Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Northampton Saints fans were left seething following a controversial ending to one of the most talked about matches of round 3 in the Aviva Premiership, as Gloucester snatched a 26-24 victory with a late penalty goal at Kingsholm.
Gloucester claimed their first win of the season despite looking dead and buried after George North sparked a brilliant Saints counter-attack that ended in a Jamie Elliot sprint for the line. The try of the season candidate seemed to be the match winner, but controversy followed.
A number of players appeared to be in front of the kicker at the restart, but it wasn't picked up and Saints knocked on. With the clock well into injury time, referee Martin Fox awarded a scrum penalty to the hosts, which Billy Twelvetrees duly slotted.
"It is a shame when games are decided by the referee in the last couple of minutes," said Northampton Saints coach Jim Mallinder. "We were disappointed when we had the change of referee at short notice, but sometimes that happens.
"What we have got to make sure of is that we control what we can control. The refs are out of our hands. My reading of the scrum at the end, particularly the second scrum, was that we had control of the ball, so the reset should have been our put-in. I don't want to say any more, really.
"I have taken my frustration out - I kicked whatever was at the side of the pitch. We came close, we will win some and we will lose some. Clearly, the penalty count didn't go in our favour."
Controversy aside, we saw a fantastic try by Saints as Elliot crossed, and a brilliant bit of play from James Simpson-Daniel to set up young Gloucester lock Elliot Stooke.
Posted at 5:46 pm | 15 comments
Monday, September 23, 2013
Young Matthew Morgan scored an outstanding try for Ospreys as they maintained their RaboDirect Pro12 unbeaten record by beating Edinburgh 44-10 at the Liberty Stadium. His step, acceleration then all out gas added to the spectacle for the home crowd.
Morgan, still just 21-years-old, came on as a replacement and didn't take long to make his mark, breaking from deep by getting the better of a one-on-one with a trademark jink.
"It was classic Matthew Morgan," said Ospreys assistant coach Gruff Rees.
"I was pleased Ashley Beck was looking for the shift in possession from deep, showing he wants to play from that area. It gave Matthew the opportunity to have a look, drop his shoulder and exploit that one on one. We knew that good is in Matthew's game."
Nikki Walker came close to making a great try-saving tackle, but the TMO ruled that Morgan grounded the ball on or over the line, so the try stood, and Morgan went on to slot the conversion.
Posted at 7:54 pm | 26 comments
Last week Manu Tuilagi was the subject of a little bit of controversy after his bunny ears prank on David Cameron at Downing Street, but this past weekend a young Leicester Tigers fan got one back for the PM, and it was caught on video.
Tuilagi got a taste of his own medicine, totally oblivious to what was going on behind his head, before the Tigers' Aviva Premiership match against Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road.
And here is the photo of the cheeky fan with Tuilagi.
Posted at 12:26 pm | 5 comments
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Taranaki beat Bay of Plenty 21-3 in New Plymouth on Saturday evening, scoring two well taken tries in wet conditions. Here's a look at one of the tries and one of the moments of the match, a massive tackle by Taranaki centre Isaia Tuifua.
There was a big shot in the lead up to the Kurt Baker try - which has now been added on page two of this post - but this hit by Tuifua was the biggest of the match, and perhaps even the season.
Opposite number 12 Nick Evemy was rocked in the powerful hit by Tuifua, who got in position early and dominated in the tackle. It looked brutal in real time, so questions were asked.
The referee requested that it be checked by the TMO, just to make sure there was use of the arms, but as everyone at home could see, that wasn't a problem and the game carried on, with the big tackler being congratulated by his team mates and cheered by the crowd.
Earlier in the game Sevens star Baker had scored a very well taken try after he was put away down the wing from a pass that could well have been forward. It was also checked by the TMO, but they seemed to give the benefit of the doubt to Baker after a great chip and chase then finish.
