Let’s turn our attention to Lyon

Lyon

With the weather being so lovely in Aberdeen these past few days, we don’t have to be jealous of those in warmer climates – we got a taste of it for ourselves. Got your Scotland cap yet?

But it is the weekend we turn our attention to Lyon, France. Friday we see the Harlequins go against Montpellier. And then on Saturday we see Saracens against Racing 92. Check out the Harlequins jersey on our website.

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Lyon, France

The Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup finals will be the first major rugby occasions staged at the state-of-the-art Grand Stade de Lyon which will also be one of the venues for the UEFA Euro 2016 finals hosting six games including a semi-final.

The second-biggest agglomeration in France is famous for its 2,000 years of history (once Lugdunum, capital of the Gauls), its cultural events and its fine dining. UNESCO has recognised the exceptional nature of Lyon by listing it as a World Heritage site.

 

The weather for the French city this weekend isn’t actually that great, Aberdeen had it better this week!

Things to see according to Trip Advisor:

  • Presqu’île: the narrow strip of land between the Rhone and Saone rivers, Presqu’îleis home to the most popular shopping streets, from Place Bellecour to Place des Terreaux at the foot of the Croix-Rousse hill.
  • The old town: Vieux-Lyon features Renaissance buildings and townhouses, medieval streets and narrow passageways that host some of the best bouchons – typical Lyon restaurants.
  • Lyon’s lungs: Parc de la Tête d’Or in the north of Lyon acts as the lungs of the city. Extending over an area of 105 hectares, this is one of the largest urban parks in France

More can be found at the Discover Lyon website.

Women’s rugby

Yes – in other news, the girls of Irish rugby have taken over their Facebook page as the logo was revealed for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup taking place in Dublin and Belfast #BringIt

 

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PIcture of rugby players with a cup

An Indifferent Gloucester Derail Exeter’s Top-four Hopes

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for Exeter after going down 25-24 to an in-form Wasps side, that sit one place above them in the Aviva Premiership. Coming off the pitch in the Champions Cup Quarterfinals was a difficult task after narrowly missing out, but the Chiefs were looking to get their season back on track against an underperforming Gloucester side last Friday.

Usually facing Gloucester, teams would be apprehensive – last season they won the Champions Cup trophy but their form has been indifferent this campaign in the league and currently sees them lying in eighth place. Betfair journalist Simon Mail underlined the club’s poor form stating, “Gloucester have disappointed this season and come into this match on their worst run for four years.” He also added, “Sitting eighth in the Premiership with ten defeats this season, Gloucester have failed to impress and the crowd at Kingsholm are growing increasingly frustrated.”

Although, Exeter were “within seconds of reaching the Champions Cup semi-finals” recently, they are still on course to secure a top-four finish this season. And they were certainly expected to turn over an inconsistent Gloucester team who had lost their previous five games. After all, Exeter had already beaten Gloucester 19-10 earlier in the season. However, as Mail documented in his preview of last Friday’s game, Gloucester’s last five defeats have been by “less than 12 points, so we should have expected a close game,” regardless of Gloucester’s poor form.

Gloucester however, didn’t read the script. They kept their hopes of a top-six finish alive with a narrow 16-9 win of Exeter at the Kingsholm. Scotland international Greig Laidlow was the hero for Gloucester as the BBC reported he “landed three kicks to secure victory.” He also added a conversion and an Ollie Thorley try meant that Gloucester recorded a much-needed win in front of their home supporters.

Exeter head coach, Rob Baxter pointed to his side’s ill-discipline as the main reason for the loss. He told, the BBC: “We did pretty well for the whole of the game, but we were massively undone by a period of ill-discipline under relatively little pressure, which is the thing that has annoyed me.”

The Round 21 fixtures, will see Gloucester travel to Sale Sharks and Exeter will be at home to Wasps as they both look to finish the season off strong after some recent setbacks.

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Fitness in sports

It’s a given that you have to be ‘fit’ to do well in certain sports. We automatically assume that all professional sportsmen and women are very healthy and have a professional level fitness routine.

Who are the fittest athletes?

This is controversial topic, everyone has their own opinions on who the ‘fittest’ sports people are, and what the ‘fittest’ sports are. To really know, the first thing is to define what ‘fitness’ really is, you have to know the definition before you measure it. This is thweights-820144_960_720e controversial bit; everyone has differing opinions on what the definition is!

Some of the fittest athletes are said to come from the sports of gymnastics, tennis, cross-country skiing, surf lifesaving, triathlon, basketball, ice-hockey, handball, cycling, boxing, squash, soccer and other football codes, though you could go on and on.

