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Rugby Union

London Wasps 26 Leicester 16: Dallaglio departs on a high

They are some outfit, these Wasps. They play at a ground in Buckinghamshire that doesn't appear on any satnav yet point them towards Twickenham and they treat it like their second home.

Inside Rugby Union

England v Barbarians: Paice and Hartley put forward credentials

Sunday, 1 June 2008

There will be a hint of exhibitionism at England's match against the Barbarians today, not least surrounding the hookers' convention, in which three players will be particularly keen to show a leg and catch the unsuspecting eye of the Twickenham punters, not to mention the Red Rose selectors.

Ireland Down Under: Heaslip eager to learn All Blacks' dark arts

Sunday, 1 June 2008

The Irish would never admit to taking tips from England, but when Sir Clive Woodward's team marched victorious through New Zealand and Australia five summers ago they planned their trip in the same five-star Surrey hotel where Ireland mustered last Wednesday. It is a long shot that a shared taste in four-poster beds and scrambled eggs will bring the same results, but under a caretaker coach at the end of a disappointing season, any boost to the wilting shamrock will do.

Jonathan Davies: Wales tour to South Africa: Hook must find the right lines to sink Springboks

Sunday, 1 June 2008

At the beginning of the season you would hardly have pre-dicted that next Saturday's match between South Africa and Wales would be a battle between the world champions and the Six Nations Grand Slam winners. But that is the measure of what a surprising nine months it has been in rugby, and the shocks might not yet be over.

Emotional and fitting farewell for warrior born to win

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Could he handle it? Eighty-nine thousand pairs of eyes following his every move, plus the all-seeing television cameras, desperately seeking a sign of weakness; overhyping the good and accentuating the bad. Handle it? Lawrence Dallaglio has always loved it, and he lived and breathed it here one last time in triumph. It had begun for the old warrior, Wasps-wise at least, on a scruffy second-team pitch on a windswept night 18 seasons ago. It ended in front of the biggest crowd for a club match the world has seen, who rose to acclaim him.

Wasps' revival generates buzz as club titans go head-to-head

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Chris Hewett picks his Premiership team of the season Lawrence Dallaglio's last game of rugby is very definitely a big deal, but there must be a whole lot more to this afternoon's Premiership final between Wasps and Leicester than an 80-minute long goodbye from the most charismatic player of his generation. Otherwise, it would be impossible to imagine 82,000 spectators, give or take a few dozen, bothering to sardine themselves into Twickenham, thereby breaking the world record for attendance at a club match.

Andrew will feel sheepish if Regan's Baa-Baas pull the wool over his eyes

Saturday, 31 May 2008

It is some considerable while since Rob Andrew took an active role in coaching – he has spent the last couple of years doing the Rugby Football Union's dirty work in both the political and human resources arenas. Few will notice tomorrow, when the elite rugby director's England XV take on a Barbarians side of questionable strength at Twickenham, but when Andrew and his charges set foot in All Black country next week, things will become much more interesting.

Harry Ellis: 'It's bound to be a struggle. Wasps are our greatest rivals'

Saturday, 31 May 2008

In moments of extreme weakness, it is just about possible to feel sorry for New Zealand, the poor petals. Their sporting economy is weakening by the day – the successful bid for the 2011 World Cup was based unashamedly on the idea that by 2015 they will be too skint to host anything grander than a pro-am sheep-shearing contest – and they are haemorrhaging players of All Black quality faster than at any point in their history. There again, they can lose a scrum-half as good as Byron Kelleher to rugby's Eurozone and still leave the brilliant Piri Weepu out in the cold. Maybe they are not quite the victims they sometimes imagine themselves to be.

The Wasp who became a giant: Last hurrah for an icon built of steel

Friday, 30 May 2008

George Orwell once remarked that a man reaches 50 with the face he deserves. Lawrence Dallaglio got there 15 years early. He still looks the picture of health, damn him, but he has more scar tissue than hair these days - when he emerged from the training field shortly before lunchtime, there was a fresh bloodying of the left eye – and his expression occasionally betrays a hint of weariness. It has been hard work, single-handedly providing the most successful team in England with its conscience and its life force as well as playing the best part of 400 games as a loose forward, and he has finally had his fill.

Barbarians call gives Balshaw chance to prove point

Friday, 30 May 2008

World Cup winner Mark Regan will captain the Barbarians against England at Twickenham on Sunday. The Bristol hooker, who has won 46 caps, leads a side that includes his fellow England internationals Iain Balshaw and Andy Gomarsall.

Spirit of unity breaks out in England camp

Thursday, 29 May 2008

The first signs of England's coaching staff drawing their wagons around the recently-appointed manager Martin Johnson were plain for all to see yesterday, even though Johnson himself was nowhere in view. Mike Ford, the defence strategist, enthusiastically extolled the virtues of the new set-up, currently under the temporary command of Rob Andrew, in a manner that left no one in the remotest doubt as to his view of the previous regime, headed by Brian Ashton.

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