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“Short & sweet” Your intro to the Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup gets underway in Japan today, 153 years in the making.

First played in Japan’s treaty ports, popular participation from Universities began in 1899 yet it would be another 33 years until Japan competed in their first International against Canada.

A country full of intrigue with its fascinating and multifaceted culture. Steeped in the deepest of traditions dating back thousands of years Japan is now on the frontier of popular culture with continually shifting fads, fashions and technological developments.

The 2019 World Cup is the 9th time the Webb Ellis trophy has been competed and the first time  outside of a test playing nation. The IRB have chosen a fantastic location to hold this year’s tournament, testament to their decision 16,000 fans arrived for Wales’ first training session in Toyota.

In short, 20 teams will compete across 4 groups over 12 stadia. The top two teams from each group will progress to the Quarter Finals, followed by two semi’s and the Final on the 2nd  November 2019 in the International Stadium Yokohama. New Zealand are the current World Champs having successfully negotiated two back to back tournaments.

One would suspect this year the outcome is not pre-determined which will only fuel the excitement and suspense for this incredible occasion. The top five teams in the World are currently Ireland, New Zealand, England, South Africa and Wales; each would argue they will be crowned 2019 World Champions.

The 2020 Guinness Six Nations will follow the World Cup and three of the top five teams are at Twickenham. England host Ireland on the 23rd February followed by the reigning Grand Slam Champions Wales on 7th March.

Engage provide official onsite hospitality within the coveted ICON Club. Arrive to a Champagne reception followed by a four-course lunch hosted by Rugby legends. VIP match seating and a post-match reception with match day player appearances makes for an unforgettable day at HQ.

Secure your attendance today on 0207 330 1188

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Stokes’ summer!

As the dust settles from the heavy roller we can reflect on an amazing summer of cricket.

Firstly, let’s not underplay the significance of England winning their first Cricket World Cup. To witness an English win in any World Cup is something truly remarkable and as many of us were not alive when we won the 1966 World Cup at Wembley and didn’t make the trip to Sydney to see the RWC in 2003 this is probably, but hopefully not, a once in a lifetime occasion. I’ve seen some great sporting events over the years but this was all the more amazing because England made it as hard as possible losing seemingly simple group matches to leave themselves requiring back to back victories against Australia and India to progress. The Final was possibly the greatest EVER game of cricket. All the pre-tournament hype was about the run fest we would have, could anyone hit the magic 500 off 50 overs. In the end it was far more exciting, a tense low scoring final which brought the bowlers back into the game. Never has a match see-sawed from no hope to almost certain victory so many times and that was before we got into the drama of the Super Over. I’m delighted that so many Engage clients were able to access the game and I am sure their guests will be eternally grateful for the experience as I certainly am.

The summer had only just got started and after a brief first test match with Ireland at Lord’s it was head long into the Ashes. The series has had so many twists and turns with the next session always seeming the most pivotal and will be remembered in my mind for three things; Steve Smith’s return to Test cricket and his incredible form throughout the series, Jofra Archer’s spell at Lord’s on Saturday afternoon when he upped the pace and struck Smith ruling him out of the third test and by doing so prevented him breaking even more records; and finally Ben Stokes, the hero of the World Cup Final, delivering one, if not THE best ever innings to win the third test. It was a sensational knock which started with gritty determination and ended with destructive hitting unlike anything we have seen in the fourth innings.

As with all good stories there was the perfect ending with England winning the fourth test in unbroken sunshine to tie the series at the Kia Oval.

 

Engage guests enjoying their ICON Club hospitality at Lord’s & the Kia Oval this summer.

 

Register your interest to join us in 2020:

