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England Set For Awesome Autumn

Autumn International

England’s Autumn International programme will see them host Argentina, Australia and Samoa in three vital games as they build towards the next World Cup.

Despite their unbeaten run ending in Dublin, English rugby remains in rude health. A hugely successful last 18 months and a seriously impressive, against-the-odds series win in Argentina this summer means fans will be expecting nothing less than three home wins this November.

The hardest part for Eddie Jones will be picking his squad, as the returning Lions and injured players unavailable for the successful trip to Argentina numbered around 30.

With Jones set on unearthing a couple of young gems before the squad heads to Japan, expect plenty of young talent on show and plenty of old heads fighting to keep their jersies.

It should mean fans are in for some scintillating rugby, so, with that prospect in mind we cast our eye over the Autumn’s opposition.

Argentina

Despite already losing over half his squad to the Lions, Eddie Jones ignored several seasoned international players and headed to Argentina last month with what was little more than a development squad.

Two wins from two against a full-strength Argentina seemed to confirm that Los Puma’s star is very much on the wane.

It was widely expected that Argentina effectively now playing in Super Rugby as Los Jaguares would result in a very well-gelled team who would achieve further success on the international scene, but that hasn’t happened.

Perhaps the lack of challenging new ideas and noticeable step up in quality of teammates that joining a national squad usually brings has resulted in a comfort zone for the players.  What’s clear is that something needs to change.

The loss to a 14-man England at Twickenham last year and last month’s humiliation at home will mean Argentina will be wounded and unfancied in equal measures, a combination that used to serve them very well.

Expect a full-blooded test match, with both teams desperate for a win again a side they’ll share the same group with in Japan.

Australia

The Aussies’ recent home loss to Scotland, combined with their defeats in Dublin and London last Autumn, suggests they are undergoing a transition, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

Australia have a habit of unearthing talent that quickly takes to international rugby and their pride will demand revenge for their four straight defeats at the hands of England. With those tests all going down to the wire, they will fancy their chances of causing an upset at HQ.

Samoa

Samoa, though still achieving international success, are not currently showing the form that saw once them regularly claim the scapls of bigger rugby nations.

That reason alone may tempt Eddie Jones to throw a few more young bolters into the mix and that, against a side always fully committed and dripping with natural talent, could make for the most open and thrilling match of the series.

If you would like to enjoy any or all of these games with one of our VIP packages, please click here to find out more.

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See the NFL International Series in London this Autumn

NFL

The NFL will play its biggest ever series of fixtures in London this year, with two games taking place at Twickenham and two at Wembley. The games have already sold out the 75,000 and 85,000 capacity stadiums, so our VIP packages represent your best chance of joining the action.

The series will see three teams, the Ravens, Browns and Cardinals, make their London debuts. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have ‘hosted’ a home game at Wembley every year since 2013, with plans in place for that to continue until at least 2020.

With some of the world’s most explosive athletic talent on show, a live NFL game is an experience no true sports fan should miss.

Fixtures

2:30pm, 24th September, Wembley Stadium: Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

2:30pm, 1st October, Wembley Stadium: New Orleans Saints vs. Miami Dolphins

6pm, 22nd October, Twickenham Stadium: Arizona Cardinals vs. LA Rams

1:30pm, 29th October, Twickenham Stadium: Minnesota Vikings vs. Cleveland Browns

Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints

Age: 27

Height: 6ft 4’

Weight: 20 stone 7 lbs

Son of a former NFL player, the incredibly athletic Jordan was a star discus thrower before throwing in his lot with American Football. It’s no wonder that quarterbacks suffer from nerves when the 287lb tackling machine is heading their way, as he invariably does, so sit back and enjoy the show from the safety of the stands.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Age: 32

Height: 6ft 6’

Weight:  17 stone 7 lbs

The man with a canon for a right arm has fully recovered from the knee injury that hampered him for much of last season and will be hoping to further improve his superb post-season record this time around. With his six-year, $120.6 million contract representing the highest average salary in the NFL, his bosses will be equally keen for success.

