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Victor Ubogu

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We haven't been this excited about Aviva Premiership Final for a long time! Saracens became only the fifth away side to win a Premiership Semi Final and must be feeling massively proud about their narrow 24-29 win against Saints. Bath Rugby on the other hand, went one further and SMASHED Leicester Tigers 47-10 with non-stop tries, a raucous afternoon at the Rec and a glimpse back to the glory days of Bath's winning years.

With a line-up of backs that basically IS England's international side, confidence has returned to Bath Rugby. At the VU office, I'm taking the liberty of being unregulated by the national media and being completely biased by saying we're rooting for Bath all the way! With one ex-Bath player, one @BathBird10, one son-of-a-Bath-legend, one former Bath player WAG, how can we not be?! And even this Welsh girl and the Shed-Head in the office are cheering on Blue, Black & White this weekend!! We want to see Banahan run out and look as gargantuan in Twickenham as he does at the Rec, we count on Joseph flying up the centre and Roko power charging through anything in his path. And it goes without saying Ford will out-kick his old mate Owen Farrell and cement his place as 1st choice No 10 for RWC.

The VU Clubhouse will be open next Saturday. Former front row boys Victor Ubogu and Lee Mears will be there to defend me (I hope) and entertain you all with tales of Bath and England days and also offering a warm welcome to Sarcens fans too. Victor's house is a fantastic all-welcoming all-inclusive environment to warm up for the game and we genuinely invite all supporters to be there in red and black (or whatever colour Saracens are trying to sell kits in this year) or #BB&W for the ultimate day of Premiership Rugby.
 
Inclusions:
 
•        Champagne & Canapes on arrival
•        Complimentary bar pre & post-match
•        Barbecue
•        Souvenir match programme
•        Ref-Link
•        Post-match hot savouries
•        Signed photo of you and your guests with Lee & I
 
Cost: £167+vat
 
Top priced Ticket at an additional face value cost of £82, if required.

Places are limited so contact VU now on 01225 788880 to book your spot!

Honestly, ALL fans welcome – Sarries, Bath or anyone who just loves a good ruck, maul and tackle. And if you think i'm wrong, feel free to disagree. Comments moderated by me, so reply and post away; we'd love to hear from you!

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It still seems like an age away but the start of RWC2015 is only 4 months!!  Stuart Lancaster announced his band of trusted soldiers to lead England to World Cup glory and the training squad will be in serious preparation mode at Pennyhill Park through the summer. Lancaster has until August 31 to select his 31-man World Cup party ahead of the home tournament opener against Fiji on September 18 at Twickenham, so the boys below will be keen to be at their best and reveal their true strengths this summer!

The QBE Summer Internationals will be seen as major last chance auditions for the RWC squad, so be at Twickenham on August 15th (England v France) and September 5th (England v Ireland) to be in the best position to predict your winners and losers! The VU Clubhouse will be open for fun in the sun, quality hospitality and real rugby chatter so book your place here to join us!

Good Luck England! #CarryThemHome

Full England training squad: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Dave Attwood (Bath), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Sam Burgess (Bath), Danny Care (Harlequins), Danny Cipriani (Sale), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), George Kruis (Saracens), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Jonny May (Gloucester), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), David Strettle (Saracens), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Anthony Watson (Bath), Rob Webber (Bath), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester), Tom Youngs (Leicester).

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SPREAD THE WORD AND WIN! Cyclothon UK, the 12 hour team relay endurance cycling race, takes place at Brands Hatch Circuit on Thursday 10th September, just one week before Rugby World Cup 2015! Registration is open to enter your team of 4-8 riders, to tackle the hills and thrills, twists and turns of this infamous Grand Prix circuit in Kent.

As always, teams of Home Nations Rugby Legends will be amongst the pelaton, battling each other for the coveted Home Nations Challenge Cup. In previous years, we've seen the likes of Mike Tindall, Lee Mears, Roger Uttley and Rory Underwood representing Team Bulldogs and taking on Team Dragons (Colin Charvis, Alix Popham, Rhys Williams, Barry Davies) and Team Jocks (Scott Hastings, Craig Chalmers, Damian Cronin, Doddie Weir and Gavin Kerr).

VU Ltd have just launched a 2 week competition for you to Win a Ticket to Ride on a Home Nations Team. If you're brave, fit or daft enough to back up several generations of Rugby Legends, then there's a saddle waiting for you! You could be the hero that helps Team Bulldogs snatch the title from the Dragons, or be victorious over Victor Ubogu in the King of the Hill competition – true bragging rights.

Victor Ubogu will be cycling at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 16th May at the London 7s in support of RFU's Injured Player Foundation – one of our biggest supporting charities of Cyclothon UK since the event begun. Go along and cheer him on – he'd love your support!

All you need to do to be entered into the draw to win is:
a) RETWEET and FOLLOW us on Twitter @vu_ltd
OR b) LIKE and SHARE the post on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/vuhospitality

The closing date is Monday 1st June, 2015 and the winner will be drawn at random after this date.The event takes place on Thursday 10th September at Brands Hatch, Kent. Prize includes full registration at the event and all associated inclusions. Prize winner is responsible for own travel to venue. No substitute prizes. VU Ltd's decision is final. All rights reserved.

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Awesome In The Ruck with Slammin Sam Burgess the day after his debut at Bath Rugby!!

How do you like to spend time after training and rugby matches?
I like to go for a coffee down town with a few of the boy. Also like to go to Bath Spa to do a bit of recovery. Like to keep it pretty simple.

