Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The Western Force upset the Crusaders with a historic 16-14 victory in Round 9 of Super Rugby in Perth. The Force tackled their way to the win, but the game ended controversially as pitch invaders intervened at a crucial time.
It was the Force's best defensive effort of the season as they held out the Crusaders, who appeared to dominate proceedings and launch multiple attacks but couldn't breach the determined defence.
They came back from 16-8 down in the second half and looked likely to take the lead but the Force maintained their composure, pulling off numerous trysaving tackles.
Late in the game the Crusaders were yet again on attack, but a pitch invasion killed off that momentum, as five spectators thought it would be fun to take to the field.
Crusaders back Ryan Crotty tackled one, while forwards coach and former All Black Dave Hewett grabbed another. Five men were taken into custody but there have been complaints from the Crusaders, who feel that stadium security didn't do their job.
"It was disgraceful and unacceptable in our view and needs investigating," said Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach. "To have four or five people on the ground and to have security staff unable to manage it is an issue.
Coach Todd Blackadder echoed the sentiment, saying that is was a farcical end to the match.
"It was obviously a really key moment. We got a turnover and we would have counter-attacked and it was about five-on-one. It's poor, it shouldn't happen at this level. The crowd needs to be more discplined. It ruined a good game of footy," he said.
SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said that there was a reasonable amount of security to monitor the 16 000 fans. "We understand there was about 90 security guards and these idiots were able to invade the pitch. In this instance it was a complete failure, that's what needs investigating.
"It was extremely disappointing and unacceptable behaviour from a small group of idiots in what was otherwise a very good crowd. It's not something we want to see in the game."
Ironically, it's been reported that the men involved in the Perth pitch invasion are actually Crusaders fans, and there were 25 of them that planned, or attempted, to take to the field.
Peters said that they would be investigating a full report from the Western Force.
On a more positive note, below is a compilation from the Force that shows some of the outstanding tackling that took place as they cut down the seven times champions.
Note: The quality of the video is as incoming
Posted at 9:26 am | 11 comments
Monday, April 15, 2013
The RFU sent in this amusing clip showing what happened after a long England training session.
James Haskell and fitness coach Paul Stridgeon were messing about after the session at Pennyhill Park, trying to get a rugby ball to bounce into a bin, without much success.
Then Mike Catt, who happens to be England's attacking skills coach, arrived.
Posted at 7:12 pm | 17 comments
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Leinster beat Munster 22-16 at a wet Thomond Park thanks to a late match-winning try by Brian O'Driscoll, but it was an ugly incident in the last quarter that had everyone talking, and could mean a few weeks on the sideline for Paul O'Connell.
The Leinster win meant that they move to second on the RaboDirect Pro12 table, three points behind leaders Ulster. O'Driscoll's try actually came from over 25 phases of possesion, before the Ireland legend dived over from close to seal the win.
Earlier in the game O'Connell, who has been in great form, kicked at the ball with little regard for Dave Kearney, who had his hand on the ball and his head between it and POC's sizable boot.
Kearney left the field unconcious from the blow, and referee Nigel Owens and his officials failed to see it, so O'Connell avoided punishment at the time.
"He was unconscious for a period of time. He's come back around and has probably asked the question 10 times, 'Did I catch it?'" Leinster coach Joe Schmidt told TheScore.
"He's going to be pretty relieved when he sees the footage that he did catch the ball. He's not in great shape at the moment. The main disappointment at the moment is, he has really come on.
"He's played a number of games in a row and was getting into a rhythm. He's likely to miss a few games now. That's probably his biggest frustration," he added.
Clearly dangerous, it was more irresponsible than intentional - what kind of ban will this bring?
UPDATE: O'Connell has escaped sanction after the incident was viewed by citing commissioner Eddie Walsh to be careless and nothing more. It was decided that he was making a genuine attempt to kick the ball, and there was no deliberate intent.
Posted at 6:00 pm | 100 comments
The Blues put on an impressive showing away from home as they beat the Hurricanes 28-6 in a fast paced Super Rugby derby in Wellington. While the win was comfortable in the end, the 'Canes tried their damndest to keep out the lethal Blues outfit.
There were a number of big tackles throughout, with Julian Savea knocking back a few players and hitman Motu Matu'u flying at Blues players with mixed success.
It was prop Ben Franks who made two of the tackles of the match though, the first being a big hit, the second something that was actually quite unbelievable to see.
His hit on Jackson Willison early on was impressive, but later, after a frantic period of play that included multiple turnovers, Franks miraculously chased down speedster Frank Halai.
Halai has spent a good amount of time in the New Zealand Sevens team, being one of the highest rated players in the World Series. He actually scored the first try of the game, but on this occasion he met his match as powerlifter Franks' determined chase prevented a try.
The Blues racked up four converted tries in total, giving them a bonus point win after a run of three losses, and helped them leapfrog the Hurricanes into second on the New Zealand conference.
We can only speculate as to whether Halai would have made it to the tryline or not. What we do know is that a huge All Blacks prop somehow caught one of the quickest wings in the country.
