Tonga RU

Tonga slideshow

New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
New Zealand deploys ‘rugby diplomacy’ amid scrum with China over Pacific islands
New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
New Zealand deploys ‘rugby diplomacy’ amid scrum with China over Pacific islands
New Zealand is deploying 'rugby diplomacy' in the southern Pacific with plans to use the sport to unlock development in the region and ward off growing Chinese influence. Wellington is seeking to establish a joint team from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga that would join the Super Rugby club competition, which is contested by 15 teams from southern hemisphere nations and Japan. The involvement of a new Pacific islands team - called Pacific Force - is being seen as a potential catalyst for development in the region at a time when China is seeking to gain a foothold through massive investment. "Part of the plan is that rugby can be a diplomatic force to counter China's influence in the Pacific," said New Zealand media outlet Newshub, who first reported the plan. "The idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence." New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters earlier this year expressed "strategic anxiety" over the Pacific. Beijing is being seen as using its economic muscle to gain influence in South Pacific countries. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16. Samoa's lock and captain Chris Vui is tackled during the autumn international rugby union test match between Scotland and Samoa at Murrayfield stadium Credit: AFP China has built a presidential palace and government buildings in East Timor and invested heavily in Vanuatu, a tiny island 1,200 miles north-east from Brisbane where reports last month suggested Beijing was eyeing a military base. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said officials had commissioned an NZ$80,000 (£41,000) report into a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise. The spokeswoman said: "The establishment of a regional fully professional rugby team in the Pacific Islands has the potential to deliver economic and social benefits to individual players, their families and communities, Pacific Island national rugby unions and teams, and to Pacific Island economies." Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are long-established rugby nations, but players often opt to play for foreign teams at an early stage in their careers. A strong home-based team would help keep star players within the islands, and boost the development of the sport and wider investment. Super Rugby officials are currently exploring plans to restructure the competition from 2021 to 2030. There is speculation that South African teams might opt to join European rugby sides in alternative competitions.
Australia, Tonga and South Africa will play Tests against Wales in November, the Welsh Rugby Union has revealed.
Wales announce November international schedule
Australia, Tonga and South Africa will play Tests against Wales in November, the Welsh Rugby Union has revealed.
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.
England are in the World Cup final then. Which one? Rugby of course. The Rugby World Cup. They are, I assure you. Yes, you’re quite right to think that you should have heard about it by now. No, no, not the Rugby Union World Cup, that’s in Japan in 2019. This is the original Rugby World Cup, the Rugby League World Cup. England are playing Australia at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane this Saturday and are hoping to get their hands on a trophy they have not won since 1972 (as Great Britain). It’s OK, nobody blames you for not knowing. It is not like there has been an explosion in all forms of media and communication in the interceding 45 years, or a vast commercialisation of all forms of sport and a concomitant redevelopment as a multibillion pound industry that touches the lives of people all round the globe. If that had been the case, there would surely be no reason for being ignorant of the fact that England are in a World Cup final on Saturday. Similarly, there would be no reason for Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to tweet after England’s nail-biting semi-final 20-18 win over Tonga last Saturday, ‘England are in a World Cup final on Saturday. I live in hope that, at some point this week, our media will inform the nation about this.’ It almost goes without saying that Rugby League is a much inferior sport to Rugby Union (an oxymoron right up there with Manchester United, Military Intelligence and, appropriately enough, ‘deafening silence’), or it would receive more attention – that’s how these things work isn’t it? Everything judged according to its merits with the due application of that most self-regarding of myths, the English sense of ‘fair play.’ Thought so. There’s only one thing for it – League has to become more like Union. Here are ten ways it can do that… i. First, and most importantly, improve the catering and corporate facilities. We’ll get to the changes in the actual game presently but this is absolutely vital. If there has to be some kind of sporting event going on the very least one can expect is smoked salmon blinis and quails’ eggs, wine that does not come out of a box and a comfortable seat, facing the pitch if necessary. ii. Once that is sorted we can move onto innovation. It’s got to go. What is the point of staging the first Rugby World Cup in 1954 when someone can simply come along thirty-three years later, after all the heavy-lifting has been done, and appropriate the name? See also, the introduction of floodlit matches on the BBC (1965) and video technology (1996 – five years before Union). iii. Clive Sullivan MBE may well have been the first black captain of any British sporting team – and a World Cup winner – but if we can’t even recognise these achievements with a knighthood what chances have we got? Somebody needs to have a word with the Palace. If squash and fencing can have a Dame each, surely they can spare a couple of Sirs for our league-playing boys. iv. This quick, open play nonsense has to be stopped. It’s all very well putting on a spectacle of athleticism