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Monday, March 10, 2014

Leigh Halfpenny injured making brave try-saving tackle on Luther Burrell

Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny won't take any further part in the Six Nations after he injured his shoulder during Wales' 29-18 loss to England on Sunday. Halfpenny left the field after making a brave try-saving tackle on 6ft3 England centre Luther Burrell.

As if this year's campaign couldn't get more disappointing for Wales, Halfpenny is now out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder. Scrumhalf Rhys Webb also left the field with an injury.

"Leigh has dislocated his shoulder and that is him gone for the rest of the season," said coach Warren Gatland. "We are not sure about Rhys, but it's Leigh's season over anyway."

Halfpenny kicked all of Wales' points, but he'll take no further part in the tournament and will likely be replaced by Liam Williams, who was penalised within minutes of coming on against England.

Burrell, who has had an impressive start to his Test career, nearly crossed again but a foot in touch, due to the strong tackle by Halfpenny, meant he wasn't able to finish off an exciting bit of play.

It wasn't a technically sound tackle, but Halfpenny's commitment is what prevented the try. It also ended his season though, meaning he has played his final match for the Cardiff Blues (in January) ahead of his move to Toulon next season. He will be there for at least two seasons.

Wales play Scotland in Cardiff in this coming weekend. The team will be announced on Tuesday.

Posted at 6:46 pm | 51 comments

England avenge Cardiff loss with victory over Wales

Posted in Six Nations 2014

Viewing 51 comments

Colombes March 10, 2014 9:07 pm

Exemplar player who never fear to put his body on the line
2 years ago, still vs england, i remember he did the same cover tackle on Strettle.

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DrG March 10, 2014 9:19 pm

Makes you wonder if his body has taken some strain over the relatively short years and whether had he done this exact tackle on Burrell two years ago he'd have been fine?

Interesting point, a lot of people might comment on poor technique regarding his head being on the wrong side, but perhaps he wouldn't have stopped that try had his head been on the other side? In other words he put enough of himself between Burrell and the try line to force Burrell out.

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DanKnapp March 10, 2014 9:43 pm

I'd be interested to know the answer to this from a medical perspective. I would imagine that, unless he has a history of shoulder dislocations (which I'm not aware of) then he would probably be reasonably strong due to his conditioning and 'pre-hab'.

He certainly put in a brave tackle. It was a shame to see him leave the field and I'd wish him a speedy and full recovery. He's a quality player. Maybe a bit of a rest before the World Cup will do him some good, he's had a long season!

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Facepalm March 10, 2014 10:55 pm

Very good point. If you don't get your head on the wrong side you can't get all of your body behind the tackle. As you said the try probably would've been scored otherwise. Although from a Welsh perspective I'm not sure it was really worth it. Halfpenny is a small guy for an international player and he's really making a habit of this technique. I seem to remember when Wales played Australia a few years ago, in the final play of the game Australia scored a winning try and Halfpenny ended up getting pretty much knocked out. Colombes mentioned the almost identical tackle on Strettle 2 years ago leaving him pretty dazed. It's commendable to see someone so willing to put their body on the line for their country, but how long is it before we see something even more serious than a dislocated shoulder.

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Pipo March 11, 2014 12:15 am

First of all, disclaimer, I've never played at this level, not even close to it, not even far actually, hahaha.

Still, from my experience playing rugby, a good (from a technical poitn of view) tackle would have still prevented the try. I actually feel I can resist much heavier weight if I put in the right shoulder 'cause (1) my shoulder is better at that than my head and (2) I have a better body position to drive with my legs if I get in the right shoulder.

Can someone explain me how is this kind of tackle better? And even if it is (maybe just for desperate tackles on the line like Halfpenny is making a habit of), is it really worth it to risk a shoulder, or neck or even worse injury?

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DrG March 11, 2014 12:58 am

Pipo I wouldn't say this tackle is 'better' as such... in fact it's a pretty awful tackle in terms of technique - said the amateur to Halfpenny the professional... But what I was getting at with my initial comment was that in theory if 1/2p used his LEFT shoulder to make the hit (regardless of which is his stronger shoulder) then his body will end up behind Burrell and then I suspect the momentum gained by Burrell would've/could've/should've carried him forward over the try line leaving 1/2p holding onto his legs - which could have possibly still been a try saver if his legs had been dragged out.

