All eyes are on South Africa at the moment but there are some other stories of interest floating around Planet Rugby at present and here are just a few of them.
Robshaw handed England debut
Martin Johnson has made 2 changes to the England team for the Second Test against Argentina in Salta this weekend. Quins flanker and Guinness Premiership Player of the Year Chris Robshaw takes his bow in place of James Haskell who, after being talked about as England captain (by myself among others) a few short months ago, now stands third in the pecking order for the 6 shirt. Elsewhere Julin White wins his 50th cap in place of David Wilson on the tighthead.
England will be looking to build on an impressive, if unspectacular victory in the first test and beating the Pumas on their own patch is never an easy task. It will be worth watching to see how some of the young guns cope with the pressure and take responsibility.
England: D Armitage (London Irish); M Cueto (Sale Sharks), D Hipkiss (Leicester), T May (Newcastle), M Banahan (Bath); A Goode (Brive), D Care (Harlequins); T Payne (Wasps), D Hartley (Northampton), J White (Leicester), S Borthwick (Saracens, capt), L Deacon (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins), S Armitage (London Irish), N Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: G Chuter (Leicester), D Wilson (Newcastle), B Kay (Leicester), J Haskell (Wasps), P Hodgson (London Irish), S Vesty (Leicester), M Tait (Sale Sharks).
Dean Ryan parts company with Gloucester
As has been widely predicted, Dean Ryan has left Gloucester by ‘mutual consent’ after 7 years at the club. He tried to build an expansive team based upon young players with huge talent and plenty of flair. While they achieved regular success during the grind of the Premiership round robin stages, they gained a reputation as spectacular chokers on the big stage, getting hammered on more than one occasion in the final having topped the table in the normal season. They also failed when it came to the sharp end of the Heineken Cup.
The sale of players like Ryan Lamb and Anthony Allen, as well as the failure to integrate talent such as Olly Barkley, represented an admission that the project had failed and made Ryan’s departure inevitable. He will be back though without doubt, probably with a healthy dose of pragmatism added to his desire to play expansive rugby. We will hear from Ryan again and I expect him to meet with success. Bryan Redpath has been promoted to Head Coach at Kingsholm.
Phillips named Sevens Player of the Year
OK so this story is about 2 weeks old but England captain Oli Phillips was voted World Sevens Player of the Year after the Edinburgh tournament for his outstanding season on the circuit. The 26 year-old skippered England to 3rd place in the standings although they went into the final tournament with a chance of winning it. He may look about 45 years old but he is now looking to kick on in his 15s career having signed for the mighty Stade Francais from Newcastle Falcons. All the very best to him.
by Stuart Peel