With the start of the Six Nations just around the corner, England coach Martin Johnson has named his team to face Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

The main talking point is the decision to hand Matthew Tait his second start since the 2007 World Cup.

It is another significant moment in what has been a fascinating career for the 24-year-old. He made his England debut as a teenager back in 2005, played in a variety of roles in the build-up to the 2007 tournament and during the World Cup itself before disappearing off the international radar.

However, he is now in the starting line-up and he will be determined to hold on to a position in the England team. Johnson has admitted that Tait has been misused in the past and that now he has his chance to cement a place.

Talking about the Sale player, the England coach said he has a “good all-round game” with a defence that is “under-rated”. Overall, there is bound to be a lot of focus on the performance of Tait as he has hogged the attention in the build-up so far.

Other significant team news is that Jonny Wilkinson continues at fly-half with Ugo Monye and Mark Cueto looking to make an impact on the wings. Then there is the return of Delon Armitage, Riki Flutey and Nick Easter who all missed England’s autumn fixtures.

Speaking about these players, Johnson said that it is “good to get them back”. They all have something to add to the side and every England fan will be hoping that they show this against Wales.

It is important that England start their Six Nations campaign with a victory, after all. There have been some difficult times under Johnson in the last couple of years and it would be good for everyone concerned if this next set of fixtures started with a positive performance and maximum points.

The Six Nations betting odds make France favourites to win the tournament.

However, this will not stop England fans placing a Six Nations free bet on their team to win the competition should they be lucky enough to have one.

The full England team is:

D Armitage (London Irish); M Cueto (Sale Sharks), M Tait (Sale Sharks), R Flutey (Brive), U Monye (Harlequins); J Wilkinson (Toulon), D Care (Harlequins); T Payne (Wasps), D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), S Shaw (Wasps), S Borthwick (Saracens, capt), J Haskell (Stade Francais), L Moody (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins).

Super 14 in 2010

And so we get ready for another Super 14! Last year saw the Bulls take the trophy with the “grind a win out” game plan. I wonder what’s in store for us this year.

The team to watch in my opinion will be the Stormers. They are now lucky enough to have Jaque Fourie (played for the lions last year) and Bryan Habana (played for the bulls last year).

I am looking forward to seeing how these 2 will perform this Super 14. The Boks didn’t run the ball enough for us to see what they are capable of in the Tri Nations and end of year tour.

Exciting times, I have joined 2 fantasy leagues.
The guys from Sharksworld have their Fantasy league here

Then I also joined http://s14fantasy.foxsports.com.au the Auzzie guys from G&G R have set up a pool there.

PDivvy massive is my team name.
Enjoy the Rugby!

Bill Mclaren The Voice of Rugby

Bill Mclaren sadly passed away on the 19th of January 2010. Bill Mclaren was truly the voice of Rugby and will be missed. Thank you Bill you will be missed.

Here are some classics moments:

Is Keith Earls the new Jonny Wilkinson?

Ronan O’Gara believes that Keith Earls has made the same impact in his debut season as Jonny Wilkinson did 11 years ago. The 21-year-old is vying for a place in the Lions team for the second rugby test against South Africa on Saturday and O’Gara’s comments will be a welcome boost for him.

O’Gara said that for Earls to ‘achieve what he has’ during his first season of senior rugby is a sign of remarkably quick progress. The Irishman went on to say that nobody has had this type of impact on international rugby ‘since Jonny Wilkinson’.

Much like Earls, Wilkinson played for his country during his first season as a professional. The 21-year-old Irishman has taken the next step though by representing the Lions in his first year.

This doesn’t mean it has been all plain sailing for Earls though. During the Lions tour so far, his performances have been rather up and down. On a positive note, he has scored two tries – one against the
Free State Cheetahs and one against the Emerging Springboks last night – but he had a nightmare start against a Royal XV at the beginning of the tour.

Earls knocked the ball on several times in this match and played his part in conceding a try when he spilled a high ball early in the game. The youngster has bounced back from this performance though and O’Gara
believes that he deserves much credit for this.

Speaking about his Irish team-mate’s progress, O’Gara said that Earls has been  ‘well managed’ since that day and this has resulted in his kicking game becoming ‘really good’.

As for Earls himself, well he is pleased with how he is moving forward as a professional. He said that even though he ‘struggled for the first two weeks’, what has happened since then has been ‘unbelievable’.

With the backing of experienced professionals like O’Gara and Paul O’Connell, Earls has played himself into contention for a place in the side ahead of the second test against South Africa this weekend.

Considering that his aims for the season were to ‘get into the Munster side’, it has been a remarkable few months for Earls and hopefully, it will get even better by the end of this tour.

Lions Test Team Announced

So here we have the first test Match day 22 of the 3 match test series for the Lions of 2009. The Lions will take on the Springboks in Durban This Saturday

15. Lee Byrne (Wales)
14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
12. Jamie Roberts (Wales)
11. Ugo Monye (England)
10. Stephen Jones (Wales)
9. Mike Phillips (Wales)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
7. David Wallace (Ireland)
6. Tom Croft (England)
5. Paul O’Connell (Ireland) C
4. Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
3. Phil Vickery (England)
2. Lee Mears (England)
1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales)

16. Matthew Rees (Wales)
17. Adam Jones (Wales)
18. Donncha O’Callaghan (Ireland)
19. Martyn Williams (Wales)
20. Harry Ellis (England)
21. Ronan O’Gara (Ireland)
22. Rob Kearney (Ireland)

Peter de Villiers Names His Match Day 22

PDV has released the Match day 22 for the first test against the British and Irish Lions in Durban.
Frans Steyn will be the starting fullback after the Springbok selectors did not choose a specialist for this position. No doubt that Fans will make good use of his massive boot and get the Springboks on to the front foot. Many people have suggested Frans at Fullback and now we will get to see if the position is a good move for him or not.