But, what it looks like 1/2p has done here as best as he can is locked himself tight and driven just in front of Burrell sort of forcing Burrell to go around 1/2p, which in this case seems like a more effective method of getting the player into touch.

It's a little hard to describe and perhaps someone else can have a better attempt at describing it..

As I said a little up there, a perfectly good technique might still have resulted in a try saving tackle but this probably had a better chance.

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matt March 11, 2014 9:56 am

I think you've covered that pretty well

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Roy March 11, 2014 2:08 pm

(IMHO) Ithink you're right. This had a better chance of saving the try, but higher risk of injury. Sad..:-(

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Pipo March 11, 2014 12:24 am

[and just to clarify, of course the injury to Halfpenny is sad; an injury to any player is always sad but more so in this case, with him playing so well recently, he didn't miss a kick during the match! did he? I just want someone to explain why they think a good, technically-correct tackle could not have done the job]

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DrG March 11, 2014 1:08 am

Facepalm, I see your point, but I suppose it's a case of never giving up. It is sad to see 1/2p suffer such an injury for; dare I say it, no reason *ducks from Welsh abuse* - at least from a final whistle point of view. Then again, we've all been fooled by the bounce of the ball, so you never know what that try saver COULD have meant in the next 5 minutes of the game. But of course, looking back, that tackle would be far more suited to the 80th minute of a match in which Wales were leading by 1 point to win every trophy known to the rugby world and 1/2p gets injured but saves the day.

As for the technique, I of course wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I'm glad people have seen what I was getting at.

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stroudos March 11, 2014 8:14 am

I'll just say that if I had to tackle Burrell's size moving at that speed, I'd be more comfortable using my shoulder than my head to stop him.

For any aspiring relatively small fullbacks reading, here's a demonstration / reminder of how to tackle a big rampaging centre (Lewsey on De Villiers, 2006):
http://www.rugbydump.com/2007/04/85/josh-lewseys-try-saving-tackle-on-jean-de-villiers

I suggest this is pretty conclusive evidence that you can indeed get enough force into the tackle without injuring yourself by getting your head on the wrong side.

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matt March 11, 2014 10:02 am

That is probably my favourite piece of defence ever (second place goes to JOC in RWC 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJqc8JGwWXY)
But, I don't think it compares to what Halfpenny had to do here. For a start Lewsey is considerably larger, and a hell of a lot more physical. He also had a lot more space in which to finish the tackle, granted the touchline was further away as well. And he was approaching from a much narrower angle than Halfpenny, meaning getting himself in front of De Villiers wasn't an option.

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stroudos March 11, 2014 10:21 am

Yeah, that was a beauty. Same technique and execution as Lewsey's too.

The physical match-up is actually extremely similar, (according to Wikipedia at least):
Lewsey 1.80m 87kg v De Villiers 1.90m 103kg
Halfpenny 1.78m 85kg v Burrell 1.91m 104kg

As you said, Lewsey had to push De Villiers a greater distance to reach the touchline, so had to get a really good nudge on him. The point discussed above was whether you generate more power by getting yourself in front of the attacking player - seems pretty evident from both Lewsey and O'Connor tackles that this is not necessarily the case. Lewsey getting himself in front of De Villiers wasn't an option, but even if it was it would not be a better option.

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DrG March 11, 2014 10:50 am

I really wasn't trying to imply that anyone attempting the last man tackle should forget all basics and throw head/neck/everything in as 1/2p appeared to do but in comparing the two tackles the main points that cropped up in favour of my comment are:

1) As you mentioned, there was no way for Lewsey to GET in front so his options were limited to performing that cracking hit!

2) Lewsey hit JDV at about 5-6 metres out from the try line. 1/2p made the hit at 4-5 metres out from the try line.

3) Just the angles are all different - 1/2p is not steaming across, he is sort of sweeping behind the other defenders, so he ends up in front of Burrell.