Posted at 11:52 am | 18 comments
Friday, April 12, 2013
Plays of the Week are back and we've got plenty to keep you entertained, as the working week comes to a close and the rugby weekend hots up. Today we're catching up on the three latest videos, as we know you love Rugby HQ's Plays.
This weekend there isn't any top-tier international rugby, Sevens or otherwise, so it's all about Super Rugby, PRO12, Top 14, and Aviva Premiership. There was a game earlier today actually, as the Highlanders lost to the Brumbies in Dunedin.
In fact the Highlanders have been taking a beating of late, not just on the scorecard. We saw recently that one of their players in particular took a nasty knock, and another handed one out.
So far this season almost every Super Rugby match has provided a talking point, be it good or bad, so Plays of the Week is usually a great way to catch up on all the best - and worst - bits.
As they haven't been posted for a while, what we've done below is include all three latest Plays videos, but in a slight different way to usual. The Youtube playlists weren't proving popular with some, so you can now simply click on the page numbers below to be taken to the next video.
Round 8, the latest instalment, is below. Enjoy, and have a great weekend.
Posted at 3:02 pm | 2 comments
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has criticised Heineken Cup organisors for the lack of punishment for Toulon lock Bakkies Botha after Marcos Ayerze broke his collarbone attempting to tackle him on Sunday.
Cockerill feels that Botha should have been charged with 'excessive use of the knee' after he stormed towards the tryline at the Stade Felix Mayol in the Tigers' 21-15 Quarter Final loss.
The former England hooker, no saint himself, was disgusted when hearing that Botha was not cited by ERC, and went on to accuse them of being out of touch with the modern game.
"Marcos has broken his collarbone in two. He will have surgery to have it plated and repaired, and he will be out for three months," explained an incensed Cockerill.
"I have been told that there will be no citing of the incident. The citing officer put it forward as a citable offence but the gatekeeper from ERC's disciplinary section has decided that it is not worthy of a citing. From the footage we have seen, we felt that it was an illegal act of jumping into a tackle.
"It caused a lot of damage to the player and I am very disappointed in the attitude that ERC have come back to us with. And I am bitterly disappointed with the inconsistency at disciplinary level within ERC yet again. They have failed to deal with what, in my opinion, is an act of foul play.
"I am pretty sure it is against the laws of the game to hurdle into a player – and that has caused damage to our player who will now miss the rest of the season."
Argentine Ayerza said he was in a lot of pain before the operation, which will involve plates and screws. He said that he was told by club doctors that he'll be out of rugby for about nine weeks.
"For me, that is a disgraceful decision to not, at least, have a hearing to look at all of the facts," continued Cockerill. "To lose one of the best loosehead props in the world in that fashion is disappointing. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
"The rule-makers are so fussy on so many things but, when something like this happens, the disciplinary panels and officers decide there is no case to answer."
Some felt that it was actually Botha who was unlucky in this instance, as the try wasn't awarded. View the footage below and you can decide for yourself if there was a jump into the tackle or not.
Posted at 11:34 am | 66 comments
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Munster midfield duo of James Downey and Casey Laulala may not be the youngest around, but against Harlequins at the weekend they imposed themselves physically, playing a major role in the 18-12 Heineken Cup Quarter Final victory at The Stoop.
Downey, who played five seasons at Northampton Saints, returned to England with one of the tackles of the weekend, halting fullback Mike Brown's progress in no uncertain terms.
It was perhaps indicative of the attitude and commitment Munster had on the day, coming back from a PRO12 loss to Glasgow, looking to make ammends and throw everything into this fixture.
"We just imposed ourselves on them physically. We said we wanted to do that. Obviously, English teams are normally physical and we had to step up and increase the intensity," said Downey.
"It was a great game to be involved in. ROG said it after and Paulie said it, that's the way Munster are, that's the way Munster play, that’s the Munster game and it's great to be part of it.
"It went well and I got my hands on the ball early, I wanted to do that. I made some tackles as well. That's a big part of my game and I'm glad it paid off. It is the kind of game I like, it suited my sort of style. There is a time and a place for it, it is a fine balance," said the big centre.
Speaking yesterday at a recovery session at the University of Limerick, Downey said that it was a unique day to be a part of. "At the end of the game when you are walking around and seeing so many Munster fans, wondering where they got all the tickets!
"I don't know where they got them from to be honest. But that’s it, that's what makes these days.
"As Paulie said, when you go out there you find someone in the crowd and look at them and you see what it means to them. They had paid good money to get over there and get the tickets; you have to produce for them, that's what it's all about."
It was a fantastic European win for Munster, but the two-times champions now need to switch focus back to the RaboDirect Pro12, and their crunch Thomond Park clash with Leinster this Saturday.
"I think we have just got to keep it going. We need a couple of back-to-backs wins and no better game to have than Leinster to be honest. That Harlequins game was a full performance, but it is about backing it up now and we have to back it up this week.
"We still have a chance of making the Pro12 play-offs. It's a long shot, but the chance is there and we haven't beaten them in a while. It's time we put that right, especially at home," he said.
Munster face Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup Semi Finals on Saturday, 27th April
Posted at 8:39 am | 15 comments