The website topendsports.com decided to dig deeper into finding what the fittest sport is, and their online poll said that the fittest sport was – the Ironman Triathlon. I think we can all agree that doing an Ironman definitely takes some guts and a hell of a lot of fitness.

Rugby Fitness Training

In recent times, the overall fitness of our professional rugby players has improved so much. The backs are no longer small, light-weight individuals and the forwards aren’t sluggish, big men carrying excess weight.

The nutrition and fitness side of rugby has made great strides, especially with the funding being put in to research and technology research.

I know from going to the gym here in Aberdeen, I do see quite a lot of the university rugby players there – in the testosterone filled weights area.

Before the Rugby World Cup started, many supporters claimed that the competition is merely a survival of the fittest. Throughout the build up to the competition, teams were posting endless pictures and videos of what their players were up to in the gym. In Scotland’s case, they posted on their twitter a video showing the players being put through their paces by the French marines.

Stuart Lancaster also came out and said, “in order to win the World Cup, you have to be the fittest team”. The England team’s preparation included rugby fitness training for 2 weeks in Denver and Vail, at an altitude.

Rugby players today are fitter than they have ever been before, this means that the game itself is getting more and more fitness orientated. If a player does not meet the fitness standard, they are dropped.

In the shop

In the Rugby Plus shop this week, we still have a massive sale on selected items including the Rugby World Cup South Africa jersey.

Keeping on the topic of fitness, we have a selection of gear for your choice of physical activity, whether that be for going to the gym, or just for a run! Take a look at our selection of clothing to have you looking the part when you hit your own training program!

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It’s all about the girls!

As the Rugby Plus team here in Aberdeen is 75% female we believe it’s important to draw attention to the girls in the sporting world! Drawing specific attention to rugby for women!

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photo credit: Aberdeenshire Quines Rugby – Jennifer Dobie

The history of women’s rugby is actually really interesting. Historians don’t actually know when it first started because of the secretive nature of the early years of all women’s sport – especially rugby union. Some girls played the game unofficially as part of their school teams — and the earliest confirmed record of any female definitely playing rugby at any level anywhere in the world comes from a school game. This happened at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Ireland. Emily Valentine’s brothers were responsible for the formation of the school’s first rugby team in 1884. Emily practised with the team and in 1887 she played for the school, scoring a try.

How Rugby for Women progressed…

Rugbyfest pointed the way to the next big leap forward—the first women’s rugby world cup, which took place in Wales in 1991. Timed to coincide with the second men’s world cup being held in England it did not meet with official approval from the IRB, a decision which threatened the competition and was a factor in the New Zealand RFU not supporting their entry. However, this did not stop the New Zealanders from taking part—nor Wales, USA, England, France, Canada, Sweden, USSR, Japan, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands.

In 1994 a second world cup was awarded to the Netherlands, but constant prevarication by the IRB about whether they would (or would not) give the tournament official status caused huge problems for the hosts, in fact the IRB went so far as to threaten sanctions against any unions that did take part. Faced with this the Dutch withdrew as competitors and hosts, and who was it that saved the second women’s world cup? The Scots! The second world cup was held in Scotland.

Widespread acceptance of the game leads to women’s versions of other major rugby union tournaments (the women’s Five Nations begins in 1999), and growing numbers of headlines. In 2000 the Irish WRFU affiliate fully with the IRFU.

Women’s teams are now being accepted on the main stage. In 2002 Scotland play their first women’s match at Murrayfield and in 2003 England stage the first women’s international at Twickenham

In 2012 The IRB launches the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, analogous to the men’s IRB Sevens World Series.

Women’s Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games…

And in 2016, women’s rugby sevens will be played alongside men’s sevens at the Rio Olympic Games.

So now, after all that it is actually socially acceptable for women to play rugby! The girls who play are still breaking the social stigma of the ‘manly’ sport and becoming brilliant athletes.

Both Aberdeen University and RGU have women’s rugby teams – that recently played together for the first time in the Granite City Challenge.

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photo credit: Aberdeen University Women’s Rugby Club

Our lovely Anna who works in the shop played for the Aberdeen University side when she was at uni, and now she plays for Aberdeenshire Quines.

So we’ve got an experienced player in women’s rugby – maybe I should follow in her footsteps? Let’s have two female rugby players on the Rugby Plus team? Pretty sure I wouldn’t have the stomach for it but maybe I should try!

 

 

We’ve still got some Seven’s matches left and some games in the Champions Cup and the Pro 12. The season may be coming to an end, but Rugby Plus in Aberdeen has still got the things you need for keeping fit and healthy this Spring. Check out our growing ladies collection.

