#360Rugby: Cipriani deserves chance, Pumas London excursion

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Analysis of global rugby action over the last seven days.

Should Danny Cipriani be given a chance with England? Are the current Chiefs side on of Super Rugby’s greatest? Will Wales beat New Zealand in the summer? All these questions and more are answered in this week’s #360Rugby.

What are your thoughts? Tweet us using #360Rugby to join the debate.

CIPRIANI DESERVES ENGLAND CHANCE IN SUMMER

The pick of the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals has to be Sale v Montpellier, with both teams flying in their respective domestic competitions.

Central to the English side’s resurgence in 2016 has been England’s forgotten man Danny Cipriani. The mercurial fly-half has been at his creative best and his consistent displays cannot be ignored by Eddie Jones any more.

Director of Rugby Steve Diamond’s negative reaction towards his playmaker’s decision to re-sign for Wasps next season speaks volumes for the esteem in which he is held at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Rumours have been circling this week that Jones is considering giving Owen Farrell and George Ford a break from rugby this summer, which has only strengthened the calls for Cipriani’s inclusion.

Giving Henry Slade is certainly Jones’s priority in June but with Cipriani’s experience of high-intensity Super Rugby it would seem that the stars may finally be aligning for the 28-year-old.

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP IN LONDON DEMONSTRATES GLOBALISATION

Argentina will play their home Rugby Championship match against Australia on 8 October at Twickenham in what will be a repeat of the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final.

The game will be the first game in the tournament’s history to be held outside of the four core territories, and is largely a marketing exercise that benefits both teams as well as the game of rugby.

It is a noble act from the UAR, but perhaps brave too given that Australia have a significantly increased chance of winning the game in Europe.

Not only are there a vast amount of Wallaby fans in London who will be champing at the bit to get their hands on a ticket, but Buenos Aires is arguably one of the hardest places to win as an opposition side in international rugby.

A new bumper deal between Sky Sports and SANZAAR would indicate a very healthy interest in the southern hemisphere’s premier tournament and both parties will be hopeful of a sold-out Twickenham.

SLICK CHIEFS SUPER RUGBY’S NEW BENCHMARK

With five wins from six starts the Chiefs are now easy favourites to win the 2016 Super Rugby title.

Last weekend Dave Rennie’s team stepped it up another notch and produced one of the great attacking performances in the tournament’s history to squash a supposedly in-form Brumbies side.

Fullback Damian McKenzie was the star of the show as the men from Waikato handed the 2013 finalists their worst-ever home defeat to enhance their status as Super Rugby’s road warriors.

Perhaps the most telling statistic of the Chiefs’ dominant form though is that four out of their five wins have come on the road. With a host of home matches to come, it is starting

Warren Gatland was rumoured to be keen on trying some untested players against his old club during Wales’ summer tour, but may (should) now be reconsidering his position.

EXILES’ STELLAR SEASON SHOWS THEY HAVE GONE FULL CIRCLE

As Dubai Exiles took a huge stride towards collecting their first UAE Premiership crown in a decade with victory against Abu Dhabi Harlequins last week, chairman Mike Wolff was left to reflect on just how far the club has come.

Five years ago Wolff was forced to walk into the Quins changing room and forfeit a game as not enough Exiles first team players had shown up to take to the field for their match.

Now, in the club’s 50th year, they stand on the verge of collecting a West Asia Championship and UAE Premiership double.

“It’s been such a journey but to see it all come together is special,” said Wolff, chairman for the last five years. “It was our lowest ebb, for me personally it wasn’t good enough and not acceptable. Now it feels like we’ve come such a long way from that.”

There is one more round left and although victory opened a four-point gap between top and second, both teams know there could yet be more drama next week, with Quins hosting Dubai Hurricanes and Exiles welcoming Al Ain Amblers.

EXTRA TIME

Ever since Neil Jenkins revolutionized goal-kicking technique with a twitchy, awkward shuffle, players of the modern era have taken to employing their own idiosyncratic routines in the pursuit of putting the ball between the uprights. However the smiling assassin Damian MacKenzie has a new style that puts Jonny Wilkinson and Co. to shame (with decent results too). The clue is in the title, but this is just plain bizarre!

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