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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cardiff Blues beat Toulon to win the Amlin Challenge Cup

Cardiff Blues beat Toulon to win the Amlin Challenge Cup

Cardiff Blues became the first Welsh side to lift a European title as they beat French side Toulon 28-21 to win the Amlin Challenge Cup at Marseilles Stade Velodrome on Sunday.

It was Toulon who started off the better side though, with midfield maestro Sonny Bill Williams weaving his magic and crossing for the first try of the match, taking the home side to a 13-6 lead.

The Blues mounted a strong second half comeback as Toulon seemed to struggle to deal with the loss of flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson to what looked like a back injury.

Speared by talisman Xavier Rush, Cardiff worked hard for their tries as they worked their way down field then finished well from close range. Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny, and Bradley Davies all scored as they silenced the partisan home crowd.

The Blues victory is not only a great achievement for them, but it means that fellow Welsh side the Scarlets are now guaranteed Heineken Cup qualification.

Toulon were left contemplating what could have been as they missed out so narrowly on two major trophies in the last few weeks. The loss of Wilkinson certainly hampered their cause, and the question now remains if he will be available for England selection.

He will receive an x-ray tomorrow for what he suspects is just a back strain that he picked up when making a jinking run, not when taking contact.

"Things will be much clearer after the scan and x-ray. If it is a muscle strain, he should be fine to tour with England. If it is a cracked rib, the chances are it would rule him out but at the moment it is all speculation," said Toulon team manager Tom Whitford.

The Sonny Bill Williams hit is now included as a separate, short video for those who don't want to watch the whole highlights package. It's the second one here.

Posted at 11:22 pm | 61 comments

Viewing 61 comments

Benson May 25, 2010 9:58 pm

Bosh! Big hit by Sonny Bill. The man's a machine. A bit too many flicky passes during the match though I think

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Anonymous May 25, 2010 10:05 pm

nice hit!

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Anonymous May 25, 2010 10:15 pm

Its interesting to see that because the player taking the hit was large and rode it well (as well as you can ride a hit that hard!), noone questioned the use of arms. If it had been a scrum half and they'd of been truley smashed and recieved an injury, it might have been questioned. Seems like the reaction to the hit is everything in regards to perception. But don't get me wrong, definately legal... and awesome.

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mat May 25, 2010 10:16 pm

hospital pass, just blind-sided him, but then clearly does wrap up the ball. but as any flanker would say if you got away with it then it legal.

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miguel May 25, 2010 10:18 pm

sonny bill is widely overrated. Toloun with all its imported talent couldnt make it to the top 14 final or win the second tier european trophy.

not trying to be a troll, but lets just remember what things really are.

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$onny May 25, 2010 10:19 pm

Still using his left shoulder I see. He made hits like this countless times in league.

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Anonymous May 25, 2010 10:54 pm

Fantastic game, SBW is a liability, constantly throws lottery passes all over the place.

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Maximus May 25, 2010 11:04 pm

Why is SBW thought overrated (cf miguel's post)? or simply hated by many?
I watched him and he seems to be a showman with the flick passes and celeb but on the whole he clearly adds some uncertainty to the attack. Surely, if he's being called back (if I'm not mistaken) by the NZRFU for a hypothetical AB shirt, he can't be that bad, can he?

Honest question and it'd be cool to try to help me understand.

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Anonymous May 25, 2010 11:12 pm

could be the all blacks answer to nonu's injury!! SBW for 12!

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Tom May 25, 2010 11:12 pm

SBW is excellent, the problem is that he doesn't have league players around him.
In the NRL those 'flick passes' he does would be getting caught by players. Because league players tend to have better hands.
It's not his fault the blokes around him aren't on the same page.
He's a machine, it's just that most rugby coaches don't know how to use him.
He'll go much better in the S14 if he decides to take the challenge, because players have better skills and understand that keeping the ball alive is everything in modern attacking rugby, regardless of whether it's a 'flick pass' or a slow NH hospital ball.

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Maximus May 25, 2010 11:16 pm

Btw miguel, keep in mind that even the HCup Champions couldn't make it to the T14 final. In a way European Champs aren't good enough to get to the T14 final.

And let's remember that Toulon U21 won the U21 French Championship this year. So it's true they have 'imported talents' now but things might change soon...

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jamestheconvict May 25, 2010 11:40 pm

Tom - league players have better hands ? thats a interesting statement

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cheyanqui May 25, 2010 11:58 pm

Tom,
The "flick pass" in League -- When all you have to do is catch the pass, cover it with two hands and make the gainline.