and handling technique for the paying public and the audiences at home, but at school level when are the fat kids going to get a chance for a breather? v. Which brings us nicely on to lineouts. These need to be introduced to break up play as soon as possible. There is no finer sight in world sport than seeing a very tall man being thrust into the air by way of upward momentum on his buttocks provided by his teammates as he attempts to make contact with an oval ball. Lineouts would also provide ample time to check text messages and answer important work emails. vi. Scrums, of course, will have to be done properly from now on. Who needs an instantaneous attacking platform when valuable minutes, hours even, can be wasted watching scrums collapse and reset? We should actually go further here and, at international level, institute a five scrum rule that means if a minor infringement is worth punishing in the first place, it’s almost certainly worth punishing five times. Referees could be spared the task of guessing what has just gone on by the introduction of a tombola. This could obviously be sponsored, elegantly but extravagantly, to generate yet further revenue. vii. If that is not enough to slow the game down, let’s open it up to ponderous carbohydrate junkies at the schoolboy and amateur levels and build upon the almost sexual stop-start frisson that is the hallmark of Union. We can do this by throwing another four players on the pitch just to generally get in the way and over-complicate matters. viii. The current points system is obviously not fit for purpose. The kicking game is being woefully neglected; reverting to the old pre-1948 Union levels of four points for a drop goal might not even be sufficient. It will have to be 10 points from now on and renamed a ‘Jonny’. A working party can look at the possibility of introducing a life-size Subbuteo corner-taker figure to replace specialist players as this will free up training time to practise lineouts and scrums. ix. With the corporate hospitality and rules of the game sorted, we can now think about those who pay to watch the game. The obvious thing to do here is to leave the passionate, knowledgeable and loyal sporting heartland of Northern England and focus attention on thriving metropolitan areas like Leicester and Northampton or, more obviously, wherever there is a Range Rover dealership and a fondness for novelty socks. x. Finally, forget all ideas about naming the World Cup trophy after Paul Barrière, a World War II French resistance hero who came up with the idea of a rugby world cup in the first place and, instead, name it after an acknowledged cheat who couldn’t play football properly. And if all that lot doesn’t get us some media exposure, I don’t know what will. It already has? Oh.
England are in a World Cup final... and no one has noticed
England are in the World Cup final then. Which one? Rugby of course. The Rugby World Cup. They are, I assure you. Yes, you’re quite right to think that you should have heard about it by now. No, no, not the Rugby Union World Cup, that’s in Japan in 2019. This is the original Rugby World Cup, the Rugby League World Cup. England are playing Australia at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane this Saturday and are hoping to get their hands on a trophy they have not won since 1972 (as Great Britain). It’s OK, nobody blames you for not knowing. It is not like there has been an explosion in all forms of media and communication in the interceding 45 years, or a vast commercialisation of all forms of sport and a concomitant redevelopment as a multibillion pound industry that touches the lives of people all round the globe. If that had been the case, there would surely be no reason for being ignorant of the fact that England are in a World Cup final on Saturday. Similarly, there would be no reason for Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to tweet after England’s nail-biting semi-final 20-18 win over Tonga last Saturday, ‘England are in a World Cup final on Saturday. I live in hope that, at some point this week, our media will inform the nation about this.’ It almost goes without saying that Rugby League is a much inferior sport to Rugby Union (an oxymoron right up there with Manchester United, Military Intelligence and, appropriately enough, ‘deafening silence’), or it would receive more attention – that’s how these things work isn’t it? Everything judged according to its merits with the due application of that most self-regarding of myths, the English sense of ‘fair play.’ Thought so. There’s only one thing for it – League has to become more like Union. Here are ten ways it can do that… i. First, and most importantly, improve the catering and corporate facilities. We’ll get to the changes in the actual game presently but this is absolutely vital. If there has to be some kind of sporting event going on the very least one can expect is smoked salmon blinis and quails’ eggs, wine that does not come out of a box and a comfortable seat, facing the pitch if necessary. ii. Once that is sorted we can move onto innovation. It’s got to go. What is the point of staging the first Rugby World Cup in 1954 when someone can simply come along thirty-three years later, after all the heavy-lifting has been done, and appropriate the name? See also, the introduction of floodlit matches on the BBC (1965) and video technology (1996 – five years before Union). iii. Clive Sullivan MBE may well have been the first black captain of any British sporting team – and a World Cup winner – but if we can’t even recognise these achievements with a knighthood what chances have we got? Somebody needs to have a word with the Palace. If squash and fencing can have a Dame each, surely they can spare a couple of Sirs for our league-playing boys. iv. This quick, open play nonsense has to be stopped. It’s all very well putting on a spectacle of athleticism and handling technique for the paying public and the audiences at home, but at school level when are the fat kids going to get a chance for a breather? v. Which brings us nicely on to lineouts. These need to be introduced to break up play as soon as possible. There is no finer sight in world sport than seeing a very