George North concussion conclusion

High Intensity Rugby Training Returns

Hoeata banned for high shot on Kearney

Vote for the Sky NZ Fans Try of the Year

Kristen Thomas dropped ball blooper

Castrogiovanni - every day is Valentines

Sean O'Brien's monster ruck cleanout

Jason Eaton and Julien Bonnaire fight

INFOGRAPHIC: Common Rugby Union Injuries

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meet World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 nominee, Willie le Roux

Wille le Roux has had a great start to his Test career, often exceeding expectations. The dynamic fullback was recently named a nominee for the IRB World Rugby Player of the Year 2014. Learn more about him with this nice Total Rugby feature.

Hailing from the Western Cape originally, Le Roux was signed by the Cheetahs, not one of the traditional powerhouse unions of South African rugby. Ironically Bloemfontein has bred some of the best rugby players in the country, but most of them leave for the bigger teams.

Le Roux stuck around and has had to do a lot of very special things to get noticed. There were questions asked about his size and possible defensive frailties, but his dynamism with ball in hand soon paid dividends. Since making the Springbok step up, he hasn't looked back.

"I just want to play footy. For me it's just about going out there and just go play and entertain.. just try new stuff," the 25-year-old playmaker says.

His inclusion has given the Springboks a dimension they've lacked at times, and while he knows he's not the finished product, being given a licence to thrill is exactly what keeps him ticking.

"I know I'm going to make a lot of mistakes, but some of those you get right aswell, and then you're the hero," he adds in this refreshing chat.

He picked up a cheekbone injury in last Saturday's 31-28 win over England at Twickenham, but was earlier this week cleared for the upcoming Test against Italy in Padova.

Le Roux has some fierce competition for this year's World Rugby Player of the Year, with the likes of Julian Savea, Duane Vermeulen, Jonny Sexton and Brodie Retallick all vying for the award.

View the IRB World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 shortlist

Posted at 8:24 pm | 3 comments

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Five Nominations for the IRPA Try of the Year 2014

It's coming to the end of the year so the Player of the Year 2014 nominees were announced recently, and today the International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA) Try of the Year 2014 shortlist of five has been revealed with this great video.

The five contenders are South Africa's Francois Hougaard and Cornal Hendricks, Welshman Jamie Roberts, Canada's IRB Women's Player of the Year 2014 Magali Harvey and England's Jonny May.

They are all worthy candidates, and with just five to choose, there are sure to be a whole lot of tries that weren't able to make the list. It's strange, for example, to not see an All Black entry, especially with the likes of Julian Savea scoring some stunning tries in recent times.

Interestingly, a few years back they chose fifteen candidates, and one year it was just four.

That said, they've chosen to include a women's rugby candidate too, which is great to see and it's fair to say that it's chosen entirely on merit, as it was indeed a wonderful try.

The five tries were selected by the IRPA Try of Year panel of former players in Samoa's Seilala Mapusua, All Black Jeff Wilson, Ireland's Alan Quinlan and Dan Parks of Scotland.

The public are able to vote via social media, with the results of which being taken into account when the selection panel make their final decision come the end of the year.

Previous winners:
2013 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
2012 – Bryan Habana (South Africa) – South Africa v New Zealand
2011 – Radike Samo (Australia) – Australia v New Zealand
2010 – Chris Ashton (England) – England v Australia
2009 – Jaque Fourie (South Africa) – South Africa v British & Irish Lions
2008 – Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) – Australia v Ireland

Which try do you think should be chosen as Try of the Year 2014?

Posted at 2:34 pm | 48 comments

Alesana Tuilagi makes trademark crunching tackle against Bath

Powerhouse winger Alesana Tuilagi has made another crunching hit, this time against Bath and poor Ollie Devoto. The Samoan powerhouse has been playing his rugby in Japan but recently returned to the Aviva Premiership, keen to make his mark.

Alesana, sometimes referred to as Alex, spent two years with the NTT Shining Arcs in Japan, but returned to the Premiership recently, albeit after a delay with visa issues.

He was seen on BT Sport's Clare Balding Show a few weeks back, alongside brother Manu and fellow pacific islander brothers, Billy and Mako Vunipola, as they spoke about life back home. It was a great interview and we posted a few clips from it, so take a look when you get a chance.

