Thursday, 27 August 2015

Stuart Lancaster's bold England Rugby World Cup selections: Sam Burgess, Henry Slade and Ben Morgan

Luther Burrell and Kyle Eastmond must be feeling pretty miffed. Both centres have been passed over for inclusion in England's RWC squad - yet nothing the England coaches have said fully explains their omission in favour of international tyros Sam Burgess and Henry Slade.

Eastmond? He was jettisoned from the England camp at the first cut, despite his play-making abilities offering something different to the big-hitters of Burgess' ilk. When the England coaches talk of Slade offering "balance" to England's centre options, aren't Eastmond's twinkle-toed and fast-handed credentials (and significantly superior experience) being overlooked?

As for Burrell, one would have fought that the medals he's picked up at Northampton Saints in recent times would qualify him as a 'winner'. Yet he's been dropped for Burgess - because of the latter's "winning mentality".

Instead of Burrell and Eastmond, who over the past three years have built up a decent reserve of international experience, England will have two players who only tasted international Union for the first time earlier this month.

Burgess has his advocates, of course, not least this fella, who owns a League team as well as having made a few flicks:

But few would contest that 'Slammin' Sam' remains exceedingly raw in Union, with his positioning highly suspect at times. History suggests that experience wins you World Cups, and Burgess has precious little in the 15-man code.

Ben Morgan's inclusion is also fraught with risk. The Gloucester No. 8 has played just one half of rugby since breaking his leg mid-season. Conclusion? He must have been delivering some absolutely thumping performances in training.

To make your own mind up on the coaches' reasoning, listen to today's Talking Rugby podcast:

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Stuart Lancaster: Sam Burgess and Henry Slade performances have created World Cup selection headache

England boss Stuart Lancaster reflects on his midfield selection conundrum following England's World Cup warm up win over France.

Friday, 14 August 2015

How new media are changing the way live sport is reported

Cricket rather than rugby, this. But a good example of how new digital reporting techniques are changing the way sport is covered.