Monday, July 06, 2015
Throughout the history of the Rugby World Cup, we have seen plenty examples of top tier nations being dutifully undone by their supposed minnow opponents. As ardent supporters of underdogs, we thought it apt to relive some of the best 'giant slaying' tries of tournaments past, with this great top five put together by World Rugby.
Despite failing to secure a victory in 2007, Japan lit up the tournament with their incredible and at times, ridiculous counter attacking. They scored perhaps the try of the tournament, when Kosuke Endo finished a superb coast-to-coast effort in the 72-18 defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
Try number two harks back to 2003 and the introduction of Rupeni Caucaunibuca. The then 23 year-old Fijian monster steamrolled through countless Scottish defenders to score the first of two stunning tries. Fiji would agonisingly lose the match, and a potential place in the quarter finals, thanks to a late David Hilton try for the Scots.
Sukanaivalu Hufanga's fantastic try for Tonga caused one of the upsets of the tournament four years ago when they beat France 19-14 in Wellington, while Richard Tsimba scored an excellent solo try in Zimbabwe's narrow 21-20 defeat to Romania in 1987.
Competing for try of the tournament with Endo's Japanese effort at Rugby World Cup 2007 was a similar length of the field score, this time for the USA.
Todd Clever's well timed interception and ferocious hand-off on Springbok flyhalf Butch James, combined with Takudzwa Ngwenya's searing pace to round Bryan Habana, proved one of the moments of Rugby World Cup history, and epitomised the spirit of perserverence.
The Highlanders have arrived back in Dunedin and the celebrations will no doubt continue throughout the week, as they take in what was a historic and well deserved 21-14 Super Rugby final win over the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Co-captain Nasi Manu, who is heading to Edinburgh for next season, said "I still can't really believe that we won it. It will be good just to enjoy it with our supporters and definitely do a couple of days (of partying)."
The team were greeted in the arrivals hall by a sea of blue and gold flags, as fans performed a celebratory Haka, relishing the rare championship victory, their first Super Rugby title ever.
Coach Jamie Joseph said that he was pleased to bring it home for the loyal fans.
"Rugby touches a lot of people in the deep south so it's just great to give something back."
Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara said that he felt for his team, who were bidding farewell to long serving Jeremy Thrush (Gloucester), Ma'a Nonu (Toulon) and Conrad Smith (Pau).
"It's probably the boys who are staying who are most disappointed we couldn't give them what they deserved. You have the most capped forward of all time and the two most capped Hurricanes of all time in that mix," said 23-year-old All Black, Perenara.
"The contribution they've given the club is immense and we wanted to send them off the right way. They deserved the win. We worked hard for each other every single day, we tried to better ourselves every single day and I saw these boys grind every day since November. We worked bloody hard.
"We came up against a good Highlanders team and they took the opportunities that presented themselves… you take more opportunities than the other team in a big game and you probably come out on top and that's what happened tonight."
As for that try, Elliot Dixon has since said that he was sure he got it down, despite his immediate reaction seeming otherwise. "It (the camera) just panned to me at a bad time.
"As soon as they said TMO I was like 'oh no', then everyone saw me shaking my head and thought I didn't get it down. But yeah, I got it down."
Highlights wrap from the brilliant game is below, and the trophy presentation on page two
credit: sky sport nz
Saturday, July 04, 2015
The Highlanders earlier beat the Hurricanes 21-14 in a sensational Super Rugby Final that featured brilliant offloads and an incredibly high tempo of play throughout. One of the tries of the match was scored by flanker Elliot Dixon, or was it?
The first half was played at a thousand miles an hour, with both sides showing that despite it being a final, if the mindset is right, players can attack from anywhere on the park, retain possession and produce some thrilling rugby.
Both sides threw the ball about, with very little kicking for territory, and very few scrums. Referee Jaco Peyper let the game flow, and fans were treated to a spectacle that will not only go down as one of the best finals of all time, but easily one of the more memorable Super Rugby games to have been played.
Following a well taken Ma'a Nonu try, the Highlanders hit back when Elliot Dixon surged over the line, showing incredible pace and power before grounding the ball. He didn't look too convinced himself - probably not helping his cause - but TMO Ben Skeen decided that after many looks at it, the try was indeed scored.
Dixon said post match that he's had a few close calls this season, so expected this one to go against him too. Luck was on his side though as the try was awarded and the Highlanders stayed ahead, as they were all game.
"I actually thought he'd lost the ball but we tend to look at these things out of our own eyes," said Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd. "At the end of the day, it was pretty critical."
They went on to win their first ever Super Rugby title, a phenomenal effort away from home to what has been the best team in the competition. Congratulations to Jamie Joseph and his entire squad.
View the try below, with more highlights and clips to follow soon
The Pride is just about finishing up this year's impressive 5-month rugby coaching mission, which has taken them through nine countries. The current volunteer team are enjoying much-deserved downtime along the Garden Route of South Africa, surfing in J-Bay, trekking in Wilderness and bungee jumping off Bloukrans Bridge.