England v West Indies Test series

Thu 4 -Mon 8 June – 1st Test v West Indies Kia Oval 11am

Fri 12-Tue 16 June – 2nd Test v West Indies Edgbaston 11am

Thu 25-Mon 29 June – 3rd Test v West Indies Lord’s 11am

England v Australia IT20 series

Fri 3 July – 1st IT20 v Australia Emirates Riverside, Durham 6.30pm

Sun 5 July – 2nd IT20 v Australia Emirates Old Trafford 5pm

Tue 7 July – 3rd IT20 v Australia Emerald Headingley 6.30pm

England v Australia ODI series

Sat 11 July – 1st ODI v Australia Lord’s 1pm

Tue 14 July – 2nd ODI v Australia Ageas Bowl 1pm

Thu 16 July – 3rd ODI v Australia Bristol County Ground, Bristol 1pm

England v Pakistan Test series

Thu 30 July-Mon 3 Aug – 1st Test v Pakistan Lord’s 11am

Fri 7-Tue 11 Aug – 2nd Test v Pakistan Emirates Old Trafford 11am

Thu 20-Mon 24 Aug – 3rd Test v Pakistan Trent Bridge 11am

England v Pakistan IT20 series

Sat 29 Aug – 1st IT20 v Pakistan Emerald Headingley 5pm

Mon 31 Aug – 2nd IT20 v Pakistan Sophia Gardens, Cardiff 2.30pm

Wed 2 Sept – 3rd IT20 v Pakistan Ageas Bowl 6.30pm

England v Ireland ODI series

Thu 10 Sept – 1st ODI v Ireland Trent Bridge 12.30pm

Sat 12 Sept – 2nd ODI v Ireland Edgbaston 12.30pm

Tue 15 Sept – 3rd ODI v Ireland Kia Oval 12.30pm

 

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England overwhelm Six Nations champions Ireland

England centre Henry Slade scores a try against Ireland on Saturday

England Rugby manager Eddie Jones put another notch on his impressive record Saturday, guiding England to a 29th win out of 36 international Tests since he took the reins. To make the victory especially sweet, it was a conquest over Joe Schmidt’s formidable Ireland side at home at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. A testament to the power of Jones’ game-planning, England looked immensely strong as they took on the Six Nations champions, taking apart the host’s strategy and backing them into a corner.

Leading 17-13 by the 66th minute, England created a fantastic opportunity coming out of the scrum, Henry Slade first fed Jonny May the ball and then chased down May’s fantastic chip, a slick maneuver allowing Slade’s exceptional pace to seal the deal in a beautiful try. The work of both May and Jack Nowell on the wings was pivotal for England’s success in a terrific day’s rugby, with May’s opening try inside the first two minutes setting the tone.

Culminating in a 32-30 victory, Saturday represents potentially England’s most dominant win under Jones in contest with another top team, the four-try bonus point illustrating just how effectively they dismantled Andy Farrell’s defense, and the Irish squad taking a heavy beating at the hands of England’s driven intensity. Ireland lost Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Devin Toner to injury. “I don’t think I’ve seen a game where our opponents got so many physical, dominant tackles, where our opponents have carried physically in the manner that they did,” the Ireland manager Joe Schmidt confessed after the game. However, England suffered the loss of star player Maro Itoje, a presence who will be sorely missed going into subsequent games.

Manu Tuilagi’s long absence due to injury was forgotten as he bulldozed his way into the match, a powerhouse playing with the destructive flair that he’s known for, and the Vunipola brothers showed their incredible athleticism and sporting quality. Overall, England looked stronger against Ireland than they have during the whole of Schmidt’s tenure as manager, and England fans will be hopeful that this impressive victory is a good omen for the rest of the tournament going into their match against France at Twickenham this Sunday.

As always, Engage Hospitality provide full official hospitality for all matches in the Six Nations, which is a gold standard for the corporate hospitality calendar and a superb opportunity to show your clients a rollicking good time alongside the best rugby in the world. Be sure to check out our on-site Twickenham hospitality as we are official ‘Good for Rugby’ partners with the RFU, and browse our rugby packages here.

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England Cricket Summer Review

England v Pakistan Cricket World Cup Hospitality

This Summer has proven to be not only one of the warmest on record but also one of the most productive for an England Cricket team in a long while. Engage’s Nicholas Gibbens takes a look back at the Summer of 2018.

England v Pakistan

England were off to a sluggish start against Pakistan back in May, when at Lord’s, Home of Cricket they were beaten comprehensively within 4 days by a margin of 9 wickets.

A lot of soul searching was needed after a below-par winter in Australia and New Zealand, and there were more questions than answers when the teams headed to Headingley for the second test.

A hallmark of this England team under Root has been inconsistency, unbeatable one week and then undesirable the next. The Leeds Test was no different, a revitalized England team, spearheaded by the dependable Anderson & Broad partnership, bowled Pakistan out twice in conditions that have historically suited English bowlers.

Returning to the Test team at Lord’s  a decision made by the newly appointed head of selectors Ed Smith  Jos Butler along with a young Dom Bess put in match-winning performances. A great start for Smith and his new team of selectors.

In short, Butler’s selection had come off the back of an effective IPL, where he saw five 50+ scores in a row  equaling the record alongside the great Mahendra Singh Dhoni. After one of the most fruitful summers for any England batsman, I think we will be seeing Butler in Test Whites for years to come.

