Round 2 of the Six Nations 2019

 

Ding Ding Round 2

The long awaited (ahem) review of round 2 of the 2019 Guinness 6 Nations is here. Other matters, believe it or not, have taken over. At LWTL HQ we have been in the process of developing an app and an online itinerary facility for all our clients. It’s now more or less ready and will be rolled out for Hong Kong 7s clients once we have had feedback from our testers, who currently flit between Barbados, Grenada and St Lucia.
 
What does this mean? In short, we hope to say a welcome & long overdue farewell to thumbing your way through paper and looking for telephone numbers of your next destination. All important details will be in the palm of your hand; a day by day itinerary will be easily accessible on your smart phone as will flight times, transfers, excursions and destination information. We’ll even stick an abridged version of your tour in there too – should you wish to print it! Naturally, all our personal and fantastic customer service will continue. In fact, it may just get better as we’ll have a bit of extra time.
 
If you needed an extra reason to travel with us then you now have it. There is lots to get excited about in the future so quickly sign up to either a cricket tour to South Africa this winter or even next year’s Guinness Six Nations.
 

What of round two?

Scotland 13 – 22 Ireland 
Italy 15 – 26 
England 44 – 8 France

 

The Headlines

Despite this particular amateur commentator predicting a victory for Scotland everything went pretty much to plan. In fact, it was all a bit obvious. Ireland would ultimately have too much for Scotland; Scotland would ultimately make too many mistakes and, in the eyes of some, bottle another opportunity to win when they should have done. Our man David was sanguine when asked for his view. “Didn’t play well at all. More Scotland mistakes than Ireland good play.” Correct.
 
Meanwhile, in Rome Wales’ ‘B string’ would be too good for Italy. Mind you what were we expecting. Alun Wyn- Jones was on the bench along with a few other regulars so if things had slipped I think we can be sure they would have entered the fray earlier than hoped and taken the game further away from their hosts. Didn’t do much for the competition as a whole and we could feel a bit sorry for the fans who had travelled out to Rome hoping to see a full strength side. However, it’s a World Cup year and Warren and his men are up to something.
 
In conclusion, a rather boring couple of games. The real headlines were about to made in London the following day. Not because I am English, not because once again England roared out of the traps like a ferret (Johnny May) escaping from a ferret legger’s trousers but because the demise of the French is really something to be worried about.
 

Quel grand sac de mer…

No longer can journalists trot out the familiar, word count easy-wins refrain about not knowing ‘which French team will turn up’. We do know and have really known for a long time. They will be unfit, poorly coached, devoid of team spirit and just a mite hopeless. Since their Grand Slam in 2010 they have had one 2nd spot, a third but have otherwise battled out for 4th, 5th or even last spot. This is not the sign of an especially unpredictable side. 
 
This year they are 2 defeats from 2 and showing few – ok maybe 40 minutes – signs of much to frighten their next opponents. Even if they are Scotland who find winning away almost as tricky as France find selecting players in their rightful position. Take last week’s back 3 for example. A winger at Full back (who’d shown himself up when called on to perform the basic task of sweeping up the week before), a centre on the right wing and, just for good measure, another even more inexperienced centre on the left.
 

The Past

Why so annoyed? Because some of us really did grow up with a French team that played the game in a manner we wanted it played in. They represented all that was crazy about the infuriating, beautiful country. They ran from behind the posts, they smoked a cigarette at half-time and they had the scrum-half throwing the ball into the line out. They shrugged their shoulders at marauding Kiwis and dished out displays of attacking rugby from the gods. They produced great players. Now? Not so much. They try. Sort of. But they have a coach who looks older than Asterix and has lost his players.
 
Morgan Parra has had enough. He said he felt France could play like England but they never practiced. Anything. He must have wanted to be dropped. He has been. As has his half back partner. However, there is clearly something a bit more rotten in La République. Only 60,000 turned up to watch them be beaten by Wales. It was a Friday kick off which makes it hard to get up to Paris from the heartlands of France but it isn’t just that. Amongst a wider, countrywide malaise (which we mustn’t get into on a tongue in cheek blog post) their club game is too big. Big like Mathieu Basteraud and their 24 stone prop. TWENTY FOUR STONE!
 
If one was a rugby fan and one was looking for a little sign which shows how little French Club owners care about their National game then one would have had one a day or two ago. That sign? The re-signing of Dan Carter by Racing 92 to replace the retiring Patrick Lambie. Dites rien, Rodney, dites rien!!
 
