Ireland are likely to use the frustration of this defeat to fire the up for next weekend’s showdown with England in Dublin and despite mixed fortunes in the championship to date, O’Driscoll hit back at anyone who suggests they have no hope of seeing off Martin Johnson’s side.“They have to think again. These people have obviously never seen an Ireland-England game and don’t know what it means to the Irish public and the Irish team. There’s plenty of rugby left in this side.” “I didn’t see it myself but some of the boys were saying that someone had touched it so I took their word for it and I tried to relay that to Jonathan Kaplan, but he was having none of it. The touchjudge gave the call and before I could say anything the try was awarded. I tried to say subsequently that the video replays showed the ball had been touched but he shrugged it off.“It’s extremely frustrating that a simple error like that can have a huge bearing on the game. That was seven points and we lost by six.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS A try or not a try: Mike Phillips hands off Tommy Bowe to score for WalesBRIAN O’DRISCOLL was fuming about Mike Phillips’s controversial 50th-minute try in Wales’ 19-13 win over Ireland.Phillips was sent on his way over the try-line following a quick throw-in from Matthew Rees – but replays clearly showed that the Wales captain had used a different ball to the one kicked into touch because the original one had landed near the crowd and that the ball he used was also touched by a ballboy.Jonathan Kaplan consulted with touchjudge Peter Allan and when given the thumbs up he awarded the try. Paul O’Connell clearly indicated for the referee to go to the TMO but he couldn’t have actually adjudicated on the lineout ball – TMOs can only rule on events in the act of scoring.Still, Ireland captain O’Driscoll was not happy with the decision. He said: “Everyone’s human and you get wrong calls all the time, but certain ones are unforgivable. I’d want to cover all my bases if I was him.
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS HIGH WYCOMBE, ENGLAND – MARCH 06: Richard Haughton of Wasps makes a break during the AVIVA Premiership match between London Wasps and Sale Sharks at Adams Park on March 6, 2011 in High Wycombe, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) The fullback pleaded guilty to lifting Will Cliff from the ground and dropping or driving him into the ground, contrary to Law 10(4)(j), following a report by the independent citing officer Alan Mansell. Richard Haughton in action during the Sale clashRICHARD HAUGHTON of London Wasps was today suspended for two weeks for dangerous play during the Aviva Premiership match against Sale Sharks at Adams Park on March 6. Haughton appeared before the RFU Disciplinary Officer Judge Jeff Blackett and was banned from March 10 (the date London Wasps imposed an internal suspension) to March 23. He can play again on March 24.
Commenting on the signing, Director of Rugby, Sir Ian McGeechan said: “Francois is an outstanding player and character who will add to, and complement, the squad at Bath. We are all very impressed with his qualities and are looking forward to working closely with him.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Francois added: “Whilst I am hopeful of playing my way into the Springbok squad for the forthcoming Tri Nations and Rugby World Cup, I am very excited to be joining a side with such a prestigious past and exciting future as Bath. I’m looking forward to working hard and competing for a place in the team, in what is a very competitive squad, and helping Bath to become a real force, both in domestic and European competitions.”Rob Wagner, Managing Director of WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd commented: “Francois has been an integral part of the Stormers and WP squads. A true modern professional, his athletecism and presence on the pitch has been matched by his commitment and passion for team and brand off the field. We wish him all the best at Bath and thank him for his loyalty and time in the Western Province.” Former Stormer Francois Louw will be heading to BathBath Rugby is delighted to officially confirm the signing of South African flanker, Francois Louw.Hailing from Cape Town, Louw will join Bath in November, on a three year deal. The flanker has become an integral part of the Super Rugby Stormers side over the last two seasons, and has represented Western Province over 60 times. The 6ft 4in, 17st 5lb back row player has made seven appearances for South Africa since his debut against Wales in 2010, and he has scored two tries in that short time.Highly regarded for his defensive and breakdown skills, Louw will provide Bath with a powerful back row option. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 21: Schalk Burger assists Francois Louw by strapping his head during the DHL Stormers training session at the High Performance Centre, in Bellville on February 21, 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, Ian Evans, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt), Toby Faletau.Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Lou Reed, Andy Powell, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams.Scotland: Rory Lamont; Lee Jones, Nick de Luca, Sean Lamont, Max Evans; Greig Laidlaw, Chris Cusiter; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford (capt), Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Alasdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie, David Denton.Replacements: Scott Lawson, Ed Kalman, Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Mike Blair, Duncan Weir, Stuart Hogg.Referee: Romain Poite (France) Gethin Jenkins returns for Wales on Sunday WALES welcome back Gethin Jenkins and Dan Lydiate for their RBS 6 Nations fixture against Scotland on Sunday, and have made a total of three changes to their starting XV.Jenkins, who has successfully recovered from a knee injury, replaces Saracens youngster Rhys Gill at loosehead prop, while Lydiate, returning from an ankle problem, will step into the No 6 jersey. Ryan Jones, who played at blindside flanker last week in the victory over Ireland, moves to the second row to replace Bradley Davies, who has been handed a seven-week ban for a tip tackle on Ireland’s Donncha Ryan.Lou Reed The final change is on the bench, as uncapped Scarlets lock Lou Reed takes the place of Osprey Justin Tipuric, who has injured his ankle.Head coach Warren Gatland said: “Gethin brings a wealth of experience to the team, which is the main reason we have brought him in for Rhys, who is unlucky to miss out with Paul James covering both sides of the scrum from the bench.“Dan’s return from injury is timely and Ryan’s versatility allows us to cover for Bradley with minimum disruption, with Lou Reed also giving us an extra option from the bench.“We cannot afford to underestimate Scotland, the amount of possession and territory they had against England last weekend meant that they should have won the game and they will come to the Millennium Stadium buoyed by that knowledge.”WALES v SCOTLAND, MILLENNIUM STADIUM, SUNDAY 12 FEBRUARY, KICK-OFF3pm <> on January 17, 2010 in Llanelli, Wales. See Shane Williams break Scottish hearts at the Millennium Stadium in 2010 below
Perry Baker (USA)Nicknamed the Pepperami Stick for his slight frame, in his second season, Baker has already passed 50 tries and is fifth in the all-time USA list. An elegant, rangy runner, with his buddy Carlin Isles on indoor track duty, he was arguably the fastest man in Vancouver and his 70m run down the flank against New Zealand had the crowd on their feet. Give him the outside channel and he’ll glide past you. Baker has a much-improved defence – typified by a double-tackle against France – and his all-round game stands up to scrutiny.Henry Hutchison (Australia)Small in stature and powerfully built Hutchinson is nicknamed ‘the pinball’ and only turned 19 last month but has a dynamo engine and can finish off tries. Hutchinson, who trained with the Brumbies in pre-season and is a fan of Matt Giteau, showed a powerful leg-drive to crawl over the line against New Zealand despite Gillies Kaka trying to hold him up. He showed his footballing skill, with a chip and collect for his try against Russia. Hutchinson is very highly regarded.Pace to burn: Hutchinson in a footrace with New Zealand’s Gillies KakaKitione Taliga (Fiji)While there are more celebrated Fijian Sevens stars on the circuit – Savenaca Rawaca and Jerry Tuwai spring to mind – Taliga was a late injury call-up to the Fiji squad and ended up taking away the Impact Player of the Tournament. The 22-year-old prison guard and cousin of flyer Samisoni Viriviri, Taliga is more of a languid runner, who is deceptively quick, notably outpacing the South Africa defence from 60m. Backs himself, his chip and collect was a speciality over the weekend.Sudden impact: Kitione Taliga leaves the Blitzbokke defence trailingOscar Ouma (Kenya)“Boom, there goes Ouma” was regulary splurted out by commentators over the weekend as the immensely powerful Kenyan left defenders as roadkill in his wake. Against New Zealand and Portugal, Ouma scored brilliant individual tries, and he introduced himself to Sonny Bill Williams earlier in the competition by smashing him into the turf. He crossed the 60-try mark in the tournament and possesses a jack-hammer fend. Approach with caution.At arms length: Kenya’s Oscar Ouma is one of the most powerful players on the circuitTim Mikkelson (New Zealand)Along with Liam Messam and DJ Forbes, skipper Mikkelson is one of the statesmen of the New Zealand Sevens side. Mike Friday, the ebullient USA coach, described him as one of the fittest guys on the circuit and a player who rarely makes mistakes. Mikkelson has the ability to slow the play down when needed, drifting laterally and waiting for the killer pass, or spotting the gap to power away (he has 170 Series tries). Along with DJ Forbes, he’s the glue that holds Tietjens’ boys together. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Speedstick: Perry Baker is full-flow is a joy to behold The Sevens stars were out in force at the inaugural Vancouver Sevens, so with the Olympics just months way, who were the individuals tearing up the turf? Here comes the hot-stepper: Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa is a crowd-pleaser Complete player: New Zealand skipper Tim Mikkelson has few weaknessesSeabelo Senatla (South Africa)Just the seven tries in Vancouver for the 23-year-old from Stellenbosch, who has now scored 134 tries in 123 appearances for the Blitzbokke. Indeed, there are few finer sights in Sevens rugby than Senatla haring down the wing but he can also step and put in his defensive work. After a brief stint with the Stormers, few eyebrows will be raised if he makes a step into the 15-a-side game at some point.Try time: Seabelo Senatla is scoring at a rate of more than one a matchPhoenix Hunapo-Nofoa (Samoa)A crowd favourite, if he’s not dabbing, Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa celebrates his tries by drawing an imaginary bow and firing it. Blessed with footwork that would make Fred Astaire green with envy, Hunapo-Nofoa’s dancing through the Kenyan defence on Day 1 brought gasps from the crowd.
