Rugby Union tickets & update
England, Ireland, Saracens stand out
Looking back at the Rugby union 2016-17 season, England, Ireland, and Saracens stand out with their in form squads, excellent performances and winning records - and they hope to continue their success in the 2017-18 season. In January 2017, new England manager Eddie Jones named his first training squad with England ahead of the Six Nations choosing Dylan Hartley as his England captain. Champions-elect Saracens were unbeaten in January leading in both the rugby union Premiership and the Champions Cup, where topping their Pool.
England manager Eddie Jones began the Six Nations tournament with three wins in February, ending Ireland’s hopes along the way. George North was key as pre-tournament favorites Wales earned two wins and a draw from three matches. Ireland legend Paul O’Connell was forced to retire from pro rugby without playing in a single match for his new side Toulon due to an unfortunate injury he suffered during the Rugby World Cup. England edged out Wales in an exciting 25-21 clash in March before completing their first Grand Slam since 2003 with their win against the Welsh side in Paris. Scotland won their first victory over France in 10 years. Hero Stuart Hogg was named Player of the Tournament.
Three of the four Rugby Union Champions Cup semi-finalists were from England however Toulon beat Leicester in April to set up a final match with Saracens in May. Harlequins went through to the Challenge Cup Final after whalloping Grenoble, while Montpellier beat the Dragons. The Pro12’s ‘Judgement Day’ featured Ospreys and the Scarlets defeating the Blues and the Dragons at the Principality Stadium. In May, Sarries made it a European and domestic double, beating Racing Metro in the Champions Cup and then winning the Premiership Grand Final against Exeter at Twickenham Stadium. In the Challenge Cup, Harlequins lost to Montpellier while Connacht took the Pro12 title, beating Leinster at Murrayfield. England’s revival under Eddie Jones continued its momentum as Australia were soundly whitewashed 3-0 down under in June to maintain the Red Rose’s 100 per cent record in 2017. Popular Wales lost all three of their games against the mighty New Zealand All Blacks, and Ireland lost their series with South Africa 2-1.
In July the traditional off-season transfer hustle for rugby players was underway with big names including Wallaby Kurtley Beale and Springbok Willie Le Roux both joining Danny Cipriani at Wasps. Unfortunately James Haskell, who had reinvented his career under England boss Eddie Jones, was ruled out for six months after suffering a toe injury while on tour in Australia. Scotland confirmed they would not renew coach Vern Cotter’s contract and would instead be hiring Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend to replace Cotter in June 2017. The Rugby Championship featured the New Zealand All Blacks defeating the Australia Wallabies 42-8 and 29-9 in the Southern Hemisphere. Coach Warren Gatland was chosen to manage the British and Irish Lions on the 2017 tour of New Zealand, with Rob Howley replacing him as Wales coach for the Six Nations. Howley was announced as one of Gatland’s three assistant coaches for the tour, along with Andy Farrell and Steve Borthwick. Fiji won gold in Rio, beating Team Great Britain in the final. Rugby Sevens returned to the Olympics in September.
Munster head coach and former Ireland forward Anthony Foley was found dead in his hotel room in October ahead of the Champions Cup tie with Racing Metro. Foley died aged 42 after a heart condition caused fluid to build up in his lungs. Munster fans paid tribute to Foley. In November, Ireland stunned the rugby world with a sensational 40-29 win over New Zealand in Chicago. The victory was their first ever win over the New Zealand All Blacks. The hard-fought match was emotionally charged with tributes to Foley made beforehand. South Africa was beaten by Wales, England, Ireland and Italy on their European tour. Popular All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett was named World Rugby’s player of the year. England completed their perfect year in December with a commanding win over Australia at Twickenham Stadium in Cardiff. Tragically, George North was controversially allowed to continue playing by Northampton after he suffered a concussion. Dylan Hartley ended his year on a bad note with a red card and six-week ban.
In September 2017, England rugby coach Eddie Jones is planning to identify his best players and how to utilize their talents. His job will then be to see to it that his side peak at the optimum time to continue their amazing winning streak since he took charge of the England team. With 19 wins in his first 20 games in charge, Jones has made a morale boosting start on the uphill road to Rugby World Cup 2019 Japan, and his 33-man training squad for England’s upcoming camp in Oxford will be the next phase of that climb. Three England rugby players who were named to the 2017 British & Irish Lions side: Jonathan Joseph, Kyle Sinckler and James Haskell, are outside a deliberately slimmed-down squad, with the recently sidelined George Kruis also left out. Although it is “only” a training camp, Jones stated that those named will have “a head start” in terms of selection for England’s first Test against Argentina coming up on November 11 as Jones looks ahead to choosing his 31-strong side for Japan in two years’ time.