The 33-year-old joins other brother Anitelea (Andy) Tuilagi at Newcastle, hoping to pick up on the form that made him such a star at the Leicester Tigers. He recently spoke of the rugby education he had in Japan, where the game is fast, and the diet is very different.

"I was surprised when I went there. I lived 15 minutes from Tokyo and it's a crazy place," he said ahead of joining Newcastle and starting the Premiership season.

"There's no diet there, the Japanese eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner! The rugby is different, the way they train is different; it was a different experience. They don't have home or away games, they select stadiums around the country and you play everywhere.

"You play one game down south, another up north, but most are in Tokyo. The standard there is good; they play a fast game and there are good players going there so the rugby is developing but it is a different environment.

"The rugby is going very well but the rules are different; they only allow two foreigners on the pitch and two on the bench, so I was playing for 40 minutes, then coming off," he added. 

This isn't the biggest hit he's ever made (view a whole heap of those in the Related Posts below this), but he is somewhat of a rugby legend, especially in the Premiership, so it's great to see him throwing his considerable weight around again.

credit: premiership rugby

Posted at 9:48 am | 10 comments

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

WIN the rugby tour of a lifetime with IG and Harlequins

IG, a global leader in online trading, have just launched an incredible competition offering one lucky winner and their teammates an unbeatable opportunity to win the ultimate rugby tour. View the amusing video below, as well as all entry info.

The winner and their teammates will start the incredible experience off with a training day hosted by Conor O’Shea and his first team squad before being flown half way around the world to play against a Harlequins affiliate club and experience rugby team culture in the southern hemisphere.

Entrants will be asked to say where in the world they would like to go and why they think their team deserves to win, with the winning entry being selected by Conor O’Shea, former Harlequins Captain Will Skinner and members of the Harlequins squad.

To enter the competition, visit:

The funny video below features Harlequins winger Ugo Monye interviewing teammates Nick Easter and Chris Robshaw about life, rugby and touring.

Posted at 6:38 pm | 1 comments

The International Rugby Board rebrands, changes name to World Rugby

The International Rugby Board (IRB) have officially rebranded and changed names to World Rugby, as announced earlier today at the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2014 in London. The new look includes a new logo and website. 

While the IRB has become synonymous with fans around the planet as the organistation that runs the sport, they felt that the name wasn't fully encompassing of their mission statement to grow the game globally, so have changed it to World Rugby, and brought out a new look and feel.

At the heart of the brand is a distinctive positioning, expressed visually through a modernised and progressive logo that embodies World Rugby’s mission statement to grow the game globally, retaining a link to the organisation’s heritage through its blue and green colour scheme.

Design and branding experts FutureBrand came up with the logo, which aims to help deliver the mission to build a stronger connection with fans, players and commercial partners, ultimately engaging new audiences worldwide. Chief Executive officer Brett Gosper explaned:

"In an incredibly competitive global entertainment and sporting marketplace, Rugby must continue to appeal to those who know and love the sport and its heritage, while attracting, engaging and inspiring those who have no connection with the sport across multiple cultures and languages around the world.

"Supported by a new name, a distinctive, optimistic and progressive new brand, and clear character-building values World Rugby collectively has the ingredients and tools to do just that. We want everyone to feel connected with the sport and Rugby’s ongoing success story," Gosper said.

"Our new brand certainly stands out and enables us to promote our consumer-facing properties in a way that they will be more appealing and impactful to the sport’s growing global fan base."

Regarding the Rugby World Cup, we are waiting for clarification but it appears that the logo will be untouched. "The rebrand will have no impact on Rugby World Cup 2015 branding or positioning, which will remain as it is with its iconic logo throughout the current event cycle," said a statement.

The new visual identity will make it's debut on official match jerseys this weekend.

Below is a video that was launched today along with the new logo and identity.

Posted at 6:21 pm | 17 comments

Monday, November 17, 2014

IRB Rankings Update 17 Nov 2014 - Ireland move up to third in the world

Ireland have moved up to third in the IRB Rankings afting beating Georgia, and thanks to Australia and England losing to France and South Africa respectively. Coach Joe Schmidt says it's nothing but a distraction though, and not something that should be focused on by the players.

Third is Ireland's highest ever position, having last occupied it in November of 2006.