Ireland play Italy in Chicago this weekend – here’s the team news, TV details and top facts Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said on captain Rhys Ruddock: “He is a workaholic on the pitch and prepares incredibly well off it, so he’s an ideal leader in the absence of Rory, Pete and Johnny.”Skipper: Rhys Ruddock will lead out Ireland (Getty Images)Italy coach Conor O’Shea said: “We haven’t fired a shot against Ireland in the two matches we’ve played. And I want this to be the first staging post to us actually firing a shot, and actually make them sit up and notice that we’re on the way.”Any interesting statistics?Of the Ireland starting XV that secured a Six Nations Grand Slam against England in March, only three players remain – Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale.Italy’s back-line has twice as many caps as Ireland’s, with 130 to 65.Ireland have lost four of 28 Tests against Italy. Three of those defeats came in the Nineties while the fourth and most recent was in Rome in 2013.Italy have won only two Tests since the start of 2017, beating Fiji last November and Japan in June.Ireland have scored more than 50 points in their last three Tests against Italy, winning 58-15 in 2016, 63-10 in 2017 and 56-19 in 2018.What time does it kick off and is it on TV?Saturday 3 November, Ireland v Italy, Soldier FieldThe Test gets underway at 3pm in Chicago, which is 8pm in the UK and Ireland.It is being broadcast live on Premier Sports in the UK and eir Sports in Ireland.The setting: Soldier Field in Chicago (Getty Images)Who’s the referee?Welshman Nigel Owens has crossed the Atlantic to take charge of this fixture and has two Frenchmen as his assistants – Romain Poite and Alexandre Ruiz.What are the line-ups?Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Joey Carbery, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, Niall Scannell, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock (captain), Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Will Addison.Italy: Luca Sperandio; Mattia Bellini, Michele Campagnaro (captain); Luca Morisi, Giulio Bisegni; Carlo Canna, Tito Tebaldi; Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi, Tiziano Pasquali, Marco Fuser, George Biagi, Johan Meyer, Abraham Steyn, Renato Giammarioli. Autumn Internationals Ireland v Italy PreviewTwo years ago Ireland travelled to Chicago and secured arguably their most famous victory – beating New Zealand for the first time. This weekend they return to Soldier Field to face familiar Six Nations foes Italy.Some of the players may not be so familiar to the American audience, however, with both sides opting for relatively inexperienced sides.Centre Michele Campagnaro, with 34 Test appearances, is the most-capped player in the Italy side while Jack McGrath, with a half-century, has that honour for the Ireland starting XV. The rest of the Irish pack have 63 caps between them!Leading man: Michele Campagnaro breaks against Japan in June (Getty Images)Still, Ireland will expect to win this Test comfortably and have the firepower in their back-line to expose weaknesses in the Italian defence.What’s the big team news?As mentioned above, neither nation has picked their strongest XV. With the Test outside the official international window, Conor O’Shea is unable to select any players based outside of Italy, although Campagnaro has been released from his Exeter contract and will captain his country. Full-back Matteo Minozzi – their most exciting player last season – is also injured.Ireland left many of their key players at home, the likes of Johnny Sexton and Rory Best not travelling to America, as they look ahead to bigger Tests against Argentina and, significantly, New Zealand.Related: Are their too many Tests?Italy are giving Johan Meyer a debut in the back row while Ross Byrne and Will Addison are in line to win their first Ireland caps from the bench with Jimmy Tuivaiti in the same position for the Azzurri.Debutant: Zebre flanker Johan Meyer will play his first Test (Getty Images)Tadhg Beirne and Jordan Larmour make their first starts for Ireland, with the former sure to be targeting turnovers and the latter likely to excite the crowd with his counter-attacks.Related: The remarkable story of Tadhg BeirneJoey Carbery returns to the ground where he made his Test debut, against New Zealand in 2016, and gets a valuable opportunity to start in the No 10 jersey, alongside former Leinster team-mate Luke McGrath.Ireland’s reliance on Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray at half-back has raised concerns and this is a chance to test the strength of their depth in those positions.What have the coaches said? LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Big opportunity: Joey Carbery is getting a start at No 10 for Ireland (Getty Images) Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Cherif Traore, Giosue Zilocchi, Marco Lazzaroni, Federico Ruzza, Jimmy Tuivaiti, Guglielmo Palazzani, Ian McKinley.