With December 31st fast approaching, it is a time to reflect on successes. Those on the rugby field, and from the team here at LWOR. And on behalf of Last Word on Rugby (LWOR) we would like you to enjoy a variety of our First Pick XV articles of 2017.
This is not a playing top XV – though you will undoubted find individual candidates within the selection – but more so, in the variety and range of topics tackled by our team of writers across 2017.
Our team report on all the domestic and International competitions around the world, celebrating players and teams across the ‘rugby globe’. It’s what gives us a point of difference, and with the incredible array of posts over the last year, our Editors all hope that you will enjoy our First Pick XV.
Editors Choice: LWOR First Pick XV Articles of 2017
In the second of three features (2/3), this series counts down the first pick XV articles from our team of writers. And after we brought you the tight pack, we now share the backrowers – the backbone of the side – and our halves.
This second group of five examples, show the dexterity and balance required from numbers 6 to 10.
#6 – Off Field Issues Often Determine Content
At times, this sport is results focused. As it should, because the outcome is the reason for playing; and for reporting on the matches. But many times a news story or distraction can often proceed or follow key match-ups.
When the story is pivotal, if the topic of discussion is prevalent, then Last Word on Rugby will fulfill it’s role… no matter how reporters feel or whether the subject is personal or topical.
At times through the year, player and coach movements were newsworthy. From US Eagles coach John Mitchell’s exit, to one of the most anticipated releases of the year; the naming of the touring British and Irish Lions squad. LWOR reacted instantly, by publishing the breaking news and opinions.
In regards to the Lions series, it was newsworthy for all the right reasons. No leaps from moving ferries, or dwarf-throwing in 2017. The tour was both popular and successful; pre-tour predictions of 3 or 4 victories proving true, with a drawn series outcome that brought our most quoted (and comedic) lines:
“Well, I guess it is like Kissing your Sister.” – warren gatland.
One of the six biggest ‘breaking news items’ was the official announcement of the pools for the 2019 Rugby World Cup Japan. It had all the head coaches assembled in Tokyo, to see which teams they needed to prepare for. LWOR were prepared, livestreaming the media conference and acting accordingly–with an eye toward seeking media credentials for the tournament.
#7 – Sevens Rugby Shows it’s Pedigree in 2017
The landscape of rugby now consists more evenly, of XV’s and 7’s. Two distinct games, yet now more than ever, each represented in World Rugby. Globally; as many have said before, the game of sevens is gaining in popularity [some might say ‘finally’ and others will say obviously]. It hold it’s place in our First Pick XV.
For Last Word on Rugby, our lead sevens reporter Jovilisi Waqa is on the pulse of the game. His coverage includes the HSBC Sevens Series for women and men. But for LWOR, his role is also outside of the popular tournaments.
Covering many of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifying events, from Oceania Sevens, the Coral Coast Sevens, Oktoberfest, Silicon Valley, Africa Cup and the Central Coast Sevens (see above). We call it ‘More Rugby 7s’.
With the wide variety of events featured, LWOR has a solid base of reporting from around the rugby sevens world. This allows our readers to stay both informed, but also educated on ‘Rugby Sevens: the Game We Love’.
#8 – Spending Time ‘In the Bin’
No, this is not a jibe at Kieran Read – who spent a fair few minutes sitting on that chair – but in our recent addition to the LWOR family, the ‘In the Bin’ Rugby Podcast.
Paddy and Andy host an interesting discussion each week, that is both irreverent and topical. They love to reflect back on recent competition outcomes–often in awe of the results–and with a touch of humour too. Both will always make their predictions for the upcoming matches, so then the following week each will revel in their successes or failures.
‘In the Bin’ began prior to the opening fixtures of the Aviva Premiership 2017/18. Continuing this week, the podcast has mirrored each week of domestic and International rugby competitions; for over 17 weeks now.
And the same applies to LWOR. Our team of writers have followed domestic and International competition….and we all hope that you enjoy our recent, and past efforts.
#9 – In Memorial: Rugby Loses Living Legend Colin Meads
Over the year, many storylines have risen that see our team react. Many times, a great player may leave us. This is where tributes are most appropriate.
Difficult to write, as they often do not signify the deeds of the man entirely. So in 2017, World Rugby saw the passing of several leaders of the game: Ken Catchpole, Willie Duggan, Joost van der Westhuizen, and finally the great ‘Pine Tree’ Sir Colin Meads.
His handprint will forever be imprinted on the game in New Zealand; and he made an impact on the game globally. First and formerly, for his play. A good lock (not exceptional) but it was his all around play was both as an individual, and a team member that epitomizes Colin Meads.
His three decade career spanned the post-war period, up until his last game in the 1970’s…..not including testimonial, and charity matches. A statue was unveiled in his home town of Te Kuiti, only months before the great man past away.
For rugby fans in all corners of the globe, sources like Last Word on Rugby can inform about news; such as the passing of a legend, or the entrance of a new star player.
#10 – Farrell and Barrett Battle for Number One Spot
Fittingly, the first-five position in our First Pick XV is both recognition of their status; as well as detailing one of the more interesting battles in World Rugby. Two men that are similar in size, stature and attacking foresight.
The Saracens first-five, Owen Farrell has developed into the modern version of Jonny Wilkinson–only a faster, stronger and a more naturally attacking character. Farrell is able to play number 10, but is recently been positioned at second-five. Adept at both, the ace-kicker is fundamental to England Rugby’s success…..and played a key role in the British and Irish Lions Series.
His career is 53 tests into an assumed long term in White. This is where the similarity to Barrett is again seen–the All Blacks pivot playing 62 tests, after both debuted in 2012.
Beauden Barrett has found more widespread acclaim. This is as much in his place in a Rugby World Cup winning team, and accolades delivered on him. Voted World Rugby ‘Player of the World’ for the last two years running, his points and sensational try scoring form see him pushing up the list of all-time record holders–where Farrell sits at position 24 on the International points scored.
“Barrett is by-far the most exciting player in World Rugby.”
The Taranaki/Hurricanes first-five was featured many times over 2017, with many roles in winning Super Rugby clashes, before helping the All Blacks to a draw with the Lions [most notably in the opening match]. The New Zealand team then went on to retain The Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup.
Either Farrell or Barrett, could walk into our First Pick XV. And more examples can be found of instrumental first-fives in World Rugby. Finn Russell, Bernard Foley, Lasha Khmaladze, Anthon Belleau, Juan Martin Hernandez; among many others.
LWOR will continue to provide insight into player profiles, interviews and match analysis, as well as match reports, previews and forecasts.
As we enter 2018, continue to enjoy the range and variety of items from Last Word on Rugby’s collective writing group.
Read the first in our series here.
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