England v Scotland

A move to white ball Cricket with a one off ODI against Scotland would see the most exciting game between these two teams in the history of the fixture. Scotland racking up 371/5 in their 50 overs on a very small Edinburgh Grange ground. England ‘only’ mustered 365 in response. Cue the celebrations.

England v Australia

Due to the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 Australia would be entertained a year early in five ODI’s and one T20. Australia were missing 5 front line players due to injury and various misdemeanors allowing a full strength England to show their class in the white ball format; winning five out of five, and breaking the record for the highest ODI total along the way. The T20 did little to halt English momentum, completing the whitewash at Edgbaston.

England v India

India’s arrival halted the English summer party, comprehensively winning their opening contest in conditions more reminiscent of Mumbai than Manchester. India was always going to provide much sterner competition, and with the little known Kuldeep Yadav in their line up bamboozling English batsmen, the true contest of the summer was beginning. England leveled the series but the final matched proved decisive as India took the T20 Series 2- 1.

England wrapped up the ODI series 2 – 1 with back to back hundreds from Captain Root (Drop the mic). A timely return to form leading into a five tests. However, it turned out that the Test Series was dominated by one man, Virat Kholi scoring 593 runs at an average of 59.30; at times taking on England’s bowling attack single handed. Special mentions for Jos Butler England’s top batsmen and player of the summer, Alistair Cook who retires as England’s GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), James Anderson who is now the leading Fast Bowler in Tests with 540 wickets, and finally Sam Curran who has burst onto the Test scene with both ball and bat. A man, and hopefully a team, with a very bright future ahead.

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Anthony Joshua’s Road to Legend

Anthony Joshua defeated Alexander Povetkin by TKO

Anthony Joshua v Alexander Povetkin

Alexander Povetkin was never going to be a pushover. The Russian heavyweight is an Olympic gold medallist and has been boxing professionally at the highest levels for over a decade. In the 35 professional bouts he fought before meeting Joshua, Povetkin was only defeated once, by all-time great Wladimir Klitschko. The first round showed that Anthony Joshua was not invincible, receiving a broken nose at the end of the first round with a fiery combination from the Russian veteran. In the second round, too, Povetkin looked strong as he darted inside the taller man’s reach looking for connection.

However, by the third round AJ had started to find his equilibrium again, evading hits and dealing damage. It was in the fourth round that he landed a smarting uppercut that split Povetkin’s brow, as he started to gain real momentum in this fight. It wasn’t one-sided by any means, and if Povetkin’s renowned left hook had connected, it could have swung the other way – but the Russian started to look wild in his aggression, desperately seeking a strike that would tip the scales back in his favour. For his part, Joshua looked cool and composed, two left hooks finding Povetkin’s face.

Round five was quieter for the most part, and for a while in round six it looked like Povetkin was coming back, with explosive energy belying the fact he was fighting a man 11 years his junior. AJ took it well though, biding his time and landing some hits of his own, body shots to an opponent he described afterwards as “strong to the head, weak to the body”. Finally, in the seventh round, Anthony Joshua delivered his conclusive blows, true heavyweight knockout punches that would obliterate any opponent. Povetkin to his credit managed to stagger back to his feet, but swaying, his reactions slowed, he was unable to defend himself from AJ’s onslaught and the referee quickly called an end to the bout.

Next Steps

The same day as this fantastic fight at Wembley Stadium, the two main contenders for AJ’s next opponent announced a fight of their own: Deontay Wilder will defend his WBC heavyweight title against Tyson Fury on December 1st. It’s no secret that Joshua is looking for the WBC belt to complete his set and become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. The fans will be crying out for a unification bout to happen, and the odds are good, given that Joshua is the obvious opponent for whoever wins, if they have the ambition.

That fight, when it happens, will take place at Wembley. As Joshua said before his fight with Povetkin, “Providing I beat Povetkin, April 13 is booked. Wembley is there.” Engage Hospitality is therefore excited to present the next instalment of Anthony Joshua’s meteoric rise to the status of boxing legend, to becoming a name spoken in the same breath as the very greatest boxers of all time, in the city of his birth. Our ICON Club is a ring-facing hospitality facility that delivers the thrill and electricity of a big fight; with luxurious dining, delightful service, and boxing legends and celebrity guests hosting to make an already special night into an unforgettable occasion. Experience better with Engage and register your interest now to secure your place at this historic occasion.