Friday, May 30, 2014
This week's Top 5 from Rugby HQ was inspired by Nick Cummins' howler of a clearance kick in last weekend's Super Rugby match vs the Lions. That got the Fox crew thinking about some of the biggest 'You're Kidding Me!' moments, so here they are.
Streakers always seem to get a bit of a laugh, and that was the case in Dunedin last year when a guy took to the field, only to be tackled by the Highlanders mascot, a giant cock. During the Super Rugby game against the Blues, AJ the chicken took matters into his own feathery hands.
"I noticed a streaker on the field and thought immediately, 'This is no good, It's our stadium and we've got to protect it'," he explained after the match. "So I gave it my all, gunned it for the streaker and managed to chase him down."
In 2011 the Wallabies thumped the Barbarians but as James O'Connor made a movement towards taking a conversion, Peter Stringer spotted the opportunity and swooped in. The ref allowed it, so off he trotted with the ball. Ireland weren't as lucky against the All Blacks a few years later.
Next up on the list was that bizarre moment when the wind blew the ball all the way back over the tryline, and then there's a look at Toby Flood charging straight into the uprights. Luckily he wasn't seriously injured, and it's a good thing those bits of padding hold so much sponsorship these days.
The number one clip is one that we've referred back to many a time over the years, including a few weeks ago when we featured a very funny chat with Munster legend, Donncha O'Callaghan. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth a watch, as is the classic moment featured here as number one.
Most of these incidents, plus a few more crazy bits, and included in the Related Posts below
Posted at 1:40 pm | 4 comments
Thursday, May 29, 2014
As the rugby world moves towards Test season and domestic finals up north, it already feels like the Heineken Cup final was a long time ago. This excellent montage from Sky Sports should form as some closure on what was another great tournament.
While the 19th and final tournament came to a much hyped about crescendo at the Millennium Stadium, defending champs Toulon were ultimately too good. Jonny Wilkinson went out with a high (Top 14 final pending), and Matt Giteau and Juan Smith scored memorable tries.
The video in this post was shown as Sky Sports' closing montage post match on Saturday, and touches on a few of the 19 seasons that produced some highly memorable moments.
Quick facts from this season's fascinating Heineken Cup:
- South African wing, Bryan Habana, has joined an exclusive club of four players who have won the treble of World Cup, Heineken Cup and Super Rugby titles.  The others are Brad Thorn, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Rod Kafer and Ali Williams.
- Jonny Wilkinson topped the points scoring charts for the 2013/14 season with 113.
- Toulon's triumph made it seven victories for French clubs in the tournament's 19 seasons. Both England and Ireland have six wins apiece.
- Juan Smith, who scored a crucial second-half try at the Millennium Stadium, was the season's leading tackler with 88 (8 missed). Kelly Brown was second with 87 tackles, 0 missed.
- Saracens' No 8 Billy Vunipola led the statistical charts in most carries (110) and in defenders beaten (28) categories. Schalk Brits was second in carries with 94 carries, while Louis Picamoles equalled Vunipola's 28 defenders beaten, but did that in just 7 matches (Vunipola was in 9).
- Chris Ashton was streaks ahead for most tries scored in the tournament with 11, with teammate and namesake Chris Wyles joint second with Naipolioni Nalaga on 5.
- Steffon Armitage, who was awarded ERC European Player of the Year 2014, led the turnover stats with 19 in 9 games. Next best was Justin Tipuric, with 15 in 6 games.
Anything set to Green Day's Time of Your Life is always going to be emotional. This one hits the spot as we bid farewell to the Heineken Cup, and look forward to a new tournament next season, as the European Champions Cup (title sponsor unknown!) comes into play. Enjoy.
Posted at 5:17 pm | 16 comments
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Nick Abendanon played his final game for Bath in the 30-16 Amlin Challenge Cup final loss to Northampton Saints. The nuggety fullback has racked up a huge amount of Bath caps, and during that time has been on the receiving end of a fair share of big hits.
England capped Abendanon missed out on a fairytale farewell in his final game before joining Clermont Auvergne. The 27-year-old found himself in an unfortunate position early in the second half as turnover ball went his way, but he had his back turned to Samoan hitman, George Pisi.
It was a brutal hit, but as we've come to expect from the tough as nails fullback, he got back up. Former Saints flyhalf Ryan Lamb made a pretty accurate observation about it on twitter.
It's not the first time that Pisi has smashed Abendanon. A few years back the Bath back made a big hit of his own, but then later in the game Pisi came flying in with a massive crash tackle.
Both Manu and Alesana knocked him about, and as if that wasn't enough, he then received a big tackle from a Tongan, Steve Mafi. His courage to keep getting up was hugely admirable.
Clermont are getting a gutsy player, who will cope with some of the rough stuff that the highly competitive Top 14 brings. Bath fans will miss him. As will all the Samoans in the Premiership.
"It's meant a huge amount to be here a decade. I've loved it - it's been a great ride," he said.
