Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Leinster are waiting to hear if Zebre's Mauro Bergamasco will be cited following an off the ball tackle on Brian O'Driscoll during the RaboDirect PRO12 match at the weekend. So near to the Lions tour, fans will be pleased to note that he wasn't injured.
There have been vocal calls for a citing though, as the Leinster star was tackled not only without the ball, but lifted and dumped down in a way that could have caused some damage.
It appeared as though Bergamasco thought he had read an inside switch, but you can see he was looking at O'Driscoll - who didn't have the ball - and went through with the heavy tackle anyway.
It went unnoticed and unpunished at the time, despite the centre being clearly incensed. A shoulder injury ahead of the Lions tour, especially in this manner, would have been cruel irony.
The PRO12 Independant Citing Commisioner has 50 hours from the start of the match to make a decision on whether Bergamasco should be cited. That runs to 4:30pm today.
Coach Joe Schmidt was relieved to leave Italy without any injuries, after Isa Nacewa was also on the receiving end of a questionable tackle. He wasn't overly concerned at the time though.
"I think there were a couple of things that might get looked at. They were both happy to continue," said Schmidt. "Drico hasn't played a lot in the last 10 weeks and Isa didn't play over the Six Nations at all. They were pretty keen to get game time under their belts. So, we left them on."
Leinster won the game 41-22, with O'Driscoll setting up a try and playing well throughout.
Do you think Bergamasco should be cited for this, or was he just overzealous?
*Wednesday 24 April update: Bergamasco was not cited.
Posted at 6:38 am | 79 comments
Monday, April 22, 2013
Clermont maintained their fine form with a convincing 39-17 victory over Toulouse at fortress Stade Marcel Michelin at the weekend. They started the game in sensational fashion as Wesley Fofana scored one of the tries of the weekend after just 39 seconds.
With their all important Heineken Cup Semi Final against Munster a week away, Clermont sent a clear message with yet another powerful performance, this time over third place Toulouse.
Last weekend they drew with Toulon but on this occasion they added to their incredible home record as they marched into the Top 14 semi final playoffs. They are now unbeaten at the regular home stadium for 59 matches, or three-and-a-half years.
Tries were scored by Fofana, Benson Stanley, and Sitiveni Sivivatu, the latter having scored a brace, including one that came from a superb pick-up at the base of the ruck.
Fofana's was the best of the match though, not only because it was within the first minute, but due to the quality he showed as he stepped, fended, and sprinted his way to the line.
In other news, star France winger Vincent Clerc has been ruled out of the three-Test New Zealand tour with a knee injury. You can view the injury 4:33 mins into the highlights clip on page two.
View more replays of this try, all the others, and Clerc's injury in the Highlights wrap of the match
Posted at 10:06 am | 27 comments
Sunday, April 21, 2013
With lots happening in the rugby world, as well as here behind the scenes, it's difficult to keep up with demand a lot of the time. So to be as efficient as possible, we're trying out a slightly new way of archiving weekly highlights, as you will see below.
Use the links, or the page numbers to view each game.
ROUND 10 SUPER RUGBY MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
|Hurricanes vs Western Force
|Waratahs vs Chiefs
Crusaders vs Highlanders
|Reds vs Brumbies
|Sharks vs Cheetahs
|Southern Kings vs Bulls
Posted at 11:06 am | 0 comments
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Worcester centre Josh Matavesi wasn't available for this weekend's Aviva Premiership match against Harlequins as he was banned for four weeks on Wednesday. The suspension came after an awful challenge he made on Neil De Kock last weekend.
English born Matavesi, who made his Fiji debut in 2009, coat-hangered De Kock in what was described as 'a horrendous challenge' by Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.
McCall was fuming at the tackle, which wasn't spotted by the referee or his officials at the time, as can be heard on the referee mic on numerous occasions in the below video.
"We could have lost our scrum half for the rest of the season and it's luck that he hasn't broken his jaw or fractured his cheekbone," said McCall afterwards. "It was a horrendous challenge and we're pretty upset about it. Neil's okay but it's through sheer chance that he's okay.
"It looked pretty deliberate to me - unquestionably - so if that was a ploy they were going to try and use during the game I thought we needed a bit of protection from the officials."
McCall vented his anger towards the opposition bench at the time, something former Warriors boss Richard Hill [Hill was replaced by Dean Ryan in midweek] sympathised with.
"It was a very clumsy challenge from Josh, but he's not a malicious player. It was badly mistimed. Josh has apologised and I fully understand Mark's reaction to protect his player," he said.
