The England Team V South Africa
15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 20 caps)
14 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 36 caps)
13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)
12 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 60 caps) captain
11 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 71 caps)
10 Danny Cipriani (Wasps, 15 caps)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 76 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 58 caps)
2 Jamie George (Saracens, 27 caps)
3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 12 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 53 caps)
5 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 21 caps)
6 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 65 caps)
7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 3 cap)
8 Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 16 caps)
16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps)
17 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)
18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 10 caps)
19 Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 0 caps)
20 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 3 caps)
21 Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps)
22 Ben Spencer (Saracens, 2 cap)
23 Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks, 4 caps)
Well, we’ve got it wrong all along so why not carry on in that vain. Cipriani finally gets a chance to impress so let’s say that England will regain a bit of credibility and win 19-11. The weather is destined to be a bit wet and windy plus the pitch is not as fast as the previous two. Thus, fewer points. If England don’t then the only thing this blog will have got right over the last couple of weeks is that there’ll be cries of ‘Sack Him’ and crisis for the days following the game. Please, for the sake of us all, England… WIN and win well.
A Quick Recap
What a First Test match that was. Even in times of hyperbole and meetings of the century this was a good one. England were as good as South Africa were bad in the first 21 minutes. South Africa reversed the roles soon after and the game got wilder and wilder by the minute before the Springboks ran out the deserved winner 42 – 39.
As an England rugby fan we all need to take the rough with the increasingly absent smooth. That is where a rugby tour comes in. To tour is not just a case of sitting around during the week and waiting for games to come around. There are places to explore, friendships to be made and almost certainly stories to be created – and told if you’re Mike Pyrgos, our stupendously well versed tour manager and all round fine bloke.
On The Bright Side
So, the result did not go our way and, nor could it be argued, did the performance merit anything else. It is also down to the press to point out all that is rubbish with our game. What about if we tried to find some plus points in the game? The last International team to score 39 or more points at Ellis Park? New Zealand in August 2000. They scored 40 points. The Springboks scored 46.
Johnny May! What a performance. He popped up everywhere, scored an individual try from the running rugby gods. Had a NZ wing scored that there would be rhapsodies from around the world and we’d all get terribly self-conscious. May’s try was at the end of the game proving that perhaps England had not wilted as much as has been reported. His pass to set up Mike Brown was also signs of a back line finally starting to get their head around creativity. And whisper it quietly responding to a new backs coach.
Those first 21 minutes. Their opponents may have been all over the place but we could argue that was because of the rugby being played by England. It was fast, dynamic and damn fine to watch. Nobody would have stood a chance. Maybe. Never mind that it fell to pieces and discipline became an issue – again. It’s something to be addressed and we all need to improve.
Rugby Tours & Excursions
As we all know rugby tours aren’t just about the rugby. A rugby tour to South Africa is certainly no different. After all, the game only last 80 minutes, the party may then continue into the night but what about the following 6 days. It’s no good to sit around and just wait for the rugby or to see Eddie Jones. There’s a country to explore.
Our clients had the chance to enjoy a safari in Hluhluwe, a couple of days in Durban. They travel up to the Drakensburg mountains and a tour of Rorkes Drift before heading to Bloemfontein for the second test and a certain victory. Surely, you can move on from a narrow defeat (and a wonderful game of rugby) with a spring in your step with so much to do on the horizon.
What’s next on tour?
The good thing about three test rugby tours is that there is the chance for the team to make amends quickly. England will make the changes required though expect them to be minimal. No real need, especially if we are going to focus on what went right.
Our clients for the second and third tests arrive on Thursday and they’ll be ready to support the England rugby team to a famous victory. The last test in Bloemfontein yielded 54 points as Australia and South Africa drew. In 2010 the same teams shared 80 points.
Aside from the rugby there’ll be the Garden route to travel and game drives to enjoy between the test matches plus a couple of nights in Knysna. And if you really must… a chance to visit the winelands of Stellenbosch.
See, so much to look forward to. Off and on the pitch. Happy Touring!
Both England and South African have named their teams to play one another in the first test in Johannesburg on June 9th. Our clients are all starting to arrive now and these are the line ups they’ll find on Saturday when they arrive at Ellis Park.
