Israel Dagg: New Zealand World Cup winner retires from playing through injury

5 Apr

Israel Dagg has announced his retirement from playing rugby at the age of 30.

The New Zealand international has failed to recover from a serious knee problem and the decision to hang up his boots comes after taking medical advice.

Dagg, above left, won the World Cup with New Zealand in 2011

Dagg required two operations on the injury that was initially sustained in early 2018 before suffering a recurrence while on Super Rugby duty for the Crusaders last weekend.

In a glittering career, he earned 66 caps for New Zealand and was a member of the 2011 World Cup-winning All Blacks squad.

Dagg played 66 times for New Zealand and scored 138 Test points – 26 of which were tries

“While it’s bittersweet to mark the end of my playing career, I’m grateful to still be able to contribute to this Crusaders team in 2019,” said Dagg, who took medical advice to retire.

“On a personal note, I’m looking forward to taking on some new challenges in the future, and looking forward to spending more time with my young family.”

Making his Test debut in June 2010 against Ireland when he was 22, Dagg scored his first try – a stunning individual effort – for the side a month later when he came against South Africa.

His final Test was in September 2017 in a 39-22 win against Argentina.

In addition to his international career, he won back-to-back Super Rugby championships with the Crusaders in 2017 and 2018.

New Zealand head coach, Steve Hansen said: “It’s always a shame when injury forces a player to retire, but ‘Izzy’ will leave our game knowing that he’ll forever be remembered as an outstanding player who definitely enhanced the All Blacks jersey and contributed to the legacy of the team.”

New Zealand captain Kieran Read to retire from international rugby after the 2019 World Cup

6 Mar

New Zealand captain Kieran Read will bow out from Test rugby after the World Cup later this year.

The Crusaders number eight, who has won 118 caps and played in two All Blacks World Cup-winning teams, has confirmed he will leave New Zealand and join Japanese club Toyota Verblitz.

Kieran Read won the World Cup with New Zealand in 2011 and 2015

Read, 33, has skippered New Zealand 43 times, including in the drawn Test series against the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

In a statement released by the Crusaders and All Blacks, Read said: “Every young rugby player in New Zealand dreams of the opportunities I have had to represent the All Blacks and the Crusaders.

“And I know I will look back at the end of the year with a great deal of pride to have worn those jerseys for as long as I have.

“My family and I are looking forward to an overseas experience, and Japan presents an awesome opportunity to immerse ourselves in Japanese culture as part of the Toyota club.

“I feel the time is right to make this announcement on my playing future so that I can focus my efforts on the season ahead.”

Kieran Read is one of the most-capped rugby players in history

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen led the tributes to Read, who has enjoyed a 13-year career in New Zealand rugby.

“On behalf of New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks, I’d like to acknowledge the fantastic contribution that ‘Reado’ has made to our game,” Hansen said.

“His performances on the park speak for themselves. He has played 118 Tests and started 111 of them, which is an outstanding achievement.

“However, that is only part of the Kieran Read story. His contribution off the park has been just as impressive.

“He has developed into a fantastic leader, who has the utmost respect of all his peers.

“What he has achieved has been remarkable, and it’s fair to say that he is one of the greats of our game who has enhanced the legacy of not only the All Blacks jersey, but also the Crusaders jersey.”

Ireland 16-9 New Zealand: Ireland claim their first win over the All Blacks on home soil with fantastic defensive display

17 Nov

Jacob Stockdale’s 12th try in 14 Tests gave Ireland their first win over New Zeland on home soil as Joe Schmidt’s men defeated the All Blacks 16-9 at the Aviva Stadium.

Ulster powerhouse Stockdale’s stunningly-crafted score helped Ireland register just their second win over New Zealand in their history, backing up the 40-29 triumph from 2016 in Chicago.

Stockdale crosses over to the delight of the Aviva crowd

New Zealand will retain their world number one status despite losing to second-ranked Ireland – but All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen insisted before this clash that the winner would swipe the global bragging rights.