Like navy Canterbury stadium pants, but with a bright orange logo – perfect for Spring and Summer!

And we still have plenty of ladies rugby jerseys to choose from.

-BG.

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6 Nations are over for another year

The #6Nations is over for another year and this year it really was not that interesting. The rugby wasn’t the same level as it had been over the years, and the best matches were all held on that last day last week. #SuperSaturday was jammed pack with the three last games, and we already knew that England had one the championship, but their hopes of a grand slam was still alive.

Scotland could’ve made it 3 wins in a row if they had beaten Ireland. But 2 days after St Patrick’s day, in Dublin’s city centre, the Scottish had a challenge ahead of them as the Irish crowd and team were in the best of spirits. Ireland ended up beating the Scottish side 35 points to 25.

England won against France, beating them 31 points to 21. This meant that they had won all their matches, giving them the #Grandslam title as well.

And now, less than a week after #SuperSaturday the player of the tournament was named. And it was Scotland’s own Stuart Hogg!

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Credit: Inpho

He secured over 30% of the public vote and the full back received the backing of 20,970 fans.

In addition to the public vote, over the last seven weeks of action-packed rugby the Royal Bank and NatWest panel of rugby legends have been analysing the Championship’s best performances.

On receiving his award, Hogg commented, I’m honoured to receive the RBS Player of the Championship Trophy and join the list of the esteemed players that have won in the past. I’m extremely grateful for all the supporters who voted for me”. 

You can read more of the full story here.

While Cotter’s troops finished off their 2016 campaign with defeat to Ireland in Dublin, Hogg was unstoppable.

The full-back’s first-half score was a thing of real beauty. After collecting a clearing kick in his own half, Hogg isolated two front-rowers in Rory Best and Mike Ross, scorched through the gap and then showed remarkable top speed to beat the covering defence and go over for a sublime score.

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Credit: Inpho

Accenture have also released their RBS 6 nations team of the Championship and Hogg is playing at number 15.

With international rugby finished for a while, you can catch up with Stuart Hogg as he plays for the Glasgow Warriors. Check out our website to get yourself kitted out. 

 

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Rugby at the 2016 Rio Olympics

The history of rugby at the Olympics is an interesting one. And now, rugby will once again be played at the 2016 Rio Olympics – but it’ll be 7’s rugby.

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It all started in 1900 at the Paris Olympics, rugby was played for the first time at an Olympic Games. It continued to be played at 1908 London Olympics, in 1920 in Antwerp and Paris again in 1924. In 1925 before the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928, a man called Baron de Coubertin stepped down as the President of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the guy that stepped up didn’t really like rugby so it was dropped from the Olympic programme.

So from 1925 onwards there has been major campaigning to get rugby back into the Olympics. It was put forward again for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and for London in 2012 but again the requests were denied and the goal of rugby becoming an Olympic sport was still out of reach.

Then this guy came along – Bernard Lapassest. The World Rugby Chairman made getting rugby back into the Olympics his top priority. The sport made the shortlist and at the 121st IOC Session in 2009 it was overwhelmingly voted in as an Olympic sport for 2016 and 2020. So now, for the first time in 92 years, Rugby is back at the 2016 Rio Olympics – it is actually the first year the Rugby 7’s is being played #RoadToRio .

So – Scottish, English and Welsh players will make up #TeamGB, whereas Ireland will have both players from the North and South.

The question is, why did they decide on rugby 7’s instead of the normal 15-a-side teams? The IOC’s argument is that 7’s is more “fast-paced and action packed”. Because it’s faster, more games can be played so a typical 7’s tournament spreads across two days which is perfect for the Olympic games.

You can find out more about Rugby in the Rio 2016 Olympics here.

The Scotland 7’s team plays all year round, across 10 legs in the HSBC Sevens World Series. In the past 15 years that these series have been played, New Zealand have won all except three.

Rugby 7’s was actually invented in Scotland – wahey! – in the border town of Melrose.

RBS Six Nations Bus with Kid Supporters

The boys will be back in the UK in London on the 21st and 22nd of May for the last leg of the 2015/16 HSBC Sevens Series, and then hopefully some of them will be heading off to Rio for the summer with #TeamGB #RoadToRio #AsOne.

So head on over to the #RugbyPlus website to kit yourself out to support the 7’s this year at the Scottish boys at the olympics.

