Joe Worsley during an England practise day He’s been capped over 300 times for Wasps and made over 70 appearances for England, so its safe to say that Joe’s one of the most reliable players the game has seen. Rugby World caught up with ‘Melonhead’ to chat about Cooper cat, embarrassing moments and doing favours for friends. RUGBY WORLD: So who are the jokers in the Wasps and England squads?JOE WORSLEY: James Haskell definitely. He’s always up to stuff, but it’s a case of what you can tell the public! He’s always trying to make life more difficult for Tom Rees.RW: Yeah, he seems to have a vendetta against Tom. Any good practical jokes you can share?JW: I’m partly to blame for this one. Tom Rees went on Soccer AM recently and we persuaded the presenters to ask him about entering Robot Wars, Star Trek, auditioning to be the Milky Bar Kid and so on. James has got plenty of stories about Tom.RW: How do you keep occupied while in camp during the Six Nations?JW: I read my book or the papers. I read quite an eclectic selection of stuff. At the moment I’m reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. I also watch a bit of TV or a movie. The other week I was watching Californication.RW: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch?JW: Peter Bracken. I’ll leave it at that.RW: Have you got any nicknames apart from Melonhead?JW: Not really. I’ve had it since school and no one’s come up with anything else.RW: What are your bugbears?JW: Our cat, Cooper Cat. He peed on our Bang & Olufsen television. We’ve had him for eight years but if it wasn’t for my missus he wouldn’t still be alive!Crazy haircuts, Clive Owen and life after rugbyRW: Any embarrassing moments?JW: Playing the piano in front of a live studio audience and butchering the rendition. It was some time after the 2003 World Cup and I was awful. It’s a different kettle of fish in front of a live audience and I was a bit out of practice.RW: What about that crazy haircut you had in 2001 [he had short spike dreads] – any regrets?JW: I did that as a favour for a friend who was a hairdresser. Unfortunately I got photographed while I had it like that. People think I had it for ages, but it was only like that for four days. I probably do regret that – it wasn’t exactly the greatest haircut in the world.RW: Who’s your ideal woman?JW: My wife, Nicky. Tom ReesAndy Powell RW: What couldn’t you live without?JW: My wife.RW: What’s your favourite joke?JW: I’m trying to remember the one I heard recently. It was about prostitutes and bungee jumps, though, so I don’t think it’s appropriate for Rugby World.RW: If a film was made of your life, who would you want to play you?JW: God knows. Jeff Goldblum. No, not him. There’s a guy who’s been in lots of films, but my mind’s gone blank. I can’t think of his name. He was in a film with Natalie Portman. Clive Owen! He’s relatively tall and looks vaguely like me.RW: Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?JW: Derren Brown. I don’t know if I’d want him to hypnotise me, but I’m sure he could teach me a thing or two while we were stuck in there.RW: If your house was on fire, what three things would you save?JW: My wife, my son and I can’t think what else. I’d make sure the cat was still in there, though!RW: Have you still got a big baseball glove chair?JW: Yeah, it’s in the bedroom. It’s very comfy – everyone likes to sit on it.RW: What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?JW: Once the challenge of rugby has past, I’d like to take on another challenge that is equally as difficult. Watch this space!Check out his profile for EnglandCheck out Joe getting in touch with his musical side… Learn more about Joe’s teammates at Wasps… TAGS: Wasps LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Jonny Wilkinson: How to kick, pass and drop goalsThroughout his career Jonny Wilkinson was the consummate professional. His training regime is legendary, kicking penalties on Christmas Day and never, ever accepting second best.So who better to show you the tricks of the trade, and particularly how to kick the perfect penalty and drop-goal as well as how to pass like a pro.So sit back and watch the former England fly-half take you through this crucial skills in these exclusive videos shot for Rugby World. We’d love to have your feedback on them as well so give us your comments below.HOW TO KICK THE PERFECT DROP-GOALBack in 2003, Jonny Wilkinson kicked the most famous drop-goal in the history of rugby to secure England the World Cup. So in this exclusive video, made for Rugby World magazine, let him show you the secrets of this often neglected, but crucial art. Jonny Wilkinson is acknowledged as one of the rugby world’s great distributors. In this exclusive video, let the Toulon, England and Lions star show you how to make the perfect pass. He focuses on:Finger PlacementControl of the BallSpin PassingFollow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. HOW TO KICK THE PERFECT PENALTYNo player has kicked more penalites in the history of rugby than Jonny Wilkinson, So if you want to learn how to kick three (or two points for a conversion) points time and time again who better to show you the tricks of the trade. See the video below to discover the lessons you can learn from the best in the business.HOW TO THROW THE PERFECT PASS Former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson shows you how to master goalkicking, passing and slotting drop goals LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
