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A love letter to the crazy ProD2

first_imgThis lineout drive in France’s #ProD2 match between Beziers and Biarrits does not quite go how you think it willpic.twitter.com/I73dkEXz4J— James Harrington (@Jamesonrugby) March 26, 2021Because nine seconds is sometimes all it takes… Biarritz rugby fans at a match against Perpignan this season (Getty Images) “If you want to watch the ProD2, you have to watch the whole competition because it’s like a series,” says Perpignan back-rower Damien Chouly. “It’s like Game of Thrones. Every episode, there’s something happening, and this year was something like that.”Is the French second tier the craziest league in rugby? It certainly feels like every weekend there is at least one clip from the ProD2 that has outsiders typing out Whisky Tango Foxtrot. And if the make-up of the latest European Champions Cup semis and final had pundits pondering if the Top 14 would go on to enjoy an era of continental dominance, the division just below generates storylines every bit as arresting. There are grand old names on the wane; regathering powers; smalltown clubs weaponising synergy; at-the-death winners from rank unfancied sides; more than a smidge of political chaos off the field.  #PROD2 – J21 “Quand ton maul va dans l’en-but aussi vite qu’un ailier” @UsmSapiacRugby pic.twitter.com/KYlvJTe4Be— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) March 1, 2021Because… well, forget the Ash Splash… And on Saturday 5 June, two household names from the South-west, Perpignan and Biarritz, will wrestle their way towards promotion. The winner of the ProD2 final will gain automatic promotion to the Top 14 and the loser goes on to a play-off with the 13th team in the Top 14. The last-placed team in the top division is automatically relegated. But what sets this league apart?Television presenter Cecile Gres, who cut her teeth covering the ProD2, offers a view: “It has always been more authentic and the stakes have never killed the games. The atmosphere around this competition is cooler and more spontaneous. “There are a lot of young players who want to be spotted, former Top 14 stars who want to end their career on a good note, brillant players who know this championship by heart. Thomas Ramos, Demba Bamba, Anthony Bouthier, Vincent Rattez, Kilian Geraci were all in ProD2 a few years ago. And you can find famous profiles in the staff teams, like Christian Labit, David Aucagne, Perry Freshwater, Remi Talès, Stéphane Glas…“Finally, the playing level across the teams makes the ProD2 a hotly-contested competition.”Perpignan facing Carcassonne this season (Getty Images)The finest talents in the competition don’t just ascend into the Top 14. After a five-year stint in Béziers, back-row Karl Wilkins will be returning to the UK, after signing with Northampton Saints. And he has seen some of the more… traditional elements of the division. “This was actually our first season with TMO,” he says, wryly. “There used to be more punch-ups and a lot more amateur-era stuff, when I first joined Béziers, on the discipline front, because people could get away with stuff. “That was a big change, and obviously there were no fans this year, but you’d get massive crowds for particular games. They could make big influences on the game, on refereeing decisions. It did make playing away from home a nightmare and playing at home – not easier, but maybe a little more comfortable, with some decisions.”Asked whether there was a deluge of madcap moments, as the stream of highlight clips would have you believe, Wilkins adds: “In the winter months it can be a bit slower, but if you look at the (league’s) Twitter page, there’s always at least one try a week that’s just mad.Related: The life of a Journeyman – a Rugby World special report“It’s normally because the games are so close, so one team’s got to go for it towards the end. One slipped ball (and things can change). Especially this year, I think, there’s been more good play from the backs, some really good moves that have gone the length of the field. I couldn’t tell you why, but this year it feels like the whole level has stepped up.”Wilkins knows the reputation set in stone: that the league should just be a place to turn young puppy-fat plodders into hardened forwards. Chouly says the pace is very often slower than the Top 14 where he carved out such a successful career. He and Wilkins both make a point of mentioning the long, arduous nature of a 30-game season. Remember, that is purely league-focussed, as there are no European commitments, no domestic cup on top of that. But Chouly also says that while eight to ten teams are capable of competing for promotion, the others can still pull off sensational results. The 46-cap Frenchman remembers last season, when freshly demoted Perpignan were bushwacked by Rouen, who had just come up from the Nationale league, losing to them 12-10.  #PROD2 – L’image de la J19 : Top chrono Comme le dit si bien @Dupont9A : “On ne va pas y passer la journée non plus” Il a fallu 9 secondes à @OyonnaxRugby pour marquer l’essai le plus rapide de l’histoire de la @rugbyprod2 et du @top14rugby confondus pic.twitter.com/eR7CXfMXR3— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) February 11, 2021Because the ball can turn into a bar of soap… Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door. The Craziest ProD2 moments in 2020-21Sometimes France’s second tier is portrayed as the Wild West, writes James Harrington. A lawless, crazy, anything-goes place where sometimes, if you’re lucky, rugby may happen.We tried to disprove this calumny. We really did. But, well, we couldn’t. Here are just a few reasons from this season alone that show the ProD2 is the craziest place on the pro rugby planet – except for, possibly, France’s third-tier Nationale…Because even apparently successful 5m lineout moves can suddenly turn unexpected. #PROD2 – #MondayMotivation𝙏𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙢𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙘 𝙪𝙣 𝙩𝙚𝙚 ? 