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Sport #271

It’s been an incredible five years for the new Sale man, who arrived on the scene just as the post-2003 World Cup euphoria was dying down. Jonny Wilkinson was the darling of English rugby and dominated column inches, bedroom walls and televisions across the nation. But Cipriani offered something different
– something not so very English. The story goes that Wasps coach Ian McGeechan told his young starlets that he wanted them to do something new to impress him in training, so Cipriani ran a diagonal line in front of his centres and bounced the ball between his legs directly into his teammates’ path. A defence was bamboozled, and a star — and the poster boy for
a new, more exciting brand of rugby — was born.
Success came pretty quickly with Wasps, where he signed when he was just 17, and Cipriani still holds a real affection for the club. “I’ll always be thankful for what Wasps did for me,“ he says.