Sunday, September 08, 2013
Scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored twice as the All Blacks beat Argentina 28-13 in a wet and fairly scrappy Rugby Championship match in Hamilton. Victory came at a cost though as captain Richie McCaw picked up a knee injury and will be out for at least three weeks.
McCaw, who equalled Jason Leonard's record as the most capped forward of all time, had his left knee bent under the pressure of teammate Charlie Faumuina in the 60th minute of the match. The medial ligament damage will keep him out of the crucial clash with the Springboks next weekend.
The All Blacks are hopeful that he'll be available for the fixture against them in Johannesburg, but it's more likely to be a case of aiming for the final Bledisloe Cup match against Australia.
"By the end of the week, we'll have a pretty good idea, so hopefully, maybe, he might get the second South African game," said coach Steve Hansen, who explained that McCaw won't require surgery. "Doc' thinks he will definitely get the third Bledisloe game."
Other than that, they chalked up another win but it wasn't the most fluid of performances, with some uncharacteristic errors being forced by not only the weather, but the pressure from a determinded and very physical Argentina side.
"It wasn't a night for the backs so we won't reflect too much on those kind of areas. We'll look at things we can tidy up in our structures around the park," Hansen added.
While Argentina scored early to the delight of neutrals everywhere, one of the highlights of the game for the home side, and fans around the world no doubt, will have been Kieran Read's superb around the corner pass for Aaron Smith's first try.
Smith added to it not long after, before Julian Savea crossed in the second half.
Highlights of the match are below, and you can view McCaw leading the Haka on page two
Posted at 6:03 am | 4 comments
Thursday, September 05, 2013
Hawkes Bay claimed the highly sought-after Ranfurly Shield for the first time in 44 years when they beat Otago 20-19 in a great game in Dunedin last weekend. They scored two electric tries, the first of which came about through a superb offload.
Otago claimed the Shield by beating Waikato in Hamilton just nine days earlier, but their defence didn't last long. They had last held it in 1957, so the pain of losing it in front of a 20 000 strong crowd in Dunedin will last for some time to come.
They did have a good chance of snatching the win, but flyhalf Hayden Parker's dropgoal attempt was charged down in a dramatic end to the match.
It's now all about the Magpies, who themselves hadn't won it since 1969. Their first defence takes place this coming Saturday at McLean Park, where they face Counties Manukau.
Ihaia West scored a brilliant individual effort to push the score out to 20-9, while earlier Telusa Veainu scored after a well executed flick by Richard Buckman. He ran around Tom Donnelly then offloaded to flyer Gillies Kaka, who did the rest to set up Veainu.
"It's an amazing feeling, it hasn't quite sunk in yet," said 21-year-old West. "You couldn't hear anything with the crowd. The boys just managed to pull through and I'm stoked we could do it.
Hawkes Bay Airport was packed with fans to greet the triumphant side, and the streets of Napier were lined with thousands to welcome them home with the coveted Log O' Wood.
Hawkes Bay actually held the Shield for 21 defences in the 1960's, so we can expect Saturday at McLean Park to be a massive occasion as Counties do all they can to topple the new holders.
Below is the first try with Buckman's wonder flick, and you can view the West effort on page two
Posted at 5:07 pm | 9 comments
The guys at Fox Sports Australia have ruffled some feathers ahead of the Wallabies vs Springboks match this coming weekend, causing a bit of sense of humour failure in parts of South Africa. The video they've made, featuring 'Jannie', didn't go down well.
If you haven't spent much time with South Africans or don't know the nuances of parts of the culture, the video might fall flat but it is done in a pretty funny way, and of course it's all just good spirited banter ahead of the big clash in Brisbane this coming Saturday.
The short clip features Rugby HQ's Sean Maloney and Andrew Swain bumping into 'Office Jannie', a typical South African who goes out of his way to braai (barbecue) at every opportunity. He also watches re-runs of Invictus, reliving the famous 1995 Rugby World Cup win.
Two big newspapers in South Africa have responded angrily to the video, saying that it's stereotyping at it's worst, and 'smacks of desperation'.
Not long ago Rugby HQ ran a #JusticeForHorwill campaign, as well as #TakeBackBledisloe. The latter had mixed results. Actually it didn't work at all, but it was fun to follow anyway.
Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane has been a bit of a fortress for the Wallabies over the years, as the Springboks haven't beaten them there since way back in 1971 (a year after Matt Damon was born).
"The only thing offensive about that video is the cut of meat Jannie has on the toastie," said a spokesperson for Sean Maloney. "It's clearly blade, chuck at best."
Unfortunately for Jannie, just as Invictus got to the good part, Maloney wiped over it with Kurtley Beale slotting the winning kick when the two sides met in Bloemfontein in 2010.
The Wallabies host the Springboks on Saturday. Kickoff is at 20:05 local time, 10:05 GMT
Posted at 9:37 am | 34 comments
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
There were mixed emotions for Australian Rory Arnold on Saturday after he scored a try for Griquas, then was red carded for simultaneously biting a player. Today he received a seven match suspension after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty.