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Dreyer holds up the example of World Rugby’s 2016 deal with Alisports – the sporting arm of China’s global e-commerce powerhouse, Alibaba – as an allegory for how tough it is to make a significant difference in the sporting landscape there. It was announced that there would be a $100m investment into Chinese rugby by the company, only for it to be ‘postponed’ after everything ground to a halt. Dreyer says he was not surprised.Related: Plans to bring professional rugby to China stallDreyer also says he is very sceptical of numbers released by market analytics group Nielson Sport and World Rugby, in May, claiming that there are now nearly 800m rugby ‘fans’ in the world and that there are nearly 33 million fans in both China and the US. Dreyer calls these numbers “patently ludicrous”.Exhibition: Hong Kong faced Western Force last year (Getty Images)He explains: “Without access to the survey data, it’s impossible to know for sure, but I can only assume that they incorrectly extrapolated for 1.4bn people based on a small sample size drawn from sport-friendly urbanites – of which in China there are about 300 million. In addition to that, see my earlier comment about confusion over the sport’s name, plus Chinese people’s reticence to answer ‘no’ to a question. These are both factors that would seriously distort this data.“I would be surprised if the results even returned a statistically relevant sample size of those who conclusively said they liked rugby, in which case extrapolation can’t even be done. Hong Kong is a very different market – rugby is huge there – but anyone who has spent time on the mainland can tell you that rugby just simply isn’t part of the sporting conversation at the moment.”Of course that is not to say that it never will be. In late February a new elite competition called Global Rapid Rugby will kick off in the Asia-Pacific region. The World Rugby-ratified league, led by mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, offers up AUD$1m to whichever of the teams from Perth, Fiji, Samoa, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore or Malaysia triumphs.In announcing the new league, Forrest said the competition would promote, amongst other things, rapid development of local rugby communities, rapid development of new market and a fresh approach to broadcasting and game-day experiences. On the competition’s official site, Forrest says: “Our new and dynamic brand will bring a whole new support base, inspire young people and attract new and much needed spectator and corporate interest.”Related: Hong Kong miss out on Rugby world CupMcRobbie says that while there is currently more awareness of sevens in China than 15s – perhaps aided by China’s women competing on the World Sevens Series – it is important for teams to have Chinese ‘heroes’ playing for professional sides. To this end, the Hong Kong-based Global Rapid Rugby side South China Tigers have two squad members who are on the Chinese national team.Catching the eye: China women at the Asian Games sevens competition (Getty Images)The CEO concludes: “There is room for both GRR and the English Premiership to succeed in China, but there is also room for them both to fail.“Anyone who wants instant success will be disappointed. Those with patience, commitment, a willingness to adapt to the local culture and invest in grass-roots development will have a chance of reaping eventual reward.” China in action: Former Chinese cap Li Yang in an exhibition match during the World Cup trophy tour (Getty Images) The latest issue of Rugby World is in shops now.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Rugby in China: Can the English Premiership make an impact?RUGBY IS straining to expand, to conquer new frontiers. And just over the horizon, we are told, are new markets. It appears faraway lands are just waiting for the game of union to take off.On Sunday, The Daily Mail uncovered details from the minutes of several Premiership Rugby board meetings, in the build-up to a £200m deal with private equity firm CVC.Whilst a lot of debate has come from what the piece said about scrapping promotion and relegation in the Premiership, there was another interesting thread: the notion that the Chinese sports market was one worth exploring alongside the US one. Could the Premiership take fixtures over to Asia, as they had done in the past in the USA?“In my opinion rugby currently does not have the profile and popularity in China amongst the local population to fill the stands at these types of exhibition games, so you’d either be relying on expats living there and/or the overseas travel market to get bums on seats,” says the CEO of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, Robbie McRobbie.“English Premiership rugby is currently being shown on TV in China, and although this is on the subscription channel CCTV5+ it shows what can be achieved by individuals who know their way around the system.“Fundamentally, though, there needs to be grass-roots investment to build interest in the game – but this brings with it multiple challenges.In the big city: The Webb Ellis Cup in Beijing last year (Getty Images)“The structure of sport in China is complex, with various degrees of influence at national, provincial and city level. It is also a vast geographical area, which brings with it significant logistical challenges.“Currently the HKRU are in discussions with the China Rugby Union around collaboration in the Greater Bay Area, which consists of Hong Kong, Macau and the nine southernmost cities in the Guangdong Province – this is a relatively small area, but contains a population of 67m people!”You can understand why some are salivating over the prospect of breaking into such a market. After all, there are roughly 1.4bn people in China and rugby is already on TV there. Yet it’s not that simple.