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STEVE Borthwick praised the “magnificent effort” of his team.The Tigers director of rugby said: “When Bordeaux kicked the ball to the corner in that 81st minute, I thought regardless of what happens, what the outcome here is, that I am proud of the players. Their effort was magnificent.“Bordeaux are an absolutely brilliant team. Threats all over the park. We wanted to try and challenge that in a different way, make them think about it differently. The players adapted on the pitch, which we’ve been terrific at.“There’s a lot of grow…

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Eddie makes a U-turn on Itoje

EDDIE Jones has changed his mind on Maro Itoje’s potential as a future England captain, saying he has seen the Saracens lock mature a great deal over the past six months.Jones wrote in his book Leadership that Itoje was “too inward-looking” for the role, but now says he is “moving in the right direction”.“I’ve never seen a guy mature as much as he has in the last six months so it’s been a really good period for him,” Jones said. “I’m going to contradict myself – and contradiction’s a big pa…

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Fabulous Finn puts Saints to the sword

By ROB WILDMAN

Northampton ..14ptsTries: Skosan 29, Fraser 48Conversions: Biggar 29, Furbank 49 Racing 92……….45ptsTries: Lauret 8, 42, 64, Imhoff 23, 37 Conversions: Machenaud 9, 23, 42, 64 Penalties: Machenaud 3, 5, 51, 59DAN Biggar looks set to miss Northampton’s clash in Belfast next Friday after limping out of this one-sided match dominated by rival fly-half Finn Russell.Saints head for Ulster shaken by a drubbing which matched the memories of how former champions Leinster dominated here in 2019-20, winning 43-16.Inspired by the majestic Scotsman, Racing were at…

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Rightly, long-term future of the game is RFU’s priority

IF THE Championship is such a good product as Martin Stonecliffe suggested last week, why does its ability to develop players missed by Premiership Academies depend on the restoration of the RFU’s £6m p.a. subsidy?The obvious answer is that rugby’s status as a minority sport cannot possibly sustain, on a commercial basis, 24 full time professional clubs – unless dramatic, new market strategies can be found.One certain consequence of a – hopefully most unlikely – reinstatement of the subventions is that grassroots rugby would continue to be starved…

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Maro may have lost but he was star man

WHY do TV’s rugby pundits always give the Man of the Match award only to a player from the winning team?I was a ‘neutral’ watching the Exeter v Saracens game last Saturday, and it was frustrating to see the award given to Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie when Maro Itoje was the best player on the pitch by a country mile.It’s about time that the apparent taboo of giving the Man of the Match to a player from the losing side was broken and give credit where credit’s due.Larry Braysher

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Our best since I joined

FINN Russell had no doubts this impressive victory was Racing’s best since he went to Paris in 2018.
“We came here knowing we had to play well and that’s the best we have looked since I have been at Racing. Hopefully, we can continue that.”
Russell said Racing had found form after defeats in the Top 14 to Castres and Bordeaux.
“It’s great for us to get off to a result like this.
There’s been a fair bit of pressure on us because of our results in the last few weeks. There were a few missed tackles, but we managed to convert our chances where we have not done in previous weeks.”
Nort…

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Pity Bears could not cut Scarlets a break

WITH a 13-team Premiership there are going to be free weekends. Looking ahead, Bristol have no game on the weekend of the January 8/9. Surely they could have offered to play the Scarlets then?It is disappointing the Scarlets had to forfeit their Champions Cup game. Bristol chief executive Mark Tainton said tickets and hospitality packages had been sold and Bristol needed to play the game otherwise lose out commercially.Now all they will get is five points and a plus 28 points difference. Good for the club’s chances in the tournament but is this a sporting attitude? Are the…

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Ford kicks Tigers to stunning away win

By BRENDAN GALLAGHER

Bordeaux ……….13ptsTries: Dubie 40 Conversions: Lucu 40 Penalties: Lucu 2, 52 Leicester ……….16ptsTries: Potter 20 Conversions: Ford 21 Penalties: Ford 16, 68, 75EYEBROWS were raised when Steve Borthwick made ten changes for Leicester’s visit to Top 14 leaders Bordeaux- Begles – but Tigers can’t stop winning this season and flew home last night with an invaluable win under their belts.The hosts had a chance to draw in added time with a wide but very kickable penalty, but they opted for touch and got thwarted, a strange decisi…

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Dupont or Am? They’re both great

JEREMY GUSCOTT

I’VE got no complaints with the World Rugby team of the year and Stuart Hogg will be very pleased to have made the side. He’s scored some good tries, he’s captain of Scotland and it’s nice recognition for him.
Samu Kerevi was devastating for Australia in the Rugby Championship – and if world class players are not playing in the side they are a huge miss – we saw that in the autumn with Australia’s performances without him.
Lukhanyo Am has been the best centre in world rugby – it’s amazing he wasn’t on the shortlist for top player; he’s been brilliant this season.
Will Jordan…

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The post Dupont or Am? They’re both great appeared first on The Rugby Paper.

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Pollard’s all-round game will suit Tigers

JEREMY GUSCOTT
OUTSPOKEN AND UNMISSABLE… EVERY WEEK

HANDRE Pollard is a brilliant signing for Leicester Tigers to replace the Sale bound George Ford and I can see him being a huge success at Welford Road.
I remember him being in the South Africa U20s side and when I first saw him I thought he was a back rower. He’s an athlete; he’s put together well and is a strong carrier of the ball. In fact in my view he does that a bit too much – he takes it up like an inside centre would – and I think he would be very good at 12 as well as fly-half.
At U20 level he looked a very accomplished player…

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