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Rugby Facts: It’s all about the Players…

Babies trainers

If your look at the statistics for the number of players in the 6 Nations countries, there is one country that sticks out. England has over 2 million total players, but only 6.5% of this number are senior males. Scotland has over 38,000 registered players, and 30% of this total are senior males. Does this prove there is a difference between how English and Scottish players are brought into seniority? Obviously England has more players because it is a bigger country, but more Scottish players are at a senior level. Read on to find out more – it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of rugby facts.

All of the other 6 Nation countries, Italy (23%), France (35%), Wales (44%) and Ireland (16%) all have percentages of senior males that are significantly higher than England.

So here’s the question…

This data also leads to the question, does a country need more players to perform better in official competitions? There are two answers to this, one is yes the more players means a better pool of talent, for example England. But then there is the no argument, for example Wales has one of the smallest numbers of total players, but they have won the 6 Nations several times.

With any sport many people think that starting young is best, and rugby is no exception to that! It has been proven that training programs such as #minirugby prove to be successful in promoting a child’s interest in the sport, and they are more likely to continue with it. Obviously only if your kid enjoys it.

Girl lifting weights

I didn’t actually know the history of women’s rugby, it started off by being shamed by society, and then more girls got into it, and the women rugby union associations were set up, and now the women’s teams are under the same association as the men. Scotland was one of the last countries to unite the women’s rugby with the men, it was June 2009 that the Women’s Rugby Union merged with the Scottish Rugby Union.

Rugby has obviously become more popular over the years and many people believe the growing popularity of women’s rugby has contributed to it. More and more girls are fighting the ‘manly’ stigma of the game and are playing. More hometown clubs have a female side, and now many universities’ have one too leading to more girls getting into the profession.

Keep one eye on our blog for more rugby facts – there’s plenty to learn. Make sure you’re up to date with everything that’s been going on, Six Nations is a huge event and you’d be daft to miss out.

 

 

 

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Ireland and the Six Nations

The Six Nations and what Ireland have to say…

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Ireland’s #6Nations campaign hasn’t started out the way we all were expecting to. With the chance to win the championship for a third time in a row, the team haven’t really stepped up – or maybe every other team has simply learnt Joe Schmidt’s ways and are now proving tough competition to the men in green. Read on to find out more about how Six Nations has impacted Ireland.

With a draw against Wales in the first match, and it being one of the least exciting games of rugby I have ever watched didn’t really set our Irish hopes up but you know there was still the belief. Then came the next weekend and by narrowly losing to France by one point, the supporters have started to worry a bit.

Ireland captain Rory Best came out and admitted that the hopes of Ireland winning the 6 nations for a third year in a row are now in jeopardy after losing to France last Saturday. Second row Devin Toner has said that the position Ireland are in now is not ideal,

“it’s obviously out of our hands now, but there’s still always a chance. Look at last year – it came down to the three final games”.

Ireland are currently placed at number 4 in the table, with England and Wales above us and Scotland below. We have one point to our name and with only 3 games left to play, we must win each and hope and pray to the rugby Gods out there that the other results go our way.

It’s an uphill battle this weekend with the men in green travelling to Twickenham, known as the devil’s quarters by some. I thiMosaic of the Irish flagnk to beat England at home, we need to keep composure and not let the pressure get to us. With England playing well in the first two matches of the championship, the pressure is on! But if you look at the history between these two sides, in the RBS 6 Nations playing head to head, Ireland have won 9 times and England only 7 – so who’s to say this Saturday’s match won’t be Ireland’s 10th win? And who doesn’t love to see England getting beaten? #ShoulderToShoulder

Legendary Irish fly-half Ronan O’Gara #ROG says that the title dreams are still alive in the Irish camp, but now is not the time to experiment with the team especially with the next match being against England.

He said, “You can’t wreck their heads, as in ‘I’m giving this fella a go’ – you don’t give a fella a ‘go’ in Twickenham.”

So it looks like even Irish Rugby royalty has some concerns. But from the first two matches we can see that obviously something is not working out for the Irish team. I agree that experimenting before match against England is not ideal, but if we lose this match then something has to change.

Ireland’s women’s team are in the exact same boat as the men, they lost too to France last weekend. This defeat means that it ends the Irish hope of a Grand Slam, and France moves up to joint first with England.

So now it’s down to the boys to carry the Irish dream of winning the 6 Nations three years in a row, come on you boys in green! #COYBIG.

Why not check out some of our latest deals to help you look the part during all the rugby festivities?

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Rugby… Mind Games…

“Scotland will start as favourites”… Rugby… Mind Games…

“There is an enormous pressure on Scotland to perform and not so much on us!” So says the new England rugby coach, Eddie Jones.

