Thursday, May 22, 2014
Reds lock Ed O'Donoghue was cleared of eyegouging following one of the most talked about few minutes of the season so far. The incident against the Rebels was briefly included in the Shortball earlier in the week, but here's a longer look.
With the scores tied at 27-27, Scott Higginbotham and O'Donoghue got in a tangle at the back of a ruck, then continued on the floor. There appeared to be a bit of a head clash (from Higginbotham), then O'Donoghue rubbed his hand all over the Rebels captain's face.
Referee Steve Walsh allowed play to continue but just as the Reds were about to throw in to an attacking lineout, the TMO intervened and recommended to Walsh that a red card - and penalty - for eyegouging was neccessary. The Rebels slotted the easy kick, winning the game 30-27.
Reds captain James Horwill was furious, saying that they were robbed by a 'stupid referee decision', and continued in the press conference by saying that Super Rugby was being ruined as a spectacle.
"I've played 150 professional games of rugby and I've never ever ever seen that happen before," an irate Horwill said. "This spectacle of Super Rugby is being ruined. There's too much going back and slowing of the game. It's getting beyond a joke.
"From my experience of eye gouging, there's a mark. There was no mark on Higgers. Higgers thought he was in trouble. He was surprised [at the gouging claim]. At every breakdown, there are hands, arms, elbows, knees. That's the reality of a physical game. You can't pick one moment out and not go back for every single one in every game," he added.
At the hearing it was found that there was no contact with the eyes, so O'Donoghue was cleared and the red card was scrapped from his record, no doubt compounding the frustration for the Reds.
"The act of eye gouging generally triggers a reaction from the victim, which was not evident in this case and helped support my finding," said the SANZAR statement. They also listened to submissions from the Rebels medical team, and Higginbotham himself, who said he had no complaints.
O'Donoghue says that eye-gouging sickens him."I despise the act of eye-gouging and to think my name is linked with it after a little wrestle around the ruck sickens me. I'm not a gouger."
The lesson in all this is that, as Rebels flanker Scott Fuglistaller says, 'the eyes are sacrosanct', and if you're going to stick your hand or fingers near them, be prepared to get a bit of heat for it.
Update: James Horwill has been charged with a code of conduct breach following his 'stupid refereeing decision' comment. He faces a possible fine of up to $500.
Posted at 1:45 pm | 24 comments
The Australian Rugby Union have put together this emotionally charged video ahead of the Wallabies' series against France in June, and leading up to RWC2015. It features a poem by Rupert McCall as we see images of great Wallabies from days past.
The video encapsulates what it means to Australians to wear and support the golden threads of their country, and aims to reinvigorate the passionate fanbase after a few tough years.
Some unbelievably talented players have worn the Wallaby jersey, from David Campese to Toutai Kefu, John Eales to Tim Horan. These are true legends of the world game and this tribute has been written to remind fans of the meaning and heritage behind the Wallabies.
Three months in the making, renowned Australia author and poet Rupert McCall has created a piece that is sure to spark the flames of pride for fans in the lead up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
It's a great idea and perhaps a template of sorts that could work well with other countries too. As we head toward to the showcase event, we're sure to see many more of these types of videos.
Some former Wallabies including Tim Horan, Al Baxter, Phil Waugh and Richard Harry speak about their reactions to the video on page two, and you can also read a full text version of the poem.
Posted at 8:12 am | 1 comments
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Sharks flanker Jean Deysel pleased guilty to a charge of stamping following the red card he received against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday. He has been suspended for three weeks. The Sharks went on to win the match 30-25.
Deysel saw red in the 16th minute of the much anticipated clash between the two powerhouse sides. Early on it looked as though the match would be ruined as a spectable following the sending off, but the Sharks fought back courageously despite playing 65 minutes with 14 men.
Deysel has since faced a SANZAR judicial hearing, with Advocate Jannie Lubbe finding that Jordan Taufua illegally held on to the foot of Deysel, preventing him from joining the line of defence.
"In order to free himself, Deysel stamped with his boot on Taufua and made contact with the neck/head area of the player. Taufua sustained a minor injury to his mouth but was able to complete the match and subsequently provided helpful testimony that supported the medical evidence," the statement said.
The offence was categorised as mid-level which carries a five week suspension, but was reduced to three weeks due to mitagating factors such as Deysel's apology to Taufua post match, his clean record and his guilty plea and genuine remorse for his actions.
Meanwhile Taufua has said that he isn't holding a grudge. "He came up to me and apologised to me at the end and I just told him 'no hard feelings mate, it's a contact sport'," Taufua said.
"I think it was just a heat of the moment thing you know? I think he was trying to get back on his D-line and just reacted. I'm not angry at him or anything. I have got no grudge. I was just holding on to him in a ruck and then he just got me good. There was a bit of blood but that's rugby mate."
Sharks coach Jake White wasn't pleased with what happened, but defended Deysel's character.
"I can't stand here and protect a guy and condone that sort of thing.. It's not like him, that's the thing I feel most embarrassed about. He's not a dirty guy, he's got an unbelievable record.