Crusaders (34) 44: Tries: Maitland 2, Carter, Dagg, Guildford Pens: Carter 3 Cons: Carter 4, BerquistSharks (18) 28: Tries: Alberts, Potigieter, Hargreaves, Ndungane Pens: Potigieter 2 Cons: Potigieter LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Man of the Match – Dan CarterIt was a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Twickenham with 35, 094 fans, mostly expats, witnessing a match that showed exactly why the World Cup trophy will probably stay in the Southern Hemisphere this year, writes Lesleigh Mudaly.The first half saw the Sharks not playing to their full potential, but they were still able to score two tries before half-time. Willem Alberts, one of Sharks’ try scorers and the heaviest player on the field, put his size to good use and made some great tackles. Crusader’s coach Todd Blackadder was happy with the turn out, “There was a great crowd out there and it shows you that it can be done. I hope that people enjoyed Super Rugby. There was some great skills on show, and it was really nice to be part of it.” Try Time! Zac GuilfordA Crusaders side that consisted of 12 All Blacks took full advantage of the game with fast hands and agile feet, tearing through a soft Sharks’ defense. The side provided the crowd with some entertaining play in the first half, with plenty of points including four tries, including one scored by crowd favourite Dan Carter. “The first 30 minutes were fantastic. The Sharks were putting pressure on us and we were able to get some good off loads and good tries.” he said.Crusaders’ captain Keiran Read came off at half time with a reoccurring neck twinge, with the score at 34-18 to his side. In response to this fixture Read felt, “London has really turned it on and looked after us. We just wanted to show what Super Rugby is about. For people up here who want to see Super Rugby more, that’s great! But for us, it was a one-off. It was great, there were plenty of Sharks’ supporters and Crusaders, so you can’t really ask for more. It was a once in a life time experience.”Sharks started the second half in a far more impressive style. They upped their game and kept hold of the ball more successfully than they were able to in the first half. This showed with the Sharks’ adding two more tries to their tally. With Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira coming onto the pitch, the crowd were vocal every time he got his hands on the ball and smashed his way through the Crusaders’ defense.An absent Richie McCaw made way for Matt Todd who proved he has the ability to up his game on the big stage, with Crusaders’ coach Blackadder beaming about the “outstanding” player. “In big occasions bit players step up and they really did today. Matt Todd showed he has the ability and he’s really taken up the challenge.” LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 27: Zac Guildford scores a try during the round six Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Sharks at Twickenham Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) With the final score at 44-28 to the Crusaders, it was safe to say that it was a successful day all round. Crusaders’ coach Todd Blackadder shared that, “it wasn’t an easy decision to come here, it was a big call. I’m proud of the way we adjusted and I have to thank the Sharks for agreeing to do this match. The weather was great and it didn’t really feel like we were in the northern hemisphere. It was a great day for rugby.”With all eyes on Sonny Bill Williams, including Graham Henry, he put on an enthralling performance, and provided support for Dan Carter. Carter thinks Williams is “really leading the way and playing some fantastic rugby. It makes my job alot easier having him there.” Coach Todd Blackadder has the same opinion, adding; “He’s attacking the ball and supporting the break down. He’s just really adapted to the game of rugby, and a real threat. He’s got the potential to be anything he wants to be in this game. He’s only had 5 games of super rugby and you wonder what he’s really made of.”With ticket sales alone £175 470 was raised to add to the Red Cross relief fund that aims to raise £1 000 000 for victims of the Christchurch earthquake.
