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FEATURE – First contact: Billy Vunipola’s carry

16 February 2014

  • RFUtv features England players’ first contributions
  • Billy Vunipola discusses the importance of his first carry in a Test match

“We talk a lot about the importance of the first hit, the first contact. You cannot underestimate the impact of the crowd, the roar, the singing, the sea of white. That’s our first contact. That’s our competitive advantage.”

Stuart Lancaster is crystal clear on the importance of the opening exchanges in Test rugby.

England No.8 Billy Vunipola carries against New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium

Photo: Getty Images

Ahead of England’s opening home match of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations against Ireland next Saturday, RFUtv looks at the first contributions made by England players in their specialist areas of expertise.

In the first of a six-part series this week, No.8 Billy Vunipola discusses the considerable impact his 126kg frame has on the opposition when he carries possession at the heart of their team. The 22 year-old was England’s top carrier in the first two Six Nations matches this year and took the ball into contact 18 times in 57 minutes against world champions New Zealand last November.

What was going through Vunipola’s mind when Dan Carter’s kick-off was sailing through the air towards him in the opening moments of that game? And how does the outcome of that first involvement affect how he approaches the rest of the game?

Part two features Tom Wood on the importance of his first tackle in a game.