Jamie Heaslip accepts Pape apology


Ireland retain 6 Nations on dramatic day


German hooker slots drop goal


Ireland thump Scotland & win Six Nations


Try Savers & Rib Breakers 13


Shortball Super Rugby highlights Round 5


Sergio Parisse on the art of Number 8


Controversial card for Lowes low tackle


Sean O'Brien's monster ruck cleanout

Monday, December 01, 2014

IRPA Try of the Year 2014 awarded to Francois Hougaard and the Springboks

The Springboks' end of year tour ended poorly but there was some consolation in the announcement that the great try they scored against New Zealand was named the International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA) Try of the Year 2014.

South Africa lost in the northern hemisphere for the first time in three years, but will take heart from a season that ended with a 71% winning rate, as they won 10 out of their 14 matches. They scored 44 tries in total, conceding only 19, which is their best defensive effort in 15 years.

One of the highlights of the season was the 27-25 victory over New Zealand, and Francois Hougaard scoring this great length of the field team effort. He becomes the third South African to win the IRPA Try of the Year award, after Jaque Fourie in 2009, and Bryan Habana in 2012.

Previous winners:
2013 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
2012 – Bryan Habana (South Africa) – South Africa v New Zealand
2011 – Radike Samo (Australia) – Australia v New Zealand
2010 – Chris Ashton (England) – England v Australia
2009 – Jaque Fourie (South Africa) – South Africa v British & Irish Lions
2008 – Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) – Australia v Ireland

This year's panel of judges was made up of Samoa's Seilala Mapusua, New Zealand great Jeff Wilson, Ireland's Alan Quinlan and Scotland's Dan Parks. They chose this effort over the shortlise that included Jamie Roberts, Cornal Hendricks, Magali Harvey and Jonny May.

IRPA Executive Director Rob Nichol said that choosing one winner was a difficult process. 

"With so many great international tries during 2014, involving both individual brilliance and collective effort, it is never an easy process to settle on one try. However, when it came down to it, Hougaard’s try stood out for the judges due to the high level of skills involved by different players and, most importantly, the teamwork required to make it happen."

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said that it was truly deserving of the accolade.

"I'd like to congratulate Francois Hougaard on winning this award. It was a fantastic try," he said.

It started from deep within the Springboks' own 22. There was wonderful elusive running, lightning passing, rapid recycling, a deft kick ahead, which was expertly gathered and then a well-timed run from Francois finished it off in style.

"It was a real team effort that demonstrated ambition, enterprise and no little skill against the number one side in the world. In short, it was a try that was truly deserving of this accolade.

"The competition was very stiff for this award with four other great tries in the running. It was particularly pleasing to see the best try of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 being shortlisted. Magali Harvey's score was a real highlight of that tournament and I'd also like to congratulate Jamie Roberts, Cornal Hendricks and Jonny May for their contributions."

View all the tries on the IRPA Try of the Year 2014 shortlist

Posted at 9:44 am | 11 comments

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sam Burgess makes his rugby union debut in Bath win over Harlequins

League convert Sam Burgess made his highly anticipated Rugby Union debut in last nights 25-6 Bath win over Harlequins at the Rec. It was a short cameo, playing at centre, but showed glimpses of what he could be capable of with ball in hand.

Just seven weeks ago he was playing rugby league, winning the NRL Grand Final after breaking his cheekbone in the first minute. Now he's a rugby union player, and one that has the whole of England, and indeed fans around the world, watching on closely.

His debut came in quite bizarre circumstances, as Harlequins were down to just 12 players after referee Wayne Barnes brandished three yellow cards. It was also raining so the conditions weren't ideal, but post match he had a smile ear to ear, seemingly loving every minute of it.

"I've been mixing it up in training but I think I'll stay at centre for now, certainly over the next few games," said the 25-year-old when asked about what position he'll likely play in.

"But we've got a lot of time. It's certainly not an overnight transition and the worst thing we could do is rush it. It was always going to be hard but I've really enjoyed it and everyone's been open to teaching me things.

"The game's tough to learn and I was sat on the bench a little bit nervous. I haven't felt that for a while but I enjoyed the feeling and the adrenalin and once you get on the field you just enjoy the game," said the former league star who was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal a few weeks back.

He came on in the midfield last night, but Bath coach Mike Ford wants to try him in the forwards.

"The two carries he had were very, very good. He needs to get out there and play and when the pressure's on that will accelerate his learning," Ford said.

