Sunday, December 01, 2013
Wales coach Warren Gatland has suggested that referee Wayne Barnes is partly to blame for his team's 30-26 loss to the Wallabies at the Millennium Stadium. The visitors scored a try through Joe Tomane that Gatland said shouldn't have been allowed.
The Autumn Internationals concluded with a brilliant game of rugby that thrilled from start to finish in Cardiff. George North scored within a few minutes to set the tone, but the Wallabies came back and with Quade Cooper looking back to his best, they stretched their lead and looked out of sight.
Cooper, playing his 50th Test, was quite controversially yellow carded for what Barnes deemed to be an early tackle, but Australia held on for the win despite plenty of pressure from the Welsh.
An unbelievable statistic from the match is that there was not a single scrum in the first half.
Barnes has come under fire though, particularly for the decision to allow the Tomane try from a flat Israel Folau pass. He sought the help of the TMO, but after watching it on the big screen himself, ruled that it wasn't clear and obviously forward (hands not travelling forward), so gave it.
Gatland suggested that if it were New Zealand played, Barnes wouldn't have made the call. "It looked forward to me. In games as close as this you need things like that to go your way.
"The referee made the decision himself, without the TMO. I doubt he would have made that decision himself if it was the All Blacks playing."
Gatland added that he hadn't spoken to Barnes about it, as it wasn't going to change the result. He also hinted that when Cooper was yellow carded, it could have been a penalty try.
As for the Tomane try, Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie said: "We've had five or six of those denied during the year. As far as I know, the pass has come out of the hands backwards and that's it.
"I think there has been a lot of discussion in the refereeing group and from what I saw that's exactly the way they adjudicated that, so that the circumstances around that are quite clear."
Despite being rated by some as the best team in the Northen Hemisphere, this was Wales' ninth loss in succession to the Wallabies, who themselves haven't had the best of years but appear to be on an upward curve after a satisfying overseas tour where they only lost once, to England.
Posted at 8:10 pm | 58 comments
The Barbarians turned it on at Twickenham, scoring seven tries including two a piece for Bismarck Du Plessis and Jean De Villiers, as they beat Fiji 43-19. It was one of the more enjoyable Baa Baas fixtures of late, with some great tries scored by both teams.
While the scoreline makes thing look one-sided, the Centenary celebrating Fijians showed heart against a star-studded Barbarians team that included top Springboks and All Blacks players.
Hooker Du Plessis and flanker Steven Luatua were both outstanding as the Springbok scored two tries in the first half, and the New Zealand tearaway got his hands on the ball at every opportunity.
Fiji scored a great try through Chiefs back Asaeli Tikoirotuma, but could only add two more late in the game, while the Barbarians kept the scoreboard ticking over.
"Fiji play the sort of attacking rugby people want to watch and once everyone settled down after the first 15 minutes it was full on," said coach Steve Hansen, who was pleased with the strong turnout.
One of the tries of the match was finished by Tom Taylor after Willie Le Roux, Jean De Villiers and Schalk Burger all combined with some lovely slick passing.
"Both teams threw the ball around and, as I said, there were some nice tries scored. The promoters for the game did a fantastic job and we've probably seen a lot of first time rugby people here today.
"It was a good game of rugby in front of a good crowd of 67,000, who were able to see some good rugby and some nice tries. I think there were nine scored on the day so they would have gone away quite happy," Hansen added.
In the end this was fairly one-sided, but the fixture was played in the sprit of Barbarians rugby, and Fiji - who were unfortunately missing some top players - entered into the contest and played their part by regularly running the ball from deep. Congratulations to both teams for putting on a show.
Posted at 10:20 am | 15 comments
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Wales put up a good fight but went down 30-26 to the Wallabies in Cardiff earlier today in one of the best games of the season. The contest featured some incredibly physical confrontations and collisions from both sides. Here's a look at the two biggest hits.
We'll get longer highlights posted tomorrow but for now here is a look at the Israel Folau try that featured two huge hits, one big bump and a bit of afters too.
First George North, who was on top form for Wales again, came in and blindsided Adam Ashley-Cooper with a smashing tackle, then seconds later it was hard working hooker Richard Hibbard that did the same to Wallaby skipper Ben Mowen just meters from the tryline.
Australia stayed on task and despite the 'offensive defence' from Wales, fullback Folau bumped off aggressive as always Mike Phillips to score a very well taken try.
For fans of the sport, that passage of play had so much to enjoy, and while the push and shove afterwards wasn't great, it was good to see the intensity that both sides brought to the contest.
What did you think of the match, and these hits? As mentioned, more highlights from this game as well as the Dubai 7's, Barbarians match and more, will be posted soon.
Posted at 8:44 pm | 50 comments
Friday, November 29, 2013
While in Dublin it was Ireland that came close to a big upset, Georgia surprised everybody in Tbilisi as they beat Samoa, a team ranked many places above them, 16-15. Below is a fascinating video report from the match.