15. Elliot Daly
1. Mako Vunipola
|South Africa XV
15. Willie le Roux
1. Tendai Mtawarira
Joe Launchbury is out with a tight calf so Nick Isiekewe joins his club colleague in the 2nd row. Billy Vunipola returns to his position at No. 8 and Tom Curry stakes his claim to be the No 7. that England so desperately need. In other news Brad Shields is on the bench.
There’s no space for Danny Cipriani. David, our Irish domesday merchant has already exclaimed England will lose as a result. Having said that he’s distracted. He’s heading to Argentina to lead our tour over there where Wales will hope to beat the Pumas in a 2 test series. Plus, Ireland take on Australia this weekend too. Meanwhile Mike Brown and Elliot Daly swap positions.
On the South African side their new head coach names a mix of youth and experience. History is made in the front row and at Captain, while Mr Erasmus recalls some top performers from their overseas clubs; Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux are back hoping to get one over their Premiership contemporaries.
In order to offset David’s view I am going with an entirely unlikely England win. 25-18. But in reality South Africa to edge it on account of the altitude. So, some fence sitting!
Stats and bits
• The first England rugby team to tour South Africa was John Pullin’s team on their short tour in 1972. They played in six tour games with a solitary Test match against Piet Greyling’s Springboks at Ellis Park (as the stadium was called at that stage) in Johannesburg. The English team shocked the more than 66 000 spectators with an emphatic win of 18-9.
• Since that first Test, South Africa hosted England on two more occasions at Emirates Airline Park, winning on both occasions – in 1984 (35-9) and 2012 (36-27).
• Since the 1972 tour to date, England have toured South Africa on six occasions. In 1984 (2 Tests), 1994 (2 Tests), 1998 (1 Test), 2000 (2 Tests), 2007 (2 Tests) and in 2012 (3 Tests). South Africa’s record in these five series is: won three, drawn two.
• South Africa’s record against England in South Africa is: Played 13; Won 9; Lost 3; Drawn 1; Points for 362; Points against 213; Tries for 36; Tries against 1; Average score 28-16.
• The overall record of the Springboks against England is: Played 38; Won 23; Lost 13; Drawn 2; Points for 801; Points against 629; Tries for 74; Tries against 46; Average score 21-17.
• South Africa’s biggest win against England was in 2007 in Bloemfontein (58-10) and the biggest loss in South Africa was 15-32 in 1994 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
• England’s best performance against South Africa was in 2002 at Twickenham when the English defeated the Springboks 53-3 – the second biggest Springbok defeat in history.
Never too late
If you are still wondering whether you ought to head out to South Africa there is still time. You’ll miss the 1st Test but we can still get you there in time for the 2nd & 3rd tests.
The England squad for the South Africa rugby tour has been released. Fast Eddie’s only gone and done it. Not content with confounding us all by appointing another Australian to help him out in the backs he has brought Mr Cipriani back into the fold. As our very well informed Irish colleague so eloquently put it, “Cipriani had to be picked, brings flair and creativity to a team severely lacking in both!” The next thing to wonder is whether he’ll play more than a waterboy role. Let’s hope so. Or Belfast David will be saying something like ‘I told you so’.
Other notable inclusions are a call up for Dan Robson, Jack Wills (both Wasps) and of course the elephant in the room, or, the Hurricane in the Cake Tin, Brad Shields. Other than a stab in the eye to the NZRFU all this really means that there will be some serious competition for the back-row spots. Especially now Billy is back and will start. 5 into 2 does not go.
The Sale centre, Cameron Redpath, son of ex Scotland scrum-half Bryan, is the stand out surprise though. Yet to play in the premiership he is a pick from the left of left-field. Already folks on social media are claiming its just RFU posturing and ensuring that the Scotland team don’t get their hands on him first. Having said all that he has played for England U18 and U20. He’s not even a full time professional. Other than his parents and close friends I suspect his school, Sedbergh, are pretty pleased! Whatever your view it is a remarkable achievement.
The list of absentees runs long. Some down to injury and others down to being due a rest. Whether some of them will be seen in an England Shirt again remains to be seen. If there are some great performances out in South Africa then the answer could be a no.
The Chosen 34
Of course, it’s no fun if we don’t indulge in a spot of selection. So without further ado here is the Living With The Lions England team selection for the 1stTest in Johannesburg.
