Matt Russell

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British and Irish Lions 2013: Warren Gatland 'confident' Owen Farrell will flourish in Australia

Warren Gatland on Monday night leapt to the defence of Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell, saying that he had the utmost confidence that the 21-year-old would flourish in the Lions environment over the next fortnight ahead of their departure for Australia.<p>Farrell has had a bumpy ride of late, finishing …

British and Irish Lions 2013: summer tour Down Under will be most expensive in 125-year history

The British and Irish Lions tour of Hong Kong and Australia is set to be the most expensive in the tourists’ 125-year history.<p>The 10-match tour will cost around £14 million, an increase of more than £4 million on the tour of South Africa in 2009.<p>A 30 per cent increase in the commercial revenues, …

British and Irish Lions 2013: Ben and Tom Youngs ready to be brothers in arms on tour of Australia

The first conundrum has already befallen Ben and Tom Youngs as they follow in the footsteps of the Hastings and Underwood brothers in being chosen for a British and Irish Lions squad.<p>They are part of a large extended family themselves, headed by former <b>England</b> scrum-half Nick, a farmer from Norfolk. …

Premiership semi-finals prove play-offs have come of age

The Premiership play-offs used to be a travesty of natural justice, a blight on the sporting landscape, a distorted, jumped-up way to end a season, a PR sprint to a resounding conclusion rather than a fitting reward for champion displays across the marathon distance of an entire season.<p>So much for …

Saracens v Northampton: Wigan's FA Cup win inspired us to reach Premiership final, says Jim Mallinder

Northampton flanker Tom Wood admitted that his side’s calamitous collapse in the Heineken Cup final against Leinster in 2011 ago had run through their minds as they braced themselves to defend their astonishing 17-0 half-time lead.<p>“We talked about that at half-time,” Wood said. “We have been in …

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea praises ‘magnificent’ Leicester after Aviva Premiership semi-final clash

The final whistle had not gone but already Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea was down at pitchside shaking the hands of some of the Leicester players in congratulation.<p>Now O’Shea is one of the more magnanimous figures in English rugby, but not even the most churlish could have had cause for …

Glasgow look forward to next year after agonising Pro12 semi-final defeat at Leinster

An evening of enormous frustration for Glasgow, but still a powerful statement of potential by Gregor Townsend’s side.<p>It was the third time in four seasons that Glasgow had come up short at the Pro12 semi-final stage, but there was a strong sense around Dublin on Saturday night that they are the …

Leicester's reborn Mathew Tait shows Gavin Henson how to play the long game

April 30, 2013, parallel universe – Warren Gatland announces that his 2013 British and Irish Lions squad includes Gavin Henson and Mathew Tait, who between them bring over 150 caps’ experience to the touring party.<p>Feb 5, 2005, this world – the said players collide; Henson is propelled into …

British and Irish Lions 2013: players who have finished season will have Test advantage, says Warren Gatland

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has revealed players not involved in upcoming domestic and European cup finals could have an advantage when it comes to earning the nod for the opening Test of the summer tour.<p>Gatland admitted he would be watching nervously over the next couple of weeks …

Lions 2013: Meet 'Billy', the fearsome mascot who will terrify Australia (just don't call him cuddly)

It took the British and Irish Lions over 18 months to source a new lion mascot for this summer's tour of Australia because they could not find a replacement with a suitably fierce expression.<p><i>The Daily Telegraph</i> understands a team of 12 people were tasked with finding a replacement for 'Leo', the …