SYDNEY, NSW – SEPTEMBER 18: A general view of action during the NRL Semi Final match between the Wests Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos at Aussie Stadium September 18, 2005 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) “The majority of the squad have worked continuously since last November, with the more recent integration of our Wallaby spring tourists. As a coaching team, we want to see players translate all the professional pre-season work on to the field of play. The matches are their opportunity to challenge for selection as we plan for the start of the of the FxPro Super Rugby tournament.” Sydney Football Stadium will host Waratahs v TongaThe HSBC Waratahs will follow up their opening trial against Samoa, February 10th in Tamworth, with a second match against Pacific Island opposition when they take on Tonga at the Sydney Football Stadium on Friday, February 17.With Sydney University playing Samoa in the curtain raiser (5.30pm) before the HSBC Waratahs take on Tonga at 7.30pm, fans will be able to enjoy two big games of rugby for the price of one in what promises to be an evening full of action.The trial matches will be the first in charge for Head Coach Michael Foley, who is hoping that back to back encounters against such physical opposition will provide the tough test the team needs ahead of the big FxPro Super Rugby opener against the Queensland Reds.Said Foley, “We are grateful for the opportunity to be playing both Samoa and Tonga in our preparation matches. These fixtures will see the players up against the formidable opponents that come with the Pacific Island style of play. The trials are likely HSBC Waratahs debuts for two high profile NSW signings, Central Coast-born Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper, who returns to his home state after seven years with the Brumbies, and dynamic South African scrum half Sarel Pretorius, last year’s Super Rugby top try scorer and Player of the Year in his native country.As part of the HSBC Waratahs’ continuing association with the Starlight Children’s Foundation, the event will help raise funds to assist with the Foundation’s ongoing work with seriously ill children. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
TAGS: Harlequins LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS French import: Paul Sackey, here in flying action for Stade Français, has returned to the Premiership with HarlequinsBy Rob HartleyFORMER ENGLAND wing Paul Sackey has backed the exclusion of France-based players from the national side on his return to the Aviva Premiership.Sackey spent three seasons in France before his move to Harlequins this summer, but still backs England’s stance of only selecting players from this side of the Channel.The ex-Toulon and Stade Français man pointed to the current weaknesses in the French national side to illustrate the dangers of selecting players from a league with so many international stars.“A lot of the guys that are in the French team, some of them probably don’t even play for their clubs,” says Sackey, 33. “They’re not the best players in their club teams.”The financial clout of the Top 14 continues to lure big players from all over the world to France, which means there are no easy games, according to Sackey.“Because there’s so much money there, every club has probably got two or three, maybe even four, stars in their team or big guys that can make things happen.“There’s never a time when you go, ‘Right, we should go down, even to the lowest team, to Grenoble, and smash them’, whereas here I think there’s probably three or four teams that you can go, ‘We should win that game’. You’ve got to be on it every week, because there’s so much quality in depth.” Despite the Top 14’s large pool of talent, Sackey still believes the top three or four teams in English rugby can match their French rivals. And his new Quins team-mates may well benefit from his knowledge of the French sides.“You have to match their physicality and if you do their heads go quite quickly,” he says. “Except for teams like Clermont because… they’re a good side and they’re well-drilled.”Sackey revealed he was set to retire before turning down other offers and settling on a return to Quins – a move that allows him to be close to some of his business interests.National duty: his last England cap was in 2009“Quins are an amazing side with a lot of ambition. I want to be at a team that’s got ambition, that’s got good young kids coming through, that want to win, that want to make an impression. I know the coaches. I know what they’re about. I’ve played with them. It was an easy decision for me.”Sackey appearanced 22 times for his country and scored 11 tries. He made his Test debut against New Zealand in 2006 and played in the following year’s World Cup. But does he still harbour England ambitions? Does he think a strong run in the Quins side might bring a call from Stuart Lancaster?“I could play the best rugby of my career and probably still not play for England. As much as I’d love to play for my country again, I’d rather concentrate on doing well and playing my best for the club that I’m at.”