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Age: 25

Height: 6ft 1’

Weight:  20 stone 5 lbs

Described as “a one-man wrecking ball” by several opposition head coaches, Donald is tipped to become the league’s highest-paid defensive player within a year. The opposing quarterback will always expect a tough day at the office when Donald is on the field, so keep an eye on him when the Rams are defending.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Age: 38

Height: 6ft

Weight: 14 stone 13 lbs

Arguably the best passing quarterback in the history of the NFL, Brees is still worth $31M per year at the age of 38. The former Super Bowl winner is possibly in his last season, but lucrative future offers as a free agent may see him extend his already stellar career.

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Summer 2017 Promising Vintage Entertainment

Summer

There are few pleasures in life quite like a lazy summer’s afternoon spent watching sport with a glass of something cold in one’s hand. With that most agreeable of seasons almost upon us, we’ve picked some historic, quintessentially English sporting events that not only provide the most luxurious surroundings but some serious, world-class competition.

Royal Ascot: 20th June – 24th June

Royal Ascot

Not to be confused with several other meets held annually at the course, Royal Ascot is the 5-day, mid-June event, widely considered as the jewel of the British racing calendar.

Do not make the mistake of thinking it’s as much about hats as horses; each day sees the cream of flat-racing talent fight it out for some of the biggest prizes in the sport.

Dating back to 1711, Royal Ascot has all the traditions, pomp and circumstance you would expect of a royal racing event. With unrivalled hospitality facilities in which to mingle with the good and great of the British racing scene, the meet offers a truly unique sporting and social experience for you and your friends or clients.

England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, Lords:
6th July – 10th July

Investec test

England’s limited-overs stars might enjoy the limelight for the first half of the summer, but July 6th will see the start of the business end of the season as the test match heavyweights fight their first battle of the series at Lord’s.

South Africa and England, the third and fourth ranked test sides, respectively, each boast proven world-class performers in both the batting and bowling departments. Whichever side prevails in what will doubtless be a thrillingly close contest will be well positioned to challenge India and Australia at the of the top test tree.

There is no better place to set the scene for the series than the home of cricket, so don’t miss your opportunity to join us at Lord’s.

July 6th – 10th: 1st Investec Test, Lord’s

July 14th – 18th: 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge

July 27th – 31st: 3rd Investec Test, Kia Oval

Aug 4th – 8th: 4th Investec Test, Emirates Old Trafford

Henley Royal Regatta: 28th June – 2nd July

Henley Royal Regatta

Established in 1839, ‘The Royal’, as it’s often referred to by those in the know, is arguably the most prestigious rowing event in the world.

The location and rich history combine with an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate set of fans to create an atmosphere that many successful Olympic rowers have described as the best they ever experienced.

Held over a 2,310-yard course on the Thames, Henley attracts the very best school, university and club crews, who compete head-to-head in a knockout format.

Much like The Boat Race, crews get far more ‘up close and personal’ than in laned events, guaranteeing some real drama. Crews are assigned to row on either the ‘Bucks’ (Buckinghamshire) or ‘Berks’ (Berkshire) side of the course, but, beyond that, they can pick their own line.

Crews row in Eights, Fours or Pairs, with categories for Sculls (where rowers use pairs of oars instead of one each), Coxed and Coxless events. Racing runs from 8.30am to 7.30pm each day, with up to 90 heats per day, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to toast winning boats.

Wimbledon, The Championships 2017:
Monday 3rd July – Sunday 16th July

Wimbledon

Men’s tennis in particular is enjoying a long-lasting purple patch and there seems little sign of it ending. With a home-grown current world no. 1 as the defending champion and three of the greatest ever players all in contention, Wimbledon 2017 is shaping up to be an all-time classic.

Andy Murray will be defending his position as world number one as well as the title he won last year for a second time. Novak Djokovic could seal his fourth Wimbledon win and thirteenth Grand Slam title and the in-form Stan Wawrinka could complete a career Grand Slam, having won each of the other three big tournaments once.

