Friday, June 27, 2014
Earlier this week Wales prop Samson Lee was suspended for five weeks for a headbutt on Flip van der Merwe during the Springboks vs Wales second Test at the Mombela Stadium in Nelspruit. The incident occurred shortly before a Welsh try, but wasn't looked at.
Lee and lock Van Der Merwe came into contact at the bottom of a ruck just before Wales' Ken Owens try. If you watch the clip you can see it happen after the lineout, in front of referee Steve Walsh but as he later testified to, he didn't see it happen.
Springbok captain Victor Matfield brought the incident to the attention of Walsh after Owens went over for the try, but the referee outright rejected his claims, and opted not to take a look at the foul play, instead focussing on the try, which was awarded after multiple replays.
Van der Merwe left the field shortly afterwards to have a cut below his left eyebrow attended to.
Following the match Lee was cited for striking an opponent with the head, contrary to Law 10.4(a), and faced a disciplinary hearing where he was found guilty of the offence. A mid-range sanction was reduced by five weeks due to mitagating factors such as clean record, admission and remorse.
Lee explained that he didn't remember the incident, but later said that he was trying to clear himself from being held by Van der Merwe, with coach Warren Gatland adding that his conduct was clearly a product of his frustration.
He is suspended up to and including 21 September 2014. You can view a copy of the hearing's findings here, which goes through everything in detail.
Posted at 6:25 am | 49 comments
Monday, June 23, 2014
The USA Eagles ended a five year losing streak against neighbours Canada when they came from behind to beat them 38-35 in Sacramento on Saturday. Played in front of a sell-out crowd, it was the first time that the Eagles had won in this fixture since 2009.
Canada scored five tries to the four of the hosts, but it was the USA that claimed the win thanks in part to Saracens back Chris Wyles, who scored 23 points.
With the win, the USA finish second behind Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup 2014 North America/Asia Conference, with Canada in third place. Canada's June Tests record reads as 0-3, after losses to Scotland, Japan and now the USA.
"It's difficult to win down to 14 men for 20 minutes and when you give away as many penalties as we did and when you miss as many tackles as we did today," said Canada's coach Kieran Crowley.
"We didn’t deserve to be as close as we were and it was a pretty disappointing performance today. Our coaching staff is going to take a good look at this game and some of the players will need to look at their performance today and we’ll look forward to November now."
Posted at 11:01 am | 16 comments
Sunday, June 22, 2014
A dramatic late penalty try denied Wales a first ever win in South Africa, as the Springboks fought back twice to snatch victory at the death. It was an agonising 31-30 defeat for the Welsh, who led for 78 minutes before referee Steve Walsh's big decision.
After a tense start to the game, in which Wales put up far more of a fight than last week, the visitors shot out to 17-0 lead following tries to Jamie Roberts and the outstanding Alex Cuthbert.
Late in the half the Springboks came back, putting enourmous pressure on the Welsh close to the tryline, leading to two yellow cards and a penalty try. By halftime the Boks trailed by just three points, 17-14, but Wales started the second well, scoring a controversial try through Ken Owens.
Dan Biggar extended the lead to 13 points with ten minutes remaining, as the Springboks trailed 30-17 and looked set for their first ever loss to Wales at home, after a performance that was anything but what they displayed in Durban a week earlier.
Willie Le Roux had a strong second half though, scoring a try himself and helping Cornal Hendricks to not only a try, but an opportunity to score in the corner with time almost up.
Wales fullback Liam Williams came in for what was an incredible try saving tackle, but made with no use of the arms, so Walsh stepped up and after conferring with the TMO, dramatically awarded a penalty try in what one has to say was one of the most dramatic decisions of recent times.
Biggar came close with a drop goal in the final seconds, but it went wide and South Africa hung on to take the series 2-0 ahead of a meeting with Scotland in Port Elizabeth next weekend.
"As a collective, we can be proud moving forward," said Wales tour captain Alun-Wyn Jones. "This is not the result we would have wanted going into the off season, but definitely the performance."
Following the match prop Samson Lee received a citing for an alleged second half headbutt that occurred shortly before the Owens try in the second half. The hearing was last night but the result has been deferred until midweek.
It was a Test match of epic proportions, with multiple talking points, so feel free to discuss in the comments rather than have each and every incident or dramatic moment written about here. We'll get better quality highlights posted when possible, but for now the below clip should cover it.
Posted at 6:02 pm | 138 comments
Here's Bhubesi Pride's second video, featuring their incredible expedition through Africa, coaching rugby in local communities in as many as 10 countries. Follow the members of the Pride as they travel through Kenya and Tanzania and see for yourself how much impact their work has on numerous children throughout Africa.
The team are now Port Elizabeth, their last stop on the over 5-month journey through Sub-Saharan Africa. Coaching destinations in South Africa included Bloemfontein and East London, where Bhubesi Pride works with township schools and children from underprivileged backgrounds.