If you were stranded on a desert island who would be the worst team mate past or present to be with and why?
I think it would have to be George Ford as he has such bad OCD.

Best city you have toured and played rugby in?
I must say Sydney as I spent so much time there.

Most memorable match you have played in?
Of course the Grand Final 2014

If you didn’t play rugby what do you think you would have been doing?
I always thought I would be doing something in sport, a PE teacher most likely.

What’s the best thing about RWC 2015 being in England?
Home support and passionate fans.

Earliest Rugby memory?
Getting tackled into a wet, cold, muddy puddle when I was 5.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?
I would love to just step into the shoes of Mike Tyson for one day. Defiantly not a week just a few hours every now and then.

Worst injury?
It has to be my face in the Grand Final. I fractured my cheekbone and eye socket.

What is your best joke?
Ummmmm did I tell you the one about Alzheimer’s…..Ahhhhh I’ve forgotten it.

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England will be keen to bounce back in style after the disappointment in Dublin a couple of weeks ago and there was some good news for Lancaster this week with both Mike Brown and Courtney Lawes being passed fit and available for selection. Other changes include the return of Geoff Parling who makes his first appearance in a 6 Nations match-day squad for 2 years.

England match-day 23 to face Scotland

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
12. Luther Burrell (Northampton) 
11. Jack Nowell (Exeter)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) 

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester)
4. David Attwood (Bath Rugb)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton)
6. James Haskell (Wasps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) (C)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Replacements
16. Tom Youngs (Leicester)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle)
19. Geoff Parling (Leicester)
20. Tom Wood (Northampton)
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
22. Danny Cipriani (Sale)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

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Jack Nowell's amazing season at Chiefs has been rewarded with a place in the England match day squad to face Ireland on Sunday. He replaces an unlucky Jonny May, who in many people's eyes, hasn't had the best start to the 6 Nations Championship. Alex Goode, who has also had a great season for his Club, makes his first test start for 2 years.

England's squad looks strong but will it be enough to beat the impressive Irish in their own back yard just like they did 2 years ago? Fingers crossed history will repeat itself!

England side to face Ireland

15. Alex Goode (Saracens)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
12. Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) 
11. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) 

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4. David Attwood (Bath Rugby)
5. George Kruis (Saracens)
6. James Haskell (Wasps)
7. Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Replacements

16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
18. Henry Thomas (Bath Rugby)
19. Nick Easter (Harlequins)
20. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
22. Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

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I read a really interesting article recently in UK Business Insider about why cycling is taking over as the new networking activity of choice between young corporate executives.

We're seeing this trend continue as our registration to Cyclothon UK, the 12 hour endurance team relay road cycling challenge at Brands Hatch, increases at a similar pace to growing membership to British Cycling, more requests for cycling based events, and quite frankly the number of lycra-clad MAMILS we all observe on our daily commute.

It shows the pace of our daily lives is changing. Fewer people have the time to put in 4-5 hours on the course without getting a measured physical return. At Cyclothon UK, we enjoy the variety of interactions and activities that occur throughout the day – from sharing a memorable moment with a colleague, the thrill of beating your boss' lap time, bragging rights of accelerating past an International Rugby Legend, or just the pure exhilaration of cranking up a few kmph on the track where Mansell won a F1 Grand Prix.

Registration for Cyclothon UK is now open and you can register your team here or call 01225 788880 for further details.

The video from last year's Cyclothon UK event can be viewed on our event website here . We hope it'll inspire you to join our Rugby Legends on the track on September 10th, 2015 just one week before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off!

The Business Insider article can be viewed here and is certainly worth a read: http://uk.businessinsider.com/cycling-is-the-new-golf-2015-2?r=US

 

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After their victory in Cardiff last Friday, Lancaster has named an unchanged squad to face Italy at Twickenham Stadium this Saturday. Of course a victory is all important but can't help feeling this would have been an ideal opportunity to test out some other players who have been in contention over the past few months. What are your thoughts…….

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
12. Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) 
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) 

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4. David Attwood (Bath Rugby)
5. George Kruis (Saracens)
6. James Haskell (Wasps)
7. Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Replacements
16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
19. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
20. Nick Easter (Harlequins)
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
22. Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
 

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Lancaster names his squad for their opening match in this years RBS 6 Nations Championship, but after a disappointing autumn and a host of injuries, can England overcome a strong Welsh team at the fortress that is the Millennium Stadium?

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 33 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 6 caps)
12. Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints, 7 caps) 
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 11 caps)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 6 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 42 caps) 
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 26 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 61 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 45 caps)
4. David Attwood (Bath Rugby, 16 caps)
5. George Kruis (Saracens, 4 caps)
6. James Haskell (Wasps, 53 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins, 32 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 12 caps)
 
Replacements
16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 17 caps)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 15 caps)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 6 caps)
19. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps)
20. Nick Easter (Harlequins, 47 caps)
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 16 caps)
22. Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks, 9 caps)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 16 caps)
 

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Following the announcment of Nick Easter being called up to the training squad for the opening game for the RBS 6 Nations 2015 against Wales see what he had to say when I caught up with him at his Testimonal Dinner last week. 

How do you like to spend time after training and rugby matches?
Well after rugby matches I like to have a glass of beer or wine with a nice meal, hopefully with the dog walker doing her job I don’t have to do that as I’m knackered.

If you were stranded on a desert island who would be the worst team mate past or present to be with and why?
I reckon someone like Steve Thompson, he suffers with psoriasis so I would get confused with the sand on the beach and his skin flaking off!!

