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FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - New Zealand Captains Run - Surenois Rugby Club, Suresnes, France - November 10, 2017 New Zealand's Kieran Read during the captains run REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
New Zealand Captains Run
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - New Zealand Captains Run - Surenois Rugby Club, Suresnes, France - November 10, 2017 New Zealand's Kieran Read during the captains run REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Brive's wing Benito Masilevu (C) vies with Oyonnax' scrum-half James Hall (L) during a French Top 14 rugby union match in Oyonnax, central eastern France (AFP Photo/JEFF PACHOUD)
Brive's wing Benito Masilevu (C) vies with Oyonnax' scrum-half James Hall (L) during a French Top 14 rugby union match in Oyonnax, central eastern France
Brive's wing Benito Masilevu (C) vies with Oyonnax' scrum-half James Hall (L) during a French Top 14 rugby union match in Oyonnax, central eastern France (AFP Photo/JEFF PACHOUD)
Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - France vs New Zealand - Stade de France, Paris, France - November 11, 2017 New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - France vs New Zealand
Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - France vs New Zealand - Stade de France, Paris, France - November 11, 2017 New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - France vs New Zealand - Stade de France, Paris, France - November 11, 2017 New Zealand’s Sam Whitelock looks dejected REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - France vs New Zealand
Rugby Union - Autumn Internationals - France vs New Zealand - Stade de France, Paris, France - November 11, 2017 New Zealand’s Sam Whitelock looks dejected REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland vs France - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 11, 2018 France’s Maxime Machenaud in action REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Six Nations Championship - Scotland vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland vs France - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 11, 2018 France’s Maxime Machenaud in action REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
RC Toulon's British winger Chris Ashton dives to score a try during their French Top 14 rugby union against Clermont in Toulon, southeastern France (AFP Photo/BERTRAND LANGLOIS)
Bellyflop!
RC Toulon's British winger Chris Ashton dives to score a try during their French Top 14 rugby union against Clermont in Toulon, southeastern France (AFP Photo/BERTRAND LANGLOIS)
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France head coach Jacques Brunel before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France head coach Jacques Brunel before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France’s Mathieu Bastareaud gestures Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France’s Mathieu Bastareaud gestures Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
Is this perfect holiday for England rugby fans?
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
Is this perfect holiday for England rugby fans?
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
Is this perfect holiday for England rugby fans?
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
Is this perfect holiday for England rugby fans?
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
Is this perfect holiday for England rugby fans?
The Baglioni Hotel Regina does not resemble an obvious venue for rugby union. Tucked on to the Via Vittorio Veneto, immediately opposite the American embassy in Rome, it is a place of understated five-star elegance, spotless mirrors and the click of pricey heels on polished marble floors. If it ever dreams of scrums and line-outs – of the battle-bloodied foreheads of the swarthy warriors of the modern game – it is far too discreet to discuss it. And yet, just beyond the gilded lobby, Ugo Monye is holding court in a salon room where light cascades from chandeliers on to walls lined with paintings that swirl with 19th-century Romanticism. Not, I sense, that he feels remotely out of place. He is standing on a low stage, expressing his opinion on matters such as who should be England captain, and the same team’s chances of winning next year’s World Cup. As he talks, he fields questions from an audience that is semi-distracted by canapés and glasses of valpolicella. This, surprisingly, is what a mini-break with England Rugby Travel – the specialist tour operator that offers trips for those who want to see the titans of Twickenham play – looks like. Everybody here is enjoying the first evening of a three-night sojourn in the Eternal City, which will end with a fixture against Italy at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Piazza Navona, Rome Credit: Givaga - Fotolia/Givaga That this will be the easiest match of a Six Nations campaign which will, ultimately, prove disappointing (when England walked out on home turf yesterday afternoon to face Ireland, the visitors had already won the championship) only adds to the air of relaxation. The game is the main reason to travel, but this event for England Rugby Travel clients is also a key element of the fun. “It’s great to be involved with things like this,” says Monye – an affable, engaging figure, only recently retired (in 2015), who played on the wing for England from 2008 to 2012, and was part of the British and Irish Lions squad which toured South Africa in 2009. “It’s nice to meet people and hear their opinions about the game. People really love this sport.” Bespectacled and eloquent, Monye is part of a roster of former players used by England Rugby Travel to add stardust to its tour packages. Others include Mike Teague (a stalwart of the Eighties England side who appeared in the 1991 World Cup Final), and Neil Back and Phil Vickery, both members of the conquering team which won the 2003 tournament. Ugo Monye (pictured right) is part of a roster of former players working with England Rugby Travel Credit: getty A man of fewer words but blockier presence, Vickery – who stood firm for England at prop from 1998 to 2010 – joins Monye on the panel at a second event, held at the Roma Eventi Centre off the Piazza di Spagna, the evening after. Both are, however, eclipsed by England head coach Eddie Jones, who spends an hour being interviewed and replying to talking