Jones will next face the selection of his squads for the two Tests against Australia and Samoa, with Jones looking to choose his leading men that feature in all three Autumn Internationals fixtures. The player-welfare implications regarding England’s British & Irish Lions rugby players will need to be factored in and negotiations are continuing with the Premiership clubs over whether rested rugby players may also be excused from club duty. Courting popularity has never been Jones’s style. “Spending your whole life on your iPhone is popular but it doesn’t mean it’s right,” said Jones. “There’s a certain sort of rugby we need to play to win the World Cup and it’s not going to be popular rugby. We’ll play the rugby that suits us. We don’t need to copy New Zealand.”
At the same time as Jones is stating he will not copy New Zealand’s playing style, he admits that New Zealand’s All Blacks’ Nehe Milner-Skudder, would offer him something but, in Jones’s mind, 80% of his 2019 squad is already chosen. The remaining 20%, composing only 6-7 players, will need to offer Jones something he does not already possess – perhaps a rugby player like Harlequins star Sinckler. However for now, Jones has opted instead for Exeter’s Harry Williams. Jones stated that any rugby player perceived not to be busting a gut at club level every week is potentially dispensable.
“Some guys need to work on their games,” said Australian coach Jones. “We’ve had those discussions with them.” England have two young No 7s: Bath’s Sam Underhill and Sale’s Tom Curry who Jones senses have “something about them”. Exeter’s Sam Simmonds is a possible Test openside of the future, so the 32-year-old England captain Haskell will have to work with them. “Hask knows what he’s got to do and I know he’s going to attend to that very seriously,” said Jones. “We’ve been quite fortunate with the young guys coming through and they’re challenging the establishment.” Newcastle’s Mark Wilson was impressive in Argentina in June. Bath’s Tom Dunn and Saracens’ Nick Isiekwe will stake a claim for the England side in the absence of the injured Luke Cowan-Dickie and Kruis, only just back for Saracens against Sale this weekend after an ankle injury. Behind the scrum, there is high-profile recognition for 18-year-old Quins fly-half Marcus Smith. And Northampton’s new signing Piers Francis who has not yet made his Premiership debut offers Jones a midfield option. Manu Tuilagi could be selected if he remains fit enough to string together a sequence of games. Denny Solomona may get back into Jones’s good graces as well.
“He’s got work to do on his game and maybe on his drinking game as well”, said Jones about Solomona. Lions duo Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly are still regarded by Jones as a potential starting option. “That’s the great thing, if you look across the squad, there’s real competition,” added Jones. “No player can feel like he can just turn up, bowl his 10 overs for 30 runs and be happy. You’ve got to compete and be at your best. The only way we’re going to be the best team in the world is if we’ve got that. That’s what we’re moving towards.” Jones’s England captain, Dylan Hartley will be 34 by the time of the next World Cup in 2019. Hartley is prepared to resume his rivalry with Jamie George for the starting No 2 jersey. “We’ll see how Dylan is at the camp,” Jones said. “He understands that. Every time he comes in it’s like an audition; if he keeps doing the job well he’s got the job for that period of time but he’s got good hookers underneath him biting at his ankles.”
Autumn Internationals 2017-18 Fixtures & Tickets
Autumn Internationals fans should note that all rugby tickets for the upcoming tournament are for sale securely online now from the LiveRugbyTickets.co.uk rugby union marketplace for great prices. Buy legal, cheap Autumn Internationals tickets now for England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland!
Saturday 4th November 2017
Japan v Australia tickets at International Stadium, Yokohama
Barbarians v New Zealand tickets at Twickenham Stadium, London
Saturday 11th November 2017
Italy v Fiji tickets at Stadio Angelo Massimino, Catania
Scotland v Samoa tickets at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
England v Argentina tickets at Twickenham Stadium, London
Wales v Australia tickets at Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Ireland v South Africa tickets at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
France v New Zealand tickets at Stade de France, Paris
Tuesday 14th November 2017
France v New Zealand tickets at Parc OL, Lyon
Saturday 18th November 2017
Italy v Argentina tickets at Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Wales v Georgia tickets at Principality Stadium, Cardiff
England v Australia tickets at Twickenham Stadium, London
Scotland v New Zealand tickets at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Ireland v Fiji tickets at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
France v South Africa tickets at Stade de France, Paris
Saturday 25th November 2017
Italy v South Africa tickets at Stadio Euganeo, Padova
Scotland v Australia tickets at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
England v Samoa tickets at Twickenham Stadium, London
Wales v New Zealand tickets at Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Ireland v Argentina tickets at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
France v Japan tickets at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
Saturday 2nd December 2017
Wales v South Africa tickets at Principality Stadium, Cardiff