The TRU Team

Covering all levels of the game, Talking Rugby Union brings you news and views about the sport across the UK, Europe as well as globally.

Our contributors are freelance journalists, aspiring writers, volunteers, pundits and players as well as photographers. They all know about the game and we aim to bring you original content, combined with the main stories our readers want to hear about.

Talking Rugby Union covers everything from international rugby to the grassroots of our sport and TRU has continued to grow in all levels of the game.

We provide a mix of daily news with exclusive interviews and our sections such as Emerging Talent continue to be popular.

Since TRU was launched, there have been many contributors and they are keen to the maintain the progression of the website:

The TRU Team

Max Ashcroft - Max uses his black book of rugby names to let some of the very high profile interviews on Talking Rugby Union. Max was with Bath Rugby Academy and now plays semi-pro for Sedgely Park RUFC. Max is the founder of RedPanda.


Max Skofic - Max is a Slovenian rugby international, who scored a hat trick of tries on international debut. Our Creative Director, who's unique blend of art and sport can be seen in the clothing line he has developed for can be seen throughout the site.

Chris Heal - Our Head Editor. University of Sunderland Sports Journalism Graduates, Chris has been part of the team for three years. He focuses on National League and University rugby, but he has also conducted interviews with some big names in the game.  @c_heal

Austin Halewood - Graduated from Loughborough University having studied English and played rugby in the BUCS competition. Austin has presented many of the news videos on Talking Rugby Union and is a regular contributor with news articles. Austin is focussing on his journalistic career and works with BBC Sport.

Senior Rugby Correspondents

Gary Heatly - Gary has had a love for both rugby and writing for as far back as he can remember. Having cut his teeth in the ‘real world’ of journalism at the Midlothian Advertiser local newspaper for a couple of years between 2005 and 2007, he has since been kept busy covering sport, mainly rugby.

He was a member of the editorial team at SCRUM Magazine for 11 years until recently and now provides regular rugby content to various national and local newspapers, magazines and websites via his company GH Media as well as hosting a podcast @G_HMedia

Ali Stokes - Formerly a Sports Rehabilitator and aspiring Strength and Conditioning coach, Ali urned his hand to journalism. He specialises in rugby union and specifically the English game. He is the founder and editor of, and a regular writer for Rugby World Magazine and of course, Talking Rugby Union. @alistokesrugby

Rugby Journalists

Joe Harvey - Joe is one of our main contributors. Currenlty, he is a journalism student at the University of Derby, but for TRU, he is our leading Major League Rugby correspondent. Joe also covers all areas of the game and writes for @joeharvey34

Ben Mercer - Having played in the UK, Australia and France, Ben offers TRU's readers an excellent insight into the game with his very informative columns and opinion pieces. With a degree also in English Literature, the former Plymouth man is a brilliant person to have on board at TRU. @wherebenmercer2

Matt Wood - Known as our intrepid Aussie, Matt was on secondment at Leeds Met in 2013/14. He followed and reported on Leeds Met's journey to the BUCS rugby final at Twickenham. He is currently based in Melbourne and provides a local insight into Australian rugby.

Frank Nickson - founder of RP007s, a 7s rugby team in the northwest. Frank is responsible for the extensive photo library that is at the heart of Talking Rugby Union. Recent graduate from Nottingham Trent University.

Photo Journalists

Jeff Gordon - He is Talking Rugby Union's most prolific cameraman and his work can be viewed all over the site. @JeffGordon10

Frederic Wale - based in Rio, Frederic loves photography in his spare time. He rubs shoulders with Brazil's most famous sports stars and provides Talking Rugby Union the taste of Rio in pictures @fredericwale

Steve Hagg - Steve is one of the latest photographers to offer his fine imagery to TRU. A Cornishman based in Durban, Steve covers the Springboks quite regularly@STEVEHAAGSPORT

Regular Contributors

Greg Boon - Greg is a passionate rugby and cricket fan, who has produced excellent opinion articles surrounding the Premiership for TRU. @AshesRugbyGuy

Rhiannon Garth Jones - Rhainnon is our very own Welsh correspondent. She is from Burnley and resides in Copenhagen, but she produces some brilliant content around the Wales National team and also the regions in the Pro14. @rhigarthjones 

Callum Wood - Callum is a qualified Sports Journalist, currently working full time as a Rugby Operations Executive for Opta meaning he watches a ton of rugby.