What about the English performance. Well, mon brave it was magnifique. In every way. A couple of injuries but sad as we are to see Mako out for the remainder of the tournament it does mean he can rest. A bigger plus is we get to see Ellis Genge play alongside Kyle Sinckler. Now there’s fun. I wonder how Jamie George feels about it. I used to not have time for the props but along came the new(ish) English front row and I am now gripped. More please. 
 

Guinness Six Nations, 2019 – Round 3

Anyway, the important stuff resumes this weekend. What do we think. Let’s be bold. And go for three away wins. Why three when Scotland are in Paris and find it so hard to win? Bof, you just never know which French team will turn up…  

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A review of the 1st Round of the Guinness Six Nations


Six Nations Round 1 – The Results

France 19 – 24 France
Scotland 33-20 Italy
Ireland 20 – 32 England

 

Game of two halves in Paris

Depending on who you ask there was only one upset over the three games. It ought to be have been two but Wales managed to pull the cockerel out of the flower bed and emerge triumphant. Most players and coaches talk about requiring a bit of luck and the bounce of the ball going your way so if this is the case then expect Wales to get no more good fortune until 2020. Or, in short France produced a rugby journalist’s cliché delight and just gave it away. Following a first half of sustained excellence from Les Bleus and one of misplaced direction from the Welsh the tables turned and whatever France touched turned to 7 points for the opposition.
 
We might suspect that Messrs Gatland and Edwards made some ferocious animal noises at half time. Meanwhile next door Jacques Brunel passed around the carbohydrates and the pastis. From the start of the second half whistle Wales upped their game. As, Paul O’Connell remarked half-way through the first half, all the Welsh had to do was to remain patient and France would do what they always do. As sure as Jiffy Davies would be biased in the commentary box the mistakes began and the comeback was underway before a wild pass from Vahaamahina gift wrapped what looked like an unlikely Welsh victory 40 minutes earlier.
 
Warren Gatland proclaimed at the start of the tournament that if Wales win their first game they will win the tournament. I suppose he would but after that performance I am not sure the opposition will see much to fear. However, Wales do improve with time and are unbeaten in 10 so anything is possible. A big round 3 game in Cardiff looms.
 

Creative Scotland & Improving Italy

Italy visiting Murrayfield was sadly only ever likely to produce one result. You can only play what is put in front of you and Scotland were good for the victory. A hat-trick for a winger always shows a team playing with confidence. Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg were both superb. However, Italy scored 3 tries in 8 minutes to bring the game back to a slightly more respectable score line. This shouldn’t really happen to a side with designs on a tournament decider in Twickenham in Round 5. Ireland visit this weekend in what is certainly the game of round 2.
 
Shorn of 3 of their top performers it was always going to be tough. Conor O’Shea has been talking of how much improvement there is throughout Italian rugby. From age group rugby to the Pro 14 sides being more competitive. A cynic would point out that things had to get better soon as it was very hard to get any worse. A romantic yearns for them to win a game. Just one. Perhaps a victory in Rome over Wales this weekend is on the cards? Bit patronising I agree but what else is there to say?
 

Predictions – a Fool’s game

To Dublin for the game of the round. Both in anticipation and in reality. England arrived a distant 3-1 to win and Ireland were given an eight-point head start by the bookies. In a two horse race this is as good as being told not to turn up. This is a silly thing to say at the best of times but to a written off bunch of Englishman coached by a couple of Australians and a kiwi? Very silly indeed.
 
Everyone in Ireland seemed to get the complacency bug with such luminaries as Brian O’Driscoll stating he wouldn’t swap anyone in the Irish side for an Englishman, Joe Schmidt only wanted Andy Farrell and Eddie O’Sullivan might take two players if he was put in a half-Nelson. Every paper had Ireland winning comfortably. Except Sir Clive who suggested England would win by a point using his favourite method: the drop goal and only then if they played as he said.
 
Well, that egg landed on a lot of faces. England were better in every single facet of the game. Right from the national anthems Rory Best looked like a beaten man, his brow furrowed at the mere thought of having to get stuck in against a terrifying English pack who were more intent on ruining everything the men in green tried. And tried they did – albeit the same game plan time and time again. Perhaps that is the problem when you have a coach so focussed on a playbook for all outcomes? If a team plays by numbers and encounters a side that just counts that bit faster then catch up will be the order of a long day.
 
However, as our man David in Belfast says, it is better that this happens now than in a quarter final in Japan. Ditto the disappearance of half back pairing Sexton and Murray. Missing without trace. Perhaps it might be time to rethink the Irish reliance on a box kick? Also, an early delivery of the age old lesson of ‘Don’t believe the hype’.
 