This second video instalment reviews the team's progress in northern Tanzania and Mozambique - the latter a new addition to the charity's operations.
Bhubesi Pride Foundation has had more applications than ever before, heading into 2016's mission. So get your application in to be part of a vibrant multi-national coaching team doing great things in Africa, through rugby.
Volunteer fees have recently been significantly reduced thanks to charity sponsorship and grant funding. Learn more about this great opportunity here.
Friday, July 03, 2015
Sky Sport New Zealand have put together this quick compilation featuring some of the biggest tackles of the 2015 Super Rugby season. Most of the big ones were featured here on RD, but some weren't and they're all worth another look anyway. Enjoy
The Super Rugby final between Highlanders and Hurricanes kicks off tomorrow and it promises to be an exciting, fast-paced, high-intensity, full-blooded affair.
The two teams faced each other in Round 17 with the 'Canes running out easy 56-20 winners, but tomorrow night's final will be different.
Highlanders field the same side that beat the Waratahs 35-17 and are in to the final thanks to their dogged forwards, the calmness and vision of Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga, and the clinical play of Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and the underappreciated Patrick Osbourne.
The Hurricanes meanwhile have blitzed everything in their path, bar the Tahs and Crusaders. Beauden Barrett has returned from injury to steer the ship while Julian Savea, Ma'a Nonu, Nehe Milner-Skudder and James Marshall look to score every time they touch the ball.
Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith will have an emotional night as he plays his last game for the franchise before he moves to Pau in the summer.
Kick off is at 19.35 (07:35 GMT, 08:35 BST) on Saturday in Wellington.
You can view the best bits from each side's semi finals in the video below
1.Reggie Goodes, 2.Dane Coles, 3.Ben Franks, 4.Jeremy Thrush, 5.James Broadhurst, 6.Brad Shields, 7.Ardie Savea/Callum Gibbins, 8.Victor Vito, 9.TJ Perenara, 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Ma'a Nonu, 13.Conrad Smith (c), 14.Nehe Milner-Skudder, 15.James Marshall Reserves: 16.Motu Matu'u, 17.Chris Eves, 18.Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19.Callum Gibbins/Mark Abbott, 20.Blade Thomson, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Rey Lee-Lo, 23.Matt Proctor
1. Brendon Edmonds, 2. Liam Coltman, 3. Josh Hohneck, 4. Alex Ainley, 5. Mark Reddish, 6. Elliot Dixon, 7. James Lentjes, 8. Nasi Manu (co-captain), 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 11. Patrick Osborne, 12. Richard Buckman, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 14. Waisake Naholo, 15. Ben Smith (co-captain) Reserves: 16. Ash Dixon 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown 18. Ross Geldenhuys 19. Joe Wheeler 20. Gareth Evans 21. Shane Christie 22. Fumiaki Tanaka 23. Marty Banks
Who do you think will win and by how much?
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Australia and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has signed a fresh three year flexible contract with Australian Rugby this week. It is a deal that will keep the 26 year-old available for national selection until the end of 2018. More info below, plus a tribute video.
An omnipresent figure in the Wallabies setup since his debut in 2013, Folau has remarkably played in the last 29 consecutive matches and scored 17 tries.
He marked his arrival on the Union stage after 6 years in League with a two-try performance in the first test against the British and Irish Lions.
Last season, he played a significant role in the Waratahs' first Super Rugby title and has since shown equally standout form in 2015. His 25 tries for the Sydney based side put him just four behind leading try scorer Lote Tuqiri.
But he won't be adding to his Waratahs scorecard any time soon however. Folau will join Japanese Top League side NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes along with fellow Super Rugby players Eben Etzebeth and Handre Pollard after this year's Rugby World Cup.
The flexible deal will allow Folau to play his rugby outside Australia and still be available for selection for the Wallabies. Speaking of his new deal, Folau said: "I've already had so many great moments and experiences in Rugby over the past few years, but I feel like I am still just scratching the surface of what I am capable of, which is something that really excites me."
"In the end, there is still so much I want to achieve playing Rugby in Australia and am thrilled to now have my contract sorted through until the end of 2018."
A man who is just as pleased to have retained Folau's services for the forseeable future is current Waratahs and Australia coach Michael Cheika.
"He works extremely hard at being the exceptional talent he is, and is someone all Australian Rugby fans can be excited about seeing in the gold jersey for a long time yet.
"He has developed his game so much in the two and a half years since he initially joined the Waratahs, and I know he has a burning desire to continue growing as a player over the next few seasons. Israel is one of Rugby's truly world-class individuals, and he is the type of person and player that you want setting the standards in any team environment," Cheika said.
You can watch some of Israel Folau's best moments of 2015 in this tribute video below:
video credit: 7rugbyvids