Sunday, May 04, 2014
With some of the most gifted players in world rugby taking part, the World Sevens Series is a platform to showcase some great skills. Speed and stepping are often at the forefront, but as seen here, footballing ability goes a long way too.
Against France on Day One of the Glasgow Sevens, Trainer was on the end of a drifting pass that was out just a bit too far in front of him. Rather that reach down and possibly risk knocking it on, he did what any incredibly talented player would do - casually controlled and flicked it up with his foot.
He then outran the defence, and glided inside one of France's best players, Terry Bouhraoua.
The last time we saw something similar to this in the Sevens was when Wales' Tom Grabham did pretty much the exact same thing against Argentina in 2012, also in Glasgow funnily enough.
On the Test scene Simon Zebo, as mentioned in this clip, did it in the Six Nations with a backheel against two years ago, but it could probably be argued that both Grabham and Trainer's moments were more impressive and required more control. Football gurus can debate that though.
In last year's Six Nations Vincent Clerc volleyed a crosskick in-field to nearly set up a try against Scotland, and back in 2009 Lionel Beauxis produced one of the most sublime bits of skill seen on a rugby field, as he volleyed and controlled the ball with ease against Bath.
Dimitri Yachvili has also backheeled a pass to set up a try before, and last year Munster's Rohan O'Mahony flicked the ball up to James Coughlan to set up a try. There was all sorts of debate about whether that was intentional or not, so you can take a look and add your two cents on that post.
The theme with all of these efforts is that while size, physicality and fitness as so key to rugby these days, there's still place and appreciation for the showman, and those with incredible skill.
Enjoy Trainer's effort below, and the other moments mentioned in the Related Posts below that
Posted at 10:09 am | 14 comments
Friday, May 02, 2014
Ulster prop Tom Court was shown a straight red card in tonight's RaboDirect PRO12 match between Ulster and Leinster at Ravenhill. Court was part of a double tackle on 6ft11 Ireland lock Toner, and appeared to drive him to the ground as Toner twisted.
Prop Court and hooker Rob Herring made the tackle and lifted Toner before - as we've seen on previous occasions - the tackled player turned, and in the process the tackle outcome changed. That's the way it looked anyway, and unfortunately he landed face flat in the turf.
Former Ireland international Paul Wallace tweeted about his frustration with the decision.
"He's gone above the horizontal, and he's landed on his neck. I've got no option but a red card," explained referee Luke Pearce, much to Ulster captain Johan Muller's annoyance.
"You are joking," could be heard twice, as Court seemed to say something like "Please Sir... I let him go in the air," trying to indicate that there was no malice involved.
Malicious or not, Toner landed terribly and with the laws the way they are - to protect players in the tackle - the referee was correct in saying that he had no option but to give a red card.
UPDATE: Leinster won the match 22-20 after a tight finish. Court tweeted the following to Toner:
In another controversial incident, Rob Kearney was yellow carded for a high tackle on Paddy Jackson as the Ulster flyhalf sprinted in for a try. You can see that on page two off this post.
UPDATE: Court has been suspended for 2 weeks. You can read the full press release here
Posted at 7:19 pm | 61 comments
Ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby action, here is a catch up on what went down in round 11 of play, with some excellent tries scored around New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. There's also a few great celebrations from the Cheetahs, and a falcon of course. Thanks as always to Fox Sports
Posted at 6:02 pm | 6 comments
Italian team Zebre beat Welsh side Ospreys with a dramatic finale to their RaboDirect PRO12 match last night. Guglielmo Palazzani's late try helped them claim a famous 30-27 victory at home. The win is their second in succession for the first time this season, following their defeat of Edinburgh.
The last gasp try helped Zebre to move above Treviso on the Pro 12 standings, and give the loyal home support something to cheer about after having trailed 27-16 at one point in the match.
Tries were scored for Zebre by Giovanbattista Venditti, Brendan Leonard and Palazzani.
You can view highlights above, and a longer look at the final try over on page two
Posted at 12:50 pm | 4 comments
Thursday, May 01, 2014
This great try comes from the (USA) Varsity Cup Semi Final and the BYU Cougar's 60-0 drubbing of Navy in Utah on Saturday. After two great flick passes in the build up, Paul Lasike demolished the hapless Navy fullback to score from a powerful run.
