Sunday, April 26, 2015
La Rochelle scored with the final play of the game to secure a historic and momentous victory over Toulon in the Top 14 this weekend. Watch the emotional last few minutes that show just what this triumph meant to all involved in the home side's setup.
With 5 minutes left on the clock, La Rochelle were camped deep inside the visiting side's 22, aware that a famous victory was within their grasp if they could find a try right at the death.
Toulon absorbed wave after wave of black shirted attack, but their ill-discipline would cost them dear as mammoth Georgian Number 8, Mamuka Gorgodze, was sin-binned for collapsing a driving maul with under 2 minutes remaining on the clock.
The resulting scrum didn't go the way the home side hoped however, and after gathering lose ball they found themselves back on the Toulon 22 having to scramble and try to reorganise.
With his desire and emotions overpowering his composure, La Rochelle coach Patrice Collazo, could be heard caterwauling from the touchlines as Toulon infringed once again.
Having collected the lineout, La Rochelle didn't bother to put a single player in their backline, instead opting to use every ounce of power available to them to drive their way to the whitewash, in their final efforts to defeat the Top 14 and European champions.
Moments later, centre Malietoa Hingano picked from the base of the ruck and twisted and turned his way through the desperate Toulon defence to find the tryline.
It was clear just what the result meant to all involved with the home club, as the players, coaches and supporters were catapulted into unbridled joy, Collazo himself appeared to shed a few tears as the realisation of their accomplishment began to sink in.
Congratulations to La Rochelle, as their victory moves them up to 9th in the Top 14 table.
Head to the Related Posts or our See it to Believe it archives for more jaw-dropping rugby.
credit: Boucherie Ovalie
Friday, April 24, 2015
Toulon defeated Leinster 25-20 in the second semi-final of the European Champions Cup last weekend, but they only achieved victory in extra time, and were forced to play 10 minutes of the added period with only 14 men as former All Black, Ali Williams, was yellow carded for his challenge in the air on Devin Toner.
As part of the Toulon chasing contingent from the kick off, Williams' efforts to catch the ball were not aided by teammates hoisting him skyward, and as such he inevitably did not rise as high as the Leinster man.
The subsequent collision appeared fairly incidental, but Toner did fall from height onto his side, appearing to immediately be in some discomfort. The reaction from the Leinster supporters and players was the expected synchronicity of protest against the Kiwi's actions.
Williams was quick to plead his innocence, and although subsequent replays do appear to confirm he only had eyes for the ball, referee Wayne Barnes was of the opinion that he had no realistic possibility of claiming possession against Toner, and produced a yellow card.
The former New Zealand international clearly disagreed with the decision, as did the Toulon supporters, and there is certainly an argument to be made for their frustration.
The annoyance doesn't come so much from Barnes' decision, but the inconsistency.
If the reason for the sanction is that Williams' efforts were unrealistic and unnecessary, and in turn endangered the safety of a fellow player, that precedent must regulate across all foul play - especially when a 10 minute sin bin can have such an enormous impact on a game.
The restart from which he committed the offence came as a result of a successful Leinster penalty, a penalty that was awarded for Jocelino Suta's strangehold on Richardt Strauss.
If the logic for the yellow card is that it was a reckless act endangering an opposition player, the question over whether Suta deserved a similar punishment, if not harsher, is one that requires an answer.
The result would have been Toulon playing the final portion of the match with only 13 men, and it's impossible to say how that may have altered the outcome.
How do you think Williams' and Suta's situations should have been handled?
For more controversial rugby head to our Dirty Play archives
Force scrumhalf Ian Prior received his marching orders in the first half of the round 11 Super Rugby clash with the Chiefs earlier today. Prior was shown a straight red card, so will face a disciplinary hearing, charged with Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground.
Prior rushed in to fill a gap as the dangerous Tim Nanai-Williams took a pop ball off the side of a ruck. The Chiefs flyer dropped it, but Prior had already lined him up, and not only went through with the tackle, but proceeded to lift and tip him in a way that was clearly dangerous.
The Force number nine realised immediately what he'd done and tried to apologise, but Nanai-Williams, and more significantly referee Angus Gardner, were having none of it.
Replays showed just how dangerous a tackle it was, as the legs were lifted way past horizontal and, perhaps due to momentum, Nanai-Williams was driven into the turf.
His citing falls under the charge of Law 10.4 (j), Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player's feet are still off the ground such that the player's head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.
Prior looked remorseful, and a little stunned, but players need to be fully aware of what can happen when lifting another player up in a challenge, even it's not intentional.
The Chiefs went on to win the match 35-27.
credit: NZAUTV Sports
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Last Friday marked exactly five months until the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In what is predicted to be one of the most fiercely competitive tournaments for years, World Rugby have dived into the archives to remind us just why the RWC gets the adrenaline flowing.