𝘽𝙞𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙧𝙤𝙥 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙡𝙚… Selponi nous régale avec un drop en coin pour passer la transformation @FCGrugby pic.twitter.com/Bh9fg0KpC8— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) January 25, 2021Because hookers dummy and flankers think they’re Phil Bennett… #PROD2 – L’image de la J26 : Les déménageurs jouent du piano Les feintes d’un talonneur et les crochets d’un flanker ! Les trois-quarts d’@OyonnaxRugby vont certainement être jaloux des avants après ce mouvement tout en technique et en légèreté ! 🪶 pic.twitter.com/a4qsfZ2k8K— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) April 8, 2021Because, sometimes – quite often actually – it’s simply magnificent…center_img #PROD2 – #MondayMotivationQuand la ballon se transforme en savonnette et joue un mauvais tour à Carcassonne pic.twitter.com/p3lYauAruG— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) May 10, 2021Because mauls can achieve escape velocity… LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Biarritz and Perpignan face off for automatic promotion to the Top 14 this weekend Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. #PROD2 – #MondayMotivationQuand tu commences ta semaine en 𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗲 libre @SArugbyofficiel pic.twitter.com/r3wag5PFJK— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) May 17, 2021Because quick thinking… #PROD2 #EssaiDuJour – J16Quel essai de l’@usonneversrugby ! De la continuité avec des superbes passes après-contact puis la vitesse et les raffuts de Romaric Camou pour terminer en beauté pic.twitter.com/4so6AtCf1D— Rugby PRO D2 (@rugbyprod2) January 21, 2021What do you make of the ProD2? How does the English Championship compare? Let us know your views via [email protected] or hit us up on social media. Asked for her favourite moments of this season, Gres calls up the semi-final over the weekend, when Biarritz beat Vannes with a try at the death. She recalls a classic between Perpignan and Oyonnax, while Aurillac ensured their future in the division with a last-second kick against Colomiers. And of course there was that Lion King moment, when Josaia Raisuqe lifted the referee at the end of a Beziers game at Nevers.One other try viewers may recall was the round 18 mind-bender between Colomiers and Biarritz. In the centre for the visitors that day was All Black Francis Saili. “That was most definitely different, man!” the Kiwi tells Rugby World. “We were down (on the scoreboard) and they caught the ball and could have just run down the time and just kicked the ball out, but for some reason the half-back just gave us the ball. “If you give a team an edge, we’ll take that. With the team we have, with the players and personnel we have, we’ll definitely take the opportunity. I definitely experienced that for the first time and it was awesome. The whole game felt like a bit of a grudge match and I’d heard they were a team who would try to grind you out, they had some dirty plays, and I thought, ‘Okay.’“For us to score at the death made it all the sweeter. How we scored the try was just ridiculous. It felt like the whole team touched the ball, cross-kicks, throwing it around like it’s a basketball. They missed the kick, one of our boys tackled their player, one of our boys pounced on the ball to score the try. It was one of those ones where you look back and say, ‘Jeez, how did we pull that off?!’“That’s what happens when you let the shackles loose and just let boys play. There’s a bit of fluidity. I was surprised with the skill level, from the French boys especially (after leaving Harlequins to join the ProD2). There is so much skill and they’ve just got raw talent. I’ve obviously been able to see that first hand and it’s been awesome.”Saili agrees with Wilkins that there is a growing narrative that the skill level is rising. Perhaps growing budgets help, and some tell you there is obviously an arms race going on. This doesn’t always work out for players either, and there are many from outside of France with tales to tell of aborted stints on the continent. Then there was the wild story earlier in the season about team owners looking to move the famed Biarritz side to… Lille. That one soon fizzled out, as did the tale of a takeover in Beziers.Related: Biarritz take on Grindr as inclusivity sponsorBut if you are to make the most of time in the second division, you have to embrace the madness. As Saili says: “When I first came in, I had a moment of self-reflection and was like, ‘Look, I can’t come in and reinvent the way these guys play. Because this is probably what they do, probably what’s been implemented for such a long time.’ “I guess the only way is to just make small influences or players or coaches, sit down and just get onto the same page. Obviously there are times when I have been frustrated but at the same time, you just have to let the Frenchies do their thing and make small influences where you can.”Don’t be mad that the roller coaster doesn’t have any harnesses; just hope you are going fast enough to enjoy the loop-de-loop. In the opening round of the season, Biarritz beat Perpignan 21-12 and Saili scored the first try. In April, Perpignan beat Biarritz 29-27. What odds would you give for a truly bats*** ProD2 final between the two? TAGS: Highlight last_img read more

