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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Highlights of Toulon vs Clermont, including Rougerie fight & Smith yellow

One of the more controversial and action packed Top 14 games of the weekend was the clash between Clermont Auvergne and Toulon which the hosts won 25-19. The match hit the headlines this week following an outburst from Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal.

Toulon had led at the break following a first half try from Benjamin Lapeyre and three penalties and a conversion from Jonny Wilkinson. The game was tight and the tension spilt over shortly before halftime as Morgan Parra somehow got himself involved in yet another scuffle.

Yellow cards for Jean-Charles Orioli and Aurelien Rougerie followed before Parra added five penalties of his own, one coming while David Smith was controversially in the sinbin.

It looked as though Smith had attempted to make an effort to catch, or at least parry, the ball, but referee Christophe Berdos has no hesitation in showing him the way to the sinbin. That incensed Toulon president Boudjellal and sparked his comments this week, which have resulted in him drawing the attention of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby.

"I had my first refereeing sodomy in the (2010) semi-final against Clermont. I've just had my second tonight. It appeared to hurt the first time but it was just as bad this time," Boudjellal said.

"We will review the images not on Youtube but on YouPorn. Clermont are a great team. They did not need it," he added. LNR president Pierre-Yves Revol confirmed that they will be taking action:
"I personally find these metaphors vulgar and detrimental to all, and primarily detrimental to rugby. If he wants to start a debate on referring, there are other ways and other places to do it."
When Smith was back on the field, Rougerie scored a try that was converted by Parra, who added another penalty to stretch their lead. Toulon pounded the line late in the game with their star players featuring strongly, but couldn’t breach the resolute Clermont defence.

As for Boudjellal, he has said he will stand by his comments. "What hurts is when a person does not acknowledge their errors. I will withdraw my remarks the day that referees apologise," he said.

Below are highlights of the game, including the Smith yellow, and then the scuffle in a seperate video. It's a playlist so simply skip to the second video if you'd prefer to only watch the fight.

Posted by Rugbydump at 7:10 pm | View Comments (33)

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 33 comments

stroudos January 10, 2012 9:23 pm

Totally disagree with slagging the ref off, but Boudjellal's poetic language makes it a lot easier to accept. Brilliant expression!

Have to say also that I sympathise with him on the sinbin decision. It's always a tricky one though isn't it? To me it looked absolutely like Smith was trying a perfectly legitimate interception catch - just because he was unable to execute does that make it a yellow card offence?

I notice this is the game Moddeur referred to the other day also - on the Toulon try, I really don't think it matters if a Clermont player touched the ball or not, the advantage is with the defending team: if they choose not to play it they get the scrum, but if they want to go ahead and play that's their prerogative, isn't it?

By the way, far too much chat to the referee here for my liking - should send Big Nige down there to put them back in line.

Final point - amazing defence/counter-rucking by Clermont from 80' on. Toulon went absolutely nowhere, every single attack they were literally swamped by yellow shirts - some of it looked borderline legal, but wonderful commitment.

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FP January 10, 2012 9:33 pm

I can't believe that referee allowed a collapsed scrum to turn into a ruck. Smith was trying to catch the ball too

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D-Matt January 10, 2012 9:51 pm

*Mourad Boujellal is Toulon's president. Bernard Laporte is the coach.

Great video. But I don't agree with Stroudous. As soon as the ball don't pass the 10 meters, either the opposite team catch it and the game goes on, or you play it and that's a scrum.
Since Rougerie touch it, that has to be a scrum. No advantage possible, that's the rule.

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moddeur January 11, 2012 1:16 am

That's what I wasn't sure about, I hadn't seen a clear "play the advantage" rule about this. My opinion is that even the referee didn't know, which is probably why he called for the video ref for what seemed to be no particular reason (not a single defender anywhere near Lapeyre).
On the IRB website, rule 13.6: "If the ball does not reach the opponent’s 10-metre line but is first played by an opponent, play continues".

ps: the Rougerie try should not be allowed either, there is a major screen by Rougerie himself on Armitage which makes it possible for Malzieu to break the line

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stroudos January 11, 2012 10:58 am

ps: the Rougerie try should not be allowed either, there is a major screen by Rougerie himself on Armitage which makes it possible for Malzieu to break the line


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Jimothy January 11, 2012 8:56 pm

At first I too thought advantage should be played but I think the Law is quite clear

It does not appear to offer advantage as an option so the try should not have stood.

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poccio January 11, 2012 12:59 pm

I agree..attacking team touches the ball--->scrum, no advantage is possible. I also disagree with moddeur, I think rougerie wan't screening, it's just the nature of the dummy run.

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stroudos January 12, 2012 4:15 pm

I stand corrected.