Arnold received a red card for the offence midway through the second half of Griquas' Currie Cup clash with the Free State Cheetahs. In bizarre circumstances, it happened in the process of scoring a pushover try, with tackler Ethienne Reynecke being on the receiving end.
The Australian, playing his first Currie Cup match, was red carded after Reynecke reported it to referee Craig Joubert, who used the assistance of the TMO before sending him off. The clear bite marks on Reynecke's arm, as well as the TMO verdict, clearly made it an easy decision for Jourbert.
It's the second biting incident in recent weeks, following Argentina number eight Leonardo Senatore being found guilty of biting during the physical battle with the Springboks two weeks ago.
Arnold appeared before a SARU disciplinary hearing and was today found guilty of contravening Law 10.4(m), and has been suspended from all rugby up to and including 19 October 2013.
He had in fact pleaded not guilty, explaining that the downward pressure on his head, while trying to access the tryline (with his mouth open), had caused the marks on Reynecke's arm.
He was banned on the balance of probabilities and relying particularly on the victim's immediate and spontaneous reactions and the doctors evidence.
The try stood, as the incident was deemed to have occurred after it was dotted down, so the Cheetahs were awarded a penalty on the on the halfway line. With a formidable halftime lead and then the man advantage, the Cheetahs won the game 40-20.
UPDATE 9/9/2013: Arnold has been cleared to resume playing after a successful appeal. He pleaded not guilty and explained that the downward pressure on his head, while trying to cross the tryline with his mouth open, had caused the marks on the arm of the Cheetahs player.
He is free to resume playing.
Posted at 6:54 pm | 19 comments
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
British & Irish Lions stars Jonny Sexton, Dan Lydiate and Jamie Roberts are all at Racing Metro in France this season. So far Sexton has played pretty well, as can be seen with the confident break in this clip, but on this occasion Roberts failed to finish off what could have been a great try.
After fracturing the defence, all Racing needed to do was get it wide and a try was sure to be on, but Roberts' poor pass killed the move. As you can see, he was pretty disgusted with himself.
It mattered little though as they bounced back from last weekend's loss to Toulon by beating Oyonnax 22-9. Sexton scored 17 points and Virgile Lacombe scored a late try to seal victory.
You can also view a (French language) match report and wrap up on page two of this post
Posted at 5:19 pm | 11 comments
When you think of Villain, you no doubt have someone in particular in mind based on where you are from and who you support, as well as what you've seen in your time as a rugby fan. The guys at Rugby HQ in Australia have picked theirs, so here you go.
Over the years we've seen our fair share of filthy play on the rugby field. A lot of it has been documented here on RD, providing hours of shock factor and for some, entertainment.
Now Sean Maloney and crew have put together their Top 5, all from the Southern Hemisphere, and featuring no less than three South Africans. They've given top spot to a vilified front rower from arch rivals New Zealand, but that's to be expected.
The man in question, Richard Loe, has actually spoken out this week on the recent biting incident that occurred between Argentina and South Africa, saying that Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth deserved to be bitten by Leonardo Senatore.
Senatore was found guilty and banned for nine weeks, however Loe felt that he was provoked and despite flanker Pablo Matera also being cited for an eye-gouge (and later cleared due to a lack of evidence), Loe says that he does not expect more dirty play from Argentina.
"In the case of Senatore, I thought that Eben Etzebeth kind of got what he deserved for slamming his forearm into the Puma No 8's face. The incident was not in my view a case of the player deliberately setting out to bite – it wasn't like the time Johan le Roux bit Sean Fitzpatrick's ear – so I wouldn't read too much into it," Loe said.
In the video below we get to see some awful incidents, most of which we have featured at some stage over the years. You can view those, and the Senatore incident, in the Related Posts below.
Who would you name as the all time Top 5 Rugby Villains?
Posted at 8:09 am | 21 comments
Monday, September 02, 2013
If you hadn't heard yet, the legendary Rupeni Caucau is back playing where it all started for him, at Northland in New Zealand provincial rugby. He has had two outings for the Taniwha, and showed glimpses of his brilliance on both occasions.
Back in New Zealand after a fairly low key stint at Toulouse in France, Caucau is looking and feeling in better shape that he has for a while. He's reportedly weighing in at just 108kg, and still has elements of that explosive acceleration that made him one of the most lethal finishers in the game.
He missed the opening round of the ITM Cup but in week two he played on the wing against Southland, and as you can see at the beginning of this video, he almost set up two tries, had it not been for some good defence and an unfortunate forward pass.
Against North Harbour this past weekend he combined with the brilliant Rene Ranger, who yet again showed what an incredible player he is all over the park. Ranger made the turnover, then set off after a quick tap and gave 33-year-old Caucau an easy stroll in from 60m out.
His second important touch was part of a lovely Northland try that was finished by their speedy fullback Whiria Meltzer. A neat little offload in the tackle followed, and late in the first half he scored his second try with some trademark power, balance and acceleration.
Northland and North Harbour drew 33-33 after a tense finish that included a sending off and a sin-binning. We'll follow Rupeni's progress and keep you updated throughout the season.
The Crowd Goes Wild spoke to him a few weeks back, touching on how good he feels physically, as well as featuring some classic clips of him in action. You can view that on page two
Posted at 9:26 am | 14 comments