Best city you have toured and played rugby in?
Best city has to be Sydney….. WAIT WAIT Paris….!!!

Most memorable match you have played in?
I have two for country, has to be the 2007 quarter final in Marseille against Australia and Semi Final against France, was an unbelievable journey came from nowhere, bonded extremely well and pulled it off against all odds.

If you didn’t play rugby what do you think you would have been doing?
I reckon I would be a ballet dancer.

What’s the best thing about RWC 2015 being in England?
It has to be growing the game more. Also home support

When you were young did you have a role model if so who was it?
It was probably more in cricket. I enjoyed fast bowlers so would have to be Allan Donald and Curtly Ambrose. Rugby wasn’t really professional back then so the profile wasn’t there. I still watched England during the 5 Nations back then!!

Earliest Rugby memory?
Just doing forward rolls the length of the rugby pitch for our first training session at 5 years old.
 
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?
Would have to be Jack Nicholson he doesn’t get out of bed till 12pm. If he ever wanted anything like a party at his house or whatever it would be done on tap. He is just a legend!!

Worst injury?
I have been very lucky through-out my career “touch wood” and the worst I have had is doing be medial ligament in my knee. I was out for 6 weeks and missed the start of the 6 Nations one year.

 

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Both Nick Easter and Danny Cipriani are called back into the fold as Lancaster names his training squad for the opening match of the 6 Nations:

Forwards
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints)
Nick Easter (Harlequins
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Wasps)
Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Danny Care (Harlequins 
Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby) 
Owen Farrell (Saracens) 
George Ford (Bath Rugby) 
Alex Goode (Saracens) 
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) 
Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) 
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) 
 

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Gatland picks 4 uncapped players in his squad to face England in the 6 Nations opening match on Friday 6th February – interestingly there's still no space for either James Hook or Adam Jones

Forwards: Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Paul James (Bath), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), James King (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)

Backs: Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon)
 

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We are proud to announce that Nordoff Robbins ambassador Laura Wright will perform at the Nordoff Robbins Six Nations Rugby Dinner, joining the great and good of British rugby to honour England and Harlequins player Nick Easter. The event, supported by Tesco and O2 and now in its 20th year, will take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Wednesday 14 January.The annual event is celebrating its milestone 20th anniversary in the same year as England hosts the Rugby World Cup. The event will be attended by a scrum of rugby stars including Lawrence Dallaglio, Danny Care, Chris Robshaw and Jeremy Guscott.

This year’s dinner will be hosted by Martin Bayfield and will feature surprise music performances. The well-known acts performing are a highly guarded secret but will be sure to put on a great show. Musicians who have performed at previous Nordoff Robbins Six Nations Rugby dinners include Keane, Stereophonics, Madness, Emeli Sandé, Little Mix, Eliza Doolittle and Tony Hadley.

Laura said: “As an ambassador for Nordoff Robbins this event is one of the highlights of my year. I've seen how important their work is first hand and I am so proud to be performing at an event that will help prolong the charity and help support future research and music therapists.”

Nick Easter said: “I feel very privileged to be the honouree at this year’s extra special Nordoff Robbins rugby dinner, especially with the World Cup coming home to England this year. It is a charity that does fantastic work for vulnerable children and adults and I am thrilled to be a part of it. On my recent visit to one of its centres, I witnessed first-hand the incredible difference they make to the lives of those that need their help, so to be recognised at their Six Nations dinner is a very proud moment for me.”

Victor Ubogu is one of the founders of the event. He said, “To be marking the 20th anniversary of the Six Nations Dinner in this World Cup year is an exciting time for Nordoff Robbins, and we’re really proud of everything we have achieved over the years. Without the support of O2 and Tesco, this event could not happen, and with a very deserving guest of honour in Nick Easter, I am sure it will be a fantastic evening.” 

Last year, the event honoured Ugo Monye, and raised over £120,000 for Nordoff Robbins. Since the event launched in 2006, £1.3m has been raised for Nordoff Robbins.

Laura Wright will kick off her first UK tour in 2015, with a number of shows scheduled throughout the UK, starting in Cardiff this March. Laura became an ambassador for Nordoff Robbins in 2012 and continues to help us spread the word about the healing power of music therapy. She sang beautifully at last year’s Rugby Dinner and this upcoming performance is hotly anticipated.

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As opposed to previous years, the 2014 Autumn Internationals saw the home nations compete well against their southern hemisphere opponents, notching up 5 wins over the ‘big 3’ which is the best they’ve done since 2002 and we all know what happened the following year!  So does this bode well for next years Rugby World Cup?
 
Ireland were particularly impressive with convincing wins over both Australia and South Africa and Scotland surprised most by beating Argentina. But my focus over the past 4 weeks has been on England and Wales.
 
For welsh supporters there must have been a horrible sinking feeling at the beginning of their campaign when Australia snatched victory from them in the dying minutes only to be followed by a less than convincing performance against Fiji; all wasn’t looking good for Gatland’s boys going into the match against New Zealand. But something seemed to click for them against the World Champions and with Wales 16-15 ahead after 65 minutes, an historic victory for the first time in 61 years looked on the cards. But then as they always seem to do, New Zealand went up a gear and romped home victors. To say Wales had something to prove in the 4th test would be an understatement and against a rather sloppy Springboks side, they dug in and secured a win.
 