Posted at 7:09 pm | 14 comments
Wales will be without the services of Leicester Tigers flyhalf Owen Williams after he was last night banned for six weeks for making contact with the eyes of Northampton Saints back Luther Burrell in the Aviva Premiership semi final.
The charge against Williams for acts contrary to good sportsmanship, contrary to Law 10.4.M, was heard yesterday evening. Williams pleaded guilty after having made contact with the eye(s) or eye area of Burrell in the 64th minute.
Williams was given a six-week ban that leads up until the 1st September 2014. He is free to play again on 2nd of September. He will miss the three upcoming matches for Wales as well as three pre-season games for Leicester Tigers.
The 22-year-old flyhalf was on track to earn his first ever Wales cap after an impressive season with the Tigers, but that moment will have to wait until later in the year, if all goes to plan.
Wales are set to meet the Springboks in two Tests in South Africa, on June 14 and June 21.
The incident wasn't clearly visible when watching live, and no replays were shown at the time. You can however see Williams leaning and making contact with Burrell, which is obviously where the offence occurred, especially judging by the England center's reaction.
This is a short clip, but other angles would have been available for the disciplinary hearing.
Posted at 9:04 am | 29 comments
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The Shortball is a quick catch up on some of what went down in Super Rugby in Round 15, with a look at the best tries, some awful kicking and a few big tackles. There was also a controversial finish to one of the best games of the season so far.
Thanks as always to the Fox Sports guys at Rugby HQ. View more Shortball & Plays of the Week
Posted at 4:40 pm | 14 comments
Cheetahs hooker Adrian Strauss will miss the first three Springbok matches of the season after he was suspended for three weeks for a lifting tackle against the Stormers on Saturday night. Strauss pleaded guilty to the charge at the disciplinary hearing.
Strauss will miss the Boks' clash with the World XV as well as the Wales series that comprises of two home Tests in June. He'll be available again for the Scotland Test on June 28.
He was hit with the three-week ban after pleading guilty to a charge of lifting Stormers winger Kobus van Wyk off the ground and failing to bring him back down safely.
It adds to the headaches for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who has already had to contend with the loss of captain Jean De Villiers to injury, and today the news that Frans Steyn might also be out.
They've called in little known Bulls hooker Callie Visagie as backup to Bismarck Du Plessis, as other players in the position are either injured or unavaible due to club commitments.
"Of the players who have been part of Springbok squads in the last two seasons, Scarra Ntubeni, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Tiaan Liebenberg are injured, while Schalk Brits and Craig Burden are playing in club finals this weekend and aren't available for the camp," said Meyer.
Strauss was yellow carded by referee Stuart Berry at the time, but a SANZAR judiciary found that the incident had an entry point in the low end range, which starts at a four week suspension. "I then added two weeks as a deterrent to send a further message that this type of tackle cannot be tolerated in the game due to the risk it poses to player," said Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casseldon.
"Factors considered in mitigation included the player's excellent record extending over 33 test matches for South Africa and over 100 Super Rugby matches, his good character and the player's early admission of guilt for the tackle and remorse shown for the incident."
Based on that, Casseldon reduced the six week suspension for Strauss to three weeks.
What are your thoughts on the decision, and the 'tip-tackle' law?
Posted at 2:07 pm | 44 comments
Monday, May 26, 2014
There were a lot of big tackles that took place over the weekend, but perhaps the most talked about was this by great shot by Toulon hooker Craig Burden against Saracens. There were some questions about it's legitimacy, but you be the judge.
Powerful hooker Burden came to prominence at the Sharks before heading to Europe after finding himself behind the likes of Bismarck Du Plessis and John Smit at both domestic and Test level.
He's been excellent for Toulon, and in the first half on Saturday he got them on the front foot by knocking back one of Saracens' most potent forces, another South African hooker, Schalk Brits.
Brits loves to take the ball at first receiver as he's an unbelievable playmaker, but in the 18th minute Burden shot out the line and knocked him into next week. Unlike Burden, Brits has played for the Springboks so whether there was extra bite in it because of that or not, a bit of competitive rivalry makes for a good story.
Brits stayed down for a while, but play continued before the Saracens hooker got back up, carried the ball once, and even had time for a neat flick between his legs.
Less than two minutes after the initial hit, he got the ball again. Predator Burden, who made his provincial debut as a wing, pounced again with another solid shot on Brits. The second hit wasn't as big but it was a thrilling few minutes.
Replays showed that the main tackle was similar to Bismarck Du Plessis' huge hit on Dan Carter last year, with the tacklers arms both being wrapped around the hapless victim.
The similarities don't end there, as obviously both players are South African and Du Plessis was also accused of being offside. In this case it looks as though Burden wasn't either, as the ball appeared to be out of the ruck (stand to be corrected) so he didn't need to be behind the last man's feet.
Whether you think it was legal or not (wrapped, offside line etc), it's no doubt one of the biggest hits of the season, from one of the strongest, most mobile and underated hookers in world rugby.
There were a few more great hits in this match too, so we'll get a compilation up soon. Also, you can see some of Burden's best tries for the Sharks in the Related Posts below the video.
Posted at 6:29 pm | 21 comments