a lot of player appearance kind of things. I love doing that stuff, especially as a women’s rugby player you want to get the word out to the younger girls coming through. Other than that it’s just more time to do speed, gym, conditioning, more specialised areas”

I’m in Monday to Friday, then you play on the Sunday. It’s all pretty full on”

Then I get to knuckle down, things like analysis, you can learn how to improve nutritional aspects, all those areas that I wanted to focus on before, now I can”

How do you find it training with the men in the Glasgow academy?

Yeah, it’s good. You can have a laugh with the guys”

Gender is just not an issue. We’ve all got one goal and that’s to wear the Scottish thistle and be the best athlete we can be”

It’s definitely a good environment to be in”.

What drew you to Rugby Union?

I didn’t really play it until I was 17. I dabbled in it, but there wasn’t really very much for girls, especially where I was from”

I grew up watching my parents play, they still play and both of my brothers play. Basketball was my main sport and I got my black belt in a self defence martial art as well”

I always wanted to play, but the opportunities weren’t there. I used to drive Inverness to Glasgow (three and a half hour drive each way) on a Sunday, just to get more game time”

When I was younger I was at this wee camp thing and this girl said ‘put your hand up if you’re gonna play for Scotland?’ and I never once did because I was this young kid from up north and there’s no rugby up there and I never got to play”

“A few younger kids have got in touch on social media, saying that they’ve started playing rugby, they can’t wait for the Six Nations and that you’re their role model. Even just reading that stuff is absolutely amazing. It’s very motivating” 

What’s the goal for the Six Nations?

Everyone’s been training really hard”

We’re gonna step up the performances again. Obviously last year was a massive jump from the previous year, we were putting points on the board and it was competitive”

What did you make of the women’s sevens in Rio?

“Watching the women’s rugby sevens was inspiring, even as a pro 15’s player”

“I really do think that it’ll have a massive impact through out Great Britain, even the world. It can only be a good thing”

A word on Team GB against Canada in the semi-final?

“I thought GB played well”

“Canada came out firing, at the breakdown their physicality was just phenomenal. Team GB could only do so much against the pressure Canada were putting on them”

If you could play any position in a 15s team, where would you play and why?

“I would definitely stick at number 8, one-hundred percent”

What do you like about playing 8?

“I love being able to be in control at the back, you’ve got more opportunities to carry the ball, you can make big hits, you try and be everywhere you can in open play”

“My favourite thing in rugby is the big hits, the big carries and there’s no better place for that than number 8”

Who’s your inspiration?

Donna Kennedy. She’s the most capped women’s international, she played 8 for Scotland and she’s my mentor as well.

I never played against her, thank goodness, I’d probably be terrified. All her knowledge and what she’s done on the pitch. She’s a big inspiration”

You then have players like Maggie Alphonsi, in that World Cup final in 2014 her performance was outstanding”

Glasgow Warriors or Edinburgh?

Glasgow Warriors. I lived in Glasgow for four years and all the guys at the academy are looking to get contracts with Glasgow, a few have played for Glasgow and I’d say I’m more involved with Glasgow than I am Edinburgh”.

What’s the future for women’s rugby in Scotland?

This is the beginning. You can see now, there’s a path to take, there’s pro contracts. Hopefully that’s gonna drive more young girls to get involved”

In the club scene you’ve got a league up north, you know there was nothing there when I was growing up”

We are playing catch up [with England, Ireland and France] but it’s only so long until we’re going to get the first win on the board and we’re going to be really challenging the opposition”

The only way is up at the end of the day”

You can see my thoughts on the effect Rio could have on women’s rugby, here.

Don’t forget to sign up to my fantasy league and mailing list, here.

The Scribbler, September 13th, 2016

Twitter: @RugbyScribbler

Warryen about Gatland? A look at the Lions coach

Warren Gatland has been announced as the British and Irish Lions Head Coach for the 2017 tour of New Zealand.

Anybody who used social media yesterday should hardly be surprised. Photos of the current Welsh coach were snapped by the public, whilst he posed for a photo-shoot in his new Lions gear in Edinburgh yesterday, ahead of the launch in the city today. Gatland led the Lions in Australia in 2013 to their first tour victory since the 1997 triumph in South Africa.

Can we expect ‘Warrenball’?

This term is often used to describe Wales’ style of play under Gatland. It’s route one, hard, bruising rugby. It’s not necessarily all that flashy, but it gets results. At least it used to until people worked out how to stop it.

Under Gatland Wales have won multiple Six Nations championships and of course he led the Lions to 2013 victory. So why should he change much?

There are quite a few reasons. After impressing at the World Cup, Wales have looked fairly flat. They managed a second place finish at this years Six Nations, but then put out a poor display losing to England at Twickenham, followed by a series whitewash to New Zealand, where they also lost to a second string ‘Chiefs’ side.

Wales did try to change tactics against New Zealand in the summer, promising to play a more expansive game. Although the results did not come, at times when the likes of Liam Williams was given ball in hand and space, Wales looked like an attacking threat.