Ireland Beaten, battered and bruised

None of which should really be an excuse for how slowly Ireland recognised that England would start fast. They have made a habit of it recently. A very early try for Chris Ashton against the All Blacks in the autumn; an avalanche of early points during the Summer tour to South Africa, albeit in losing matches. However, it was coming and Ireland had no answer to the deep kick off followed by a few phases and a try in the corner on 93 seconds.
 
Nor ironically, was there any apparent plan to combat a far superior kicking game. Ben Youngs outdid his opposite man time and time again. Eliot Daly was more than a match for an out of position Robbie ‘I once played full-back on debut’ Henshaw; Jonny May was faster and more furious that Jacob Stockdale and Jack Nowell was everywhere all the time. Tom Curry was an nuisance at the breakdown as the game progressed. Henry Slade against Garry Ringrose? Only one winner on the day. Let’s not get started on the Vunipolas effect. We could go on.
 
In fact, if you were to choose a XV based on the two sides on display you would be hard pushed to find a green shirt in it. Not even Andy Farrell would get the job.
 
The only downside for England was a nasty looking knee injury for Maro Itoje. Even that could be a blessing in World Cup year. Give the man an enforced rest and let Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes take over. Hardly bad replacements.
 

Favourite moment

A favourite moment from round 1? Aside from the great rugby a personal favourite had to be when Jérome Garces was heard lecturing Kyle Sinckler. Young Kyle’s response? ‘I am sorry Sir, I am just so excited’. A remark to perfectly encapsulate a great weekend at the rugby.
 
Ding, ding Round Two of the Six Nations is nearly here…. Predictions? A victory for Scotland, Wales and England. Go Italy! See you next week to relive the action and ponder over the results.

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LWTL England Cricket tour to Windies

LWTL England Cricket tour to Windies ontour1

LWTL England Cricket tour to Windies ontour2

LWTL England Cricket tour to Windies ontour3

LWTL England Cricket tour to Windies ontour4

LWTL England Cricket tour to Windies ontour5

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Cricket – Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour

LWTL are very privileged to host the 2019 Oxford Universities 1st Team cricket tour to Cape Town, South Africa. They have played 3 competitive matches to date winning the first 2 against Cape Town Cricket Club and Western Province Cricket Club and in the 3rd match against Groot Drakenstein they had a dramatic draw.
 

Cricket - Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour 1

Cricket - Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour 2

Cricket - Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour 3

Cricket - Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour 4

Cricket - Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour 5

Cricket - Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour 6

Cricket - Oxford University 1st Team Cape Town Tour 7

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Merry Xmas from LWTL

Merry Xmas from LWTL XMAS2018

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Wonderful Client Feedback from Sri Lanka

Every aspect of the tour was excellent. The arrangements were very efficient without being over-organised or regimented, and your local and international staff were friendly and helpful. We dealt mainly with Gail and Anura, who were superb, but the others were fine too. Whenever issues arose (such as the restricted view from the original seats at the SSC ground in Colombo), these were dealt with almost immediately. If we ever make such a trip again we will certainly look at you first.

Tony & Alison

 

All the arrangements went as smoothly as possible, the hotels used were excellent. The LWTL Rep was very good, friendly, approachable and there if we needed any help. The local guides/reps were helpful, friendly and very knowledgeable.

Wendy Twigg

 

We were well informed at all times, the most helpful escorts Sri Lankan and lions nothing was to much trouble and always a smile This was my first trip with you but it won’t be my last 😄👍

Caroline Campbell

 

Overall absolutely excellent. A couple of the hotels were a bit tired but the effort, energy and organisation contributed by the team was brilliant. I particularly wanted to mention the exceptional care and attention given to Pat by Anthea and Lorri which was very much appreciated. Thank you so much we all enjoyed an amazing experience and are hoping to join you for another tour.

Carol Cross

 

we would like to thank Lorri and Anthea for or all their hard work and enthusiasm, nothing was too much trouble for them, anything we asked for it was dealt with a smile. THANK YOU GIRLS.

Alan Forrest

 

I cannot rate the trip high enough . Well organised to minimize aggravation and impatience ,Hotels from truly luxurious to the more ordinary ..very very good ..nice cross section .. Cricket organisation terrific. didn’t care much for Galle but Kandy superb.Meet up with the personalities interesting and entertaining. Side trips wonderful. The Guide from Kandy on ..learnt a lot that will stay with me will recommend to my friends. friendly knowledgeable guy. As to the ladies ,,Lorri and and Anthea, wonderful. Look after them well, as your public face and connection with the travelers, couldn’t be better. Lovely warm human ladies ..A great asett to your company .. Looking to repeat with the South Africa tour.