The Cornish Pirates did the double over Jersey with a bonus point 24-0 win at St Peter on Saturday and are the only side in the competition with maximum points. In the other game in Pool 6, Ulster Ravens, who still have a mathematical chance to progress by virtue of being one of the two best runners-up, ran in six tries to beat Ayr 38-21 in Belfast and gain revenge for a 41-22 defeat in Scotland last week.And finally, this weekend sees a return to GKIPA action. The one to watch will be third-placed London Scottish’s who take on their neighbours, Welsh in the televised clash at the Kassam. The 65th meeting between these two great rugby institutions kicks off at 2.30pm. The Greene King IPA Championship: Once again the competition took a back seat for the British & Irish CupBy Richard GraingerWith just two matches to go in the pool stages of the British & Irish Cup only two groups look to be decided, while for nine clubs the campaign is as good as over. And with all but three GKIPA Championship clubs still in the hunt, it looks like being another vintage Cup season for the English second tier.Leinster A Lead the wayLeinster lunge: Darren Hudson wriggles past Kristina BallerCross Keys 14, Leinster A 30The 2012 finalists were no match for the holders who registered another five-pointer on Saturday. Cross Keys, strengthened by several Dragons not required for the trip to Bordeaux in the Amlin Cup, were just a point adrift at the break. But Leinster’s superior fitness in atrocious conditions yielded second-half tries from Adam Byrne and Leo Auva’a while the Welshmen only had a penalty from Italian international fly-half Kris Burton to show for their efforts.This leaves Leinster ten points clear from their four wins in Pool 1 and almost certain to progress.In the other Pool 1 game, Ealing Trailfinders registered their first home win by beating Moseley 21-18 at Vallis Way on Friday night. Ealing led 21-8 before Mose head coach Kevin Maggs emptied his bench to initiate a last quarter fightback.Exiles go the extra mileLondon Scottish 26, Pontypridd 21Pontypridd remain at the top of Pool 2 despite losing to London Scottish in this Christmas cracker at the Athletic Ground on Saturday. The Exiles looked to be in control when Miles Mantella touched down for the bonus point to give Scottish a 26-14 lead. But with eight minutes to go Thomas Young, the son of Wasps’ boss Dai, burst clear to bring the visitors within five points and set up a close finish.London Welsh were made to work for their bonus point win against the amateurs of Edinburgh Academical on Saturday. The Accies, who had been thumped 73-10 at the Old Deer Park last weekend, were only 0-7 behind at the break and it wasn’t until they ran out of steam in the final quarter and conceded two late tries for the visitors to finish 7-33 in front. This leaves the Accies pointless but each of the other three sides still have ambition to progress from Pool 2. Bedford bounce back with bonus point British & Irish Cup, Donnybrook, Dublin 7/12/2013 Leinster A vs Cross KeysLeinster’s Darren Hudson and Kristian Baller of Cross KeysMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne Bedford Blues 50, Connacht Eagles 12The Blues well and truly avenged their loss in Galway last week by notching the bonus point in the first half at Goldington Road on Saturday. Bedford’s forwards coach Martin Hynes, delighted with the Blues’ most proficient performance this season said: “We had the reaction today that we wanted.”Rotherham remain two points ahead of the Blues in Pool 3 by virtue of a 20-15 win over Llanelli on Saturday. The Titans led 13-3 at the break but had to dig deep to see off a fierce fightback by the visitors.Irish beef: Niall Kenneally busts Plymouth AlbionRub of the green leaves Irish eyes smilingMunster A 23, Plymouth Albion 8Albion lost for the first time in this year’s competition, going down 23-8 in a scrappy affair at the Waterford RSC on Friday night. But Plymouth head coach James Shanahan felt that inconsistent refereeing did his side no favours: “We created two very good chances. One was pulled back for a forward pass, and for the second when Munster knocked on the referee didn’t play advantage.”Pool 4 is wide open as Nottingham‘s 24-14 win over Stirling County on Friday night leaves them just three points behind the two front-runners.Leeds lament early loss at Memorial GroundCarnegie’s 21-17 loss in their first Cup outing may well cost them qualification despite thrashing Aberavon 72-0 at Headingley on Saturday. But they have their destiny in their hands as unbeaten Bristol, who defeated Gala 6-17 on Saturday to lead Pool 5 by two points, have yet to make the trip to Yorkshire.Pirates in pole position LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
