Thursday, April 16, 2015
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.
Watching round 9 of Super Rugby must have given Michael Cheika a headache, and not because his Waratahs side was well beaten at home by the Stormers. No, it was the game at Eden Park that will have left the Wallabies coach with the most thinking to do, in particular the performance of Brumbies flanker David Pocock.
Pocock has been magnificent since coming back from a second knee reconstruction operation, reminding fans across the world why before his injuries many regarded him as the finest openside flanker in the world.
Against the Blues he was immovable at the breakdown, turning the ball over on countless occasions and it is this incredible form that will have Cheika reaching for the asprin.
Michael Hooper, Cheika's current Test captain, unfortunately plays in the same position as Pocock, and is also a menace to the opposition, particularly with his skills at the breakdown.
Few international coaches would complain about having two world-class players fighting for the same position and although Cheika will no doubt find a way to include both men, he will have sleepless nights deciding which one will be first choice for the Wallabies jersey.
One things for sure, if Pocock continues to perform like this, the smart money would be on him and Hooper might find himself doing a bit of bench warming come September.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The race for a playoff and a top six finish heated up this week as the contenders faced off against each other in what is a crucial round of Premiership rugby and one that saw a lot of sin bins. View our highlights wrap on page two of this post, which includes some controversy and a record crowd at Wembley. Above, the Try of the Week contenders.
The tries of the week this round were scored by Sinoti Sinoti, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Alex Lewington, Semesa Rokoduguni and Phil Dollman.
With slightly less controversy than Round 8, but no less excitement, Round 9 of Super Rugby was awash with great tries, more surprise results and as always some brutal hits to cap it all off. The guys at Rugby HQ, led by Sean Maloney, have put together another recap.
In this week's Shortball compilation, keep an eye out for Cheslin Kolbe's outstanding solo effort, some impressive strength from Will Genia, another look at Willem Alberts' huge shoulder on Mark Richards, and an Aaron Smith penalty attempt he'd rather not remember.
It was a weekend where the underdogs got the bone, as the Blues and the Highlanders defeated the Brumbies and the Crusaders respectively, and the Stormers overturned the Waratahs for their first win on tour.
The Waratahs defeat means that along with the Brumbies, the Reds and Western Force, all four Australian sides who were playing lost, as the Rebels had a bye this week.
The spacing of each nations' top four conference sides within the overall table is interesting to note. Only 4 points separate the South African sides (the Bulls to the Sharks), whilst 11 points come between the New Zealand teams (the Hurricanes to the Crusaders), and a vast 17 points divide the Australian complement (the Brumbies to Western Force).
The completion of Round 9 means the Super Rugby season finds itself at the halfway point with the Hurricanes still out on top unbeaten - but there's a long way to go.
For more Shortball highlights head to our Plays of the Week section.
Grenoble welcomed the current European Champions, Toulon, to the Stade des Alpes for a Top 14 clash this past weekend. This big tackle that Australian flanker Peter Kimlin put on Leigh Halfpenny was far from welcoming however.
Since arriving at the French giants the Welsh fullback has suffered continually with injury troubles, but was starting to look like he was on a solid road to recovery.
A concussion against Italy in the final game of the Six Nations however meant it was back to the sidelines for the metronomic kicker. Having spent his time recovering, an air of excitement encapsulated the return of the Welsh wizard.
Grenoble back rower Kimlin, was not in a sympathetic mood however.
The visitors' openside, Mamuka Gorgodze, lumbered inside his man before lofting an unconventional and somewhat dooming pass to the waiting Halfpenny, which meant he had to stop his run to catch the ball.
After Halfpenny gathered in possession whilst flatfooted, an approaching Kimlin saw his opportunity to put a mammoth shoulder into the stationary target - and he did not miss.
The powerful hit actually caused a minor dislocation in Halfpenny's shoulder, and although bravely continuing to play for 10 minutes, the pain eventually forced him from the field.
The visitors proved too strong for Grenoble on the night, with the final score 23-35 to Toulon.
Initial reports say that Halfpenny is unlikely to play next week in their European Champions Cup semi-final against Leinster, and although Toulon are more than capable of filling the fullback role, the creative play and reliable kicking of the Welsh talisman are sure to be missed.
EXTRA: This came shortly after tank Mathieau Bastereaud had easily dismissed the attempted tackle of Grenoble number 8, Rory Grice. That contest can be seen on page 2.
For more enormous tackles head to our Big Hits section and view the Related Posts below
credit: Monsieur Wiko