By that logic, Ireland have earned the right to call themselves the world’s best.

And after passing this unremitting challenge against the back-to-back world champions, few could argue if they do. This was boss Schmidt’s men at their gritty, canny and brutal best.

All Blacks chief Hansen warned his side not to fall for any of Schmidt’s special moves, but that’s exactly what happened for Stockdale’s winning score.

Ireland stared the New Zealand Haka down straight away

Ireland met the Haka by taking a collective stride forward, inciting a guttural roar the like of which the Aviva Stadium has rarely equalled. No backward step.

Johnny Sexton and Beauden Barrett traded penalties before Ireland besieged the All Black line.

The unusually ill-disciplined New Zealand kept on leaking penalties, so Ireland kept on pinning in their visitors.

Sexton eschewed a facile three-pointer for a penalty line-out but CJ Stander was held up over the line as Ireland punched a midfield hole.

Sexton was his usual, busy self with ball in hand

Schmidt’s men battered the All Blacks in the resulting five-metre scrum, and then Rob Kearney saw a try awarded to him on the field – then chalked off after review.

The fit-again full-back rose highest to Sexton’s bomb and wriggled over the whitewash, only to be judged to have knocked on in the act of grounding.

Ireland had to settle for Sexton’s second penalty, whereupon New Zealand strode up the other end of the field – and Barrett dropped a goal to level the scores again.

Ireland’s pack pulverised New Zealand at the scrum again, but had to content themselves with another Sexton penalty.

Beauden Barrett could not get a hold of the game in the way he would have liked

Kieran Read’s shock knock-on handed Stockdale a huge reprieve to open the second half.

Stockdale showed his inexperience in attempting a crude chip over the towering number eight. Read charged down the effort and had the tryline at his mercy despite a 40-metre run-in – but bungled the ball forwards.

Stockdale’s big let-off turned into total redemption just moments later, when he stunned the visitors with a try of the highest class.

Sexton switched with Bundee Aki, the Connacht battering ram fired a bullet pass across the ruck – and Stockdale set off through the stunned New Zealand defence.

One deep punt later and he outpaced the cover to the loose ball and dotted down, with Sexton’s conversion making it 16-6.

Ireland rode their luck when Kearney avoided a card for colliding with the airborne Rieko Ioane, before Peter O’Mahony swiped a loose ball from under Ben Smith’s nose.

Smith fully expected to collect Barrett’s smart grubber and score, only for O’Mahony to sneak the ball away.

Somehow Ireland kept holding on. Barrett’s second penalty of the night closed the gap to seven points with 10 minutes to play.

New Zealand pressed and pressed, but still Ireland held on. And when Brodie Retallick knocked on in overtime, the victory was theirs.

England 15-16 New Zealand: Eddie Jones’ men denied historic win over All Blacks as Sam Underhill try is controversially ruled out

10 Nov

England fell agonisingly short of toppling the mighty New Zealand after a late try by Sam Underhill was controversially ruled out in a 16-15 defeat at Twickenham.

Courtney Lawes charged down TJ Perenara’s 76th-minute box kick and the ball fell to Underhill, who weaved fly-half Beauden Barrett inside out to touch down in the left corner.

Underhill thought he had scored, only for the decision to be ruled out

After reviewing the try with the TMO, however, referee Jerome Garces judged that Lawes had been in an offside position and awarded the All Blacks a penalty.

It was a marginal call and England responded with a late onslaught that failed to produce the crucial winning score, but it was a fine performance from Eddie Jones’ men that will serve them well heading into next year’s World Cup.

They led from the second minute until the 60th as early tries by Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley helped them to a scarcely-believable 15-0 lead that was gradually eroded.

Beauden Barrett nudged the All Blacks in front with a penalty as England’s play grew progressively worse having set off like a steam train, their forwards bristling with aggression.

Barrett scores the decisive drop goal

The momentum shift began late in the first half and was confirmed by a terrific try from McKenzie.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had raised expectations by declaring the match to be bigger than last year’s series against the British and Irish Lions, but an arm wrestle of a contest failed to provide quite the same drama.