— EatSleepRugby (@eatsleeprugby) May 1, 2015A simple twitter account dedicated to each league could harvest hundreds of unseen incidents. Of course, you’ll have the odd idiot sending in pointless nonsense and they would be immediately excluded or blocked, but some could be of genuine use. It’s simple, cheap, easy to establish and equally easy to dismantle if it doesn’t work. It would also go a long way to improving supporter engagement via social media. Could be worth a try. On the money: Toulon have set records for getting professional rugby right The Toulon dynasty, Nick Abendanon’s X-Factor, Lee Byrne’s enduring class and social media aiding the refereeing process are all given the treatment Risk worth taking?: Nick Abendanon showed moments of genuine quality against ToulonClermont may have lost the Champions Cup final but it must not be allowed to tarnish a stunning individual season. He led the Champions Cup’s in ball carrying, clean breaks, defenders beaten and metres made. Many will point at his erratic chip after 40 minutes which helped lose them the title. But his own try in the 62nd minute was one of the finest pieces of skill this season – leaving five Toulon defenders as motionless Qin Shi Huang’ Terracotta Army. Rugby needs more Abendanons, so let’s all get on the back of the shopping trolley and head straight for the stack of olives.Farewell Lee ByrneHaving already dedicated a point to Welsh rugby in this article – a section on Lee Byrne may seem a tad ‘Taffia’ and I make my apologies. Yes of course, Byrne had a magnificent career in Wales including 46 caps and a Grand Slam in 2008. He was one of the original Welsh Galacticos and along with James Hook, Shane Williams etc helped usher in a Welsh renaissance at Test level that still thrives today. Byrne’s style spearheaded the penchant for long-limbed, powerful fullbacks who could dominate the air with boots and bombs – which led to his selection as first choice full back on the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour.Class act: Lee Byrne was widely respected over the channel, as well as at homeSome of Byrne’s up and unders were responsible for significant damage to orbiting satellites – if your Sky signal was ever interrupted at approximately 3.30 pm on a Saturday it was probably Lee’s fault. Byrne’s angles of running were sublime and were so effective that they even became known as the ‘Byrne Line’. But almost as important of any of the above, and the reason for the second ‘Welsh point’ in this article, is that some of his finest work wasn’t carried out in Wales but in France. Byrne genuinely cracked the Top 14 when he was at Clermont. Unlike many Welsh players who crossed the channel and whimpered home with their baguette between their legs, Byrne returned with the respect of French rugby. Congratulations on a great career.Can Social Media help citings?Rugby has become an impossible game to referee. Even with a referee, two assistants and a TMO it is a nightmare to officiate. Particularly when it comes to off the ball incidents like choke tackles and dangerous ruck clear-outs. But this is where social media can really help. With the ability of supporters to cut Vines (simple video clips) and post them to Twitter, the rugby public could turn four sets of keen eyes, from the officials, into hundreds of thousands of hawk like eyeballs. Billy Meakes receives a red card for this high tackle on a player without the ball. Fair decision? https://t.co/NXY97oESG9 LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Five things we learned about rugby – AprilDon’t hate Toulon, they’re simply getting it right.Okay, so it was May 2, but it’s easy having a pop at Toulon. It’s like having a dip at Donald Trump’s hair – they’re both tempting targets and the jibes are largely fuelled by jealousy of their wealth. In truth, the argument isn’t about Toulon, their cash and stunning third European title in a row – the argument