The tournament line-up will be completed by the resurgent Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, winners of eighteen and fourteen Grand Slam singles titles each, including seven and two Wimbledon crowns.

With new courts and upgraded, first-class hospitality facilities, Wimbledon 2017 is the definition of unmissable.

Engage have a selection of fantastic packages for all the above events.  Click here to read more or get in touch to see how we can help you to experience better.

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Engage’s Guide to the 2017 6 Nations Grand Finale

6 nations

Heading in to last weekend, five of the six nations had a chance of winning the tournament.  Ireland’s battling loss in Cardiff, however, meant that England could seal the title with a home win against Scotland, which they duly achieved with a truly dominant performance.  So, is there still anything left to play for?  You bet there is.

Scotland, France, Ireland and Wales have all lost two games from four and will be desperate to avoid a losing season by claiming a win on the final weekend.  England, on the other hand, have a second consecutive Grand Slam to play for, along with the prospect of a world record for back-to-back test victories.

All three games will take place this Saturday (18th March), so let’s look a little closer at the match ups…

Scotland vs. Italy (12:30)

Scotland’s bad luck with injuries continued at the weekend with another raft of concussions and orthopaedic woes.  They will though take solace in the fixture list, as, if they could have chosen the fixture with which to close what started as a very promising campaign, it would be at home against the winless Azzurri.

Despite the long odds currently being offered, the Italians will be no walkover for a patched-up Scottish side.  They have competed for long periods in all their matches, with the exception of their drubbing by the Irish, and some early successes against the Scots could set up a thrilling second half.

France vs. Wales (15:45)

Wales’ defence was brutal against Ireland in Cardiff, with their forwards gang-tackling anything and everything that came their way, so you can expect their collisions with the enormous French pack to be wince-inducing at the very least.

France have at times looked like regaining their place among the very best test sides during this Championship, without ever catching fire and playing like the France of old.  Wales also have been struggling to get over the try line of late, meaning we are likely to see a tense war of attrition, with France’s home advantage possibly being negated by the momentum Wales will have gained from their epic win against the men in green.

Ireland vs. England (17:00)

A week ago, the smart money was backing a final weekend showdown between an Irish team fresh from a win in Cardiff and an England team who, had they read the script, would have arrived after another less than convincing win against Scotland.  As it is, Ireland can do little more than spoil England’s party.

That having been said, you can not underestimate how fired-up Ireland will be.  There is plenty of history behind this fixture and England playing in Dublin will always make for an emotional contest.  Add in the fact that the Irish lads will not like the idea of England celebrating a world record 19th consecutive win their stadium, even less a Grand Slam, and we needn’t worry about anyone just going through the motions.

England, though, are as well placed to win a huge away fixture as they have been since their 2003 Grand Slam decider in Dublin.  In the last year, Eddie Jones has taken them to a Grand Slam win in Paris, three test wins in Australia and a crucial win in Cardiff, so they won’t be unduly worried by foreign turf or partisan crowds.  They also look to be coming into form at exactly the right time and it’s hard to see them playing like they did against Scotland and losing.

The Irish will insist England will not get a chance to play that and who could argue with them?  It’s a very hard game to call, but one thing is for definite: it’s going to be an incredible test match that no rugby fan can afford to miss.

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Cricket Focus : Summer 2017 Preview

Cricket

2017 will see England contest compelling home series of test matches and limited-overs games against South Africa and West Indies, as well as hosting the ICC Champions Trophy. We thought we’d whet your appetites with a look at the summer’s key talking points, starting with England’s test side.

Engage will be offering top-notch hospitality experiences at many of the biggest games. Please follow the links at the bottom of the page to learn more.

