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Previewpilez: Wales v England (again!) 13th August 2011 August 12, 2011

Here we are again, pontificating on the possibilities of a clash between these two age old rivals. Is it really only a week since we last did this? It feels like a lot has happened since then.

This time last week, I was previewing the clash at Twickenham while trying to avoid even thinking that Wales were likely to lose by a significant margin. England looked like the stable, sure fire winners, Lewis Moody was a cert for captain and Sam Warburton was a young gun and caretaker captain of a Wales side that nobody was truly convinced could reach their full potential.

Fast forward to today, and as well as society having apparently hit the self destruct button, the return fixture looks anything but one sided. England, seemingly shaken by the near miss in their own back yard have made a staggering 13 changes to the match day squad. Five members of the squad have even been ‘temporarily released’ to play for their clubs. Add to that the fact that Chris Ashton is taking up the wing with a rolled ankle, it’s hard to say what sort of England performance we’re going to see.

Wales, on the other hand, are solidifying. After a strong showing last week, Sam Warburton continues to wear the captain’s armband and other than a few boys crocked (Morgan Stoddart with a tournament ending broken leg and Ryan Jones with a calf strain to name a few), those that impressed last week are back to fight another day, with Rhys Priestland being the talking point West of the Severn after a solid showing at 10 on 15 minutes notice. It’s also worth noticing that this time out the Dragons lead the charge. As well as a debut start for Lloyd Burns, Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau are on hand to breathe fresh flames into a squad that hasn’t seen so many Newporteans in a good long while.

As with Manu Tuilagi last week, this week the press has largely been talking about one man, Northampton lock Courtney Lawes is out to impress after a spate of injury woes and big things are now expected whether or not the pressure at this stage of proceedings is welcome. After a further injury worry during training, some thought his World cup was another one to etch into the ‘over before it’s begin’ column but news from the training camp suggests he might be about to become the key to England’s hopes.

Wales at home are a different animal to Wales at Twickenham and with record tickets sales for a summer test, that incomparable Millennium Stadium atmosphere is going to be electric. With World cup places becoming increasingly sought after and with the chance that England will be out to get a bit of their national pride back, we may be looking at a close game, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less exciting.

One to Watch: Wales – Lloyd Burns is going to be out to prove his worth in his first starting shirt under the glare surrounding Gavin Henson’s selection. England – Richard Wigglesworth as he throws his name into the mix for the 9 berth ahead of Ben Youngs and Danny Care.

One to get distracted by: Wales –Ryan Bevington, a hot prop, who knew? (Sorry, Props of the world) England – Nick Easter, because Anna’s got a bit of a soft spot for sir Nicktop.

Words by Lauren

Wales: James Hook (Perpignan); George North (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Gavin Henson (The Bachelor), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Bayonne); Paul James (Ospreys), Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Craig Mitchell (Exeter Cheifs), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Sam Warburton (captain – Cardiff Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons).
Replacements: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Aled Brew (Dragons).

England: Ben Foden, Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Mike Tindall (Gloucester, Capt), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Steve Thompson (Wasps), Dan Cole, Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Hendrie Fourie (Sale Sharks), Nick Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais, James Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams), Charlie Hodgeson (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins), Matt Banahan (Bath).

 

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Previewpilez: ITV’s Rugby World Cup July 31, 2011

After some of the whining coming from Wendyball fans since the last Football World Cup, I’m sure we weren’t the only people a little worried about what ITV were going to throw at us for the Rugby World cup come September. Despite the fact ITV have a Rugby World Cup history almost as long as the tournament, we couldn’t help worrying we were going to be saddled with a certain Mr Chiles, or worse… Henson.

We needn’t have worried. This Thursday, ITV revealed the team who are going to be bringing us all the action from New Zealand and as well of a team full of Rugby World Cup Experience, what came across was that they are all as excited as we are, which bodes well for the enthusiasm and heart they will bring to the coverage. Not only that, as well as all the live games being broadcast on ITV1, ITV4 and ITV1 HD, there will be the series ‘Dallaglio’s World Cups in which Lol takes some time out from making all the lovely pasta sauce to look at World Cups past, a dedicated website over at itv.com and even an iPhone App so that if you want to you can completely immerse yourself in the Rugby World cup and not miss a single second.

While ITV Rugby Regular and part-time Hagrid Martin Bayfield reports from the touchlines down under, Steve Ryder and self- confessed ‘Rugby Anorak’ Craig Doyle will be in the studio in London with a merry bunch of former internationals with rugby still as close to their hearts as it was in their playing days. The Southern Hemisphere is represented by former All-Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick, unlikely winner of the award for ‘most likely to be played by Matt Damon’, Francois Pienaar and Wallabies skipper Michael Lynagh. Closer to home, Lawrence Dallaglio, Andy Gomersall and Phil Vickery will be representing England, the lovely Scott Hastings and former Dieux De Stade Star Thom Evans will be holding up the flower of Scotland, while Gareth Thomas will be bringing his dually-coded perspective for Wales and Alan Quinlan will be providing Ireland’s call.

We caught up with some of the team involved and it was obvious that as well as that enthusiasm, there’s a camaraderie forming from the off, which bodes well for some great discussions and insight once the tournament gets into full swing. Craig Doyle himself put his finger on it “I really like this group, the difference is [compared to ITV’s coverage of past tournaments] we’re doing rugby every week now and we see these boys all the time, we see the likes of Lawrence and Scott and it’s very relaxed.”

What’s also extremely clear, is that they are as excited as we are. Scott Hastings was most animated of all  “We’re going into a culture that loves, eats, sleeps rugby, it’s going to be an amazing tournament and we’ll be blown away by the intensity, the fun, the passion. They’ve been taking the Rugby World Cup around all places like Napier and New Plymouth and the interest and passions from the supporters and fans, getting dressed up just for the cup to come into town!

I’ve played in a few rugby world cups and this is my fourth with ITV so I’m really looking forward to it.”

His Fellow Scot on the team, Thom Evans, was the most humble about his newfound career in punditry “Because I‘m not going to be out there involved in it I’m just happy to still be a part of it. I haven’t really done much presenting yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how I feel once I get into the swing of it!”

If Rugby World Cup fever hasn’t quite hit you yet, five minutes listening to this lot will get you there, I’m sure of it!

You can check out the Schedule, as well as clips from past tournaments already at http://www.itv.com/rugbyworldcup/.

Stay tuned over the next six weeks as we start bringing you the Rugby World Cup 2011 the Manpilez way.

Words by Lauren, pictures courtesy of ITV