"There's a plan there and Sam's first few games are going to come at 12, but when it's dry we're going to have a look at him in the back row as well. Personally, I think that will suit Sam personally more.

"It's a gut feeling of mine as he's a guy who carries and tackles a lot and I don't want to stick him out in the centre to do nothing. That's not his skill set. Can we get him over the gain line with six, seven or eight on his back? Of course we can and the next month or so we'll know where he is.

"My vision is for Sam to be a barnstorming back row and we'll see how it unfolds, it'll be a good journey," Ford, whose son George starts for England at flyhalf today, added.

It's been debated before, but after seeing a bit of him in action and hearing what both he and coach Ford have to say, where do you think Burgess would be best suited?

Posted at 11:26 am | 20 comments

Friday, November 28, 2014

WIN a copy of Rugby Union Team Manager 2015!

We're giving away 5 copies of the brand new Rugby Union Team Manager 2015, the most comprehensive rugby management game ever created. Learn more about it below, watch the video and enter now to stand a chance of winning.

Fans have been asking about a quality Rugby Union manager game for years, so with Alternative Software's latest release, rugby gurus now get the chance to immerse themselves in the dynamic world of Rugby management, allowing the player to battle their way through season after season; securing success both on and off the field.

Pleasing the fans and the star players whilst maintaining the backing of the boardroom, you will be in complete control. Rugby Union Team Manager 2015 delivers the most comprehensive rugby simulation ever produced, with the biggest licensed competitions from across the world, over 14,500 players and over 320 playable teams.

Always keeping you in complete control, Rugby Union Team Manager 2015, not only puts you in charge of the team, but an entire club, from youth development through to the first team, the players, coaches, physios, scouts and doctors – you’re in charge.

Each of the plentiful club facilities are upgradable allowing you to expand on training and tactics that make a great team, and when match day comes, watch all the action unfold in the bespoke 2D and 3D engines, giving instructions in real-time to turn the tide of a match.

The game has been in development for the past 2 years, and has been developed, from the ground up by Rugby fans for Rugby fans.

The release date is December 3rd, while the French version will be released around the 16th December. It will be available via several retailers, including as a digital download via Steam.

View more game and purchase information on the official Rugby Union Team Manager website

ENTER TO WIN ONE OF FIVE COPIES:

How many officially licensed teams are there in Rugby Union Team Manager 2015?
Send an email to competitions@alternativesoftware.com with the answer

The closing date for entries is midnight, Sunday 14th December 2014. Winners will be contacted via email

Posted at 2:00 pm | 6 comments

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Great sportsmanship from 19 year old Portuguese 7's player vs Fiji

This is a lovely bit of action from the World Sevens Series last season, as young Portuguese player João Bello owned up to something that he could so easily have got away with. It's a short clip but it's worth seeing this display of great sportsmanship.

At 17-0 down against Fiji, Portugal needed every inch they could get to try to make it back into the game. They got their chance in the second half, as Fiji had a man yellow carded for throwing the ball away. In 7's, playing against a team a man down is naturally a massive advantage.

South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge assumed it was one of the Fijians, but just as the innocent player was leaving the field - clearly unhappy but abiding to the refs instructions - 19 year old Bello stepped forward to explain to Rasivhenge that it was actually him who did it, not the Fijian player. 

You can actually see that his instincts told him to try to get Rasivhenge's attention straight away.

The referee apologised, and thanked Bello, who did this on his Sevens Series debut, with all the odds against his side who could have certainly benefited from playing seven vs six. 

It's a truly refreshing moment and one that is all too rare in the competitive world of professional sport these days. This is clearly a great example of what the values of rugby are all about.

credit: Federação Portuguesa de Rugby

Posted at 1:21 pm | 26 comments

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Toulon based Steffon Armitage says he still wants to play for England

It's the debate that's raged on for some time now, and while some feel that by choosing to play abroad Steffon Armitage has made his intentions clear, this intimate chat with Martin Bayfield should bring further clarity to the issue.

England coach Stuart Lancaster has said that he will only choose players based outside of England in exceptional circumstances. He's had ample opportunity to use that clause to his team's benefit, but hasn't, instead opting for locally based players, snubbing the 2014 European Player of the Year.

Armitage explains to Rugby Tonight's Bayfield that the paths he's chosen haven't been taken lightly. He and his family spent many years outside of England, and he is fluent in French. It's in his blood.

