Ben Flower red card for vicious punches


Ludovic Mercier crazy reverse pass


Benito Masilevu's huge side-steps


Female Streaker has no regrets


Ben Tameifuna massive fend on huge prop


Step and unbelievable dummy sets up try


Brian O'Driscoll Breakdown Masterclass


Sam Burgess breaks cheekbone, plays on


Tameifuna's huge hit on Michael Hooper

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Matt Giteau steps up as Toulon score late try against Stade Francais

Toulon snatched a 19-19 draw against Stade Francais in a great game of rugby at the Stade de France on the weekend. The visitors scored a try in the corner with time up, then converted the kick from out wide.

The match was typically turbulant and recent Toulon signing Bakkies Botha made his presence felt. He was involved in most things, namely a scuffle early on as he claimed he was headbutted, and later at the end after Steffon Armitage scored the crucial try.

Armitage himself had a fantastic game, showing up in the loose at vital times and making two brilliant try saving tackles, one on fellow Englishman Paul Sackey. Unfortunately for both of those players, no matter how well they play in France, they're likely to be overlooked for higher honours due to the selection policy that is currently in place.

Pascal Pape, when he wasn't getting to know Botha, scored a very nicely taken try for the hosts following some great build up play by both Sackey and Felipe Contepomi.

There was a sad moment in the first half when flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson looked to have twisted a knee and/or ankle, leaving the field as a result. Matt Giteau stepped into his shoes though, and come the final moments of the game, he showed his pedigree with a superb conversion from out wide, earning Toulon the draw. 

Below are extended highlights from this highly entertaining game of rugby. Enjoy.

Posted at 9:10 am | 40 comments

The Hurricanes and Sharks nailbiter from Wellington

Steffon and the Brothers Armitage

Matt Giteau - A tribute to an incredible flyhalf

Amazing finish to Perth thriller between Chiefs & Force 2008

Last minute win for Force from Cameron Shepherd

Sharks beat Crusaders in the dying seconds

Viewing 40 comments

Eggman February 22, 2012 11:42 am

Great Game of rugby.

On a side note, I always find Botha's smile amusing when he's in a scuffle, like he's having the best time of his life ;)

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paimoe February 22, 2012 11:45 am

Saw title + pic, thought Giteau had changed a lot in the last few months.

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pepou February 22, 2012 12:06 pm

Armitage ! ! ! ! everywhere during the match...

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jonboy jones February 22, 2012 12:19 pm

wow...Stade Francais showing their 'class/sportsmanship' once again. They're just a collection of thugs and sore losers (I know Botha and co. aren't completely innocent, but Stade just take it to another level)!

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Richy84 February 22, 2012 12:59 pm

Armitage! Outstanding game

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Colombes February 22, 2012 2:03 pm

Nice to see a game @ the stade de france without frozen pitch ;)

this steffon armitage was everywhere.
it's great to watch english lads having a rebirth in the top14, they proved they are not the "money" mercenaries described by certain medias
and apparently, RFU won't select english players of french clubs, so it's perfect for top14 clubs when their french internationals are required for test matchs

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johndoe February 22, 2012 7:52 pm

Isn't Armitage from the South of France anyway?

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stroudos February 23, 2012 12:27 pm

They're from Trinidad & Tobago I believe. Family lived in south of France during the boys' formative years and did play rugby there. I remember Delon apparently was told he was too skinny and basically gave up rugby until they moved to England; I don't think Steffon ever had that criticism levelled at him.

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Colombes February 23, 2012 2:46 pm

yes, i think Delon has some bitter feelings towards french rugby for this reason. i remember this 6N 2009 match vs france where he scored 1 or 2 tries and celebrating it by showing the rose on his shirt. a bit pathetic ;)
but thinking to his successive bans, i think the guy has just a problem of mentality to correct

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Jeroo9 February 22, 2012 2:52 pm

Great game. Toulon are putting quite the team together there! Good for Armitage, didnt really get a shot with the England team so why not go to France? Botha is such a WUM, brilliant!

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The Green Mafia February 22, 2012 3:30 pm

What is happening with Stade Francais? They have a good team on paper, seem to be able to move the ball around with class, have an imposing forward pack, but seem to fail to produce. Why? Can anyone tell me?

