Author: Eloise

Welsh rugby tragic. Erstwhile scientist. Somehow picked up the Wobs and the Rebs as "second teams" (mostly to annoy a South African friend and have something to talk about over coffee). Likes reminding the men that women exist and play rugby too.

At the weekend, or spread across your social media, you may have reference to an opinion piece in The Times about How To Speed Up Rugby based on a previous piece when Lawrence Dallaglio selected England v Wales (rather than Scotland v France) as “slow and painful to watch.” The linked piece contains a summary of the first one, and The Times paywall only lets you read one piece per day. In the linked article there’s a graphic, that is also at the top of this column, showing how the time was spent during the match. Various people, some of…

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Netflix have dropped a documentary about last year’s Men’s Six Nations Championship. But is it any good? Warning First, a quick warning. This is very spoiler-lite, but not totally spoiler free. I outline the structure of the episodes and mention a few names. But I don’t mention “plot points” and the like. So you can read to see if you think you might like it. Caveats First, the amount I know about making a TV show could comfortably be written on a postcard, possibly a stamp. If I paraphrased that advice to writers and “made what I know” it might…

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The 2024 Men’s Six Nations kicks off in two weeks, on Friday, 2 February with, potentially, the biggest match of the tournament, France v Ireland in Paris. That’s 0700 on Saturday 3rd February AEDT. I’m fairly sure it will be on Stan. The full schedule is available here. The Squads There’s a full rundown of the squads on this page. If you don’t follow Northern Hemisphere rugby news here’s a quick run down of the main talking points: For Ireland, Johnny Sexton has finally retired, Ireland are looking for his replacement. Otherwise, there are a lot of familiar faces with…

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The end of the year gives us a chance to look back, prettier for me than most of you I guess, and also look forward. Typically it’s a time where we look to make changes in our life, so why not in the laws of the game we love? This impulse isn’t unique, you might have read a list here, that’s also been printed elsewhere, and makes an interesting read. I have three main areas I would like to see changes made. Some of these are easier at the elite level, which is what I watch, but should be relatively…

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The European Rugby Champions Cup, formerly the Heineken Cup, is the premier club competition in the northern hemisphere. The setup is a bit complicated: the top eight teams from each of the Top14, URC and Premiership (unless last year’s champions fall outside that, when they automatically qualify and that league has seven other places) all qualify. These are distributed across four pools, but the winners of each league go into a different pool, and each pool is set up with two teams from each league. After all of this, each side plays the four “foreign” teams in their pool, two…

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Even with streaming into three leagues of six, the gaps in skill between the top and bottom of the those leagues are pretty large, so you get some blow out scores but there are some close, tense matches too. It’s hard to look at any side and say “oh yes, you can see progress over these three games” hopefully as they get it every year, and the warmups most of the teams played too, we’ll start to see improvements year on year, which is the overall aim. Certainly a hopeful start, and as it won’t be competing for eyeballs with…

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Research published today shows that the longer you play(ed) rugby, the higher your risk of developing CTE. This paper from the University of Glasgow, University of Sydney, Boston University and a host of associated hospitals, looked at brains donated to science where rugby was the primary sports exposure in brain banks in Glasgow, Sydney and Boston. They found 31 such brains in total, and 21 of the brains showed signs of CTE. Most of these brains with CTE (13) were from people who had only played at an amateur level. Central Findings Of the 21 with CTE, 14 had low-stage…

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Welcome to a summary of the results from weekend 2 of WXV 2023. This week we had nine matches as all three leagues played. It’s worth pointing out, as we get into this, a lot of the bigger sides are rebuilding after their latest competition, be that the World Cup last year or the Women’s Six Nations in the Northern Hemisphere spring. It’s not uncommon to hear comments before the match saying things like “six of the starting 15 were in the World Cup squad.” WXV1 England defeated Australia 42-7. While this sounds like a thorough demolition by the Red…

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As rugby fans, we get given lots of rugby stats but just how useful are they? I should warn you there are no pretty pictures. It would just be lines of coloured dots that aren’t really helpful. Sorry. Introduction While we see, on screen, some other stats, like points per entry into the 22, and so on, the stats we see made publicly available are better than they used to be, but are any of them useful? I went through all the matches in the RWC for which stats are available from their website where the points margin was 14…

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The first weekend of WXV saw six matches take place, three in each of WXV2 and WXV3. WXV2 Results Italy beat Japan 28-15. This was a decent game, with quite a bit of back and forth, but Italy always looked in control. Scotland beat South Africa 31-17. As with the previous match, Scotland always looked fairly comfortable here, but South Africa are improving rapidly. USA beat Samoa 36-26. If you only watch one match in full, make it this one. There was real jeopardy in this match, and Samoa look really dangerous. They’re going to cause some chaos. WXV3 These…

