Thursday, March 06, 2014
This weekend rivals England and Wales meet in a Six Nations match that has plenty of history, and all to play for as we get down to the penultimate weeked of the tournament. If England win on Sunday, they'll take the Triple Crown and set up a chance of winning the Championship.
Wales on the other hand will be aiming to repeat what they did last year in Cardiff, and hope that this, the final meeting of the two sides in Twickenham before the Rugby World Cup, will be another memorable occasion.
"Wales versus England is always a big game," said Welsh centre Jamie Roberts.
"You only have to look back at the last few seasons when we have played England, the biggest hype has surrounded that game. It is no different this week, I think the magnitude of the game for the Six Nations couldn't be any bigger. Twickenham on Sunday will be immense."
In this week's episode of O2 Inside Line we look at Player Analysis with Ben Morgan and Jonny May, go into the gym with Player Cam - where May performs an impressive box jump - and we learn more about the players in the teammates segment.
Alex Payne then chats to England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who admits that the game today is much faster and more physical than it was when he played.
The team sheets will be updated here later today. What's your prediction for England vs Wales?
Posted at 6:46 pm | 3 comments
This weekend Ireland face Italy in a Six Nations match that they'd be expected to win. Most of the focus will be on Brian O'Driscoll either way, as he will claim the record for most Test caps ever, as well as play his final Test match in Dublin.
In Ireland's last match O'Driscoll equalled the record set by Wallaby great George Gregan, so when facing Italy he is set to eclipse it, then play his final match for his country a week later.
Gregan, who played 139 Tests for his country, has said that the record couldn't go to a better player. "He's just a great player, he still wants to contribute to the teams that he plays with," Gregan said. "So it’s well deserved, he'll go past that and set a new record which is fantastic."
"I got a nice tweet from George Gregan on equaling his record and people have been lovely over the last while. I just want to be able to go out on a high, that's the big thing," he said this week.
O'Driscoll then has a chance to finish on high, as a win in his final match - over France in Paris - could mean a Six Nations championship victory, adding to his long list of accolades.
"There is no individual feeling, there really isn't, there’s always time to reflect afterwards and that’s the time to do it. The team has absolute priority and always has done, there will be no extra emphasis made by anyone this weekend other than giving us a final showdown against France."
BOD's record run at the top may be short-lived however, as there are a few others who might catch up, namely Richie McCaw, who has currently played 124 Tests for New Zealand.
"I'm sure in time it will be broken, yes, there's always scope for guys to break records," O'Driscoll said. "All going well, hopefully I'll get the record this weekend I'm sure it will be broken another time. Lots of guys now are over the 100-cap mark and still playing, and still playing well.
"If guys look after themselves and maintain their fitness for 15 years I think you will see the 150-cap mark broken. I can't see it being a bad thing, someone being consistently good, enough to stay in the competition environment, for 14 or 15 years. So I would definitely say I encourage it."
credit: RTE Rugby
Posted at 9:00 am | 7 comments
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
This is the third part of the CNN report on the growth of Sevens worldwide, featuring Jonah Lomu as he heads home to New Zealand to discuss what makes Sevens so great, and what it was like for him to represent his country in both formats of the game.
Lomu also attends the Wellington Sevens, where he chats to legendary New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens, and is on hand to present the winning trophy to the All Blacks Sevens team.
Posted at 11:04 am | 1 comments
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
There were some outstanding tries scored in Round 3 of Super Rugby, with the tournament now in full swing and the best from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia on show. Here's a compilation of some of the best tries scored over the weekend.
We've already featured Scott Higginbotham's involvement in two great tries, but they're included here too, as well as a whole host of great efforts from the other matches.
In terms of notable mentions, look out for a brilliant crosskick try that the Hurricanes scored against the Stormers, which featured Cory Jane diving to catch the ball then casually sliding over.
Young eighteen year old Tevita Li scored from a restart for the Blues, which in fairness was better when watching live, but is still great to see here, especially after beating the All Black skipper.
The Waratahs, who scored through Israel Folau again, lead the overall table on 10 points from two matches, followed by the Sharks on 9, then the Chiefs on 8. All three have won two from two.