England on the other hand had a lot to prove from the outset and opening matches don’t get any tougher than against the World Champions. But other than an amazing solo try early on from May, England offered very little up front and only losing by 3 points completely flattered their performance. The same could be said about their performance against South Africa and Lancaster’s decision to stick with an out-of-form Farrell was being questioned from all sides. Changes were made in the team to face Samoa, with Ford given his first start at fly-half and he didn’t disappoint, kicking 13 points and playing a key role in Brown’s try. But the big test was yet to come against Australia, a must win for both teams and even though England continued to make stupid mistakes they managed to hold on to a vital victory.
 
All of this sets us up quite nicely for the forthcoming 6 Nations, especially the opening match on Friday 6 February 2015, Wales v England. The English will be looking for revenge following the hammering they took last time they visited the Millennium Stadium. But for this to happen, Lancaster and the rest of his coaching team have a lot of work to do and some difficult decisions to make, one of which could be whether or not to include Burgess in the squad. Gatland hasn’t got things easy either, there also needs to be a lot of work done with the Welsh squad. This is a crucial match for both teams as it will without question give the victors a psychological edge heading into the Rugby World Cup where they’ll meet again in the Pool stages.
 
This truly will be an epic battle between St George and the Dragon and not a match to be missed, so why not travel in style to Cardiff with VU Ltd. This trip has become one of the most popular excursions of the tournament; if you think it’s not possible to combine glamour, tradition, first class rugby hospitality, fun, banter and a smashing game of bruising rugby, then join Victor Ubogu, Lee Mears and other rugby legends on the Orient Express to find out how it’s done!

For more information click HERE
 

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So Lancaster has named the starting line-up for Saturday and no surprise the out of form Farrell has been dropped to the bench in favour of Twelvetrees. Commenting on his selection, Lancaster only had praise for Twelvetrees:

“It’s good to be able to give Billy his first start of the series,” he said. “He took on board the feedback we gave him when he first came into camp and he has worked hard both with us and at Gloucester and deserves his chance. Owen is a key part of our squad and will offer a huge amount from the bench.”

This is a must win match for both teams, so expect some fireworks!!

England team to face Australia:
15. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 32 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
13. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 21 caps)
12. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 15 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 10 caps)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 41 caps)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 25 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 60 caps)
3. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 40 caps)
4. Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 35 caps)
6. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 33 caps
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 31 caps, captain) 
8. Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 26 caps)
 
Replacements:
16. Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 11 caps)
17. Matt Mullan (Wasps, 8 caps)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 5 caps)
19. George Kruis (Saracens, 3 caps)
20. James Haskell (Wasps, 52 caps)
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 15 caps
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 28 caps
23. Marland Yarde (Harlequins, 6 caps)

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Not a massive surprise to read that Lancaster has named an unchanged match 23 to face Australia this Saturday. We'll have to wait until Thursday morning to see who he selects for the starting line-up and whether that will include the out of form Owen Farrell, who most people feel, should be dropped.

England squad to face Australia
 
Forwards
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Wasps)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Matt Mullan (Wasps)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain)
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
 
Backs
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
Marland Yarde (Harlequins)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
 

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It's time to #nutnominate. The sole reason for this project is to raise awareness of testicular cancer, to educate young men so they can check themselves correctly and to give them the confidence to know when to take action. Every year around 2,300 men are affected by testicular cancer in the UK – that is more than 27 double decker buses full. Every day, 6 men are diagnosed and nearly 50% of those are aged under 35.

Victor is participating in #nutnominate and here's his reasons for getting involved:

“As someone who made a career out of handling odd shaped balls, I’m delighted to support #nutnominate.
 
At boarding school in England, or even in the dressing room at Twickenham, men’s health and testicular cancer wasn’t something you discussed with your team-mates. In my playing days, I think most men did keep concerns to themselves. However, as you reach a ripened age, I’ve sadly seen cases where early recognition could have prevented a premature loss of some great men, so I’m pleased that the campaign is pushing men to grow some balls and talk about it!!
 
With my sports travel and hospitality business VU Ltd, we run an annual Movember Fight Night in London and even though growing that moustache is all in fun, it’s a great ice-breaker. Anytime when men are more comfortable talking about concerns is a good thing! Now I’m watching my young son grow up, I’m so pleased to see he’s not shy to ask questions and will encourage him to stay open about anything he’s worried about – it’s a huge generational shift.
 
After retiring from international rugby, I started VU Ltd to offer fantastic experiences at sporting events worldwide. I’ve taken clients to the Football World Cup in Brazil, safari in South Africa and British & Irish Lions Tours to the greatest cities in the southern hemisphere. Bringing together supporters and rugby legends all over the world, we aim to create a special kind of atmosphere where memories are made and lifelong friends are found. We’re very proud to be an official sub-agent for Rugby World Cup 2015 and can’t wait to entertain our guests on my patch, in London, Twickenham and cities around the UK for more memorable moments next year.
 
In my office in Bath, I keep a stash of cashews on my desk for snacking and my staff will say ‘Vic’s got his hands around his nuts again!’ so I’m pleased to offer support to #nutnominate and put some of my substantial weight behind the campaign.

So my nomination is to YOU!!  All of you! Check your balls, or if you're a lady, tell your man to check his balls and twitter and facebook the message around the world. Together, we can help raise awareness and reduce the fatalities of this disease. ”  Victor Ubogu, VU LTD

Here's what to do:

 

1.    Click the “check your balls” link on this site: http://www.nutnominate.com/check-your-balls/4586023643  and follow the instructions about how to check your testicles.