4) Just added this one, if you look at both players JDV and Burrell, they both brace for the impact, Burrell however leans forward and into 1/2p with all of himself, whereas JDV appears that all that he can do in that position is lean his upper body in 'sideways' which wouldn't have allowed him to brace quite as hard...

Both the tackles above JOC and Lewsey were tackles from behind it is also totally evident that Bowe (was it?) was out of steam, whereas Burrell was like a tank that day.

Anyway, you are completely correct in promoting good form so as to limit player injury, it is only my thoughts that on the day I don't feel 1/2p given his field positions etc (which could be at fault?) would have been able to stop Burrell from dotting down on the line had he gone for the legs. Just watching the game I felt Burrell had too much over 1/2p.

Oh and last but not least... We are talking about Lewsey here, he is somewhat renowned for his tackling - At least to a certain Aussie fella!

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matt March 12, 2014 2:25 pm

I'm fully behind promoting good form. But one of the commentators in the 1/2p tackle said that if you get your head in front (i.e. wrong) it shunts them and jars there progress, if you get your head behind, they lose their legs, but continue to fall. And in 1/2p's situation, he couldn't allow Burrell to fall and reach, he had to try and shunt him off the pitch

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dave March 14, 2014 10:54 pm

the official stat on Burrell is that he's about 109 kg
that data on him being 104kg is a few years outdated

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stroudos March 11, 2014 8:24 am

Arguably trolling a bit here, but I wonder if there's a case for a citing against Halfpenny here, for risking serious neck/shoulder injury through inappropriate tackling technique. I mean this is precisely the reason why players are picking up bans for tip tackles, is it not?

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Gareth March 11, 2014 2:05 pm

Is this a serious comment? He's disregarded his own safety, not Burrell's. You're not going to hit the tackle 100% every time. That's impossible. If you wear your countries badge then you should be committed 100% for 80 minutes and that's what Halfpenny does, time and time again. He's the perfect example for pride and passion for any youngster watching the game. Citing him for putting his body on the line? Please.

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stroudos March 11, 2014 3:32 pm

Ha, got one! Did you read the first 4-5 words of my comment? Of course I'm not seriously suggesting a citing, it was just a way of making a point.

But I do take issue with your comment, among others, which celebrate this tackle for its commitment and passion, where in actual fact his injury was almost inevitable precisely because of the type of tackle he executed.

"Putting his body on the line" is admirable up to a point and then it becomes irresponsible and reckless.

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DanKnapp March 11, 2014 4:28 pm

I think the clear and obvious difference is whose body is being put on the line. Yours, no problem. The person you are tackling, not so much.

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Dummy March 11, 2014 11:22 am

Although I agree with most comments above, I don't think 1/2p tried to stop Burell with his head on purpose :)
Most of the time, you just use your strongest shoulder...
I know we're speaking of totally different level of play but I am amazed how often international players tackle with the wrong shoulder

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tj March 11, 2014 1:59 pm

If it wasn't for Leigh wales would be looking at a zero score line. He was immense and about the only player worthy of wearing the red shirt. Shame about his injury but hopefully give him some respite to come back stronger

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Guy March 11, 2014 2:09 pm

I just think it was an incrdibly brave tackle. No sense of selve-preservation, just trying to stop your opponent from scoring a try. Huge respect for him, memories of Mad Dog Moody come to mind.

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Aero March 11, 2014 2:22 pm

I feel if he's hit with his other shoulder he could have knocked him back from the tryline instead of joining his momentum towards it?

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DrG March 11, 2014 10:02 pm

Again, as I said in length above the tackles provided by Stroudos are different as they are from behind... you cannot easily compare...

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stroudos March 12, 2014 10:55 am

Very similar tackles that offer easy comparison.

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DrG March 12, 2014 10:49 pm

Not entirely sure how you can compare the two? Both Lewsey and JOC's tackle were made from the rear quarter of the attacking player, 1/2p's tackle was made from the front quarter...

The only way they can be comparable is if Lewsey/JOC overtook the tackler and came in from the front. OR if 1/2p let Burrell pass him and tackled from behind.