is broader. The crux is that you either like professional club rugby or not. Pro club rugby is all about cash and it’s not Toulon’s fault that they spend it rather wisely. Toulon were actually one of two teams in the Top 14 to make a profit last year – Brive being the other. The romantic notion of growing squads largely from academy players is laudable, but also time intensive and hugely problematic.Power game: Drew Mitchell typifies Toulon’s grunt with a big hit on Jonathan DaviesEven if you do manage to grow five or six quality academy players the likelihood of them being poached is huge. It’s like nurturing a greenhouse full of tomatoes only to find out that Mourad Boudjellal has snuck in overnight, picked the big ripe ones, and chucked some euros on the floor in exchange. If it’s not Toulon flashing their cash, it will be Clermont, Bath, Racing Metro, Saracens or even Pau, who having been promoted into the Top 14 have signed Conrad Smith and Colin Slade. Professional club rugby IS money and that is sadly never going to change.Judgement Day taking shapeWelsh Rugby’s Judgment Day 3 was an undoubted success. The attendance figures were up significantly, at 52,762, and the entire event had been prepped and marketed at a level that far exceeded its earlier incarnations. In fairness Judgement Day 1 and 2 became almost symbolic of the mess in which Welsh rugby found itself at the time. Politically the events were a very difficult sell – it was like hosting a beauty pageant in 1665 during week three of the Bubonic Plague.Party atmosphere: Judgement Day 3 turned out to be the most successful yet (Pic Huw Evans)But 2015’s effort was far superior, nearing the levels of execution, anticipation and press support that the Aviva generates for its showpiece events. There are the usual detractors who attribute the events’ success to cheap tickets –but that’s how supply and demand works. Judgment Day now has the feel of a calendar event, a permanency around which people will plan their rugby diaries. Congratulations to all those involved.Nick Abendanon – the beautiful riskThere are plenty of things in life that where the pleasure outweighs the risk. The Japanese eat ‘Fugu’ a fish which, if prepared incorrectly, can kill you. I took a similar risk a few weeks ago by riding on the back of a trolley in a supermarket aisle, lost control, and nearly wiped out about £400 of neatly stacked olives – but it was worth it. Nick Abendanon falls into the category. His attacking skillset at Bath was good, but with Clermont’s squad around him his standard of play in has been balletic.
Watch the French Top 14 LIVE with TV5MONDE free to standard Sky and Virgin viewers Clermont expects: Morgan Parra applauds Les Jaunards, the club’s noisy fans Magician: Sergio Parisse will be hoping to inspire StadeThere is also a weekly rugby news show, Jour de Rugby, on TV5MONDE Saturdays at 10am (but solely in French so brush off your GCSE and have a go!) For info on rugby and other programmes on TV5MONDE visit http://bit.ly/top14tv5mondeIf a bit of Rugby à la Français has whetted your appetite for all things French then have a look at TV5MONDE’s prime time daily films, drama or entertainment evenings at 8pm – all with English subtitles for everyone to enjoy. Go to www.tv5monde.co.uk for listings and more. The multi-million Euro Top 14 is coming gloriously to a boil and for fans of French rugby with Champions Cup finalists, Clermont facing surprise packages Stade Francais in the Final this weekend, you can catch it all in June as TV5MONDE – the international French-language TV channel – is showing the crucial French Top 14 rugby matches LIVE this weekend!TV5MONDE is available via Sky 796 and Virgin 825 and Téléfrance.co.uk, this will include the showpiece Top 14 Final on Saturday 13th June, which last year featured Jonny Wilkinson’s final emotional game beamed around the world.ALL Sky viewers get TV5MONDE as standard and ALL Virgin viewers can enjoy a Freeview period for TV5MONDE from 30th May – 13th June to watch the semis & the final! (TV5MONDE is normally in the XL Virgin XL package) Téléfrance offers a package of French channels for £6.99 a month and is available via Roku, Now TV and online via IoS and Android devices.Match schedule is as follows;Sat 13-Jun-2015 19:30 RUGBY – TOP 14 FINALSat 13-Jun-2015 20:43 RUGBY – TOP 14 FINAL LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Attendance: 74,000For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here. A round-up of what’s hot and what’s not from Wales’ final Six Nations game of 2016 against Italy in Cardiff Wales put their Twickenham nightmare behind them at the Principality Stadium, running in nine tries to secure a record win and condemn Italy to the wooden spoon in this year’s Six Nations. There was no slow start this time as Wales attacked in waves from the off and led 27-0 at half-time. George North was deservedly Man of the Match, showing a real sharpness in his running game, but there were threats across the park for Wales. Italy scored two second-half ties, through Guglielmo Palazzani and Gonzalo Garcia, but by that point they were well on the road to a heavy defeat. Warren Gatland’s side were happy to take risks in this game – the question now is whether they will play the same, more open style in New Zealand in the summer.WHAT’S HOT…Sense of adventure – Wales were embarrassed for an hour at Twickenham last week and they clearly had a few points to prove. There was nothing conservative about Wales’ attack in this match, offloads flying from all directions (George North’s back-handed one for Jamie Roberts’s second-half try was a beauty) and the hosts even launching attacks from their own 22. One such move resulted in a well-worked first-half try for Jonathan Davies as Wales had spotted the space out wide while after the break George North scythed his way through Italy’s defence from his own half. Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams, Ross Moriarty (two) and Gareth Davies were the others who crossed the whitewash.Opening act: Rhys Webb crashes over to score Wales’ first try. Photo: Getty ImagesThere was far more freedom to their play as they looked to keep the ball in hand and spread it wide, rather than rely on their aerial kicking game to generate scoring opportunities. It wasn’t perfect – there were more than a few dropped passes and question marks of a forward pass in the build-up to Biggar’s try – but it was refreshing to see more ambition in their play. If they are to have any chance of winning a Test in New Zealand in June they need to show this sort of variety in their tactics rather than the continual use of multiple up-and-unders and hard runners.The crowd – This may have been a dead rubber in terms of the title, what with it being decided a week earlier by Scotland’s win over France, but the packed Millennium Stadium was a riot of colour. Alongside the large swathes of red were plenty of Italian fans, the ones in front of the press box with curly wigs emblazoned with the colours of the Italy flag particular favourites. They were all in fine voice and delivered a fantastic atmosphere to what had become more of a low-key occasion.Happy day: Jonathan Davies celebrates – as did the crowd throughout. Photo: Getty ImagesDavid Odiete – The full-back was the one shining light for Italy in Cardiff. He may be slight but he’s a dangerous runner, stood up well in defence and stepped in at scrum-half when Guglielmo Palazzani was sent to the sin-bin in the first half. He almost notched a length-of-the-field score, too, but despite touching down, play was brought back for a Wales penalty inside Italy’s 22.WHAT’S NOT…Italy – There was little expected of Italy before the tournament but the narrow defeat by France in round one raised a little hope. Their final two games of this Six Nations have extinguished all of those glimmers, though. Hammered by Ireland last week and Wales this, it looks like Italian rugby needs an overhaul – and fast. Jacques Brunel’s reign is now over and should, as expected, Conor O’Shea be named their new coach, he will under no illusions as to the task that lies ahead.Yes, Italy have been hampered by injuries in this tournament and there do have talented players; Gonzalo Garcia, Edoardo Gori and Michele Campagnaro have shown ambition in attack during the championship and, of course, there are the unwavering abilities of Sergio Parisse. But their discipline must improve and they still need to find a fly-half who can consistently deliver at Test level. There’s much work ahead for the Azzurri.Consolation try: Gonzalo Garcia touches down for Italy. Photo: Getty ImagesLack of a play-off – Following on from the Italy point, the