The big tackle that caused the turnover, by Blade Thomson on Joe Tupe, didn't really get the credit or focus it deserved because of the pass and finish, but it was a beauty. You can view a video of that on page two, and below is Tuifua's huge tackle.
Posted at 6:35 pm | 17 comments
Friday, September 20, 2013
It's been a tough week for referees, and although Andrew Small didn't make any horrific decisions in the Harlequins vs Northampton Saints Aviva Premiership game, he did receive a smack in the face for getting too close to the action.
In a soaking wet game at the Stoop, Saints claimed a 13-6 victory after a try to James Wilson in the second half, and two penalties and a conversion by Stephen Myler sealed the win.
The conditions were difficult to contend with and at one stage Lee Dickson had a box-kick charged down by Tom Guest, with the ball ricocheting off his hands directly into the face of referee Small.
We've seen some great Falcons in recent times, with Wayne Barnes also taking a shot in the face not too long ago, but this was one of the more awkward ones, providing some light relief for the 11498 fans that turned out to brave the miserable conditions.
Refree Small took it well, eventually managing a wry smile despite being initially quite shaken.
Extra: View the Top 5 Falcons of All Time
Posted at 6:36 pm | 5 comments
Following the controversial dismissal of Bismarck Du Plessis in the Rugby Championship, and the admission by the IRB that referee Romain Poite got it wrong, the Rugby HQ guys looked into the archives to find similar mind-boggling referee calls.
It goes without saying that without referees, we wouldn't have the great game. Rugby is also one of the few high profile sports where we treat them with respect, and rarely question their judgement.
Having said that, with excellent TV broadcasts and analysis these days, we're able to scrutinise every call from the comfort of our La-Z-Boys, and occasionlaly, they do produce some shockers.
Technology is not only the reason we feel we're able to accurately criticise, but it's also one of the things that is now available to them, so there really shouldn't be any big calls gone wrong.
Poite's big call came a week after the decision was made to allow referees in the Rugby Championship to ask for replays of foul play to be put up on the big screen in the stadium.
That is a new innovation though and in recent years, while there was still the ability to speak to the touch judges and use common sense, we've seen a few howlers.
Sean Maloney compiled a list of some of the worst in recent memory with their latest Top 5 list.
View our Top 5 archive, and all the incidents mentioned in the video in the Related Posts below
Posted at 1:32 pm | 33 comments
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Earlier this week Western Province flank Michael Rhodes was suspended for one match following a disciplinary hearing for the straight red card he received during the Currie Cup Round 6 match against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
On the same weekend that Gloucester's Nick Wood received his marching orders for a stamp on Saracens' Jacques Burger just 73 seconds into their Aviva Premiership match, Rhodes stamped on Blue Bulls captain Jono Ross after a tackle and he too received his marching orders.
Unlike with Wayne Barnes, referee Marius Jonker didn't see it so referred to the TMO to check for foul play after touch judge Rasta Rashivenga was on hand to alert him to the offence. Jonker watched it on the big screen and appeared to make the call himself.
Jonker explained to Western Province captain De Kock Steenkamp that he could not rule on intent, but because it was clearly a foot in the face, it's a red card.
As with Nick Wood and Jacques Burger, Rhodes went over to apologise on his way off the field.
Rhodes initially seemed to be annoyed that Ross was holding onto him after the whistle had blown, but Tuesday's SARU judicial committee said there was no intent to stamp on the side of Ross' face.
Judicial officer Peter Ingwersen ruled that Rhodes was being pulled down in the tackle at the time and tried to regain his balance. He did however rule that there was sufficient negligence to find Rhodes guilty of transgressing Law 10.4(b), a player may not stamp on an opponent.
It was deemed a lower-entry offence, and combined with Rhodes' respectable disciplinary record, resulted in him being suspended for just one match. Rhodes was however suspended for six weeks in 2011 for a dangerous headlock on Siale Piutau.
Perhaps he is lucky that Waylon Murray didn't take offence to where he grabbed him for support.
Posted at 7:24 pm | 15 comments