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Scotland scrumhalf Ben White to stay in France

By Ian Cameron
Ben White of Toulon looks on during the Investec Champions Cup match between Northampton Saints and RC Toulon at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on December 15, 2023 in Northampton, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Scotland scrum-half Ben White has secured his future with Toulon by signing an extension that keeps him in the red and black until 2026.

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The 25-year-old talent switched to Toulon from now-defunct Gallagher Premiership outfit London Irish last year. White is clearly enjoying life in the south of France. Arriving fresh from his World Cup duties with Scotland he wasted little time in committing his immediate future to the club.

“I extended for two seasons at Toulon because I feel really good here,” said White on Toulon’s website. “The coaches are great, the players and supporters are incredible. I think there is something to do here. When I signed I didn’t just want to come and play for a year and leave. I wanted to get involved, discover the culture, the language and develop as a player. For me it was the right place for that. The most important thing is to help the team to win.

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“I want to be in a club that has big ambitions and Toulon is the right place to win trophies and be at the best level. For me, it’s a great challenge to take on. The way the group welcomed me m made me want to extend. I haven’t been here for long but I like getting to know the people here and creating links with them. I’m going to give everything for this club over the next two years. They trusted me and I want to give back to them,” concluded White.

In international terms, White rapidly became a key player for Gregor Townsend’s Scotland since making his debut in 2022 and has now surpassed seasoned players Ali Price and George Horne for the number nine jersey for Scotland.

White left Leicester Tigers at the end of the 2020/21 season, before putting pen to paper on a deal with the Exiles. White had made history at Tigers, when he became the youngest player in Leicester’s Premiership history when he came off the bench against Harlequins in September 2016, aged just 17 years and 151 days.

He made 71 appearances in all competitions for the Welford Road club.

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Poorfour 4 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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