With many expecting the likes of Stuart Hogg, Maro Itoje, and any combination of the exciting centre’s available across Britain and Ireland, Gatland does have the fire power to offer New Zealand something a bit different. Equally, he could choose a more ‘solid’ side, choosing the likes of Jamie Roberts and Brad Barritt to try and hold out the illustrious All Black’s back division (and, come to think of it, forwards too) Hopefully, Gatland picks more ambitiously.

A solid defence alone won’t beat New Zealand.

Why should we believe in Gatland?

Here are some achievements of his:

London Wasps

Premiership titles: 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05

Heineken Cup: 2003-04

Waikato

Air New Zealand Cup: 2006

Wales:

Winners: 2008, 2012, 2013

Grand Slams: 2008, 2012

Triple Crowns: 2008, 2012

British & Irish Lions

Australia 2013: Series win, 2 wins, 1 defeat

That’s not a bad track record to have. Clearly, the guy knows how to win. Sadly, if any team in global sports knows how to win at the top, it is the All Blacks. The Lions will have to do something quite special to win this series, regardless of who their coach is.

To conclude, given the right selection, the Lions could give New Zealand a serious run for their money. Sadly, with the first test just a week after the Pro12 and Premiership finals, I think ‘a run for their money’ is the best we will get.

DISCLOSURE: Any positivity in this article may be immediately revoked in the extremely likely event of an absolutely humiliating All Blacks whitewash. However, if any of the positivity here is converted into results, you’re welcome. Also, don’t tell me that headline isn’t punderful.

Don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list and fantasy Pro12 league here!

The Scribbler, 7th September, 2016

Twitter: @RugbyScribbler

On This Day: Big Al’s first game

A more hardy fan than myself.. see On Top Of The Moon’s Alisdair Kellock Memory on #BigAlDay

My #BigAlDay memory is also available, here.

On Top Of The Moon

Thursday 1st September 2016 marks the anniversary of a momentous day in Warriors’ history. Exactly 10 years ago Alastair David Kellock strode onto the Hughenden pitch to play his first competitive game for Glasgow. Just three months before this the club had been taken apart by Connacht in the final outing of the 2005/06 season and consigned to last place in the Celtic League. Big Al’s signing was the first tangible step on a journey that 9 seasons and 245 matches later would see the skipper lifting the Pro 12 trophy. His side reaching a peak that would have seemed like an improbable dream back on that very first day.

View original post 668 more words

#BigAlDay

What’s this all about?

Well, @TopOfTheMoonGW informed a few of us that today marks ten years since Al Kellock made his debut for Glasgow Warriors and it only seemed fitting to celebrate that!

Captain Al in numbers

Edinburgh Caps: 56

Edinburgh Points: 15

Glasgow Caps: 152

Glasgow Points: 20

Games as Glasgow Captain: 151

Scotland Caps: 56

Scotland Points: 5

Notable achievements: Captaining the Barbarians against Australia, Captaining Scotland, Captaining Glasgow Warriors to their maiden Pro12 trophy.

My Big Al Memory

As a bit of a nipper, my memory is of course very recent. It’s the Pro12 final of 2015, where Glasgow downed the mighty Munster, to win their first title.

This may seem like an odd selection. After all, Big Al was on the bench as Jonny Gray and Leone Nakarawa were preferred on that day by head coach, Gregor Townsend. It was only in the 66th minute that Kellock took to the field, after Glasgow were already four tries up. On top of that Nakarawa, the man he was replacing, had been on fire, causing Munster a seemingly endless number of problems.

The first reason this stood out for me was odd. It was Paul O’Connell. Nobody was sure where his future lay and all the talk was about the swansong for the Irish legend and in all of that, many commentators seemed to forget that there was another legend, of the same position, who also had his swan song to write.

As it turns out, Paul O’Connell still had some time left and went on the represent Ireland at Rugby World Cup 2015, until his career was ended by a hamstring injury. Sadly, O’Connell never quite got his big send off, but Kellock had his day and marked it in style.

The next reason for choosing this memory is the sheer pride and amazement on his face when Glasgow lifted that title. He only played 14 minutes on the occasion, but he had put his body on the line for years and been a huge part of what Glasgow did, from the tough early days, right through to the glorious end. As Big Al moved upstairs, the club had entirely transformed from when he joined it, and he was a part of that for every step of the way, epitomising his commitment to his club.

My final reason, is what he achieved in lifting that trophy. I was in the pub in Bristol with a few people who were watching the Premiership final. They all asked me the relevance of the Munster game and I told them. For them, it was a foregone conclusion. They had all heard of European Giants Munster, whilst Glasgow, they vaguely recognised as a rugby team.

They couldn’t believe the result when they checked back with me later on.

Glasgow may be yet to announce themselves on the European stage, but Kellock had led his side to a title and that has got people talking about the rise of not only Glasgow Warriors, but Scottish rugby on the whole.

WATCH- Al Kellock, The Captain

Share your Al Kellock memory with either myself or @TopOfTheMoonGW by email, message or by using the #BigAlDay Twitter hashtag!

Top Of the Moon’s thoughts are on my reblogs page.

Don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list and/or join my Fantasy League!

The Scribbler, 1st September, 2016