Samoa were missing Northampton Saints centre George Pisi due to suspension, but they had the likes of his brother Tusi, scrumhalf Kahn Fotualii, and James Johnston and Ofisa Treviranus up front. They were missing eight players in total, but had many big names with plenty of experience.
Georgia on the other hand were led by the imposing figure of Mamuka Gorgodze, the man-mountain that has claimed notoriety in the Top 14 for his no-nonsense approach to the game.
The Islanders outscored the hosts by two tries to one, but Merab Kvirikashbili slotted the decisive kick late in the game, and then Georgia held on for a historic win in front of their home crowd.
After scoring two tries in the first half and looking in control, eighth ranked Samoa seemed en route to victory, but Georgia displayed the type of character that has earned them well deserved respect, and will likely do great things for the sport of rugby in the region.
"The fans have a special influence on the players and I want to thank them all. We won this match together," said skipper Gorgodze, saluting the 15 000 fans that braved the conditions.
Samoa coach Stephen Betham said that Georgia proved that they were worthy winners.
"Well done to Georgia on a brilliant and deserved victory. They, along with other second tier teams, must have the chance to regularly play the top teams," he said.
Below is an excellent official report, featuring some of the scenes before, during and after the match. It includes footage from the post match function, where we get to see the humble Samoans treating those on hand to a little piece of their traditions and culture.
Posted at 5:54 pm | 19 comments
The Barbarians and Fiji meet at a packed Twickenham this weekend. The Baa Baas have a formidable side and will be captained by Jean De Villiers, who along with Bismark Du Plessis and Steven Luatua, spoke of the honour of playing for the famous team.
With a strong South African and New Zealand influence, the Barbarians are coached by Steve Hansen and are looking for a good performance to end the year on a high note.
Captained by De Villiers, they have plenty of talent in the back and possess might up front in the form of Du Plessis, who maintains that he has plenty of respect for the Fijians.
"They're all about the same height, except the front row and scrumhalf normally, otherwise they're all the same size and they're amazing athletes," said Du Plessis, a huge man himself.
The Fijians are celebrating their centenary in international rugby, so will also be looking to impress in front of a large global audience. In 1970 the two teams played and the Fijians upset the Barbarians 29-9.
This rematch is set to be a Barbarians clash of old, with plenty of running rugby on display and no doubt a few big confrontations up front. Kickoff is at 14:30 GMT on Saturday, November 30th.
15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Gavin Williams, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Mick O'Driscoll, 3 Matias Diaz, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Guillermo Roan, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Willie le Roux.
Posted at 2:48 pm | 5 comments
Thursday, November 28, 2013
England's Courtney Lawes returned to Aviva Premiership rugby with a bang this past weekend, making his presence felt with a few trademark tackles, including this belter on Phil Godman. He admitted post match that he was pleased to make some big hits.
Northampton Saints, despite still missing some international players, beat Newcastle Falcons 18-0 at Franklin's Gardens, with Lawes in more of a senior role this season, particularly at the lineouts.
He's said that it's quite different to get accustomed to Premiership life again, after the highs of playing Test rugby and being in camp with England for the last month or so.
"It's quite tough to come from the tough international games straight back into the Premiership, hard to get your head round it. It's different. There's so much pressure on you (with England), then you're relieved of that pressure and it's hard to keep yourself mentally focused enough to put in a good performance," he said.
"I worked really hard to get myself motivated this week. I thought I played solid with some good carries, didn't make any mistakes, pressured the 10 and made some good hits."
Newcastle's Phil Godman was on the end of one of the biggest hits of the game, as Lawes used that quick line speed - never more evident than in the huge preseason hit he made against Bedford - to get up and terrorise the flyhalf with a trademark tackle.
This is a short clip, but worth sharing and adding to the growing archive of tackles from one of the most athletic second-rowers in international rugby today. There's more in the related posts below.
Posted at 9:36 am | 21 comments
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Perpignan captain David Marty was shown a yellow card for a bizarre bit of play during their Top 14 Round 12 clash with Toulon at the weekend. The European Champions won the game 15-9, with Jonny Wilkinson kicking all of their points.
A number of first choice players were on international duty and the match itself didn't feature too much to write home about, with Toulon only managing to score a solitary penalty when the Catalan home side were reduced to 13 men in the first half.
Centre David Marty tracked back as Toulon attacked midway through the first half, but a bit of a possible brain explosion resulted in him landing headfirst after leapfrogging a ruck.
He was told the error of his ways by Juan Smith, then penalised and yellow carded by the referee.
Perpignan picked up a losing bonus point and with Toulon unable to get an attacking bonus point, they are fortunate to top the table after that performance. They are joint top with Clermont, but take the lead due to having a superior points difference. Toulouse are one point behind.
There is a another funny version of this floating about too, featuring R Kelly... View it here
Posted at 8:29 pm | 19 comments