Friday, December 06, 2013
Rugby leaders from around the world have paid tribute to former President Nelson Mandela, who passed away in Johannesburg aged 95. It was in 1995 that he played a large role in uniting a divided South Africa around the Rugby World Cup.
In 1990 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was released from prison after having spent 27 years in captivity for his efforts in changing the way that the white ruled country was run. Just four years later, aged 75, he was elected President following a democratic election in a rapidly changing country.
A year later, with South Africa having been awarded the rights to host the first ever Rugby World Cup that the Springboks would compete in, Mandela played his part in uniting the new Rainbow Nation behind a sports team that traditionally favoured only white players. One Team, One Country.
His role, from before the tournament to the victorious final against the All Blacks, has become a thing of legend, and his relationship with then captain Francois Pienaar something quite unique.
"Francois, thank you very much for what you have done for our country," Mandela said to victorious Pienaar as he stood holding the Webb Ellis trophy at a packed Ellis Park.
"No, Mr. President. Thank you for what you have done for our country," Pienaar replied.
Current Springbok captain Jean De Villiers spoke of the impact he has had on the country.
"My lasting memory of Madiba is that of a person who had enormous ability to bring people together. His presence at a Test Match just lifted the crowd and energised the team - it is actually hard to describe.
"Of course, as a sportsman I am so grateful for him for what he did for our country. He inspired South Africans, who for so long were very divided, to peacefully build a united Rainbow Nation."
South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins echoed the thoughts of all South Africans.
"His name will rank among that of the greatest liberators and humanitarians for as long as mankind walks the earth. It was our privilege to have lived in this country during his lifetime."
NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew said the sport had lost 'a champion of our game'. "New Zealand Rugby has enormous respect for Mr Mandela and his incredible contribution to his country and people.
"We have lost a champion for our game, a leader whose inspiration ensured Rugby World Cup in 1995 was a remarkable time for our sport and whose influence on sport has been far-reaching.
"His presentation of the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar after South Africa overcame the All Blacks in the Final is a moment that few New Zealanders will ever forget," he said.
Mandela was a boxer, but his belief in the power of sport led to him becoming somewhat of a mascot for both the South African rugby and cricket teams. Below is a short tribute, with words from the great man himself. Rest in Peace, Tata Madiba.
Posted at 10:00 am | 15 comments
Thursday, December 05, 2013
This is a very quick clip of a great tackle that happened in Round 9 of the Aviva Premiership, in the game between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins at Kingston Park. Harlequins came away with a comfortable 35-9 victory.
Quins scored four tries to get the bonus point win but Newcastle made one of the hits of the game, with flanker Mayhew timing things really well to come in and smash winger Sam Smith.
You can see that Smith stayed down for a while, and Mayhew's timely intervention probably prevented a try as Harlequins had a clear overlap out wide. Smith did recover, and scored two tries.
Mayhew also has a very impressive moustache, no doubt part of his Movember effort.
On a side note, this was Newcastle coach Dean Richards' first game back against his old club, from which he was famously banned following Bloodgate in 2009. The irony was that Tom Williams, who was very much involved with that whole controversy, scored the first try of the game.
"I couldn't give a toss who scored the first try," insisted Richards afterwards.
Posted at 11:00 am | 9 comments
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Toulon suffered a heavy defeat to Stade Francais in round 13 of the Top 14 as their star studded side went down 23-0 at the Stade Jean-Boiun stadium. One positive for the visitors was the form of Mathieu Bastareaud, who made this huge charge early on.
Two second half tries and the boot of Julien Dupuy helped Stade Francais to a well deserved win over Toulon, who had many stars in the first fifteen, but were missing key man Jonny Wilkinson.
It was actually in the flyhalf channel that they conceded one of the Stade tries, as talented number ten Jules Plisson cruised straight through a fairly feeble tackle attempt by Frederic Michalak.
With Bryan Habana and Drew Mitchell starting for the visitors, Toulon weren't without attacking threats but failed to create anything of note in what was a fairly dour affair.
One highlight was this big run by the incredibly powerful Bastareaud, who returned from Test duty with France to throw his weight around in the midfield. He showed that he's not only a bit of a wreckingball, but also has quick feet and isn't too bad on defence either.
This particular run ended badly for lock Alexandre Flanquart, who felt the full force of Bastareaud and had to leave the field not too long afterwards, likely due to the knock he received in contact.
Stade Francais scored a late try to add further gloss to the scoreline, as Meyer Bosman kicked a loose ball ahead and Geoffrey Doumayrou picked up the scraps, before replacement flyhalf Morne Steyn slotted the conversion.