 

2.   Check your balls – the important bit!

 

3.   If they are ok, take a selfie showing the “OK” sign to say all is well with your balls. This can be at your desk or in the most bizarre fancy dress costume dangling under a waterfall, it's up to you.

 

4.   Post your selfie on our Facebook page, Twitter or both using the hashtag #nutnominate, with a link to our website and tag 5 male friends to check themselves and do the same. If you yourself are tagged then start the process again.

 
5.   We hope to reach as many people as possible and if we can help just one person catch this illness earlier than they would have before this campaign then we have succeeded 100%.

 
Most importantly, if you check yourself and are unsure about what you are feeling and think you could have a problem then don't hesitate, get to your GP immediately! Don't be shy and don't feel foolish. It's often a male kind of attitude that we don't really need to go to the doctor but in this instance it could very well save your life.

 

...

Interesting – Ford given the 10 shirt with Farrell moved to 12…….

England team to face Samoa

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 31 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 2 caps)
13. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 20 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 27 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 9 caps)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 40 caps)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 24 caps)
2. Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)
3. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 39 caps)
4. Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 14 caps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 34 caps)
6. James Haskell (Wasps, 51 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 30 caps, captain)
8. Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 25 caps)

Replacements

16. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 59 caps)
17. Matt Mullan (Wasps, 7 caps)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 4 caps)
19. George Kruis (Saracens, 2 caps)
20. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 32 caps
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 14 caps
22. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 14 caps)
23. Marland Yarde (Harlequins, 5 caps)

...

“We always wanted to use these four games to look at options in our squad and Billy, Richard and James have been in great form for their clubs and pressing hard in training” said Lancaster.

Three changes to England squad to face the Pacific Islanders this Saturday:

Forwards (13) 
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby)  
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)  
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) 
James Haskell (Wasps) 
George Kruis (Saracens)  
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) 
Joe Marler (Harlequins)  
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)  
Matt Mullan (Wasps) 
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain)  
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) 
David Wilson (Bath Rugby) 
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Backs (10) 
Brad Barritt (Saracens) 
Mike Brown (Harlequins)  
Owen Farrell (Saracens)  
George Ford (Bath Rugby)  
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)  
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby) 
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) 
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
Marland Yarde (Harlequins)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Returning to Aviva Premiership clubs
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) 
Danny Care (Harlequins)  
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints) 
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)  

...

The boys looked good last week. Is this the right team to lead England to a win against the Boks?

England team to face South Africa

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 30 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 1 cap)
13. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 19 caps)
12. Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 8 caps)
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 26 caps)
9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 49 caps)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 23 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 58 caps)
3. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 38 caps)
4. Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 13 caps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 33 caps)
6. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 31 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 29 caps, captain) 
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 11 caps)

Replacements

16. Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 9 caps)
17. Matt Mullan (Wasps, 6 caps)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 3 caps)
19. George Kruis (Saracens, 1 cap)
20. Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 24 caps)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 39 caps)
22. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
23. Marland Yarde (Harlequins, 5 caps)

...

Interesting line up with no major surprises and great to see some of the young in-form talent get an opportunity to represent England on the big stage. But is this squad strong enough to overcome the mighty All Backs for the first time since 2012?

England squad to face New Zealand

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 29 caps)
14. Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
13. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 18 caps)
12. Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 7 caps)
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens,25 caps)
9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 48 caps)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 22 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 57 caps)
3. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 37 caps)
4. Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 32 caps)
6. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 30 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 28 caps, captain) 
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 10 caps)

Replacements

16. Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 8 caps)
17. Matt Mullan (Wasps, 5 caps)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)
19. George Kruis (Saracens, uncapped)
20. Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 23 caps)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps)
22. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 2 caps)
23. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
 

...

It’s official, Rugby World Cup 2015 taking place on home soil is the biggest in history!

Last month’s ballot received 5 million applications for tickets with a total of 950,000 sold and 23 of the 48 matches exceeding demand.  The match which received the largest demand was the Pool A match between England and Australia, receiving over 650,000 applications for the 20,000 tickets that were put on general sale.

From comments on Social Media last Saturday, there appeared to be a lot of very disappointed rugby supporters who missed out and a few extremely lucky ones who got tickets for more than one match. The ballot system seemed to get a lot of criticism but surely when demand is so high, this has got to be the fairest way to allocate tickets.

However, with so many people wanting tickets, unofficial websites promising tickets at extortionate prices, are popping up all over the place. So be warned, DON’T purchase tickets from any of these – RWC 2015 have very strict Ts & Cs and will reserve the right to refuse entry to any match if the ticket(s) have not been purchased through the official channels.

VU Ltd have been officially appointed as an Authorised Sub-Agent for Supporter Tours at Rugby World Cup 2015; so if you're still looking to attend following the ballot announcement, we can help! VU Ltd are offering official ticket-inclusive packages for all matches in England and Wales, with lots of special touches: Eve of Match Rugby Legend Dinners with hotel accommodation and match day travel can be included to help create the most memorable Rugby World Cup 2015 experience.

For more information and to book online, simply click HERE or call us on 01225 788 880

...

You have just 2 days left to benefit from Early Bird registration savings at Cyclothon UK 2015! Sign up here for big savings and beat the rush!
 
https://vultd.co.uk/cycling-events/cyclothon-uk-brands-hatch-2015
 
This year will be the biggest and best yet, as the event takes place just one week before Rugby World Cup 2015.  Former World Cup legends will be on track and Rugby Fever will be rampant.
 