points from the floor, even though, at this stage, kick-off is less than a day away. His Australian drawl and straight answers keep the audience enthralled, but he reveals a soft side too, pausing afterwards to speak to a 13-year-old who boldly states his desire to play for the national team and requests advice from the incumbent of the top job. England Rugby Travel has access to the head coach for such showpieces once a year, and generally saves the slot for a Six Nations match in Dublin or Rome (depending on the fixture list). These two weekends are its most in-demand. This popularity is visible in the happy demeanour of the customers who have booked a dash to Italy. They number just over 500, and have flown in on five chartered (Jet2) aircraft (two from each of Stansted and Gatwick, one from Birmingham), and looked after on every step of the journey – a fleet of coaches is waiting at Fiumicino airport to ferry them to seven hotels. The Baglioni in Rome In my case this is the Starhotels Metropole, a comfortable four-star near Termini railway station, where the tour operator has a desk positioned in the lobby – there to hand out tickets and assist with any queries. It is a slick operation that seems to meet with the approval of rugby followers who rather like the idea of a tickets-and-travel package – some of them with one eye on stretching the concept to next year and the Far East, where the ninth incarnation of the World Cup will be staged in the unfamiliar setting (for rugby) of Japan. There are plenty of spare hours for sightseeing before the match hoves into focus on the Sunday. As expected, England win by a wide margin – but if the result was largely a foregone conclusion, it did not dampen the vibe around the ground as kick-off approached. There were marching bands, food trucks and, for no apparent reason, a clutch of sports cars – Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in blue-and-white Italian police livery. Whether Japan will provide similar pageantry when the sport’s greatest teams arrive in Tokyo is yet to be seen, but anticipation is clearly building. Rugby 2019 World Cup predictor How to book Next year’s Japanese staging of the Rugby World Cup (Sept 20-Nov 2 2019; rugbyworldcup.com) will be the first to be staged in Asia, and will lend itself to pre-arranged travel packages. England Rugby Travel will offer a variety of holidays (0344 788 5000; england rugbytravel.com/rwc2019). These will range from a seven-night option for those who want to sample the atmosphere via two of England’s pool games (against the US and Tonga) to a 45-night extravaganza – staying in Japan for the duration of the tournament and watching 12 matches in 10 cities, including the final. There will also be a 25-night option that will tick off eight fixtures – not least England’s last pool game against France, as well as two of the quarter-finals, the two semi-finals and the final. The Rugby World Cup will be staged in Japan next year Credit: GEtty Full details will be released in late April. Packages will start at £5,995 per person. Prices will cover international flights, internal travel, accommodation, tickets, and support staff. England will not return to Italy for a Six Nations fixture until 2020, but three-night breaks to Rome with England Rugby Travel cost from £499 a head, including flights, accommodation transfer and ticket. Further information on the city at turismoroma.it and italia.it.
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France head coach Jacques Brunel before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France head coach Jacques Brunel before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Wales players celebrate after defeating France during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Wales players celebrate after defeating France during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Wales players celebrate after defeating France during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Gael Fickou, tackles Wales' Liam Williams during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Gael Fickou, tackles Wales' Liam Williams during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Gael Fickou, tackles Wales' Liam Williams during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Mathieu Bastareaud , centre, is grabbed by Wales' Josh Navidi, left, and Wales' Dan Biggar during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Mathieu Bastareaud , centre, is grabbed by Wales' Josh Navidi, left, and Wales' Dan Biggar during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Mathieu Bastareaud , centre, is grabbed by Wales' Josh Navidi, left, and Wales' Dan Biggar during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Dany Priso, center left, defends France's Marco Tauleigne in the scrum during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Dany Priso, center left, defends France's Marco Tauleigne in the scrum during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Dany Priso, center left, defends France's Marco Tauleigne in the scrum during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales’ Taulupe Faletau in action REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 Wales’ Taulupe Faletau in action REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France’s Maxime Machenaud misses a penalty REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France
Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales vs France - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - March 17, 2018 France’s Maxime Machenaud misses a penalty REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
France's Mathieu Bastareaud, left, tackles Wales' Taulupe Faletau during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Mathieu Bastareaud, left, tackles Wales' Taulupe Faletau during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
France's Mathieu Bastareaud, left, tackles Wales' Taulupe Faletau during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Wales' Dan Biggar, left, goes to tackle France's Marco Tauleigne during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Wales' Dan Biggar, left, goes to tackle France's Marco Tauleigne during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Wales' Dan Biggar, left, goes to tackle France's Marco Tauleigne during the Six Nations rugby union match between Wales and France at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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