Jeff Shipp

 

Well organised from beginning to end. Our accommodation was very good and the celebrity Q and A sessions were exceptional. Great value.

Jeff Owens

 

Excellent organised and informative tour guides and Sri Lankan ground staff. Fantastic coach drivers and transfers. Hotel choices were good . Thank you to Lorri, Anthea , Gail , Steve and not forgetting the Butterfly crew. Great job.

Michael Machell

 

Very enjoyable, all reps very good ,venues good..only critism would be do away with the two days in Colombo and spend those two days in Kandy or at the lagoon hotel where we had the last night dinner

Richard Harrington

 

Everything under the control of LWTL went to plan. Both airport transfers and match transfers ran smoothly. The hotel was of a good standard and staff were very helpful and incredibly pleasant as were the Sri Lankan people in general. This was my first organised tour but I would definitely go again. Many thanks to all LTWL staff involved.

Jeffrey Suckley

 

This is a very professional company with a very personal approach. From being welcomed at Colombo airport to saying goodbye at Unawatuna we felt we were amongst friends. Thank you Lorri, Anthea and Steve for a great trip. We loved meeting Murali too!

Ed Murray

 

Treasured and trusted company, Although they must have many customers they made all contact personal and any queries were answered immediately. They clearly work and communicate happily as a team. Hotel excellent. Information clear and detailed and presence of Andrea and Lorri reassuring and helpful. People on tour friendly. Cricket exciting.

Joan Wade

 

From start to finish LWTL efficiency was first class. The reps on tour with us were excellent and every attention to detail was looked after . when any small issues arose by others the reps sorted them out without hesitation. I thoroughly recommend LWTL. Great work Steve, Anthea and Lorri!

Kevin Rolfe

 

We went to the Galle Test in Sri Lanka in November 2018. As a party of 3, with an elderly father, we were looked after very well by all the staff. From our initial contact, booking the trip, the tour itself, and for the duration of our stay the attention to detail was second to none! Steve, Anthea and Gail were always on hand to help us and arranged a fantastic trip that we will never forget. I would highly recommend Living with the Lions and we will definitely be going on another tour with them. Thank you

Danny Curtis

 

From start to finish this tour was perfect. The team that booked the trip were so helpful, the organisation of the itinerary, the tour merchandise, the seats at the grounds, the excursions and most of all the three LWTL reps (Steve, Lorrie and Anthea) were amazing.

Mark Yexley

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LWTL Sri Lanka Cricket Tour Images

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Cathedral School play on Dubai Sevens pitch

A wonderful opportunity for the U15 boys to play on the main pitch of the Dubai Sevens against the Dubai Exiles, thank you for a great game and wonderful hospitality. LWTL School Tours.

 
Cathedral School play on Dubai Sevens pitch CSL_Sport1

Cathedral School play on Dubai Sevens pitch CSL_Sport2

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England Rugby squad released for Autumn Internationals

 

The Squad

Forwards
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) co-captain, Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors) *, Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Michael Rhodes (Saracens), Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
 
Backs
Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Nathan Earle (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens) co-captain, George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Tough Challenge Ahead

As King Eddie has pointed out in his press conference, ‘we can only control what we can control and injuries have happened,’ so there is a chance for some new faces to make an impression for what is a pretty massive series of Test matches at HQ next month. New Zealand don’t visit very often, South Africa will be very keen to continue their fine development under Rassie Erasmus and Australia just hate the English on any sporting pitch. Plus, Japan will be the meat in the Tri-Nations sandwich. The Cherry Blossoms will be wanting to put on a good show and perhaps give their former coach a little reminder of what he is missing. 

 

Co-captains

As predicted Dylan Hartley comes back in to the squad. He will share leadership duties with Owen Farrell. Ironically, the former offers a bit of stability in the squad which will hopefully allow the latter to get on with just playing exceptionally; as opposed to arguing tirelessly with everyone. 
 
In the backs, Chris Ashton is back from exile, there still seems to be a spot for Richard Wigglesworth – which is strange. Perhaps if Dan Robson hadn’t have been injured he would have not have been picked. Joe Cokanasiga is rewarded for his early season form at Bath. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to show what he can do. We’d enjoy watching him run into a little Australian! It is good to have Manu back. He’ll hopefully stay fit for long enough to play his part. Remember November 2012? Those were the days.  Otherwise there are few surprises in the inclusions department.
 