15. Mike Brown
14. Eliot Daly
13. Henry Slade
12. Owen Farrell (c)
11. Jonny May
10. Danny Ciprani
9. Dan Robson
2. Jamie Goerge
3. Kyle Sinckler
4. Maro Itoje
5. Joe Launchbury
6. Chris Robshaw
7. Jack Wills
8. Billy Vunipola
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie
17. Joe Marler
18. Harry Williams
19. Brad Shields
20. Ben Teo
21. Ben Youngs
22. George Ford
There’s only one place to go for that. We don’t have an Octopus so instead we go to our very knowledgable man in Belfast, David ‘I couldn’t tackle Garry Ringrose in a phone box’ McLaughlin. He is known for his balanced view on all things non-Irish Rugby. He has the England team to emerge victorious 2-1. This will be after the inevitable loss at altitude for the first test.
We also asked our man in Durban the same question. Brett gave the less balanced answer of 3-0 to the Springboks. But he still thinks there is a space in the team for Percy Montgomery and his lustrous locks so we aren’t sure whether to take him too seriously.
What we do know is that a rugby tour to South Africa is a great trip for fans and players alike. England don’t win down there very often and for the supporters there are some truly get places to visit. See you there!
The end of the season is nigh. Summer rugby tours are nearly upon us. Champions Trophy finalists are decided; and so is the winner according to some commentators. No need for Racing to show up then; Dan Carter can have chicken liver parfait and a glass of something on the bench and watch Leinster lift the trophy unhindered.
The play-off places in the Aviva Premiership have been secured by the usual suspects. Except Newcastle who have made a dramatic incursion into the established heartlands of play-offdom. We should give Dean Richards a lot of credit. It’s been a long road back from blood gate for the old constable and to make the play-offs is quite an achievement.
Team of The Season
The end of the season also allows those in the know to pick their teams of the season. Given we are not really in the know and, nor do we tour the grounds all season to watch the protagonists break tackles, create turnovers and score length of the field tries, we must piggy back on our esteemed friends in the press. The Guardian were first off the block with the following;
15. Willie le Roux
14. Vereniki Geneva
13. Henry Trinder
12. Henry Slade
11. Josh Adams
10. Danny Cipriani
9. Faf de Klerk
1. Ellis Genge
2. Schalk Brits
3. Nick Schonert
4. Donncha O’Callaghan
5. Joe Launchbury
6. Don Armand
7. Sam Simmonds
8. Jono Ross
Needless to say Dean Richards is the coach.
We can leave the explanations as to why these qualify for a spot to Robert Kitson et al but what is notable in the side is the number, or lack of, first choice England players. Joe Launchbury is on some team sheets but the rest? Those, who are qualified to play for England, either seem to be third or fourth choice. For what it’s worth Henry Slade should make the 23. It’s called creativity.
It should perhaps not be a huge surprise since this has hardly been a vintage year for the England side but you would like to think there would be a few more representatives. Owen Farrell makes the bench but there is no sign of the usual suspects who featured so prominently in seasons past or on the Lions’ tour.
Nobody doubts the intensity of the league but it has been an off year for Premiership sides in Europe. Is the undoubted quality of the imports causing some homegrown players to miss out? Nobody likes the Top 14 comparison but it would be a terrible shame if the AP started going the same way. Perhaps they are just exhausted following a very long season with not much of a break.
England Tour South Africa – One month to go.
England tour South Africa this June so maybe the core squad have been saving themselves. Let’s hope so. They lose all three tests and we’ll be reading about crises all Summer long in the broadsheets.
Of the above 4 or 5 will tour. Danny Cipriani will not be there. In-spite of clamouring from the Times and The Daily Telegraph for him to be picked. It’s true he has been playing at his best and even tacking too. He’s leaving Wasps and now without a club; plus, King Eddie prefers for the boat not to be rocked by naughty Danny.
Like Cipriani, James Haskell is also leaving Wasps and without a club. He is being replaced at Wasps by Brad Shields. It is conceivable he’ll also cede his no 6 international jersey to the same man. Expect Haskell to appear at a club somewhere and fight for his place.
However, what does this say for the strength in depth of England Rugby if we are raiding Super Rugby for a flanker who was deemed not good enough for the black jersey. The Kiwis are kicking up a stink but secretly they must be smiling. Don Armand will be a mite miffed. Surely if Shields hasn’t played a game for Wasps he cannot be picked by England. Not until November at least, when the possibility arises that he’ll take on his some of his team mates from New Zealand.