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stroudos January 11, 2012 10:55 am

OK, but in most other areas of the game, if your team's awarded a scrum - for example a knock-on, the ref will usually allow the non-offending team a short period of advantage before the scrum actually takes place. Why should this be any different?

(By the way, another link for those who don't speak French:

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D-Matt January 11, 2012 1:30 pm

Well, probably because the fact that the non-offending team can play the ball is already a sort of an advantage.

"If the ball does not reach the opponent’s 10-metre line it's a scrum UNLESS it is first played by an opponent".

If we allow an other advantage here when a player of the attacking team catch it and then loose it, that would mean allowing a second advantage and it would probably get a little bit confusing and complicated for the referee.
At least that's my opinion.

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BarryT January 10, 2012 10:14 pm

to me, smith didn't really have a chance of cleanly catching the ball, it was too far out of his reach, his intentions were to catch it but realistically did he have a chance? lets say that he didn't, he stopped a potential try for clermont, and very close to the toulon line, i think a yellow card was fair to give, its one of the tighter calls to give, he should have gone for man and ball instead. The fighting in the french league is crazy!

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poccio January 11, 2012 1:02 pm

i agree, we are taught that if you want the interception you should be going at it with both hands, if you go with one hand you risk a yellow card if you don't catch it!!

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Pretzel January 10, 2012 10:29 pm

Does anyone honestly go out of their way to swat the ball down??? I'm with BarryT with regards to Smith, I think players attempt to catch it, but sometimes its not realistic and they end up swatting the ball away. So in some respects I have no real issues with the yellow card, I think if you knock it on but it was a realistic catch then probably no issues, but he looked too stretched for that one.

As for the comments by the Toulon President, I disagree his poetic language makes it more acceptable. I like the idea that referees are generally not commented on by the teams or the players. I only have to read anything to do with football to feel sick, especially with tools like alex ferguson (the knight...LOL) who distastefully comment on referees. I have said it previously that one thing I like about rugby is how when players or managers are asked about something controversial on the pitch they generally say "well from where I was it didn't look like XYZ, but referee ZYX obviously saw something I didn't, we will review the incident later on" i.e. put their doubts across but in a manner which doesnt come back to bite them in the ass later on (if they are proved WRONG!)

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stroudos January 11, 2012 11:00 am

Totally agree with you mate. But the language he used did make me laugh.

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Pretzel January 10, 2012 10:30 pm

p.s. where is cudmore these days?!?! I was surprised to see a Clermont fight where he wasn't involved....

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RedYeti January 10, 2012 10:51 pm

Ignoring all the other refereeing controversies there, the final 'knock on' by Armitage looks as if a Clermont player actually kicked the ball out of his hands (which is illegal under the laws), so Toulon should have had a penalty there.

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Felix January 11, 2012 12:06 am

To kick the ball under the ruck is not "illegal under the laws" inasmuch as you don't come from the side. I guess it was not only legal but a good piece of skill by Nathan Hines : he waited for Armitage to try to catch the ball only to kick it into his hands. Many forwards did that during the RWC. If you don't want that to happen, you've got to clean the ruck properly before trying to pick up the ball.

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themull January 11, 2012 12:23 am

You can make all the "attempts" to catch the ball you want but if we start allowing players to just charge out of the line whenever possible, as the opponent is putting the pressure, to knock passes down, then it'll lead to guys just pretending to catch balls they really have no hope of catching in order to stop the momentum....If you go for a ball like that and especially if you only manage to touch it with one hand you should expect the card.

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Erik January 11, 2012 11:01 am

Fully agree with you. His attempt looked more like tennis then rugby.

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BuzzKillington January 12, 2012 10:50 am

A card for trying to intercept a pass is silly. It promotes negative play by coercing defenders into sitting back. I don't believe it would lead to people "pretending" to catch balls either. In the only other sport with comparable rule(league) if you go for an intercept and knock the ball on then it's a knock on. Ball back to the other team. The point though is it happens perhaps once a game.

Defending teams should be entitled to defend their line by going for an intercept, otherwise you're taking away incentive for attacking play. People going for intercepts creates gaps for the attacking team anyway, and any team worth their salt would crucify a team that just wanted to rush up for intercepts for the sake of it. That wouldn't happen

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Sankeor January 12, 2012 1:39 pm


"You can make all the "attempts" to catch the ball you want but if we start allowing players to just charge out of the line whenever possible, as the opponent is putting the pressure, to knock passes down, then it'll lead to guys just pretending to catch balls they really have no hope of catching [...]"

Excuse me but when a player touch the ball, even with one hand only, he's pretty damn close to the interception.