“First of all, there is a huge difference between being on CCTV-5, which is the main sports channel in national broadcaster CCTV’s free-to-air channel, and its paid sister channel CCTV5+,” clarifies Mark Dreyer, the editor of China Sports Insider, based in Beijing.“A typical Premiership game from last year drew fewer than 80,000 viewers at any one time. Every sport is currently trying to crack the China market, and in truth rugby is way, way down the order. To give some perspective as to where it ranks, the Chinese for ‘rugby’ is often confused with the Chinese for ‘American football’, so a sizeable percentage of the population here might not even know what the game is.“The number of foreign companies (in any industry) who have entered China with dollar signs in their eyes thinking they ‘only have to capture 1% of the audience’ is endless; the number of success stories is far shorter.” With many wanting the Premiership to break into new markets, we consider if China is really the answer LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
2015 in EnglandA similar format to 2011, with the top three in each pool gaining automatic entry to the 2019 tournament, and a group of death. All World Cups should have a group of death and England found themselves in one as they were pooled with Wales, Australia, Uruguay and Fiji.At the time of the draw, three years before the World Cup, England were ranked 5th in the world, Australia 3rd and crucially Wales 9th meaning they were in the third pot of teams. By the time the tournament started England were ranked 4th, Australia 2nd and Wales 5th and we all know what happened next.Original Groups: The 2019 pools before all qualifiers had been finalised (Getty Images)2019 in JapanStung by criticism of the early draw for the 2015 tournament World Rugby left it until 10 May 2017 to pick the pools for 2019’s tournament in Japan. That meant the autumn internationals in 2016 had an influence and the seeding system from 2015 was kept with 12 automatic qualifiers being put in bands according to their world rankings. A series of qualifiers got Namibia, USA, Russia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay and Canada through.The draw held in Kyoto worked like this.Band 1: Four highest ranked teams, Band 2: Next four highest ranked; Band 3: Last four automatic qualifiers; Band 4: Qualifiers from Oceania 1, Americas 1, Europe 1, Africa 1; Band 5: Oceania 2, Americas 2, Play-off winner, Repechage winner.Follow our Rugby World Cup homepage which we update regularly with news and features. What you need to know about the 12… Collapse Rugby World Cup Pools ExplainedThe 2019 Rugby World Cup will be the ninth edition of the tournament and once again the usual pool or group system was used for the opening rounds of matches. However over the years there have been subtle differences in the way the pools have operated, so to explain those Adam Hathaway has gone back through the years addressing each of them. We start of course in 1987.1987 in Australia and New ZealandBack in the day when the World Cup started, in 1987, there were four pools of four teams and the top two in each group went through to the quarter-finals with the winner of pool one playing the runner-up in pool two and so on.So far so simple. It was the first tournament so there was no qualifying, it was all a bit on-the-hoof and countries were invited to participate by the International Rugby Board, now World Rugby. The seven members of the IRB, plus Argentina, Fiji, Italy, Canada, Tonga, Romania, USA, Zimbabwe and Japan were all there. South Africa were banned because of the apartheid policy.1991 in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, FranceIn 1991, with games all over the place, the eight quarter-finalists from 1987 qualified automatically with 25 countries involved in play-offs for the last eight spots. Western Samoa got through, replacing Tonga from the line-up four years previously.Teams got three points for a win, two for a draw and one for turning up in the pool matches, a change from 1987 when the spread was 2,1 and 0.Winning Hosts: South Africa went on to win the 1995 tournament as hosts (Getty Images)1995 in South AfricaAgain there were four pools of four teams and again the quarter-finalists from 1991 qualified automatically as did South Africa as hosts. Qualifiers were done by regions – Africa, Oceania, Europe, the Americas and Asia – with Ivory Coast, Japan, Argentina, Wales, Italy, Romania and Tonga getting through to the tournament.Groups were seeded with the eight quarter-finalists from 1991 taking the top two spots in each so Australia (winners) were top seeds in Pool A, England (runners-up) in Pool B, New Zealand (3rd in 1991) in Pool C and Scotland (4th in 1991) in Pool D.Second seeds were the quarter-finalists from 1991 – Canada, Western Samoa, Ireland and France – and South Africa went into Pool A as hosts.Wales, famously beaten by Samoa in 1991, had to do a grand tour of Europe in order to qualify. They beat Spain and Portugal in the spring of 1994 to win their zone, while Romania and Italy qualified from their zones. These three local winners then played off in the autumn of 1994 for seeding positions: Wales finished top (to go in to Pool C in South Africa), Italy runners-up (to Pool B) with Romania third (to Pool A). Similar structures were used to determine the seedings and pools for the other