England were depleted by injury but buoyed by a rousing 12-11 victory over South Africa a week earlier and they traded on equal terms with the world champions from start to finish.

Jones called on his players to act as movie directors rather than extras in the 41st instalment of the fixture and they did exactly that in the first half.

Damian Mackenzie was magnificent at Twickenham

Strong carries from Underhill, Kyle Sinckler and Maro Itoje in a rampaging start sucked in defenders and when Ben Youngs spotted an unmarked Ashton stationed on the touchline, he sent the Sale wing sliding over with a floated pass.

McKenzie was shoved into touch by Underhill and then Jonny May as the All Blacks came under renewed pressure and England extended their lead with a drop goal by Owen Farrell.

Elliot Daly and then May running at speed into heavy traffic produced a roar from Twickenham, but it was in response to Hartley’s 24th minute-try that the crowd really erupted.

A line-out 15 metres out developed into an unstoppable maul that arrowed diagonally towards the posts and with backs adding their weight, a pile of white shirts crashed over the line with Hartley scoring.

Chris Ashton opened the scoring inside 106 seconds

New Zealand-born Brad Shields disappeared to the blood bin – an England player could be heard complaining on the ref mic that the flanker had been punched – and in a blow to the tourists Sonny Bill Williams followed him off the pitch with a groin problem.

The All Blacks strung together 23 phases and through Rieko Ioane they finally threatened the try line, the breakthrough arriving soon after when McKenzie ran a brilliant line to take an inside scoring pass from Barrett.

A Barrett penalty slashed the deficit to five points at half-time and when the teams emerged for the second-half Hartley had been replaced by Jamie George.

Ardie Savea dropped a poor pass by Aaron Smith with the line beckoning but a Barrett drop-goal – the first of his 71-cap career – continued to drain England’s lead.

Youngs almost dummied his way over from an attacking scrum as play swung to the opposite and New Zealand took the lead for the first time in the 60th minute through a Barrett penalty.

An ascendant scrum offered England a platform but they failed to make the most of it and with the clock ticking down Underhill’s heart was broken by the intervention of the officials after he had outfoxed McKenzie.

‘Disrespectful’ England fans slammed on Twitter for booing and singing as New Zealand perform haka at Twickenham

10 Nov

England fans received plenty of criticism on Twitter for booing and singing while New Zealand perform the Haka.

The All Blacks perform the ceremonial Maori dance before every international fixture as a way of intimidating opposition sides and fans.

England watch on as the All Blacks perform the Haka

In Japan last weekend, the entire stadium fell into a state of revered silence to observe the dance. However, there was no such thing at Twickenham.

In order to unnerve the All Blacks, thousands of England fans chose to sing ‘Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot’ over the top of the chanting, with some fans even booing the ritualistic dance.

Seen as one of the most iconic and awe-inspiring things in sport, fans took to Twitter to criticise the English for their attempts at drowning the Haka out.

Several fans called the move ‘disrespectful’, with one user calling the hosts ‘arrogant’.

The Haka has been used by New Zealand before games for over a century

Check out the best Tweets below!

England rugby news: Chris Ashton to make first start in four years in New Zealand Test

8 Nov

Chris Ashton will start for England for the first time in four years in Saturday’s long-awaited Test against New Zealand.

Head coach Eddie Jones has named his starting XV for the second Quilter International at Twickenham, making three changes to the side that beat South Africa 12-11 in their autumn opener.

Chris Ashton has been named in England’s starting XV against New Zealand

Ashton, who scored a try when England last beat New Zealand in 2012, lines up on the right wing in place of Jack Nowell after impressing as a substitute in last weekend’s win over the Springboks.

The 31-year-old has amassed 40 caps in an international career interrupted by suspension, falling out of favour with successive England coaches and a season-long spell in Toulon, but has returned to the fold after signing for Sale.