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Measuring faculty perceptions of diversity

first_imgA recent faculty job satisfaction survey by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), the research-practice partnership based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), revealed significant disparities in perception between faculty of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.As more colleges and universities take steps toward diversity and inclusion, these findings suggest that university leaders need to do more to ensure that the work translates into meaningful change and success for everyone. HGSE spoke to Kiernan Mathews, director and principal investigator of COACHE, about what the survey data means for higher education institutions.Was anything about the survey results surprising?Since George Floyd’s murder, there’s been a kind of newfound awareness of where the seat of change really needs to be in the academy. It’s not the Black faculty, Hispanic, and Latinx faculty. It’s not the Indigenous faculty who have to “fit.” It’s the white faculty — the majority faculty — who have to change the broken system they perpetuate, who have to accommodate new perspectives, and broaden their definitions of excellence. We’ve been an equity-minded project since 2005, but the events of this year have emboldened COACHE to better interrogate the privilege of white faculty in the academy.The surprise is how wide the gap is between white faculty who feel that their colleagues and leadership are fully in support of diversity and inclusion and Black faculty who don’t agree that their colleagues and leadership are doing what they can.These data show an 18- to 20-point difference in the percentage of white faculty and Black faculty who agree that leadership and colleagues are committed to supporting and promoting diversity on campus. It’s a stark difference in what white faculty feel to be true and what Black faculty know to be true with respect to the support and promotion of diversity.What are the implications of this, and how could it affect the support and promotion of diversity?The question for presidents, provost, and deans is, is your visible leadership on diversity that you are touting in the university magazine, putting on your website, showing to prospective faculty and students — is that visible leadership and diversity actually changing campus culture? Or is it just making white faculty feel better about themselves and their institutions?What the data shows is that white faculty are thinking that we’re doing great. My president says the right things, the faculty and my colleagues in the department say all the right things, but that’s not necessarily what Black faculty see. What they’re telling COACHE — and this is echoed in our qualitative data — is raising questions about whether that visible leadership is really effecting systemic change. It may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient for sustained scrutiny of the status quo. This makes the faculty who’ve benefitted from the status quo for decades very uncomfortable.Read the full interview here. Read Full Storylast_img read more

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Joburg Open success for Sullivan

first_img Sullivan finished 17 under par at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, two shots ahead of compatriots David Howell and Anthony Wall, Ireland’s Kevin Phelan and South African pair Jaco van Zyl and Wallie Coetsee. The 27-year-old from Nuneaton, who defeated Charl Schwartzel in a play-off in the South African Open at nearby Glendower in January, also claimed one of the three places up for grabs in the Open Championship at St Andrews, with Howell and Wall claiming the other two by virtue of their higher world ranking. “I played beautifully, probably made three really bad swings all week and they cost me shots each time,” Howell said after a closing 69. “Just hit one left on 14 that cost me a shot and then couldn’t find the putts coming in. “It’s not been the best start to the year and this is the first really good performance, which has been great. Frustrating not to finish it off because I gave myself a great chance, but it wasn’t to be.” Howell ended a seven-year winless drought with victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in 2013 and was thrilled to secure a return to the Old Course for the Open. ” I am absolutely delighted about that, that was one of the main reasons I came down here,” he added. “I have not played an Open at St Andrews and I’m not getting any younger so I knew my chances were running out. I am going to really enjoy it.” Wall, who carded a final round of 68 featuring an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys, added: “It’s very disappointing because I was really feeling good about today. A win is a win, but to play in the Open, especially at St Andrews, will be lovely.” Phelan missed out on the Open places due to his lowly world ranking, but had the consolation of securing a place in next week’s Africa Open by finishing in the top five. “I was just kind of plodding along the first three days, played some nice golf but didn’t really hole that many putts, but got the putts to drop on the front nine today and gave myself a chance,” he said after eight birdies and two bogeys in his 66. ” It doesn’t look like I have done enough but I am delighted with the way I played.” Press Association England’s Andy Sullivan claimed his second European Tour title in Johannesburg in the space of eight weeks on Sunday, carding a closing 66 to win the Joburg Open. Sullivan began the final round three shots behind overnight leader Coetsee, but moved to the top of a crowded leaderboard with five birdies in a flawless front nine of 32. A bogey on the 11th dropped the former Walker Cup player a shot behind Howell, who had gone to the turn in 33, only for Howell to hook his tee shot into the water on the 14th. Wall’s challenge also faltered when he found water on the 15th and it was Sullivan who held his nerve down the closing stretch with birdies on the 15th and 18th to seal victory. “It’s unbelievable,” Sullivan said at the presentation ceremony. “I never imagined it would happen again so quickly. Coming down the stretch me and my caddie were loving life again and enjoying it. It seems to be a theme, enjoying my golf and getting the right results at the moment.” Sullivan won a trip into space for a hole-in-one during last year’s KLM Open and added: “I think I am already there to be honest with you. I am on the crest of a wave at the moment and I don’t want it to end. I just want it to keep going. “I want to say a big thank you to my coach Jamie Gough, who has really turned it around, and my psychologist Lee Crombleholme who has been exceptional this week, working hard on being patient out there. “I am just grateful it has all paid off and I get to hold another magnificent trophy in South Africa again.” Howell and Wall were both left to rue missed chances, but at least had the consolation of sealing places in the Open in July. last_img read more

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