Still, pretty poor sportsmanship (and I say this even though I HATE Botha and his antics. He is more famous for his incidents than his quality of play. I bet if his locking partner hadnt been Matfield, he wouldnt be so well known) from Stade Francais. That bitch slap from sackey on the toulon frontrower that was trying to break the fight was just cowardice. He didnt have the guts to do that on the open, thats why he did it and then went hiding behind his teammates

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RedYeti February 22, 2012 3:46 pm

Nice to see Steffon having a resurgence whilst his brother self-destructs... People complain about England lacking out and out sevens, but between S. Armitage, Andy Saull and Tom Johnson it's not like there aren't any good English qualified open-sides

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hoopsss February 23, 2012 3:35 pm

Tom Rees, shame he is always injured

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katman February 22, 2012 3:51 pm

Pascal Pape comes across as a complete knob. Not to mention Paul Sackey.

Great game though. Armitage was worth about three players.

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Pretzel February 22, 2012 4:41 pm

Sackey has always been a tool in my eyes, for me he always seemed to look out of place when he played for england... almost like that guy that you sort of bring on at the end of a match so you don't feel guilty making him travel for no game time....

Stade player is lucky not to have been red carded for that "headbutt" on botha... not that I like botha mind you, but "by the letter of the law" (and all that bollocks) that was a red card!

Glad to see Wilkinson somewhat walking off... even if he was assisted he was still putting some weight on it, so hopefully for his sake it's not too bad. Have to feel sorry for a guy that has been plagued by injuries.

Matt Giteau... wow.. the guy can kick lol ;)

As for that Toulon prop who kept running around with a 7 shirt on one minute.. then a 13 the next... then back to a 7...sigh.. make up your mind and stop acting like that other prop we've seen Rupeni Caucau I think his name was....

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johndoe February 22, 2012 8:03 pm

If he had received a red for that "headbutt", then that would have been a joke.

Not a big fan of Botha to be honest. I can't remember him ever starting anything by simply squaring up to an opponent. If he ever has done that, it is certainly a rarity. He always seems to go for the cheap shot. Even here, when he ends up squaring off with Papé, he initiates the incident with a cheap tackle, on the floor, from behind. And even then it is Papé who starts the squaring off, not Botha. I'm really not a fan of the cheap, bitchy tactics that Botha uses in every fight he starts. Apparently he's a nice guy off the field, but on it, I can't think of any other word to describe him but pussy.

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Pretzel February 22, 2012 8:29 pm

Oh I agree a red would be a joke, however by letter of the law it is surely a red.... he used his head to strike botha....I would of course have a little dance and stick my tutu on and comment on the texture of rugby afterwards!

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johndoe February 23, 2012 6:56 pm

I wouldn't call that a strike to be honest.

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Pretzel February 24, 2012 12:26 am

Check that out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rJrZdhtJQ4

I agree it wasn't a strike... but unfortunately semantics starts and we all have to decide the power needed when touching someone else with your head to justify calling it a head butt... and then we get some referees not calling what looks like a nasty head butt and others calling the headbutt in the video (see link) and it all gets messy....

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moddeur February 22, 2012 5:03 pm

Wilkinson is out for 2 months, Armitage was pretty damn good, Sackey's slap on Aurioli (the substitute hooker trying to break up the fight) was unexpected and weird to say the very least. A very intense match, I thought Stade Français started looking really good only when Warwick went back to his normal position at fullback (some kid had started at number 15, while Warwick had started the game at 10 and was average at it). Contempomi comes off the bench at number 10 => and the team wakes up! Toulon are starting to look formidable.

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Rodofle February 22, 2012 5:18 pm

"As for that Toulon prop who kept running around with a 7 shirt on one minute.. then a 13 the next... then back to a 7...sigh.. make up your mind and stop acting like that other prop we've seen Rupeni Caucau I think his name was...."

Haha ! So true !

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LlyrD February 22, 2012 6:16 pm

paul sackey just showed how much of a d**k he is there at the end. who slaps another player? i mean come on!

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cheyanqui February 22, 2012 6:17 pm

if you read Bakkies Botha's lips -- they say the same thing:

"Diplomatic Immunity!"

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moddeur February 22, 2012 6:19 pm

You have to appreciate how the Toulon replacement hooker kicks the ball for his backs at 5:00. If Toulon had scored a try then, the guy would have been lauded as a genius!