Nowell drops to the bench but there is no place for Manu Tuilagi despite his recovery from the groin strain which ruled him out against South Africa.

The two other changes see Ben Moon come in for Alec Hepburn at loosehead prop and Sam Underhill replaces Tom Curry, who has been ruled out of the remainder of the autumn by an ankle injury.

Courtney Lawes returns to the bench after overcoming a lower back problem, forcing Zach Mercer out of the matchday 23.

England celebrate their narrowest of wins against South Africa

Fly-half Owen Farrell – who needs only one more point to reach 700 for England – co-captains the team alongside Dylan Hartley.

England face New Zealand for the first time in four years and have been installed as big underdogs against the world champions.

“The expectation for Saturday is no different to any other Test match,” Eddie Jones said.

“We want to be at our best, better than we were in the previous Test match and we want to play with pride and passion which ignites the fan.

“It’s been a good week, the players have recovered well, trained well on Tuesday, exceptionally well on Wednesday and we look forward to the challenge of taking on New Zealand on Saturday.”

Eddie Jones hopes his side can defy the odds and beat New Zealand at Twickenham

England starting XV v New Zealand:

15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 22 caps), 14 Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks, 40 caps), 13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps), 12 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 14 caps), 11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps), 10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 62 caps) co-captain, 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 78 caps), 1 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 1 cap), 2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 94 caps) co-captain, 3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 14 caps), 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 23 caps), 5 George Kruis (Saracens, 26 caps), 6 Brad Shields (Wasps, 3 caps), 7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 6 caps), 8 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 5 caps)

Finishers:

16 Jamie George (Saracens, 29 caps), 17 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps), 18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps), 19 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 7 caps), 20 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 65 caps), 21 Danny Care (Harlequins, 82 caps), 22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 48 caps), 23 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 27 caps)

Eddie Jones leaves Danny Cipriani out of England rugby squad for autumn Tests, but Ben Morgan earns recall

18 Oct

Eddie Jones has left Danny Cipriani out of his England squad for the upcoming autumn internationals.

The 30-year-old has enjoyed an impressive start to the season for new club side Gloucester, picking up the Gallagher Premiership Player of the Month for September.

However, he has not done enough to make the 36-man group for the Tests against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

In August, he was arrested for an incident at a nightclub in Jersey and plead guilty to assault on a bouncer. He was fined by his club, but cleared by the RFU last month to play for his country having made the squad for the Test series against South Africa in the summer.

Owen Farrell and George Ford are present as the recognised fly-halves, although Henry Slade and Alex Lozowski provide cover in the position.

“We have got two good 10s,” said Jones. “It is tough on Danny but he is third choice at the moment.”

For the first time in Jones’ reign, Dylan Hartley must share the leadership duties with Farrell after the pair were named co-captains.

England's Autumn Internationals

  • v South Africa – 3/11/18
  • v New Zealand – 10/11/18
  • v Japan – 17/11/18
  • v Australia – 24/11/18

Ben Morgan has been picked for the first time since the 2015 World Cup as a result of the crisis at number eight which has seen Billy Vunipola and Sam Simmonds ruled out of the entire series by injury and Nathan Hughes miss all but the final match due to suspension.

Wing Chris Ashton is present despite having yet to make his debut for Sale with his seven-week ban for a tip-tackle elapsing this weekend.

Ben Morgan and Chris Ashton are back in the England squad however

Manu Tuilagi has overcome a succession of injuries to win inclusion and he will be competing with Ben Te’o – who has not played this season because of thigh and ankle problems – for selection in midfield.

England’s loosehead prop resources have been decimated by Mako Vunipola’s absence due to a calf issue and the international retirement of Joe Marler, leaving Alex Hepburn and Ben Moon as the only recognised options in the position.

The squad contains eight uncapped players and confirms the decline of veterans Dan Cole and James Haskell, who have been omitted once more.

Jones’ outlook on a punishing series that opens against the Springboks at Twickenham on November 3 remains positive despite missing 18 players to injury, suspension and retirement.