In this latest video, we go back to the 2003 competition – held in Australia and won by England – and the Pool B match between the USA and Japan in Gosford.
Throughout the years, the Eagles have made the most of converted American Footballers, most notably ex Leicester player Dan Lyle and former Llanelli Scarlets Dave Hodges.
It was the latter who made a different kind of impact against Japan as the ex-NFL player put in a thumping hit on Kiwi-born Japanese centre George Konia. Hodges clearly lined him up and, judging by the reaction of the commentators, came completely out of the blue.
The USA went on to win the match comfortably in the end, recording a 39-26, their only win in the tournament. However, they did give Fiji a scare a fortnight before, succumbing to a narrow 19-18 defeat in Brisbane.
After retiring in 2004, Hodges went on to become Assistant Coach of the Eagles, taking them to another World Cup in 2011 in New Zealand, before eventually leaving that post in 2012.
Sean Maloney and the team down at Fox Sports have another cracking Wraparound for Week 11 of Super Rugby. Sit back and enjoy your regular dose of exciting, embarrassing and occasionally baffling events from the world of rugby this past week.
Hurricanes' flanker Ardie Savea won't want to watch the first 30 seconds of this episode, as the guys take another look at his bombed try against the Waratahs last week - the table toppers ended up losing by 4 points for their first defeat of the season.
With plenty to talk about from over the weekend, keep an eye out for referee Nick Briant taking a pass right on the nose, get another look at Marlie Packer's incredible display of strength at the women's sevens in Canada, and an unexpected pitch invader in the European Champions Cup semi-final between Toulon and Leinster.
Stick about until the end to witness Bath Rugby winger, Horacio Agulla, proving that his conversion skills can rival that of James Stannard, as he attempts to outdo the Australian's impressive effort from last week's Wraparound.
For more from the Fox Sports team head to our Plays of the Week archives
Springbok and Stormers superstar Schalk Burger has won the 2015 Laureus Comeback of the Year award for his exceptional achievements on and off the rugby pitch. You can read more about his inspirational story below, then watch the a touching video documenting his incredible journey over the past few years, and his remarkable return to topflight rugby.
Established in 1999, the Laureus Awards are essentially the sports equivalent of The Oscars. Nominees come from all over the world in a variety of disciplines, each with their own story and background that justifies their nomination.
This year Schalk Burger was recognised for his inspirational journey from international rugby player to hospital patient fighting for his life, and then climbing back to the top.
"Oustanding workrate," "unparallelled desire," "phenomenal strength," - all are terms often heard to describe the playing style of the South African flanker.
Accompanied by his humble nature off the pitch, Burger is admired as a true gentleman of the sport, encapsulating the ethos of rugby. Fortunately, his never say die attitude on the pitch is the same mindset that would see him through the months of ongoing health complications, starting in early 2013.
After genuine fears for his life, with his family by his side, the Springbok warrior fought back from bacterial meningitis, a coma, and four invasive procedures to remove the cyst on his spine which had caused the problems to begin with.
All in all he would spend 6 weeks in hospital and a further 8 weeks recovering indoors.
With a professional opinion that his rugby career was certainly over - Burger set about proving that wrong.
Now, just over two years since his initial diagnosis, Burger has played his 100th Super Rugby match and competed once again on the world stage for the Springboks, with the next goal to being selected for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
South African Rugby Union chief executive, Oregan Hoskins, offered his words in recognition of Burger's resolve. "What Schalk has gone through in the last couple of years and what he has achieved makes it one of the most inspirational sporting stories in our recent history.
"I would like to congratulate him on this amazing achievement."
Below is the moving nomination video that was used at the awards to present his remarkable journey, with contributions from his wife, family, friends and Schalk himself. It goes some way towards trying to imagine just what he has accomplished after coming so close to losing it all.
On page 2 there is a fascinating interview with the man himself from his appearance on Rugby HQ last year, as well as a touching clip of him accepting his award in fitting humble fashion.
credit: Bigsky Productions
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Toulon second rower Jocelino Suta may consider himself lucky not to have seen a card for his wrestling inspired stranglehold on Leinster hooker, Richardt Strauss, in the eventful European Champions Cup semi-final on Sunday. Many people have voiced their displeasure with the event, so you can watch the incredible footage here and decide for yourself.
The Leinster front-rower immediately begins to protest as soon as Suta wraps his sizeable arm around his neck. Despite Strauss' clear discomfort, the Toulon replacement does not make any effort to loosen his grip and continues to apply the hold as they tumble to the ground.
Referee, Wayne Barnes, could be heard to demand Suta release Strauss' neck, but his requests go unheeded and Leinster are awarded the much welcomed penalty, which once converted brought them back to level terms in the early stages of extra-time.
Do you think Suta deserved more than a warning, or was Strauss playing up for the penalty?
Check out the Related Posts or head to our Dirty Play section for more of the same.