Saturday, April 18, 2015
Referee Nick Briant found himself a little closer to the action than he would have liked when the the Crusaders hosted the Chiefs in their Super Rugby derby. Chiefs scrumhalf Brad Weber fired the ball to switch play, so Briant could do nothing but take the full brunt of it in the face.
We've seen some bad ref knocks in time, some being tackled, and others getting hit in the head, but this one was square in the nose, with possible comparisons to when Wayne Barnes and Andrew Small both got hit in recent years.
Briant's immediate reaction though, was priceless.
Through teary eyes, cool as you like Briant quipped "Falconned, right in the nose."
Friday, April 17, 2015
Europe's elite clashes once again this weekend with the Semi-Finals of the Champions and Challenge Cups being played over three days. After the excitement of the Quarters we look forward to the biggest teams in Northern Hemisphere club rugby going toe to toe and analyse in detail each fixture for you, pointing out who and what to look out for.
View our previews, focusing on the strengths, weaknesses and key players from each side.
Despite losing their European Champions Cup quarter-final to Leinster 18-15, George Ford put in a top flyhalf display, capped off by setting up a try and scoring one of his own. Here is a quick nod to his quality play as he looks likely to star in the upcoming World Cup.
After an impressive Six Nations for England, young playmaker Ford has come back into his club setup with a renewed confidence and a willingness to put his team on the front foot.
Always aware of the game around him, Ford scored the first try of the day as he cut through the Leinster defence and then turned on the pace to beat the full-back, Rob Kearney.
Not long after the halftime break, the Bath fly-half found a similar gap in the Irish line, but this time unable to make it to the try line himself, he produced an impressive offload to his captain Stuart Hooper, who's big enough to see his momentum carry him over the whitewash.
With their European campaign now over, Bath turn their sights back to the Aviva Premiership, where they remain a distinct threat to first placed Northampton Saints.
With a home World Cup on the horizon, and current first choice flyhalf for England, 2015 has the potential to be a massive year for George Ford.
As for Leinster, we wish them luck this weekend as they take on defending champions Toulon in the European Champions Cup Semi Final, in Toulon, on Sunday.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
The team from Fox Sports are back with another great Wraparound for week 10. Prepare yourself for the best, the worst, and more often than not the downright bizarre, as Sean Maloney leads us through the latest events from the world of rugby.
Highlanders' forward Joe Wheeler has a real-life tamagotchi that can only be seen to be believed, Aaron Smith is forced to relive "that" penalty attempt one more time, and there's another look at Australian Peter Kimlin's enormous hit on Toulon's Leigh Halfpenny.
Make sure you watch until the end of this edition for a sublime piece of skill from former Australian sevens star, James Stannard - apparently that was his first attempt. We'll just have to take his word for it!
For more greats clips from Fox Sports check out our Plays of the Week archives.
When Nick Easter was recalled to the England squad for the Six Nations at the grand old age of 36, many were doubting whether he still had the legs to play test match rugby. His experience was clearly invaluable amongst the team, and in World Cup year could be key.
The five players below have all featured in rugby's biggest tournament and with ages of up to 40 still featuring, there is no reason why the old guards shouldn't have more optimism ahead of September's World Cup in England.
From the USA's Mark Williams to Uruguay's Diego Ormaechea, there is proof that the Nick Easter's of the rugby world can be full of optimism.
Mark Williams - USA
The American centre, now 53 years old got 37 caps for USA between 1987 and 1999. He retired as the third highest points scorer in his country’s history, with 143 points. Williams is now Head Coach of the USA South as they look to give the sport more depth across the nation, submitting teams to the North American Caribbean Rugby Association Tournaments.
Mario Ledesma - Argentina
The legendary Argentinian hooker is being heavily linked with his first international coaching job. The 41-year-old has been forwards coach at Stade Francais and Montpellier since retiring after the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and is now being lined up by Michael Cheika as the man to rectify the Wallabies’ scrum. The pair worked together in Paris and after featuring in four world cup’s, there is no doubt that Ledesma has plenty of experience to pass on.
Vyacheslav Grachev - Russia
The Russian number-eight gained 72 caps for Russia with an international career spanning an impressive 18 years. After earning his club trade in France, Grachev was the oldest player at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, but couldn’t prevent a group stage exit for the Russians.
Mark Cardinal - Canada
Cardinal featured in three world cups for Canada and scored three tries in his 35 caps at hooker. He made his debut in the win over USA back in 1986 and was a regular in the side after then right up until his retirement, making 27 starts for the Maple Leafs.
Diego Ormaechea - Uruguay
Ormaechea is regarded as the greatest player that Uruguay has ever produced and has now had an extreme change of career. After retiring in 1999, the 55-year-old is now a Veterinary Surgeon specialised in Racing Horses.
He is one of the top veterinary surgeons in South America in his discipline, but is still highly regarded for his contribution to rugby. He coached Uruguay at the 2003 World Cup, and his son Agustin now represents his country, with 16 caps to date.
If any coaches needed a reminder about whether to go for the youngster with a bright future or the older more experienced player which may bring instant success, the World Rugby video below may well change their mind!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Some absolutely belting clips are in the Wraparound of week 9 from Fox Sports, including never before seen pace from Rebels' front rower, Tom Sexton, when he spots something untoward in his locker. Check out the video above, plus the Wraparound from week 8 also.
Sean Maloney and the team head back and take a look at Eben Etsebeth and Julian Savea's slapping match, with Springbok legend Schalk Burger on hand to give his opinion about the help his "big brother" gave him. For those who are fans of Jonah Lomu style collisions, make sure you watch to the end for a monster don't argue from grassroots player, Tyrone Viiga.
But if you only watch the video for one reason, it has to be for another opportunity to see the Beauden Barrett "400-metre" wonder try against the Stormers - which Schalk probably won't enjoy watching quite so much.
Head over to page 2 for more great clips and guaranteed hilarity in the Wraparound of week 8 from the team at Rugby HQ.
That's right rugby fans, it's Plays of the Month time from the team at Fox Sports' Rugby HQ, and they've put together another top video with their usual combination of great tries, big hits and wacky play, plus some other interesting moments from the world of rugby.
We're midway through April but it's never too late to look back the previous month, especially with some of what has gone on in both Super Rugby and the Sevens World Series.
Look out for a starring role from little Cheslin Kolbe, as he set up a beautiful try, but suffered a few big knocks as he bravely put his body on the line. Also, there's Nathan Charles' spectacular falcon, and one of the most painful charge downs you're ever likely to see.
For more best bits from the wonderful world of rugby head to our Plays of the Week archives.