If you were at Brand Hatch this year and saw the TV cameras, you might have also caught a glimpse of yourself on Sky TV this week. All About Rugby TV is a new show that will highlight all the fun and activity around the fantastic game and their cameras were at Cyclothon to capture our rugby stars donning the lycra this year. The show was broadcast on Sky TV Channel 212 at 18:00 last night – 28th October.

It's actually a really good show, great concept about 'the game behind the game'. Watch now and set you Sky plus for next week!
 
Here's the full version:
 
http://vimeopro.com/xftuk/all-about-rugby

So watch now, get your team together and make sure you join us next year at Cyclothon UK on September 10th 2015. It’s going to be a belter!
 
Happy Riding!
 
The VU Cyclothon Team.
 

...

After months of waiting, Lancaster puts us all out of our misery with a number of surprise call ups

Loose-head props
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Matt Mullan (Wasps)

Tight-head props
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)

Hookers
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)

Locks    
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

Back rows
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Wasps)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Scrum halves
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Fly halves
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)

Centres               
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

Back threes
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
Marland Yarde (Harlequins) 

...

In less than 24 hours we’ll finally know who Stuart Lancaster and his coaching staff have chosen to be in the England Elite squad for the forthcoming Autumn Internationals against the Southern Hemisphere.

Lancaster wisely delayed selection until mid-October and has been given plenty to think about with the opening few matches of the Aviva Premiership showing a number of players stepping up to the mark and coming in to seriously good form at just the right time. Personally I really hope Lancaster takes this opportunity and makes some changes, especially with the Backs – Ashton for one has been given one too many chances and, in my opinion, has never performed against the ‘big teams’ at international level. It’s time for change and the likes of Marland Yarde, Christian Wade and Semesa Rokoduguni are more than ready to take up the challenge!

A slightly more difficult selection must be at 10 – Owen Farrell has more than earned the right to be first choice but there’s a pretty good queue of contenders waiting in the wings; George Ford, Danny Cipriani, Freddie Burns and Stephen Myler have all been playing well for their clubs and deserve the opportunity to challenge Farrell for the coveted jersey.

So, it’s not going to be long before we find out for sure and no doubt there will be much debate over who has been selected. None of the four matches are going to be easy for England but that’s just what the team need in their 12 month build up to the Rugby World Cup! It promises to be an amazing month of rugby.

If I were lucky enough to be in charge, below are the players I would put my faith in:

BACKS:
Fullback:              Mike Brown, Ben Foden, Anthony Watson
Wing:                   Marland Yarde, Semesa Rokoduguni, Christian Wade
Centres:              Kyle Eastmond, Jonathan Joseph, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Luther Burrell
Fly-half:               Owen Farrell, George Ford, Danny Cipriani
Scrum-half:         Danny Care, Ben Youngs, Lee Dickson

FORWARDS:
Prop:                   Joe Marler, David Wilson, Matt Mullan, Dan Cole, Kieran Brookes
Hooker:               Dylan Hartley, Rob Webber
Lock:                   Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, David Attwood
Back-row:           Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Ben Morgan, Billy Vunipola

Who would you choose?

This will be your last chance to see the Southern Hemisphere teams take on England before next years Rugby World Cup and as always, we’ll be there to celebrate it all. For every match, the VU Clubhouse will be hosted by Victor Ubogu and Lee Mears, with a number of the England boys (both past and present) in attendance. There’s no better place to soak up the unique atmosphere of Rugby Internationals at Twickenham, so come and join us and see for yourselves!

For more information and to book online, simply click HERE or call us on 01225 788 880

...

With the England squad about to be annouced for the Autumn Internationals lets see what Marland Yarde had to say when we caught up with him earlier this year.

Yarde won his first England cap on 15 June 2013, against Argentina in the second Test of their summer tour. Named in the starting XV, he scored two tries in their record 51–26 victory. He retained his place for the first Autumn International of 2013 against Australia which England won 20–13,

How do you like to spend time after training and rugby matches?
I invest a lot of my time in eating lots of food. Like too chill out, go cinema, meals out and gigs just basically keep myself busy and entertained.
 
If you were stranded on a desert island who would be the worst team mate past or present to be with and why?
James Buckland. He would be tough to deal with. If there was one source of food let’s just say I don’t think he would share with me.
 
Best city you have toured and played rugby in?
New Zealand – Auckland
 
Most memorable match you have played in?
England V Australia – Autumn Internationals 2013
 
When you were young did you have a roll model if so who was it?
When I was growing up my family were really into cricket so Brian Lara would be my role model.
 
Earliest Rugby memory?
Rugby World Cup final when I was 11.
 
What’s is your favorite meal?
Anything meaty, beef casserole or a nice steak.
 
Do you have a dream car if so what is it?
Skyline GTR all kitted out. I have watched Fast and Furious too much.
 
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?
Barack Obama – It would be amazing to know what it is like to rule the USA
 
Worst injury?
Dislocated my shoulder. I actually cried my way off the pitch, my shoulder was half way down my body.
 
 

...

Even the most ardent rugby supporter could not have predicted the start of this seasons Premiership, certain results have most definitely not kept to script. The obvious ones being Harlequins losing to Saracens 0-39, their heaviest home defeat; Bath beating the ‘old enemy’ Leicester 45-0, their heaviest ever defeat and Newcastle defining all the odds last weekend in winning the battle against Exeter who have been very impressive in the earlier rounds.