They'll take some time off in PE to attend the Springboks' Test against Scotland, hosted by SARU, one of the many bonuses of being involved in this once in a lifetime experience.
If you have a passion for rugby, coaching and traveling, want to give back to the community and have always dreamed to explore the beautiful African continent, Bhubesi Pride is ready for you.
Applications for 2015 are now open and can be submitted at www.rugbyinafrica.org/apply
Posted at 3:43 pm | 1 comments
Samoa's Tusi Pisi kicked six penalties to take them to a 18-13 Pacific Nations Cup victory over Fiji in Suva on Saturday. Fiji scored the only tries of the match but were let down by ill-discipline, as Samoa went on to finish top of the Pacific Conference.
Fiji lost at home to Samoa for the first time in 16 years, which will be a bit of a setback ahead of their must-win World Cup qualifier against the Cook Islands next week.
Fiji rose to 10th in the world following wins against Italy and Tonga but despite Samoa having a man sinbinned twice in the second half, the hosts couldn't take advantage. They had four kickable penalties in the last ten minutes but opted to go for lineouts, which the Samoans defended well.
"As soon as we arrived in Suva we talked about we hadn't won on this ground since 1998," said Samoa's captain David Lemi. "I made my Samoa debut in 2004 and it is a dream come true to win on this field here. Credit to the boys, it was tough.
"We looked at Fiji's game last week and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy but we had to do everything accurately. That’s what we showed today. I take my hat off to the forwards they scrummed well, they drove well and gave us the platform to play."
Fiji captain Akapusi Qera opted to stay positive ahead of next week's qualifier. "I thank the boys for their effort even though we lost we learnt from our mistakes. Discipline let us down this week but it’s not the end of the world. We get up again next week to prove ourselves next week."
The winner of the Fiji vs Cook Islands match will take a place in the World Cup's Pool A, alongside Australia, England, Wales and another playoff winner.
Posted at 2:03 pm | 0 comments
The Wallabies achieved a clean sweep in their three-Test series with France as they beat them 39-13 in Sydney on Saturday. The win takes Australia to seven consecutive Test victories for the first time since 2000.
The 43 188 fans set a record for the largest Test Rugby crowd ever to attend the Allianz stadium, and their side didn't disappoint as they dominated territory and possession and played some great rugby. Israel Folau was on the scoresheet yet again, scoring twice, as was debutant Will Skelton.
Skelton, who has had a prolific rise to international rugby, scored a powerful try but also set up fullback Folau with a neat little pass. He chatted to Nick Cummins post match, which you can see on page two (or below). It includes his Cap presentation and some nice moments within the team.
The Wallabies scored five tries to one, which pleased coach Ewen Mckenzie after last weekend's dire encounter between the two sides in Melbourne. "We dominated possession and territory and while we didn't make the most of every opportunity, I was pretty happy with the intent," he said.
France now have a break but must pick up the pieces ahead of the end of year tours, Six Nations and then the Rugby World Cup. Coach Philippe Saint-Andre admitted that they had been outplayed by Australia, even though they did well to keep things close last weekend.
"Today Australia win all the contact areas, they go forward all the time, they had more urgency, more skill so congratulations to them. It was the end of a long season for our players but there is a game in Paris in November and they will see one French team that is completely different."
Posted at 9:25 am | 66 comments
Saturday, June 21, 2014
New Zealand completed a 3-0 whitewash of England as they stormed to a 36-13 victory in Hamilton on Saturday. The damage was done in the first half as the All Blacks shot out to a 29-6 lead, but England held on to limit the damage in the second half.
Wing Julian Savea, who has now scored as many tries as he has played Test matches, picked up a stunning hat-trick, scoring two of his three tries in what can only be described as a first half hiding.
The All Blacks were in devastating mood as they exposed England's defensive patterns and scored tries without too much trouble. Both Savea and scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored two in the first half, before Savea completed his hat-trick with time up, as they chose not to kick the ball out.
England's tour complexion now looks a little worse than it did a week ago, when they still felt they were improving and had a lot to build on. Perhaps that is still the case but the ease in which they were torn apart in the first half would be worrying. They fronted up in the second period though, showing great heart and keeping the hosts scoreless right up until the final play of the game.
Marlan Yarde's second half try gave the visitors some hope and steadied the sinking ship, but the cool heads of the World Champions steered them to yet another victory at home. The last time they lost there was in 2009, to South Africa.
The All Blacks have now equalled the [top-tier] record for most consecutive wins in Test rugby, with 17 on the trot. They join the All Blacks of 1965-69 and the Springboks of 1997-98 who jointly hold the record. A win over the Wallabies in Sydney on 16 August will take them out in front.
Their dominance has been such in recent times that in their last 38 Tests, they've won 36, losing one and drawing one. Next for them is the Rugby Championship, where they will look to cement combinations and continue their momentum a year out from the Rugby World Cup.
Posted at 6:17 pm | 40 comments