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Monday, May 26, 2014

Craig Burden smashes Schalk Brits not once but twice in Heineken Cup Final

There were a lot of big tackles that took place over the weekend, but perhaps the most talked about was this by great shot by Toulon hooker Craig Burden against Saracens. There were some questions about it's legitimacy, but you be the judge.

Powerful hooker Burden came to prominence at the Sharks before heading to Europe after finding himself behind the likes of Bismarck Du Plessis and John Smit at both domestic and Test level.

He's been excellent for Toulon, and in the first half on Saturday he got them on the front foot by knocking back one of Saracens' most potent forces, another South African hooker, Schalk Brits.

Brits loves to take the ball at first receiver as he's an unbelievable playmaker, but in the 18th minute Burden shot out the line and knocked him into next week. Unlike Burden, Brits has played for the Springboks so whether there was extra bite in it because of that or not, a bit of competitive rivalry makes for a good story.

Brits stayed down for a while, but play continued before the Saracens hooker got back up, carried the ball once, and even had time for a neat flick between his legs.

Less than two minutes after the initial hit, he got the ball again. Predator Burden, who made his provincial debut as a wing, pounced again with another solid shot on Brits. The second hit wasn't as big but it was a thrilling few minutes.

Replays showed that the main tackle was similar to Bismarck Du Plessis' huge hit on Dan Carter last year, with the tacklers arms both being wrapped around the hapless victim.

The similarities don't end there, as obviously both players are South African and Du Plessis was also accused of being offside. In this case it looks as though Burden wasn't either, as the ball appeared to be out of the ruck (stand to be corrected) so he didn't need to be behind the last man's feet.

Whether you think it was legal or not (wrapped, offside line etc), it's no doubt one of the biggest hits of the season, from one of the strongest, most mobile and underated hookers in world rugby.

There were a few more great hits in this match too, so we'll get a compilation up soon. Also, you can see some of Burden's best tries for the Sharks in the Related Posts below the video.

Posted by Rugbydump at 6:29 pm | View Comments (21)

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 21 comments

redwan_ May 26, 2014 7:02 pm

Not sure what the point in drawing that offside line in during the analysis but was, it was completely wrong. It was drawn from the wrong back foot?! How do they get that wrong?

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macmurchu May 26, 2014 7:26 pm

To be fair it is Stuart Barnes you're up against!

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FoXtroT May 26, 2014 7:07 pm

Always loved Burden. Pity he has been lost to SA but I don't think he would have made it in the test arena.

Always a pleasure watching him gas backline players.

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finedisregard May 26, 2014 7:09 pm

Played provincial ball on the wing? Pretty impressive in these days of specialization.

South Africa and NZ are just so deep with great rugby players.

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finedisregard May 26, 2014 7:24 pm

I wonder how this Toulon team would against a test team? They have about 700 caps on the field. It's like a Barbarians side but they train together.

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Keystones May 26, 2014 8:04 pm

Don't give a toss what Barnes says the guy was off-side . . . . Poor refereeing !

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ruckinmaul May 26, 2014 8:16 pm

please tell me, did the offside line has been changed recently?

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MattyJ May 26, 2014 8:50 pm

@rugbydump. please just put the whole match up so I can watch it all

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AV May 26, 2014 9:18 pm

Hello MattyJ.
You can watch a replay here :,102750579.html
But it's in french....

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DrG May 26, 2014 9:27 pm


Début as a wing... yikes..

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Reality May 26, 2014 10:39 pm

Wow, that Frenchman must have been motivated by his dislike for Englishmen. Oh wait...

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4LC4TR4Z May 27, 2014 7:09 am

You have to be english. Or seriously be disgusted to speak the language of a foreign people.

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DanKnapp May 27, 2014 7:57 pm

Thank God that joke missed you! It whistled right past your head!

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4LC4TR4Z May 28, 2014 5:11 pm

Did I ? Well I use to miss a lot of things as english is only my 3rd language.

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Eightman May 27, 2014 12:41 am

I think the offside line is right because the ball is out of ruck, isn't it?

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Carlos May 27, 2014 1:52 am

There's no off-side in that case because no ruck has developed, only a tackle occurred. For a ruck to happen we need to have the ball in the ground and at least a player of each team, on their feet, in contact over the ball - it did not happen there. Brilliant refereeing!

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jools May 27, 2014 11:34 am

Even speaking as a Sarries fan... By the strict laws of the game, the ruling is correct... tackler is out of the game and no Toulon player goes into the contact area, therefore open play is still in effect, therefore the ball is the offside line.

Listening to the ref mic though, it's more that he isn't willing to go back and review it as it happened several minutes before.

A piece of accidental brilliant refereeing I guess

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DanKnapp May 27, 2014 8:21 pm

You've also got to credit Burden. The rest of the Toulon defensive line was back behind the last foot - he was the only man who was in the correct place. That shows intelligence as well as foot speed and brawn. A lovely bit of play.

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Offside Line May 27, 2014 4:11 am

Yeah what Carlos said. Offside line is drawn like that due to no ruck being formed. If that was actually taken into consideration it's pretty remarkable refereeing.

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flanker2712 May 27, 2014 2:29 pm

Unless Alain Rolland has eyes on the back of his head, he was not aware of Burden's position, so even though I think great refereeing should always be praised, I agree with Jools that in this case it was "accidental" brilliant refereeing.

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