Mind Games Brain in Hand

Who does he think he`s kidding. With a huge number of players to select from, in comparison to Scotland, surely the pressure is on Eddie to make sure that he gets the selection right. Is he just making vibes so that if they do finish second in this weeks Calcutta Cup #calcuttacup match he will be able to say that `the favourites won!!

The rivalry between the Thistle and the Rose will be at its highest when the teams take to the paddock at Murrayfield but in todays new climate of `modern rugby` this will also be an experience for a Kiwi & a Wallaby.

Eddie Jones #eddiejones was born in Australia and Vern Cotter #sternvern was born in New Zealand. This will be the first time since the cup was competed for in 1879 when the intense rivalry will have such a Southern Hemisphere input. How will they find it? – Watch their lips for who sing their ‘new’ National Anthem and does it justice!!

Whether you support England #carrythemhome or Scotland  #asone let`s hope that, in the year after the Rugby World Cup #RWC2015, the interest in this wonderful sport will continue.

France v Italy and Ireland v Wales are the other matches in this first weekend of `the greatest rugby tournament` in the world, but surely neither can compare with the intensity of a Calcutta Cup match.

So with this 123rd meeting of these intense rivals and with the added `down under` input it will surely be the best team that wins. However who will win the pre-match ‘mind games’?

While the Northern Hemisphere kicks of the RBS Rugby Six Nations the SouthThe Calcutta Cup, Rugby Six Nationsern Hemisphere is contributing to the World Sevens Series. New Zealand won their own 7s #Welly7s with a fantastic one score victory in the final. Next week sees the Australians play hosts to the Tournament. For the first time, after several years in the Gold Coast, the venue is Sydney.

It’s a massive year for sevens rugby with their appearance at the Olympic Games #rio2016.

Thoughts:-

New Zealand to win Aussie 7s

France to beat Italy

Wales to beat Ireland

Scotland to beat England

So whatever your fancy in rugby, and with all this windy weather in the UK, fasten your seatbelt, batten-down-the-hatches and get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions.

RBS Six Nations Bus with Kid Supporters Why not stock up with your Six Nations Supporters gear at www.rugbyplus.com

 

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The RBS 6 Nations and New Calcutta Cup

IT`S NEARLY EYE`S DOWN

FOR

THE KICK-OFF OF THE

BIGGEST ANNUAL RUGBY FESTIVAL

RBS 6Nations Bingo

The #rbs6nations is the annual rugby union competition involving 6 European sides – England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland & Wales. Part of this competition involves the Calcutta Cup #calcuttacup which is played for between Scotland & England. Started in 1879 this cup is  for the oldest rugby international in the World.

In 1993 when it was {pre-Italy} only 5 teams involved, a new trophy was commissioned. It had 15 sides to it – representing the 15 players. 3 handles – representing the 3 officials. A concealed drawer in the mahogany base of the trophy with 5 replicas, one each of the team emblems which could be screwed on to the detachable lid. A prize for that years winner.

The Tournament now has one of the largest TV audiences it has ever had and generates millions of pounds/euros into the economies of the countries and cities where the matches are held. It’s a numbers game!

In 2015 a new trophy was made.

New Calcutta Cup

Well think about it >> in todays  terms. At least 22 players in the squad, and goodness knows how many officials – 4th referee, TMO, TMO assistant, citing officer plus, plus, plus……….. (how was it done in `the good old days`?)The old trophy had to go!

Results overall, including in the Home Nations Tournament – what it was called before the Five Nations – England and Wales have won the Championship outright the most. 26 times each.

It’s the Grand Slam that is everyone`s goal! To date; England have won 12, Wales 11, France 9, Scotland 3, Ireland 2 and Italy 0!

 

In 2000 when the 6 nations started 803 points with 75 tries were scored. Last year {2015} we had 660 points, with 62 tries being scored. There are suggestions that the games are not as exciting as things used to be! Well read this!

In the first 3 years of the 6 Nations a total number of 2364 points were scored which included 245 tries!……………….The past  3 years has seen a massive drop in these totals. Only 1797 points and 160 tries!!

Any ideas of what`s gone wrong?

I notice somewhere very recently where it said that the best way to celebrate scoring a try in the #rbs6nations is by hugging your teammate #nationalhugday.

I think that we will continue to see a lot less hugging of 6 Nations rugby players.

 

However, like most of you, I will be at the matches, or watching on TV at the Rugby Club, or watching at home in a `sound-proofed` room but I will really be looking for more hugs from these muscle-bound rugby players!

 

So, its `eyes down`, and get ready for the 2016 rollercoaster of the :–

 

2016 SIX NATIONS RUGBY TOURNAMENT!

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