Money talks at Twickenham
If Shields does take the pitch he’ll be playing in front of people who have paid up to £195 (face value) for a ticket. Apparently, they could sell Twickenham out 20 times so the price is a fair one. Not sure for who though. CEO Stephen Brown probably. It is a simple lesson as to why you should never appoint a CFO as the big cheese. All that money might make for a delicious bottom line but at the cost of what? I’d say atmosphere, soul and a little something called integrity. Never mind, the RFU love money and we are lucky to have them. Or something.
Change is on the way?
Now for something different. In a world of incremental improvements and clever ploys to attract a different audience and keep the current one hungry for more, we may have a good one on our hands. Western Force Rugby have been given the go ahead to trial the ‘Power Try’ during their home games in World Series Rugby.
To give them their due it seems like a good plan to open the game up. In short there will be an extra couple of points available for the try if the move is started in the scorer’s own 22. The crowd (and presumably the players) will be kept informed if the try is still ‘on’ by flashing green lights on the opposing posts. The World Series Rugby tournament is to be played between Western Force and representative sides from the South Pacific. Expect a lot of seven pointers on those hard WA pitches. And a lot of heavy breathing from the props.
World Rugby will review the results and see if there is a case for making it a new rule. If it makes the game faster and more open then let’s see what happens. Then, we’ll never get the ball back off the Irish teams!
A goose in cow’s clothing?
Finally, we must never miss the opportunity to do a bit of Aussie bashing. Nick Phipps, the scrum half who warms Will Genia’s bench, is getting married. Congratulations. Like all good men who wave goodbye to bachelor-hood he was treated to a royal send off by his chums. There was a boat trip, jokes and his larrikin mates dressed the young buck up as a heifer.
Cue the trip to the hotel at the end of the evening. The great gallah forgot where he was and whipped out his udder and urinated all over the bar. Of course he did! Unsurprisingly his disguise did little to help him blend into surroundings. He was turfed out by management. Like all good Aussies he expressed dismay at his behavior calling himself a ‘goose’ and an ‘bloody idiot’. There’s been a bit of hand wringing and he’s been fined. Expect an inquiry soon… Thanks for the laughs Nick. Whatever next…?
Anyone for Cricket?
The cricket season is here. How do we know? Well, the sun’s out of course. At last, we can finally add cricket into the conversations about the perpetual gloom outside and the length of winters past. This allows us to reflect on the close season, gaze into the future, wonder quietly about forthcoming trips to Lord’s and even whether you might still be able to hit the ball as far as you did last year.
So how about that ‘close’ season? Well, it turned out not to be closed at all if you were an international cricketer. The England side played 7 test matches, 10 ODIs and a smattering of T20s just for fun. They were away for much of the winter.
It would be fair to say that the results in the Test Matches were certainly not to be celebrated. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s virtually impossible to win an away series now. Certainly, none of our famously supportive pundits gave England any hope at all Down Under. Not that any of that dampened the enthusiasm of any of our clients. After all, it is just a game and Australia is a fantastic place to tour and an even better place for Christmas.
However, the team’s performance in the ODIs was to be celebrated. Not much of a surprise either. After all, Mr Bayliss was employed to turn around the dismal results of the previous regime. Under the expert captaincy of Eoin Morgan we can probably head to the home world cup next year as favourites. Can they handle the pressure? Who knows but expect much discussion on the difficulties of entering a major tournament as top dogs.
Off the pitch, we had men treated as such and behaving like errant schoolboys on the top deck of the night bus. Heads came together in friendship, beer was tipped on old Jimmy’s head and some of the sledging crossed the line. As usual. Even coach Trevor went on tele and got cross.
What of our much vaunted and equally disliked opponents? Well, they certainly deserved to regain the Ashes. They were just better than we were in every facet of the game. Skipper Smith certainly got one over his counterpart in the batting stakes and that superiority was repeated throughout the side. High on the Englishman’s wish list must be a very fast bowler or three.
Following their victory the Baggy Greens headed across the Indian Ocean to South Africa with an additional boing in the Kangaroo. There they were met by a fiercely competitive side who would not be taking any of their opponents’ efforts at ‘mental disintegration’ lying down. No boet.