Ruan Pienaar is the starting fly half and Morne Steyn will be on the bench. Pienaar has had little game time this season due to injury so I’m expecting a change possibly half way through the game. Heinrich Brussow has been named the starting open side flanker in place of Burger and this no doubt has to do with Burgers calf injury.

See the list below:

15 Frans Steyn
14 JP Pietersen
13 Adi Jacobs
12 Jean de Villiers
11 Bryan Habana
10 Ruan Pienaar
9 Fourie du Preez
8 Pierre Spies
7 Juan Smith
6 Heinrich Brussow
5 Victor Matfield
4 Bakkies Botha
3 John Smit (c)
2 Bismarck du Plessis
1 Beast Mtawarira
Subs: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Jaque Fourie.

Donncha O’Callaghan will be the British and Irish Captain against the Southern Kings this Tuesday at Nelson Mandela Bay. Shane Williams has been named in the starting lineup and many believe this is a sign that he has not made his way into the test team. ‘

The Southern Kings are not a regular team and have been put together for this Lions tour and possibly will be added to the Super 14 which of course will become the Super 15.

British & Irish Lions:
15 Keith Earls (Ireland), 14 Shane Williams (Wales), 13 Riki Flutey (England), 12 Gordon D’Arcy (Ireland), 11 Luke Fitzgerald (Ireland), 10 James Hook (Wales), 9 Mike Blair (Scotland), 8 Andy Powell (Wales), 7 Joe Worsley (England), 6 Nathan Hines (Scotland), 5 Donncha O’Callaghan (Ireland, C), 4 Simon Shaw (England), 3 Euan Murray (Scotland), 2 Ross Ford (Scotland), 1 Andrew Sheridan (England).

16 Matthew Rees (Wales), 17 Adam Jones (Wales), 18 Tom Croft (England), 19 David Wallace (Ireland), 20 Harry Ellis (England), 21 Ronan O’Gara (Ireland), 22 Ugo Monye (England)

Donncha O'Callaghan will be the Lions Skipper this Tuesday

Donncha O'Callaghan will be the Lions Skipper this Tuesday

New Zealand 22-France 27

Weak defense lead to France beating the All Blacks in their own back yard on the weekend. The French forwards were also very aware of the fact that the All Blacks had not dealt with rolling mauls during the Super 14 and used this to get their backs going on the front foot. The French also managed to dominate the All Black forwards at the break down and caused havoc for them all night.

The tactical kicking of the All Blacks was also a concern and Wayne Smith said himself at half time that the AB’s were kicking the ball too far and not getting any good chasers to put pressure onto the French. Once again proving the fact that a kick in Rugby is only as good as its chase. However for me the biggest weakness that was shown by the AB’s was the feeble tackling. Francois Trinh-Duc managed to bounce off 4 tackles before he crossed the try line.

Have a look at the Highlights Video below. Congrats France!

British & Irish Lions Narrow Victory

The Lions have once again come away with win. This time they took on W.P. at Newlands in Cape Town. W.P. were missing their Springboks as have the rest of the Provincial teams in South Africa. However that did not stop W.P. putting up a fight. With only a few minutes to go both teams were on 23 points.

James Hook was given the responsibility of having a shot at goal from 40m which he managed to put over for the win.

Well done to W.P. for putting up a good fight and well done to the Lions for remaining unbeaten so far on tour.

Below is the highlights video of the match.

W.P. vs The B&I Lions Preview and Line Up

Phil Vickery has been handed the Captain responsibility for the 5th match against Western Province (Stormers) this Saturday as Paul O’Connell and Brian OI’Driscoll are not in the Match day 22.

W.P have named a strong squad however they will be without they will be without their two Super star players Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers. Luke Watson has been selected as Captain for W.P. against the Lions. Morgan Newman who was taken to the Springbok training camp will start at 13. Newman was a shock selection by Peter De Villiers for the training camp. Peter Grant who has 5 Springbok caps to his name will start at inside center.

W.P’s squad is pretty strong and I think we will have a good game on our hands.

Western Province squad:
15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Morgan Newman, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Gcobani Bobo, 10 Willem De Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage; 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 Anton Van Zyl, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 JD Moller, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Zandre Jordaan, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 JJ Engelbrecht, 22 Gio Aplon.

British & Irish Lions:
15 Rob Kearney (Ireland), 14 Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13 Keith Earls (Ireland), 12 Riki Flutey (England), 11 Ugo Monye (England), 10 Stephen Jones (Wales), 9 Harry Ellis (England), 8 Andy Powell (Wales), 7 Martyn Williams (Wales), 6 Joe Worsley (England), 5 Nathan Hines (Scotland), 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (Ireland), 3 Phil Vickery (England), 2 Matthew Rees (Wales), 1 Andrew Sheridan (England)
Subs: 16 Ross Ford (Scotland), 17 Euan Murray (Scotland), 18 Simon Shaw (England), 19 Tom Croft (England), 20 Mike Blair (Scotland), 21 James Hook (Wales), 22 Gordon D’Arcy (Ireland)

Peter Grant will provide experience for WP's backline

Peter Grant will provide experience for WP's backline