Sunday, August 10, 2014
The final day of pool play at the Women's Rugby World Cup decided the four sides that will go through to the semi-finals in Paris on Wednesday, August 13th. Ireland will play in their first ever semi-final, against England, while hosts France take on Canada.
The French side beat Australia 17-3 to finish top of Pool C, while Ireland beat Kazakhstan to top Pool B. That, combined with England and Canada's 13-13 draw, meant that for the first time in the tournament's history, New Zealand will not take place in the semi-finals.
"It's hugely gutting and we're all down about it. But at the end of the day, we had our fate in our hands in the game against Ireland and we didn't nail that and we didn't play well enough that day," said Black Ferns coach Brian Evans.
"We knew the result of the Canada v England game so it was pretty hard. We didn't tell the players unless they asked, so some of them knew and full credit to them because they performed really, really well even knowing that we were out. But the rest of the team we left it 'til afterwards."
England qualified as top of Pool A, with Canada as the best runners up.
"Ireland are a side we know extremely well from playing them in the Six Nations so this is a clash we are really excited about. They play a fast, expansive game and we have now got three days to prepare for this semi-final," said England coach Gary Street.
"With hosts France and Canada into the other semi-finals, I think this is a really exciting line-up for the knock out stages of the Rugby World Cup."
View the highlights from all the other matches on page two of this post
Posted at 2:37 pm | 7 comments
Thursday, August 07, 2014
The Top 5 team at Rugby HQ are at it again, this time tracking down five of the Worst Ever Celebrations on a rugby field, no doubt prompted by the Waratahs' recent inability to produce an F1 podium moment when celebrating their Super Rugby victory in Sydney.
There's also a look at a player injuring himself when celebrating a try that didn't count, an awkward handshake on the big stage, and an interesting dance after a wonderful try (and injured hamstring). More of these moments and others are featured in the Related Posts below.
Can you think of any others that could have made the list?
Posted at 6:11 pm | 19 comments
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Ireland's women caused a huge upset when they did what their male counterparts have never done, beating New Zealand 17-14 in a dramatic Test in Paris. The Black Ferns lost for the first time in the Women's Rugby World Cup since 1991.
Alison Miller and Heather O'Brien scored tries for Ireland, on day two of the tournament that produced more top quality rugby. England, Canada, USA, Australia and France also picked up wins.
The final round of pool play takes place on this coming Saturday, 9 August, where the semi-finalists will be decided based on those last few results.
You can view official highlights from all the matches right here on page two of this post
Posted at 3:41 pm | 8 comments
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
The way the Waratahs ended 2014 Super Rugby was indicative of the quality and drama that has been seen in this year's high quality competition. It produced some outstanding, memorable rugby, as seen by some of the moments relived here.
This year was the best ever for Australian rugby, as the country's five Super Rugby teams collectively won more matches this year than they ever have in the tournament. They achieved 40 wins this year, compared to 37 in 2013 and 32 in 2012.
The 33-32 victory was the Waratahs' first over the Crusaders since ten years ago, in 2004.
"The NSW Waratahs have raised the bar for the Australian conference and their success is a true testament to the quality of Rugby they have produced this season," said ARU CEO Bill Pulver.
"They have created a piece of history by finishing the regular season in first-place and winning the club's first ever Super Rugby title against a strong Crusaders outfit."
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said that he wants to maintain the same work ethic next year.
"We want to play our way, lay this identity down and let our supporters enjoy that. We want to lay the foundation. I'm looking for honesty; honesty every week, year upon year."
Below is the excellent closing montage that Fox Sports played after the final, featuring some of the best moments from this year's tournament, as well as the highs of the final. Enjoy.
Posted at 4:27 pm | 2 comments
There were two suspensions that followed the opening day's play at the Women's Rugby World Cup in France. Mandisa Williams of South Africa was banned for punching, while Samoa's Soteria Pulumu received a 5 week ban for a tackle. Here is a look at the latter.
Samoan fullback Soteria Pulumu appeared before independent Judicial Officer Jeremy Summers in Paris on Saturday, after having received a red card for an act of Foul Play contrary to Law 10.4(j), namely lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground.
She admitted to the foul play. Having heard all the evidence, the Summers determined the player's actions were reckless and warranted a mid-range sanction, which has an entry point of 8 weeks.
The sanction was aggravated by one week to take into account the need for a deterrent for so-called "tip tackles". The Judicial Officer took into account various mitigating factors including the player's remorse, conduct at the hearing, early admission and her clean disciplinary record.
The sanction was reduced by four weeks to a final sanction of 5 weeks.
In the context of the tournament, Pulumu will miss the remaining matches at the tournament and is further suspended from 18 August to midnight on 24 August 2014. She has the right to appeal, but after seeing the footage (below), there is probably not much of a case to be made.
Posted at 9:39 am | 15 comments
Monday, August 04, 2014
The Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 kicked off in France on Friday, with defending champions New Zealand winning their opening match, and the home team pulling in a record TV audience. View all the match highlights plus the best tries from day one.
All 12 sides played their tournament openers on Friday, with wins for New Zealand, France, Canada, Ireland, Australia and England. Over a million people tuned in to watch the hosts beat Wales 26-0 in the last match of the opening day.
Sellout crowds saw stars of the Women's game take center stage, with players like Canada's Magali Harvey looking really impressive, as noted by former Welsh international, Non Evans.
"One player that stood out for me was Magali Harvey of Canada. She had such pace that Spain couldn't deal with it, although Spain were supposed to be the quicker of the two sides, with a lot of their girls playing in the Sevens programme.
"So many of these girls have Sevens experience that we're seeing real gas. You get them into space and some of these wingers are really standing out." said Evans.
The next day of play takes place tomorrow, Tuesday 5 August. The fixtures are; USA vs Kazakhstan, Australia vs Wales, England vs Spain, Canada vs Samoa, New Zealand vs Ireland and France vs South Africa.
Below are the Top Five Tries scored on day one, including one of those from Harvey, but you can also view all the highlights from all six matches on the next page of this post, page two.
Posted at 10:18 am | 0 comments
Sunday, August 03, 2014
Adam Ashley Cooper scored twice but it was Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley that struck a long distance, last minute penalty to claim a well deserved 33-32 Super Rugby Final victory over the Crusaders in Sydney. It is the Waratahs' first ever Super Rugby title.
The match was played at a fantastic tempo throughout, with neither side giving in to the typical 'finals rugby' style of play that we've seen all too often in the past. This was one of the games of the year, final or not, typified by the 20-20 deadlock just minutes into the second half.
In the end it came down to a big call by referee Craig Joubert at the death, as he penalised Richie McCaw at the ruck. Foley stepped up and slotted the 45 metre penalty, only just, and the rest is history, with the Waratahs winning their first ever title, in front of a record crowd of 61 823.
The Waratahs had lead early on, shooting out to a 14-0 lead but the Crusaders aren't the most successful side in Super Rugby history for nothing, and they came back to within inches of winning it, had it not been for Foley's trusty right boot.
"I was hitting them well all night and it was probably right on my distance," the tournament's top points scorer said. "I had to give it my all and the rugby gods were on our side."
Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper admitted that he thought Foley didn't quite have the distance.
"I thought it went under, but it went over and I was ecstatic," Hooper said.
The Waratahs join the Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs, Brumbies, Reds and Bulls as only the seventh franchise to win a Super Rugby crown.
Fans, pundits and players took to twitter post match to express their joy at what they had just witnessed. This will go down as an all time classic, and rightly so. Kudos to both teams for the attitude, skill level and dogged determination they displayed throughout.
Posted at 7:12 am | 32 comments