The result? Rabada went wild at any dismissal and was censured once then banned when he couldn’t keep it in check. Old Davey W took exception to a de Kock jibe and threatened to knock his head off before tea. Even the pugnacious Darren Lehman claimed the Proteas had overstepped the mark. The very cheek of it. Out sledged, Boof? What would the leadership group do about that?
If it hadn’t have been for the very beady South African cameramen we may never have found out. They spotted old hard head Bancroft with a little piece of paper in the palm of his hand. And then filmed him humiliatingly popping it down his jock strap. As if the sniffer dogs wouldn’t look there. Clearly in his very hard head was not a very big brain. Once rumbled it transpired that the equally cerebral vice-captain had decided to try and alter the state of the ball with sandpaper. And captain Smith knew.
The outpouring of indignation was enough to power a small city for a couple days. To his credit (?) Steve Smith came out with Cameron Bancroft and admitted the whole thing. It seemed initially they were a touch more disappointed to have been caught and not that sorry at all. Cue more sighing, hand wringing and head shaking across the world’s cricket media. Everyone got involved and lamented the end of gentlemanly conduct. Then they were sorry. And sent home. In disgrace. Mid-series.
Then the tears came. Steve Smith sobbed, Cameron Bancroft howled, David Warner tried his hardest not to then cried. And still Darren ‘I hope they send him home crying’ Lehman declined to budge. Then came the sanctions. A year ban for the skipper and vice-captain, 9 months for Cammie. Plus, a bit of cricket community service. Then more tears.
Cricket Australia were damning in their summary of the events. The Australian public were heartbroken. Even the Prime Minister got involved. Jim Maxwell sobbed as he went over the sorry state of affairs. Finally, Darren Lehman agreed that it might be best if he left his post. And then cried. Terrific stuff for the English cricket fan. And certainly, those in South Africa.
More seriously, the whole thing was very unedifying from start to finish and we are pleased to see the back of it. The banned triumvirate will be back in time for the Ashes in 2019. Expect some very fine song writing at cricket stadiums near you. Lest they try and forget.
So, what is new? England have finally changed the selectors. Smarty pants Ed Smith put his mortar board in the ring along with Andy Flower and has been selected. I think he’s a pretty good choice. Michael Atherton agrees. He’s been an excellent part of the team at TMS. He enjoys looking at empirical evidence as opposed to subjective judgement on someone’s form and, while this isn’t a precursor to success, he has got to better than his predecessors and their methods. Hooray for proactive change.
Naturally there are many who think he’s only got the job because he’s rich, has a double 1st from Cambridge and is friends with Straussy. Some things never change. Imagine if Andy Flower had got the gig? Even more melodramatic cricket outrage and ‘jobs for the boys’ jibes.
Top of Ed’s list? No’s 2, 3 & 5. A spinner and a couple of fast bowlers ready to step up and frighten the opposition and in the long term to take over from our opening bowlers. Sound familiar?
What about a replacement for Darren Lehman? News is that Justin Langer will get the job. I think we can all be certain he will be excellent. Australia will be strong once more on and off the pitch. The more remarkable appointment is their new captain. Tim Paine will take over from Steve Smith permanently. Not long ago he was being laughed at by his own people for being, well, rubbish.
Timmy has already spoken about reducing sledging and he’ll be keeping Smith “in the loop” about the change in culture. Anyone else hear the laughing on social media from here? Let’s wait and see. They will be in England this June for an ODI series. Should be a quiet affair.
Finally, not for the first time, News Corp have outbid the BBC. Talk Sport will cover the away series in Sri Lanka this November and then again in the West Indies next March. For some the end of the world is nigh once more and for others a bit of competition is a good thing. Aggers has already said sorry to his fans and picked a fight with his counterpart at Talk Sport. Expect a couple of familiar voices to appear on their coverage. If it still upsets you that much it could be time to jump ship yourself and join us in either Sri Lanka or the Caribbean. They’re both fantastic destinations.
Right, that’s enough of that. All this talking is exhausting and we haven’t even touched on Ben Stokes. Shall we go out and play? The sun is shining after all.
Sigirya / Kandy / Colombo
11th – 24th October 2018
|from £1845 – pp sharing (Single Supplement: £615)
12 NIGHT TOUR BASED ON:
– 4 nights Sigiriya (Heritance Kandalama Hotel)
– 5 nights Kandy (Thilanka Hotel)
– 3 nights Colombo (Mount Lavinia Hotel)
(Extra nights available on request)