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has since blamed his team's scrum for the loss, saying it is the worst in the Top 14. It doesn't get any better for them either with the news that former England prop Andrew Sheridan might be forced to retire due to a neck injury.
Posted at 6:04 pm | 9 comments
Monday, December 02, 2013
Wallaby winger Nick Cummins was on fine form with the mic again as he interviewed his team mates following victory over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. Will Genia mentions his dropped ball in front of an open tryline, and Christian Lealiifano talks goal kicking.
Cummins wasn't able to grab any 'meat', but played his role in what was a great performance away from home for a team that has had it's ups and downs in 2013.
They ended the tour with four wins from five matches, after having lost to England first up, but then beaten Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales.
The Wallabies end the year firmly in third place on the official IRB World Rankings.
Posted at 3:22 pm | 23 comments
Movember is over but this was one of the more creative entries of the month. Sevens flyer Matt Turner was dared by friends back in former home town Cape Town to have a go at a 'Monkey's Tail', which is pretty self explanatory. The result is outstanding.
Around the world Movember, which involves men growing their moutaches in November to raise awareness for mens health, has reportedly raised close to $100 million worldwide.
Well played to everyone who took part, and if you fancy sending in a pic of your effort, tweet @Rugbydump using the hashtag #RDMovember. We'll share some of the best.
Posted at 2:47 pm | 1 comments
New Zealand dual international Sonny Bill Williams spoke to CNN recently about what it is like to play both Rugby Union and Rugby League for his country, which is the better sport and what makes him happy.
Williams returned to League after a five year stint in Union, and after having helped the Sydney Roosters to a NRL title this year, he had a chance of becoming the first man to ever have won both a Rugby World Cup (2011), and a League World Cup.
That wasn't to be however as New Zealand were steamrolled by the Australian Kangaroos, who won 34-2 in the final at Old Trafford this past weekend.
"I'm heartbroken, just feeling really bad. I left it all out there today," said Williams post match.
"In the last 20 minutes it was disappointing. I guess I tried to over-play my hand, I tried to come up with something special and it just wasn't to be. I definitely feel gutted for the brothers but full credit to Australia, they were just too good."
Williams was awarded the RLIF International Player of the Year three days before the final, surprising fans as he wasn't a standout in the tournament, and made little impact in the final.
It's been a good year regardless, and Union fans anxiously await his return for the All Blacks, where he will no doubt be in with a very high chance of winning another Rugby World Cup in 2015.
Posted at 1:12 pm | 9 comments
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Wales coach Warren Gatland has suggested that referee Wayne Barnes is partly to blame for his team's 30-26 loss to the Wallabies at the Millennium Stadium. The visitors scored a try through Joe Tomane that Gatland said shouldn't have been allowed.
The Autumn Internationals concluded with a brilliant game of rugby that thrilled from start to finish in Cardiff. George North scored within a few minutes to set the tone, but the Wallabies came back and with Quade Cooper looking back to his best, they stretched their lead and looked out of sight.
Cooper, playing his 50th Test, was quite controversially yellow carded for what Barnes deemed to be an early tackle, but Australia held on for the win despite plenty of pressure from the Welsh.
An unbelievable statistic from the match is that there was not a single scrum in the first half.
Barnes has come under fire though, particularly for the decision to allow the Tomane try from a flat Israel Folau pass. He sought the help of the TMO, but after watching it on the big screen himself, ruled that it wasn't clear and obviously forward (hands not travelling forward), so gave it.
Gatland suggested that if it were New Zealand played, Barnes wouldn't have made the call. "It looked forward to me. In games as close as this you need things like that to go your way.
"The referee made the decision himself, without the TMO. I doubt he would have made that decision himself if it was the All Blacks playing."
Gatland added that he hadn't spoken to Barnes about it, as it wasn't going to change the result. He also hinted that when Cooper was yellow carded, it could have been a penalty try.
As for the Tomane try, Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie said: "We've had five or six of those denied during the year. As far as I know, the pass has come out of the hands backwards and that's it.
"I think there has been a lot of discussion in the refereeing group and from what I saw that's exactly the way they adjudicated that, so that the circumstances around that are quite clear."
Despite being rated by some as the best team in the Northen Hemisphere, this was Wales' ninth loss in succession to the Wallabies, who themselves haven't had the best of years but appear to be on an upward curve after a satisfying overseas tour where they only lost once, to England.
Posted at 8:10 pm | 58 comments