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Canadian content February 22, 2012 10:02 pm

Agree with everything that has been said about Armitage. He always seems to perform when i see him play, a real all rounder with great explosive ability. With his squat build he'd be real hard to knock off the ball in the breakdown and he really seems to have a good footballers brain.

England are short sighted to not consider him. As were Oz in the last world cup with Giteau.

Betcha it'll be tough to get Steffon to come back from toulon though. probably having a tonne of fun, playing with a fun group of guys in a fantastic environment.

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Guy February 22, 2012 11:41 pm

A lot of familiar things in this match:

1) Wilkinson limping of: fortunately the last time was quite a while ago;
2) Giteau kicking from impossibly kickable angles...oh wait, he used to miss from impossibly missable angles. So that's new;
3) Bakkies being headbutted: just like that coward Kiwi scrumhalf did to him while he was sliding on his stomach;
4) a massive brawl breaking out in a French game ... in overtime. They should have been halfway to the bar allready.

Looked like a cracker though. And how good was Armitage???? He looks pretty damn fast too. That covering tackle in the corner, just before the Stade try was EPIC!

Very entertaining stuff. Thanks RD!

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donkeyballs4000 February 23, 2012 12:11 am

Incredible stuff from Steffon. Who is keeping him out of the English team?

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stroudos February 23, 2012 12:25 pm

All those other natural, instinctive opensides that England have in such abundance!

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cheyanqui February 23, 2012 3:24 pm

I agree.

Too many teams have an obsession with big, tall backrows because they give you lineout options.

Why not look for short stocky open-sides -- they have a lower center of gravity, making them great ball poachers (and also harder to knock off the ball at the breakdown). Brüssow comes to mind.

Armitage also shows a great turn of pace, so not sure why. Maybe they think he's always getting suspended.. Oh wait that's the other Armitage.

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coops February 23, 2012 6:03 pm

It's a good point, a backrow of Croft/Wood, Armitage, and Morgan would not only be superbly balanced on paper but also look quite funny.

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hannaford February 23, 2012 1:34 am

gotta love rugby when bakkies botha complains to the ref about headbutting haha

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stroudos February 23, 2012 12:42 pm

Unless I'm very much mistaken, I think some people are missing the point with regard to Steffon Armitage's eligibility to play for England. A few years ago, many clubs in England and France in particular started to resist making their players available for international games. I think that around that time quite a few big players (who are paid by the clubs) were coming back from Test matches broken and consequently unavailable for club matches.

Loathe him or grudgingly accept him, one crucial thing that Rob Andrew has achieved at the RFU is to broker a deal with the English Premiership clubs, guaranteeing that they will make players available for international selection and an agreed minimum amount of training time.

The RFU doesn't have such a deal with other national leagues, so rather than have uncertainty over whether they could actually select the players they wanted they implemented the rule that only players plying their trade in England. If you ask me, within the European Union I'm fairly sure this sort of block runs contrary to the Free Movement of People Act 149 of the Treaty of Rome, but there you go.

Of course, special dispensation has been made, notably with Jonny Wilkinson and Tom Palmer, so there are ways and means.

With the caveat that in the past I have seen Steffon play some real dogshit rugby in an England shirt, in my opinion Lancaster and Andrew ought to be hastily organising a conference call with Boudjellal and the Toulon management. It is bonkers that England are so blatantly lacking a natural openside while there's an awesome England qualified openside playing the rugby of his life.

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cheyanqui February 23, 2012 3:26 pm

Spam egg sausage and spam. Ugh.

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stroudos February 23, 2012 9:19 pm

I assume you were replying to a now-deleted post, not my thoughtful musings on the RFU elite player release arrangements?

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cheyanqui February 24, 2012 3:09 am

yes. the message was deleted. sorry that the system seems to have attributed my snarky Python reference to you.

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Rugbydump February 24, 2012 8:04 am

Sorry about that.. had to zap the spammer.

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cheyanqui February 25, 2012 4:08 am

no worries -- you're doing a hell of a job!

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pj james February 24, 2012 11:33 pm

How is this I lived in The States Have Nephews NCAA USA Footbal and NFL. Good For Them.
They Know and Knew Rugby Is My Game. NOW I'm Hated Over my Rugby choice. Real Men Don't CARE. Glad I Moved To the UK Tho

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