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Just when you thought you might get some sleep, and in case you missed the absolute blitz of publicity the inaugural WXV, the yellow and purple striped stepdaughter of World Rugby, begins this weekend. You can read more about it here. Anyone would think that launching a new global contest in parallel with the premier showpiece of men’s rugby might cause issues, but here we are. Watching The Games This page shows the official broadcasters in a range of countries. In Australia the games are on going to be on Stan, in the UK they’ll be on ITV X or…

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Review of the match between Wales and Georgia in Pool C Team News Wales are going in more or less fully loaded. Morgan is rested, Biggar is given another week to recover and Dyer is starting ahead of Adams. Lake has returned as captain. Rees-Zammit and Faletau will have played all four of Wales’ pool matches. Otherwise this is the team that kicked the Wallabies while they were down. Georgia have made five changes. Sharikadze is back in the midfield and captains, the pack has a host of changes too. Wales starting lineup: 15. Liam Williams, 14. Louis Rees Zammit,…

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A review of the final match in Pool A between France and Italy. Team News France are turning up with basically a fully loaded side, allowing for injuries. Lucu and Jalibert are the halfbacks in the absence of Dupont, recreating their club pairing from Bordeaux. Baille remains at loosehead, working his way back to full fitness before the quarterfinals. There is a bit of a shuffle in the backrow, with Alldritt replacing Cros, who drops to the bench. This is probably a rotation policy more than anything. If Dupont and Marchand aren’t fit to play next week, this will probably…

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This is another piece looking at some statistics about how teams perform. This time it’s mostly written by AllyOz, as well as using his graphs. I’m abusing my position of posting the piece to add some comments at the end. Patrick raised an interesting question in the Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics article by Eloise and myself, talking about France establishing a dynasty based on strong junior development. It prompted me to have a look at the performance of the teams at the Junior/U20 RWC and see how that related to performance at senior level. To some degree, what goes in…

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Apparently comparisons are being drawn between the France team of 2019 and Australia of 2023 in terms of youth. No doubt with the inference of “and look where France are now, serious contenders to win their home World Cup.” I want to thank AllyOz for doing a lot of the heavy lifting with collecting the data and drawing the graphs. I mostly wrote the analysis of what he did. Comparing the Squads Not living in Australia, I haven’t heard this directly, but the rumour factory reaches even the distant north eventually. Let’s do some comparisons, starting with ages. Ages In…

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A review of today’s game between France and Namibia in the Rugby World Cup. Team News France have reverted to the big guns for this match, although Aldritt had a knock to his knee in training and is replaced by Jelonch. Nutta’s prejudices aside, this is hardly a step-down in quality. Baille and Danty also return. Namibia have also made a chunk of changes (five to be precise) and are fielding a team closer to the one they fielded against Italy than France. In other news, their winger who wrecked his ankle and knee against the All Blacks last week…

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Today’s review contains no bias from your Welsh correspondent as we look at the Pool C matchup between Wales and Portugal. Team News As with France and the All Blacks, Wales have made 13 changes to their side from last weekend. Louis Rees-Zammit and Taulupe Faletau are the only survivors, although the scrum halves have merely swapped who starts and who’s on the bench. I think this was the plan all along but six days rest after Fiji and 250 tackles by Wales in that game would certainly have helped push it that way. We’ve seen that the youngsters for…

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Team News France have essentially changed their whole team, with 12 of the starters being new. It would be a lie to say they don’t look weaker, you can’t take Aldritt, Dupont and Penaud out of a team and not have a drop in quality, but this still looks like a side that would comfortably beat almost all comers and it’s still a question of how many, not if. Uruguay had a bye in week one. Most of us might not recognise many of these names, but Arata is generally regarded as the second best scrum half in the Top14,…

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Given the uneven balance of the draw for this year’s Rugby World Cup, there’s been a fair bit of talk, here and elsewhere, about changing the date of the draw. Obviously there has to be a draw, there needs to be a schedule, teams need to know who they’re playing, where and when with at least some notice. So, how might it change, what challenges will this cause and are there any solutions? What Happens Now? Before thinking about how we might change the Rugby World Cup draw, we ought to understand the process. Currently the top 12 teams in…

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What can the 18 test matches, plus the Portugal v Australia A match and Spain plus Argentina, tell us about the state of the teams going into the Rugby World Cup? It’s important to remember that not all the sides in the World Cup played, they certainly didn’t all have an equal number of games (the range is 0-4) and they did different things with their games. For example, Wales put out three pretty different teams as Gatland searched for his best squad members while Scotland put out their strongest team almost every time as Townsend gave them time to…

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