However, for new boys London Welsh, their first month in the Premiership is one I’m sure they’d rather forget, leaking points (249 against after 5 matches) and firmly rooted at the foot of the table; is it possible for their 25 new signings, including Olly Barkley and Piri Weepu, to turn things around or will they continue to be the leagues ‘whipping’ boys? Only time will tell but it needs to happen very soon if they stand any chance to avoid the drop back to the Championship.

One team a few pundits had facing the chop this season was London Irish but they’re proving to be very tough opponents, only narrowly losing to Harlequins, Saracens and Northampton and a notable victory away to Leicester. The boys in green are never a team to underestimate and there does appear to be a ‘spark’ there which has been missing in the past.

The biggest surprise for me this season has been the mixed start from Gloucester. With signature signings such as James Hook, Richard Hibbard and John Afoa, there were high hopes of a successful campaign. But a 53-6 hammering by Northampton in the opening match of the season and then losing at home to West Country rivals Exeter, wasn’t the start the Shed faithful were expecting.

It goes without saying that this is by far the best start to the Premiership, no surprise as we are less than a year away from the Rugby World Cup. With the Autumn Internationals a month away, Stuart Lancaster has a very difficult job on his hands picking the right players for his Elite Squad – does he stick with the ‘old guard’ or gamble on some of the new boys who are throwing down the gauntlet for the right to pull on an England jersey? Experience over current performance, which would you choose? One of the main contenders has to be Semesa Rokoduguni, who has made a phenomenal start to the season – he has awareness, power and speed which has completely flummoxed his opponents but would you put your trust in him against teams such as New Zealand or Australia? It’ll be interesting to see who Lancaster selects when he announces his squad on 22 October, not an enviable task.

This year’s Autumn Internationals could be a bumpy ride for England with back-to-back matches against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia but with so much talent to choose from, confidence must be riding high in the England camp. It promises to be an amazing month of rugby and I for one cannot wait!

As always we'll be there to celebrate it all at the VU Clubhouse! For every match, the VU Clubhouse will be hosted by Victor Ubogu and Lee Mears, with a number of the England boys (both past and present) in attendance. There's no better place to be to soak up the unique atmosphere of Rugby Internationals at Twickenham, so come and join us and see for yourselves! #InvestInFun

For more information and to book online, simply click HERE or call us on 01225 788 880

...

VU Limited will offer official WRU Category 1 Match Tickets for all of the Orient Express passengers travelling to the critical RBS 6 Nations Wales v England match at the Millennium Stadium in 2015.

VU Limited, the sports hospitality and travel provider run by former England prop Victor Ubogu charters the legendary Orient Express train for rugby supporters wishing to travel in and out of Cardiff in style. Coupled with official WRU Category 1 match tickets, the extensive offering of champagne, fine wines, gourmet cuisine and the world famous 'white glove service' of the Orient Express allows rugby supporters the very best opportunity for combined luxury hospitality and travel on match day.

Tickets and hospitality packages are on sale now for the opening match of the RBS 6 Nations tournament taking place on Friday 6th February 2015. The battle between England and Wales has always been the talk of the tournament, and now, in their last meeting before their pool match at Rugby World Cup 2015, this encounter will be crucial.

Managing Director of VU Limited, victor Ubogu said: “We are delighted to gain the support of the WRU to offer this splendid and unique hospitality experience. Corporate groups, couples and clusters of friends join me and my international rugby hosts over our shared love of the competetive game and the build up and excitement on this gorgeous train to a Friday night fixture is even more special.”

To book your spot on the Orient Express from London to Cardiff for the RBS 6 Nations Wales v England match, call 01225 788880,  email sales@vultd.co.uk or CLICK HERE

...

With the Women’s England Rugby Team being champions of this year’s WRWC we thought it would be nice to catch up with Catherine Spencer who captained England from 2007-2011. Catherine was capped 63 times for England. With 25 years of playing experience under her belt she retired from International rugby in 2011.  Catherine is keen to get a women’s rugby team for next year’s Cyclothon to heat up the competition for the Home Nations Trophy. 

How do you like to spend time after training and rugby matches?
 
Although I have retired from international rugby I still play premiership club rugby. We normally play on Sundays and although I would love to say that I am very sociable after a game I am normally found lying on my sofa watching Countryfile on a Sunday evening. Very rock and roll I know!
 
If you were stranded on a desert island who would be the worst team mate past or present to be with and why?
 
Wow, this is a tricky question to answer as there are so many current and former team mates that I really would not want to be stuck on a desert island with!! I think I will flip this question and tell you who I would be happy to be stranded with; I would say Maggie Alphonsi my old roomie. We perfected the art of just talking about rubbish for hours on end while we had down time before games. One particularly long debate was about the pronunciation of hummus! I think this would be important whilst stranded. We would both be rubbish at doing anything useful like finding food or help but we could sit on a beach and ramble on for hours! 
 
Best city you have toured and played rugby in?
 
When I was at university I played for Welsh Universities and played against Scottish students up in Edinburgh and had a top night out after. For some reason I can't remember the finer details but I know I enjoyed it. The coach journey back the next morning was not so pleasant! 
 
With England I have been lucky enough to travel to some great places such as New Zealand and Canada however I think that my favourite place to go and play rugby is France. The atmosphere is always great and when you silence the crowd you know that you are playing well! A couple of times I have played there have been the last 6 nations fixture in the championship schedule which for us meant that we could let her hair down a little. The French wine always flowed well on these occasions!
 
Most memorable match you have played in?
 