In Union, simply covering the ball with two hands, like a gridiron fullback and running into contact, is less than ideal.

This is the difference between League and Union. One is checkers, the other is chess

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AndyM May 26, 2010 12:13 am

Can anyone tell me why Xavier Rush is always called a 'talisman'? It goes back to his days with the Auckland Blues and it is a term that is almost always applied to him and almost never to others (although there are exceptions; Martin Johnson and Augustine Pichot for example).
What magical powers does he possess?
I recognize him as a solid player and apparently a good leader as well but what makes him the quintessential rugby talisman?

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miguel May 26, 2010 12:13 am

-maximus- fair enough about the t14 final. not getting in a final is not the definitive test for whether or not a team can be rated as good. munster didn't make it to either hcup or magners final but i would still rate them (though i am a fan).

my distaste for sonny bill has to do with the way he entered the game.

long story short, the guy should have been able to deliver upon arrival for all the fuss he caused in bailing on the bullldogs. he'll have to do alot to impress me and I'll make the call now that he wont. I doubt he heads back to new zealand, mostly because he behavior tells us he values money and stardom more than the identity behind the jersey.

i see him as a hired gun and not much of a fighter at that. if the ABs try to replace Nonu with him, its a huge insult to every hardworking 10/12 in this past super 14.

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 12:27 am

"In the NRL those 'flick passes' he does would be getting caught by players. Because league players tend to have better hands.
It's not his fault the blokes around him aren't on the same page."

LOL, what a joke.

Seveal of those retarded passes went into open space, nowhere near another player. One of which was picked up by Roberts and almost led DIRECTLY to a try had it not been for some decent defending by SBW's team mates.

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David May 26, 2010 4:56 am

Like a few of the hits on Sunday, it was a big hit but illegal in Rugby Union. More and more people are doing this pretending to use the arms but just using shoulder... I like a big hit just like anyone but its not League. I wouldnt mind if they actually brought it in however due to the structure of Union you will get more injuries as Rugby League is more "I am going to run straight into you", you dont get us much blindsiding.

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David May 26, 2010 4:58 am

A talisman (from Arabic tilasm, ultimately from Greek telesma or from the Greek word "telein" which means "to initiate into the mysteries") is an amulet or other object considered to possess supernatural or magical powers.

Xavier Rush can fly......I have seen it

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FrankyH May 26, 2010 5:27 am

Besides the random flick passes that went nowhere (he needs to cut that out of his game a tad), SBW actually really impressed me in this match. It's the best I personally have seen him play. I don't think he's ready for Test rugby just yet, but he's definitely got huge potential, and you can see he's learnt a lot since he started in Union.

All he needs is a solid talking to about holding the ball in one hand and about decision making when it comes to offloading, and he'll be great in future. I finally saw a glimpse of the hype that surrounds the man.

Good game. Congrats Cardiff.

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Tom May 26, 2010 6:18 am

David you don't know the rules, and my guess is you don't actually play the game at all, and may never have.
You always hit with your shoulder, it's the only way to tackle properly.
The rule only states that a player has to make an attmept to get the arms round (in fact it simply says that the player has to make an attmept to "grasp" the player, no more). There's nothing about wrapping (which is why people calling it the wrapping rule or wrap rule is stupid).
If you've played you know why the rule is that way, it's to prevent league style shoulder charges, which is when a player tucks their arms up across their chest and runs in side on.
If you've ever been taught how to tackle by someone who has even the vaugest idea what he's doing, they will teach you to lead with your shoulder and then use the arms to grasp, it's the only way to stop a decent (or large) runner.
I can't beleive how many times this has had to be explained on this website though.
Unbelievable how many people don't know the rules.

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4LC4TR4Z May 26, 2010 6:20 am

Miguel : you're a troll.

Probably one of those new supporters jumping and shouting crap like these stupids soccer fans during a game.

SBW overrated ? Sure... This must be the reason why Graham Henry's trying to lure him for the AB for months.

LOL !

You should learn rugby, Miguel...

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Tom May 26, 2010 6:36 am

cheyanqui that's a valid point.
In league, protecting the ball is not as significant.
The thing is though, even players in the S14 tend to have better skills, including better hands, and just a general awarness of keeping the ball alive.
There'd be someone on SBW's shoulder more often.

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Jarrod May 26, 2010 6:45 am

I definitely don't know all the rules to rugby especially those that vary from rules used in the usa clubs, but i was curious if bridging was legal in rucks in other places, i noticed that at 1:26 and 1:40 it was done, but not called. it could have been that the ref did not see it but i am definitely wondering >.>

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 6:52 am

is it just me or does the commentator after jamie roberts try swear saying "now they fucking...". Rugby dump even played it twice on the video. If he is not swearing what is he saying?