As official hospitality providers at Lord’s and the Kia Oval, we are able to provide our full, bespoke hospitality packages. With our own staff in attendance, you could join stars from cricket and rugby, who will not only entertain you with their insight and anecdotes, but also sit with you to enjoy the action. Last summer our guests were surprised to be joined by Saracens and England giant George Kruis (don’t worry, he wasn’t seated in front of anyone). On to the cricket…

Form

England will play four test matches against South Africa, followed by three against the West Indies. Though England may be having a hard time of it on their current tour of India, few teams would be confident of doing any better on the subcontinent against the world’s number one test cricket nation.

India’s form in their last 18 home tests, of which they won 16 and drew two, offers perspective on England’s winter performance. Back on their home pitches, with the ball seaming rather than spinning, England will be a very different animal.

England’s recent home test record has been very strong, with their card for the last four summers showing they’ve played eight series, winning five, drawing two and losing just one (the loss coming in a two-match series against Sri Lanka in 2014, with the tourists’ last-wicket pairing just holding out for a draw in the other test).

Captaincy

Alastair Cook’s captaincy has come under the spotlight in India, leading to calls for his resignation and for Joe Root to be installed as skipper. He did make some questionable calls in recent matches, with some bowlers being so underused that they may wonder if they were selected for their ability to make daisy chains in the outfield, but losing in India doesn’t automatically merit Cook’s demotion.

Such decisions are never as straightforward as they seem. History has shown time and again that captaincy can be the making of some players and the breaking of others. Cook has flourished in the role before and few would bet against him having another productive summer in 2017, whether he leads the side or not.

Joe Root is the obvious choice to replace him, but burdening a side’s most talented player with captaincy duties has backfired many times before and England could ill afford to lose Root’s contributions with the bat.

Cook’s 59 tests in charge might mean that a fresh approach to leadership would lift the team, even if made simply for that reason. One thing’s for sure: a difficult decision awaits the England management.

Batting

Away from the trial by spin they are currently enduring, England’s batsmen should start moving back up the test rankings. Joe Root, currently number three in the world, will doubtless challenge Steve Smith and Virat Kohli for top honours, while Jonny Bairstow and Alastair Cook (ranked 13th and 14th) will hope to move into the top ten.

With Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed both enjoying extraordinary debuts in India, England may have solved the longstanding conundrum of who will open the batting with Cook and, by opting to play one of them at number three, could push Root to four to shore up the late middle-order.

That means the only real question mark may now hover over the number five slot. Ben Duckett’s failure in the first two tests in Indian led to a middle order of Moen Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, with Ali the most likely to be promoted to five in a move that would also give England further bowling options. Keeper/batsmen Sam Billings and Jos Buttler might force their way into the reckoning, but neither as a specialist number five.

With bowlers Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid sporting nine and ten first-class hundreds respectively, England could continue to benefit from arguably their deepest batting line up in history. If they can avoid their trademark collapses, runs are unlikely to be in short supply.

Bowling

As their bowling attack relies more on swing and seam than spin or sheer pace, England will be hoping for a little moisture in the air and pitches this summer. The line-up will have a familiar look to it, with several names competing to support the two frontline seamers of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

The talismanic Ben Stokes and pacey all-rounder Chris Woakes will play if fit, meaning there may only be one further place for a seamer. Steven Finn’s genuine pace and steepling bounce will allow England to fight fire with fire against the South African and West Indian quicks, so he is most likely to get the nod.

Should England need more spin options than those offered by the dangerous yet inconsistent Moeen Ali and Joe Root with his occasional tweakers, Finn’s place would go to Adil Rasdhid, further strengthening the batting.

The winter will be soon forgotten on the green, green pitches of home and England look well equipped for another successful summer.

Schedule

England v South Africa

July 6-10: 1st Investec Test, Lord’s

July 14-18: 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge

July 27-31: 3rd Investec Test, Kia Oval

Aug 4-8: 4th Investec Test, Emirates Old Trafford

England v West Indies

Aug 17-21: 1st Investec Test, Edgbaston

Aug 25-29: 2nd Investec Test, Headingley

Sept 7-11: 3rd Investec Test, Lord’s