I think this has to be our test against New Zealand in 2009 at Twickenham. The Black Ferns had not lost a game since 2001, which was when England last beat them. We were victorious that day beating them 10-3. I was captain, scored the only try, won player of the match and it was my 50th Cap. Not a bad day at the office!! 
 
Another memorable match for me since retirement was when I played in a promotion play off game with my current club Aylesford. We beat a team called Thurrock from Essex to assure our promotion in to the Women's premiership. It was a really close game and the lead changed hands many times but we came out of the game victorious. It was probably the first time since retiring from England that a rugby game really stirred my emotions. It meant so much to the team and club and it was great to be part of that.
 
If you didn’t play rugby what do you think you would have been doing?
 
This is always a difficult answer – sports wise I think that I may have given rowing a go. I nearly took it up at university but the early morning training sessions put me off (little did I know that this would become part of normal, everyday life when playing for England) and I did not think I could fit it in alongside rugby and my degree. I am now planning to take on an ocean rowing challenge so maybe I will end up in a boat after all. 
 
Away from the pitch I think I would have developed my career in something like probation, social work or counselling but I made the decision to prioritise my rugby and worked in a job that allowed me as much flexibility as possible. Since retirement I am developing my career through my own business which I am loving, I would not be doing this had I not played and captained England so although, as a female, I did not get paid to play rugby it has certainly helped to develop my career away from the pitch since.
 
What’s the best thing about RWC 2015 being in England?
 
I don't have to get up at stupid hours in the morning to watch the games.
 
When you were young did you have a role model if so who was it?
 
When I was growing up Sally Gunnell was one of the most famous female role models and I thought she was great. In terms of rugby I always supported Bath as my Dad is from the South West, I remember standing on the Twickenham turf after yet another cup final victory for Bath and chanting 'Coochie, Coochie, Coochie' along with thousands of other fans. I am not saying that Gareth Chilcott was in any way a role model (!!!) but it was great watching such a successful club team when I was growing up. I used to have a couple of posters up of a couple of the Bath players on my wall when I was a little older too but I am not going to say who!
 
In terms of Women's rugby my absolute hero has to be Gill Burns. She did so much for the Women's game but also was a great number 8 and captain. I remember watching her on telly when she made an appearance on Rugby Special. I don't know exactly how old I was, I must have been in my teens but I remember thinking that I wanted to be like her. I had the opportunity to play against her when I was playing for an England 'A' team and she was playing for the Nomads who are an invitation team. I didn't care what I did in that game as long as I tackled her and not long after she took to the pitch I got my opportunity which I took. I can't remember any of the rest of the game!
 
Earliest Rugby memory?
 

It depends on the definition of rugby really I guess. I used to play what me and my two brothers named landing rugby. I have a twin brother and an older brother. Me and my twin brother used to play against my older brother with a pair of my dad's rolled up socks using the upstairs landing as our pitch. I was not an expansive game and I actually think it was that game that instilled a love of mauls in to me! I was never going to be a back! 
Another early favourite memory for me is when I won the most improved mini at Folkestone rugby club when I was 10. This was not hard because I was fairly rubbish when I started but there was a turning point when I was playing with the team at a Kent Festival. The ball was kicked towards me – a massive high kick (in mini's terms!) I ran to catch the ball and I just ran a long way down the pitch. From that moment on I gained the confidence that I could actually play rugby! My older brother and Dad were watching too and it is also a moment that they describe too.
 
What’s is your favorite meal?
 
Quite possibly my Mum's roast chicken. My Mum is a really good cook and I now live close enough to home to be able to pop home for some decent food once in a while! 
 
Do you have a dream car if so what is it?
 
I don't know if I have a dream car because for me generally the colour is the only way I know the difference! Having said that I would love a convertible of some kind, I have actually always wanted an old Morris Minor Convertible but it is probably not very practical. I also used to love Inspector Morse's Jaguar but I would be happy with an Audi or something now – I am not fussy! When I was playing for England I used to own and drive a Nissan Micra. When I used to arrive at clubs or schools to make a player appearance I could just see the disappointment in the kids faces as they thought I should have been driving some amazing sports car! No offence to Nissan Micra's, I became quite attached to my little car, but I think I brought the average age of Micra drivers down by about 75 years! 
 
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?

I would go back in time and be any female actress that played opposite Patrick Swayzee! Perhaps Baby in Dirty Dancing then I could learn to dance too. I will, however, think of a more intelligent and profound answer for this in case I am asked again in the future.
 
Worst injury?
 
I was very fortunate throughout my England career and did not suffer many serious injuries. I injured my knee very early on in my career and missed a tournament over in Canada which I was devastated about at the time but after that I think I only missed one or two games through injury over my 63 cap career which is not a bad percentage. I am feeling more aches and pains now as I am getting older but I don't think I can complain too much about that after 25 years of playing!
 
What is your best joke?
 
I am notoriously rubbish at jokes, I can never remember them and I also take ages to understand them when they are told to me and by the time they are explained to me ten times they are not funny any more. I can only ever remember three jokes one of which is probably too rude to write down here. The others are as follows; the first was made up by my brother when he was younger and the second was made up by me when I was meant to be working when I was not so young!!

***

“What noise does a baby Land Rover Make?”
“Jeep, Jeep”
 
***

Santa Clause tells his wife to take an umbrella with her when she went out for the day in Lapland.
 
Mrs Clause asks him why?
 
He says “because of the Reindeer”
 
Well I think it was funny but probably needs a little work on the delivery!!