"I've spent most of my life there. I went to school there. I'm fluent in French. I started playing in Nice at the age of 10. It's still a big part of me," he said.

When asked the all important question, he doesn't skirt around the subject.

"I still want to play for my country. I'm ready. If they want me to play, I'll be there."

He explains that he wanted to head back to the UK and give things a go for the Rugby World Cup, with a proposed move to Bath. That didn't work out for one reason or another, so he's made the best of life at double champions Toulon, where he believes he's played the best rugby of his career.

While it's not the route that the current RFU or England Rugby regime have approved of, Armitage's form has been such that fans have called for his selection, where perhaps now more than ever he could make a big difference to the side, just a year out from the World Cup.

credit: Bt Sport/Rugby Tonight

Posted at 1:18 pm | 17 comments

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sky New Zealand Fans Try of the Year 2014

Sky TV have put together a list of 10 nominations for the very best tries scored in New Zealand domestic and international rugby in the last 12 months. Fans have until Wednesday this week to vote for the single try they think is best.

*EDIT 11 Dec 2014: Malakai Fekitoa has been named as the winner. View all the tries below

The Sky Fans Try of the Year will be revealed at the annual Steinlager Rugby Awards in Auckland on Thursday 11 December. The most popular try will be unveiled along with a host of other awards, all celebrating great achievements in rugby.

Last week we saw the IRPA Try of the Year 2014 nominations, for the best Test rugby tries scored over the course of the last year. The shortlist didn't include any All Black tries, so here is a nice chance for New Zealand fans to take a look at some of their great tries in the last year.

Sky's panel of experts, along with New Zealand Rugby, have selected 10 fantastic efforts to choose from, covering Super Rugby, the ITM Cup, Tests, and a Women's Rugby candidate too. 

"It's been another year of heart stopping rugby across all competitions, showcasing the depth and breadth of our  game," said Neil Sorensen New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby.

"The fantastic thing about rugby in New Zealand is that everyone has an opinion. Giving fans a chance to debate the best try of the year is a great way for them to have their say when we celebrate rugby's successes at the Steinlager Rugby Awards."

Gareth Anscombe, Bulls v Chiefs | Beauden Barrett, Highlanders v Hurricanes | Ryan Crotty, Ireland v All Blacks | Malakai Fekitoa, Sharks v Highlanders | Fa'asiu Fuatai, Otago v North Harbour | Honey Hireme, Waikato v Canterbury | Alapati Leiua, Crusaders v Hurricanes | Tino Nemani, Bay of Plenty v Tasman | Julian Savea, All Blacks v England, Waikato Stadium | Ben Smith, All Blacks v England, Eden Park  

 The following three tries have been selected as the most popular:

Beauden Barrett; Hurricanes v Highlanders
Malakai Fekitoa; Sharks v Highlanders
Alapati Leiua; Crusaders v Hurricanes

The winner will be announced at the Steinlager Rugby Awards on 11 December 2014

UPDATE 11/12/2014: Malakai Fekitoa has been awarded Try of the Year

Posted at 12:45 pm | 14 comments

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Test Rugby Results - November 22nd weekend

We were treated to a great day of Test match rugby yesterday, with some thrilling games and top quality tries. After leading 17-0 then trailing 20-17, Ireland beat the Wallabies in what was probably the game of the day. Argentina also picked up a great win, with victory over France in Paris.

Wales looked like they were about to spring an upset over New Zealand when they led 16-15 with ten minutes left, but the All Blacks stepped up a gear to win 34-16.

England and Samoa battled it out at Twickenham after a controversial week for the visitors. The scrappy match ended with a home win and a great gesture, as both sides linked arms, formed a huddle and had a quiet moment, saying a prayer and showing great solidarity (see below).

Weekend results:

Romania 18 - 9 Canada | Portugal 29 - 20 Namibia | Fiji 20 - 14 USA 
England 28
- 9 Samoa | France 13 - 18 Argentina | Ireland 26 - 23 Australia
Italy 6 - 22 South Africa | Scotland 37 - 12 Tonga | Wales 16 - 34 New Zealand

More from each game to follow over the next few days. Do you think Ireland are now genuine Rugby World Cup contenders? Have Wales made progress, or were the All Blacks always in control? Are Argentina looking a more complete outfit? Discuss, dissect etc in the comments below.

Posted at 9:24 am | 44 comments