1/2p is a solid player but my money is going to be on Burrell's power and size. A bit extra, 1/2p dislocated his right shoulder, didn't damage his neck at all.. so I'm not entirely sure how him hitting with his left shoulder would have prevented any injury (unless of course we delve into realms of pre existed shoulder conditions etc) so all in all we're disagreeing on something potentially irrelevant.. 1/2p tackled badly and got injured with his leading shoulder but also prevented the try...

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Mark C March 11, 2014 2:27 pm

Sorry guys, but it was a poor tackle technique. I know some have said he needed his full weight behind it, but I'm afraid that is also not true. Welsh players often consider brawn to be the be all of rugby, but if Halfpenny (a brilliant, BRILLIANT player, btw) had put his head the other side he could easily (perhaps even MORE easily) put Burrells feet into touch before the try was scored. You don't need to STOP a player when you tackle them. In open play you just have to get them off their feet so they can no longer be part of play. That close to the touchline you have the advantage of being able to use the line so a low tackle, with the momentum LH had, would have taken LH into touch with Burrell's legs in his arms nicely wrapped up.
Having said all that, his courage can be applauded, but maybe nextime he can save th try AND his futness at the same time.

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Artty March 11, 2014 2:28 pm

Great tackle... it might not have been the perfect technique (should hit with the left shoulder) but without the amount of force and courage, it could have easily been a try. Hope he gets better soon !

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matt March 11, 2014 2:39 pm

I agree, if Halfpenny had used his left shoulder, the one which would be deemed to be the "correct" shoulder, Burrell would have gone through him and momentum would have carried him over the line. Coming from the angle that he was Halfpenny's only option w's to use his body to force Burrell off his line of running and balance so he would end up in touch, so Halfpenny just had to take a risk, other concede try or risk getting injured. He's probably done that hundreds of times before and never got injured but was just unlucky this time. If he had made the same tackle and not got injured would we be discussing his technique or just congratulating him on what was a fantastic try saving tackle?

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GTDae March 11, 2014 3:03 pm

I don't believe that putting hus bead behind Burrell would have changed the outcome... He should've used the proper technique in any respect. Had his left shoulder taken the hit and his head gone behind Burrell's body his momentum would have been shifted through Burrell's line much more effectively and the try wouldn't have been scored either.

Putting your body before your career is not heroic, it's irresponsible and I hope Gatland gave him a good talking to.

This thing of people cheering such irresponsible behaviour should end. This could both end a career and indeed a life and this conversation should end there.

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stroudos March 11, 2014 3:46 pm

Exactly. People used to rave and cheer in the same way each time Jonny Wilkinson broke himself in the name of heroic tackling. Interestingly enough, from the limited amount I've seen of him since he moved to Toulon, he seems to have adjusted his tackling technique a little - he's still very effective but I believe he's less reckless now.



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MLG March 11, 2014 4:10 pm

Seriously, this is such a dangerous tackle for the tackler. It is far safer and equally effective to just drive through the man from the side with your head behind the tackler. Having your head behind the ballcarrier makes no discernable difference as to whether your tackle is effective or not.

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Garrison March 11, 2014 4:18 pm

It's like an American football tackle, you are placing more of your body in front of them so that they can't slip you off. Head on the backside like we're taught is much safer, but in the end a less effective tackle when cm matter more than m. He did the right thing to save the try, but he came off worse for it.

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Lucy Darmanin March 11, 2014 7:34 pm

*sigh* We can argue until the cows come home as to whether this is a good tackle or not... Fact is - Leigh played his heart out for his country and always does. Irresponsible? I disagree - sometimes when you are in a tough game you have to do what is necessary - you don't go running across a pitch thinking 'I have to use the right technique'.

It's not always possible to get yourself into the right position, or the right place at the right time - is there a risk of getting injured ? Of course.... Regardless of whether the tackle is 'right' or 'wrong'... If you're worried about getting hurt - then don't play rugby.....

We train because technique over time becomes instinct - and this helps to reduce risk... but it can never eliminate the risk completely..