tall man being thrust into the air by way of upward momentum on his buttocks provided by his teammates as he attempts to make contact with an oval ball. Lineouts would also provide ample time to check text messages and answer important work emails. vi. Scrums, of course, will have to be done properly from now on. Who needs an instantaneous attacking platform when valuable minutes, hours even, can be wasted watching scrums collapse and reset? We should actually go further here and, at international level, institute a five scrum rule that means if a minor infringement is worth punishing in the first place, it’s almost certainly worth punishing five times. Referees could be spared the task of guessing what has just gone on by the introduction of a tombola. This could obviously be sponsored, elegantly but extravagantly, to generate yet further revenue. vii. If that is not enough to slow the game down, let’s open it up to ponderous carbohydrate junkies at the schoolboy and amateur levels and build upon the almost sexual stop-start frisson that is the hallmark of Union. We can do this by throwing another four players on the pitch just to generally get in the way and over-complicate matters. viii. The current points system is obviously not fit for purpose. The kicking game is being woefully neglected; reverting to the old pre-1948 Union levels of four points for a drop goal might not even be sufficient. It will have to be 10 points from now on and renamed a ‘Jonny’. A working party can look at the possibility of introducing a life-size Subbuteo corner-taker figure to replace specialist players as this will free up training time to practise lineouts and scrums. ix. With the corporate hospitality and rules of the game sorted, we can now think about those who pay to watch the game. The obvious thing to do here is to leave the passionate, knowledgeable and loyal sporting heartland of Northern England and focus attention on thriving metropolitan areas like Leicester and Northampton or, more obviously, wherever there is a Range Rover dealership and a fondness for novelty socks. x. Finally, forget all ideas about naming the World Cup trophy after Paul Barrière, a World War II French resistance hero who came up with the idea of a rugby world cup in the first place and, instead, name it after an acknowledged cheat who couldn’t play football properly. And if all that lot doesn’t get us some media exposure, I don’t know what will. It already has? Oh.
Tonga's Shunsuke Nunomaki is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Shunsuke Nunomaki is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Shunsuke Nunomaki is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Yoshikazu Fujita is tackled by Japan players during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan's player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan's player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Latu Talakai is tackled by a Japan's player during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, center, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, center, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, center, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, right, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, right, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi, right, breaks through the challenge of Tonga's players during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi breaks through the challenge of Tonga's player during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi breaks through the challenge of Tonga's player during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Amanaki Leili Mafi breaks through the challenge of Tonga's player during a rugby union international match against Tonga at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, right, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, right, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, right, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Michael Leitch, s tackled by Tonga 's Steve Mafi during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Michael Leitch, s tackled by Tonga 's Steve Mafi during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Michael Leitch, s tackled by Tonga 's Steve Mafi during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Michael Leitch, right, reacts after his team score a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Michael Leitch, right, reacts after his team score a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Michael Leitch, right, reacts after his team score a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Harunmichi Tatekawa, center, is tackled by Tonga 's Leva Fifita, below, during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Harunmichi Tatekawa, center, is tackled by Tonga 's Leva Fifita, below, during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Harunmichi Tatekawa, center, is tackled by Tonga 's Leva Fifita, below, during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Tonga's Steve Mafi, left, tries to tackle Japan's Michael Leitch during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Lomano Lava Lemeki, center, reacts with his teammates after scored a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Lomano Lava Lemeki, center, reacts with his teammates after scored a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Japan's Lomano Lava Lemeki, center, reacts with his teammates after scored a try against Tonga during a rugby union international match at Ernest Wallon stadium in Toulouse, southwestern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Lions' Sylvian Mahuza (L) runs from Rebels' Ben Volavola during the Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and Golden Lions at AAMI Park in Melbourne on May 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mal Fairclough)
Rugby Union - Fiji down Tonga to book World Cup berth
Lions' Sylvian Mahuza (L) runs from Rebels' Ben Volavola during the Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and Golden Lions at AAMI Park in Melbourne on May 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mal Fairclough)

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