Six Nations organisers must seriously consider opening up the championship to the likes of Georgia and Romania. This is not just simply being raised because Italy are propping up the table – similar questions have been raised when Scotland or Wales have been struggling in previous years. If rugby is truly committed to growing the sport, there has to be something for the lower-tier nations to aspire to.Straight promotion-relegation might be too big a step for now, but surely a play-off between the bottom-placed Six Nations team and the winners of the European Nations Cup (ENC) is a good option? Georgia beat Romania 38-9 today to claim Europe’s second-tier competition in front of a 50,000 crowd in Tbilisi. Add in their RWC 2015 performances and they could give Italy a run for their money. There are complications as the ENC competition runs over two years not one, but simply starting the process of opening up the tournament to other teams would be a step in the right direction.Leading figure: Do Sergio Parisse’s Italy deserve to keep their Six Nations place? Photo: Getty ImagesSTATISTICS17 – The number of carries made by Jamie Roberts, nearly double Italy’s top carriers. Tommaso Allan and Oliviero Fabiani made nine each. 143 – The number of metres made by George North, the only player to make it to three figures.12 – The number of line breaks made by Wales compared to three by Italy. 25 – The number of offloads made by Wales compared to eight by Italy.Wales: L Williams; G North, J Davies, J Roberts, H Amos (G Anscombe 49); D Biggar (R Priestland 59), R Webb (G Davies 64); R Evans (G Jenkins 51), S Baldwin (K Owens 51), S Lee (A Jarvis 59), B Davies (J Ball 59), L Charteris, D Lydiate (capt), J Tipuric (R Moriarty 17), T Faletau.Tries: Webb, Biggar, J Davies, Roberts, North, Williams, Moriarty 2, G Davies. Cons: Biggar 5, Priestland 3. Pens: Biggar 2.Italy: D Odiete; L Sarto, A Pratichetti (K Haimona 36), G Garcia, M Bellini (L McLean 34); T Allan, G Palazzani (A Lucchese 65); A Lovotti (M Zanusso 65), D Giazzon (O Fabiani 47), M Castrogiovanni (D Chistolini 47), Q Geldenhuys, V Bernabo (J Sarto 47), F Minto (A Steyn 59), A Zanni, S Parisse (capt).Tries: Palazzani, Garcia. Cons: Haimona 2.Yellow card: Palazzani (19min)Referee: Romain Poite (France)Man of the Match: George North (Wales) TAGS: Highlight High five: George North of Wales breaks to score his team’s fifth try. Photo: Getty Images
LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Who would you pick as the best player of the tournament? Which of the players above gets your vote? If you click here you can cast your vote today.Don’t forget to follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest rugby news. Vote For Your 2019 Six Nations Player Of The ChampionshipThe voting for the 2019 Six Nations Player of the Championship is now open with four Welshmen and two Englishmen amongst the nominees.Josh Adams, Tom Curry, Alun Wyn Jones, Jonny May, Hadleigh Parkes and Liam Williams are the names to pick from – you can vote for yourself here.The four Welshmen nominated have all had excellent tournaments.Alun Wyn Jones led his team all the way to his third Grand Slam and third for Warren Gatland. One of the best locks in the world, his work-rate and warrior-like mentality was inspirational for the team.Josh Adams scored crucial tries against Italy, England and Scotland whilst he also led the fightback in Paris when Wales were 16-0 down at half-time.Hadleigh Parkes was named Man of the Match against Scotland and also got Wales off to the perfect start against Ireland in Round Five – he scored in the opening couple of minutes and then pulled off a try-saving tackle on Jacob Stockdale which could have changed the entire match. Grand Slammers: Wales won the tournament in 2019, achieving an impressive clean sweep (Getty Images) Finally, Liam Williams played some exemplary rugby throughout the tournament and has proven himself to be vital to the Welsh back-line, fitting in wherever he is required.England also had two players nominated, Tom Curry and Jonny May.Curry had a breakthrough campaign, scoring two tries against Wales and Scotland, and he also ended up as the top tackler in the tournament. A brilliant find for Eddie Jones.May was the top try-scorer, collecting six overall with a first-half hat-trick against France being the high point.