four qualifiers: Argentina (to Pool B), Japan (Pool C), and Tonga and Ivory Coast (Pool D).1999 in Wales, England, France, Scotland, Ireland Four teams qualified automatically, Wales as main hosts plus the top three from 1995, namely South Africa, New Zealand and France.The tournament was expanded to 20 teams and the remaining 16 places were fought over by 63 countries in a series of qualifiers to give five pools of four. This presented a problem for organisers.The five pool winners made the quarter-finals and the five pool runners-up and the best third-placed team went into qualifiers for the quarter-finals. These were played midweek ahead of the last eight games putting teams in the play-offs at a disadvantage.England beat Fiji 45-24 but lost to South Africa in the last eight; Scotland beat Samoa and were then knocked out by New Zealand; Argentina shocked Ireland 28-24 but were then beaten by France. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Expand Rugby World Cup Groups 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualified Teams Rugby World Cup Venues A rundown of the Rugby World Cup groups… 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualified Teams Expand Significant Change: Adam Hathaway explains how the pool system has changed over time (Getty Images) Also make sure you know about the Groups, Warm-ups, Dates, Fixtures, Venues, TV Coverage, and Qualified Teams by clicking on the highlighted links.Finally, don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hot Favourites: Despite getting drawn alongside South Africa in the group stages, Woodward’s England went on to win in 2003 (Getty Images)2003 in AustraliaThe play-offs were ditched as the 20 teams were housed in four pools of five with the top two qualifying for the quarter-finals and the groups were seeded, again, on the basis of previous World Cup performances. As per usual the quarter-finalists from 1999 were straight through but 81 nations fought for the next remaining 12 spots with qualification starting in September 2000 when Luxembourg beat Norway 41-9.Bonus points were used for the first time in the World Cup pools and teams got four points for a win, two for a draw and bonus points for scoring four or more tries or losing by seven points or fewer.2007 in FranceSimilar to 2003 with the eight quarter-finalists from 2003 through automatically and 12 nations qualifying through regional tournaments. Portugal were the new boys and pools were livened up by the fact that teams finishing third automatically qualified for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.A First: World rankings were used in the 2011 tournament to decide the seeds (Getty Images)2011 in New ZealandFour pools of five again but crucially this was the first time world rankings were used to seed teams in the pools. The cut-off point was 1 December 2008 meaning the top four seeds were New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. So South Africa, England and France were not top seeds despite their performances four years earlier.Twelve teams qualified automatically by finishing in the top three of their pool at the 2007 World Cup and Russia made their debut. How does the pooling system work during the Rugby World Cup? We take a look in this piece. Rugby World Cup Groups See which teams have qualified for the 2019… Rugby World Cup Venues
Raubenheimer’s squad is filled with impressive and formidable women – but what steps are SA Rugby taking to support them?Well, the U20s team has been relaunched and they played their first games since 2013 last year. Their coach Laurian Johannes appeared as a prop for the Springbok Women in the 2010 World Cup and is the first woman to coach a South African national side. She’ll assist Raubenheimer with the senior squad next year as part of World Rugby’s Coaching Internship Programme.Another development is the creation of eight new Youth Training Centres, as the women’s game looks to maximise its talent pool outside rugby’s traditional Afrikaner stronghold. Women’s rugby in South Africa is generally more diverse than men’s, with the national women’s 15-a-side team having 86% black representation, which exceeds the transformation target.The hope is that the training centres will attract more players to the sport, with Booi saying: “Looking at the young talent coming through the ranks, I believe we’ve started to reap the rewards.”Scrum-half Tinsey is equally animated about the talent emerging at grass-roots level, saying: “Each year it is getting better and better, with more girls being aware of the sport, especially with us now playing international matches in our own country. And I feel we can only build on this.”On the ball: Tayla Kinsey passes in the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup match against Kenya (Getty Images)The team are certainly happy to put pressure on themselves – seeing their performances at next year’s World Cup as the key to growing the women’s game. Their coach explains: “Representing the national team is the highest honour. We, as the flag-bearing team within the women’s structure, need to go out and show the youngsters the beauty of the game, and how special it is to play for the Springbok Women.”The Labour AheadStirring words indeed, but despite this optimism, challenges still face South Africa if they’re to compete at the highest level. Rhetoric alone does not win trophies.Raising standards: South