He said: “I’m really happy with the squad. We can only control what we can control and injuries have happened.

“It gives an opportunity for some good new players to play some important Tests for England while players who have been in the squad before, will have to take on more responsibility.”

The final autumn series before the 2019 World Cup is opened by the Springboks’ visit to Twickenham on November 3.

“South Africa have been going really well. They have a new coach and have selected well,” said Jones, whose England team fell to a 2-1 series defeat to Rassie Erasmus’ men in June.

“They play a traditional Springbok game up front and move the ball wide when they need to. We’ll need to take them on up front and when we have opportunities to score points we have to be good enough to take them.”

New Zealand v England: Tourists collapse as hosts level ODI series

7 Mar
New Zealand v England: Tourists collapse as hosts level ODI series
Ross Taylor's century spearheaded New Zealand's five-wicket win over England

England paid for a costly collapse as Ross Taylor’s superlative century clinched a five-wicket win for New Zealand to level the one-day international series at 2-2.

The tourists appeared sure to prevail in Dunedin when Jonny Bairstow’s wonderfully clean striking and Joe Root’s perfect foil took them to 267 for one with twin hundreds in an all-Yorkshire stand of 190.

But once Bairstow went for 138, an alarming collapse of six wickets for 21 runs took hold largely to the leg-spin of Ish Sodhi (four for 58) as England had to settle for 335 for nine.

Then Taylor (181no), who came to the crease at two for two and suffered increasingly with the quadriceps injury which ruled him out of the previous match, launched a telling recovery with captain Kane Williamson and Tom Latham (71) to secure victory with three balls to spare and set up a series decider in Christchurch on Saturday.

Bairstow’s departure, after hitting seven sixes and 14 fours from 106 balls, kickstarted England’s crumble when a huge total was there for the taking.

Their innings was an oddity of extremes, reaching an imperious position yet then contriving a remarkable misfire before number 10 Tom Curran hit four of the last five balls from Tim Southee for four.

Bairstow and Jason Roy hit the accelerator from the outset after being put in on a pitch which spent almost the entirety of the previous day under cover from hours of rain.

The opening stand of 77 took under 11 overs until Roy mis-swept Sodhi’s second delivery low to Mitchell Santner at short fine-leg.

But Santner was culpable when he put down an easier chance at extra-cover off Trent Boult to reprieve Bairstow on 74.

The Yorkshireman continued to clear the ropes at apparent will – and Jos Buttler’s national-record eight sixes in an ODI innings was at his mercy, as was Roy’s highest individual score of 180, until Bairstow skewed another attempted big hit for a steepling catch at short third-man off Colin Munro.

It was a moment which appeared to spell little more than brief respite for New Zealand, especially when Eoin Morgan promoted Buttler to number four.

But the first of England’s middle-order hitters poked a low return catch back to Sodhi to go for a second-ball duck, and the potential might of Morgan, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali quickly amounted to a mere nine runs.

Root looked incredulous at the other end, forced into accumulation as 50 balls passed between the 40th and 48th over without a single boundary.

He stuck at it, completing his 11th ODI hundred from 95 balls, before he was caught behind trying to pull Southee.

Within three overs of the chase Munro was lbw for a golden duck, needlessly taking New Zealand’s review back to the pavilion with him, after Mark Wood pinned him in front of middle – and both openers were gone without a run between them when Martin Guptill tried to hit Chris Woakes over the top but holed out to mid-off.

Stokes’ first delivery was then too much for Williamson, caught down the leg-side and unable to review despite his apparent disappointment with the decision.

But more significantly, Moeen dropped a straightforward caught-and-bowled offered by Latham on four, and gradually it emerged there would be no way back for England during a stand of 187.

There were two late wickets for Curran, but Colin de Grandhomme’s big hitting applied most of the finishing touches before Henry Nicholls settled matters with a winning six in the final over.

Taylor remained unbeaten with 17 fours and six sixes from 147 balls after passing his career-best on the eve of his 34th birthday.