Results: Melbourne Rebels 35 Cheetahs 14, Blues 35 Crusaders 24, Chiefs 21 Highlanders 19, Waratahs 32 Reds 5, Brumbies 27 Force 14, Stormers 19 Hurricanes 18, Vodacom Bulls 25 Lions 17
Remember to get in touch with requests after busy weekends of rugby. We're happy to look at each and every one and will do what's possible to get those great moments shared on the site.
Posted at 3:13 pm | 4 comments
Saracens beat Bath 23-10 in a Round 16 Aviva Premiership game at the weekend. Bath lock Dave Attwood made a huge tackle in the first half, then followed it up with another strong hit seconds later. The tackles are below, with official highlights on page two.
Attwood is part of the England squad that met up last night to prepare for Sunday's Six Nations match against Wales. His performance against Saracens wouldn't have hurt his cause at all, as the kind of heart he showed is exactly what coach Stuart Lancaster would be looking for.
The 26-year-old former Gloucester second rower tweeted after the match that his body was very sore, and after seeing the way he threw it about, it's easy to understand why.
In the first tackle we see him driving back lock Steve Borthwick, who himself is a big lump of a man. Attwood physically dominates him then with the adrenalin pumping, flies into prop Mako Vunipola less than a minute later.
The second tackle wasn't as technically sound as the first (even if his head may have started on the wrong side), but for showing little regard for his own body, it's just as impressive.
The England team to face Wales will be named later this week so it'll be interesting to see if he gets a look in. If he does, we're sure to see more of that level of intensity very soon.
As mentioned above, you can view official highlights from the match on page two
Posted at 10:41 am | 22 comments
Monday, March 03, 2014
The Melbourne Rebels got their Super Rugby season off to a flying start with a 35-14 bonus point win over the Cheetahs. The five try victory came about through some great leadership, and play, from Wallaby Scott Higginbotham.
The win was their biggest in Super Rugby to date, and on the back of strong preseason victories, they're in confident mood and will continue to put bums on seats in Melbourne. It was also their first win in four encounters with the Bloemfontein based side, who last year made the playoffs.
Despite losing the likes of James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, the Rebels have tightened up aspects of their game that let them down in the past, particularly defence, and in Higginbotham have a genuine leader.
"Higginbotham was quite outstanding in terms of how he was so instrumental in terms of leading by example," said former Auckland Blues Super Rugby winner Sean Fitzpatrick. "He has been crucial in terms of the team culture and what it takes to be successful."
The 23-times capped Wallaby set up a Jason Woodward try in the corner through some excellent quick thinking, and a decent amount of skill and confidence too. His crosskick from a quick tap penalty was perfectly placed, and possibly only outdone by the way the match finished.
The final try was scrappy but it came from a deep counter attack and after going through a number of hands, found the big number eight out on the wing, who opted for a sprint, goose step and fend before diving in at the corner and dotting down with one hand.
"Scott Higginbotham's try was excellent. He really got stuck in and inspired his players - they never let up and even when the Cheetahs came back in the second half, he rallied his players to close them down," said former Wallaby flyhalf Michael Lynagh.
"A great performance from him. He made a lot of good decisions with and without the ball."
It was two great pieces of play by a hefty number eight, so worth sharing in the video below.
Posted at 3:25 pm | 24 comments
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Rugby is often played in poor weather conditions in the northern hemisphere, so sometimes the elements come together to affect the game rather dramatically, like when this conversion kick was mysteriously blown in at the last moment recently.
James Wilson scored a try for Northampton Saints against Newcastle Falcons in the Aviva Premiership, and while flyhalf Stephen Myler needed some help with holding the ball up for the conversion, nobody will have expected to see it sail through in the way that it did.
It's not the first time something like this has happened, so if you browse through the Related Posts below you'll see some of the others. One of the most memorable was when Rotherham beat Doncaster in extra time with a dramatic wonder kick two years ago.
A few years earlier Dan Carter kicked a now famous freak conversion that swerved in as the Crusaders flyhalf casually jogged off, as if it was planned that way all along.
Just a few months back a London Irish restart was blown backwards, but even that wasn't as incredible as what happened in New Zealand in October last year, when a restart kick was blown all the way back over their own dead ball line.
Of course on this occasion Myler is entitled to take the credit, and he probably was fully in control of what happened, or maybe he just has some higher powers we weren't aware of until now.
Posted at 7:45 pm | 4 comments