Africa’s Nolusindiso Booi in action at the 2014 World Cup (Getty Images)Funding is the key to their improvement, with the national team’s budget a fraction of the powerhouses of England, New Zealand and France. But Booi recognises that the team may need to deliver on the pitch first, saying: “We would love to see more corporate investment in the women’s game, but that said, we are mindful of the fact that if we are more competitive, perhaps it would open the door for more corporate investment.”The financial challenges are significant for South Africa’s amateur internationals and nationally contracting the players is not an imminent prospect given the impact of Covid-19 on the union’s coffers.The final challenge the team faces is limited opportunities to play. There are six teams in the Women’s Interprovincial Competition, and they only play each other once before a grand final – meaning only five or six matches are contested by each team per year. A B League features eight more teams at a lower level.“Perhaps one of the ways to step things up would be to expand the season to play more matches,” explains Kinsey. “Generally international tournaments require players to play back-to-back matches in a short space of time, and if our domestic competitions are similar, it could better prepare players for the demands of international rugby.“Perhaps if the 15s sides play more regularly in the next few years, it could create a pathway for the 15s game to become professional.”The Last WordKinsey’s words address an end-goal: professional status. In a country as rugby-mad as South Africa, shouldn’t a professional women’s set-up be possible?“It would be nice to have a fully professional or even semi-professional women’s game,” considers Raubenheimer. “But we need to be mindful of the fact that it is a process. It’s important for the players to show they’re deserving of professional contracts by pulling people into stadiums and playing an attractive and skilful brand of rugby.”It’s a cautious answer, but an opinion also expressed by his national captain Booi. “We have a long way to go (to achieve professional status) because the sport is still in the development stages in the country. We should take it step-by-step instead of rushing things just for the sake of it.”Raubenheimer adds: “I feel that we have to let the women’s sides go out and stand on their own two feet and find their rightful place.”This period of baby-steps, with the Springbok Women still just 16 years old, is coming to an end. Next year’s World Cup, and beyond that their domestic rugby and growing player pool, will dictate if they are left merely walking – or are able to run. The Springbok Women StoryThe abiding image of last year’s World Cup is Siya Kolisi, the boy from the township, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy to the sky. A symbol of emergence for South African rugby, a modern-day Invictus story, a team led to the trophy by their first black captain.But what about the women’s game in South Africa? The nation has one of the game’s largest player pools, a hugely successful men’s team and possibly the proudest rugby culture in the world. So why have the Springbok Women never been a global force?The LowdownSouth Africa are currently 13th in the Women’s World Rankings, having never finished higher than tenth in a Rugby World Cup. They chose not to even try to qualify for the tournament in 2017 and have won only 15 games of 45 in their history. It’s an inauspicious record, but there’s more to the story than those figures.Coach Stanley Raubenheimer, appointed in 2018, begins to explain his side’s history to Rugby World. He says: “It would be unfair to expect the women to emulate the success of the men given the vastly different circumstances within the rugby systems in South Africa.“Women’s rugby is still in its infancy over here, but there is a lot of effort going into the game, and we have a 12-year strategic women’s plan to ensure that we continue making progress.”South Africa only played their first game in 2004, narrowly losing 8-5 to Wales in Port Elizabeth, while their non-participation in 2017 was a deliberate decision, taken with the long-term prosperity of the game in mind as they try to create some of the structure of their more storied rivals.“The main objective of the decision was to rearrange the women’s system to strengthen the structures from the bottom up, and in my view it is paying off today,” explains captain and lock Nolusindiso Booi. “We have more young players coming through the ranks who took up the sport at a young age, which is brilliant from a skills and experience point of view.”Their Rugby Africa Women’s Cup triumph in 2019 secured their place at RWC 2021 with a newer, younger squad, for what will be their first appearance in the tournament since 2014.Related: 2021 Rugby World Cup Qualifying ProcessIt will be Raubenheimer’s first experience of leading a side at a Rugby World Cup and his goal is for the side to improve on their performance in previous editions. It’s a sentiment echoed by his players.Experienced scrum-half Tayla Kinsey has played the sport since the age of eight, turning out for College Rovers and KwaZulu-Natal, and is unequivocal about her hopes for South African rugby. “We don’t want to be a team just filling a spot at the tournament,” she says. “We want to go out there and represent South Africa in the best possible way that we