If he was offside I wouldn't say anything, but why penalising a player who makes that effort ? Intercepting, or just touching the ball being passed, is not sthg anybody could do, it requires a powerful acceleration, timing, and is also very risky for the defending team.

This kind of penalties/cards for "knocking the ball" are really obsolete and not in line at all with the spirit of the game, imo. And I don't know anybody stupid enough to go and knock the ball willingly, whereas when you can do that you can often catch it aswell.

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Pretzel January 13, 2012 3:11 pm

Absolute rubbish, you're give people a free pass to knock the ball down if there is no yellow

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Guest January 11, 2012 4:49 am

terrible reffing. legitimate intercept attempt, clearly.
Euro refs are far too quick to reach for a card.

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Colombes January 11, 2012 12:11 pm

These Toulon-Clermont are becoming "classics" since 2009

i don't agree with boudjellal "sodomy" vision of the match. The yellow card was maybe a bit harsh, but clermont were far superior, end of the story. despite their try after an usual skrela falcon kick, they didn't do enough to snatch it

concerning the scuffle, rougerie wanted to revenge about that late tackle on the cheeky parra. agree with comments above, rugby players should speak less

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Fettsack January 11, 2012 2:32 pm

The yellow is harsh, it seems like Smith attempts to intercept properly.
Toulon's president shouldn't be so involved, everybody knows who he is in Toulon and some even think he's the coach. His behaviour on Tv is just stupid.
On the fight, Orioli was taking on Parra and Rougerie came to help, without actually fighting so to me only Orioli should have been sin binned. But both refs say they did not see exactly what happened : in this case their judgement to send both off is a good decision.

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Canadian content January 12, 2012 12:05 am

Yellow was 50/50. Don't think he had much of a chance to catch the ball and the ref had no benefit of a replay, at first glance I thought it was at the least a cynical attempt to make an interception.

How is Armitage looking this year? I have always liked him, but wondered if he can play out wide as a support player.

Personally, I didn't mind the scrum to a ruck, I want to see the ball played and not constant penalties. This may be contrary to the rules, but I think if there is no infraction, play on. But it should did look like Clermont was driving the opponent up there.

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jumping04 January 12, 2012 1:16 am

Can't say I have sympathy for Rougerie. He was clutching his eye as he left that scuffle which I just find ironic given the world cup... Still don't see how people can hate on people like Botha our Hartley, admittedly they are goons and play the game in an annoying fashion, when there are eye gouging/hair pulling bastards being defended by fans (Rougerie, Ashton). Don't understand

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Sankeor January 12, 2012 5:27 am

I can't say I have sympathy for you. Wait, let me guess...

You've watched the last world cup and have discovered Rougerie, certainly because of the "eye-gouge" on McCaw (and btw given his attitude during and after the game, and Rougerie behaviour background, I would clearly say it was accidental and McCaw heavily milked it...) am I right ? With a bit of 'luck' you're also maybe a fair reader of the NewZealand Herald.

And now what ? You're comparing Ashton and Rougerie ??

Your comments are killing me. Ashton might be a bitch but Rougerie is a fair player only focused on the game, like most of Clermont players apart from Cudmore.

NB: I've seen the game, Rougerie was just pulling Oriolli out of the fight to free Parra, when Oriolli jumped on him and attacked him. The sinbin is unfair, Rougerie did not throw a single fist.

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stroudos January 12, 2012 4:30 pm

I once met Ben Cohen. My mate asked him who he considered his toughest ever opponent. He replied, without hesitation, Rougerie. (And then gave an honourable mention to Dougie Howlett). He reckoned Rougerie was simply a very hard, committed player, really strong and - importantly for this discussion - always played hard but fair.

I don't know what possessed Rougerie to poke around in Offside Rich's eye in the world cup final - seems highly out of character for him - maybe just the sheer pressure of the occasion got to him. Sankeor - it's unequivocal that he quite deliberately made contact with Offside Rich's eye and no, McCaw did not milk it at all - quite the opposite, in fact he didn't even seem to want to mention it. (Maybe he was still feeling guilty for cynically taking out France's flyhalf!).

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Sankeor January 13, 2012 1:10 am

I guess you're right.
I'm just frustrated that people watch the french squad once (world cup), and then make themselves a wrong opinion of the french squad, french Top14, and all french players !
That was so not representative of french rugby, except the final, and not really what the french federation expected to promote.
Instead of that we had all the nz medias, and more important, all the world betting against us, and admittedly, we did nothing wrong (only poor games).

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TigerAdam January 12, 2012 5:40 pm

The final penalty of the game summed up the referee's performance for the night. Giving a knock-on when the Clermont forward clearly kicked the ball out of his hands.

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