He's written for The Rugby Paper, League Weekly and several websites. He stays in touch with all major leagues, internationals and many minor comps. On top of this, he has conducted interviews with players such as USA 7s star Madison Hughes. @CallumW18 

Connor Hickinbottom - Connor is currently at the University of Huddersfield, and has a keen eye for Championship Rugby. @ConnorHicko

Mark McConville - Freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland, Mark graduated from Sunderland University with a Sports Journalism degree and has a good knowledge of Pro 14 rugby. @MarkMac10 

Benedict Chanakira - Born in Zimbabwe, Benedict is an aspiring rugby coach who frequently writes on the game. His reasons behind these chosen paths are because, to quote, "of Paul Flanagan who is rugby's equivalent to Mourinho and a journalist for the love of interacting." He is also a huge fan of the Natal Sharks, England Rugby and is it the All Blacks or Springboks? He can be found on Twitter @bchanakira2 and his Google + is Benedict Chanakira 

Wade Cox - Originally from Port Alfred, which is situated in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. Born and raised in a rugby culture and have always been a keen supporter, observer and analyser of the game. Studied a Bachelor’s Degree in Media, Communication and Culture at NMMU (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) in Port Elizabeth. Currently residing in Hong Kong, which has an exceptionally strong rugby culture, where he plays (touch mostly) and referee in my spare time @wadesgotit

Rugby Columnists

Josh Beaumont - Current Sale Shark Josh Beaumont has been a long friend of TRU. The former Fylde man is now a regular columnist for us and he discusses a wide range of topics in his monthly features. @JoshBeaumont1

Simon Hammersley- Like Josh, Simon has also had a good relationship with TRU over the years. The Newcastle Falcon offers his opinion on the Premiership as well as all levels of the game. @Simon_Hammers

Christian Day - Former Northampton Saint Christian Day is now a Player Liaison Officer for the RPA. On his Twitter he says, he 'used to chase after eggs, but now he chases after the players' and also offers his brillaint insight into the game for TRU. @christianday

Sebastian Negri - Current Italy international Seb Negri is our latest columnist. The former Hartpury man captained his university to BUCS glory in 2017 before moving to the Pro14 to play for Benetton. Since his time in England, Negri's rise has continued and now TRU can benefit from his excellent knoweldge of the game. @slnegri04 



Kitcho Evangelidis - @kitcho7

Garry Irwin – @girwin90

Danny Till – @dannyjt10

Ashley Lambell – @ntfcash

Nik Hughes – @nikhughes23

Matt Davies – @hogyn_or_gog

Bethan Borrett – @MissBorrett

Alan Dymock – @alandymock

Sam Rogers – @samrogerssj

Ian Mitchelmore – @ian_m_92

Thomas Davies – @ThomasODavies

Tom Dowler – @tommyd91

Thomas Cummings – @tj_cummings

Martin Young – @martinyoung19

Karl Jones – @karljones_

David Nicoll – @dtnicoll

Alex Shaw – @rugbyunionbant

Murray Kinsella – @murray_kinsella

Sam Verralls – @the_Verralls

Ryan Woolacott – @crazedsaint

Danny Murray – @danjomurray

Alex Ferentinos – @AlexFerentinos7

David Blair – @viscount_89

Alex Shaw - @alexshawsport

Alex Hannah - @Alex_Hannah1

George Hartrey -  @georgehartrey

Lewis Hughes - @lah_8

Plus many others writers, who are appreciated for their fantastic work. Thanks!


The TRU Team - Image Gallery

Max Skofic reaches out to score on international debut for Slovenia (he would score a hat-trick in all)
A rare event as Max Ashcroft plays alongside Max Skofic at Kinsale 2011
Max Skofic and Austin Halewood meet former England captain Will Carling
Austin Halewood with his Dad, playing snowy rugby
The team alongside the Heineken Cup
Benedict Chanakira chats to Scotland's Dave Denton
Intrepid Aussie, Matt Wood, talks rugby union with Frank Nickson