Yes, Leigh is known to do this kind of tackle a lot - maybe its not the kind of technique we like to see - but the guy is one of the smallest and lightest players in professional rugby and if you see how he conditions himself and trains you can see he's aware of the risks he has to take in the game. It could also be that this was the only option he felt he had at the time..... and how he felt best able to use the power he does have....

Will he change his technique? Maybe - maybe not, only time will tell... will he stop giving 100% for his country? Never... It's the type of person and player he is. That is why I respect and admire him and think he is a great role model for youngsters..

Btw... for the record, before many of you wonder why a 'girl' is commenting - yes I play - on a regular basis and I love my sport and give it everything I have when I play for my team. Do I get hurt? Hell yes - but it doesn't stop me playing - just makes me more determined to get fitter, stronger and play better...

Wishing Leigh a speedy recovery...

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DrG March 11, 2014 10:06 pm

I read your comment as if it was written by a fan and/or a player of the sport - I didn't actually notice the name... Don't worry, gender does not make your comment any less or more valid.

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matt March 12, 2014 2:27 pm

Being a scrum half would though, they don't know anything about tackling

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stroudos March 12, 2014 8:08 am

before many of you wonder why a 'girl' is commenting

Well seeing as you put it in inverted commas.....
I usually play in the backs too, but I've been assured I'm entitled to express an opinion just as much as the fatties.

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DrG March 12, 2014 10:02 am

...now letting the backs have an opinions is just pushing it too far.. ;)

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Lucy Darmanin March 12, 2014 10:18 pm

*chuckles* Thanks guys.... appreciate the honest talk here... Most of the time us girls get pushed out of serious discussions..... for the record though.... I play 2nd row/prop depending on whether its 10's or 7's.....

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DanKnapp March 14, 2014 10:09 am

Christ Lucy, if you've come here for serious discussions you're going to be mighty disappointed.

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Lucy Darmanin March 14, 2014 10:44 pm

rofl.... Maybe I should have put the inverted comma's around the word 'serious' ?

I love the banter... its part of the game - and part of the bigger world family of rugby.. I just get ticked off by some people thinking that because I'm a girl I know nothing....

I'm always looking to improve my skills, technique, and as well as watching the videos, sometimes its just great to trade ideas and opinions with others.... Serious enough - or is that a bit too heavy for you boys....?

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DrG March 15, 2014 12:17 am

Don't worry, Dan's a girl and he knows a fair bit :D

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heavyintheloose March 11, 2014 7:36 pm

From a rugby players perspective it looks like a sound tackle in technical terms , however when in the middle of action players often do not tackle as they have been taught but rather instinctively as to what will be most likely to stop the ball carrier which is what I think Halfpenny has done here

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benji March 12, 2014 1:13 pm

The fact you used inverted commas makes me question whether you are a girl.. :s
Agree with you though, injuries do happen. Would we say avoid contact with someone whose bigger and faster than you just because the risks are higher? No, the sport commends bravery and when it pays off it can be as rewarding as scoring. If he had faffed trying to change position and missed the tackle he would have so much weight on his shoulders it would probably dislocate anyway!

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dave March 13, 2014 3:25 am

wales need to get their act together quick, if they play one dimensional like that against south africa in june there will be humilating games, especially up in their highveld

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Lucy Darmanin March 14, 2014 10:52 pm

Agreed - but if Gatland really wants to focus on the WC, you might find some regular faces missing from the squad so the new boys get more experience... God knows they need it..

It's what I would do even if we lost the games, sometimes you learn more by losing than winning....

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dave March 14, 2014 11:01 pm

well if they're ready, it could be good to throw some new faces in the fire but sometimes throwing a young player into the fire can be a really bad thing if they're not ready...look at what happened to matt tait

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AJ_Capote March 13, 2014 4:17 pm

Two points:

1) What people are disregarding here is that this was 70 minutes in, Wales had been run ragged by this point, and Halfpenny probably wasn't thinking 'hmmm let me make sure my tackle technique was right' he was racing back in desperation to stop a try! Full marks for commitment.

2) If he hadn't made such an epic tackle, we could've been looking at one of the tries of the 6N surely?! What awesome handling from Burrell, Nowell, Lawes and 12Ts!

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