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 6:55 am

Jarrod, there's probably an infringment, even just a small one, at more than half of all rucks.
Refs only call the major infirngments which they deem to have affected play.
Also European refs (since the crackdown in the south) tend to let alot more stuff go at ruck time than southern refs.
I personally hate how many infringments there are at ruck time in Europe, it ruins the game as a spectacle and kills running rugby. It is changing though, in the second half of this season refs have started to enforce the ruck more and it's improving the game up north.

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 8:16 am

in regards to the tackling of SBW there are still remnants of his league days.

One overriding memory I have of the game is that of SBW not even attempting to wrap the arms and hitting Jamie Roberts after the ball had gone. A penalty by the laws of the game, not for a late hit but the fact he didn't attempt to use arms.

From what I have seen it seems (of rugby in general) NH players tend to wrap more in tackles (obviously there are exceptions) and use less of the shoulder. While SH players use the shoulder a lot more when making the tackle, this tends to lead to more of what some call questionable tackles.

I am not saying all SH tackles are bad, by and large they are clean. Neither am I saying that this is a general consensus, I think it might be down to basic coaching.

When I was first taught to tackle in rugby it was to wrap around the legs and fall sideways with your head on their arse.

I then played American football for 2 years and the tackling there was more about standing your ground and using your shoulder. Now I try and use a combination of the two depending on the size of the guy.

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 8:36 am

Haha I know. He actually says "bucking bronco" but it sounds very dodgy.

Pretty good game that, although it didn't seem to have the same pace as the toulon-clermont game.

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dezzy May 26, 2010 8:48 am

pretty good game!! SBW man of the match!

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 9:42 am

That was a great game. I felt Toulon could have sealed this off early on if they'd decided to distribute the ball instead of hanging on to it. The loss of Wilkinson seemed to be the turning point for Toulon.

All in all Cardiff deserved it for playing an 80 minute game.

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Chris May 26, 2010 10:53 am

Allez les Blues!!!!

Casey Laulala = The Man!!

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 11:00 am

Mourad Boudjellal should have spent his 18 million Euros on a new house :P

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 11:02 am

For the money that Toulon have spent on SBW, you'd expect a LOT more than 80 minutes of crazy flick passes that most people wouldn't think twice about throwing in a park game.

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 11:05 am

the shirts of the two teams are just horrible.

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Colin May 26, 2010 12:23 pm

at 5.10 did the commentator say "we are on the fu8king dropgaol now???????"

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 12:48 pm

That commentator gets on my tits

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John F May 26, 2010 12:52 pm

Nice work by Wilkinson and van Niekerk to knock Rush back.

As for why Rush is a talisman? His carries always seem to give Cardiff momentum, lift the crowd and he's one of the players that has contributed to the Cardiff revival since 2006. Great signing for them.

All of Cardiff's kiwis had great games. Laulala has been another great signing.

SBW's ability to stay on his feet in the tackle was shown in this game. Risky passes by nice hands in general.

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 2:14 pm

Sonny Bill is clearly a talented player and showed a couple of touches of class in tha game, just now needs to focus on doing the bascis well and only use th "flick pass" when its on instead of doing it everty time he carry's
BUT.. . . He could be world class in the right hands.

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miguel May 26, 2010 3:31 pm

SBW will not make the All Blacks and if he does it will be their downfall in 2011.

I could be wrong, I thought Giteau would win the tri nations for the wallabies and look how that went.

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 4:33 pm

really enjoyed this game on the box! much more exciting than the Heineken final.

Wilkinson pulled a sicky by the looks of it? Made one run and got absolutely hammered mind..

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themull May 26, 2010 4:38 pm

My god that commentator is horrible.....

Very good exciting game....I feel though Johnny getting injured was the turning point for the blues...

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Maximus May 26, 2010 5:20 pm

Cheers for answering.

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Alex May 26, 2010 5:59 pm

SBW is an unpolished gem in Union - he could be one of the best imports from League though if he spends time in NZ.

He reminds me of Andy Farrel, not so much in ability, as they were different players, but that he is one of those physical specimens that thrive so well in League, but are often hard to fit into a Union team.

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Anonymous May 26, 2010 6:12 pm

"Anonymous said...

the shirts of the two teams are just horrible."

Who let Gok Wan in?

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Phil May 26, 2010 8:51 pm

Can you put up Johnny Wilkinson's hit on Xavier Rush please? great vids

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Joost May 26, 2010 10:18 pm

Haha careful with the F word!