Lasike joined BYU to play rugby but he soon got noticed and was actually recruited to give American Football a try. He is now a formidable running back when not playing rugby.
"They were interested in me," Lasike said a few years back. "They gave me a locker, they gave me an opportunity to prove myself. You know, I wasn't coming on to be a superstar or anything. They were interested in my athletic abilities, simply my athletic abilities."
Having grown up in New Zealand, rugby is in his blood but being able to play both sports means he can contribute where possible, as he did in no uncertain terms at the weekend after coming on as a replacement for injured centre Jared Whippy.
Lasike was part of the move before a neat behind-the-back pass from Jonathan Linehan set up Joe Nicholls, who offloaded nicely in contact. Lasike did the rest, shrugging off the Navy fullback without any need for a fend or hand off. That's what happens if you go high on a big guy.
With the win, BYU (Brigham Young University) advanced to their second successive Varsity Cup Final where they will meet last years finalists, the California Golden Bears, this coming Saturday. BYU won last year's final 27-24 with a dramatic last-minute drop goal.
Photo: Paul Meyers
Posted at 5:03 pm | 15 comments
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
James O'Connor left Australia to seek greener pastures at London Irish and is clearly enjoying life in the Northern Hemisphere. Total Rugby put together this feature on the former Wallaby, where he speaks about rugby abroad, tactics and playing for his country. He needs to find a team in Australia though, which appears to be a challenge.
O'Connor will join Toulon at the end of the season, then aims to get back to Australia to be eligible for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The problem, it appears, is that there isn't too much interest from the teams in Australia, with the Rebels, Waratahs and Brumbies reportedly not interested.
The Force are rebuilding after some previous issues, and have stated that they're not sure they'd want to risk upsetting things again. The Reds is his best bet, but Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie has said that despite his fondness for O'Connor, it's not his job to find the talented back a team.
"I have left it up to him to work out how he gets back to Australia and that’s between him and the provinces really," McKenzie told Fox Sports recently.
"The people he has to convince are those people. They've got team cultures and how they want to go about business, and they also have salary caps and all those things.
"He obviously chose to go offshore. Well, getting back onshore and getting back here, that’s the challenge he has got to sort out. I am not out there peddling anyone's case. I have to be respectful of players who are here and plugging away and doing good things.
"In the end, the melting pot for the World Cup will become obvious at the start of next year, and we’ll go from there," the former Reds coach added.
For Wallaby and rugby fans' sake, it would be great to see him back in the gold and green jumper, especially with the World Cup such a showcase event. This video from Total Rugby gives us some insight into his frame of mind, and how much he's enjoying life and rugby at London Irish.
Posted at 12:48 pm | 4 comments
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Jonny Wilkinson kicked six penalties and a drop goal to help Toulon keep their dream of successive Heineken Cup titles alive as they beat Munster 24-16 in a tense battle in Marseilles on Sunday. Munster scored the only try of the game, through Simon Zebo.
Former England star Wilkinson helped the French side reach the Cardiff final, where they will face Saracens at the Millennium Stadium on 24 May. He kicked 21 points, while Delon Armitage added a massive penalty kick from about 55m out.
Toulon are now on track for a European and domestic double, and a chance of becoming the third side to ever successfully defend the title. Leicester and Leinster are the other two who did it before.
"It was a hell of a game and we were in danger everywhere on the field," said Wilkinson.
"A five point lead was never going to be enough and even eight was tight - Munster were relentless and kept going at us. We've heard nothing but good stuff about Saracens. They are top of the Aviva Premiership and are consistent week in, week out.
"To beat Clermont Auvergne with a scoreline like that is incredible – it’s normally the other way round with them. We have an enormous amount of respect for them."
He is now on 100 points for the season, and on course to better the 108 he totalled last season.
The final will feature a great match up between Wilkinson and Owen Farrell. Should the match be tied and go through extra time, with both teams having scored the same amount of tries, it will go to a place kicking penalty shoot-out contest, as it did in the 2009 semi final.
Posted at 11:06 am | 10 comments