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 consist of freelance journalists, aspiring writers, volunteers, pundits and players as well as photographers. As a team, we aim to bring you original content, combined with the main stories surrounding our sport.

We provide a mix of daily news with exclusive interviews and since TRU was launched, there have been many contributors who have all been keen to maintain the progression of the website.

The TRU Team

Max Ashcroft - Founder of TRU. Max uses his black book of rugby contacts to obtain some of the very high-profile interviews you see on Talking Rugby Union. Max was with the Bath Rugby Academy and plays semi-pro for Sedgely Park RUFC.

Max is the founder of Red Panda and heads up the marketing side of TRU. He was influential in helping TRU acquire the rights to the National League website in 2016. Max has also crossed codes and is currently Partnerships Manager at Rugby League Commercial and Super League  @max_ashcroft

Max Skofic - Max is our Creative Director, whose unique blend of art and sport can be seen throughout the TRU and National League Rugby websites as well as their social media channels.

Chris Heal - Our Head Editor. A University of Sunderland Sports Journalism graduate, Chris has been part of the team since 2015. He focuses on all areas of the game and his coverage of the National Leagues enabled TRU to take control of the website. Chris is also part of the Rugby Union Writers' Club - @c_heal

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, he has since been kept busy covering sport, mainly rugby.

He was a member of the editorial team at SCRUM Magazine for 11 years 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

Francisco Isaac - Francisco's knowledge of rugby knows no bounds and we are delighted to have him on board. His passion for Rugby Europe sets him apart and his coverage of Portugal during the Men's 2023 Rugby World Cup was unrivalled - @francisaac87

Rugby Writers

Joe Harvey - Joe has been one of TRU’s main contributors since walking through our doors as a 19-year-old. Finishing his journalism degree at the University of Derby in 2019, Joe set about establishing himself as a freelance journalist and is now a Multimedia Content Producer for Sportsbeat. Inducted into the Rugby Union Writers Club in 2020  @joeharvey34

Elizabeth Cartwright - Elizabeth is learning her craft as a sports journalist with TRU. A passionate Leicester Tigers fan, her style of writing complements our website extremely well. She has conducted exclusive interviews with some of the biggest names in the women's game and has delved into the Gallagher Premiership@_ElizabethC99_

Ben King - Ben joined the team in 2023 and his work ethic has added immense value to TRU. Currently studying economics at the University of Exeter, his love for journalism and sport guided him to TRU where he has elevated our University Rugby content with many in-depth interviews - @Ben_King91

Ciara Fearn - Ciara studied English Literature at Lancaster University and has translated her excellent writing skills over to the world of rugby. Working at the BBC as a journalism researcher, she has also had her work published as part of the Sportsbeat media group and is very much a valuable contributor to TRU - @Fearn_Ciara

James Orpin - James has become a frequent contributor to TRU and is constantly adding to his portfolio of work. A sports journalism student at Bournemouth University, James' knowledge of rugby is evident in his growing number of articles and interviews - @Jorpin15

Tom Jones - Tom is a journalism graduate from Newcastle University and ties in his contributions to TRU with his work as a Broadcast Assistant at talkSport. Tom has also had his work published in The Times - @_Tomjones01

Frank Nickson - Founder of RP007s, a 7s rugby team in the North-West, Frank is responsible for the extensive photo library that is at the heart of Talking Rugby Union. Graduate from Nottingham Trent University and has played rugby for Barnes in National Two @franknickson06

TRU Columnists 

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

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

Charlie Beckett - Charlie is one of TRU's most popular columnists. The former Gloucester and Leicester player has offered his strong views on all areas of the game. In particular, his pieces focusing on women's rugby have captured the attention of TRU's audience. @Charlie_Beckett

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

Ethan Waller - Northampton Saints prop Ethan Waller is a brilliant person to have writing for TRU. A current Premiership player, he is not frightened to put his opinion across. Away from the day job, Ethan is also the chair for The RPA - @beef324

Further TRU Contributors

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 [now Beckett's] journey to the BUCS rugby final at Twickenham. He is currently based in Melbourne and provides a local insight into Australian rugby @mattywoodtruck


Jeff Gordon - Jeff was much-loved by the TRU team for so many different reasons and it really is difficult to highlight them all. He sadly passed away in 2021 but his huge contribution to our website will never be forgotten, with continued access to his archives.

At TRU, the website continues to go from strength to strength, but whilst we strive to get better and better, we never forget how far we have come. Without people like Jeff, our journey might not have even been possible.

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

Previous Contributors

Alan Dymock – @alandymock

David Nicoll – @dtnicoll

Alex Shaw – @rugbyunionbant

Murray Kinsella – @murray_kinsella

Alex Hannah - @Alex_Hannah1

George Hartrey -  @georgehartrey

Lewis Hughes - @lah_8

Mark McConville - @MarkMac10 

Greg Boon - @AshesRugbyGuy

Rhiannon Garth Jones -  @rhigarthjones 

Callum Wood - @CallumW18 

Ali Stokes - @alistokesmedia

Harry Latham-Coyle - @hlathamcoyle

Will Sherrington - @WillSherrington

Kate Alder - @_katealder

Guy Thompson - @GuyThompson87

Ben Mercer - @wherebenmercer2

Benedict Chanakira - @bchanakira2

Wade Cox - @wadesgoit

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


The TRU Team - Image Gallery

Joe, Elizabeth and Chris at the Rugby Writers Lunch in 2023
Chris and Joe covering the Six Nations U20s
Chris, Max and Joe pitchside at Twickenham
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
The team alongside the Heineken Cup
Intrepid Aussie, Matt Wood, talks rugby union with Frank Nickson