At a RFU disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, 22-year-old Matavesi pleaded guilty to the dangerous tackle charge and was banned for four weeks, ruling him out of the last two games of the season.
The ban runs until 6th May, two days after Worcester's season ends, then reactivates from 31 May to 6 June, which means he'll miss the opportunity to represent Fiji in their first two matches of the Pacific Nations Cup against Japan and Canada. Some may say four weeks is lenient for this.
Do you agree that it's probably one of the worst high tackles ever seen? Browse through the related posts for more, including a howler from Fritz Lee in 2010.
Posted at 7:16 pm | 43 comments
Friday, April 19, 2013
With the British & Irish Lions squad announcement less than two weeks away, on 30th April, HSBC Ambassador and Lions legend Jason Robinson has now selected his starting XV for the Test series against the Wallabies.
The former dual-code international was impressed by what he saw in the Six Nations, subsequently naming a side that features eight Welsh internationals, and an all Welsh backrow.
He's gone with Leigh Halpenny as a starter, but on the wing rather than fullback, opting for Ireland's Rob Kearney instead. In the midfield he's gone with what could be a lethal partnership, as he's named Manu Tuilagi and Brian O'Driscoll, with the latter as squad captain.
If you're wondering about the scenery, Robinson was speaking from the HSBC Rugby Festival Doha.
JASON ROBINSON’S 2013 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS STARTING XV
|15 Rob Kearney (Ireland)
14 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
13 Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) ©
12 Manu Tuilagi (England)
11 George North (Wales)
10 Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)
9 Mike Phillips (Wales)
|1 Cian Healy (Ireland)
2 Rory Best (Ireland)
3 Adam Jones (Wales)
4 Joe Launchbury (England)
5 Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
6 Sam Warburton (Wales)
7 Justin Tipuric (Wales)
8 Toby Faletau (Wales)
As the tour approaches, what do you think of the team he has selected?
Posted at 2:55 pm | 77 comments
This amazing passage of end to end play from Auckland club rugby did the rounds recently after it was posted by someone who was at the game. It features a flowing passage of play where either side, Grammar-Carlton or Suburbs, could have scored.
Suburbs, in red, were leading 27-7 at the halftime break, but then had two players yellow-carded at once, allowing Grammar to come back into the match with some great rugby.
The passage of play took place when the score was at 30-26 following a great Grammar comeback, which they were trying to cap off with a try while Suburbs were still down to 13-men.
Both sides featured players that have played at top representative level, including giant tighthead prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi, who played for NZ U/20 and this season is part of the Blues in Super Rugby.
In the end after multiple phases, the try was finished off by winger Gareth Williams-Spiers.
If ever you wondered why the All Blacks are so good, this footage could give you a clue.
Williams-Spiers scored a great length of the field try in the same fixture last year. View here
Credit: James Cameron
Posted at 12:25 pm | 18 comments
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Richard Kahui has made a succesful return to Super Rugby following 10 months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. Against the Reds he showed that the shoulder is strong again, and if he stays fit we may well see him playing for the All Blacks vs France.
The Reds scored four tries to two to beat the Chiefs 31-23 in Waikato, but it was Kahui who put in the hit of the match as he smashed Ben Tapuai.
Kahui read play well and lined up Tapuai, hitting him just as the Reds centre offloaded on the inside. It looked a bit high in the replay perhaps, but there was a lot of shoulder on chest, and it was definitely one of the biggest hits of the season either way.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have taken note of Kahui's performance ahead of the three match Test series with France in June. While Kahui is heading off to Japan at the end of the season, he may well be selected to play in the midfield, or if Hansen has his way, as cover on the wing.
"Personally I think his best position internationally is on the wing," Hansen said recently.
"His skills set is such that he's great under the high ball. He's a big ball carrier and he gets the opportunity on the wing to roam. He's a great counter attacker and he's got a good boot. As a back-three player he's ideal. That doesn't rule him out from being a midfielder, either, because he's high quality there too."
The 27-year-old says that he'd like to be part of the 2015 Rugby World Cup setup too, but acknowledges that he'll need to work hard to make sure he is still on top of his game. "The level of rugby, while it's not bad, is not Super Rugby, and you can easily fall behind with your skills.
"If it happens I come back and give that World Cup a crack, I'm going to have to make sure over the time I'm away that I'm playing really well and working hard in the gym and other areas so I don't fall behind," he said, adding that if not pushed to the highest standard, it could be a problem.
"They're open to foreign players coming back, but there's a huge risk factor for guys that go away."
The huge hit is below. Do you think Kahui should play for the All Blacks this year?
Posted at 11:18 am | 52 comments