Jonny.. what a man.

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mise May 26, 2010 10:21 pm

@The Mull: adding to what you said, Not having Contempomi on the bench is what killed off Toulon.

Esp as he seemed so good in the Clermont game.

Also there was accidental crossing for the 2nd Cardiff try early on in the move - the kind that usually gets called.

Re SBW: the Top of the Top 14 and the team he's in are both quite SH in style anyway, esp this time of year. Give him another year at the top of the Top 14 in France, and he'll probably shine.

And the commentator: bucking eh? really doesn't sound like bucking but maybe it is.....

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mise May 26, 2010 10:23 pm

actually, it does seem to be a bucking bronco, listening back again....

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Jim May 26, 2010 10:45 pm

SBW would do much better in the S14 where players are ready for offloads and passing rugby is encouraged.
He can always get a ball away in a tackle, and that's an incredibly valuable skill for a rugby player on a team that has the skills to play an up-tempo game.
He'll be suited to the S14 more than the more dour style of European rugby, where what a SH player would deem as simply playing good rugby is deemed 'risky' or 'too flashy'.

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mise May 26, 2010 11:11 pm

@Jim:
U can't presume that the Top 14 and the NH are one and the same thing, style-wise. They ain't.
Only in the depths of winter does the mud slow down the frogs a bit, and even then there's still more running rugby in France than elsewhere in the NH.
he's adapting to a new game, give him a year... and sometimes a bad pass is a bad pass...

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Anonymous May 27, 2010 2:44 am

Check out Casey laulala dancing in the bottom RHS of the screen when they score the try - classic!! He's like a 5yo kid haha

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Anonymous May 27, 2010 2:45 am

Re: Laulala dancing, I meant to say - at the 7min mark....

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Jim May 27, 2010 3:04 am

I get T14, at least two games a week, and i like watching it but it's not nearly as expansive as S14.
Moreso than other NH comps I've watched like the GP or most Magners League stuff, but not nearly as much as S14.
In S14 SBW would be rewarded for his ability to get passes away in every tackle, there'd be someone there on his shoulder to continue the move.
And it doesn't matter what a pass looks like, flick pass, backhander, perfect spiral, whatever, as long as someone has the ability to catch it that's all that counts.

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Flooz May 27, 2010 11:00 am

As these highlights show very well, the turning point was wilkinson injury. Toulon players seemed a bit lost after that.
It's apity because they had completly dominated and animated this match.
Cardiff was more clinical and score on their few chances, congrats for that.
Toulon is learning the top-level after their defeat against Clermont.

But they really show they weren't a bench of mercenaries like a lot are saying. They played with heart. St Andre will have to work on the match gestion, and then, they'll be a threatening team next year in top 14 and Hcup

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Pilou May 27, 2010 11:28 am

Completely agree with Flooz. After Wilko's injury they missed simple situations, couldn't quite handle pressure and often ran with the ball too long so that they killed a few 4vs2 situations. What's more, they clearly stopped playing during 10 minutes and Cardiff scored twice.
Even though Cardiff deserves the Amlin Cup for playing 80 minutes, I still feel Toulon lost the match rather than Cardiff won it.

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Greiffel May 27, 2010 11:38 am

@ Phil, you can see the Wilkinson hit on Xavier Rush at 2:35 in the video.

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flashrules May 27, 2010 4:42 pm

Any body agree that wilkinsons tackle on Xavier Rush was better than SBWs?

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Conor May 27, 2010 7:15 pm

I was wondering how many comments I'd have to read before we get to talk about Wilkinson's tackle on Rush. Equally as good as SBW's if not better as Rush wasn't blind sided.

Also everyone is giving out about SBW but not one has commented on his try which was no easy try to score.

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jim May 28, 2010 2:33 am

Toulon should have scored off the kick off, Lobbe dropped an easy ball from SBW.
It must be tough for him to have guys around him who can't play passing rugby.

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FPS May 28, 2010 3:21 am

Wlkinson didn't even make that tackle on his own, it was a two man hit, which is why it was so effective.
SBW's was an individual effort and he smashed the bloke.
I can't believe people like Miguel, saying SBW isn't that good.
Did you miss that try he scored.
See how no tackle was made, that's cuz he knows how to play attacking rugby, unlike the average NH player. If that try had been in the S14 you'd hear people crying about bad defence, without realising it's just what happens when you have players who can attack.

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rosh June 04, 2010 10:48 am

haha laulala does the dance after both of the tries

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Anonymous July 07, 2010 3:54 am

I think some critics expect SBW to fly or something...

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