An England pack with both Vuniploas is a becoming a rare old thing. Billy is out for another 12 weeks with another broken arm. That’s his third if anyone is counting. Mako has damaged one of his calf muscles and is out for 6 weeks. With Nathan Hughes banned and the indomitable Chris Robshaw out so there is room for a new (old) face.  Ben Morgan is back. He never really let anyone down in an England shirt so I hope he gets a start. 
 
It’s time for Brad Shields to show what he can really do, Zach Mecer is as ready as he’ll ever be and Sam Undershill needs a run at 7 so expect a little interchanging with Tom Curry. As for the props? I simply have no idea. Kyle Sickler on one side. Then it is anyone’s guess. Joe Marler has left a big hole and have we seen the last of Dan Cole?
 

No room for the Cherry (and White) on the cake

A rugby column on the England Rugby team would not be the same if it didn’t mention Mr Cipriani. It seems like Eddie has joined the long list of coaches who have jettisoned the man from a squad. After his unfortunate pre-season fracas in Jersey it was always going to be tough to make a positive impression. In spite of his contribution on tour during the Summer. Clearly, a couple of beautiful passes, being named September player of the month and some match winning performances for his new club, Gloucester, were not enough.
 
The large pro-Danny squad seemed to have over looked the faults in his game. There was a touch of the selfish and poor decision making at Kingsholm last weekend against Castres, which probably made the decision easy. Next time throw the ball to the unmarked man, Danny. Your national coach is in the stand. Glaws coach and Bokke, Johann Ackermann will be pleased. Probably for two reasons. 

 

A prediction

There is only one place to go for that and that is to our Irish correspondent, David. He always has one eye on somewhere else other than the Aviva stadium and Leinster’s march towards European domination. Before that I think 2-2. A loss to SA and NZ and a win against Japan and the Aussies. Frankly, the improvement of the South Africans is pretty terrifying. If there was a spare rand flying about they would be my bet for the World Cup.
 

Anyway, to David from Belfast. It is bound to a good read.
 
“‘English rugby is certainly at a crossroads, the autumn internationals bring three massive tests with a resurgent South Africa, an Aussie squad needing some momentum and of course the soon to be number 2 nation in the world (once Ireland beat them) the All Blacks. At the moment I would say england are looking at 1 win out of 4 and it might be a scrape past Japan. With current injuries, England are left with back row options including our postman and LWTL’s own James Hallett. Tough times for English fans!”
 
See, I told you. The only thing he got wrong is that I can’t play. Broken metatarsal. 

 

Elsewhere

It can be easy to be England centric on these posts so in order to limit the accusation that we never talk about any of the other home nations we have news from Scotland. They have released their squad too. They have cast the net far and wide. It is not as bad as when Wales picked Shane Howarth because he had a goldfish that was born in Carmarthen but not far off ;). The Scots take on Wales, Fiji, South Africa and Argentina. They could win all 4. Whatever happens the match against Wales for Doddle Weir will be a special occasion.
 
All in all we hope for a good showing from all the home nations against Southern Hemisphere opposition. Afterall, there’s a World Cup next year.

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Schools Department – Rob Dickson Joins

LWTL’s newest recruit!

 
After an incredibly busy and successful summer at Living With The Lions, we delved into the transfer market on deadline day and we are delighted that Rob Dickson has joined us from Gullivers Sports Travel/Edwin Doran Sports Tours. Rob brings a wealth of experience having worked in the market place for 9 years and has travelled extensively worldwide. We caught up with Rob on his first day to find out why he chose to join our team.
 
“Having moved from a large corporate company, it’s great to be a part of a smaller business that puts customers first rather than worry about the bottom line and hitting targets. Living With The Lions has a fantastic name in the market place for all sports and I look forward to meeting our current customers and adding new groups to the LWTL family. It is clear that the relationship between the customers and our staff is incredibly tight knit and the experience our staff have in the team should not go unnoticed.”
 
Schools Department - Rob Dickson Joins robdickson
 
LWTL provide a price guarantee policy, this means once you book your sports tour with us, we lock in all of the currency needed for your tour ensuring schools, staff and parents can confidently plan their tour budget.
Please contact us to get a quote for your next sports tour, and visit our testimonials to hear what UK schools are saying about their touring experience with LWTL.
 
TO CONTACT ROB: email rob@lwtlschools.co.uk or call his mobile 07793 039545

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