can.”Booi adds: “We want to leave the field after each match with our heads held high, knowing we gave everything.”The LeadersTheir words go some way to demonstrating that, like the men’s team, there is no shortage of inspirational leaders within their set-up.Booi is from a small village in the Eastern Cape and only began playing when she was 21. “The beauty of rugby is that anyone can play the sport, regardless of your background, and can go on to achieve national honours,” she says. “All it takes is hard work and discipline.”Sadly for Booi, she was hampered by a foot injury last season, but the team have an able vice-captain in Babalwa Latsha, the Springbok Women’s first-ever professional player. The prop was born in the township of Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, but this year played for Eibar Rugby Taldea in Spain, starring with 13 tries in just seven games – from the front row!In the clear: Babalwa Latsha looks to break through Madagascar’s defence (Getty Images)Her work away from the pitch is equally impressive, as she forthrightly takes on some of the key issues of women’s sport in South Africa.Alongside her 2018 law degree from the University of the Western Cape, Latsha hopes to set up a sporting agency for women, educating them about their rights within the sporting world, offering mentorship and training.Raubenheimer is justifiably proud of the behaviour of his charges. “The way the women approach the game and their passion for the sport inspires me. Some players come from challenging backgrounds, which makes me appreciate the sacrifices they make for the sport”.The Long-Term Plan LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Pride and joy: Aseza Hele celebrates scoring a try against Scotland last year (Getty Images) Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Why haven’t South Africa made as big an impact in women’s rugby as they have in the men’s game? Jacob Whitehead reports
Insight: South Africa’s preparations for Lions tour Collapse Faf de Klerk on Lions, Sharks and Springboks 3. He might have settled at scrum-half, but de Klerk played at ten while in high school. He’s said that his boot was his biggest weapon at that age – and the impact on his box-kicking now is self-evident!4. At only 5ft 7in and 80kg (12st 8lb), de Klerk is usually always one of the smallest players on the field – he is even half an inch smaller than Springbok team-mate Cheslin Kolbe. However, he does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game.Faf de Klerk sprinting clear for the Lions against the Sunwolves (Getty Images)5. The beginning of his professional career brought disappointment, as he missed out on a contract with the Bulls and instead went to the University of Johannesburg on a scholarship.However, in 2014 he broke into Super Rugby with the Lions, winning Man of the Match in only his second appearance. Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 6. De Klerk made his South Africa debut against Ireland in June 2016, starting all three Tests at No 9 as the Boks won the series 2-1.However, that year was an annus horribilis for the Springboks. South Africa lost eight games, including a humiliating 20-18 defeat to Italy. De Klerk was also sin-binned against Wales in the final match of the European tour for a deliberate knock-on.7. His childhood hero was Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen, whose physical and aggressive approach is mimicked by Faf’s own play. Both won Rugby World Cups with the national side. 8. Rassie Erasmus’s appointment as Springboks coach saw the scrum-half recalled to the national team after an 18-month absence in 2018. He scored a try in his first Test back, South Africa’s 42-39 comeback win over England that June.MORE ABOUT FAF DE KLERK Expand Insight: South Africa’s preparations for Lions tour Faf de Klerk on Lions, Sharks and Springboks 9. He told the BBC that his father emails Sale’s press office to get footage of each of his son’s games because it’s difficult to watch every Gallagher Premiership match in South Africa.10. De Klerk was one of the 27 Sale players and staff who tested positive for coronavirus at the end of the 2019-20 season. Find out more about the Sale Sharks No 9 Diminutive Faf de Klerk is driving the monstrous… The Springboks coaches face a juggling act ahead… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Faf de Klerk training in the week of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final (Getty Images) Diminutive Faf de Klerk is driving the monstrous Springboks pack Expand The South Africa scrum-half reflects on the highs… Diminutive Faf de Klerk is driving the monstrous Springboks pack Who is Faf de Klerk: Ten things you should know about the South Africa scrum-halfFaf de Klerk has been tearing up for Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership since 2017 and was a key factor in South Africa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph.Here are a few facts and figures about the scrum-half.Ten things you should know about Faf de Klerk1. De Klerk was born on 19 October 1991 in Nelspruit, a city in the north-east of South Africa close to the borders with Mozambique and Eswatini.Springboks No 8 Duane Vermeulen also hails from the city, which is known as Mbombela too.2. Despite every rugby fan knowing him as ‘Faf’, his first name is actually François. Faf is a common Afrikaans abbreviation for the name.