They actually didn't improve their points rating after beating Georgia 49-7, but the losses to Australia and England meant that those two sides dropped down. Beating South Africa a week earlier would have also helped their cause though. 

"I don't think we can win anything by saying we're third in the world," said coach Joe Schmidt.

"I think it's fantastic, and a feather in the cap of the lads who have rolled their sleeves up for the last 12 months, but I can't say it's something we'd be talking about or even aware of."

The IRB break down the latest rankings update:

The Irish now have a cushion of 0.62 points from Australia, who avoided a two-place fall to fifth by the smallest of margins after a 29-26 loss to France in Paris with the Wallabies sitting just one hundredth of a point above England now.

South Africa’s 31-28 win at Twickenham has strengthened their position of second place – some five points clear of Ireland – and closed the gap to New Zealand by nearly one point, although the All Blacks still sit 3.77 points clear at the top.

New Zealand did not improve their rating on the back of a 24-16 win over eighth ranked Scotland at Murrayfield on a weekend which saw the world champions celebrate five years as the number one side in the rankings.

While England have fallen two places to fifth on the back of losses to South Africa and New Zealand this month and lost their mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation to Ireland, they still sit 2.74 points above France.

Wales improved their rating slightly in seventh with the narrow 17-13 win over their Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A opponents Fiji, a result which – in tandem with Tonga’s 40-12 win over the USA in Gloucester – sees the two Pacific Island nations swap places with the Ikale Tahi now 12th.

Argentina have climbed one place to ninth on the back of their 20-18 victory over Italy in Genoa on Friday. Los Pumas gained more points for that win and therefore climbed above Japan, who ran out 18-13 winners over 18th ranked Romania in Bucharest.

The only other positional change in the top 20 sees Russia climb one place to 19th – swapping places with Uruguay, the side who had ended their RWC 2015 dreams last month – following a 39-27 win over their Hong Kong, one which sees their hosts fall two to 27th.

There were three European Nations Cup 2016 matches over the weekend, although none resulted in any positional changes. Moldova and Belgium both improved their ratings after victories over Poland (48-25) and Ukraine (25-10) in Division 1B but remain in 28th and 30th respectively.

The final ENC match saw Latvia overcome Cyprus 39-20 in Riga in Division 2B, but that had no impact  on the ratings as Cyprus are not an IRB Member Union. The win was significant, though, in that it was Cyprus’ first defeat since September 2008 and ended their run of 23 consecutive victories.

For a full rankings explanation, visit the rankings page on the IRB website

Posted at 3:47 pm | 4 comments

South Africa aim to up the intensity after another win over England

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has lauded his team's 31-28 victory over England in the wet weather of Twickenham on Saturday. The much needed win stretches their unbeaten run against England to 12 matches, dating back to November 2006.

The fifth consecutive win at Twickenham holds the Springboks in good stead heading into a Rugby World Cup year whereby the tournament will be held in the UK. While their loss against Ireland a week prior was dissappointing, Meyer was proud of the three-try effort in the rain.

"I'm very proud of the guys – it was a clinical performance and we played tactically very well in the conditions," said Meyer. "Even though it was wet and the ball was quite slippery, we still scored three tries, while there could've been a fourth.

Jan Serfontein scored with an intercept, then just after halftime Cobus Reinach crossed after a brilliant bit of play by Pat Lambie and fullback Willie Le Roux. Man of the Match Schalk Burger also crossed for a well constructed try off the back of a maul, despite being down to just 7 forwards.

"I also thought the players did very well to keep their composure and take back the lead after England scored two quick tries early in the second half," Meyer said of England's excellent comeback, which brought them level at 20-20 after two quick, powerfully taken tries.

Burger, whose comeback from illness and injury culminated in a start for the Springboks, has now been released from the squad and flew back to South Africa yesterday.

"A decision was taken prior to the tour that Schalk will be released from the squad on Sunday," said Meyer ahead of the upcoming Test against Italy in Padova. "We still have good depth at loose forward and can also look at bringing in reinforcements if necessary."

He added that the challenge now is to build on this performance and keep lifting the intensity.

England coach Stuart Lancaster said that he is well aware of England's five successive defeats.

"I think as a coach you accept that if you win the players get the credit and, if you lose, the coach gets the flak," he said. "It's been a tough run against two world-class teams, but we need a win."

credit: England Rugby

Posted at 12:39 pm | 26 comments