"He's a tough man, carries the ball hard but I think he's as remorseful in the changing room as I would expect any player to be. It's not him," White added.
Posted at 6:39 pm | 22 comments
Saracens winger Chris Ashton escaped a misconduct charge earlier this week after he had attempted to put off Harlequins flyhalf Nick Evans during the Premiership Semi Final on Saturday. Ashton shouted 'push it' as Evans attemped a conversion kick.
Harlequins fullback Mike Brown scored a try just before halftime and as Evans was about to attempt the conversion, foot about to strike the ball, Ashton shouted at him in an attempt to distract him.
Evans slotted the kick and the players went into the tunnel for halftime, but it caused a bit of a melee and some England teammates took him aside to have a word. Whether it was it was frustration boiling over or just intended as banter, Quins weren't amused, and neither were the RFU.
They reviewed the incident and released a statement regarding respect being one of the core values of Rugby. The RFU Head of Discipline, Gerard McEvilly, spoke to Ashton about the incident, his responsibilities towards the game and his future conduct. A written warning was set to follow.
Had Evans missed the kick, he would more than likely have had another attempt at it and perhaps if it weren't halftime, referee Wayne Barnes may have even considered restarting with a penalty on the halfway line. As it was, Ashton appeared to get a telling off by some of the Quins players.
"Humility is up on the walls here and around the stadium, and honesty," said Harlequins coach Conor O'Shea post match. "It wasn't part of what you would expect someone to do, but we leave it. They are worthy finalists, worthy winners. Move on,"
Posted at 10:13 am | 70 comments
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Northampton Saints prop Salesi Ma'afu has received a one week ban for punching Tom Youngs in the Aviva Premiership Semi Final. You can view the incident below, as well as an animated gif and the viral Twitter interaction between the players on page two.
Former Wallabies prop Ma'afu was red carded for striking Youngs midway through the second half of Friday night's action packed 21-20 semi final win for Saints against Leicester Tigers.
The two came to blows at the back of a rolling maul and after a bit of a slap to the side of the head and a few other exchanges, Ma'afu lost his cool and unleashed an almighty one-two combination that floored the England and British & Irish Lions hooker.
Referee JP Doyle handled the situation well and opted to yellow card Youngs, then red card the hard hitting prop, who was later cited and faced a disciplinary hearing earlier this evening.
After the game, Ma'afu tweeted Youngs: "The jersey can overcome us in the heat of battle. I owe you a pint. #respect," in response to Youngs wishing him well in the final (view that here).
Via teleconference Ma'afu pleaded guilty to a charge of striking an opponent contrary to Law 10.4.A.
He has been given a one week ban and ordered to pay £500 towards hearings costs. He is free to play again on May 26th, so will be available for the May 31st Aviva Premiership Final.
The tweets between the two players have gone viral this week, with thousands of retweets and plenty of news stories on various sports websites. View the tweets (and a great gif!) on page two of this post, and remember, what happens on the field stays on the field.
Posted at 7:11 pm | 48 comments
It was a fascinating weekend of Super Rugby with some controversial incidents, amidst epic performances. We'll have more on some of those soon hopefully but for now here is a very quick rundown of some of the best moments from the weekend, with Rugby HQ's Shortball.
View all Shortball and Plays of the Week (and month) clips in the our archive
Posted at 12:18 pm | 24 comments
Monday, May 19, 2014
Northampton Saints and Saracens will contest the Aviva Premiership Final on May 31st following wins over Leicester Tigers and Harlequins respectively. If you missed the games, here are quick official highlight wraps from both semi finals.
Both games included a fair bit of controversy, with Salesi Ma'afu being red carded for punching Tom Youngs, while Saracens winger Chris Ashton has been spoken to by the RFU regarding an incident in the first half. He allegedly shouted 'push it' as Nick Evans was taking a conversion.
Saints beat Tigers 21-20 in a hard-fought game at Franklin's Gardens. Coach Jim Mallinder has since spoken of the team's need to not dwell on the win, but follow up with a significant triumph.
"To go down to 14 men and still come out of it was testament to the massive character of the side," he said. "A significant moment will be when we win a big competition. We've been in a Heineken Cup final, we were in the Premiership final last season. It will be significant when we win a big one."
Ma'afu will face a disciplinary hearing for the red card he received after decking Youngs, while Tigers flyhalf Owen Williams has been charged with "acts contrary to good sportsmanship/making contact with the eye(s) or eye area of Luther Burrell". Their hearings are on Tuesday evening.
Saracens meanwhile are eyeing a historic 'double' as they are in both the Premiership final and the Heineken Cup final. They beat Harlequins 31-17 on Saturday (highlights on page two).
"The squad is really confident at the moment and they front up every single week," said coach Mark McCall, who's team first needs to take on Toulon in Cardiff this coming Saturday (May 24th).
Saracens vs Harlequins Highlights (on page two)
Posted at 10:00 am | 26 comments